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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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Half Marathon Training | Week 9 | Diary of an Injured Runner

Tick Tock on the Clock but the party don’t stop… daylight savings are here! And what better way to celebrate spring on the way with a race, right! I chose to wake up an hour earlier and do the Clock Change Challenge 10k, which I felt was only right considering I’d done the autumn version back last year. I was a little sad that I’d missed out on the Cardiff Bay 10k today as I’d booked this one already BUT it’s on next year’s list.

Spoiler alert… the lady handing out race numbers on Sunday said I had the winning timing chip and I won my first ever race… or did I…

Monday | Travelling Day
I had to travel to Swindon today for a meeting and unfortunately there was still a lot of snow on the roads. As usual, I felt completely knackered from driving (it’s not even that far) and I had a snooze around 6pm which never sets me up well for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday | Rest Day
I’ve made up my mind that I’m going to start with my photo food diaries again because I’m really not eating nearly as smart or as healthy as I sometimes imagine that I am. While I’ve been tracking my food on My Fitness Pal for some years, I don’t ever feel like it’s a good visual representation of what I’ve eaten that day. So I may be under my 1,200 calories goal (I’m 5’2), but what if all I ate all day was snacks and cake?? I much prefer to see exactly what I’ve eaten, what was the portion size and how many colours have I eaten.

Wednesday | Hair Cut Day
New hair, who’s dis? I was having my hair cut on the evening so running was out for me today, but secretly I was pleased because I wanted to have as many rest days this week as I could to make sure I can race on Sunday.

Thursday | Travelling Day
Another day of travel today to Reading and, yep you’ve guessed it, another snooze around 5pm – 6pm. I had a weird experience when I woke up from my nap as I looked at my phone and realised it was 6.10am and my first thought was ‘why didn’t my alarm go off, I’ve overslept’! So I got up, went to the kitchen to get a drink and thought I’d better get in the shower and start the day…. when I looked at my 24 hour clock, I realised that it was 6pm! The pitfalls of snoozing eh!

I decided I’d had enough excitement for today and put off my planned run for this evening. I wonder constantly what kind of runner I’d be if I didn’t have any injuries and could just go out and run whenever and however I wanted to. I literally cannot imagine what that would be like. A bit like I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a well behaved Labrador!

Friday | Run Day – 2 miles
I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a Scooby Doo what to do for the best today! I wanted to go out and test my legs because what if I tried to race my 10k on Sunday and I get a mile in and know that I can’t continue! That would just be awful! But so would running before I felt ready to. Oh the dilemma.

I decided to opt for the ‘test the legs’ route and then if I was still bad I wouldn’t go to my race on Sunday (which would be the first race I’ve ever missed). I won’t say that I felt 100% by any stretch, perhaps 65% would be more accurate, but I was pretty pleased overall.  I tried to push myself a little bit but not too much, the pain was still there in my legs but it was more a ‘shin splint’ type of pain rather than pain from the hips down like last week. I’m feeling a bit more hopeful for my race on Sunday now, and while I was going to go for a race course PB, I think I’ll just aim to get around injury free because that’s much more important right now.

This is always one of my fears in signing up for multiple races across the year, what happens if I get injured and can’t run them! I’m trying not to think too much about my half marathon, which is in 2 weeks. If I don’t think I should be at the start line then I won’t be, there’s no way I can risk injuring myself further and end up doing no planned races.

Saturday | Freaky Friday
Someone commented on my Instagram today (of which I’m always grateful for advice, I’m not complaining at all) on yesterday’s run post and said something along the lines of ‘2 miles isn’t the same as 6 miles, you don’t want to injure yourself further’ and it FREAKED ME OUT! I already had so many doubts whether I should race tomorrow and now it’s like a little voice in my mind telling me that I should be smarter and oh my gosh what if I prove this (much more experienced runner) right. I’m still gong to get to the race, and if I end up with a DNF then so be it…

I spent all day today working and in the evening I went to a friend’s wedding party which was lovely and met up with some of my friends. Unfortunately, because of tomorrow’s race, I had to leave early as I was getting up at 6am (technically 5am) and I do not do well on little sleep, I’m an old lady I know.

Sunday | Clock Change Challenge 10k Race
Whoop it’s race dayyyyyyy! Woke up lovely and early, damn you clock changes. I had to share my sleeping quarters with the Labrador last night and she loves to space hog (she’s cute though so she’s allowed). I loitered around before getting ready, not a morning person y’know, and then ended up rushing a little bit and I forgot my race snack!

We got there nice and early, collected my bib number (the lovely lady who handed me my number said I had a fast chip and that I was going to win, so I’m expecting great things here) and ended up sat in the car for around 2 hours waiting for the race to begin. I realised I’d forgotten to pick up any pins but never fear, I had a ton of them in a little compartment in the car which was also full of dog hair and a moustache that I wore for the Mo Run last year. I was also sulking a little that I’d forgotten a snack but wait… are those some cashews on the back seat (having a messy car is sometimes handy I’ll have you know). I chomped on some cashews and sulked a little bit less.

This is the first race that I’ll be running a second time around within the space of a year so I’d put a little bit of pressure on myself to at least get a course PB and if not under the hour but I knew it all depended upon my legs and how they held up. I did more stretching before a race than I usually would and set off feeling pretty good. The course is a fairly flat, completely out and back route so if you don’t enjoy the way out, you definitely won’t enjoy the way back as the last 1k or so is painfully uphill.

The route is all around country roads, all of the roads are open to cars and other vehicles, which can sometimes make for a challenging race, but if you enjoy seeing sheep, listening to roosters and smelling country smells then you’ll love this one.

