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RED January ~ The Good the Beyoncé and the Flamincorn (Days 7-13)

When I started this running blog back in January of 2018, I always wanted it to be an authentic account of my running journey. No sugar coating. No making things look better than they were. Just me, being myself and writing as if I were talking with a friend. So this week… let’s just say it’s uber authentic…

Also, after writing my post last week on Should Guide Runners Receive a Medal Too I’ve been thinking how I’d really like to get involved with helping blind people in sports so if you’ve got any tips or advice let me know!

Disclaimer: This post has affiliate links, which means if you choose to buy through my links I receive a commission at no extra cost to you! I’ll only ever link products that I absolutely love and use, thank you for supporting me.

TOTAL MILES THIS WEEK = 10
TOTAL RED JANUARY MILES = 22

RED Day 7 >>> 1.1 miles >>> What day/ year is it again?

I did not want to go out for tonight’s run, I left work later than normal and got stuck in traffic so I lost an hour of my evening. As is customary for me, I ate 4 Quality Street chocolates and a banana, put my big girl pants on and went out. I programmed 1k into my watch but I really wanted to make it to a mile so I did push a little further.

There I was feeling all accomplished and came home to eat dinner and watch Silence of the Lambs… Clarice sure is a good trail runner she needs to give me some tips!

I feel like I’m getting sick though (if you know me I’m always sick so this is nothing new). I feel hot one minute then cold and I have a runny nose and a scratchy throat… this can’t stop me from completing the challenge!

Managed another fastest mile! Only another 2:40 to take off my best PB… off to sew another button on BRB (I may or may not have stabbed myself in the hand many times during this challenge… 7 minimum).

Fastest mile of 2019 so far…

RED Day 8 >>> 1.5 miles >>> Sleeping vs running

I had a terrible night sleep last night and had a headache when I got home from work. I put dinner in the oven which gave me half an hour to go out and get back. Except I put my trainers on and sat on the sofa for 15 minutes and nearly fell asleep!

Run was uneventful, highlights included nearly being run over on a pedestrian crossing (because the rules of the road don’t apply to everyone), meowing hello back to a cat and running a little faster when I got it in my mind someone was following me (thanks to yesterday’s Silence of the Lambs).

It was on the chilly side again tonight but I managed my minimum mile distance. An early night is in order I think. Zzzzzzzz

RED Day 9 >>> 1.0 mile >>> Only 22 days left but who is counting

When it’s 2 degrees outside and it’s so so warm indoors, how do you drag yourself out to go for a run? What I do is procrastinate by doing many things I don’t want to do less than I want to go out for a run and finally run out of things to do and then finally get out there!

I decided to do my usual mile run route backwards. At first, it felt exhilarating like a brand new route! It wasn’t quite so exhilarating when I was running the wrong way down my usual pathway and because it was so dark and I didn’t know the path, I kept veering off into the grass. The lights from cars driving past were making me lose my bearings and my eyes were playing tricks on me.

I felt like I wanted to run a little further than a mile but my knees were really painful and I’d put the oven on before I left so I felt like I should head back.

In other news! I received my Flamincorn 5k virtual medal today and it’s so pretty and sparkly and I wanted to wear it on my run for some motivation but I was worried I might knock my teeth out! The medal was delivered really quickly, I ran my 5k on Sunday and submitted it that afternoon via www.virtualracinguk.co.uk.

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In even more news, I also received my race pack for the London Winter 10k, which is going to be a logistical nightmare to get to and I really didn’t think this through properly. I originally only signed up because I thought the medal was awesome (thanks Instagram for giving me medal envy).

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So, an unpleasant side effect that I’ve been experiencing since day 6 of RED January is stomach pains. They come on shortly after I’ve completed my run and continue through the evening until I go to sleep at night. Then by the next morning, I feel absolutely fine, until after my run again the next day.

I’ve been running consistently now for about 2 years and I’ve trained for half marathons, trail runs, dozens of 10ks, I’ve done races back to back in one weekend multiple times and I’ve never experienced this before. To say it’s annoying is an understatement!

If they could just go away now, that would be great, thanks so much.

RED Day 10 >>> 2.5 miles >>> Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be… Beyoncé

What a great run I had tonight! I think it had a lot to do with my playlist which was an old running Spotify playlist I had and I forgot just how great some of those tunes were! Obviously, there was ‘Who Run The World’ which gave me the opportunity to run and sing at the same time!

If you’ve been running for a while you’ll know that some days are like this. Other days you’ll feel like the worst runner ever and feel like giving up but it’s these days that make it worthwhile. So I highly recommend if your motivation is a little low, throw on your favourite music and get out there I guarantee you won’t regret it.

This also lead to a January PB mile time of 9:34 which is by far the fastest mile I’ve run so far in this challenge!

RED Day 11 >>> 0.68 mile >>> Give me all the M&Ms

I didn’t finish work until sooooo late today and I accidentally ate an entire bag of M&Ms on the journey home. I’m sure this isn’t why you started reading this blog to hear about all of my bad snack habits but yet here I am sharing them anyway. Not the M&Ms they’re all mine I’m not sharing those!

Yesterday I felt like Beyoncé and today I feel like one of the lesser known ones in Destiny’s Child…

I think this is my shortest run EVER, including the time I took my Labrador out and she pulled me to the ground when she saw another dog just around the corner from my house and we turned around and came back home, but I didn’t get out until 9pm.

Today we had our first RED January event at work but it wasn’t overly successful, unfortunately. We played ‘Guess the Weight’ and had some fitness equipment for people to estimate how much it all weighed. The prize was a shiny gold medal (obviously 100% real) and we tried to put the emphasis on the awareness/ charity aspect rather than the ‘winning something’ aspect.

Next week we are going to run a plank and hula hoop challenge so fingers crossed we’ll get more people involved!

Later in the evening, even though I’m a proper grown up, I still like to learn the dance routines to music videos. I’ve done this as long as I can remember the first one being PJ & Duncan Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble but some of my most recent favourites are Justin Bieber’s Sorry and Kiesza’s Hideaway. What can I say, I love music and I love dancing and you’re never too old for that!

