5 mile come-back

IMG_2336After nearly two weeks of not running I finally made it out of the house today. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to run. I had a work thing in London yesterday and half way through that I started feeling pretty grotty again and I was sooo tired by the time I got home. I was worried that I had caused a recovery set back and would feel crap again today. However, I slept relatively well and got up feeling ok. Not exactly springing into action but ok. I didn’t fancy heading straight out so had coffee and scrambled eggs on toast and then made bread while Kath got the first coat of paint on the outside of our back door.

Eventually I thought it was too nice a day to stay inside and went and got changed. My training plan is on a high mileage weekend  – 4 miles yesterday and 13 today but I’d already decided that wasn’t sensible and I just needed to get out today and see how things felt. I decided on a route that would give lots of options in terms of loops and distances. The route was all road and good sections of canal towpath so I went for road shoes – my new Brooks (they’re lovely). I really didn’t know what to expect. I just set off gently. After a minute or so of running I could feel the crap in my lungs but apart from spending the entire run coughing said crap up, I actually felt pretty good. Running was sort of comfortable. I deliberately didn’t look at my watch because I didn’t want to freak myself out if I was going fast or be disappointed if I was going really slow. I kept going reminding myself that I could drop into run/walk if I wanted to and remembering to look around too.

There were some stunning glittering damp spiders’ webs, lots of people getting their IMG_2337gardens ready for winter, cats enjoying the air and warm sun and people doing Sunday things like washing cars and having cuppas in the sunshine. I was trying to think of how I might describe how I felt running. I’m not sure I can quit capture it but being out made me realise just how much I’d missed it and how good it is for me mentally. Running felt familiar – in a good way. It felt a little like when you sit with someone in silence lost in your own thoughts and they are in theirs but there’s no pressure to talk or be sociable. Maybe it’s the ‘just being’ nature of it that I was particularly conscious of today and the words that kept popping into my head were comfortable familiarity.

I dropped onto the canal towpath slightly bemused that running still felt fine apart from the odd cough and spit. It was busy. I suppose people are taking advantage of the autumn sun. I saw dogs of all sizes but all were well behaved and out of my way today which was nice, there were cyclists too and then I saw lots of runners in quick succession, all men. The first was going fast and was working hard – he managed a nod and I gave him the thumbs up. He was followed by a guy going at what looked like a comfortable pace for him. I said hi and he gave me the thumbs up. ‘Cool’ I thought. The third looked the serious type and was clearly trying to catch the guy in front of him (and would do quite quickly). He didn’t acknowledge my wave and smile; ‘roadrunner’ I thought as I went past. Shortly after I heard footsteps behind me and a fourth runner came past me. Just for fun I let him get a little ahead and then tried to match his stride and pace for a little while. Just for a little while though – it was barely sustainable for the 50 metres or so that I tried. Fun though.

Mile 2 came and went and I was nearing the canal bridge at which I was going to cross to loop back. It was busy here, more cyclists, walkers, dogs and more runners. Ladies, was there a memo I missed instructing all women to not run today? I didn’t see another female runner. It was odd. Anyway, there were scout activities happening on the canal by this bridge and further up into the old golf course so I gritted my teeth and ran over the bridge and up the hill. I’ve walked the hill faster than I ran it today but never mind. I pushed on and was glad when the noise from the kids dissipated and all I could hear was my breathing. I realised my lungs were burning. My watch beeped for 3 miles and I walked a bit to let my lungs recover. I coughed up more crap and did a few run/walk intervals between landmarks. I was trying to work out if I’d had enough. I thought maybe I had and was going to head home from here.

IMG_2338I walked up the next slope and then began running again, I ran past the next point to walk up the hill and home. I felt good still, going home just yet didn’t make sense. I ran past the point after that too and thought if I kept going I could hit 5 miles which felt like a very suitable come-back distance. So I carried on. A little way up the next road section which slopes deceptively and annoyingly uphill my legs decided I was mad and that they were now very tired. I walked the slope. After the left turn where I almost double back I knew I just had a little section which sloped downhill left before I’d stop running and walk straight up the hill home. My legs didn’t want to run anymore though. But I did. I pushed on, got to the bottom of the footpath and stopped running. I started walking up the footpath and soon wondered what on earth had possessed me to think it was a good idea to go straight up rather than round. Insane. The three pictures in this post are all from the hill I left til last and as usual the photos don’t to the hill justice – so here’s the strava elevation picture which makes it at least look like it might be a hill

Screenshot 2018-09-23 15.19.38

But I made it home. 13.25 pace overall with a really good run over the first 3 miles. I’m back on the plan now – 45 minutes Tuesday, 5 miles Wednesday, 45 minutes Thursday and then 3 miles on Saturday. The week after is a high mileage week which is good because it gives me this week to ease back in and get fully better.

