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Running and Travelling

So, I am currently sat in the airport in Singapore waiting for my final flight back to the UK. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that I have been on the most epic trip to Australia. So, here are my ramblings on running and travelling.

Aeroplane called Big Fella Fella
Only in Australia would a plane be called Big Yella Fella 😂

We stayed in Brisbane, Sunshine Beach, back to Brisbane and then finished in Burleigh, on the Gold Coast. It was truly amazing and I am sad to be heading home.

Beach view
That is Surfers Paradise in the distance

Running when you are in a new destination is amazing. You get a feel for the area and some of the views that you get to experience are amazing. I love exploring new areas; it is best when you are with another runner, but solo exploring is good too.

I have to admit that I only got to do a very small run at Sunshine Beach as I was ill for the first section of our travels. Nothing serious just coughing and spluttering, but enough to choose to give running a miss for a few days, especially as the Christmas Festivities were in full swing too.

This didn’t mean that I wasn’t active, I made the most of swimming and hiking through Noosa National Park. I wrote about our first walk here, but I did actually complete the walk twice. The second time we set off earlier in the day and boy was it hot! But the undulating walk, steps, and walking on the sand built up a good sweat and made the post walk beer so much more enjoyable!

Well earned beers

When we arrived at the Gold Coast, the set up was too good not to run. A path along the beachfront, what more could you ask for! I was feeling better and actually really looked forward to getting out to run. The heat was intense during the day, so I had to get up early to run and was amazed at how many people were out running, walking and skating along the path at 6:30 am. Not only was the path busy, but the sea was also full of surfers. Australia really does appear to have an active lifestyle culture. The path that I ran on appeared to go on for miles. I was almost disappointed with myself for not being fitter to run longer, as I am sure I could have run to Surfers Paradise and back.

Trainers and sea

Tips

  • Plan a route. I just used my iPhone map to look for a route. Luckily I was with people that knew the area, so I knew it was safe and fine to run.
  • Set your kit out the night before. If it is out and ready you are more likely to get out of bed and go.
  • Set your alarm. I had been waking up early most mornings, but I still set my alarm. In Australia you need to run early or it just gets too hot, so you don’t want to miss your opportunity.
  • Tell people where you are going. I always take my phone as well. Mainly for photographs, but also incase I get lost!
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. The first morning, I told myself I could walk if I wanted too. As I hadn’t run for a while and had been unwell I ended up just run walking. Just getting up and being out was great.
  • I don’t wear headphones often as I like taking it all in. So I also made sure that I looked around listened and tried to take it all in.
  • I stopped to take lots of photos, catch my breath and take in the views.
  • Build up your runs over time if you want too, but really just enjoy the opportunity that you are experiencing.

My runs were not long or fast, but I loved them. I am so grateful that I am able to run and I got to run in such a beautiful part of the world.

Koala
How adorable do Koalas look?

Now it is time for the hard work to start. Manchester Marathon is fast approaching and I need to get stuck into training. The cold is going to be a bit of a shock I think, but I’m ready for you, marathon training cycle number SIX!

What are you training for?

Rula Runs Chicago Medal

2019 Running Reflections

So as we are at the end of the year, I have been reflecting back over my year in terms of running, well isn’t that what all bloggers do? Actually, does everyone reflect and goal set? I have been reading lots lately on goal setting and reflection and it has made me wonder if I am the only person that is a bit aimless. 

I used to set lots of goals and have plans, yet I seem to be drifting lately. Maybe I need to be doing a lot more reflection and goal setting in my life aside from running too! I digress!

Reflecting in Chicago
Reflecting on my Chicago Marathon Race in Chicago.

Marathons

Chicago Marathon was really my only goal/target for last year and even then I didn’t really commit to a big goal. I had casually suggested that I wanted to run around the 4:30 mark and the closer I got to 4:15 the happier I would be. But, honestly, I’m not totally sure that I was that convinced by that! 

At the end of the training cycle, I just wanted to get round it and enjoy it! Can you ever really enjoy a marathon? As you can guess, when you don’t commit to a goal or have the self belief that you can do it, it is likely to not be met. 

