Chicago Marathon Medal Engraved

And Just Like that…

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.

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.

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.

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

66505576_1164465937088473_8095649079603757056_n

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.

IMG_6451

Running – How To Get Started.

So, you want to start running as you’ve heard how great it is for you physically and mentally, and EVERYONE seems to be doing it, so how do you get started? If you are already running, and are thinking about joining a club, read here.

Let me first just put a disclaimer – I’m no expert, but these are just my ideas from my experience that I hope may help someone start running.

5 Sets of trainers, positioned in a circle.

Download a Coach to 5k (C25K) App

There are many available – I would look at the reviews to decide which is the one to download. Why am I saying to use the APP? Well, I think it’s easy to think that we can all put on our trainers and just run for 10 minutes. For most of us, we would think that we were about to die after 30 seconds and then be put off for life! The C25K apps help you to build up slowly, and when you walk it is part of the programme so you don’t beat yourself up about the walking!

Get Friends Involved.

Running with people always makes it easier and more fun. If you have arranged to meet someone to run, you are less likely to pull out, so it keeps you more accountable. Also, you can encourage each other when things are tough, and celebrate with each other when you have completed the session.

Training with a friend.
Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

Get involved With The Running Community

If you can’t find a friend to run with, use the online running community. For me, I love the motivation from the Instagram running community, Uk Run Chat is great on Twitter and on Facebook I am a fan of the Run Mummy Run community. (Just so you know, you DO NOT have to be a mummy to be part of it, but you do have to be female!) Conversing with other runners will allow you to realise that everything you are thinking and feeling is perfectly normal!

Kit

They say that running is a free sport, but you can soon break the bank buying new trainers, kit, running watches, fuel etc (read more about that here). But the truth is when you are starting out, find something comfortable to run in. This could be clothes you already have, or Decathlon has running clothes that are reasonably priced. There are also lots of second-hand pages on Facebook where you can pick up cheap running clothes. You don’t want to have to pay out lots of money if you then find running isn’t for you. When you are more committed to running and know that you are going to carry on, then you can get out a loan and buy it all!

Expectations

You see lots of photos of people running, bounding along and glowing. This is very unlikely to be you. You won’t go far and it won’t be fast, but it is a start. The great thing about running is that you can progress quite quickly. Most people look ahead in their training APP and think I will never be able to do that. But they work towards it, build up slowly and when it gets to that week when they have to run continuously, they surprise themselves.

I remember thinking after my first half marathon, I could never run that again i.e a marathon! And yes it was true, at THAT time, I couldn’t have run it again, but with the right training and progress, I could and I did!

Get Out The Door

Getting out is sometimes the hardest part of the run. Get yourself into a routine. I listened to Adrienne’s Podcast The Power Hour, and she talked about a Personal Trainer who started with clients by building routines. He said that every morning, they had to get up and get their trainers on and step outside the front door. Once they were outside the front door, they could do what they wanted; walk back in, walk around the block, run, it was entirely up to them. They had to do this for three weeks, to establish the routine. Once they were used to getting up and out, then he introduced the exercise. You could almost do this before you start the C25K. Just get into the routine of scheduling time for your runs.

Sometimes the hardest step is getting out the front door.

Set Yourself a Target

Parkrun is a great target to set yourself. Parkrun organise free weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. You have to sign up to get a barcode, but that’s it. Just beware, they can be addictive!

So, that’s it. I am sure I could carry on with lots more ideas, but for now, just try it. Today is Global Running Day, so if I have managed to encourage one more person to try running, it will make my day!

#ThisGirlCanRun Quote.
Photo Credit @thisgirlcanrunning

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let me know if you do try it, just comment below. Also, if you are already running and have other tips and advice, please add them below.

Happy Global Running Day x

5623_20190310_100347_145254242_socialmedia

5 Ways to get a Runner’s Body

FIVE WAYS TO GET A RUNNER’S BODY – read on as it’s probably not going to be what you think.

  1. Be born. If you have read Bryony Gordon’s You Got This‘ book, you will realise what an amazing miracle this actually is.
  2. Have a body: Luckily we have one of those given to us when we are born!
  3. Put your trainers on.
  4. Go for a run. Doesn’t matter how fast or far you go.
  5. Tah-Dah you have a RUNNER’S BODY!
Variety of runner's bodies on show at the Runderwear day with Secret London Runs.