I seem to be using a different running tactic in 2018, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I’m pushing myself to overtake when I reach the person in front instead of loitering behind them like a vulture as I have in the past. Even if I’m struggling, I’m still finding a little burst of energy to overtake and then I’m focusing on the next person in front and it really makes me feel like I’m making progress in a race. I think one of the reasons I’ve started doing this is when I look at the race results and see that 5 people were just in front of me and I could have ended up a little further up the finishing list, it makes me kind of annoyed with myself that I didn’t try harder.

At the start of this one, it’s challenging to get a good pace because you’re running on the pavement and there’s no room for overtaking. I panicked a bit and tried to pick up the pace a little as my first mile was not going to do well for my overall time. Time seemed to go really quickly for some reason and before I knew it I was on the final mile. I made a point of not looking at my watch as I didn’t want to disappoint myself if I wasn’t going to course PB and now I’m kicking myself for not checking it!!

Course PB and a 2018 PB for 10k (not my fastest ever time)

I’ve only ever managed to get one race under 1 hour, I’ve been very close before with a minute or 30 seconds over but if I’d had checked my watch I’d have known that I was 12 seconds over an hour…… absolutely gutted! But the biggest victory for me was that I shaved 4 minutes off of my course time and more importantly, it was entirely pain free. To say that I’m over the moon is an understatement, I’m feeling a tad more optimistic about my half in 2 weeks (although let’s be honest, I’m grossly under prepared for it but injuries can’t be helped).

I also have to mention that I got somewhat of a special mention when I’m crossing over the finish line, the announcer said that I had ‘the most amazing leggings in the whole wide world’ so that made me smile haha.

I hope you’ve all had an amazing, injury free, week and I look forward to catching up next week in the penultimate week of my half marathon training. Please keep all of your fingers and toes crossed for me that this week’s training is tip top!

Running & Fitness Tips

How to Get Back on Track

Whether you’ve had a break from running due to illness, injury or life just got in the way, sometimes it can be hard to get your motivation back. Here are some tips and tricks on how you can get your mojo back and how to keep it.

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.

1. Sign up for a race
I’m sure races aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no better motivation to get out there and train when you’ve got an event to train for. You don’t even have to go for a PB but it could be the push you need to ignite your motivation again.

2. Set goals
If you’re a bit of a planning and organising nerd like I am, setting goals can be a great incentive to move you forward. Print off a weekly or monthly calendar and plan out some short term goals and block your time out as if you would with any appointment.

3. Remind yourself why you started
Sometimes we lose sight of why we want to achieve the goals that we aspire to. If you have a specific goal in mind, such as completing a couch to 5k plan, remind yourself why you want to achieve that goal.

4. Get a running buddy
Many people find that having someone you’re accountable to will motivate you when you’re really not feeling like getting out there. Arranging to meet a friend will make the experience more enjoyable and you may even forget that you’re working out!

5. Get some new running gear
Personally, nothing motivates me more than buying some new running clothes even if I’m only taking them for a little spin around the block. You don’t have to spend a lot of money either, I’m often content with a running top or even a running belt or accessory.

6. Plan plan plan
You know what they say ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ so plan plan plan and I bet you won’t be able to wait to get started on your new goals. Even if you’re planning day by day, look forward to what you’ve set out for yourself the next day and the next day.

7. Give yourself small rewards
Sometimes, if I’m feeling really unmotivated, I’ll plan out each week and plan into the end of that week a small reward if I manage to do all of my runs and workouts. These don’t have to be in the form of designer bags or food treats they can be small things such as a pamper day or evening, going to the cinema or binge watching a favourite series.

8. Look to the future
While no-one can guarantee the future, we can shape it to a certain extent. You’ve heard that saying ‘imagine where you’ll be in a year’s time if you don’t give up’. Try and visualise where you want to be in a year and what great things you’ll achieve if you start now and don’t give up.

9. Get a personal trainer
If you’re lucky to have enough spare money or time, get a personal trainer who will kick your butt and get you motivated again. If you really like the idea of a personal trainer but you are strapped for cash, do some research into trainers near you as sometimes they’ll do deals where you can rope some friends in to share the cost with a group session and also you’ll be more accountable to each other to show up.

10. Lay out your clothes
If you’re one of those people who can only find time to run in the mornings or you just prefer to workout at that time, lay out your workout clothes the night before, that way you’ve only got to roll out of bed, throw them on and get out of the door. Equally, if you’re more of an evening runner, set your clothes out to get changed in to as soon as you get home from work.

11. Be kind to yourself
So you’ve fallen out of your routine, it’s not the end of the world. Try not to beat yourself up too much and if you feel like you need more time off, for whatever reason, don’t torture yourself if you don’t manage to get out there just yet. Just tell yourself that you will be back out there soon and look forward to the time you are.

12. Start small
Sometimes the thought of planning out a whole week, month, even year is a daunting prospect. If you really can’t think that far ahead in terms of how overwhelming it may be for you to get there, take each day as it comes. Set really small goals for yourself such as going for a walk instead of getting running or doing half a mile instead of a full mile. Every little bit helps towards your future progress.

13. Track your progress
I’m all for using stickers to track things that I’ve done well that week. If I’ve managed all of my planned workouts for that day or week, I’ll give myself a gold star. Looking back and seeing how well I’ve done and tracking any progress I’ve made will often motivate me to continue. Bullet journals have taken off in the past year so if that’s your thing, set out a habit tracker and check off each day.

14. Change your workout up
If you’re a runner and you’re feeling a little demotivated with it, why not try some other form of cardio such as a spin class, yoga, or even just changing up your usual running route. A change is as good as a rest, so they say.