Races

I didn’t really have any time targets for running this year. I just approach each race and then have this crazy idea that I may crack out a PB in that race. But by the time the race starts, I’ve usually let the negativity talk take over, so don’t even attempt the PB pace. On the flip side, if I have a crazy moment, I’ll probably go faster than the pace needed, thinking it will help if I fade at the end then crash and burn at the end instead! You’d think after all years, I’d be better at running by now! 

I am inclined to reflect on my running this year with some disappointment, as Chicago was nowhere near a PB. My training wasn’t all that good. I had a great plan, I just didn’t feel like I executed that well. Long runs felt so hard! I got bored doing them and didn’t enjoy the process quite how I would have liked too!

Half Marathons

Then there was my half marathon PB, surely that sounds like it should be positive! My 2:00:32 half marathon time was set back in 2009. It was my very first half marathon and I haven’t been able to beat it since. Well, that was until I ran the Bedford Half. I wasn’t supposed to be racing it, instead, using it as a tempo run, but when I knew a PB was achievable I couldn’t help myself. Yet, even though it was a PB, the elusive sub 2 hour finish time still escaped me. 2:00:01! ONE BLOODY SECOND!!! Yes, I was happy to have knocked 31 seconds off my PB time, but really, could it not have started with a 1:xx:xx!!! So, even with a PB, it was still tinged with a little bit of gloom, but that is ok. Running is more than just races, times and bling. 

Mental Health

I have NEEDED running this year! It has meant so much more to me than I may be able to put into words.

Running with friends

I haven’t hidden the fact that my mental health took an absolute battering this year. Quitting my job and seeking help was needed, to keep my mental health intact.

Many times, I have felt like I have lost myself, yet running has always allowed me to feel normal, happy and find some clarity in my thoughts.

My fuzzy head has felt so full at times and completely overwhelming. My thoughts have been negative and at times very dark, yet running allowed me to escapes from these thoughts. It helped me clear my head and see how irrational some of my darker thoughts were.

My mental health is still not 100% but I am working on that and will continue to work on it every day, but I’m ok with that. Even at the age of 42, I feel I am still a work in progress and for the first time in a while I am excited to see where the journey takes me.

I am still seeking ‘the’ job, which is scary at times, but who knows where I will end up??? I’m just glad that I will have running there with me as I go.

A path which leads where
who knows where 2020 will take me!!

Looking ahead

In some ways I am happy to see the back of 2019, yet I know it has, as always, taught me some great lessons. I haven’t got a list of definitive goals for the year yet, but I plan to sit down and have a good think about what it is I want to achieve in 2020.

So, as soon as I return home from my holiday, Manchester Marathon training will commence and I am really looking forward to that. Yes I actually am! 

What are you training for in 2020?

Some highlights from this year

Chicago Marathon

Brighton Half Marathon

Starting MNDAD@70

ASICS 10K

Remember to check out my upcoming races page to see what I’ll be doing next year. You will also be able to read all my race reviews from this year too.

How has your year been?

London Marathon Medal 2016

What to expect when you sign up for your first marathon

I remember saying that I would NEVER run a marathon. I ran my first half marathon and as I approached the finish line I thought I would never be able to walk again, so how people ran that distance again straight away felt crazy to me!

Well 5 marathons later, and another already booked for next year, let’s have a little look at what happens when you book a marathon.