RED Day 12 >>> 1.0 mile >>> Sponsored by my pyjamas

Ok, so today didn’t go exactly to plan. I’ve been suffering this week, mostly while at work, with palpitations and no amount of Badger Sleep Balm and breathing has been helping. Here’s the link to the Badger Sleep Balm I absolutely love the smell of it as it’s very calming to me. In the spirit of RED January, I’ve been walking at lunchtime and I can tell you, it helps a ton.

Anyway, I didn’t go out for today’s run until 8pm and I ran in my pyjamas (they look like leggings so I feel like I could get away with it when it’s dark)! I pre-ran a bath before I left and made a cup of peppermint tea for when I got back so I had something great to look forward to.

I grabbed my torch and just went out and ran as far as I felt happy with. Obviously being January, it was pitch black but I feel pretty safe in my neighbourhood but I also love watching horror films which isn’t particularly conducive to happily running alone and feeling like I wouldn’t be kidnapped or some creature wearing a mask might kill me… You’ve got to pick your battles I guess.

RED Day 13 >>> 2.7 miles >>> It happened

Nothing much eventful about today’s run, I did a walk warm up for around 3 mins. My knees were giving me a little bit of trouble at the start but it soon eased off.

The worst part about today’s run was my calves. I did a little walk on an incline and it really knocked my calves for 6. I had trouble getting running so I had to do some stretches before I could get running again.

The wind wasn’t particularly in my favour on the last mile but it wasn’t cold so that was something. Followed up my run with a nice dairy-free butter crisp sandwich!

While I’m not particularly happy with my overall mileage this week I am happy that I went out every day even if it was at 9pm some nights! I want to try and avoid injury though so I think keeping the mileage low might be a smart idea.

If you’re taking part in RED January, how have you found this week? What has been motivating you to go out every day?

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Should Guide Runners Receive a Medal Too?

While I was scrolling through Twitter yesterday afternoon, I stumbled upon a Sky News article which was titled ‘London Marathon: Visually impaired entrants urge organisers to reverse ’embarrassing’ guide runners rule‘ and was naturally intrigued. It stated that ‘volunteers, who remain tethered to their runner throughout the 26-mile route, are not given finisher medals like regular entrants’. Read the full article here

This isn’t something that I had ever considered before, had you have asked me whether guide runners received a medal upon finishing the London Marathon, I would have presumed that they would but this is not the case.

Blind charities, such as the RNIB are now putting pressure on the Marathon’s organisers to request that guide runners receive the same recognition as their visually impaired co-runners adding that ‘they need to bring themselves into the 21st century’ in line with other large marathons who do recognise them and that they ‘have a lack of understanding’ for the community.

Guide runners run the same distance, they do the same training they put in the same amount of effort as the visually impaired runner all while sacrificing their own race times. Guide runners are selflessly giving up their own time to help another person achieve their goals.

Blind runners would not be able to participate in the London Marathon without a guide runner and it’s no easy job. Guiding someone across a long distance like a marathon is a tough job, you have another person to be responsible for and ensuring that they cross the finish line safely.

One person on Twitter commented that at the Paralympics, guide athletes will also win a medal alongside their visually impaired co-athlete.

So why is the London Marathon so against the official participation of guide runners?

Organisers argue that guide runners are given a place to run the London Marathon, a much-coveted race which thousands of people are denied access to via the ballot every year, free of charge. They state that they are not official participants and they are there only to safely guide and support the runner and not run the race itself. For that reason, they are provided with a race number but they are not issued with a chip timer, receive no official finish time and are not rewarded with a medal or goody bag at the end.

Following the recent backlash, the London Marathon organisers have commented that the current policy will remain in place and guide runners would continue to receive no recognition, despite the recent poll where 95% of respondents voted in favour of guide runners receiving a medal.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think that guide runners should receive the same recognition as the visually impaired runner? 

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My Best and Worst Races, Full Running Calendar and PBs of 2018

2018 huh, what a year! There have been highs, lows, horses, stunning scenery, mud, a lion, lots of falling over and even a few PBs! It hasn’t been the best year for me personally, and running had taken a bit of a backseat in comparison to last year. I had to say goodbye to my beautiful Labrador in the summer and, quite frankly, I didn’t have the enthusiasm or energy to run for months (I’m really keen to write a blog post all about losing a pet and things that really helped me, for anyone else who may be going through the same thing). Then I got sick and couldn’t run a couple of races towards the end of the year, which I was devastated about and didn’t take the decision not to run lightly (in 2 years I’ve never had a Did Not Start, I always turn up to a race). Then my final race of the year, the Watermore 10k, was a bit of a disaster…

I’m going to share my entire race calendar for 2018 (including the two I didn’t make the start line for) and include my favourites as well as my least favourites, followed by a cheeky look at my PBs and how much I’ve improved as a runner since 2017. Check out the further links next to any of the races I’ve done full reviews for or blog posts.

My Favourite Races of 2018

Martock 10k
What a lovely race the Martock 10k was! The honest reason I wanted to enter this race was, I saw on my Instagram that someone had run it last year and I thought the medal was so cute I had to have it (medal goals) and I managed a PB at this race.

Martock 10k

Minchinhampton 10k
If you’re looking for a lovely, village-style race, this is one you’d definitely enjoy. Read my full race review here or read more on my training journal here

Longleat 10k
Oh my gosh, the rain we had this day! (Fun fact, in the past 2 years I’ve done a total of 47 races and not once have I had to run in the rain, that’s not to say it hasn’t rained before and after). Because the weather was so awful, most people didn’t hang around afterwards but I wanted a picture all by myself with the Longleat Lion… I mean, obviously right! For a full race review on the Longleat 10k click here or to read my blogging week of the race ‘diary of an injured runner’, click here

Brecon Beacons Trail Race
The prettiest trail race I ever did do! The Brecon Beacons cemented my love of trail running, except I did spend a considerable amount of time stopping and taking photos because the views were stunning. I had a little bit of a disaster on the way because I’d accidentally set my Sat Nav to ‘avoid tolls’ which took me a hecking long way around Wales instead of directly over the bridge, not such a good start. The medal was also some pretty hefty bling which looked great amongst my medal collection.