15. Look at where you lost your focus last time
What was it that made you fall off the wagon the last time around? Were you setting yourself unrealistic goals that you just couldn’t meet? Make sure that if you’re planning in your workouts, it works for you. If you really can’t run first thing in the morning because of your lifestyle then plan to run another time that is more convenient. Look at where you think you fell down and try and work around these things so that you can achieve your goals. Don’t make things harder for yourself otherwise you’ll think of them as more of a chore than a pleasure and you’ll end up quitting again.

16. Cross train
It’s always a good idea to cross train rather than doing one form of workout which will help you avoid injury. You need to be challenging your body in as many ways as possible so that you’re constantly progressing and getting fitter and stronger. Make sure you’re planning in strength training and stretching into your weekly routines.

17. Give yourself a pep talk
Sometimes all you need is to give yourself a pep talk. You can’t be bothered to go out and run? So what, get out there, stop being lazy and do it anyway! The only person stopping you is you (unless you’re unfortunately injured). If you’re not great at giving yourself some tough love, ask a loved one to do it for you. Get that friend to text you and say ‘hey, get out there today’.

18. Have a quote or photo in a prominent place
If you’re motivated by a quote that you can really relate to, print it off and put it on your desk or set it as your phone background so you have to see it every day and serve as a constant reminder to you to get out there and achieve your goals.

19. Have a contingency plan
After suffering from multiple running injuries, I decided to invest in a spin bike for home use. Classes were just getting much too expensive and it’s not always convenient for me to get to a class. Now I had no excuse to not work out, even if it wasn’t the workout I had planned to do. I can sit on the bike and watch my favourite shows or I’ll make a banging playlist that I’ll sing along to. Plan for what you can do if you can’t get out and do your scheduled run. If plan A doesn’t work out, there are still 25 more letters!

20. Make it fun!
Life is supposed to be fun so make sure that you’re making your workouts fun too. You want to have a little dance while you’re running to your favourite tune… do it! I’ll let you into a little secret, I do this all the time and I don’t care if someone sees me singing while I’m running or having a little bop on the side of the pavement, I’m having fun and working out and that’s all that matters to me and it’s what keeps me going out time after time.

I hope some of these tips have inspired you to get out there and get your motivation back. If you’ve got any more tips on how you get back out there, leave a comment below I’d love to hear them.

Running & Fitness Tips

Techniques for Running Hills

Whether you love them or hate them, hills should be an integral part of your running routine. Training hills significantly improves your strength, speed, muscle power and anaerobic capability so what’s not to love!

But what’s the best running technique to get the most out of your hill running? I’ve put together some tips on how to be a better hill runner, whether it’s up or down.

Uphill
Don’t lean too far forward when you’re running uphill. You’ll restrict the air getting into your lungs and this in turn will give you less movement to bring your knees up.

Try and stay tall and look ahead in the direction that you’re going.

Lift your knees and land on your forefoot

Use short, light footed steps instead of striding.

Pump your arms to give you more drive and momentum going up the hill.

Walk! Sometimes, if you’re on a very large incline, it’s more efficient for you to walk up the hill than it is to run.

Downhill
Don’t lean too far back, try and keep yourself centered and engage your core muscles.

If it’s a really steep downward hill and you’re going faster than you’d like, shorten your stride. However, practice longer strides and with a slight forwards lean (leaning back ‘puts on the brakes’).

Make sure you’re looking down the hill and not down at your feet.

For better balance, put your arms out to the side.

When you’re next running hills try leaning back and forward and see what a different the two make.

Do you like running hills or avoid them at all costs? Have you managed to improve your hill running?

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Half Marathon Training | Week 6 | Diary of an Injured Runner

We welcomed the ‘Beast of the East’ this week and I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty relieved I didn’t manage to get into the Bath Half Marathon this weekend as it didn’t go ahead which is a shame! England was pretty much at a standstill on Friday and Saturday due to the high volumes of snow and I ended up having two days in the house because it was just too dangerous to drive anywhere.

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.

Monday| Week 6 | Rest Day
I was working away from the office today and after a good few hours in the car I was knackered. That and having a poorly pup, I’ve been missing out on some sleep these past few days. I welcomed a lovely early night with the heating up watching some Friends on Netflix.

Some photos went up on Facebook of the Slay the Dragon 10k race yesterday and I have to give massive credit to the photographers because they were so encouraging! Usually at a race I don’t even see a photographer but on Sunday they were shouting out things like ‘come on ladies, let’s have a massive smile, you’re doing great’! It was much appreciated and I actually ended up with a photo of me running and smiling (alert the elders this has to go down in history).

Tuesday | Week 6 | 30 Miles Spin Bike
It’s beginning to look a lot like…. spring will never get here! What’s with all this snow??

I’m not one who shirks away from running in the cold weather but I just didn’t have it in me today so I went on the spin bike while I watched Derren Brown’s The Push (he’s my not so secret crush, I just adore him).

I perhaps didn’t push myself as hard as I should/ could have but my legs were still a little weary from Sunday’s race and I’m still tired from getting up with the dog in the night. So. Many. Excuses.

Let’s have some real talk here, I was this close to sitting on the sofa and eating snacks…. but I’d weighed myself this morning and did NOT like what I saw staring back at me and that was a massive incentive (let’s ignore the fact that for dinner I had some party snacks and a cider)!

Wednesday | Week 6 | Reflection Day
I always enjoy analysing weeks and months gone past and try and work out how I can make the following months better. I’m a stat nerd and I write everything down and pour over where I went wrong and what I did well. You’d think that I’d be some kind of planning genius and have my life together right…. well not exactly.

This month I feel like I did pretty decent mileage considering how my legs have been. The change up in running shoes I think had helped massively and I did many more miles than I had planned.