Now, you didn’t think getting a runner’s body was going to be that simple, did you?!

One of the things I have noticed so many times when at races; the running community comes in all different shapes and sizes, but they all complete the same race, pick up the same medal, get the same runners high and same feeling of accomplishment at the end of the run!

Vitality Big Half start line, displaying all shapes and sizes of runner's bodies.
Vitality Big Half 2019 – read about my race here

If you run, no matter how fast, you already have a runners body, so embrace it. Be proud of it for what it allows you to do, and don’t compare it to anyone else’s body.

‘Comparison is the thief joy’

Theodore Roosevelt

RunMND

Tips and training to support at a Marathon

After cheering and supporting at both the London Marathon and Milton Keynes Marathon recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that you should have a training plan for cheering too.

I was shattered on the day, and the day after both events. I even made the joke that I think I would have preferred to have run the marathon – Yes I know, I know – I have forgotten how tough marathons really are. (Chicago may be a bit of a shock!)

So what would a training block look like:

  • You would have to spend time reading maps and getting to know the route. I DIDN’T do this at Milton Keynes, and spent many hours cycling around lost! I didn’t even attempt to move around in London, I have done this in the past, and it is SO busy, and you end up walking a long way.
  • You will need to practice controlling your bladder. Milton Keynes I could at least stop, although I stupidly forgot to take a lock for my bike, so still had to wait until I got back to the car! London I was lucky that MNDA choose their cheer squad to be outside a pub, so I used the toilets prior to the race, but then I couldn’t take my eyes off the race; I feared losing my roadside spot, and missing the people I had come to cheer on. (Yep, I did exactly that, even thought I didn’t take a toilet break for SEVEN hours!)
  • Practising your clapping would have be on the plan. You need to harden up the skin, as 6+ hours can hurt! I thought I’d be smart and buy a cowbell after last years London Marathon. Obviously, my hands won’t hurt! Errmmm, my finger rubbed instead where I held the cowbell, my arms were aching from moving the cowbell and I’m still not sure if the ringing in my ears has cleared.
    Training could help you develop your photography skills! I’ve learnt the hard way in previous years, so extra battery charge was packed for both races. I also bought myself a Go Pro ready for London. Exciting I thought, well that was until I tried using it without really reading any instructions, plus trying to take a photo on my phone too, and ring the cowbell! It was a little more stressful than exciting! I know you are thinking, why would you use a Go Pro and a phone camera? Well, I wanted to post on my Instagram Stories, and knew how to do that from my phone! I am pleased to say that somehow by Milton Keynes, I managed to take a photo on my phone and video using my Go Pro at the same time. The cowbell just had to be silent, girl can only do SO much, and this photograph of Chris was worth the silence!
Cheering requires you to take photos too.
How is that even possible???

Actually, I have just remembered, I didn’t have it totally sorted, I remember calling sarah back to get this photograph!!

Cheering requires you to take photos too.
Sorry for making you come back Brems!
Cheering requires you to take photos too.
Pretty impressive 28 min PB from Katie at Milton Keynes!!
  • Packing – I was so glad that I had experience from previous years, as this year I made sure I had snacks! I didn’t quite need a fuelling strategy of gels, but cheering is tough works, so remember to fuel and hydrate too. As I said above, once you find your spot, you don’t really want to move, so then you have to choose, your spot or your rumbling tummy!
  • I think next year, I may have to take a Megaphone! I know that I am loud, but London is NOISEY, and on many occasions I screamed at people and they didn’t hear. The next day, my throat hurt ALOT, so if anyone knows where to get cheap Megaphones, please let me know.
  • Selective attention training is needed. Trying to pick out people on the busy London streets is crazy. Milton Keynes was easier, but make sure you know the kit colour of the person you are supporting, alternatively shout for everyone, and hope you don’t miss anyone! Whilst writing this, I have just thought about setting an alarm on your phone to buzz every 30 minutes for a stretch (yes, it’s getting serious now! haha) as my neck and shoulder ached lots. London from leaning out to try and spot people, MK from my cycling!
Cycle selfie whilst trying to navigate Milton Keynes Marathon to support and cheer.
One handed cycling!! Go Me!

