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Running Highs and Running Lows: 2012 edition!

This year has been a bit up and down both for my family and for my running. In my profession we always talk about reflecting on our actions and what has happened. Reflection is a useful tool so I thought I’d reflect back on my running journey in 2012.

Running Highs

Edinburgh Marathon 2012

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I had always said I would run a marathon but had never actually got round to it. When the rejection  magazine came through again from the London Marathon my husband put me on the spot and asked why it had to be London? Truth is it didn’t have to be. So I looked for another Spring race and Edinburgh became ‘the One’.

Training for the Edinburgh Marathon was an incredible experiences  It challenged me not just physically but mentally. Marathon training takes you to some dark places. You have moments of self doubt and fear but also excitement and anticipation of getting to the start line. I think if you train for a marathon you can discover that you are stronger than you think you are. Once I crossed that line the elation was immense and I now know that I can tough it out when things get hard. For a first marathon I can’t recommend Edinburgh enough. Thanks to one of my favourite places I can always call myself a marathon runner.

The Track

2012 saw me gather up the courage to return to go to an athletics club and join a training group. The last time I did this was in my early twenties. In my thirties and two children later I wasn’t sure if I should but the marathon had given me such a boost I thought ‘Hell why not?’.

I love training back on the track. I love wearing spikes again. I love the interval training and I relish the burning and the feeling of nausea because that’s when you know you’ve trained hard. I may never be a champion of anything but hopefully next year I can run for the club at some local meetings.

Dragon CrossFit

I discovered Dragon CrossFit via my husband who had worked alongside Andy, coach and owner, at a local rugby club. I was hugely sceptical at first because I had never heard of it and, as a runner, have a long standing dislike of being in gyms. What I discovered was an amazing fitness community full of fantastic people.

I truly believe that the strength and conditioning I gained from training here helped me stay injury free for my marathon. I’ve also learnt a huge amount and gained some new skills. I can proudly say that I can snatch, power clean and dead lift. I never thought little old me would be doing anything like that. I could watch the Weight Lifting at the Olympics and really appreciate what they were doing. I’ve also met some brilliant people at the classes and I am missing it so much while I’m waiting for the latest injury to settle down!

The London Olympics

Ok, I know I didn’t run in them and I know it’s odd to include them in my own running highs but hear me out.

When I was twelve I watched Sally Gunnell win gold in Barcelona. I was a young athlete and Olympics Champion was the ultimate title for any track and field athlete. When I watched the Olympics I knew that one day I wanted to be in the stadium watching.

Fast forward to 2012 in London and we were there! I spent a whole day inside the Olympic Stadium watching heats and finals. I saw Mo Farah in his 5000m semi final and Usain Bolt in his 200m semi. I also watched some nail biting women’s finals in the 400m hurdles and the 200m. I have never been in a stadium where the crowd was so loud and the atmosphere so electric. As an amateur runner and lover of athletics, watching the elite at the Olympics was literally a dream come true.

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Sharing running with my children.

Thanks to running my two boys have an understanding of what it means to exercise. My eldest asks to come with me and my youngest at not even 3 runs to fetch my trainers when he sees me in my running gear. They may hate running when they’re older but a running high for me is that they see me trying to be healthy. Hopefully they will take my habits on board, whatever the sport or activity may be.

The Gear

I’m a lady. I like shopping. I like clothes. And I love buying running gear. There has been some great running gear out this year. I have plundered my bank account and caused my running gear drawer to over flow with running goodies. Ahead of the game still, I feel, is Nike. Their range for women tends to extend beyond bright luminous pink, something that other brands (hint hint Ron Hill) could learn from. I am currently loving my Nike purple waterproof running jacket. There’s something about new running gear that makes your following run feel a little bit better.

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Running Lows

Brighton Half Marathon

I didn’t go into this race in February as prepared as I would have liked. I wasn’t feeling it mentally and I wasn’t happy with my preparation going into it. There was some confusion with markers during the race which meant we ran further than we should have. On my watch I ran just under 1.40 on the day at the 13.1 mark. The official time had me at 1.43 which was then adjusted to 1.40. I’m not happy with my time for the half. I know I can go quicker. I will come back to half marathon distance again but for now I want to cover the shorter endurance distances. Halves and I have unfinished business! Oh and the goody bag was essentially a plastic bag with a Sweat Shop voucher in it. Disappointing! I did spot Katie Price’s pink 4×4 though and I beat her so every silver lining. Um, yeah, anyway…..

Injury and Illness

Woe is me. The end of 2012 has been a bit unlucky for me running wise. I tore my calf end of September. I was also beset with vomiting bugs and recurring viruses so I had the best part of six weeks off. I started training again and everything seemed fine until I injured my back. The running gods are vexed with me I tell thee!

The suspicion is for my back is that it’s disc related which might make people recoil and think ‘Oh no running over for good!’. The irrational side of me thinks that but my sensible Physio side, with my knowledge of spines and tissue healing knows this isn’t the case. I have my own Physiotherapy appointment booked in and reading this blog post over at Running Physio has helped put my mind at ease.

