Tag Archives: training

Strong Before Long.

‘If you’re struggling with injuries learn to run strong before you run long’ @BrianRunCoach

This tweet appeared in my timeline over the weekend and it really resonated with me. Getting rid of all these niggles has been hard and I’ve clearly been making many mistakes. I’ve been doing things that deep down I know are wrong for me and I should know better.

The list of mistakes I’ve made is long:

  • In my desperation to get back up to my previous volume of training I’ve increased my mileage too far too soon.
  • I’d only been doing long steady runs.
  • I ignored a pain in my calf, continued to train over it and made it worse.
  • I eventually rested by calf but didn’t give it enough time, returned to running and set myself back.

These things are mistakes that many other runners make and I’m sure I won’t be the last. Then there are other little things that are personal to me too, like just doing steady runs when I know I don’t get my running buzz from just doing long runs. I love intervals and running fast, always have. I had started to run with music. Something I never used to do, knowing deep down it wasn’t for me but doing it anyway because people seem to be really surprised that I don’t listen to music while running (all my long training runs for my marathon were without music).

So what am I doing to make things right for me and running?

Backing off.

That is what I’m doing. I’ve gone back to an old favourite route of mine which takes me about 40 minutes. This run is comfortable and I’m not getting any calf pain while I do it. I’m also sticking to every other day for the time being. The calf seems to be a little bit tight the day after a run but is resolved with stretches. Still I would rather this tightness eased before I even considered doing runs on consecutive days.

Ditched the music

and I am so much happier running for it. Running has always been my time to zone out and focus on my running, and probably without realising it, my breathing. I’ve run since I was eleven years old and I wonder if suddenly introducing the music (at age 33) upset my rhythm and distracted me too much. After a few runs I’ve already found that I feel more fluid and natural without the iPod.

I’m mixing it up

I’m going to try and mix the steady runs with some interval sessions. I find that even though the steady runs give me my endurance base and my engine, the intervals and faster sessions help me to improve. I’ve read so many running articles advising that runners should stick with long and slow to see improvement, but I don’t think my biology responds to that. My original base is from middle distance and I’ve always found that I thrive on this type of training and I find it strengthens me above all else.

This is the new plan. Marathon training for London is a few months away yet so the aim is definitely to be strong and niggle free before I go long. I am going back to what feels comfortable and natural, building my running foundations again before I try to ramp up the miles. Strong before long will be my mantra for now.

Thank you to @simon_lamb who retweeted the original quote in his time line. It gave me the much needed running inspiration I needed.


Training Diary and Running’s Not All Plain Sailing.

My training diary for last week isn’t actually that impressive. I haven’t managed to build on the previous week so I’m feeling a bit lost and a bit well yeah, lost is the best way to describe it.

The week had started relatively well with a 45 minute run that was nearly 5 and a half miles. I’m still plodding, I’m still not getting anywhere fast but I’m taking the approach that it’s better to get the miles in rather than worry about how quick. I suppose you’d say I’m trying to build a solid base again and regain my engine. I felt positive and I felt keen for running.

Tuesday was a bit of a disaster. Massive mood swing, plus forgetting things on the school run, plus not making it to an appointment plus a bunch of other stuff had meant that I wasn’t feeling Tuesday much. Tuesday was being a dick. So that evening when my husband came home from work I made what I thought was a positive decision: I would go to a running club. I jumped into the car and drove in the monsoon that was pouring from the sky, playing some funky tunes to get me in the mood. And then I hit all the traffic. On the motorway and on the duel carriageway. My mood dipped again, I was too late for the running club and I drove home cursing the universe. When I got home I decided to write Tuesday off and go to bed.

Wednesday was slightly more positive. I went out for a run, went out a little bit too hard at the beginning but kept going and ended up doing the longest run I’ve done in months. 56 minutes and over 6 and a half miles. It was slow, I made hard work of it but I was buzzing with my effort. Thursday is a no for running in the day with a 3 year old with me so I ventured out to CrossFit and ended up bagging myself some PB’s in the floor press and on double unders (that would be fancy skipping).