I am sure I have missed lots from this, so if you have any other ideas, please post below, so that I can keep checking back on this before I go to cheer at any other races.

If you see me at Parkrun with a map, snacks, megaphone and stretches, please tell me I’ve taken this cheering and supporting too seriously! hehe

If you want to see which races are am booked in for in the coming months, take a look here.

img_4836

London Expo, Runderwear Run and The Running Awards

“Do one thing that scares you everyday” Eleanor Roosevelt.

So awhile back my cousin Katie, sent me a link she had seen on Twitter about The Running Awards and a Bloggers Forum. Fancy this? She sent. My initial reaction was NO WAY, I’m not really a blogger or a ‘proper’ runner. I know how stupid that sounds, because I would be the first to write – if you run, you’re a runner, but I wasn’t sure I would fit-in at this kind of event. I didn’t tell her that, I think I sent an equivocal response like ‘that looks fun‘.

A few weeks later, Katie sent me more information about it, and it said that we get a free set of personalised Runderwear if we sign up. I have been a big fan of Runderwear for a long time, so this had me sold. I wrote about my love for Runderwear back in 2016 here.

Kit gifted from Runderwear

Fast forward to the week prior to the event, an email is sent with all the details, and the run was taking place at 2pm. Katie sends me a message to tell me that she can’t get out of work, so couldn’t do the run, but we could still meet after and go to The Running Awards together. Oh no, oh no, panic sets in. I’m not a proper runner, I can’t go on my own. What if they are all super fast? What if we are expected to run in only the Runderwear? – I’m not really the shape that should do that! I consider missing the run too.

After deliberating for a few days, I decided to stop missing out and be brave. What could go wrong? I might actually enjoy it.

The night prior to going I posted the above photo, the caption exposing all my insecurities about not fitting in and not feeling like a true blogger. I am so glad that I did. The messages I got on that post where so lovely. Other runners that were going messaged me, and it felt nice to connect with people prior to getting to the event, and even knowing that they were nervous too.

I have always been a fan of the London Expo, and as soon as I knew I was going to be heading to London, I wanted to fit in a visit there too. Perfect timing, as Tina, one of my club mates is running London, and she was heading to the Expo on Thursday morning, so I asked if I could join her.

The conversations on the train were interesting. I will never be able to eat a Twix the same again! Best not to ask, hehe.

Heading to the expo, I am like a kid on Christmas Eve. It is such a special event, and even though I am not running it this year, I feel the excitement for those that are. Also, the London Expo is my happy place. It’s just full of people that love running as much as I do! I got to catch up with friends there and meet lots of new people. I was so lucky to win a £30 gift voucher from Sports Direct (My next raffle prize in MNDAD@70 is now sorted!). I didn’t get to spend as much time there as I would have liked – I reckon I could easily hang out there for the entire 3 and a half days that it is on, and I wouldn’t get bored!!

Special!!!

I left the expo and headed to meet up with the Runderwear and Secret London Runs group. This was the part of the day that I was most nervous for; attending on my own, being completely out of my comfort zone!

When I got on the DLR, I spotted and Paul from Pick Up The Pace Paul Great I thought, I can just follow him, he is bound to be going. I knew the train journey was about 20 minutes, so I jumped on instagram trying to share some stories, next thing I know we are at Tower Gate, I look up and Paul is gone! I cram everything into my bags and run of the train – I nearly miss getting off! Great start. I head out of the station and immediately spot another lady wearing a runderwear t-shirt. I hurry along to try and catch her up, assuming she knows where she is going. Luckily, she has to wait at the crossing, so I accost her. As I ask if she is attending the same event and can I follow her (Yep, weirdo alert!) The girl on the other side of her, says that she is going too, so we all walk to the event together.

I was so lucky that it was Lauren from Girl Running Late and Abby from Running Abby. Both of them were so warm and friendly and made me feel that I had made the correct choice attending on my own.

So, we met next to Millennium Pier, and most people were already in their kit, I was not, and pretty much realised immediately that there was no where to get changed. I was so relieved that I had at least put my Runderwear on in the morning, so it only meant I had to strip off my top and shorts. So there was me, worried about having to run around London in my underwear, and instead I was hid behind a van stripping off. Not sure why I hid, as the place was packed 360. At least it was a bit of publicity as I changed, as rularuns was displayed across my backside!