London Marathon Medal 2016
  1. You feel all brave and hit the button to sign up for your first marathon. The excitement is great and you are raring to go.
  2. You share your news on social media and everyone is happy for you. This is going to be SO exciting.
  3. A couple of days later, when the adrenalin has worn off, you think F*#k! What the hell was I thinking of?
  4. With the fear and negativity truly ingrained, you start to google training plans. Wow, training seems to go on forever and how can you possibly run for (insert longest training run on the plan).
  5. After choosing your training plan, you actually can’t wait to get started. The anticipation of the start date of your training cycle is immense.
  6. Prior to the start date, you think about all the things that you are going to do alongside your running; eating sensibly (possibly lose some weight), stretch daily, strength train, get lots of sleep, foam roll… the list is endless.
  7. Your start date comes and you are loving life. The first run was a dream, you got back and had a protein shake, you stretched, foam rolled, you are going to enjoy this journey.
  8. Your first long run comes and goes and although you struggled to slow down enough for a Long Run you are very pleased to get that ticked off the plan. How is week 1 completed already?
  9. 6 weeks into the plan, you are glad to have gotten over your cold. You are starting to feel tired. Stretching, what’s that? How have you not lost weight? You have only missed a few sessions off the plan!
  10. Week 11; when is this going to end. It is relentless. You are tired, your runs are getting longer. You are hungry ALL the time. You are doubting that you will ever be able to complete a marathon. You also have your longest run EVER looming and that scares you.
  11. Once your longest run is completed, you are so happy to start the taper time. Although taper isn’t all you thought it would be, as you still have to get out and run x number of days a week. Even though the mileage is coming down, some of the runs are still LONG!
  12. The final weeks before the marathon, you start to feel sluggish. How can you have just completed all of those weeks of training, yet you feel the most unfit you have in a while. Why did you sign up for this? What were you thinking?
  13. You attend the expo/your bib arrives, the excitement builds.
  14. You stand on the start line of the race, all the nerves, excitement, and anticipation. Then just as you are about the start, again, it hits you. You NOW have to run 26.2 miles!
  15. You complete the marathon. It was like a rollercoaster. You loved some bits, you were scared at some parts, you wondered if you would stay alive, you constantly wonder if it is EVER going to finish.
  16. You finish. NEVER again.
  17. You can’t quite believe what has just happened. You want to eat all the food and drink all the alcohol. You take one bite and one sip and actually you don’t want anything at all. You are walking like you have had an accident. You just want to sleep. 
  18. Well, you do want to sleep, but your mind won’t let you. Also, who knew sleeping hurt! Every movement hurts!
  19. A week later you are feeling a little lost. What do you do with all this free time that you now have?
  20. You are not quite sure how this just happened, but somehow you have just signed up for your next marathon. And so it begins again!!
Chicago Marathon Medal 2019

I have written about my training cycles here. reading back over them allows me to see the progress, or to compare cycles. I think my training cycle for Manchester Marathon should have started really, but this one will be slightly different as I think a 12-week programme is going to have to suffice.

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Do you agree? What other thoughts cross your mind? Are you running a marathon in 2020? Comment below and let me know.

Asics GT 2000

What have I learned​ since I started running?

So, you’ve decided to take up running, you are thinking of taking up running, or you’ve been running for a while. Well, this is my take on things you will find happen when you are a runner.

Running trainers

Early Days

  • You’ll find that one minute is SO much longer than your thought.
  • You make progress quite quickly early on, often surprising yourself frequently.
  • Every road, path, pavement near to where you live, are all uphill!
  • You know how far a mile is, in every direction, from your house.
  • Very few people look ‘good’ in running clothes!
  • You begin to set your alarm clock earlier at the weekend, than your weekday alarm.
  • You will become obsessed with stats and weather!
  • You notice runners everywhere; You even become a little jealous of them running, as you wish you were too.
  • You develop lots of BRF (Best Running Friends) some you have never met, thanks to social media.
  • You become an ‘Oversharer’. Toilet habits, mishaps, clothing malfunctions, injuries, etc.
  • You know all the road names of your local area.
  • For a cheap sport, running can be very expensive.
Running in a 5K
One of my first ever races – ‘Just’ a 5k!

Later on…

  • You are only ever training for a 5K, yet once you complete that, you find yourself signing up for a 10K.
  • You are only ever training for a 10K, yet once you complete that, you find yourself signing up for a half marathon.
  • You are only ever training for a half marathon, yet once you complete that, you find yourself signing up for a marathon.
  • You are only ever training for a marathon, yet once you complete that, you find yourself signing up for many more crazy adventures as possible.
  • People will tell you that running is bad for you. My mother-in-law once told me that I only have an allocated number of steps in my lifetime and I was wasting them all running.
  • You want to run ALL the races.
  • You have more running clothes than ‘normal’ clothes.
  • You can NEVER have enough kit.
  • Your mental maths ability disappears at the end of races.
  • You rarely get nice race photographs.
  • You need to take out a loan to buy race photos.
  • Whilst some hibernate in the winter months, you develop the ability to run in all weather.
  • You spend more money on race entries than you do on going out. (Read here about running being cheap)
  • You happily get into bed by 9 pm (or earlier) on a Saturday night as you have an early start for your long run on Sunday.
  • Black toenails are a badge of honour.
  • Painting your toe skin, where the toenail should be, is totally acceptable.
  • Marathon nails are a ‘thing’.
  • Pizza is life.
Pizza order for #TeamMND at Endure 2019!