Read more about the Brecon Beacons 10k Trail Challenge click here or to read my blogging week of the race ‘Need for Speed’ click here

Frenchay 10k
A really lovely village run with some serious hills and trail sections. It’s all fun and games isn’t it when you’re doing the first mile all nice and downhill, except you have to run back up that hill on the final stretch! Not feeling like Mo Farrah now are you Michelle… no you are not. Despite the hills, it didn’t put me off this race and the ‘medal’ was a cute mug which I have on my mantle.

My No-So Favourite Races of 2018

Hawkesbury Upton 5k
I certainly had some beef with this race for sure. It didn’t help that it was freeeeeeezing cold (in June) which didn’t put me in a happy running mood. I found this race very strangely put together, from the warm up to the fact that children and adults went off running together. I was very concerned that I was going to accidentally trip over or get tripped over by a child, in my opinion, they have very different styles of running to adults and many of them would weave all around the course which I found quite unnerving. I will say though, the kids that ran it were amazing runners, truly, and this tiny child who must have been around 6 was whooping my behind for sure!

Bath Skyline Trail Run
I had prepared myself to fall over during this race, I just had a feeling that it was going to be that kind of trail running. I’d already signed up for the 10k race but when I got there something was telling me to defer to the 5k instead (it was after all a 2 lap course, which I’m not that keen on anyway). Even though I ‘officially’ transferred to the 5k race, I ended up not having a time recorded on the website for some reason.

I will say, the views on this race are spectacular and that was the only thing that was keeping me upright the majority of the time. I fell over once in the wet, muddy, woodland section and the very nice runners in front of me asked if I was ok. I then stood up, took another few paces and went down again… they were probably wondering who the heck I was and if I’d ever actually run any sort of race before!

Read the full race review here or to read more about my falling over journey on my weekly blog post here

Slay the Dragon Trail Run
Again with the trail running, I’ve decided I’m going to stick to the trails I know in 2019 so I don’t end up in such a grump and gosh was I in a grump after this one (I think my face in my ‘post-race selfies’ proves this). We’d had some terribly cold and snowy weather the week before this race and the churned up mud was frozen solid and it was agony for me to run on. I was really concerned about twisting my ankle and ruining the rest of my race year!

Read my full race review here or to read my training blog post with more info on the Slay the Dragon 10k here

Concorde Canter 10k
Feeling nostalgic for Concorde, I signed up for the Concorde Canter. It promised to be a flat, unused airfield which in my mind means ‘very flat, you’re gonna get a PB’. How wrong I was! While it was relatively flat, the wind across this 2 lap course was unbelievable. Not only that, the weather was scorching hot. It was also, quite possibly, the most uninspiring and uninteresting course with long sections of airfield that you couldn’t even see the end of.

Even worse than this, I didn’t even get to see Concorde (except on the medal, which was quite cute).

My 2018 Race Calendar

January
Longleat 10k ~ 28th

February
Bath Skyline Trail Run ~ 11th
Slay the Dragon Trail Run ~ 25th

March
Minchinhampton 10k ~ 11th
Clock Change Challenge ~ 25th (read my race review here and blog about the race here)

April
Devizes Half Marathon ~ 8th
Frenchay 10k ~ 15th
Bridgwater Bolt 10k ~ 29th (read my blog about the race here) spoiler, I get a PB!

May
Brecon Beacons Trail Run ~ 5th
Glastonbury Round the Tor 10k ~ 6th (read my blog about the race here) – spoiler, it’s hot!
Bristol 10k ~ 13th (read my race review here and blog about the race here) – spoiler, I hate how busy this race is!
Caerphilly 10k ~ 20th

June
Chew Valley 10k ~ 10th
Hawkesbury Upton 5k ~ 16th
Martock 10k ~ 17th
Pretty Muddy ~ 30th

July
The Concorde Canter ~ 4th
Thornbury 10k ~ 12th

August
Cannock Chase ~ 5th (read my race review here and blog about the race here)

September
Oldbury 10mile run ~ 9th
Bristol Half Marathon ~ 23rd
Watermore 10k ~ 30th

2018 Personal Bests

2017
1k ~ 4:53
1 mile ~ 8:04
5k ~ 27:35
10k ~ 57:53
Half ~ 2:15:41

Total miles ran ~ 402

2018
1k ~ 4:50
1 mile ~ 7:59
5k ~ 27:03
10k ~ 56:33
Half ~ no record set

Total miles ran ~ 208 miles

Wow I ran half the amount of miles than I did in 2018 but I actually set PBs across each distance, with the exception of my half marathon (the Devizes half, read about this disasterous race – which does include a horse – here)

I hope you’ve all had a great running year, let’s smash our goals in 2019! I’m starting off January with RED January (Run Every Day January in partnership with the Mental Health Charity, Mind – read more here how you can get involved too) which I’m hoping will get me back into running as I’ve already signed up for 5 races and I want those PBs baby!

 

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How I conquered Run Every Day January (Days 1-6)

Wow what a first week for RED January! I was smug for a day, then felt the opposite of smug, then totally broken, what a challenge this is! I also quickly came to the conclusion that I’d rather go out and run every day than sew a button onto my RED January t-shirt! I’m so awful at stitching, I thought this was going to be a much bigger challenge for me every day!

TOTAL MILES –> 12

If you haven’t heard about RED January yet, click link here where there’s tons of information on how you can get involved and what the aim of it is.

If you want to donate to this fantastic charity, please click the link https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/red-january-2019-57705432-194b-4cb3-b46c-8d38bd30bb81

In summary, it’s not just a January challenge, it’s been developed to improve mental health at a time when many people can feel low and money is tight after the Christmas period. In conjunction with the mental health charity Mind, it aims to promote physical activity by challenging you to run every day.

RED Day 1 >>> 2.78 miles >>> I’ve missed running

It’s been literally 2 months since I ran at all so my plan for my first run of 2019 is a steady slow one!