Friday I didn’t manage to get any running done but I was hoping to have a decent weekend of running. Saturday afternoon it was warm and I felt happy after a bike ride with my eldest boy so threw on my brightest shorts and headed out into the sunshine. And then I ran into some trouble. After 2 miles my feet were killing me. I felt aware of my left foot being really uncomfortable and I was sure it was rolling around in the shoe. My heel started to play up which frustrated me as my heel had been pain free. Then my right foot became sore and my right calf tightened. I tried to carry on as I was hoping to run for an hour. But no, I made the decision to turn back. My feet were so cramped I almost stopped and walked. When I arrived home I thought I’d feel really pissed off. Another run attempt shot down in flames. Buggeration! But I was strangely calm and reflective.  I identified what I thought was the issue (my footwear), accepted that what had happened was pretty much out of my control, reflected that actually the rest of me had been feeling pretty good and the result was that I was positive even though it had been a crap run. Who was this person? That doesn’t usually sound like me!

So that was my running week that was. Lots of ups and downs and little challenges to face but all in all I think I’m ok. I felt a bit of the self made pressure of not running drop off as I await my new trainers to arrive. Circumstances being out of my hands means that I feel like I have a ‘Do Not Run Right Now’ pass so I don’t have runner’s guilt. (And the footwear issue does make sense as my symptoms only occur after running in these trainers, which are actually over 9 months old. Oops). I know that there are other things I can do to maintain my fitness: CrossFit, circuits, cycling, swimming, aqua jogging. So I shall try my best to do other things this week and aim to enjoy them. Hopefully, imaginary Running Gods permitting, I will be back out plodding the pavements next week.

Training Summary for week beginning 13 May:

Mon: 45 minute run, 5.37 miles covered.

Tues: Nothing, don’t ask, don’t go there, I’m not speaking to Tuesday.

Weds: 56 minute run, 6.56 miles covered.

Thurs: CrossFit class. Double unders plus floor press (25kg for 5 reps PB). WOD 7 rounds of 1 minute on 1 minutes rest of 200m sprint plus max reps shoulder to overhead for remainder of minute (20kg on bar).

Fri: Rest and fun stuff. Sat: 3.91 miles hobbled. Sun: A little bit on the turbo trainer on the turbo trainer which has taken up the boys play room. HA!


Operation 20/40 AKA: Madness!

Goshity gosh, what have I let myself in for? Operation 20/40 you may ask? Well Operation 20/40 refers to a challenge that I have got myself involved with. Cat over at Marathon Widow Diaries had mentioned it when we were at Write This Run and I made the rookie error of saying ‘yeah go on then, I’ll have a go’. So the challenge is that over the rest of the year (because I think I’ll need that long) I am going to try to break the 20 minute mark for 5k and the 40 minute mark for 10k. It is a massive feat but one that I honestly think I could be capable of.

Currently my PB’s for both distances are as follows:

  • 5k = 21.30 from Cardiff Parkrun 25 February 2012
  • 10k = 42.10 from Shock Absorber Women’s Only Run 22 October 2011

Leading up to the Edinburgh marathon last year the shorter distances had taken a back seat as I had wanted to concentrate on being able to finish a 26.2 mile course. However after the marathon I had been keen to work on speedier distances at the track and I had been really enjoying some hard interval sessions. But then I got injured, was ill, got injured more severely and spent 6 months not able to do much of anything *sob*. So now that I am back running I needed something to motivate my running. I don’t see myself entering any half marathons or marathons just yet so this challenge seemed like a good place to start.

So with any challenge or goal I need to identify potential barriers:

  • I have zero training volume at the moment. Right now I am only just back up to an hour of running. There are no miles in these legs so endurance is at an all time low.
  • Confidence is low too. Nothing like being injured to suck all the self belief you had out of you.
  • Time can be limited sometimes due to looking after the children and running them around but I need to find a way round this to enable me to train.

