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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Miles | Zero but did walk A LOT around London

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

How many miles did you manage this week?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snooze days are the best days

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

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

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

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

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

Total Miles | 5.4

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

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

6 Of The Best Ways to Find New Races

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I am a little bit addicted to running races (let’s be honest, I also love the medals too!). I get asked quite a lot how I find new races so I’ve put together some ways that I find great ones and some sites that I use frequently.

1. Look at your maps

One of the most effective ways I’ve found races that are local to me is to look at the maps app on my iphone and write down a list of towns that are close to me. Once I’ve got a little list of places I’ll head on over to Google and type in the town name followed by the distance I’m looking for (which is usually 10K). For example, on the screenshot below I’d search for Fishponds 10k, Frenchay 10k, Filton 10k, Bedminster 10k and so on. I’ve found many races local to me that I never knew existed in this way.

2. Look to your local running club

Often people who are affiliated with a running club will go to races together, that is after all a shared interest for everyone there! This is a great way to find new races and have moral support at the same time, which is especially great if you’re new to running and races. If you’re also a member of a running club you can get an affiliate discount on most races.

3. Take to social media

My favourite social media platform is Instagram and, if you didn’t already know, there’s a whole running community on there. Most of my followers are people who are local to me or have attended races that I have so I’m always taking an interest when they post races that they’ve been to (especially if it’s got a particularly appealing medal!). They can also tell you what they thought of it and whether they’d recommend the race itself.

I also have a Twitter and Facebook account for posting all things running related, however, I haven’t found these as effective for sourcing races but nonetheless there are communities here too.

4. Source running club websites

Even if you’re not part of a running club, check out the websites of clubs near to you. Sometimes they’ll have links to local races and some clubs will actually put on their own races so have a look at these.

5. parkrun

While parkrun isn’t a race as such, it’s worth noting that if you enjoy the experience of being part of a race all for free then check out the parkrun app. It will give you full details of all parkruns, not just in your area but all over the globe, so if you are inclined while on your travels, have a look here for your running fix.

6. Websites

Here’s a list of some great websites that I like to peruse if I’m on the hunt for a new race.

www.runbritain.com ~ this website is a great resource for all kinds of races, distances and areas, you’re sure to find a new race here for sure.

www.timeoutdoors.com ~ again, great resource based on a search criteria. I’ve also found many races on this site that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else

www.fabian4.co.uk ~ I don’t find this the easiest site to use but they often have some quirky races listed on here. Many of the races I attended last year were from this site.

www.thrunningbug.com ~ handy for finding bigger and further afield races.

www.goodrunguide.co.uk ~ they’ve recently upgraded this site as it was quite difficult to use before, however, they’ve made it much easier to search for races and covers the whole country.

Races in the South West England
As this is where I live, I thought it would be pertinent to include the websites that I use all the time to find races local to me. Many of these are parts of a series and run by the same organiser and they do many different terrains and distances.

www.southernrunninguide.com ~ not only good for finding races, it’s also a great resource for all things running.

www.aspirerunningevents.co.uk ~ I’ve done several of the races in this series and they do mostly trail runs with stunning views.

www.relishrunningracescom ~ very well organised races and, again, races with stunning views off the beaten track. They often have multiple race distances on the same day from 5k all the way up to marathon.

If you have any other ways to find races local to you, let me know any tips you may have below.

how to find running races near you | tips for finding your next race
How to find new races | race day tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week total miles | 6

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.

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 | 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.