I did a nice long walk warmup for around half a kilometre and then got into what I can only describe as a gentle jog. Ooh this is nice, why haven’t I run for so long…?

Then my girl boss badass song came on Spotify (Demi Lovato’s Sorry Not Sorry if you’re wondering) and boy was I feeling pumped. I was singing along and having a great time and then BAM… crikey, I didn’t realise how unfit I’d gotten! This used to be my easy short route!

So, because I’m the sensible type (I’m going for the long haul here so cannot get injured!), I eased off the running and did more of a jog/ walk for the entire run and it actually felt pretty great. The weather was warm for January, the wind was minimal and I just enjoyed being outside and listening to some tunes.

Back at home I did a short stretch sequence which I’m terrible for neglecting usually.

I’m not sure whether I’m living in a parallel universe, a bit like Bandersnatch that I unashamedly played 6 times in 2 days, but when I completed my run it had logged it for 11.55pm on 20 December! Come on Garmin get it together! I did get a ‘night owl’ badge though so….. ok it doesn’t count but hey!

I’m learning Spanish so I’ve changed all of my devices to be Spanish!

Based entirely on this one run alone, I am thinking this challenge is going to be easy. Let’s see how it goes when I don’t have the day off and I’m back to reality and flying by the seat of my pants like normal!

Injuries: my right outside foot felt a bit off and by the end of the run the top of my right foot felt iffy too!

Not really an injury but my gosh we’re my legs and knees sore come the evening. Going downstairs, no thanks I’ll stay up here for now.

How I felt before: not too bad actually, I’d say I was in a good mood and felt happy and optimistic for the New Year.

How I felt after: mood stayed the same except I felt a little more badass than before. Tried not to feel too low that I’m starting from scratch again.

On the back of your RED January T-shirt there’s a calendar for you to ‘check off’ the days that you’ve worked out which is a nice idea. I intended to buy some iron on stars for each day but they were super expensive so I rooted around in my loft and found these really cute buttons which I’m going to sew on.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to sew anything and this was much more troublesome than I imagined it would be!

RED Day 2 >>> 1.01 miles >>> no squats for me today

My legs… just… no stairs for me please I just can’t! Puts into perspective just how unfit I’ve let myself get, yesterday wasn’t a long run by any stretch of the imagination!

What a contrast to yesterday’s run! It was freezing cold and I ended up with a Rudolph red nose to go with my RED T-shirt. I’m going to try and make a mile my minimum daily distance but I’ll be happy getting out at all some days.

Also I’m getting better at sewing on buttons already!

I spent the afternoon and evening working and when I went to get up… I felt like an 80 year old woman… Yesterday I thought this challenge was going to be easy but I’m not so sure about this now. I read another blog post of someone who participated in RED January last year, who was a much more prolific runner than I am, and she said it nearly broke her! Eek!

On Instagram I’ve seen some people sign up for the 2019 miles in 2019 and I thought this would be a heck of a challenge! That’s 5.5 miles every day and I struggled to do one today! Perhaps I’ll leave that for the more seasoned runners…

Mood before: pretty good, if a little tired

Mood after: super cold but feeling energetic!

RED Day 3 >>> 3.04 miles >>> I feel broken already

I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I feel broken already with this challenge and I’m only on day 3! When I put my running shoes on, I felt a little bit of discomfort on one of my feet, a little like if you’ve been wearing a backpack all day and you put it back on.

The weather was overcast and so so cold today, what a grey depressing January day it was! I planned to go out for one short mile but, as oftentimes does happen, I get the idea in my head that I’m going to go further once I’m out there.

Not only that, but I decided I’d go up my nemesis hill (I’ve also affectionally nicknamed it the ‘Batman Hill’ because on Strava the elevation looks like Batman!).

I felt great… then awful… then great again all within 3 miles. Also, I found a new found appreciation for having a shower after a run… isn’t it glorious!

Mood before: a little bit drained

Mood after: felt happy that I’d gone much further than I planned and felt pretty great

Later on in the evening, I literally felt like I’d been stomped on across every part of my body. Wasn’t I the cocky one 2 days ago thinking this was going to be easy!

RED Day 4 >>> 1.01 miles >>> not quite as broken

I felt much better today, I didn’t feel quite so ‘stomped on’ which can only be a good thing! I’ve been reading other stories of runners getting involved in RED January and I’m so inspired by everyone it makes wanting to continue very easy.

I went out for a leisurely 1 mile but honestly even that felt difficult. It was freezing cold out again today which makes breathing in just that bit more difficult!

Mood before: a little exhausted

Mood after: tons more energy to get my chores done and warm up of course ✅

I think it’s easy sometimes to forget why we are all joining in with this challenge as you get swept away with the days and miles but I am very keen to keep promoting the mental health aspect of this challenge as much as the challenge itself.

So with that in mind (no pun intended) I took as many tips from as many different places as I could get my eyeballs on. I updated my company Yammer page, I helped get the incentive out into our workplace as much as possible, we ran mini challenges, I promoted it on Instagram, Twitter and my blog here. I told everyone that would listen, I joined the Strava group and updated my posts with ‘RED January’.

Of course there are people that don’t want to be helped for many reasons. You can’t force people into doing physical activity. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink as they say. I can’t make him drink, but I can raise awareness of this brilliant challenge and provide people with as much information and support that they want.

There’s a whole community of people out there who want to help themselves, each other and everyone else. My favourite community is the one on Instagram. Search for the hashtag #REDJanuary and you’ll find a whole host of posts to motivate you and make some friends along the way.

I saw on Instagram that there are 60k people signed up for RED January this year which is just absolutely amazing!

RED Day 5 >>> 1.03 miles >>> Looks like we’re running again today!

This is a short summary of my day > wake up late > work until 3pm > have a scheduled 30-minute snooze > have a really weird dream > get woken up abruptly by my house rabbit stamping > procrastinate for an hour > decide that it’s too cold to warm up on my run > have a dance party in my living room (I didn’t learn Drake’s In My Feelings dance routine for nothing you know) > feel like that was a workout enough > go out for a run anyway

The run was pretty tough I’m not going to lie, although it wasn’t as cold as yesterday, it still was difficult breathing in and I left it so late in the day it was dark when I finally went out. I managed to grasp a 2019 PB but I feel that I’m so far away from my old mile PB which was 8 minutes on the dot that I might never see it again.

