Need For Speed | Week 4 | 10k Training | Diary of an Injured Runner | Race Day!

Hey everyone! If you’ve been reading my need for speed journey, you’ll have noticed that I didn’t actually post this back in May (which is when the race was) because it’s been in my draft posts this whole time! And I have a lot to say about this race so I’ve got no idea why I didn’t post it. Anyway… let’s jump back in time and relive the final week of the race that started it all.

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Monday | Rest Day

Clearly I was going to take a rest day today after running races on Saturday and Sunday last week! And rest day I had!! I had real trouble sleeping on Sunday night (perhaps from all of the excitement) and didn’t get to sleep until pretty late. Thankfully it is a bank holiday so I was able to have a nice lie in (ignoring the fact I was awake and up at 6am feeding the animals).

I spent a bit of time watching some YouTube videos about ‘maintaining’ your body during rest days and it inspired me to try some stick rolling. According to The Run Experience, you should be doing something every day to help combat injuries and I’m terrible at actually doing this. I spent most of my time rolling my hips because that’s where it felt particularly bad but I am hoping it’s going to help most with my shin splint pain.

Tuesday | Day Off

Wednesday | Unintentional Day Off 

Thursday | Rest Day

Friday | Unintentional Day Off 

Saturday…. you can see where this is going
I kind of gave myself the week off, mostly because I’m really worried about aggravating my shins and I really didn’t want to make things worse with the big race tomorrow. Getting injured is just the worst and I’m so jealous of anyone that manages to get away injury free. On my running Instagram I’m following many other runners and some of them are just running crazy distances consistently without injury, but there are probably 5 times more people suffering serious injuries that have put them out of action and that really scares me. This is always a problem when you sign up for so many races, if you get seriously injured, you obviously shouldn’t run and I sign up for A LOT of races!

One reason I bought my spin bike for home was that, depending upon what kind of injury I’d had, I could still get some pretty decent cardio in but with less impact. I did find that when I was suffering from plantar fasciitis, this still aggravated my foot, the pedals are pretty sturdy and it didn’t like being in that position, but luckily I’ve not been suffering quite as bad this year.

Sunday | Race Day!
Waaaaaa, the day is finally here. Do I feel like I’ve done enough work to beat last year’s time? No, I do not. Was that all my fault? No, you’ve been suffering through some injuries but perhaps could have tried a bit harder… There’s nothing that makes me hecking mad with myself as much as knowing I could have tried harder. But anyway!

Woke up to a dry and sunny morning but it wasn’t too hot so I was hoping that the early start was going to make sure we were home and dry before it got scorching. I’d rather run all day long in the rain and cold weather than the heat, I’m just terrible at it!

One criticism I have of big races like this are the crowds. I’m used to doing races with around 300-500 people but this is literally thousands of people running and around the course. This means that instead of having one ‘3-2-1-GO’ you get several and it takes FOREVER to even get up to the start line. I was in the white wave this year and I think it was the green wave behind us, because there are so many people in the pens all of the groups get jumbled into one and by the time we set off (at least half an hour after the warm up!) I was starting with mostly green people. I thought ‘this is no problem, once we set off I’ll be able to overtake anyone that might be slower because the roads are pretty wide’. Well I was wrong about that! I think for the first mile I was struggling to get around slower runners, my pace was all over the place because I was trying to compensate for my slower start, it was just a bit of a disaster!

Also, I had another mishap with my watch. Because it took so long to get past the start, it sort of happened all of a sudden and I hadn’t set my watch up as I didn’t realise we were setting off. That meant I pressed start on my pacer a good time after we actually set off and that was the one thing I was counting on to help me achieve my 55 minute dream (I don’t know if I’ve already mentioned, my 2017 time was 58:19 which was my PB for that year, so I wasn’t looking to take too much off but my race times so far this year haven’t been close to that).

Once I managed to settle into a pace I felt a bit better but I was definitely struggling. It was getting pretty hot and I found myself walking for a couple of seconds at water stations just to compose myself a little and get my head back in it. I love watching The Run Experience on YouTube and I’ve watched most of their videos, one piece of advice they gave for a 10k is don’t stop at water stations. The race isn’t long enough for you to give yourself much benefit during the race and you’re ticking off major time by stopping, however, while I didn’t drink much at the water station, I did pour some water over me instead.