Oh and Sunday weigh-in. About half a pound heavier than last week.

Happy running.

Controlling the Controllable – Well, Disney food Planning

I’m still ill. In fact I am worse than I was – I’ve actually felt poorly today – not just coughing and having a really sore throat and snotty nose but I’ve felt feverish and out of it today. I have way too much quite urgent work to do to be ill and I have tried to do bits today but it it’s been rather futile. I drifted in and out of fitful sleep for most of the morning and in between I read the running magazines that had piled up. At lunch time I felt a little more with it and moved downstairs where I tried to clear some work stuff but soon gave up, my brain can’t do anything much today and then dozed watching IMG_7111 copyhighlights from the World Equestrian Games and the show jumping phase of the eventing.

I am not good at being ill. I have been panicking about missing training runs. I really thought I’d be able to be back tomorrow but I don’t think that’s realistic given how I feel today. I have half an eye on the weekend distances and am already worrying about not being able to go out for the long runs and the knock on effect…. STOP. Just Stop. Maybe because I’ve been watching the equestrian stuff and thinking about my riding days or because I was reading the magazines earlier which featured some stuff about controlling things you can control, I figured that I can’t control what I can’t control and worrying about what I can’t do anything about is not exactly useful. So instead of worrying about when I will be able to run again and what impact that might have, I started to think about the things I can control.

At this stage of course things I can do to positively influence a good Dopey Challenge are fairly minimal – once we get there, I’ll be able to control a lot more like hydration, fuel, my pace… – for now it’s the really basic things. I can plan the trip so that’s one less thing to worry about, I can make sure we get there without major stresses, I can make sure we fuel right for the days before and during the challenge and that we can have fun without overdoing it. So yes, I have a spreadsheet! Controlling these things has the added advantage that it takes me away from reality for a while and allows me to immerse myself in Disney magic. I can escape, well at least until my own coughing fit brings me back to reality every now and again.

IMG_7297So, here’s the plan. We have now booked an airport hotel for the night before our trip so we can get to Manchester without worrying too much about the weather and having to leave really really early. We have booked our restaurants for during the Challenge so we can eat where we wanted to and more importantly, eat at a sensible time for us that fits in with our running and training. So if you’re not interested in Disney at all, stop reading now.

We arrive the day before Expo Day. We have booked breakfast at Chef Mickey’s for Expo Day morning. Let’s face it, we’ll need a good breakfast before braving the insane people who seem to feel the need to buy everything at the expo. Our strategy has always been to get in, get our bibs, pick a souvenir from the RunDisney merchandise, possibly walk through the other stalls and then leave. It’s worked well in the past. The rest of Expo day is unplanned so far. 5km Day will, like all of the run days, start stupidly early but that’s part of the Challenge really, so we will have breakfast afterwards. We’ll be spending theIMG_7207 day in the Animal Kingdom. Last time we stayed in Epcot but we walked way too much. We tend to walk less at the Animal Kingdom and there are lots of places to sit and watch the animals (and people) although we’ll have to try hard to resist the mojitos. They’ll have to wait until after Dopey. We’ll pick up snacks in the Animal Kingdom throughout the day and then maybe head back and eat at the Wave – still one of my favourite Disney restaurants, particularly when I’m in need of a bit of quiet.

10km day is similar in structure and we’ll have breakfast after the run again, this time in the Magic Kingdom at the Crystal Palace. 10km day will require real discipline. The run won’t make us feel really tired and the temptation will be to spend time in the parks, too much time. So I’ve kept us in the Magic Kingdom for breakfast and for dinner so we are close to our hotel at the Contemporary. Dinner is at the Diamond Horseshoe. I don’t think we’ve been but the menu looks great and should work well for fuel for the half marathon. The reservation works well for eating and then slowly making our way back to the hotel catching the fireworks on our way out of the park and heading for bed.

IMG_7154 copyHalf marathon and marathon days means we don’t have breakfast as such. We’ll have our porridge pots probably. I’m trying both porridge pots and bagels with peanut butter in training. Both are easy to sort when there because we can take porridge pots and they have bagels and peanut butter there, from memory even at the race retreat which we have booked for the half marathon and marathon days. Although I need to work out the timings of when we are likely to actually start running so I can work out when I need to eat – can’t do that until we know what corral we’re in. I can of course guess but this is about controlling the controllable. For after the half marathon we have booked a very early lunch at the Wave and then Tony’s for the obligatory pasta before marathon day. So we’re not venturing far and if the weather permits a dip in the cool pool will definitely help. The plan is simply to be around the hotel, relax, stay off our feet with just a couple of gentle strolls to and from dinner to move a little.