Mood before: pretty down and lethargic. Even had the thought ‘would anyone even know if I didn’t go out for a run today’.

Mood after: after my little dance party and run I was feeling happy and energetic. I even had a little impromptu Mary Poppins sing along because Spoon Full of Sugar popped into my head (and now I have a sore throat, I’m no Julie Andrews).

‘The mile most fast’

 

RED Day 6 >>> 3.1 miles >>> Virtual 5k Run

This was the toughest run I’ve had so far this month. It felt difficult, I felt very lethargic and my ankles felt horrible. It probably doesn’t help that I had 3 Quality Street chocolates before I left, which I don’t recommend as a pre-run snack!

I had decided that today was going to be my 5k Virtual Run day with https://www.virtualracinguk.co.uk for the Flamingunicorn medal, which is so cute so I set my watch for 5k and just went out there and did the best I could physically do.

Longest run

I followed up my run with Yoga with Adriene which was a nice end to this week.

Honestly, I don’t feel great today so it’s a bit of a low note to end on but I did run every day and did a total of 12 miles so that’s the main thing.

How have you got on with your first week of RED January? My main goal for the rest of the week is not to get injured so I can continue with the challenge.

My sewing skills throughout the week!

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Getting REaDy for RED January

I first heard about RED January from people I was following on my Instagram account. I had serious FOMO (fear of missing out) and I wished I’d heard about it earlier so I could do it too!

If you don’t know what RED January is all about, let me tell you more. First of all, don’t be put off by the Run Every Day January slogan. The aim of the initiative is to support your mental health by doing something active every day, this could be walking, running, swimming, cycling, basically anything that gets you moving this January. They’ve also partnered up with the leading mental health charity, Mind, to help raise funds towards the vital work providing information and support.

If you want to donate to this fantastic charity please click this link

There’s no doubt that there are positive effects from physical activity on your mental health and we all know that January can be a challenging time. It’s cold, it’s dark, we’re getting over the Christmas season/ holiday lbs and we’re also broke!

Following RED January 2018, 87% of REDers reported feeling significantly better physically and mentally after completing the challenge.

I feel very strongly about encouraging others to get out there and be active and seeing others achieve great things too (this is one reason why I started my running Instagram account in the first place, it’s an actual online community that supports each other through the highs and lows of running, so if you’re thinking of setting one up, I’d highly recommend it).

I’m trying to also bring RED January into my workplace by doing fundraising and encouraging people to get out there and do more exercise. So far on the agenda, we have a plank challenge to see who can be the champion plank-er, guess the sports balls in a jar, hula hoop challenge and a quiz. Who out there doesn’t want a happier workforce and colleagues… no-one that’s who.

How am I getting involved in RED January? My plan is to run every day. That actually seems like a pretty terrifying prospect to me. Yes, I’ve run a lot in the past, yes I’ve done a total of 40 races in the last 2 years, but running every day! Sheesh! I’m pretty confident that I can do this though, I’m pretty determined once I put my mind to something. Not only that, when I signed up for RED January, I ordered one of their technical t-shirts for £10 so I can cross off each day that I’ve run. I’m going to purchase some little iron-on stars and stick one of those on every day to make it really pretty as some extra motivation.

This sounds great! How do I sign up? Visit https://redtogether.co.uk/ for more information and to register or https://www.mind.org.uk/redjanuary Both sites have tons of information, resources and ideas on how you can get involved. I’d love to hear about all of you that have signed up already and how you’re going to incorporate activity into your days and sharing this journey with you. I’d highly recommend following the hashtag #REDJanuary on Instagram so you can see other people who are taking part too and join the community.

I’m fully expecting to only run half a mile some days when I have a lot going on, and that’s fine with me, as long as I’m getting out of the door with my trainers on I’ll be happy with that. I have come across a stumbling block already though… my usual running shoes have been sabotaged by my house rabbit, Teddy, and he chewed one of the laces clean off! Luckily though, when you sign up for RED January, they send you a pair of beautiful red shoe laces so I’ll have to pop those on instead.

Here’s what you get in the full pack when you sign up.

If I haven’t convinced you already, go to the RED January or Mind websites, check them out and I’m sure you’ll feel inspired and look forward to January as much as I am! What a way to kick off your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions!

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7 Week Half Marathon Training | Beginners Running Blog | Week 5

I’m afraid to report that this week has been just as bad as the last. Am I even writing a running blog right now or more a ‘what I didn’t do this week’ blog?? I’m still suffering from illness and also I feel a little exhausted too. I’m sure I said this last week but I’m trying to do lots of things and I’m doing them all badly!

So what did I get up to this week? Well, I coughed….. a lot…. so much, in fact, I pulled a muscle in my back and it was agony for a couple of days.

It was also my birthday on Friday and I still wasn’t feeling great but had a great evening eating pizza and snacks and drinking prosecco.

The worst thing that happened this week was that I was signed up for the Oldbury 10 mile race today (Sunday). It was a race that I missed out on last year so I was keen to sign up as soon as the registrations were out. It was also going to be a good gauge for where I am in my training for the half marathon in 2 weeks time. But I didn’t race it. I’d decided on Saturday night that I was still coughing and I don’t even know if I’d have had the energy to run that far. If it had been a 10k I might have attempted it, but 10 miles seemed a stretch too far for me on this occasion.

Let me tell you, I didn’t take this decision lightly. I’ve done around 40 races in the past 2 years and never have I not turned up to race one of them, even when I felt injured or just low enthusiasm. The fact that there’s a medal out there with my actual name on it and it’s not in my sweaty, ill hands makes me feel sad.

Not only that, I’m now wondering whether I should even attempt to run the Half Marathon at all now? This month, Strava kindly emailed me to let me know I’d run 11.5 miles the entire month of August. Which is depressing!