So, all of that aside, I finally found myself staring down the road towards the finish line. (Another thing I hate is long finish lines – Dublin Half Marathon…. just wow). I looked down at my watch and I was at 54/55mins ish and I thought I really need to push at this last bit, I’d be gutted if I took a leisurely pace and it ended up I could have got 55 mins! This was quite possibly the worst part of the entire race for me. There were so. many. people on that final stretch. Some people were walking at this point (probably because the waves were so jumbled up) but mostly people seemed to be out for a leisurely stroll toward the finish line and it gets narrow here as you go past the centre towards At Bristol. The frustration of trying to have some sort of sprint finish while having to try and weave in and out of so many people was enough to make me feel the angers. I love the Bristol races but I’m not so sure I’ll be doing this one again next year, I just find it all a bit too stressful! Does anyone else find this?

Pushing the stop button on my Garmin was both a relief and a disappointment. My watch time said 56:33 (which I knew wasn’t right due to my failure to press start crossing the start line) and I was gutted. While this was a PB for me by just over 2 minutes, I couldn’t help but kick myself for walking those couple of times and generally having a grumpy run because of all of the people.

My official time was 56:57 so I barely managed a 56 min race let alone getting close to the 55 mins I was after. I know that I’ll get there though but it definitely won’t be at a big race like this one. I longed for for the smaller races of Glastonbury and the Clock Change Challenge, which do have their own downsides, but not being able to push yourself to your ability because of crowds just isn’t what I’m looking for in a race. It’s funny though because I don’t recall it being like this last year. Were there more runners? Was I just unlucky in my race wave?

While I didn’t get the time I was going for, I have changed my whole mindset when it comes to racing. For some silly reason I was never pushing myself because I was worried I’d burn out and running races for me isn’t all about PBs, it’s sometimes about going to new and exciting places and getting to see them and explore them. Finding my Garmin pacer though has changed the game for me and I can’t imagine running a race now without it. It gives me the reassurance that I can slow down if necessary or that I need to push myself a bit more whereas before it was just sheer guesswork especially on that final mile.

I’ve got so many more exciting races coming up this year and I know I’m going to achieve that 55 minute PB and who knows, perhaps I’ll be looking to a 50 minute PB this time next year!

Did you race the Bristol 10k this year? I really would like to hear from other runners who have done it and your personal experiences with this race.


Need For Speed | Week 3 | 10k Training | Diary of an Injured Runner

Things I thought I’d never say… ‘I’m writing this on a Bank Holiday Monday, sat in the garden in the glorious sunshine… in England’. ‘I have two 10k races in 2 days, one of them is a trail run’. ‘I lost 11lbs in 5 weeks’. And yet, here I am saying all of those things!

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The Bristol 10k is now a week away and I’m feeling pretty optimistic that I might be able to pull a further PB out of the bag. While I’m obviously going for a course PB AND an all time 10k PB, I’m wondering whether aiming for a 55min PB is out of the question! I don’t want to crash and burn by running outside of my actual ability. There has to become a point where I physically cannot achieve a certain time which is nothing to do with how hard I push??

Monday | Shins Shins Shins
I’ve been really really suffering with my shins lately and foam rolling was just way too painful to try and ease it off so I ordered this body roller which is like a big stick with little wheels on that you use to roll away your aches and pains. I’m a little sceptical but I’m getting desperate at this point and need to feel like I’m doing something. I’ve watched more YouTube videos than I can count on how to ease the pain and this was one of the things that was highly recommended. It’s such a difficult area to try and stretch out, I find myself trying to contort into all sorts of positions to try and get a stretch there but nothing really works.

Tuesday | Cardio Day
I’ve been embracing these ‘non running cardio days’ these past couple of weeks and my legs are definitely feeling the benefit of it. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t do this workout in constant pain on the inside of my shins though! I wanted to do a little longer but I thought I’d be silly to push it, especially with 2 races this weekend so I did just over an hour.