I’ve also not been neglecting my stretching routine after running and it’s made a huge difference in my opinion as my foot pain is zero while running and nearly zero the rest of the time. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

My problem is (and always has been) my diet. I know exactly what to eat as I’ve eaten healthily pretty much my whole life and have managed to maintain my weight easily. However, lately I’ve had an appalling diet and this habit has been hard to kick and the scales are showing that. It doesn’t help that I HATE cooking… with a passion. It brings me zero joy except for the fact I am doing one of my favourite things at the end which is eat… and that lasts all of 5 minutes and then it’s gone. Maximum effort with minimum reward is not my style (don’t come at me with all the health benefits etc I know it’s not logic but it’s my logic). So that’s a goal for March for me to do better at.

Thursday | Week 6 | Snow Day!
In all of my years on planet earth, I don’t ever remember a time it was this cold and don’t even get me started on the snow (thanks Storm Emma + Beast of the East)! I had to take the Labrador to the vet in the evening and I was the only one there, with the exception of a spaniel and a little boy rolling around the vet car park (we don’t see snow often, it’s a novelty here). The Labrador also loves snow as much as that little boy…

While today was never a planned workout day anyway, it was so cold, we got in bed with the electric blanket on and watched Netflix which was perfect. Oh and I also had to fix the loft hatch that flew down last night and scared the living days out of me and subsequently had cold air blasting down into the house all night!

Friday | Week 6 | Snow Day #2
Snow is such a novelty that I couldn’t resist trying to take some photos of my lovely new running shoes in it (I might not see any for some years!). Friday is usually a run day for me but there was no way that I was going out running in this…. although could have tried out the trail shoes that are too small for me, my toes may shrink in the cold and they may fit perfectly… or….?

I didn’t leave the house all day which meant I also didn’t eat properly as I didn’t have enough food in the house which meant I couldn’t workout in the evening which means I suck! Apparently milk and bread and other essentials were out of stock in a lot of the shops (not that I eat either of those things) because everyone was panic buying.

Saturday | Week 6 | Snow Day #3
Snow. Is. Annoying. I went for a walk this morning to the shop to try and pick up some supplies but when I got there, it was closed! So I went home empty handed and only ate some chicken dippers and supernoodles all day #facepalm. Unfortunately I’m not the most forward planning kind of person which meant I’ve been super hungry all day and I’m THAT person that cannot workout unless I’ve eaten plenty. So I had yet another rest day today which isn’t ideal as I’ve only managed to get one cardio session under my belt so far this week.

Sunday | Week 6 | Oh Gosh, it’s ANOTHER Rest Day
Although, to give myself some credit, I wasn’t ‘resting’ all day! I got up early and walked the Labrador in what is now just horrible slush after all of the snow and I’ve been working hard on Belle’s Running Blog things. I actually think I’ve been staring at the screen for far too long because a line, which I know is straight, is looking suspiciously curvy! This does mean that I’ve missed out on another workout day today though so I’m pretty disappointed in that. I still have the ‘food issue’ where I’m working my way through the cupboards of anything I have left which isn’t particularly nutritious.

Weekly Summary
So I didn’t do too well on the running / exercising front this week but that wasn’t intentional I think it just required a bit more forward planning on my part and the snow didn’t help either as there was no way I was risking twisting my ankle! My next race is on the 11th March and it’s a nice close one. I’m actually really looking forward to this race, I feel like I might be able to pull a decent time out of the bag (I’ve gone and jinxed it now haven’t I!).

How was your training week this week? Did the Beast of the East stop you from getting out and running?

Running & Fitness Tips

Should You Workout With Music?

We’ve all been there. You’re listening to that power song while doing the most difficult workout of your life and you feel like Rocky and Superman combined. You can take on the whole world… or can you?

These days, more and more road races do not permit you to listen to music and you can actually be banned from future races if you’re caught using an MP3 player when they’ve forbidden it. But what benefits are there from both working out listening to music or without?

Why You Should Do It ~ Rocky Style
Listening to music distracts you from both the pain and effort that you’re putting into your workout. While I was on mile 10 of the Bristol Half Marathon last year, when Muse’s Uprising came on, I felt like it was the theme tune to my whole life even though I felt like (let’s be honest) hell, and I really pushed myself to a strong finish. I’ve also found this distraction technique works on planks…. listen to your favourite song and try and make the plank last the whole duration…. and then hernia (just kidding).

Music, by nature, gets you moving. Even if you’re not a music lover, music makes you want to tap a foot, click your fingers or nod your head and heck sometimes even get up and dance! (I can testify that this also works for cleaning, stick on your favourite tunes and you’ll be surprised how much housework you can get done!).

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If you’re listening to music while running, the best timed tempo tunes can keep you at the right pace. On Spotify there is a feature that will measure your cadence and play songs accordingly when you’re out pounding the pavements so you don’t even need to plan your songs in advance.

Let’s face it, listening to music is more fun. I am a music-a-holic and there is no place and no time when there’s music on and I’m not singing, dancing with the dog or generally pretending I’m a pop star.

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Your mood can be significantly improved by listening to upbeat music and who doesn’t want to feel more upbeat and energetic while they’re working out.

We’ve all got that song that we just have to sing along to because the lyrics just give us the feels and this type of music can motivate you to infinity and beyond.

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Why You Shouldn’t Do It ~ Enya Style
Running especially, while listening to music, can make you miss out on some great atmospheres. There have been a handful of races that I’ve been to that just wouldn’t have been the same if I had been listening to music. Cannock Chase, a trail run, was one of them. I would have missed the sounds of footsteps going around the gravel pathways, the birds in the trees and the nearby lake.

If you’re running in the dark and alone, it’s much safer for you to be completely switched on to what’s happening around you, for obvious reasons.