I’m sure that I have missed off many things, so please add them to the comments below.

What have you learned since becoming a runner?

Chicago Marathon Medal Engraved

What happens now, post-Chicago Marathon?

It’s back to reality with a thud! My focus has been the Chicago Marathon for what feels like an eternity, I don’t think I have thought post Chicago many times.

Chicago marathon & 5k medals

The running part of my adventure to Chicago didn’t quite go how I would have liked it too. During the end of the training cycle I remember thinking NEVER again, during the marathon I remember thinking NEVER again, after the marathon, I thought NEVER again, that’s it.

So why is it, one-week post-marathon, I have already logged on to the Berlin Marathon website and thought more about the Six-Star Challenge! WTAF

Originally, I thought the London Marathon was going to be my one and only marathon (Read about them here). I just wanted to tick it off my bucket list and that would be that. Then when New York Marathon fitted so well with my 40th Birthday celebrations, I just had to stick my name in that ballot!

New York City has always been on my ‘To-do List’ for as long as I can remember. Surely everyone watches films and falls in love with NYC?? The New York City Marathon was 4 days prior to my 40th birthday, so that became my dream. When I got I got a place and then had a great run in New York, obtaining my marathon PB (Read here), it ignited my passion for marathons again. It also made me think about the Six Star Finish again.

WMM Six Star Finisher's Medal
Wow, wow, wow

I put my name in the ballot for both Tokyo and Berlin in 2018 but didn’t get places. So next was Chicago, so what was the harm of adding my name to the ballot for that too. When I got the place, my World Marathon Majors six-star finish was back on!

I feel like running like marathons is like child birth. The pain and turmoil at the time is intense. Then it is all blocked from your head and you think doing it again is a good idea.

London Marathon Expo

I do already have the Manchester Marathon booked for next year (April), but I still keep being drawn to the Berlin Marathon ballot. It closes at the end of October, yet I know currently I don’t have the funds to apply; it’s 125 Euros.

This six-star challenge doesn’t come easy or cheap, but luckily doesn’t have to be finished in a time period. I just now need to find my dream job that will allow me the time off to go to these marathons and pay me the wages so I can afford this crazy adventure!! Not asking much am I??!hehehe

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Secret​ London Runs – Gin Tour

This company needs to NOT be a secret! I had never heard of Secret London Runs until I ran with them as part of a blogger event organised by Runderwear back in April. Read about it here.

I was lucky enough to win a competition that they were running on social media, so on Saturday, I headed back to London with Victoria to take part in their Gin Tour.

I’m not a Gin drinker but still loved this run, so don’t be put off if don’t drink Gin. All the correspondence prior to the tour are thorough and clear.

You meet your guide in a pub, you don’t need to worry about not finding them, as guides have ‘Secret London Runs’ on their t-shirts and everyone is in running gear.

Ye Old Cock Tavern entrance

We had a quick brief outside the pub and then set off. You stop frequently, so it doesn’t matter if you are at the back, you’ll catch up soon enough. At each stop, Ian our guide, gave us some great insight into the history of Gin, as well as some fun facts about London.

Photo of the River Thames
Running by the Thames

You explore places you never knew existed and you get to connect parts of London together. Most of us visit places via tube stops and never really realise how close together places are.

Group of people listening to guide.

At each stop, there is a chance to get involved. You are not just talked at, you can ask questions and we had little role play sections. We covered just over 5 miles, ended up back in the pub, where we were rewarded with a Gin.

City of London Distillery

I can’t recommend this highly enough and I know that is easy to say this when I haven’t paid for it, but I will be. I am very keen to do the Christmas Lights tour in the winter. Actually, I pretty much want to do them all. Thank you Secret London Runs for running your competition allowing me to win, see you again soon.

Have you taken part in a running tour before? Let me know in the comments below, I think it’s such a great way to explore places.