However I need to acknowledge the good points I have going for me in this quest:

  • I’m a tenacious little bugger and I will try my best to make this happen.
  • When I’m fit and well I am a really good runner. Honest!
  • When it’s hard I can dig deeper than most. I don’t mind feeling a bit sick or feeling my legs burn. I’ve thrown up at track sessions before so it really doesn’t bother me.
  • I’ve got a turn of speed on me from my middle distance days. I just need to build the endurance back up so that I can get my ‘kick’ back.

For the next few weeks I think my main aim will be to build up the regular runs and mileage again so that I have a solid base of fitness to work on. Once I feel that I can run comfortably on an almost daily basis I think I’ll start throwing in some different sessions: speed, intervals, hills etc. I’m going to continue with my sessions at Dragon CrossFit in Cardiff as a source of strength and conditioning and I might also go and join the athletics club. I don’t know why but being ‘affiliated’ would feel so much better than being ‘unaffiliated’. It might make me feel more of an ‘athlete’ for this challenge.

So I’m up for it now. I’m gonna’ get On It Like A Car Bonnet. Operation 20/40 Madness is ON!


An Actual Week Of Running and Training!

As I ran with my fellow Write This Runner’s at the end of yesterday’s amazing conference it dawned on me: this run marked the end of my first week of full training and regular runs in 6 months.

Six months ago I was in agony. Six months ago my husband was having to help dress me. Six months ago I was getting, at the most, four hours sleep a night. Yet here I was running 5k, behind Scott Overall nonetheless (behind = he jogged a 5k and we all followed about 10 minutes behind). Six months ago I never saw myself at this point. Last November I really thought a prolapsed disc had ended running forever. For me that is, not you, dinae’ panic.

I wasn’t exactly shy about kicking off my week of training. I think this has come from my new ‘On it like a car bonnet’ mentality. Last Monday it all started with a little jog round Windsor for the She Runs Windsor event. I didn’t exactly sleep well that night. My body throbbed from the sheer effort and the lack of training I’d had going into it. I’m still proud of what I did that day because it showed me that I’m a stubborn old so and so who won’t give in. I had an awful night’s sleep following that race and my hamstrings were killing me so Tuesday I had what I feel was a well deserved break.

Wednesday saw a steady run. Well I say it was steady, more of a stroll to loosen everything off again. The old hammy’s were still a bit achy but no heel pain, no back pain, no pins and needles or numbness. I did wonder if I was daydreaming and was I really back running after all this time, but not being one to argue with my body (much) I went with it. 40 minutes or so with a nice jaunt along a new riverside path they’ve built by our village. Lovely.

Thursday I didn’t get out to run in the day as my youngest wasn’t in nursery. He’s a bit big to push around in a buggy now and being that he’s the one I lifted when I injured myself I would be reluctant to even attempt to run and push him! So when my husband arrived home from work that evening I went over to my ladies CrossFit class. I’ve been struggling with this class since getting over this injury: the weight I can lift on the bar has gone down and I feel a bit nervous with some of the techniques. However somehow I channelled my inner CrossFit goddess and managed some handstands, some against a wall and some spotted (you know, spotted by someone, not a polka dot spot handstand). And then, AND THEN, THEN! Little old me managed three kipping pull ups on a bar on my own! SQUEEEEEEEAL. I was ‘ended’ after three but I got to ding the PB bell! Ding a ling a ding ding!

So by Friday I was feeling pretty awesome and even though it was pouring with rain I went for another steady 40 minute run in the evening. I ended up soaked to the skin despite my jacket and it was wild and windy but I felt so exhilarated afterwards. I had a sense of achievement that I’d been missing for such a long time.

Saturday I missed out on training as I was travelling but Sunday’s run with my fellow bloggers was just the nicest possible way to round of my first week of post injury training. I had managed to run or train on 5 days out of 7 last week. Six months ago driving my children to school caused me to cry in pain and yet here I was on a 5k run with behind an Olympian. If you’d told me that back then I would have laughed at you through my diclofencac/co-codamol/insomnia haze and if I’m honest right now I’m thanking my lucky stars that I’m back here, running again.