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While running with music is a great distraction from pain and effort, it also distracts you from your technique and form. If you’re bounding down the road like a puppy to Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ because it just makes you so darn happy, you might not realise that your running form is suffering, which in turn makes you less efficient.

Without music you can get seriously focused on exactly what you’re doing. You can feel exactly how hard you’re working, which muscles are feeling the burn and keep count of reps and sets.

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Headphones. Are. Annoying. I know you can now get fancy cordless ones but I’m stuck in the 1990s and I like untangling masses of headphone cable before I can listen to any music (said no-one ever).

Listening to yourself breathing is one of the best running hacks I think I’ve ever learned. If you’re breathing way too heavy you can ease it off and if you aren’t breathing heavy enough are you even trying… listening to your own body can tell you way more than any expensive GPS tracking watch can.

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Do you prefer to workout with or without music and what are you favourite workout tunes?

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Half Marathon Training | Week 5 | Diary of an injured runner

I’m up to week 5 already! This time last year I’d done my longest ever training run of 10 miles and I felt great! Fast forward a year and I’m nowhere near running 10 miles and my half marathon is just over 6 weeks away (insert tears to blog post). But I have had a great week in running this week and I’m feeling much more optimistic for my half marathon! Hooray!!

Monday | Week 5 | New Trail Shoe Run 5k

I was super excited to come home to my new trail shoes! I opened the box, took a ton of photos of them and then literally shoved my feet into them. They didn’t feel comfortable like previous running shoes have but they were just a little tight across the laces. I loosened them up and they felt much better.

I did a little bit of running on the spot and lunges and they felt ok so I took them out for a short 5k run. To start with, they felt absolutely fine and I thought ‘hooray I’ve found my best running shoes’ but after about 2 miles I was suffering. Badly. My toes went completely numb and I mean can’t-feel-a-thing kind of numb. Now, I know that I’m supposed to wear running shoes a size bigger than my normal shoe size… but my last Brooks pair are 5s and I’ve suffered terribly with blisters on my heels and pain down my legs. So sensible me (!!?) decided I’d order these new trail shoes at my actual size 4 as clearly 5s are just too big for me… logic right…. WRONG!

I have never been in this much pain from trainers before and somehow I managed to smash my fastest 5k of 2018, most likely because I couldn’t wait to tear them off of my feet and put my toes on the cold grass!!

So now, I’m stuck with 3 pairs of running shoes (one of which I was professionally fitted for) that are agony to run in…. which leaves me with NO running shoes to wear! Excuse me while I go an sulk in the corner.

Please can someone tell me that I can stretch these out and that I’ll actually be able to run in them??

Tuesday | Week 5 | Rest Day
My poor toes… they’re still really sore from my run yesterday and I’m starting to think that perhaps I’ll never be able to wear them and I most likely will have to sell them, which is devastating because I love them! I’m not sure whether I’ve done the sensible thing here but I went online and found some really cheap Asics… I mean half price kinda deal. I ordered the Asics Endurant Grey/Coral (in a 4.5) and the Asics Patriot 8 Black/Pink (size 5) because I just can’t afford to waste any more money on a pair of running shoes that don’t fit me or are too uncomfortable to wear. Let’s see how we go with these

Wednesday | Week 5 | 2 Mile Hard Run
After Monday’s terrible run I felt like I needed to redeem myself and get out there again. I put on my really old trusty orange Nikes and pushed myself like I haven’t for months. I originally set my paces for around 9:15 – 9:30 but I felt so good I pushed myself to go faster and did an average of 8:56. I felt like I was finally getting back on track! Although I’m nowhere near as far in my training as I’d like to be, I’m running (fairly) injury free and am liking that I can get out and do even shorter runs, even if I’m a little disappointed that I’ve lost so much fitness from last year.

Thursday | Week 5 | Rest Day
Another rest day for me today and I had to take Pupper to the vet again for a check up. Unfortunately she hasn’t improved since going onto her antibiotics so she’s having to have steroids to try and get rid of her skin infection. This also means that she’s going to be going to the loo a lot more frequently so I’ll have to try and manage that.

I got my new running shoe delivery today and I love both of them! I can’t wait to try them out.

Friday | Week 5 | 7 Mile Long Run
I was not in a good mood today, I was angry, sad and anxious for no real reason and I procrastinated this run for over an hour. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of trying on my new shoes!!! I picked my Asics Endurants and set out of the door, my only plan being to do a reallllllyyyyy slooowwwwwww long-ish run.

I felt absolutely great and like I could take on the whole world, which is probably why even though I was trying to run slow, I managed a 1:03 10k time! I was a little annoyed that today was my slow run and I had to try really hard to keep my pace low. I tried not to look at my mileage on my Garmin and was only interested in my heart race zone and kept it around the aerobic area as much as possible so imagine my surprise when I’d got up to nearly 7 miles. I did a really long cool down and tried to stretch out my foot as much as possible as it’s been feeling really good and I didn’t want to ruin it. I will say though, I was wearing a t-shit and it was FREEZING! I felt pretty warm while running but my arms were like ice blocks and I had real trouble warming up when I got home.

I’m feeling a lot more confident about my half marathon which is in around 6 weeks and I’m not far off of my 10 mile goal for training.

Saturday | Week 5 | Rest Day
Another rest day for me in preparation for my race tomorrow. I’m a little apprehensive about the race as it’s cross country and I’m really not good at cross country, I don’t really know why I sign up for these kinds of races! I’ll never learn my lesson!

I finally took my running shoes out of the back of the car that have been in a plastic bag since the Bath Skyline 2 weeks ago (why am I like this….??). They were still muddy and a little wet so I had to try and dry them out.