So that was my year of running. I haven’t achieved as much as I would have liked but running isn’t going anywhere. As it’s December I might just knock the rest of 2012 on the head from a running point of view, get my back sorted and start afresh in the New Year.

What were your running highs and lows this year? Do share!

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Running Safe

I read a news article this week about a tragic accident in which a young female jogger was killed. She was jogging across a road and was hit by a speeding vehicle that then sped off. This tragic story reminded me about how important road safety is when running. When we’re running along the road we can’t always depend on the vigilance of other pedestrians and drivers. It got me thinking about things that we can do to stay safe while we’re jogging or running along the roads.

Headphones 

I myself have never run with earphones. I’m not sure why, possible because I was running from a very young age and I enjoy getting lost in my thoughts. For others however the music beats the boredom of the run or helps to keep a rhythm. Listening to headphones does take away our sense of hearing, vital when listening out for traffic. So maybe when you’re wearing headphones, just be a bit more vigilant when crossing roads.

Change your course

A few years ago in Cardiff, there were some incidences of female joggers being attacked while running around a local park, popular with runners. Police at the time encouraged women to try and change the course they run regularly, maybe in the belief that attackers tend to watch runners and work out their regular paths. Scary to think that but it is good to change route from time to time.

Keep it lit

A bit obvious, but if you’re running at night try to keep to well lit areas and wear your high visibility gear. Maybe get a group of you together to run in the evenings if you don’t like running at night by yourself.

Be social

Leading on from the point above, running in a group can be a great idea if you’re not keen to run alone. If you have some like minded friends, get together with them or find a running club to join. The bonus is that running becomes a social occasion too! Check out Runner\’s Web for a list of running clubs or Women\’s Running to find running buddies in your area.

These are just some brief ideas on staying safe that I have learned over the years I’ve been running. They haven’t stopped me enjoying running but it’s always good to keep safety in ind when you’re out on the roads. If anyone has any other ideas on staying safe while running or exercising please please leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Watch this space…

I haven’t been here for a while. I haven’t run for about 3 weeks. Our house has been like an infirmary. It’s all very well when you’re ill, you look after yourself and get over it. It’s something else all together when you’re sick and you’re looking after a sick toddler and a sick baby. My husband and I have been using all our reserves to look after them and try and get ourselves better. Its not a process that is happening as quickly as either of us would like.

Right now I feel so drained. I think I have another virus. Stomach this time. Our toddler has also been ill this week and has developed chicken pox. So on top of this and trying to get into work I have had no time for training. Occasionally I have pangs of guilt that I haven’t trained but you know what? Sometimes there are other priorities and mine at the moment are to get my children better and to make sure I’m fully fit again. I don’t think I would benefit from trying to run right now. It would be a big fat fail.

So for now, forgive the lack of running. Watch this space. I will be back.

Anti climax

Well I didn’t end up running the Cardiff Half Marathon. In the week leading up to it I became very unwell. A cold started to develop. A sniffly nose. A tickly throat. I did all I thought was possible to fend it off. I took Echinacea and disolvable vitamins. I took flu remedies and tried to drink lots of water. I managed to do both my tapering runs. On the Wednesday I thought I had managed to sweat the cold out of me with a short run. Alas it was not to be.

By the Thursday morning I was an absolute mess. My eyes and nose were streaming. My sinuses felt like they filled my entire head. I went to work but I was in terrible shape. It was not looking good. Friday I thought I was better. Saturday I was worse again. By Saturday evening I had taken the decision with a very heavy heart not to run. I wasn’t sleeping well and my cold was now a chest cold. Not a good condition to run 13 miles in.

I have reflected on my decision not to run. It is disappointing that all my training was in vain. I haven’t been able to find out whether I would be able to run that far in a race environment. I haven’t got an official half marathon time and I haven’t been able to run again yet because I’m still unwell. However even though I am disappointed I feel it would have been far worse if I had attempted to run. I’m sure I could have started it but I would have dropped out and for me that would leave me far more disappointed in myself.

So this time it wasn’t to be. It has been an anti climax and I haven’t achieved my goal of a half marathon. Once I feel better I’m going to get back out running and start to build on the distances I have already run. I know I can do the distance. I need to vary my sessions a bit more because just running for mileage is getting dull and I my think its improving my current ‘minute miling’ which is about 8 and a half now. I may join a club. We shall see but what I will be doing is getting on the internet to find myself a new race to run. This training can’t be for nothing. The Running Mummy will be back. Watch this space.

P.S After the Cardiff Half Marathon finished they discovered that the course was 193m short of the 13.1 mile distance. How gutting for those people. Got to feel for them. Hopefully the one I eventually do will be the legal distance!

Fitting it all in

I returned to work last week after my maternity leave. To say it was a shock to the system was an understatement. I’m not working five days but I’m fitting as many hours as I can into three days. This means leaving the house with the children really early and us all returning home in the evening quite late. I didn’t envisage doing any training last week and I certainly didn’t surprise myself. Last week I did absolutely nothing and it wasn’t long before the guilt kicked in.

