InstaSays - Feature Post

InstaSays – How are you keeping yourself motivated with no races on?

Recently I shared a post discussing virtual challenges and races. Read here. I have found that these have kept me motivated during lockdown, especially with no events to train for. I then wonder how everyone else was managing to keep themselves motivated. So I put up a question box on my InstaStory asking “How are you keeping yourself motivated with no races on?” and below are the answers.

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I’ve just moved to a new country – so am using running as an opportunity to explore!

@gattina_rosa_runs

Virtual races and working on speed!

@ellebrownmoves

Work is keeping me busy with exercise sessions for patients due to COVID, so not doing much running.

@nessie76180203

Setting long term goals. (100 miler booked for October😬).

@ahealthiermoo

Trainers

Focussing on getting strong and building a good base for 2021.

@misspondruns

Signing up for virtual runs and eating all the food. 🐷

@mrsbrems

Running lots of easy miles. ❤️❤️❤️

@lexielovestorun

Lots of virtual races, you meet tons of new friends & more strength work at home.🤗

@_hales_j

I’m not…😂

@wife_mum_runner_

By reminding myself how strong and fit I want to be for the day that races return!

@clairesmarathonmusings

Do you have a different way to keep yourself motivated? Drop a comment below, with your IG handle and I will add it to the list. If you enjoy reading these, please consider subscribing and following me on Instagram so you can take part. 

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InstaSays – Advice for New Runners

The running community on Instagram are very supportive, passionate about running and knowledgeable. If I am in need of an answer, I will often ask the question there and get lots of advice.

So, this gave me an idea! Why not start a blog series called ‘InstaSays’ I can ask a question. Hopefully a useful one and then collate all the answers here for people to refer too.

So this week I asked ‘What is the best piece of advice for a new runner?’ The media keep reporting how there are lots of people that have taken up running during lockdown. So if that is you, I hope this will be useful. Check out my blog post on ‘How to get started‘ if you are still thinking about starting.

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Smile, have fun, change up your route and remember this is for you, don’t compare.

@keeblehj

Smile break miles

@petec

Run as slow as possible instead of walking

@kteeea

Listen to your body! Take the day off if you’re sore. Go easy when you are tired.

@ellenbrownmoves

Small goals, they feel like huge achievements & make to stick with it.

@_hales_j

Don’t worry about walking sometimes.

@clairesmarathonmusings

Relax, enjoy & smile.

@lorrainecroggon

Be kind to yourself first of all. Start slowly. Progress gradually. Don’t worry about pace and stick to it.

@thays.de.freitas

Use others for inspiration but don’t compare yourself to them! Just do what you can!

@gattina_rosa_runs

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other!

@whatleanneran

So what do you think? If you have any of your own suggestion please add it below and your IG handle to be added to the list. If you have any good questions for me to ask, drop those below too.

person running near street between tall trees

Virtual Challenges – #teamrularuns

#Planb Act 3

I was contacted through Instagram by Find A Race asking if I wanted to put a team together to take part in their virtual challenge #Planb Act 3. They said that they would gift me my place and then give me a code to share for my followers to join my team.

I was just finishing up the Runr Miles For Mile challenge and was wondering what I was going to do to keep myself motivated throughout June. So I looked into Find A Race a bit more. I could choose from various distances and had 30 days for my ‘team’ to complete our selected distance.

The entry fee for Find A Race Virtual Run does donate money to Alzheimer’s but I was unsure which if my followers this would appeal too. I replied to the email saying I would love to take part and set the challenge distance to 100KM. I was pretty confident that I could achieve that solo.

So #teamrularuns was set up and I shared the code on my Instagram and Facebook Page. Suddenly I got an email saying I had a teammate. Then another email and another. It was SO exciting. I loved receiving that email. I then decided to make a team chat on Instagram and to my surprise #teamrularuns took off.

Ruth running

Each time we ran, we uploaded proof to the Find A Race website. Our challenge page had a leaderboard and a section to show us our progress. We were only 2 days in and we had to increase our challenge distance to 500KM.

Then more people joined, we were all super motivated and we rapidly approached the 500km target too. We spent an evening on the chat deciding whether we should go for the highest total of 2500KM in the 30 days. We had a large team, but my concern was that I didn’t want people to feel under pressure to run. It was a fun challenge after all. But the team decided to go for it. So the new distance was the target!

We were banking miles very quickly at the start of the challenge and then the progress bar didn’t seem to move. I started to feel a little apprehensive. Then we spotted that there was a glitch with the website and our totals were not adding to the overall progress. I was so relieved that it wasn’t that we had all just got lazy!

The company were excellent at trying to fix this issue and although it was frustrating and took a while to sort, it was nice when the bar finally shot up. With a week to go, I started to feel the pressure a little. I think we worked it out to be about 5k a day for everyone in the team. Although some loved this, I knew it wasn’t going to appeal to all.

FindaRace Leaderboard

Luckily I noticed that one of the team members hadn’t logged all of her miles (I knew she had been banking them as I saw her runs on Strava) Luckily, with her miles and then a late addition to the team we covered the 2500KM with a day to spare!

Having a challenging distance was great, but I actually think the Team element of it is what I enjoyed the most. Encouraging each other on and sharing our progress together was amazing.

Since taking part in this event, I have completed 2 other virtual challenges. The Virtual Race to the The Stones and Asics 10K. The Virtual Race to the Stones was brilliant, as it felt like most of the running community on Instagram (well the people I follow) took part. I only opted for the marathon distance in a week, but some people logged 100K in a week. WOW, just wow!

Virtual Race to the Stones

Kelly made a little VLOG about her week and I even feature at the end!

You could have paid an entry fee for this challenge and get a medal/t-shirt when completed. I am having to watch the pennies, so didn’t opt for this.

Virtual Asics 10K

I did, however, pay to enter the Virtual Asics 10K. I loved this race last year (read here) mainly due to loving running in London. Also, I knew a lot of people taking part. So why pay, when you couldn’t run in London? Well, at this year’s National Running Show, Sarah bought a lovely Notch Bracelet and showed it to me. Well, that was me sold. I love them, but yet again this stupid career change/break (whatever I am doing), means that I don’t have the spare cash to splash on the non-essentials so I didn’t get one.

When this race said that instead of a medal you get a Notch Bracelet, I was in. I think the entry price was half the price of buying a bracelet, so I couldn’t resist! Yes, I know it’s still not an essential, but I have to have a little treat now and again!

The 10K was geared more towards pushing for a fast time and featuring on the leaderboard. I didn’t really do that. My plan was to just cover the 10K and now waiting for the delivery of my Notch Bracelet!

Overall thoughts

When I shared my Medal Monday photo on Instagram, I asked people what there thoughts were on Virtual Events. Here are some of the responses I had.

I totally agree with the thoughts of same routes, still solo running etc, but I think making the chat group and being a team gave this challenge a whole different feel. Being part of a team really suits me (must be from my basketball days) so it motivated me as I didn’t want to let my team down. I think the Race to the Stones event, although solo felt better as it had a community feel with so many taking part. When it comes to Virtual RACES, I’m not sure I love that. I think I need people around me, spectators and the race atmosphere to push the pace!

Some of my teammates are keen to the Find A Race Challenge again, so keep your eyes peeled on my Social Media if you fancy joining in.

Have you taken part in a Virtual Race/Challenge? What are you thoughts on them? Leave a comment below to let me know.

D80B4D51-E2CD-4F45-8969-C6645F01CBD0

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?

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?