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Chicago Marathon Training – Week 1

So, here we go again. The 16-week count down to Chicago Marathon is on, and all thoughts are firmly fixed on October 13th 2019. My flights and hotel are booked and it’s now all about the hard work.

Chicago Marathon Logo

I really want to improve my time for Chicago and I have been hitting the gym prior to this marathon cycle starting, as well as losing a little weight (not as much as I had hoped) and fairly high monthly mileage. But as soon as I see the paces that my coach has set me for my training plan, I start to doubt that I want to go faster! hehe.

Sunday – LSR – 12miles – Av. pace 10:26

Long Run – 12 miles. I am lucky that another club member has signed up to a marathon the week prior to Chicago Marathon and we are similar paces, so we are hopefully doing a lot of training together. Having children means we like to get up and out early, so decided to start this session at 6:30 am. We both set off from home and met after 2 miles. The early miles felt tough and it took a long time for my body to wake up and my legs to get going. As I started to get into my stride, we ran up a horrible hill which zapped the pace. As soon as the hill was conquered, the pace felt fine. The concentration was mainly on slowing ourselves down to stick to the pace.

Monday – Speed – 4.5 miles – Av. pace 9:03

My legs HURT loads today! My quads were not my friend and I can’t say that I was looking forward to my running club session.

Split times from Monday's session
Split from Monday’s session

We started the warm up, and my legs felt like lead. I took it really easy and chatted with friends. The session was 425 loops and 325 loops! We had to pair up with someone of similar ability, so our recovery would be about the same time as we were running. Throughout the session, it felt extremely hard work, but I was being pulled along by another club mate. By the end of the session, I felt I had nothing left in my legs and quite sick. When I looked back at my splits, I now understand why!!!

Tuesday – Rest day (from running!)

AM: Gym – upper body and core.

The strength work is essential, as I can’t expect my body to get faster, without doing somethings differently. As I am going to be pushing it, I need to help it not to break, by making it stronger!

Wednesday – Tempo run – 5 miles – Av. pace 9:55

My tempo run was taking place in the evening, so that meant I had all day to worry about it! Silly really, as the paces that were set are all within my capabilities, but for some reason, it was still a worry!

The plan was 2 miles warm up, 2 miles tempo 8:55-9:10 pace and then 1 mile cool down. Trying to find a route that doesn’t include hills was the main aim, so myself and Simon decided to repeat a 3/4 mile loop that we know. It isn’t the most inspiring route, but it was more about concentrating on the running than taking in the surroundings.

My legs felt sluggish again during the warm-up, and I did wonder if I would be able to hit the paces set but as soon as my watch beeped 2 miles we were off. The pace actually felt quite ok, and we managed to hit both miles at bang on pace. In total, we completed 5 miles, which it really didn’t feel like. I think concentrating on the 2 in the middle, made me forget about the other three!

Thursday – Club session – 5 miles – Av. pace 9:55

AM – Gym – Core & lower body

Mid-morning – Yoga – full body stretch

PM – Club Session Hills

This was hard! My glutes were on fire from the start and then working hard up and down the hills made me very happy that tomorrow is a rest day!

Elevation chart from Thursdays session
It’s all about the hills.

Friday – REST DAY – Yiiipppppeeee

This was SO needed!

Saturday – 4 miles – easy! – Av. pace 9:34

I headed over to Bedford Parkrun to complete this run. My pace was supposed to be 9:45 -, but can you ever really run park run without being a little competitive??

Sunday – Long Run – 13 miles -Av. pace 10:10

Another early alarm can only mean one thing – Sunday Runday. 13 miles on the plan, so that’s exactly what we did. Our pace was set between 9:55 – 10:20. I started slowly as it was so early and it takes me time to wake up!

We picked up the pace and although it felt ok, around 8 miles the negative mind games kicked in. Telling myself that I can’t run this pace and that I was going to struggle at the end. I wanted the run to be over and done with then. So from 8 miles, I had to grit my teeth and try some PMA (positive mental attitude)

Running Shot

So week 1 is done and now I have to repeat it (+ further runs) x 15. Wow, that sounds scary, but I know it will be worth it! Chicago Marathon here I come!

Does anyone else struggle with the negative thoughts creeping in when you try to run faster? Any tips?

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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

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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Runderwear and Running Awards products.

In my last post (here), I did say that I was going to write in more detail about the products that I was gifted at the Runderwear Run, and The Running Awards.

The run that I participated was led by Secret London Runs, which prior to this event I hadn’t heard of. The first contact I had with them was when I posted the night previous to the event, tagging them in on Instagram and Twitter, saying how I was nervous. Reassuringly, they promptly got back to me, saying that I will be fine and that they are looking forward to running with me. I thought this was lovely, as it did put me at ease.