After changing, I couldn’t see Abby and Lauren, so I went and stood by a group of runners. Stupidly, I didn’t stride over and introduce myself, I just stood on the outskirts of the group, they looked at me, and that’s when I felt really awkward, and wonder why I was there.

Luckily, after what felt like an eternity, which, in real life was probably about 30 seconds, I spotted Lauren and quickly went and stood with her.

Some of the runners stripped down to have photos in just their Runderwear There was a part of me that wanted to strip down too! I would NOT have looked like them, but that was why I wanted to do it – to show that runners come in all sizes. I didn’t have the confidence, but I realised that I really should stop feeling like I don’t fit in, looking around the group there was a variety of ages and sizes – running really is for all! As London Marathon have hashtagged this year #everybodysrace

Secret London Runs and Runderwear spoke to us, and then we were put into groups. It started with, “anyone running under 7 minute miles, stand over there. I think 2 people moved; there were plenty of runners capable of running under 7 minute miles, but lots were running London Marathon on Sunday, so didn’t want to be pushing it now. That group was then extended to anyone running 9 minute or below miles, there was a middle group for 10-11 minute miling and then a 12+ group. I opted for the middle one, but then the groups were uneven, so I volunteered to go with the 12+ group. I had nothing to prove, so really wasn’t worried about what pace I was running.

First stop a church ruin.

I have never taken part in a running tour, but I am definitely keen to go back to Secret London Runs to complete another one soon. Vanessa was our guide and she was very knowledgable and engaging. Within a 2 minute run from the hustle and bustle of Millennium Pier, next to the Tower Of London, we were in the most tranquil church ruins that has be made into a memorial garden.

Within the 4k run, we were told things I had never even thought about in London and taken to places I didn’t even know existed. I am so keen to book another tour with them. Abby has said that the Christmas Lights one is lovely.

Photo courtesy of @secretlondonruns
Photo courtesy of @secretlondonruns

After finishing the run, my main concern was finding somewhere to shower. Many of the bloggers had booked hotels in London and were staying over. If I was to do it again, I would definitely be doing that. Instead I hit google maps trying to find a local gym. I noticed that there was a Bannatynes’s on Old Broad Street so headed there. I have a membership with them near where I live, and although I knew this didn’t give me access, I thought it may allow them to give me a discount on the day pass.

I used to be good at following directions, but for seem reason, I seemed to go round in circles for a while! When I got to Bannatyne’s eventually, the receptionist said that I would need to pay the £20 for a day pass – I didn’t mind too much, as I appreciate they are a business and I wanted to use their facilities, but I thought I’d try my luck and ask for a discount. She called her manager and it was agreed that I could use the facilities for free. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Bannatyne’s!

Quick shower and operation look presentable, and I was out the door heading to meet Katie. Luckily that was pain-free and we were back down to Millennium Pier with 30 minutes to spare. I had spotted a subway close by earlier, so we headed in there. I knew that there was food on the boat, but I hadn’t eaten all day and I just needed to sit down!

I was a little apprehensive about attending the running awards and bloggers forum, as I just didn’t know what to expect. The invite had said, Smart/Casual, so I had a dress on with trainers, which I worried may have been too casual, and when we arrived there were some very glam people, but I decided to just feel confident in what I was wearing, there was not much else I could do!

The Running Awards were everything I wanted them to be and more. The Bloggers Forum took place on the lower deck and the main awards upstairs. We had some inspirational speakers present, (which I ought wrote about in a another post) and then the awards were shown on a TV. There was plenty of free Prosecco being handed around, we had a meal and then lots of desserts were brought around. Our table seemed to attract the dessert waiters a lot!

So what did I learn from this day! I still ❤️ running and the running community. I need to say yes to more things. Life is too short to say NO, you miss out too much. If you say yes and it goes wrong, then you look at it from another viewpoint, and work out what you have learnt from it!

Thank you to Runderwear for the gifted pants and bra, to Secret London Runs for the run and the Running Awards for a great evening. For transparency I paid £15 for a ticket for the Running Awards, but the run and Runderwear was gifted. We were gifted some other items, but I will do a separate post on them.

What things have you said yes to lately? Are you glad you did? Let me know in the comments below.