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.

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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

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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 supporting London Marathon

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.

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Tips on how to stay motivated in winter.

The winter months can be some of the hardest to stay motivated for running. The dark nights, the horrible weather in England and the frequent social opportunities in the lead up to Christmas, are not always conducive to running.

So here are some of my top tips, (and that of the Run Mummy Run community; I decided to ask the question on their Facebook page too, and my Instagram Page)

1. As the Nike Brand Say ‘Just do it!’ 

Getting out of the house can be the hardest part, but you never regret a run once it is over. So stay motivated and just do it.

I loved a comment from Katherine Thompson on the RMR page that said, “Put your running gear on before you open the curtains. If it’s raining, it’s all to easy to stay in your PJ’s, but if you are already in your kit you might as well get out there.”

2. Wear the correct clothing

I think the most common tip as to what to wear, was layer up. Thin layers keep you warm, but you can always remove layers if you get too hot. I love the long sleeve running tops from Tribe Sport. They are lightweight, warm and long. My new base layer from Run Mummy Run is a big hit too.

Staying motivated tip about layers.

But I have to agree with Samantha Kedwards from RMR who suggested wearing a buff.

“Wear a buff around your neck. If it is extra cold, it can be pulled up over your mouth. It can also be used as a hairband/headband and hand warmers.” 

I also loved the tip from Stephanie Pharo-Hanson, who suggested

“putting the kit in the airing cupboard the night before”  Who wouldn’t want to put on warm kit in the morning?!

Rularuns running the Brighton Half

3. Be seen, be safe

As the nights are darker, it is vital to be seen. Wearing Hi-Viz clothes, even in the daytime, and reflective clothing is a must. There are some great running torches around too. I love the body torch from decathlon, and it wasn’t too expensive either.

 4. Use a treadmill

I can’t believe I am actually writing this, as only a few years ago, I would be referring to it as the ‘DREADMILL’. But two years ago, when I moved to a new location, hadn’t joined a running club, and was training for the London Marathon, the treadmill saved me! I didn’t know the area, when I did go and explore, I found that there were very limited streetlights. So I turned to the treadmill. I didn’t love it and training was hard, but I was still able to run consistently. So, if needs must, they aren’t too bad!

5. Tell people where you are going

I was so glad that I opened this question out to the running community, as I didn’t even know apps such as Glympse and Road ID existed. It’s good telling people where you are going, but what if you are tired and change the route. These apps allow people to follow you, so if you were to get in to trouble, they have more chance to find you. You can also share your location on your Garmin watch.

6. Look forward to a hot bath and a cup of tea 

This suggestion can up more than once and I love it. Thinking about a hot bath and a nice cuppa would certainly make me keep my speed up! This might not be for everyone, but have a little treat waiting for you as a reward. A few years ago, all my long runs for the marathon used to finish at the gym, where I would meet my husband and daughter for breakfast. I used to look forward to my cooked breakfast from about the half way point!

My Tea For MND

7. Be consistent

As I’ve already said above, getting out of the house can be the hardest part, but once you are out it’s fine (once it is over, it’s great!) So, have your set days to run. It doesn’t have to be far, but just get out. It is true that the more you run, the more you want to run! It will keep you motivated to want to go again.

8. Mix it up

Try something different. Can you run commute? Could you run home after the school run? Could you change your dog walk to a run? Think about how you can fit in your runs and some of these may help you run in the light too.

9. Schedule it

It’s in the diary so you have to do it! Also, when all the other plans start to be made; Christmas drinks with friends, coffee and mince pies, school plays etc they will fit around your ‘run time’ or your ‘run-time’ will fit around those plans.

Planning to make it to Parkrun is a great idea as suggested on Instagram. It’s free, it’s fun and there are always lots of people to run with.

10. The More the Merrier

This was by far the most popular tip suggested to keep yourself motivated. I have written about it before (Click here to read), but find people to run with or join a running club/group. It will make runs feel more safe, fun and you are less likely to miss them if you know that you are going to see friends.

 

 

What top tips do you use to keep yourself motivated through the winter? Post below and let us all know.