When I turned up to Millennium Pier, there were many runners there, and quite quickly we were spoken to by Vanessa. She was bubbly, happy and engaging, putting me at ease immediately. I opted to go with the slower group which Vanessa was leading. Vanessa was 6 months pregnant, so I hoped that meant I could keep up. She was very quick to tell us that we would go at the pace of the slowest in our group, so no one was to be left behind.

I really must learn to pose when cameras are around! Photo Credit Runderwear

We set off and within minutes we were discovering sections of London that I never knew existed – admittedly history isn’t my strong point. It was obvious that London history was a passion of Vanessa’s, and she delivered it, in an informative and fun way. Secret London Runs have not asked me to write any reviews or promote their company, but I can’t help raving about it. I have already spoke to my club about a group of us signing up, and then went to my RunMND group and told them about it. Abby from Running Abby has recommended the Christmas tour, so I am definitely going to try and organise a private tour then. The tour prices vary around the £20 per person mark. The private tours depend on numbers and distance. See photo

Private running tour costs with Secret London Runs

As the run and running awards were sponsored by Runderwear, we were gifted personalised kit to wear. As I said in my previous post, I have been a fan of Runderwear for a while now, but have only ever purchased their pants. This time I was gifted a t-shirt, pants and a crop top to wear. When I received the kit and tried it on, I was concerned about the crop top. Although it was very soft and comfortable, I didn’t feel it provided the support that I needed. So on the run, I wore my shock absorber under the crop top. I was wearing an XL, and did wonder if a L may have provided more support. The pants are seem free and so comfortable to wear. I must admit, even though I am a big fan, I did opt to buy similar running underwear from Decathlon as it was cheaper, but being back in Runderwear made me realise the other briefs are cheaper as the quality and the softness is just not as good as Runderwear.

#TeamRunderwear

The founders of Runderwear spoke at the Blogger Forum, and I was interested to hear, that they are about to launch more bras, with many sizes available, and I will definitely try them, as I am hoping that they are a little more supportive for the larger busts. I also noticed a tweet recently, that they are looking for brand ambassadors, so I am thinking of applying. I don’t exactly have the figure to promote underwear, but runners come in all sizes, so what have a lose by applying!

When we arrived at The Running Awards in the evening, we were gifted a good bag, and were given a free pair of Enertor insole.

Keep a check out on my MNDAD@70 raffles as some of these may just end up as prizes!

Again, this was a company I was unaware of prior to this event. They spoke about the product, but they really had me excited when they demonstrated how shock absorbent the insoles were. They dropped a glass bauble from about 7 foot onto the insole and it bounced. They then removed that insole, and dropped it from the same height and it smashed on the floor. A similar experiment can be seen here with an egg.

I have put the insoles in to my trainers and have run twice in them. Although they feel springy, I was silly and picked up a pair of size 5 insoles, forgetting that my trainers are a 6.5, so I can just feel that they are too small around my toes. I am hoping that I can change them for a larger size, so that I can give a more accurate review of the insoles.

Again, for transparency I paid £15 for my ticket to The Running Award, but the run and the products were gifted to me. So thank you to Team Runderwear, Secret London Runs, Enertor, Tikiboo, Mud & Blood, Veloforte, Go Bites, and Hala bar.

The fun filled day of running has really fuelled my love for running, and it was great to meet so many like minded people. Be prepared for a new lease of life in my blog, as my head seems to be exploding with lots of ideas! In my crazy running phase, I have also signed up to Manchester Marathon and put my name in the ballot for London Marathon!! Please make sure you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, for my daily musings about running. Also ensure that you have entered your email to the front page, so that you never miss a post.

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Stanwick 10K Race Recap

Race Information:

  • Date: 22nd April 2019 (Always on Easter Monday)
  • Start Time: 10:30am
  • Entry: No ballot, but usually sells out as limited to 400 participants.
  • Cost: £13 with EA membership, otherwise £15.
  • Race Website: www.stanwickraces.co.uk
  • Race Mementos: Medal, but no goody bag.
  • Course: Road race, most roads are not closed, but they are quiet country lanes. There is a stretch on the A6, but this is coned off and it is dual carriageway, so most passing cars move to the outer lane. KM markers were on the course and there were water stations, providing water in cups.
  • Elevation: It is an undulating course.

  • Other information: You have to collect your bib on the morning of the race, registration opens from 8am. There is an area for bag drop. Chip is on your bib, and the results are text to you immediately after the race. I think they have allocated parking, although I have never used it as I parked in the pub car park which is 200m from the start/finish line. The minimum age for entry is 15, but they have a junior race too.

My Race:

This race is part of my run clubs club championships. I completed it last year, as I tried to enter all club championships so that I had more chances to win the club London Marathon place (It didn’t work! hehe) Last year the weather had been really wet and the course had to be modified as part of it was flooded, so it wasn’t a full 10k.