If anyone’s got any advice on whether they would run the half having done hardly any training or whether they’d give it a miss I’d love to hear it. I don’t want to start not turning up to races, I’m not that person at all, but I also don’t want to do something stupid. Am I likely to be injured having not run further than 10k in months?

On a brighter note, here’s a picture of me and Teddy bun, who has been a much better-behaved bunny this past week. He didn’t help me open my birthday cards though like my beautiful Labrador used to. I miss her so much, my birthday just wasn’t the same without her. I want more than anything to have another dog in my life but unfortunately, my circumstances won’t allow for it at the moment. I’m also planning to spend a month travelling around the British coast and there’s no way I could do that as easily with a pupper in tow. So, for now, I’ll smile at strangers dogs instead…

Hope you’ve all had a better bout of running than I have and here’s to a better week next week.

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7 Week Half Marathon Training | Beginners Running Blog | Week 4

After a fun-filled weekend in London last weekend to watch Britney Spears on her Piece of Me tour, this week is a stark contrast. I can’t even take it through day by day on what I got up to running-wise because I’ve been sick all week.

I always say that I’d love to live in London for around a year for the experience, however, I feel like this weekend proved to me that I’m not cut out for the big city life and I’m much more of a country girl than I realised.

Monday was a bank holiday (hooray) and I was so looking forward to a lovely break after the hectic weekend but I felt exhausted all day and didn’t do anything on my to-do list. On Tuesday I started to feel like I had an adorable drippy nose, which is just what your colleagues want to be around. By Wednesday, my cold had fully set in and I worked from home all day and tried to have a bit of a rest at the same time. Thursday and Friday were just awful. I’ve always been one to get up, get dressed and I usually feel better for it. I managed to drag my drippy-nosed butt into work but had to come home shortly afterwards. Several colleagues told me how awful I looked and it wasn’t even a lie… I did look awful… can’t even deny it haha.

This is what working from home looks like when you have a house bunny. He loves to jump across the keys and type random things

Saturday and Sunday didn’t look much better as my cold progressed into a glorious cough and sore throat.

I have to admit, I am the worst sick person ever. I go through the stages of feeling sorry for myself through to being angry that I’m sick. We’re right into week 4 out of 7 of my half marathon training schedule and I’ve lost this entire week.

This is a question that I often find myself asking when I’m sick. Am I too sick to run? Do I need to rest or will the exercise do me good? Honestly, I’m usually so drained from being ill that no amount of willpower in the world will get me out pounding those pavements. However, I’ve been sick 3 times already this year, once with the flu, another with a mild cold and now this. I think you get a feel for whether you should actually work out or not.

There was no way I could have run when I had the flu, I could barely get out of bed and I was lucky to have a furry four-legged Labrador to keep me company when I didn’t see people for days (everyone stayed away, quite rightly!).

My last sickness, I felt pretty good. I’d been eating pretty healthily and I am 100% sure that this helped my recovery. I definitely decided that I was well enough to exercise during this period. A slight runny nose was not going to stop me this time around.

And today, again, no chance that I could work out. When I was looking back at last week, I think perhaps I was primed to get sick. I was really tired all week so I should have seen it coming. Coupled with a heck ton of germs in London, I didn’t stand a chance.

From my understanding, if you’re feeling sick ‘from the neck up’ you’re ok to exert yourself. But if you feel weak or you have sickness in your chest, you definitely shouldn’t work out. However, on my running Instagram, the people I’m following frequently get sick and usually run through it no matter what. As I mentioned earlier, I’m such a pathetic sick person I just want to lie down and not get up until I’m better again!

Evidently, I’m not cut out for the London, fast-paced, life but more suited to staying indoors with the occasional escapade running outdoors.

Everyone needs a sick buddy, here’s mine!

I am absolutely in awe of people who run marathons, Ironmans and other gruelling sports competitions while suffering from serious illnesses. These people are so inspirational they blow my mind. Here I am talking about having a little bit of a cold and being able to just about manage to lift the TV remote, and there are people out there who are suffering and in pain every day of their lives and yet still manage to put their bodies through extraordinary feats.

Colds and other minor illnesses though, I believe, are usually prolonged by physical exertion so sometimes an extra day or two rest may help you recover quicker than if you didn’t rest. As long as you’ve been consistently sticking to your training plan, having a week off isn’t going to do much harm in the long run.

So, I’m going into week 5 still sick and I have a race on Sunday. Send help…

I’d be interested to hear your take on running when you’re sick and whether you push through or whether you choose to rest (I know many of you runners are the opposite to me, you motivated goal diggers you).

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7 Week Half Marathon Training | Beginners Running Blog | Week 3

Welcome back to my half marathon training blog! Here goes with this week….. and panic in 3…. 2…. 1… Summer has gone and the winter/ rain season is very much upon us – English weather, so heckin’ annoying.

Monday 20 August | Rest Day
I don’t know whether it’s the change in weather (aka from summer to full-blown winter) but I’ve been feeling just awful this past week. The mornings are dark, and getting out of bed is 10 times harder, and the evenings seem super short and it gets dark way too early. That also means that my motivation is lowwwwwww.

Tuesday 21 August | Planned run day
So… here’s what happened, I planned to go for a short run when I got home but I just didn’t have it in me. I felt exhausted when I got home from work and ended up falling asleep on the sofa all night (one of my all-time most annoying habits).

Wednesday 22 August | What’s up
I felt totally drained again today when I got home, I’m not sure what on earth is going on. I feel tired all of the time and I’m sleeping most of my evening away. Running is so far at the back of my mind at the moment when it should be at the forefront. I have a 10 mile race in a couple of weeks and it’s the first time since I started running that I’m thinking of pulling out because I know it’s not going to go well. It was supposed to be a good gauge for me 2 weeks before the half marathon but it’s going to be more like a reality check on how little work I’ve done this time around.

I’m really hoping that this is just a mini phase because I don’t think I’ve gone this long without doing proper training runs since I started taking running more seriously 18 months ago. I’ve been in one long taper…

Thursday 23 August | Packing? No thanks
In preparation for my weekend in London, I decided that I’d need a London manicure too. I have so many nails though I had trouble deciding so it was up to Teddy to make the decision for me. That obviously burned zero calories to go with the zero that I’ve burned so far this week, which totals zero.

