Rula Runs Chicago Medal

2019 Running Reflections

So as we are at the end of the year, I have been reflecting back over my year in terms of running, well isn’t that what all bloggers do? Actually, does everyone reflect and goal set? I have been reading lots lately on goal setting and reflection and it has made me wonder if I am the only person that is a bit aimless. 

I used to set lots of goals and have plans, yet I seem to be drifting lately. Maybe I need to be doing a lot more reflection and goal setting in my life aside from running too! I digress!

Reflecting 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?

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!

Asics GT 2000

What have I learned​ since I started running?

So, you’ve decided to take up running, you are thinking of taking up running, or you’ve been running for a while. Well, this is my take on things you will find happen when you are a runner.

Running trainers

Early Days

  • You’ll find that one minute is SO much longer than your thought.
  • You make progress quite quickly early on, often surprising yourself frequently.
  • Every road, path, pavement near to where you live, are all uphill!
  • You know how far a mile is, in every direction, from your house.
  • Very few people look ‘good’ in running clothes!
  • You begin to set your alarm clock earlier at the weekend, than your weekday alarm.
  • You will become obsessed with stats and weather!
  • You notice runners everywhere; You even become a little jealous of them running, as you wish you were too.
  • You develop lots of BRF (Best Running Friends) some you have never met, thanks to social media.
  • You become an ‘Oversharer’. Toilet habits, mishaps, clothing malfunctions, injuries, etc.
  • You know all the road names of your local area.
  • For a cheap sport, running can be very expensive.
Running in a 5K
One of my first ever races – ‘Just’ a 5k!

Later on…

  • You are only ever training for a 5K, yet once you complete that, you find yourself signing up for a 10K.
  • You are only ever training for a 10K, yet once you complete that, you find yourself signing up for a half marathon.
  • You are only ever training for a half marathon, yet once you complete that, you find yourself signing up for a marathon.
  • You are only ever training for a marathon, yet once you complete that, you find yourself signing up for many more crazy adventures as possible.
  • People will tell you that running is bad for you. My mother-in-law once told me that I only have an allocated number of steps in my lifetime and I was wasting them all running.
  • You want to run ALL the races.
  • You have more running clothes than ‘normal’ clothes.
  • You can NEVER have enough kit.
  • Your mental maths ability disappears at the end of races.
  • You rarely get nice race photographs.
  • You need to take out a loan to buy race photos.
  • Whilst some hibernate in the winter months, you develop the ability to run in all weather.
  • You spend more money on race entries than you do on going out.
  • You happily get into bed by 9 pm (or earlier) on a Saturday night as you have an early start for your long run on Sunday.
  • Black toenails are a badge of honour.
  • Painting your toe skin, where the toenail should be, is totally acceptable.
  • Marathon nails are a ‘thing’.
  • Pizza is life.
Pizza order for #TeamMND at Endure 2019!

I’m sure that I have missed off many things, so please add them to the comments below.

What have you learned since becoming a runner?

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

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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.

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