Random Running Related Ramblings!

Because I can’t think of a more witty title!

After a two week absence, I turned up to parkrun on Saturday morning despite the snow an hour earlier.  And although the white stuff had stopped, there was still some moisture in the air but amazingly it wasn’t nearly as cold as I’d anticipated.

During the pre-run gathering I stood next to a fellow runner.  Let’s call her Vikki – mainly because her name is Vikki!  It transpired we had passed each other during our “long” runs on the preceding Wednesday and I asked her what she was training for – the Brighton Marathon apparently.  I enquired how far she had run that day.  “Fifteen”, she said.  “One more than me” I quipped and then I asked where she’d run.  I’m always anxious to hear about new routes in the area.  As she reeled off all the places she’d been, my brain started to think “hang on a minute, that’s an awful lot for 15”.  Then the penny dropped, she’d been talking miles, me kilometres.  Ooops!

She also told me she was coming back from a calf injury so I assumed that was why she was standing in the middle of the pack, she was going to be taking it easy.  I knew she was a faster runner than me so why on earth I thought I could keep up with her, even coming back from injury, goodness only knows.  Suffice to say that my first kilometre was done in record time and Vikki had already started to pull away.  Then, by the last lap, I was suffering from stitch and had to incorporate a couple of walk breaks.  Not a good time in comparison to recent results, over 27 minutes.  Vikki incidentally finished a good minute and a half ahead of me!  (And a minute behind her parkrun PB – parkrun stalker in the making here!)

When I got home and checked my little database (yes, I know, very sad), I discovered it was actually my slowest parkrun for exactly a year.  Nice little anniversary present!

Now some of you may scoff at my database but it actually resulted in a smile after Friday’s 5k.  I’m used to my solo runs being slower than my parkruns but Friday’s had felt really slow and hard going.  I had been hoping for 6k but called it a day at 5k.  But when I looked at my little spreadsheet, it turned out it was my fastest solo 5k all year – maybe that’s why it felt tough!

My running buff

My running buff

This week I was asked to try out a running buff for a company called Kitshack.  I only got my hands on it on Saturday evening so haven’t had a lot of opportunity to try it out yet.  Although I did use it when distributing finish tokens at junior parkrun yesterday.  Although the morning started off quite sunny and warm, towards the end of the run, a nippy wind was blowing in off the Thames Estuary and I was very glad of my buff.  It’s also been used as a hair band but I’m really looking forward to taking it out for a run.  There have been parkruns where it would have been very welcome.  I can think of one particular occasion recently where it was so cold, it felt like the air in my throat was crackling and icy.

Unfortunately I wont be using it at parkrun next weekend because I’m attending a Leadership in Running Fitness course with England Athletics.  At the moment I would find it a bit pointless joining a running club (work would mean I’d never get there), but I have some maybe misguided idea of trying to set up a running group which operates during school hours, more couch to 5k than elite runners.  It may not come to anything but if nothing else, attending the course will hopefully help me with any Running Buddy clients I sign up in future.  In the meantime, I’m hoping I wont be outrun by my fellow attendees!

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Busy, Busy, Busy!

So while I was enduring my recent enforced rest period, what was I up to?  Writing for the February issue of my co-authored blog, Lexi and Jones, of course!

Here are the links to my articles but in a nutshell the first tells you all about our day out to Charlton Lido last Monday, whilst the second is about my refusal to get drawn into the maelstrom of hype associated with Fifty Shades of Grey.

And whilst I feel nothing but derision for the film and books, Lexi very gallantly sacrificed 125 minutes of her life to see what all the fuss was about.  I had been expecting her review to be published at the same time as the rest of our February edition but yesterday’s launch saw no sign of it.  Disappointed or what!  Part of me wondered whether/hoped it was so bad that she couldn’t bear to think about the film again in order to write anything.  But I should have been a bit more patient, because she has written a review and it was well worth waiting for – I love it!  Justifies my jaundiced views totally!

Our other articles this month include Lexi’s advice on post Valentine’s night breakfasts and the sex lives of the middle aged woman, very enlightening!  Who needs Fifty Shades!

This month we were both absolutely delighted that we had our first contributor, our favourite yoga teacher, Emma Turner of Samadhi-Yoga.  Emma has written about yoga and sexuality for us.  Emma also has another website called Greener Mums which encourages us all to try to be a little greener in our lives.  I’ve only just discovered this so I’m looking forward to a bit of catch up reading.