Friday 24 August | Shopping
I realised that I actually had no backpack to take with me to London this weekend so I had to go shopping and get one. That obviously then took a large chunk of time out of my evening after work and I did zero miles… again…

Saturday 25 August | London Baby!
Got up early to get ready to go to London on the train, I just love going to London (even though it scares me and I don’t understand the tube and people….. just people everywhere). The occasion? Britney Spears was at the O2 arena doing her Piece of Me tour.

We got into London around 12.30pm and our first stop was the London Eye. I wanted to do a ‘Coachella style’ photo in front of the wheel but there were so many people, we went and had some lunch and got cocktails (two for one yes please) in the Slug and Lettuce.

We stopped off at Downing Street (like you do) and took a lovely stroll through St James’s Park and stopped to speak to some birds. I also saw some pelicans, which I’ve never seen before, and a squirrel trying to fight some pigeons off so that he could eat a nut – he was utterly unphased, clearly, he’s a tough London street squirrel.

The next stop was the Queen’s House. I’ve been told that when the flag is up at Buckingham Palace, the Queen is home. I mused that if I were the Queen, I wouldn’t want to answer the door and I’d make sure the flag was always down and I’d be watching Netflix and having a snooze. It’s probably best that I’m not the Queen… just saying.

We went to the hotel to get ready for Britney and then took one stop on the train to get to the o2. It was absolutely huge inside, I’ve never been to a concert as big as this before. Our seats were pretty good and Britney wasn’t a tiny dot in the distance. This may well be a controversial opinion but Britney Spears was the best performer I’ve ever seen live. From the moment she got out on stage until the minute she stepped off she was absolutely on it.

After the concert, we went to a nearby bar so that we could avoid all of the crowds going home, and landed on a rooftop bar which was full of people who had also been to see Britney and some of them were dressed up as Britney… why didn’t we think of that.

Sunday 26 August | Still in London
Putting our backpacks back on after wearing them all day yesterday, was agony. After all of the excitement of yesterday, we decided that we’d do some sightseeing today, however, the weather was absolutely atrocious. We went over to Tower Bridge and got soaked right through (I didn’t realise I’d need wellies to walk around London but that should have been my footwear choice).

We had booked in to have afternoon tea and Prosecco at a cute cafe type establishment and we happily watched everyone walking past getting soaking wet on their way to the Notting Hill festival, while we sat all smug in the dry.

Cold, wet and exhausted, we made our way back to the train station to get the train home (and a cheeky cocktail in one of the bars). My contacts lenses were playing me and I couldn’t see a damn thing by the end of the day and we got home about 9pm. Contact lenses out, snooze trousers on! Tomorrow is a bank holiday, blessed. I’m going to need the day off tomorrow after such a hectic weekend.

Total Miles | Zero but did walk A LOT around London

Click here to read last week’s running blog ==> last week

How many miles did you manage this week?

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7 Week Half Marathon Training | Beginners Running Blog | Week 2

Welcome back to my half marathon training blog! Highlights from this week include ‘was this my first time out wearing running shoes? Turns out, it wasn’t, but it sure felt like it’ followed by ‘I ended up in a snooze situation that I couldn’t get out of’. So let’s jump into what went on this week.

Monday 13 August | Yoga day
Thought about doing some yoga. Didn’t. That’s all there is to say about that. Spent the evening instead trying to hold onto my bread roll while the rabbit tried to steal it from my hands. What kind of sassy bunny have I ended up with??

Tuesday 14 August | Rest Day
After all of the excitement of doing literally nothing productive yesterday, I figured I was due a rest day… I’m taking this ‘treat yo self’ mantra a bit too seriously and I need to stop.

Wednesday 15 August | 2k is better than no k
I had a million things to do this evening after work but I was so determined to get out and run that I vowed to do at least a mile, because a mile is better than nothing right! I’ve mentioned before that I am not a warm weather runner and much prefer running in the cold so 24 degrees is definitely too hecking hot for me! It was also a little bit windy (it’s England, it’s pretty much always windy) which made it a bit trickier.

I set out all raring to go, secretly hoping that, while I was aiming for a mile, I may well pull 3 out of the bag… I was wrong about that. My legs felt like actual lead and I tried to cast my mind back to remember whether I was in fact a runner and whether this was my absolute first time out wearing running shoes. Turns out, it wasn’t, I have the medals to prove it, but it sure felt like it.

Determined as I felt, I just didn’t have it in me today so I wrapped up a short loop around and back home and felt content enough that I’d gone out. I’m practically superwoman, I know.

Thursday 16 August | Rest Day
I can’t quite believe how sore I feel today after yesterday’s mini run! It dawned on me that I can’t actually remember the last time I went out and ran that wasn’t a race… which is terrifying to me. It’s a good job I don’t have a half marathon in 6 weeks…. oh wait….

Friday 17 August | Planned Run Day
I’d planned a run for tonight when I got home from work but I was so tired I decided to have a little sit and watch TV then *bam* I accidentally ended up in a snooze situation that I couldn’t get out of. It was one of those naps where you know you need to come around but your eyes are saying nope. Very annoying. Sleep deprivation has done nothing for my mood or motivation this week.

Snooze days are the best days

Saturday 18 August | Busy Day
I was awake super early this morning thanks to my rabbit (he had some 5.30am time out outside) and it did cross my mind to go out for a short run but I had so much to do today and was leaving the house early so I couldn’t. I’m doing a ‘long’ run tomorrow, which I suspect will only be about 4 miles for me and I’m going to take it very slow and steady, I just need some miles in the legs at this point.

Spent the day in Bath doing a bit of shopping so I spent a lot of time walking around (that totally counts as training right??).

Sunday 19 August | ‘Long Run’
Today’s run was one of those that nothing went right and could be considered a ‘terrible run’. However, I already knew that this was going to be a terrible run because a) it was super windy b) it was really muggy c) I had a bread roll, unicorn smarties and a peppermint tea for breakfast. A, B and C combined I almost didn’t go out but there was that little niggle in my mind that said I absolutely had to. I have a to do list as long as my arm but I need to start making running a priority again!