Over the weekend I kept thinking about my lack of running. I made my excuses. I was tired mentally and physically from my return to work. It was dark in the evenings. I have to sort the boys out with their baths and get them to bed. There are chores to be done. How am I supposed to fit running in? I can’t *not* run, that’s not an option. I have a half marathon to do on the 17 October. How will I manage work, looking after the children and getting in some training?

I was continuing to treat this as a unsolveable problem but then came across an interview with Nell Mc Andrew in Women’s Running magazine. She is also a mum and loves running. In fact she’s a great runner, she can run a 1.26 half marathon. She had a few tips for getting in some running and one was finding a hill and just running up and down that. Well there is a hill at the back of my house. So on Sunday I got out and did 10 x 50m hill reps following a warm up. Another article in the magazine suggested that if you aren’t feeling like running set yourself realistic goals. For example aim to do just a short distance. So on Monday when I really didn’t feel up to it I went out and did a gentle 4 miler. Yesterday I suddenly felt inspired again and managed a really good steady undulating 6 miler. I felt awesome, and it was after work and it was in the dark! The excuses I had made for myself meant nothing anymore.

So I learnt this week that it is possible to be a working mother of two and fit in some decent running. I acknowledged my excuses, worked out why they were obstacles to my running and found a way round them. Being a little bit organised is one tip for me and maybe not being so worried about my chores is another. I also learnt that if I can’t fit in longer runs there is nothing to be lost from a short interval session in which I can work hard. What did I do tonight? Rest night tonight, I might go out tomorrow. Well I don’t want to over train do I?

Thanks to Women’s Running magazine for their tips!

Running ain’t that cheap

Running is proclaimed to be one of the cheapest activities you can possibly do. It’s free to go for a run or a walk, all you need is a pair of trainers. No gym fees, you don’t need fancy gear. Just you and the road. It’s true, running is free but is it really that cheap. The further into it you get the more expensive it can start to become.

Trainers are essentially all you need to run but those trainers can start from £30 and go up into the hundreds depending on your foot type, running style and whether you want to be stylish. To be honest once you’ve run through a few puddles all trainers turn the same shade of grey but at the time of purchase we all like something that’s appealing to the eye.

For us girl’s we need a couple of decent sports bras and some kit which if you’re like me you want duplicates if you like what you’ve bought. If something’s in the wash you want to be able to dive into the drawer and go. Running socks or trainer liners. Nobody wants to run in their black work socks. It’s starting to mount up now.

Then there’s the changing seasons. Gloves, long tights, long-sleeved tops, jackets, high vis kit, hats. The list goes on and the credit card feels the pain. Obviously you shop around and find the best deals but still it all starts to mount up. My problem is I love a good shop anyway and now that I’m enjoying running again I don’t want to stop because of a bit of cold weather. I just need the kit and an excuse to buy a pretty pink high visibility rip sleeve jacket.

It’s not just the running fashion that batters your credit card though. There are other costs to add such as race fees, travel costs and club fees (however if you are affiliated with a club you get a reduced fee on most race entries). So going for a run, like the best things in life, is free, but those sparkly Nikes and that weather proof track suit certainly isn’t. I’m not looking forward to the next credit card bill.

One month to go

There is one month to go until I run in the Cardiff Half Marathon. I’m getting slightly apprehensive. This is mainly because for the last ten days I’ve had some kind of viral/cold illness. The whole family has had it so as well as being ill myself I’ve been caring for poorly children. It’s been rather exhausting and the only remedy was complete rest when I could.

Over the last few days I have felt better and it dawned on me this morning that as I was actually ok, I should really go for a run. I’d been up since 5am with baby and to be honest I really *really* didn’t feel like it. I was even tempted to go back to bed when my husband got up at 8am. However I had to go. Moping and thinking about it wasn’t going to help. To be honest I’ve found if I think about running too much and build it up I almost talk myself out of it and run badly. Kind of a reverse adrenalin effect if there is such a thing. So I gave myself a kick up the bum, husband gave me a few ‘you’ll be fine’s and I was off. I only did an easy 4 miler but it was enough to get me back in the training mindset. My legs felt fresh, obviously because I was rested but my chest did feel a bit tight at times. It was not a good run at all, which is what I expected. Hopefully I have run the cold out of my legs.

When I came home I moaned a bit to husband and I started to worry about being able to make it round the Cardiff Half course. I sat down and popped the TV on and there was the Great North Run coverage. I’d forgotten it was today. Just watching those people with all their fantastic stories was an inspiration. I realised that I made a commitment to do this Half Marathon and that’s what I’m going to do. All I’ve got to do is make it round in this, my first race in the new phase of my life.  It’s my first race in a long time and the first since having my children. I just need to give myself a bit of a talking to. One month to go, plenty of time to fit in a bit more training. I can do this! I think.