My articles for next month are now underway but turning back to my running, I’m pleased to report my 6k run on Tuesday was followed by a 7k on Thursday.  But thanks to the sleep gods (or maybe it was my Friday 13th bad luck), my anticipated parkrun fix yesterday didn’t happen.  I saw every hour from 10.00pm Friday night until 6.30am Saturday morning at which point I gave up and turned off the alarm.  I sincerely hope the menopausal insomnia has not returned and this was just a one off.  I spent most of yesterday in a haze, now I know how new mums (and dads) feel after being deprived of sleep.  Not taking any chances tonight, the herbal Nytol is coming back out!  If that fails – vodka!

It was going so well!

It was going so well!

Having been inspired by the runners at junior parkrun this morning, I came home and went straight out for a run to make up for yesterday.  My morning coffee had left me feeling a little bit spaced out. And I’m also blaming this for my inability to operate the timer this morning.  I managed to start it okay as the runners set off and then, for some reason, turned it off as the first runner crossed the line!  Goodness knows what was in that coffee but I suspect I’ll be backing to marshalling duties next week!

Anyway, I headed out with the clear intention of doing 6k.  I would get to the 3k turn around point, do a quick evaluation and then decide whether to carry on.  I’m glad to say I carried on and did 11k with an average pace which would see me get a half marathon PB – just have to maintain that pace for the other 10k now!  No twinges from my knee and only the occasional complaint from my ankle.  I’m now keeping everything crossed – six weeks to go.

And here’s a new blog column heading I’ve decided to introduce – “Smells that assaulted my run”.  Today we had laundry products from The Manor Hotel, roast “beef” from the Toby Carvery and chips from the Morrisons cafe, oh and sweat from all the cyclists at Cyclopark!

WP_20150202_002During my run I wore my new winter running top, my bargain from Sweatshop, the Karrimor Trail ¼ zip long sleeve tee (that’s what it says on the label).  So here follows a quick product review.

I was initially drawn to the top because it was marked down from £74.99 to £18.99 – can’t resist a bargain.

Secondly, it had pockets – lots of pockets.  Sportswear manufacturers please note, I want pockets, preferably with zips!  So far this jacket has four, two zipped and two open.  I say so far because on occasion I have located sneaky little pockets hidden away in other running gear so there may be more to appear.  My front door key went in the top zipped pocket, which means now, rather than periodically patting my backside to make sure the key is still present, I’m patting my left breast instead!  I’m not sure which is more distracting to walkers, dog walkers, cyclists or drivers but hey, I don’t want to get locked out.

The final thing which attracted me was the colour, I am a girl after all.  But no, it’s not pink, it’s an emerald/turquoise (apparently).

The jacket itself felt very comfortable during the run, nice thumb loops to negate the need for gloves (which can be easily lost, see this blogpost for an explanation).  It also has an adhesive hemline to prevent the wind getting up and under.  To be honest everything about the top was excellent.  My only quibble would be the partial zipped front.  There was an occasion where I felt the need to cool down a bit and a full frontal zip would have been ideal.  But for £19 I’m not complaining!

Best Laid Plans And All That!

Experience has taught me that when my training goes really well, there’s going to be an upset somewhere along the line.  And that has proved to be the case yet again!

Training plan out the window then!

Training plan out the window then!

My half marathon training schedule had been progressing swimmingly.  Long runs completed without too much angst and then three weeks’ ago, I walked across the living room just prior to heading out for a run and something went in my right knee.  It disappeared pretty quickly and I carried on with my run without any problems but after that, it seemed to catch me off guard from time to time.  And then of course my dodgy left ankle decided to resurrect itself, as if it didn’t want to be left out.  Over the course of the next few days I struggled on but both decided to become more troublesome!

If I’m honest, I have had problems with my right knee in the past but I’ve just ignored it and it’s eventually gone away of its own accord.  I think this time because I’ve got a 13.1 mile run to do in just over a month’s time, I felt perhaps I should give it a chance to recover.

But taking a break of any sort would mean jeopardising my Jantastic efforts and letting down my Shorne Woods team.  The honourable thing to do would be to withdraw my team membership.  Not that they are likely to win any awards or competitions as a result of my inclusion but I didn’t want to be the one to let everyone down.

Fortunately, the Jantastic weekly newsletter made a timely arrival and the authors’ words seemed to be written especially for me.

“Just because you drop a workout here and there, play a joker, lose some points, that shouldn’t mean your Jantastic is over for 2015. It’s not all about 100%. In fact, as the challenge progresses 100% is increasingly difficult to maintain. What should be maintained is your effort level.”

Generally I don’t give in easily, when I make a commitment I tend to do my best to stick to it.  But common sense prevailed and I decided that after the following day’s parkrun, I would not run for at least a week.  Mind you, I have to say the fact I already knew I couldn’t make the following weekend’s parkrun made it easier to come to that conclusion!