Sunday | Week 5 | Race Day 10k Slay The Dragon
It’s race day again, hooray! I’m driving to this race, with my muddy running shoes in tow, wondering how on earth I’m going to run this course. Although I am telling myself I’m not going to fall over, I’m not convinced!

We got there super early and managed to park on the field where the race started which was nice as we got to stay in the car for as long as possible (-2 degrees thanks to the cold snap from Russia they’re calling the ‘beast from the East’). It was a lovely sunny day though which made it not quite as bad, although I did wear a long sleeved top and ear warmers for the first time ever because y’know, sinuses.

The race started around the Village Hall field (by a town crier’s bell) and the second I started to run, I felt like my whole body was lead, which is never a good start. I turned my watch off of mileage and onto ‘effort’ so I didn’t have to look at the miles so by when I was clearly going to struggle. The ground was absolutely frozen which made running across the churned up mud very difficult to run across and my ankle went over so many times I was really worried about giving myself an injury and putting myself out of action! I honestly don’t know how people were managing to sprint across it, I really struggled and it’s not my first cross country race (any tips greatly appreciated here).

The race was across beautiful countryside and there’s lots of lovely little styles to climb over and there were cows, sheep, farms, farm smells and all of the marshals were really friendly and encouraging. There was one section in particular which was a real bottle neck going over a style and it took around 3 minutes of hanging around before it was finally my turn so definitely no PBs for moi.

The course was also fairly hilly but it was mostly quiet roads and I never really mind hills much. There were a couple of photographers for the race and usually I find I either don’t see them at all or they’re hiding out of sight but at this race they were really lovely and telling everyone to smile which was nice as I got to have a couple of photos of me actually smiling! #It’sAMiracle

The medal was cute and had a little purple dragon on it and I also treated myself to a piece of free cake at the finish line and a bacon butty afterwards.

Even though my time wasn’t my fastest and I didn’t enjoy the experience of the race much it was enjoyable and if I was a better runner I’d probably have loved it.

Next Week’s Plan: – I’m going to up my mileage on the runs a bit more (injuries permitting) and incorporate more stretching and cross training.

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Half Marathon Training | Week 4 | Diary of an injured runner

I actually can’t believe I’m up to Week 4 already! I’m so far behind schedule due to injury and it feels like every time I run I end up with a new or an even worse injury!

Monday | Week 4 | Rest Day
You know one of those days where you’ve earned your rest days? Yep, that. While I didn’t particularly push myself in the same way I would usually at a race yesterday, I have this very painful bruise on my thigh. I’ve decided that this week I’m going to only do 1 run (a fairly easy paced 4 ish miler) and the rest of my cardio will be at home workout DVDs and time on the spin bike. I need to get my cardiovascular strength up if nothing else so at least I’m fit for the race (even if my injuries aren’t).

Hello Bath Skyline bruise

Tuesday | Week 4 | At Home Workout DVD
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of my red medals! ❤

I’ve been doing this Ministry of Sound Pump It Up Ultimate workout DVD for nearly 15 years now and I love it just as much as when I first bought it! It’s around 1hr 15 mins from start to finish which includes a warm up, two cardio sections, strength training and a long cool down. Usually I’ll neglect the cool down because it’s pretty boring but I made sure I did the lot.

I did have some pain in both of my legs pretty much the whole time I was doing this. It’s very high impact so much like running really but it’s not the same constant pounding of the pavements.

Can never stop the Labrador joining in too, I must look like I’m having fun and she’s left out!

Calories burned: 435
Time in Zone 5: 10:42
Time in Zone 4: 23:02

Wednesday | Week 4 | Felt the Burn
Definitely feeling my workout from yesterday, trying to raise my arms in any kind of fashion was more difficult than usual! I can’t even remember the last time I did a push up so I’m not surprised.

Thursday | Week 4 | Rest Day
Had to take pupper to the vets today, she’s got a skin infection so I had to pop her into the bath and wash her tummy. Even though she’s a Labrador, she’s no fan of baths so that was almost a mini workout trying to do that!

Friday | Week 4 | Unplanned Rest Day
So today I was going to go on the spin bike, but silly over here didn’t eat enough throughout the day and I was so hungry when I got home from work there was no way I could have done any time on the bike. Instead I put my feet up and had a nice relaxing evening. It works out better if I do my cardio tomorrow anyway because that means it will time perfectly for my race on Sunday…. right….

Saturday | Week 4 | Easy 4 Mile Run
I know I call all of my runs ‘easy’ but that’s because I cannot push myself because of injury. In other news, I picked up my parcel from the Post Office which was my new unicorn running leggings hoorayyy! Although, I actually felt great while I was doing this, I planned for 4 and nearly went for 5 miles but the sensible person in me said that I should quit while everything’s good. I had no pain in my legs at all or anywhere else which was just amazing. I was wearing my old trusty Nikes though which aren’t the best trainers ever as they’re well overdue a throwing out!

I cooled down with a short pupper walk but I could feel straight away that I was going to suffer from this easy run. My foot pain was back and nothing I did was making it feel any better. I tried stretching out my entire leg, doing ankle exercises and then had a bath but nothing eased it at all. This just sucks! My half marathon is in around 6 weeks and there’s no way I’m going to be able to get the mileage up in training to be even half prepared for it.

Sunday | Week 4 | Recovery Day
Let’s not call today a rest day as, lets be honest, I am totally in recovery today! It’s no big surprise to me that today I am suffering from the week’s workouts (and I even skipped a day!!). This morning when I woke up, my old friend plantar greeted me as I stepped out of bed. This just can’t go on, I need to see a physio ASAP.

