Asics Frontrunner Team

Five Things Friday #4…

Sharing FIVE things that I have been doing/using/found this week that I think are worthy of sharing.

So it’s back. I know I missed a few Fridays, but it was crazy season, so I’m letting myself off! Hopefully, I am back with some great things! Let me know what you think.

The Welsh Runner

Most people will know about The Welsh Runner from the London Marathon coverage a few years ago. Well, Matt is now posting a weekly training video on YouTube. His 1st video, with his son being born is quite emotional. Go check it out.

Instagram Hack

So I know I have featured Hannah on these posts before, but she has shared an amazing hack on how to get a version of the swipe up feature, even if you don’t have 10K followers. I tried it today and it worked. So if you want people to be able to swipe up to your links, take a look here.

New Running Blog

Anastasia (@murphyruns) has started a blog to document her training for the Manchester Marathon. She was recently awarded the sponsored athlete programme with @cleancoachkatie, Up and Running and The Treatment Lab so I think it will be awesome to follow her journey. Go check out her first month post.

Also fun fact, I started following Anastasia as one of her posts was in Dunstable and her handle was @murphyruns – I went to school in Dunstable and my maiden name was Murphy.

Asics Frontrunner Team

The application for the next round of Asics Frontrunners is next week. Following the team last year looked so much fun, they had many adventures and appeared to make some great friends. If you are interested in applying you should have a little read about what they do as a team here.

Asics Frontrunner Team

Just because…

Happy New Year 2020

There are lots of motivational quotes about New Year, New You, but my message is, enjoy being YOU. If that means New You, Good Luck! If that means Same You, then Good Luck too. Just wishing you a great 2020.

So that’s it for Five things Friday Number 4. Any articles that you think need sharing, please send them my way.

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Missed other Five Things Friday, click here to have a read.

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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!

Are you training for something?

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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 on my Chicago Marathon Race in Chicago.

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. 

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!

,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. 

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

I haven’t hidden the fact that my mental health took an absolute battering this year. I quit my job as it was making me really unwell. I needed to seek help to try and help me work through my crazy headspace. 

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.

who knows where 2020 will take me!!

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?

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Noosa National Park

My training plan should have started for Manchester Marathon by now, but all that has actually happened is my consistent running has disappeared! Whoops, looks like i’ll be doing a 12 week plan leading into Manchester!

I am currently in Australia for Christmas and after a longer than planned journey here, thanks to a cancelled flight in Singapore, I am now feeling the need to be active again.

As my sleeping is all over the place, getting up early enough to run before it gets too warm hasn’t happened yet. But yesterday I did go on a 5-mile walk, with the most amazing views.

Sunshine Beach

,I had the opportunity to do this walk 7 years ago, but I didn’t. My fear of seeing a snake, spiders and whatever else lives out here was too much. When the offer was made again, I felt the fear kick in again. But lately I have been doing a lot of reflecting and working on my mindset. So, with the mantra ‘I am stronger than I think I am.’ I decided to not pass up on this opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong, I was feeling pretty ill prior to leaving and nearly bailed last minute, but ‘I can do hard things!‘ gave me the courage to not miss out.

Walking on the sand was tough to start and then we hit the steps. How is it that you can run marathons, but steps make you feel the most unfit? We went up and up, my legs were burning, my breathing was heavy and I did wonder if I was doing the right thing. I was so relieved when we stopped for a photo on the way up so I could get my breath back.

The first section of the walk was fairly uneven terrain, so I constantly looked at the floor; 1. to make sure I didn’t trip, 2. to scan for snakes and any other creepy crawlies!

But as the walk progressed, I managed to talk my mind into relaxing and looking up. The views were incredible! Obviously, I wore my Garmin, so I liked seeing the miles tick over. It was incredibly hot and I did see some people running, which caused a tinge of jealousy. Although, after nearly tripping three times just walking I knew I would be no good at running this route!

As we approached the end, we were treated to seeing a Koala in a tree. I was so proud of myself for finishing; To be honest probably more for starting this walk.

I have a crazy mind sometimes, fearing the worse in so many situations. This often leads to me avoiding things and missing out. It’s hard to explain, as I know the feelings are often irrational. They are sometimes really stupid and for an intelligent woman, I know I should ignore them. But that doesn’t work. Instead, I am working hard to learn how to manage this negativity and I feel like this was a huge step forward.

I’m not naive to think I have conquered my anxiety and crazy mind, but I am celebrating this as a victory. I know there will be days when I don’t recognise the feelings and let them take over, probably missing a great opportunity. But lets take one day at a time!

This is a very strange Christmas for me; Where is the snow? The cold? The traditions? It may not be the same as always, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be just as good.

Hopefully, I will get some running in soon. After this trip, marathon training will commence and my weekly updates will be back. Let me know below if there is anything in particular that you would like to read in my weekly updates. Also, make sure that you subscribe so you don’t miss any updates.

Wishing you all a fabulous Christmas whatever you are doing. Here’s to an exciting new year.

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. I like having a read back 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.

Make sure you subscribe (enter you email address in the box on the right of this page). This way you will never miss a post.

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

Christmas gift

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas​ for Runners

I’d love to say that I am the ‘super organised’ kind of person. That all my Christmas Cards have been written and are in the post already. That my Christmas presents are neatly wrapped and sitting decoratively under my tree. Well, I would love to say it, but that wouldn’t be true!!

So, if you are like me and need some last-minute gift ideas for runners, here are some suggestions for you.

Christmas gift

Runr

I am a big fan of Runr and love the fact that they have the option of getting e-gift cards. So, if you are REALLY bad, you could purchase this on Christmas morning and print it!

Runr are a brand that are for the passionate runner. They have both technical kit, leisure wear and running accessories so your recipient will be able to find things to buy, making sure that everyone knows that they are a runner.

Gins Running Stitch

I love the products that Gins Running Stitch offers as they are personalised and although it maybe too late to get an item made now, I know that gift vouchers are available.

All the race t-shirts that runners don’t know what to do with could be made into a rug, running skirt, ponchos etc.

Secret London Runs

I know I have spoken about this company lots, read here. but no runner would ever be disappointed if they got a gift card or signed up to one of their runs. Secret London Runs host themed running tours around London. You don’t need to worry about pace or distance as they cater for all. I missed their Christmas Lights run this year, but I WILL definitely make it next year. It looks SO much fun.

I am sure that there ar MANY other ideas for last-minute gifts, so please add to the comments below to help out those of us that are a little less organised!