I had made this decision coupled with the promise (in my head) to do a lot of cross training instead to maintain/improve my fitness level.  I have to own up, that didn’t go entirely to plan.  In fact my only structured exercise last week was my yoga class and a half hearted trip to the gym – both on the same day!

During this enforced rest period my knee did gradually start to feel better but then it was with some trepidation that I started questioning when I should start running again.  Would I jeopardise complete recovery by running too soon?  Should I leave it another few days?

But what about my training?  While I’d ticked off the 15k on my plan and was reasonably confident about completing the remaining 6k, would I be happy to limp through it?  Although I’ve never managed to run this particular course in its entirety in any case so if that happened, would it make that much difference?

Lives to fight another day!

Lives to fight another day!

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that yesterday I gave it a go.  I would try for a 5k run just to see what happened.  The 5k turned into a 6k in the end and was achieved within a reasonable time without too much trouble.  I did feel a couple of knee twinges during the run but nothing major and it was never actually during the running that I felt any discomfort, it was post run.  So the telling time would be what happened the next day.

Well, so far so good.  I have been ultra sensible (for me) and am having a rest day today but will try again tomorrow for another short run, followed by Saturday’s parkrun.  Then I’ll re-evaluate the situation and hopefully I can try to resurrect something of my half marathon training plan next week.

“Urban” Running

Many, many years’ ago (ok, five or six) when I was “training” for my first half and full marathons, I used to do my long runs quite happily alongside major roads in the area without a second thought.  There was never too much traffic around to hold me up when crossing the roads and I felt perfectly safe to do so.

But now, when my current half marathon training requires me to do long runs, I’m struggling to find routes which are (a) long enough and more importantly (b) safe!  It comes to something when (don’t read this next bit Mum) you’d rather run along lonely country roads and across isolated fields than along main roads.

I’m half wondering whether this sudden reluctance to brave the main roads is something to do with my age?  As I start to face up to my own mortality, am I beginning to realize that I’m no longer invincible and I can’t expect to bounce off DAF trucks when they get in my way?

Consequently, I find myself running laps rather than out and back routes which means I have plenty of opportunity to find excuses to head back home before the required distance is covered.  It also means the residents on said laps find it quite dizzying to see me passing their front garden yet again!  Heaven forbid they think I’m casing their joints!

I suppose another disadvantage I have is that the majority of runners schedule their long runs for the weekends when the roads are probably a bit quieter.  Whereas I’m usually working then so my runs have to be scheduled for week days.   Even during the day you have to be wary of the clock. Obviously early morning and late afternoon is commuter time and best avoided.  Also just forget heading out around 3pm, school chucking out time, because you know the roads will be full of four by fours whose owners will see you as an obstacle to drive over at speed!  Need to test that suspension on something other than the traffic calming measures!

Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about running along the middle or even the side of the road.  I’m talking about running along the pavement where I should, in theory, be out of harm’s way.  But such is the volume of traffic in my area nowadays that you don’t feel safe with heavy trucks thundering past you.  Maybe I should resort to loud music so I can’t hear them creeping up behind me.  Yes, I know, I should be running towards the traffic but with a couple of the routes I have in mind, there’s only pavement on one side of the road.

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Just about see Essex!

I used to have a nice 10 mile run out to Higham and back, with lots of inclines/declines and views of the Thames Estuary to distract me but I’d hesitate to do that now.  I have also run in the opposite direction towards Ebbsfleet International but whereas that road used to be reasonably quiet before the advent of High Speed 1 (and I’m a frequent user of HS1 so I’m not complaining), now you take your life in your hands.  Heaven help us if/when London Paramount (London, really?) or the proposed Lower Thames Crossing get underway!

 

There is usually traffic - honest!

There is usually traffic – honest!

I have thought of using my parkrun venue for potential long runs but bearing in mind we’re currently doing three equal laps of the park to clock up 5k, six laps plus may get a little bit monotonous and incur temptation from the cafe.  Also, on Saturday mornings there tends to be “safety in numbers” for parkrunners in terms of respect from other park users (although we are of course considerate of all other users).  If I went running there on my own, would I get that same acknowledgement or would I be chased by dogs!?

Luckily last week I discovered a new area to run. Admittedly, it’s not going to add much to my distances but it’s a former playing field that backs on to a new housing estate and will give my poor knees a rest from pounding tarmac.  Despite recent weather, it didn’t seem too muddy on my first expedition so hopefully I can make more use of it in the forthcoming weeks.

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My new playground 😉

So, long running isn’t just about doing the distance.  It’s also about where to do the distance!

Anyone else have similar problems or am I just a scaredy cat!?