Wednesday | They See me Rollin’
The ‘body roller’ was delivered today, hooray! I gave it a little test on my legs, they’re still sore, and I can’t say they felt any better afterwards but I’m assuming persistence is the key here. The Labrador was also very interested in this new contraption!

Thursday | Rest Day
I’m feeling nervous about Saturday’s run because I feel very under qualified to run it. I always imagine that there’s going to be runners there who look at me and think ‘she’s definitely no runner, what on earth is she doing at a trail run’. And while they’re right, to date, I’ve never felt like this when I’m at a run. There are always many different abilities at races and everyone is encouraging. I’ll admit that I have thought about not going. It’s such a long way and I really don’t want to fall over ahead of Sunday’s run and do myself an injury.

Friday | Out Out + New Trail Shoes
I had the day off of work today and my main goal was to get some much needed new trail shoes. The guy in the running shop was very helpful and I sauntered around the store trying on as many different shoes as they had and running up and down stairs. I was surprised that I ended up with a size 4 as I am actually a size 4… and I know running shoes are usually bigger than your normal shoe size. Anyway, they felt comfortable and I went away new shoes in hand – also knowing I was going to commit the sin of running in a brand new pair of shoes… ah well, what was I going to wear, my battered Nikes or my toe crippling trail shoes!

The evening followed by a trip into town to say goodbye to a work colleague but I had to leave fairly early because of the lovely early start tomorrow!

Saturday | Brecon Beacons 10k Trail Challenge
This race may have taken over as my most favourite one yet! Before that, I’d like to share a fun fact about myself that, if you don’t know me, you may not know. I am rather silly. Which means that silly things happen to me… A LOT. While I’m the kind of person who cannot fit any more information into my brain until the last possible moment, I do like to have a general idea of how far away a race is ahead of time, which means I’d looked to see how far away the Brecon Beacons were and my sat nav reliably informed me that it was just under 2 hours away from home. The sensible part of my brain said ‘that’s weird, it’s only across the bridge into Wales and up a bit’, but I reasoned that perhaps the roads into the Brecons were slow and winding which is why it was going to take so long.

So we’re at race day, hopped into the car at some stupid o’clock, and I’m following the sat nav to get on our way. What I thought was really strange was the way that it was taking us, up through Gloucester and onto the M5… weird, I need to be on the M4 and I know this isn’t the right way. I pulled over on the side of the road and instantly realised why we’d gone so far off course… my sat nav was set to ‘avoid tolls’! So we weren’t going across the bridge into Wales we were going ALL THE WAY AROUND IT! Great start to the day, I could have had an extra half an hour in bed!

Crisis averted, we eventually made it to Race HQ, which was a tad troublesome in itself. Because there was also an Ultra, Marathon and Half Marathon on the same day spaced an hour apart, we’d arrived during the half marathon set off and we had to wait for all of the runners to cross the start before we could get into the car park and we were sat there for quite some time. Phew, we made it. The views in this part of the world are stunning and I was feeling a little nervous as to what these trails were going to be like. I’m 100% no technical runner but the views on trails cannot be matched which is why I come back to them time and time again. During this race I had a very brief discussion with another runner as to the fact that we were both here for the ‘experience’ and not the PBs, which is how I feel about nearly every trail run I’ve completed.

We had to gather for a race briefing 15 mins before the start and I’ll be honest, it wasn’t great. They were using a tannoy system which didn’t seem to be working and I couldn’t hear a thing. People were shouting that they couldn’t hear but that didn’t make the instructions any clearer to me. They held up signs which I assumed meant that we had to follow them… easy enough.

The puppers set off 5 minutes before the main race and then we were off. As soon as we started I felt knackered! Even though the race started early, it was already pretty hot. Because I have the Glastonbury 10k tomorrow, I’m not going to push myself today that’s for sure because that IS a time I care about! The views on this course were absolutely stunning and I’m not even ashamed to say that I stopped on multiple occasions to either take in the views or to take photos of the views. The terrain was great and not very ‘technical’ in my mind, with the exception of a couple of rocky places towards the end. Had it been raining and more muddy, it might have been different (that’s not to say there weren’t some muddy parts as there were).

My new trail shoes held up well, they could definitely still do with some breaking in, but otherwise they felt okay (not like my last pair where I actually thought my toes might fall off after wearing them) and I was a teeny bit upset when they got mud on them, not gonna lie haha.