The Dinner reservation at Tony’s is early because we’ll need an early night. I will of course be terrified – we’ll deal with that later. Marathon day will be the 4th very early start, it will be overwhelming and I’d be tired enough with just that, throw in what may well be 6-7 hours of running (I would of course like it to be far less but I will have run a half marathon the day before and the last Dopey marathon was just under 7 hours so…) 7C1000C1-2CFA-454E-B8F7-91362B358279and I am going to be cream crackered when we’re done. Last time we went out after the marathon. It was all a bit of a rush by the time we had got back to the hotel, had a bath, changed and then headed out to Disney Springs. This time we’re not doing that. We’ve built in some time to maybe even have a little nap and then we’re just heading upstairs in our hotel to the California Grill to celebrate. That way we can have a glass of wine (and that chocolate volcano pudding – it was rather lush) and then get them to gently roll us into bed.

The plans for after the Challenge are coming along nicely too but I’ll tell you about them another time. For today it was nice to spend time looking at menus and think about where we might be when and what would keep us active enough without overdoing it. So tomorrow I hope will be a better day and maybe I can go for a walk at least even if I can’t run and hopefully by the weekend I’ll be well enough to have a go at the mileage. I’ll keep you posted!

Taking Stock

Three years ago I went for my first ever solo run. You know, like actually running on my own. I did not want to do it. As you can see in the blog posts from that time, running on my own was an impossibly big deal. I felt self-conscious, out of place and like I really didn’t know what I was doing. Things have changed. I still very much love running with Kath. I like the quiet togetherness just gently plodding along side by side brings (even if she’s gently plodding and I’m working quite hard); I value the encouragement and support Kath gives me and I undoubtedly work harder a lot of time when she is with me – whether that’s on speed work or just keeping going for longer. But I have also learned to love running on my own. I now sometimes crave the me time and the headspace that brings, I like the way it allows me to get totally lost in my thoughts without reference to anything else and I like how #MyRunMyRules applies completely without qualification to the runs I do on my own. The other thing I really like about doing my own things is that Kath also does her own thing and seeing her improve and listening to her after a run is really motivating and inspiring. I’ll never run her times but I can damn well try and not let the gap widen further. Seeing her knock 20 seconds off a 5km time spurs me on to try and do the same off mine. I’m also just really proud of her, It’s not been an easy journey from a totally wrecked shoulder, back, hip and ankle to seriously contemplating the possibility of an ultra. She’s her own brand of superwoman.

This time in 2015 it is also probably true that I had no idea what I was doing. I have learned a lot about running in 3 years. I’d only been running for about 6 months. I had no idea what worked for me and what didn’t, no idea about fuelling and nutrition, stretching, building a training plan, no idea about training physically or mentally. My easy pace was a walk, my tempo pace barely more than a walk, I hadn’t a clue about what race pace might be and absolutely no idea what it might feel like to actually be able to run at different paces and have some control over what was going on. Since those early days I have read a lot, I have looked at countless training programmes, I have laughed and cried at descriptions of different workouts, different paces, different plans for different distances. I have studied information about nutrition, read sports science articles as well as the summaries in magazines and have, in the process confused and unconfused myself more times than is sensible. Slowly, very slowly I am beginning to feel like I have some control over what is going on here. I am beginning to realise that I don’t just have two speeds – walk and run- but that I can control pace, that I can push harder over shorter and take it easy for longer distances (and not just by using run/walk for longer distances and not for shorter). I am beginning to understand what an easy run feels like, what race pace might feel like and what my flat out sprint is. I better understand what to eat and when, how much I need to drink, what I should really stay away from. I know more and knowing more is a good thing for me. My brain needs to understand, and it’s beginning to and with that comes a better understanding of my limits and how to break through my impossible.

I hopped on the scales for my Sunday Weigh In this morning.  I am almost exactly the same weight that I was 3 years ago – which is about half a stone lighter than I was a couple of months ago. I’d still like to lose at least a stone before Dopey. It will just make running these stupid distances easier. I also know that I have a relatively short window to achieve that because long distance running is actually not that great for weight loss. Mostly staying off the booze is undoubtedly helping and then it is finding the balance between fuelling sufficiently, allowing some treats because what’s the point of running if you can’t have cake and not overdoing it. We’ll see – I know that once we get into consistent double figure miles I’ll be constantly hungry so it’s about what I eat rather than about how much, limiting amount doesn’t really work – I just flake out on the running. Last time the high mileage caused broccoli cravings and peanut butter cravings (luckily not together) – if  I get the same this time I can probably work with that!