So that was my training diary for last week. A pretty good start to ‘training to train’ again. I ended the week on such a positive note that I may have agreed to go for a sub20/sub40 challenge for 5k and 10k with my fellow running blogger Cat. Well, it’s always good to have a goal!

Mega Keen Bean

I have been well up for it lately. Running and training that is. I’ve been feeling good, feeling fine, feeling fruity. I’ve been all over running. On it like a car bonnet. Again that would be running. (If you were thinking I was referring to something else on a running blog then I really don’t know what to say). On one day I trained twice: a run in the morning and a CrossFit class in the evening. I managed to run four times last week. I was buzzing. I was training again.

Pain has been significantly less. I have felt more comfortable and most importantly I have been enjoying running. I’m still not tracking my runs because at the moment I don’t want to. I’ve been using my stopwatch instead to gradually build up the length of time I can run for. This is something that was backed up by Arwyn, the coach at Cardiff who’s group I joined prior to getting injured. And so I’ve been building myself up bit by bit. Slowly slowy, catchy monkey. Or something. There are a few niggles but I’m calling them my ‘getting used to running again’ niggles. I’m listening to my body and I know when to stop and when I need a rest day.

Being an injured runner in these times of social media has been frustrating. Twitter and Facebook is awash with people declaring their fitness achievements and their latest personal bests. I won’t lie, when I’ve been fit I’ve let my GPS watch let the world know how far I’ve run and how quickly but to be a spectator has been heart wrenching. However there is another reason why I need to be careful regarding social media and my return to running. In my mega keen state I think it’s making me want to do too much to quickly. It’s making me want to prove to others that I can run and that I can be competitive too. Social media is making me compare myself to others too much so I really need to reign myself in.

At the weekend I was forced to rest due to illness. I got over that and I’ve managed to run a few times this week. I’m on enforced rest right now as I won’t have childcare for a few days but I think I’m ok with it. I need to be sensible. I’m still recovering and I’m not even fit enough to ‘train’ as such yet. It should be enough that it’s a pleasure to run again because that’s what is important right now. I am being a mega keen bean and while that is a positive thing I need to make sure I stay injury free at the same time. So here’s to gradual increments of running time, some hills and some more aqua jogging and thinking about myself and my own goals rather than comparing myself to others. At the moment I am running for the love of running and nothing else.

Twatchops AKA: my GPS watch

I hate my GPS watch right now. After many months of injury I am actively avoiding it. I hardly ever charge it up anymore. The watch is feeling neglected too. It’s sat in the hallway, unused and rejected by it’s owner. It’s been sat there so long that it’s reset itself to January 2007 in some kind of attention seeking blip, begging for a software update. Well right now it’s not getting one.

Ok, I’ve told an untruth. I have used it recently. I used it for a 4 mile run just after I started running again. I’m still none the wiser as to why I set it to track my run and my pace. I kept looking at it and was continually depressed by the fact I was running slower than my marathon pace. Every time I looked down at it I felt like I was having my nose rubbed in how slow I was. My watch was taunting me, ‘Look at you, you’re pathetic. Why are you even bothering? Just walk, it’s all you’re good for!’

When I finished the run, which felt dreadful anyway, it just stopped. No ‘well done’ or ‘you smashed it’ message on the screen like it used to. It was a run where the least said the better. I left the watch on the side and walked away, not even flinching when my son took it to pretend it was a Ben 10 Omnitrix.

So my watch and I haven’t spent a lot of time together since then. I feel that I’m enjoying my running more without it. No pressure, no furtive looks to see how fast I’m going and no feelings of failure at the end of the run however or whatever I’m feeling.

Technology and running can be a blessing but occasionally it can become a bit of a curse. We can become so dependent on it that we forget to run for the love of running and instead have our run dictated to us. This is fine if we are doing tempo runs or have a specific training goal but this isn’t me right now. I need to learn to run and enjoy training again. I’m still building back up to regular running which after 6 months of injury I’m finding tough, mentally and physically. So until I get my fitness back up the GPS is staying at home where it can’t mess with my head and we won’t fall out.


