A Week of Firsts – Most of Them Run Related

Sunday – logged my first run on The Running Bug – looks like it could take over from Jantastic!  http://www.therunningbug.co.uk

Monday – I discovered I have a black toe nail, presumably a leftover from my half marathon a few weeks back.  Yes, I do look at my feet regularly and I wash and moisturise them too but my pinkies seem to hide away under the little piggys “who had none” so I hadn’t noticed.  (I do also cut my toe nails in case you were wondering but I had done them just prior to the half.)  So now I have a real runner’s badge of honour.

Tuesday – I actually set my alarm to make sure I didn’t miss the London Marathon Ballot this year.  How sad!  The alarm was set for 7am but I was awake at 6am so I sat in bed with my laptop filling out my entry, made sure it was acknowledged and then went back to sleep 🙂

Wednesday – today I did two runs in one day.  I did 6k in the morning through the activity park and then 6k in the evening on the treadmill.  This might sound very athletic but the actual intention in the morning was to run at least 10k possibly 12k and I gave up at 6k.  In my defence I did have to divert from my original planned route because I could see “yoovvs on bikes” loitering up ahead and didn’t fancy running past them, not least because the next little section involved a few trees.  So I had to turn around and go back the way I had come and that involved hills!  Don’t get me wrong, the original route would also have involved hills, just shorter and sharper hills which are over quicker.  So in the evening I decided to give it a go, do something read about but never tried.  I decided to attempt a very slow treadmill 5k at the gym which turned into an even slower 6k but at least I can now say I’m a two a day runner!  Not sure it’ll catch on though 😉

Thursday – I discovered my first tan line of this year and no, not on my upper body but my lower body; my ankles to be precise.  Now men might be able to get away with socks and sandals (okay, maybe not) but women definitely can’t.  I might have to buy some fake tan to disguise the lines and then I’ll probably end up with splodgy legs instead.  But it’s a sure sign that summer’s on the way 🙂

Friday – saw my first drug deal.  This is the non running related first!!!  Although running could have come in handy if they had turned nasty.  And no, I wasn’t buying (or selling).  I just happened to be casually sitting in my car in a Harvester car park with my mum when we observed the deals going on.  I’m thinking of asking to go into a witness protection programme!

Saturday – after 29 parkruns, my 30th took place in the rain – the first ever despite running through the winter.  I must have a happy weather genie on my shoulder on a Saturday morning.  And even then it wasn’t heavy persistent rain, just a steady drizzle which had more or less petered out by the time I’d finished.  But at least I didn’t get up, see the horrible weather and go back to bed again.


Mind Games

They say psychology has a lot to do with your running success ….or failure.  I think in my case this definitely has some merit, for instance, looking back at my inability to complete a 10k run without involving any walking.  Hopefully that issue has now been resolved since I managed to complete my last two 10k events without walking.  I am (quietly) confident my next 10k event, the BUPA London 10000, in 6 weeks time will pass off without incident – fingers crossed it’ll be fourth time lucky on this particular course.

But although I seem to go to each organised run thinking “I’m not going to walk this time”, almost predictably I end up walking.  It’s like I subconsciously can’t wait to fail!  Do I relish the thought of regaling people with how “it went fine until ….”?  Am I seeking sympathy?

Alex Welch, Chief Editor of Collage Magazine, http://magazinecollage.com/ and I had a conversation last week about the “seduction of inadequacy”, a phrase we had come across in another blog, Burn Bright http://burn-bright.com/, and we got around to discussing our own seductions of inadequacy.  Mine centred on my running (although I’m pretty sure there are plenty more areas in my life where this could apply!).  In particular how I seem to set myself up inevitably to fail by giving myself too many goals and thus providing plenty of opportunities to do so.  Take, for instance, last week’s half marathon.  I had three goals – to get a PB; to be quicker than last time I did this specific run; and not to walk.  Failed, on all three!  Was I seduced into setting three goals so that on some level, I knew I would fail and thereby show myself to be inadequate?  (Or is it really just as simple as knowing that if I succeed in my goals, I will have to set new ones and they will be harder?!)

Anyway, by the end of our conversation, I had agreed to set myself only one goal for my next half marathon.  To get a PB.  Now that in itself is a tall order but perhaps if I can concentrate on that one goal, I might put less pressure on myself – I might then even succeed in achieving the other two!  See, I’m doing it again!!

Turning now to parkrun, the week before last Shorne Woods returned to using Course A.  This route has not been used since last November thanks to the mud fest on the back of the course.  Course A involves two 2k laps followed by a 1k lap.  Course B involves three equal laps.  But both courses measure 5k.

So our first 2014 outing on Course A produced what?  My second best ever parkrun time, missing my PB by 8 seconds (and yes that too was achieved on Course A).  This weekend I got a new PB and believe me I am very happy about that but why do I run faster on Course A than on Course B?  It’s exactly the same distance and therefore level of difficulty!  Purely psychological?  It must be all in my head!

So just two examples of how my brain influences my running!  I’m now off to find a book on positive thinking!

