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!

Top Blog Posts of 2018

As this year is drawing to a close, I thought it would be great to do a roundup of the best posts on the blog in 2018 and give you an opportunity to catch some posts that you might have missed throughout the year. Click on the header links to read more.

Thanks to anyone that read or commented on any of my posts, I’m eternally grateful to be part of this health and fitness community and love hearing all of your inspiring stories and helping one another get through the sometimes not so easy parts too. You’re the best! Let’s make 2019 even better and be happier, healthier and more inspired than ever.

Top Tips on How to Have an Exceptionally Productive Day

Have you been struggling to get your productivity up and at ’em? I’ve got some great tips on how you can have an exceptionally productive day to ensure you get all of your must-do tasks completed. Heck, you might even have time for a break too!

31 Tips for Running Beginners

From getting the correct running shoes to being safe when you’re pounding the pavements, here are 31 tips if you’re new to running on how to take up the sport. Don’t forget that running is supposed to be fun too, so make sure you’re making it an enjoyable hobby so that you’ll want to continue for years to come.

What I Ate to Lose a Stone in One Month

I’ll share my photo food journal with you every day for an entire month which led to my stone weight loss within a month. I lost the weight by eating healthy foods, no fad diets and also enjoyed some of my favourite foods and drinks too. Moderation really is the key.

12 Tips on How to Get Fit on a Budget

You don’t have to have an expensive gym membership to get fit. Check out these tips on how to get fit when you’re also trying to save money. There’s no excuse with all of these tips to get you looking and feeling your best without spending any extra cash.

25 Amazing Benefits of Running

As if you needed any more reasons to get out there and run, here are 25 amazing benefits of running that you may not even be aware of. Warning: this post will make you want to get out and run with all of this running motivation!

Should You Work Out With Music?

We’ll debate the pros and cons of whether you should work out to music or whether it’s better to listen to something a little more motivational or nothing at all. Pick a side, which one are you choosing?

Half Marathon Training | Week 10 | Diary of an Injured Runner Blog Post

Eugh, daylight savings really hit me hard in this half marathon training week!

Run Every Day January Challenge 2019

And don’t forget to join me in the 2019 Run Every Day Challenge in conjunction with Mind Charity which is promoting the benefits of mental health and daily exercise. It’s not too late for you to join in, I can’t wait to get started with it and kick-start my New Year’s Resolutions in 2019.

 

That’s it folks! Thanks for reading and I look forward to smashing my goals and watching you all smash yours in 2019. I know we can motivate each other even more this year.

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.

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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