One good thing about the week, I ordered some new trail shoes! I can’t wait to try them out, although, I did commit the sins of 1) not testing them out first and 2) ordering them in my actual shoe size. My Brooks size 5s are a whole size bigger than my usual shoe size (which I was fitted for and I know that’s the way it’s supposed to be) but I have never had so many blisters from a running shoe ever and that’s including all of the cheaper ‘fashion’ trainers I’ve owned over the years. EVERY time I wear them, I have terrible blisters on the back of my heel and I just have to accept that when I wear them, I’ll be bleeding all over the show and in pain.

I’m always really inspired by other people who have overcome worse injuries than I have and are stronger and better runners for it. It gives me hope. If you’re one of these people I’d love to hear what injuries you’ve come back from.

Running & Fitness Tips

8 Race Day Hacks

It’s race day, you’ve done the training, but gosh what do you need to know when you’re running your first race?

Here are a few race day hacks to help you put your best foot forward, and again, and again etc and then whoop you’re crossing the finish line happy and smiling!

1. Don’t wear new running shoes
You’ve probably heard this a hundred times already, but just don’t! Your feet haven’t adapted to your new kicks yet and it’s likely you’ll end up with race day blisters and tears. And no-one wants that when you’re trying to get a PB!

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2. Drinking from plastic cups
When I first started running races, I always used to think ‘how on earth do people drink from these silly plastic cups?’. Seriously though, is it meant to spill all over your face or what?! I then found out that you’re supposed to pinch the plastic cup at the top on both sides to make a sort of spout-type-arrangement and drink from it that way. Who knew! You’ll thank me later.

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3. Don’t stop at portable toilets
Obviously, if you absolutely have to go then please do. But if you’re going for a PB and it’s a relatively short race, don’t waste your time going to the loo until the finish line. You’ll lose so much time waiting in line and you’ll kick yourself if you miss your PB because of a porta potty stop. Plan to arrive at race HQ early enough to be able to use the toilets in relative peace before everyone arrives and if you can make another trip, do so just before the race starts.

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4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
With the above also in mind, your best bet for hydrating before and during your race is to take sips of water instead of glugging it down because you’re dehydrated.

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5. Have your essentials to hand
When you’re in the full throws of the race, you don’t want to be scrabbling around trying to find your race gels, your immodium, your headphones or anything else that you’ve determined is essential. During my first half marathon, I’d stuffed two sports gels into the tops of my running pants as I thought they’d be easily accessible to me should I need them mid race. What I didn’t bank on was them constantly slipping down and me trying to save them from shooting out the bottom of my trouser leg! Needless to say I abandoned them just over the half way point, never to be seen again.

These days, I use a running belt and it’s a lifesaver. I usually only carry my phone and a couple of other small bits with me as I don’t enjoy it bouncing around while I’m running.

6. Don’t set off too early
It’s so easy to get swept away with the crowds at the beginning of a race. Everyone is feeling energy fuelled and they’re excited to get going but make sure you keep to your own planned pace. You don’t want to crash and burn trying to keep up with the mass of people and regret it towards the latter part of the race.

This is much easier said than done though, you’re also feeling great, pumped up and you know you’re going to crush your PB. Just make sure you’re holding enough in reserve to get you feeling fresh over the finish line too.

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7. Stick to your planned pacing
To help keep you on track, try and stick to your planned pacing times throughout the race. I’m sure you’ve done plenty of race preparation up until now so you know what pace times you’re aiming for. Don’t forget to take into account any hills as you’ll need to adjust your pacing accordingly.

If you’ve got a GPS watch, you’ll usually have a feature for alerts when you’re going under your race pace and above it. I’ll have my slowest race pace set to the absolute minimum for me to complete at a time that I am happy with (for example, I’m always aiming for a 10k time under an hour so I’ll set my watch at a 9.31 pace). This ensures that I’m constantly on track and know that I can’t drop below this pace otherwise my under an hour dream will be less likely.

The same goes for my fastest pace. Say my 10k PB is 52 minutes, which will mean an 8.23 pace. If I’m mid race and I’m going over this, and it’s likely I’m going to burn out, I’ll ease the pace off slightly unless I feel that I can maintain this for a longer period (for example going down hill I know I can gain a bit of speed here).

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8. Make a timings wrist band
So you’ve got your timings set, you’re in broken in shoes and you’ve got a stylish running belt to hold all of your things. It can sometimes be overwhelming on race day and you’ve suddenly forgotten are you doing positive splits, negative splits, or just what on earth are you doing?

It can be useful to work out your mile split times for the entire race. This is especially useful if you’re doing a longer race and you don’t want to lose track of where you’re at. Make a timing wrist band so you know what timings you should be at for the entire race. For example, you know you want to run 9 minute miles so it would look like this (9:00, 18:00, 27:00, 36:00 etc). Put these timings onto a thin piece of paper with the numbers in a column, laminate this and make a wristband that you can quickly glance at while you’re running. Or, you know, write them on your hand!

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I hope you’ll find some of the above useful. I’d love to hear any of your race day hacks, I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my race days.

If you liked this post, check out my 31 tips for running beginners here

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Half Marathon Training | Week 3 | Diary of an Injured Runner

Monday | Week 3 | Rest Day
Really enjoyed this rest day today, my legs weren’t feeling great after yesterday’s run. Spent some time with the pup snuggled on the sofa.

Tuesday| Week 3 | Interval Training 3 Miles
Today I hate running! I decided I needed to up the training a bit as I’ve been doing far too many ‘easy’ runs and incorporate some interval training. I did 3 mins warm up, 1 min easy/ 1 min hard, 2 min easy/ 2 min hard, 3 min easy/ 3 min hard x 2 and the remainder was a cool down jog. I do love pushing myself, however, the inside of my legs were agony the entire run but I did push through it. Not only that, my running shoes that I’ve had for 6 months are still super uncomfortable and rub the back of my heel so I was bleeding everywhere too (I’ll be honest, I think it’s slightly too big a shoe size).