Anyone wishing to read more of the “Seduction of Inadequacy” post can find the link here http://burn-bright.com/2014/03/04/the-seduction-of-inadequacy/


Here’s a piece I wrote for inclusion in last week’s Shorne Woods parkrun anniversary run report together with a picture of the celebratory birthday cake made by another parkrunner, Rachel Bignell.  Apparently we get to enjoy a slice at tomorrow’s run – presumably post event 🙂

My parkrun experience

Thirteen months ago I noticed my Twitter feed on a Saturday was littered with references to parkrun.  When I researched further I thought it sounded good but it appeared the closest parkrun was Bexley which seemed a bit far for regular attendance.  Oh well, I thought and forgot all about it until the start of the summer when I came across a couple more references to parkrun in magazines.

I went back to the website only to find there was now an event at Shorne Woods – only two miles down the road, excellent.  It then took another month for me to pluck up the courage to attend my first run and the rest, as they say, is history.  I can honestly say that the only weekends I’ve missed have been down to other commitments, nothing to do with not wanting to get out of bed on a Saturday morning.  Although credit where it’s due, Chase the Place and Jantastic have been huge motivational forces.

I’ll admit there have been weeks when I’ve gone with the attitude that it’ll just be a “recovery” jog, I’ll take my time, just get around but then something seems to take over and it’s often these weekends when I do my better runs.  Is it the presence of other runners dragging me around with them in a runners’ vortex, often supporting with constructive comments or just pure encouragement?  Whatever, something works!

Perhaps even more surprising has been the reaction from acquaintances be it friends, family or clients.  Since August I have managed to put off any work commitments until after I’ve had time to do parkrun but recently I was asked the dreaded question, could I meet a potential new client at 9am on a Saturday!!!

Oh no, the time had finally come and my head eventually overruled my heart.  I said yes.  Now my head may have been sensible but what amazed me more were other people’s reactions.  All those I mentioned it to said I should either say no, I wasn’t available; put her off until later in the day or bring her along (give me time!).  Obviously the way I have been raving about how great parkrun is must have been sinking into other’s psyches!

So far I’ve only managed to get one other runner to come along but I shall keep persevering.  I often see other runners out and about when I’m en route to Shorne and I want to stop and say “come with me”.  Perhaps I should resort to kidnap!

My only regret?  I wish I’d first looked at the website a month later and seen the Shorne Woods event sooner 🙂

Happy Anniversary Shorne Woods parkrun 🙂

How good is this?!

How good is this?!

I Need A Pacer!

So the dust has settled and I’ve had time to reflect on Sunday’s Paddock Wood half marathon.  If somebody had told me on Saturday what my time was going to be and how the run was going to evolve, I’d have wondered why I was bothering to turn up.  Today I’m more philosophical about it.  And to be honest I wasn’t even that disappointed Sunday afternoon.  I knew what had gone wrong – my continuing struggle with learning to pace myself.

I was going to Google “pacing” to see what came up but Runners World was reading my mind and very helpfully posted the following definition a few days ago:-

“Pacing is a science: start off too fast and you’ll burn glycogen at a higher rate than your body can handle, leaving you struggling for energy at the stage where you need it most” – how true!  It then continued “Start off too slow and that target time will just keep disappearing away as the race progresses.”  Yes, but I think that’s what I need to do, start off a little slower!

Back to Sunday.  I won’t bore you with too much detail, suffice it to say, the first few miles seemed to me to be run at a relatively relaxed pace.  No need to try and dash past other runners; there was plenty of space and even the “hill of note” at 1.25 miles didn’t prove too much of a problem.  However, my Garmin was giving me warning signs which I chose to ignore.  First mile, just under 9 minutes, and the following two miles a bit quicker.  By the time I got to six miles, there was a point where this fleeting thought flashed across my mind.  If this carries on I could get a PB and even get in a sub 2 hours.  My mind imagined the glory of telling everyone my achievements even though I have been here many times before!

And guess what, about half a mile later, at the half way point, I started to struggle.  In fact, I told myself, “Get to the seven mile marker and you can have a little 30 second walk”.  The plan was then to do a “little walk” at the start of each mile and then run to the next mile marker.  This didn’t happen.  It seemed at one point that there was a bit more walking than running and when I got to “the railway bridge”, my reaction was “No way!”  I did though get a bit of a second wind towards the end.  Also, much needed moral support from runner number 787 who encouraged me to run with him from time to time.  We met up again on the outskirts of Paddock Wood less than a mile from the finish and this time it was my turn to say, “Let’s get to that marshal and then run to the finish line.”  Although I think that was more for my benefit than his!  But we did 🙂

I seriously thought my regular running with parkrun had got me out of the bad habit of going off too fast.  I also thought running with other people had calmed me down.  I thought wrong!

As far as the run as a whole goes, it was very well organised and the support from marshals and bystanders outstanding.  The scenery was mostly rural and idyllic although there does come a point where you think, “Oh god, not another blinking oast house”!  During the run, obviously after the half-way point, I thought “I’m not doing this again” but by the end of the day it was more “I’m definitely doing this again, if only to prove I can do better.”

So I didn’t achieve either of my goals on Sunday – to run a half marathon with no walking and to beat my previous Paddock Wood time.  But on a positive note, if I can repeat the first half of Sunday’s performance at my next three runs (BUPA London 10000, City of London Mile and the Anniversary Run – 5 miles) I shall be a very happy bunny.  And then perhaps I can aim to do better at the Royal Parks Half in October.   I can but live in hope!

Sunday's Medal

Sunday’s Medal



This is Saturday’s medal.  I came second in the female annual points competition at Shorne Woods parkrun.  Guess which one I’m most proud of 🙂