(Twatchops is an anagram for Stopwatch)

Running Obsessions This Week


Yes just running. I’m gradually getting over my injury and I have run about 4 times now. I started with a route that’s about 2.5 miles but I built up to a 4.5 mile run on the weekend. In the dark, in the freezing cold. This is how desperate I am to run right now. For the following days I had DOMS but I welcomed it. I haven’t had DOMS for so long, that deliciously painful twinge in your quads as you walk downstairs. Usually I would curse it but it was a sign that I had managed to do some exercise. I wouldn’t say I’m ‘back’ yet but I feel like I might be getting somewhere. The only thing now is that I can’t stop thinking about running, where I’m going to run and when I’m going to be able to run.

She Runs Windsor

As I’m starting to get back into things I decided I needed a running goal to focus on. For months I’ve been in a running limbo. A running no man/woman land. March and April races were far too close so I looked for something in May and this race came up. It is long enough away for me to get some training in but not too far away for me to flounder and become demotivated. It will hopefully encourage me to stick with rehab and training.

I didn’t fancy signing up for a half marathon or marathon right now as confidence is still low but this 10k in Windsor Great Park in May looked like a great re-introduction to racing. I’ll be able to take the family and it should be a nice course. If you’re in the market for a women only race then go to http://www.sherunswindsor.com and sign up. Hurry up though, until tonight it is £25 to enter, after midnight it will be £29. Excited!


I sing in praise of Physios. Yes I am a physio but this is about being on the other side of the plinth. NHS physios, Private physios, sports physios, to you us runner’s are grateful for listening to us, treating us and never saying I told you so when we fail to follow the advice given. Three cheers for all the physios out there who get us back out the door running.

Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 8

Imagine you bring home a pair of pure white Asics Trainers. Imagine you have left an open case of felt pens in the room. Imagine your children got hold of the pens and attacked the pure white trainers. I think you’d come back to something like this!

I am OBSESSED with these trainers  A little chat on Twitter revealed that even though they are stated to be Triathlon racers there are a lot of runners who have these. If I could have these I think I’d be tempted to take up triathlon. I think they’d be fab for the St Lucia Triathlon I’ve just heard about. So Asics if you can hear my thoughts send me these and I might consider taking up triathlon. Honest, I would. I’d even go and buy a bike.

Mo Farah

The post race interview that Mo Farah gave with a US TV channel exploded on social media after his record breaking win in New Orleans. The poor woman interviewing clearly has never heard of Mo. Or the Olympics possibly. I also wonder whether she was aware of Google. But anyway despite the clear lack of knowledge by the interviewer Mo was polite and styled it out, showing again what a nice guy he is. He even defended her on Twitter after the poor woman got trolled. Good for him!

His Twitter feed also gave me giggles in the week. Being a double Olympic champion doesn’t protect you from the mishaps of parenthood. He managed to fall asleep with all his children on the sofa while his wife was out. Comical panic ensued on her return. If you’re not already following him on Twitter then you really should.

Running Blogs and Runners on Twitter

I am loving the world of running blogs and the running people I’ve chatted to via Twitter. So much so that I signed up to the running blogging event Write This Run. It’s looking to be a great day of listening to experts talking about running and blogging. Via the organisers Liz and Laura I’ve come across some fantastic bloggers and Twitter people. Marathon Widow DiariesMind Over Matter and Flake and Cake are only three of the blogs that I’m really enjoying. Check out my blog roll for other great exercise and running blogs.

The social media running chat is also addictive. It varies from interval sessions, miles covered, advice about training kit to hysterical chats about toilet habits during long runs or races. You probably had to be there eh!

If you’re looking to follow some runner’s on Twitter just check out the people I’m following or search the hashtags running or runchat. Do it. Do it now!

Here endeth my running obsessions this week!