My pace started off great, lovely and slow at around 12:00. Perfect. Just what I was aiming for. Even with this slow pace though it still felt incredibly tough. So while this may have been the run that ended with me having a bleeding toe from a rogue toenail, it was also a run that happened. And that’s the main thing. I’ve also never seen my face look that red and blotchy before. While I’m no glamorous runner by any stretch of the imagination I don’t usually look like an actual post box.

As weeks go, it wasn’t the best, it wasn’t the worst. I could have tried so much harder but I got out there at least a couple of times and did my best. Next week is going to be a bit of a struggle as the weekend is jam packed but we’ve been blessed with a Bank Holiday Monday so I’m going to make that day my long run day instead.

Total Miles | 5.4

Click here to read last week’s running blog http://bellesrunningblog.com/2018/08/18/7-week-half-marathon-training-beginners-running-blog-week-2/

If you’re training for a distance race I’d love the hear how you manage to motivate yourself when you really don’t feel like it.

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7 Week Half Marathon Training | Beginners Running Blog | Week 1

Welcome to my 7 week half marathon training journey! You may be saying ‘7 weeks, that’s a little unusual, Michelle’ and you’d be right… however, that’s the amount of weeks I’ve got left after neglecting my training! Originally I scheduled my training to start with 12 weeks until race day but things have got a little hectic. Not only that, the weather has been absolutely scorching and I’m sure as heck no hot weather runner…

Sunday 5 August | Trail Run at Cannock Chase
Today was a race day! It felt so good to be going back to a race that I adored last year and easing myself back into things, mostly because I never consider trail running to be a PB kinda thing, I like to think of it as a ‘beautiful scenery leisurely run’ kinda thing (unless the terrain is difficult and I’m falling over… it happens).

Cannock Chase is a bit of a trek for me at 2 hours away but I think it’s totally worth it. The trails are beautiful with woodland all around you and the occasional lake. When I ran this last year, my absolute favourite part was going over the stream! You could either run through it (like a nutter and get soaking wet feet for the entire race) or go over stepping stones. I thought ‘this is what trail running is all about’.

The weather was scorching hot at around 30 degrees but because you’re running under cover from the forest, you’re not in the blazing sun and the temperatures are more bearable.

I went in with zero time goal, I wanted to go around the beautiful course and I stopped a few times and took pictures (judge me, I don’t care) and my final time was 6 minutes slower than last year. If you want to hear my in depth race review from 2017 read about it here.

I did have somewhat of a minor injury with my left ankle. At times it felt a little unsteady especially on the uneven trail that was more rocky than gravel. I really need to do some work on my ankles, that’s going to be one priority over the next coming weeks.

When I ran Chew Valley a couple of months ago, the redeeming factor about running up a ginormous hill is that the last mile is entirely downhill. Because the downhill is so steep it takes a bit of a toll on your joints and I couldn’t push myself much because my ankle was too sore, yet it had been no problem the rest of the race.

Monday 6 August | Ouch Day
What happens when you haven’t run properly for 3 weeks the day after a trail run? You feel like you’ve been beaten with a stick is what. My shoulders were agony today and I hurt all over!

Tuesday 7 August | Work day
Had so much to do tonight, I really don’t know how people manage to workout, work full time, keep a clean and tidy house, have relationships and a social life, prepare healthy meals and do a side hustle… if you know, please tell me the secret! I feel that most of the time I’m doing lots of things… badly.

Wednesday 8 August | Work day
Another evening spent working. Help. Me.

Thursday 9 August | Productive day
I had a half day today and was fairly productive taking an exciting trip to the local tip to get rid of some things… How the other half live.

Friday 10 August | Day off
I had the day off today so that I could get a cosmetic procedure! I was a bit scared that it was going to hurt but it was absolutely fine and the lady was brilliant. I thought I might be able to sneak a run in this afternoon but that probably wasn’t the best idea.

I spent the evening working on the blog, drinking strawberries and cream Baileys and getting my house rabbit to like me!

img_9125
You’ve heard of beauty and a beat, here’s bunny and a blog

Saturday 11 August | More cheese Gromit
The answer is yes always more cheese! Nearly 22,000 steps, 2 proseccos, 2 cocktails, 1 cider and a dissarono and coke later, we went on the hunt for Gromits around Bristol. It was a rubbish rainy day but we still had tons of fun. Needless to say, today wasn’t a rest day but wasn’t really a workout day either but I am knackered and went to bed pretty early!

Also, props to me, I got on a bus from town which I don’t think I’ve done for over 10 years! I’m usually an Uber girl but it was kinda nice and made me feel sleepy unlike an Uber when I try and avoid making conversation with a stranger the entire way home.

If you don’t know what the Gromit trail is, here’s a description from the website, raising money for Bristol Children’s Hospital. https://www.grandappeal.org.uk/trails-exhibitions/gromit-unleashed/

In Gromit Unleashed 2 Nick Park’s Academy Award®-winning character Gromit has returned to Bristol for his second starring role in the award-winning charity’s sculpture trails, but this time he’s not alone; the loveable pooch is joined by his pal Wallace and arch nemesis Feathers McGraw! The trail features over 60 giant sculptures designed by high-profile artists, designers, innovators and local talent. Sculptures are positioned in high footfall and iconic locations around Bristol and the surrounding area, perfect for a family day out around the city and beyond.

Sunday 12 August | This day went wrong
I literally had so much to do today and didn’t manage to do any of it which is very annoying! Before I knew it, it was 7pm and I’m starting to get ready for going back to work tomorrow. Time to plan for next week’s running goals, the only way is up after this week!!

Overview
This week as a first week back was a bit of a disaster. While I did manage to run a trail run last Sunday, I haven’t done much else! This is now taking me to 6 weeks for training. I have a 10 mile race at the beginning of September which will be a good gauge of where I am (or not), I need to get this thing going! Jesus take the wheel…

This week total miles | 6