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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!

What are you training for?

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 in Chicago
Reflecting on my Chicago Marathon Race in Chicago.

Marathons

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. 

Races

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!

Half Marathons

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. 

Mental Health

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

Running with friends

I haven’t hidden the fact that my mental health took an absolute battering this year. Quitting my job and seeking help was needed, to keep my mental health intact.

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.

A path which leads where
who knows where 2020 will take me!!

Looking ahead

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?

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. (Read here about running being cheap)
  • 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?

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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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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