The weather this year, couldn’t have been more different. A mini heatwave had made an appearance over the Easter Break, and it was forecast to be around 22 degrees on race day.

We parked up in the pub car park around 9:15am, and headed to the village hall to pick up our numbers. Names of participants were pinned up on a wall, so you had to find your number and then go to the allocated line to collect it. The Village hall was busy with runners, but it only took about 5 minutes to collect our numbers. They provided pens for us to complete the emergency details and there were safety pins provided too.

There were toilets in the village hall, and more toilets in another building across the road. The second building provided a bag drop too, but as my car was so close, i didn’t use it.

Team Balancise 2019 – Photo credits to @andybrayford

I completed a 10 minute warm up, and I felt ok, although I have a recurring lower back pain, so I really didn’t know how this race would pan out. We had our annual club photo, and then it was almost time to start.

When other club mates talked about being nervous or doubting there ability, I did my usual and joined in. I even remember saying that I wasn’t sure I could go under an hour – why do I doubt myself so much? I started at right at the back of the race, which meant that I weaved a bit at the start and found it very frustrating when a group of walkers blocked the entire road. I don’t mind walkers at all, but i do feel they need to be a little more aware of their surroundings. I suppose it’s no different to runners that run in groups.

Team Balancise action shot
Why do I always do stupid things when a camera is around? YMCA anybody???

As soon as you get to the top of the first incline, I found that there was more space and the views were amazing. I felt really strong and very positive; a little bit too positive for one of the my club mates! Hehe

After some flat, you have have a downhill stretch followed by a sharp up hill, and then it feels like you are continually running up hill for the next 10 minutes. It’s not a steep incline, but you feel it. This incline is on the A6, so the track is pretty much single file. You can over take people, but you just have to be a little bit more aware of your surroundings for this section.

I was surprised how strong I felt during this section, as I was dreading this part, as I remembered last year really struggling here. On reflection I think I was trying to keep up with another runner last year, but this year I was running my own pace.

By 4km, I was running on my own, but I could see other club runners ahead and I was enjoying the run. Again, I started to doubt myself, worrying that i was going too fast and would blow up at the end. I saw another runner that know from another club, and I worried about passing her, what if I went past and then blew up and she passed me at the end? I decided to chance it, and she said well done as I passed and said how well I was running, but instead of saying thanks, I replied, ” I’ll probably die in a bit!” Why? What can’t I just believe that I can run.

The part of the course that was cut off due to flooding last year, was accessible this year, and it’s it wasn’t a nice addition. There were quite a few twists and turns, and as I saw the turn into the street named Hillside street, I knew what it meant. More inclines! By this section, I had caught up with another club mate. We ran a little section together, and I decided to walk through the water station at 7KM, so that I could make sure I took on water. I had read a post from The Runner Beans about adjusting your race plan to fit with the weather as you can’t control the weather but you can control your response to it.. This made me realise that walking that water station wasn’t a bad thing, it was adjusting to the heat. I had tried to run through the previous water station, and drink from the cup, and nearly drowned myself! Does anyone actually prefer water in cups at races?

I took on the water and set off again, it was the final big hill and I saw more club mates and passed them. It felt nice to still be feeling strong and passing people. A left turn heading back into Stanwick Village is downhill, and I knew that at the end of that road would be where lots of my friends, and hopefully my husband and my daughter. Even though it was downhill, it seemed to go on forever. A lady overtook me, but then slowed immediately in front of me!

I didn’t want to speed up too soon, but I also knew that I didn’t want this lady to beat me, so I picked up the pace and pulled away from her. I saw all of the supporters and goofed around as I knew there would be videos and then I knew I only had one more hill to tackle. We had run the hill numerous times in a club session recently, so I just attacked it. At the top, I passed another club mate, I assumed that he would pick up the pace, so I didn’t look back I just kept working. It was pretty much downhill for the last 400m, but I didn’t feel I had another gear, until with 150m, I felt a guy come up level with me, and I thought, no way! I sprinted to the finish line and crossed it in 57:07, and headed straight for water.

Stanwick 10K 2019 – Medal

It is no where near my PB, but I was really happy with this race, as I enjoyed it, and felt strong for most of the run.

Positives:

  • Local race, with lots of great support.
  • Cheap entry fee
  • Nice relaxed/stress free vibe about the race. Friendly and encouraging marshals.

Less Positive:

  • Congested start if you start at the back.
  • Water in plastic cups

Thank you to Andy Brayford, Tina Brayford, Ros Taylor and my husband for the photographs.

Also, I have tried a different layout to my race recaps. What do you think? What other information would you want in the stats part? I was thinking that open date for entries for future reports, but to be honest I am not sure about this one. Let me know your thoughts.