I feel absolutely defeated. In 2017 training was going well up until around June time and then I was plagued with plantar fasciitis and pain at the back of my knee and down my leg. It meant that I really couldn’t push myself in training and didn’t improve from there on out.

Fast forward to today… I’m signed up for Glastonbury 10k, which was my first race of 2017, in May and it’s looking like I won’t even make a course PB even after a year of training.

For me, improving on my times is one thing that keeps me going. If I can’t improve then I’m just plodding along!

After today’s run I spent a long time stretching out followed by a bath and I’ve gotta say, I’m still in pain

Miles:- 3.28

Wednesday| Week 3 | Rest Day
Feeling pretty sorry for myself today. The pain in my legs is still there and I actually couldn’t think of anything worse than going for a run.

Thursday | Week 4 | Rest Day
Another rest day, I’m STILL in pain! I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to move forward with running seeing as I’m only into week 3 and already I’m in a lot of pain and I’m nowhere near up to doing any kind of long run yet. I’m not sure what to do for the best…. I guess I really need to see some kind of sports therapist, however, they’re so expensive that I’m reluctant (and broke) to be able to afford to go at the moment. I’m wondering if I need new running shoes (even though I was properly fitted for the ones I have now but clearly they aren’t doing me any favours). If I bought some proper insoles would that do the trick?

The last time I went to a physical therapist was the beginning of last year when I had an AirHop injury which had persisted for nearly a year (while trampolining I flicked my leg out and felt something go at the back of my knee). They did every movement possible to find out what might be causing the pain but couldn’t and suggested that I strap up the back of my knee for races for a bit of stability. He also told me that I have a high arch under my right foot in particular and that I have hyper-extension in all of my joints, which is probably how my knee injury occurred in the first place, and that I shouldn’t overdo stretching as this could lead to further injury.

So here I am. Stuck between a rock and a broke place. Do I just suck it up and pay for a PT until I’m confident I’m on the mend? Do I cross train (I have this spin bike at home which got me through my knee injury and kept my fitness up)? Do I ditch my expensive running shoes and get new ones? Or do I just abandon running altogether??

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.

Friday| Week 3 | Rest Day
I’ll usually run on a Friday but that was just not happening for me today! I’d planned to do just a few minutes on the bike but I was so exhausted from a week of bad sleeps that I decided I’d skip it. I’m also still sulking over my ‘injury’.

Saturday | Week 3 | Rest Day (yes another one)
Still feeling down about this whole injury business, I’ve pretty much convinced myself that I’m going to get to a Physical Therapist in the next couple of weeks. I need to get this sorted out ASAP, I’ve got a half marathon in 8 weeks and if I can’t train enough for it I’ll be devastated! #TakeAllMyMoney

Sunday| Week 3 | Race Day ~ Bath Skyline 5k
Whoop it’s another race day! I don’t know why I do it to myself…. last year I did two races from the same series (Killerton and Cheddar Gorge) and I found them really tough so I don’t know why I thought that Bath Skyline would be a good idea. The race description is ‘hilly, narrow and technical underfoot, this is one of those races you should be taking in the splendid scenery but will probably be too busy trying not to take a tumble’.

Start & Finish Line

I was under no illusion that I was going to stay upright for the entire race. I fell over on the steepest hill on the final stretch of Killerton… myself and a couple of other people were stood at the top of the hill looking down and I joked ‘what’s the best way to get down, roll down?’. Turns out… I did roll down… right in front of everyone. But I didn’t care, if I got down there faster that was all I cared about I just wanted it to be over.

Then there was Cheddar…. probably the most difficult course I’ve ever navigated. It was very wet, muddy, steep and slippery underfoot. There were so many times I nearly fell over but I did manage to stay on my feet but another runner did make a comment to me that I ‘should be running’ when I was steering myself down a steep hill which was muddy, with wet leaves covering stony ground in woodland (which I thought was kinda rude if I say so myself).

It’s a good job I’m not fond of these running shoes!

Anyway, back to Bath Skyline! Because of the two races mentioned above, I suspected that Bath Skyline would be pretty much the same… and it was. I was originally signed up for the 10k which would have been the same route twice but I was really not feeling the whole trail vibe this morning so I asked if I could go for the 5k instead. Luckily there were some spaces left and I felt a bit better but still kinda anxious. What was I doing?? I’m not a technical runner! I do, however, love running trails. The views on trails are like nothing you’ll ever see on a road run and this one didn’t disappoint, the views at the top were stunning even if I did have to fall over twice to see them.

This is why I wore old clothes and cropped leggings

Moving on to my fall, I was sort of running with a couple of other people that were keeping a similar pace to me, but when we got to the really muddy parts in the woodland I just knew I was going to fall over. I even said to them ‘I’m determined to fall over’ as I was sliding around all over the place. And what do you know, the very next second I slipped right over. They asked me if I was ok which was kind of them, and then just a moment later I was on the ground again. One of them offered to help me up which, again, was very kind but I’d got myself into this mess I had to get myself out haha! I can verify that I already have a giant bruise all down my left hand side so this race is just going to keep giving…

Oh look a muddy hand holding a medal

Would I run this again? Nope. But did I enjoy this race? Also nope (just kidding I did a little). Note to myself: please do not sign up for any more races like this!

Miles: 3.1

TOTAL MILES: – 6.38

NEXT WEEK’S GOALS: – 3 easy, short runs | 1 x spin workout | 2 x yoga