So what’s the point of this post? Well I often think I have not made any progress at all. On the days where I struggle to run a mile without walking or where I feel like there is no way I can keep going for 45 minutes or do the miles the plan dictates, I often think this is all pointless and I’ll never improve. It is worth taking stock every now and again to think about how far I have come. I now routinely run on my own, I feel like I belong out there, I feel far less self-conscious in running gear, I have much more of a sense of what I am doing, what I should be doing and what it should feel like. I’m not much faster but I am more consistent, I can’t go much further but I can do so more comfortably and more consistently. I have come a bloody long way.  Just remind me every now and again.

I still have this silly cold but I think I will be able to pick up the training plan this week. 45 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday – although I won’t have time Thursday so will do Tuesday and Wednesday if I can and then the weekend runs which are 4 miles Saturday and 13 on Sunday. I’ll keep you posted

Happy Running.


Sneezy and Dopey

SnowWhite-Sneezy-3I’m curled up in bed feeling miserable. It’s quarter to twelve. But it’s been quarter to twelve for weeks, so long in fact that I can’t remember how long ago the alarm clock stopped. I have no idea what time it really is. Afternoon sometime. Kath is out for a run. I’m not. I have what feels like razor blades in my throat and tiny creatures with pickaxes attacking my tonsils (why do I imagine them like minions?), my ears feel vaguely painful and muffled like I’m under water, I’ve got an annoying pathetic cough and a nose that can’t decide if it is blocked solid or setting a new record for most snot expelled in a 24 hour period. Yes, I have a cold, yes I am being dramatic, pathetic and far more miserable than is really warranted but I am totally crap at being unwell. I could just ride it out with raspberry sorbet, hot chocolate and crap TV but instead this is a disaster.

This was not the plan at all! You see after the Great North Run (which I’ll tell you about when feeling less meh) I was looking forward to a relatively easy but active week with Yoga on Monday (wow, legs, ouch much) and then a run on Tuesday to stretch the legs (it worked, it was a fabulous 4 miles) and then another run on Wednesday (never made it out, sore throat was kicking in, I was quite late back and soooooo tired), London on Thursday with walking routes planned rather than tube (never made it to London though thanks to a rather high temperature, almost no sleep and those little creatures with pickaxes), a run on Friday (hahahaha – barely made it off the sofa and someone gave the pickaxe creatures caffeine and sugar or whatever makes them work double time and steal your voice) and today I was meant to be going to the first ever Cliffe Castle parkrun, our new local parkrun which is close enough to run/walk there and which I am actually quite excited about. Well, given that a move from one room to another results in a coughing fit that lasts so long that by the time it’s over I’ve forgotten why I moved, even walking 5km wasn’t really going to work.

I am not happy. I know in the scheme of things resting and getting better is important images-3and won’t derail my training but in my head the GNR is now out of the way which means Dopey training has started and now I’ve missed my Wednesday race pace run, my Thursday (which I was going to do on Friday) 45 minute run and my Saturday 3 miles run. I know, I know. It’s fine. It’s early in training, there’s plenty of time, rest is important, getting better is important. BUT I’ve missed Dopey training runs. I’m struggling with that.

So excuse me for a day or two while I wallow.

Happy running.



Regents Canal conference running

IMG_2249[2]I am on my way home from a 4 day conference  – I’m tired but in a good way. I took my running stuff because I wanted to keep my legs ticking over prior to the Great North Run on Sunday. I arrived on Tuesday and settled into the conference thing. I have blogged about the conference itself in daily posts which you can read on my other blog if you’re interested. On Wednesday morning I headed out. The running here was just for fun, no pressure, no drills, no specific focus and I also left my run/walk intervals set. I headed out along Regent’s Canal towards Victoria park which I then when into at the top (?) end after about a mile and a bit along the canal. I did a loop in the park and then headed back along the canal for a 2.6 ish mile total. It was enjoyable. I said hello to the first couple of runners and got no response. Then I remembered that this is normal for London but somehow I couldn’t stop greeting my fellow human beings. I passed a total of 17 runners and said hello or hi to all of them and not a single one even acknowledged my existence, no smile, no nod never mind actual words. Wow!

Thursday I was going to run but then couldn’t be bothered in the morning. I just didn’t feel like going. I thought I might go in the long gap I had in the programme around lunch but then I got talking and forgot all about that. The same happened at the end of the day.  This morning I woke up really early and felt creaky. I did a bit of yoga in my room and then headed out again. This time I entered the park earlier – at about three quarters of a mile, looped round there a bit and then headed back for a total of roughly 2 miles. I could tell I was tired and that my brain wanted to get back to the work I was presenting this IMG_2250[1]morning but it was also good to get out and move and I felt much better when I got back.

So, last couple of runs before the big one at the weekend. I’m not really sure I’m really ready but all I can do now is trust the training I have done, believe I can do the distance based on some pretty convincing evidence that I can do the distance and then go and enjoy it. Let’s hope I do a better job of putting my socks on though.

See you on the other side!