Do what you love

1958063_10154052187760711_2846735506830647274_n

Since the London marathon, I have been struggling to get back the body and the fitness I had this time last year. I was lean, stronger and faster and, above all else, I was happier. I was training up to half marathons, running lots of 10ks and feeling good. BUT, I felt this need to sign up for a marathon. I got sucked in by the other runners at my club and people on Twitter and Facebook – I felt the pressure (albeit positive and well meaning) to join in. Thereafter followed boredom and misery for nigh on 6 months. I felt stressed and irritable, and I was a pain in the backside to be around. I irritated myself on pretty much a daily basis. I had turned into a marathon arsehole – I lived, breathed and slept marathons, and avoided socialising in case it interfered with the dreaded plan.

Then the RUNger set in (noun: the need to replenish energy stores used up after a long run with cake and shit food) and where once I had traces of abs trying to peak through, was a blob of gloop. In essence, marathon training had turned me into a blobby, slow and miserable loser.

Contrary to what others have said I would do, I haven’t come away from the marathon after all of that trauma and all-round bollox and thought ‘hey I’ll sign up for another one’; quite the opposite. I’ve looked at why I feel the need to self flagellate by signing up for things that are frankly horrible and not right for me, and I’ve looked at what I really want to do and what I enjoy. Life is supposed to be about fun after all, and that involves feeling good about ourselves and sharing that positivity with others.

Lately I have been indulging myself in pretty much anything I want to do and it’s been a huge amount of fun. I have been strength training daily with Julia Buckley‘s Extreme Inferno (more on that another time, but it’s great!) and my personal trainer, I’ve gone out and got drunk, I’ve learnt to love cycling and I’m going open-water swimming this week. I leave the watch at home and I’m ok with that.

IMG_2141

I may not be a marathon runner, but I’m a happy, strong and positive runner and that’s what matters to me.

sian

Gade Valley Harriers’ marathon training runs: Review

First off, I am so bored running round where I live you wouldn’t believe it! It’s flat as a pancake, it’s not pretty (bypass, anyone?) and apart from the fab times when people from my running club have run with me, I’ve been on my own so when I found that Gade Valley Harriers in Hertfordshire (not a million miles from me) organise these special marathon training runs (3 a year to be exact – 12, 17 and 20 miles) I thought it would be ideal for me. Plus it was only £5 (bargain) and cake at the end – win, win!

photo-125

An ex colleague and friend of mine was also going along so we decided to run together (she is a newbie runner also training for the London marathon).

I parked up at Hemel Hempstead station and immediately met up with a few of the runners and walked the short 5-minute walk to the clubhouse where we saw the 17-mile finish sign (scary stuff!). I wasn’t feeling amazing for a 17-mile run – we are having our kitchen done so I couldn’t find any breakfast (made do with some Brevita breakfast biscuits) and I was really late the bed to night before filling, sanding and plastering.

Danni arrived, and we set off on the staggered start. The first 2-3 miles were a hard slog over the muddy tow path, but because we had so much catching up to do (haven’t seen each other for about a year and a half) we hardly noticed the time going by. Quick water stop (yes, they had water stops!) at the top of one of the many hills, photo op and off we set.

photo-126

The route is mostly through villages and forest, which was such a lovely refreshing change for me – not a bypass in sight!

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 07.24.35

Up and down a few more hills we went chatting away and then I spotted the 8 mile sign – how had we done 8 miles without me noticing (particularly as between miles 5 and 6 there was an enormous hill!)? Next water stop, jelly baby refuelling (screw gels!) and off we set again.  Danni had run up to 13.1 before so up until that point we were both quite comfortable, then we said to ourselves ‘only 4 miles to go’ – by this point though my arms were cramping (clearly done too much upper body work that week!) and we were both quite quiet. The next goal was to get to the infamous jelly baby stop at mile 14. After that we were told it was all down hill and flat (phew!) which gave us a bit of a boost. We were back on the horrid, energy-sapping tow path though for the last mile where we were joined by two other ladies. We kept each other going with the promise of cake and a cup of tea.

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 07.24.59

We finished the very hilly course in 3h 11. I was really proud of Danni as she’s a new runner and not used to hills at all. There was no medal of course, but who cares?

It’s given me a huge amount of confidence now that I can do this marathon – if I can run 17 miles up and down massive hills then flat London is totally doable! Bring it!

DIVA rating: 5/5 – awesome!

rating

– £5 (criminal – they should charge more!)

– Amazing organisation and marshals

– Water stops

– Jelly baby stop

– Cake at the end!!!

– Interesting and undulating course (my favourite)

– Easy to get to by train (Hemel Hempstead) and car (parking at Hemel Hempstead Station)

The next training run is on 23rd March and is 20 miles. If you are at a loss as to who to run with and where to run, I couldn’t recommend this highly enough.

sian

Run/walk/running my way through a marathon

running2

I read a fascinating article on how you can run a faster marathon by taking walking breaks a few weeks ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. I ran the Brighton marathon last year and up to 18 miles I wasn’t doing too badly, but after that it was more of a shuffle/crawl/drag along affair. I’m so taken with this idea I’m actually going to try it out. I’ve signed up for the 40k challenge in Shere, which is a hike or a trail run through the beautiful Surrey hills, and thought I’d try it out here (I know it’s not a full marathon just to be clear, but near as damn it!).

You can read more about this fascinating concept here. The theory behind it is simple – by giving yourself walking breaks you are allowing yourself recovery time so that you can then run a little faster during the running sections.

I’m aiming for a 9 min/mile pace so running 4 minutes and then walking for 1 minute. This should give me a finishing time of around 4 hours.