Coming up to around mile 6 and I thought I was on the home stretch but my watch clocked a final distance of over 7 miles, and it’s usually pretty accurate! (Reading some peoples’ Instagram posts after, the Half Marathon was more like 16 miles – eek).

Overall this was a great race, I loved it and I’d love to go back again and not race as I wanted to really take in the stunning views instead of running away from them! The medal wasn’t too shabby either, one of my favourites. Also worth noting, I had zero pain, niggles, nothing. My shins didn’t hurt one tiny bit.

Sunday | Glastonbury 10k
This was the first ‘race’ I’d done (since 2012 when I ran the Bristol Half Marathon) in 2017 so I felt there was a bit of pressure to get at least a course PB and then under the hour was my goal. I adore Glastonbury, it’s such a unique place. Unfortunately last year I didn’t get a chance to look around much as I felt absolutely horrible after and wanted to get back to the car and home as soon as possible.

Glastonbury, as you might expect, is also a very chill race and it doesn’t start until 11.20am which is the latest start time I’ve ever had. This also meant that the temperature was absolutely scorching by the time we set off at around 24 degrees. I couldn’t remember much about the course, although I vaguely remember thinking it was pretty hilly the first time around, and there’s ‘Heartbreak Hill’ on the very last 1k of the race, which I didn’t manage to run up in 2017 (I think I may have said a curse word when I saw it around the corner then too).

I’d set my pace time on my Garmin to 59:30 (definitely not going for any kind of 10k PB after running trails yesterday and it being so hot), getting around in under an hour was my number one goal. I set off quite well and managed to get 1min lead time fairly quickly so I just needed to hold onto that pace as long as I could. Last weekend, at Bridgwater 10k, I only stopped at the water stations for mere seconds because I knew that was going to make a massive difference to my overall time but today, I couldn’t run past them I really needed that few seconds break and a bit of water intake.

I managed to maintain my pace right up until mile 5 but by this point, someone had notched up the temperature and I was absolutely boiling! I scraped by this mile, managing to hold onto about a 50 second lead but it was tough. The photographer (also, free race photos at Glastonbury!) takes a photo of you with the Glastonbury Tor in the background, which is a great backdrop and I knew that Heartbreak Hill was just around the corner from here. There is even a sign ‘Welcome to Heartbreak Hill’ at the bottom. I looked up (mistake), did a little internal cursing, and ran up the whole flippin’ thing, which already meant I was better than last year. Then it’s a nice little downhill to the finish line and boom you’re done! I looked at my watch and it said ’58:44′ and I was over the moon with that time! 5 minutes faster than 2017 which (to me) is a huge difference. Another sub 1 hr 10k in the bank, which makes this the 3rd run so far.

I’m so thankful that I found the pacer on my Garmin, I honestly don’t think I’d be able to get the past sub 1hr times without it. Before, I’d look at around mile 5 and guestimate whether I’d be able to get in under or not but with this, I know my estimated finish time and whether I’m on course or not – it’s absolutely brilliant!

After the race, I felt horrible. I’d been feeling sick since yesterday and the heat didn’t help but I’d also had completely blocked ears. Every step I took, every time I breathed in, I could ‘hear’ it and I felt like I was on a plane. We had ice creams and a wander around the Abbey and then came back to the start to watch the drummers and then headed back to the car. I must have sat in the car for around 20 minutes trying not to feel sick – nonetheless, great day, great race and I may come back again in 2019 we’ll see. I did get a bit sunburned though, being a pale English Rose hahaha. How silly of me not to wear any lotion! I also had no pain at all during or after this race, which I didn’t even realise until I’ve sat down to think about it now! I’m really hoping that it stays pain free as this is the only way I’m going to continue to get better race times. (Pray to the shin gods).

Next Week – Week 4
The week of the BIG run, which I’m looking forward to but also I’m going to be so nervous trying to get that ‘need for speed’ and all time PB. The weather forecast is showers and definitely cooler than this week, so I’m feeling better about that! While I will never, ever, ever, complain about it being too hot in England, I may complain that it’s too hot for running.


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!