Pace per mile Running Walking
8:30 5:00 1:00
9:00 4:00 1:00
10:00 3:00 1:00

If you would also like to take part in the 40k multiterrain challenge, you can enter here.

Celebrate your achievements!

Ok so I’m not having a great time at the moment. Work is busy, I’m getting home late, I have no energy and I’m not getting anywhere near as much exercise in as I’d like, but rather than dwell on it I’ve decided to give myself a little pat on the back! All too often we give ourselves a hard time and we forget all the great things we’ve achieved throughout the year. We are only into May and already I feel like so much has happened.

So here are my firsts for this year (so far):

  • First half marathon – 2h 10 mins

Image

  • First summit reached (Mount Toubkal – 4167m)

Image

  • First marathon – 5h 20mins

Image

  • First limited company

Image

Celebrate your achievements – go on give yourself a pat on the back! 🙂

Brighton 2012 marathon – done!

Image

Sami and I at the start.

I am very proud to report that this Sunday just gone, Sami, Dash and I completed the Brighton Marathon – in fact our first ever marathon and the furthest we have ever run. Not only did we smash it, but we did it in style and with beaming smiles on our faces.

Sami and I both run at a similar pace, similar running style, similar attitude (happy go lucky) – we are pretty much the perfect running buddies. We’d both decided on our strategy – run slow and steady (11 min/mile) and don’t stop unless you have to. In our training runs, we’d only ever managed 17 miles and after that 17 miles I felt half dead so we both had absolutely no idea if we even could run the whole way or exactly how our bodies were going to cope with running 26.2 miles.

Image

Massive queue to get out of Preston Park station.

Sami and Dash were staying in Brighton so I decided to meet them an hour before the start. I got to Haywards Heath station in plenty of time, but the ticket office was packed so I had to sprint up the stairs to get my train (good warm up I suppose!). Getting off the train at Preston Park was also fun – that in itself took 15 minutes as the platform was rammed. When I finally got to start, I met sami but unfortunately Dash was running a little late so we had to set off on our own. We did manage to bump into Andy (in fact we bumped into him a few times, albeit when he was about 3 miles ahead of us in the other direction!) about 2 miles in and shortly afterwards Dash rather aptly came dashing up to us with her marathon pro boyfriend (said pro boyfriend ditched us at about mile 7!).

As we headed towards Rottingdean and up the so-called hills – “Hills – these aren’t hills!” [Sian] – we were all feeling pretty sprightly. Unfortunately on the way down the hill (slope if you ask me!) we lost sight of Dash and decided to push on ahead. Sami and I crossed the half way mark at 2 h 37 minutes, which is considerably slower than our half marathon times, but we decided we wanted to leave some in the tank. Running by the pier and seeing the crowds and the cheering really put me in a great frame of mind and that carried Sami and I right through until mile 19! We’d not only smashed our previous best, but we both felt really good. That feeling was short live though as unfortunately the pain from both our injuries – my weak hip flexor and Sami’s knee – really kicked in around mile 20 so we lost all pace. At times we were slowing right down to 13 minute/mile. Despite being 10 minutes behind Sami and I, Dash had managed to catch us up, and Sami and I didn’t know she’d overtaken us!

By mile 24 thoughts of stopping and walking were rushing through my head – and then out of the corner of my eye I spotted my friend who I’d seen at mile 15. Bless her, she came to run with us for a couple of hundred yards and that gave me a sudden burst of adrenaline, which took away all the pain and the prior thoughts of walking. Sami and I really picked up the pace again and even managed a sprint finish behind the man in the Rhino suit (can’t believe a guy wearing a rhino suit beat us?!).

Image

Sami and I feeling very pleased with ourselves after collecting our medals.

I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoy the whole experience. Not once did I ask myself why I was doing it – I was just enjoying every moment. I do feel very proud to have finished with a time 5 hour 20 minutes – of course I would have loved a sub 5-hour time, but given that we were both injured and that I haven’t been getting in much training lately I think we did remarkably well. Let’s not forget too that I only signed up for this a month ago so I do feel somewhat of a cheat! 🙂 Today both of us are relatively unscathed too, which is always a good sign.

Based on the fact that we ran the whole thing and our mental strength, I feel positive that we could complete a marathon in 4.30 or 4.45 injury free.

By the way, if you’re running a long-distance race and your legs hurt, try running backwards for a little bit. It worked wonders for Sami and I. I know it sounds mad, but if you have an injury, sometimes your mind can play tricks on you and you feel pain simply because you’re doing something repetitive that has previously caused you pain. By running backwards for a bit, you are reseting your legs.

So – will I run another marathon? Yesterday my answer was no, but today I am already hovering over the Brighton 2013 entry button so who knows?

Image

Sian has said it pretty well. With injuries considered, I guess running our first marathon was near enough a doddle. Yes it was a mental struggle at times, but for me this was mainly due to my knee feeling as it was going to snap off at every couple miles!

I had trained hoping for 4 hours 30 minutes so was bummed for a moment when we were on our way into hour 5 but in the last week I didn’t think I was even going to be capable of running the entire 26.2 miles let alone non-stop!

Six days prior to the marathon my physio told me the bad news, I had IT band friction syndrome “A very long and painful run” is what he told me. This is what I expected and this is what it was, though not as bad as it could’ve been thanks to the 6 Nurofen I popped!

I am still very much struggling with my knee now, hobbling down the stairs is almost as much of a feat as running the marathon, but I know in a few weeks it will mend and I can consider running again. I don’t ache though (marathon tip: have a sports massage shortly after the race to eliminate the niggles and to speed up muscle repair).

Sunday was such an achievement and has shown me how far I have come in the last two years. I love running and I really want to start racking up those medals!

What’s next, Sian!?