Revenge of the Fifth Half Marathon

I won’t lie, I’m definitely more of a road runner than a trail runner. That said, I do really enjoy running on trails and doing beautiful scenic runs. I think my main preference for road is just that I like the predictability and control of road running compared to the often craziness of the trails.

Saying this, I was excited about doing this half marathon as it looked to be so different to what I’d been doing recently. It was in a beautiful part of the UK (Church Stretton in Shropshire) and I had absolutely zero goals. It was supposed to be ridiculously hilly (run by the guys at How Hard Can it Be… case and point) and I wasn’t after anything more than an enjoyable run round a pretty place. It was called Revenge of the Fifth as it was May 5th, and the day before they’d had a half and a marathon called May the Forth. I do like a theme!James and I arrived at 9am, an hour before the half would begin. It was beautifully sunny and clear. But yes, starting to get warm. We collected our bibs and headed to the loos in the tearoom a short walk away. To pass the time we did this twice. As runners before a race I think you just live in a cycle of waiting to pee and peeing.The medals were really funky, all Star Wars themed of course. Everyone was super friendly and it very much had the vibe of “trailer running” rather than “road racing”. Super chilled. Lots of sturdy legged bearded men and hydration belts all over the shop. I’m making sweeping generalisations of course but you get the idea.As well as the half marathon the marathon would be starting at the same time. It wasn’t a huge race (just over 100 for the half and 40 or so for the full). Probably good because the trail was quite narrow and windy at points and over-taking people had to be navigated carefully.We lined up and got ready to go. I wasn’t really sure what I was fancying running. I thought I’d just see how I felt (I mean, let’s be honest this is mostly how I approach all races…). I didn’t want to kill myself, I quite fancied an enjoyable “sight-seeing” run but at the same time not go completely easy. One of James’ friends had done the race the day before (it was the same course) and had gotten 2.5 hours and he was roughly around my speed so I thought that was a good gauge of pace. And to give you an idea of the elevation…The first part of the run was TOUGH. I set off at a run and within a few minutes we were uphill and it felt hard. I had the crushing thought of “only two and half hours left of this”. It was a bit soul destroying. As we got onto the start of the incline basically everyone ground to a halt and started walking. Of course, so did I. I spotted a few females ahead of me and decided to see if I could pick them off eventually. I passed one girl but then she very quickly ran ahead of me again up the hill – someone saying to her “you should probably save your energy” and she happily replied “where’s the fun in that!”. To be fair, she did well! She headed off in to the distance and finished first female.

As I plodded as quickly as I could walking up the steep hill (I want to say mountain because honestly that’s what it was like) I decided to snap a few pics. It was so pretty I just had to!It never looks that steep in a photo does it? But it was.There’s a the first female dashing off into the distance ahead. She looked so much like Chrissie Wellington it was bizarre. We wondered if she was somehow related!

So anyway we finally got to the top and it was a relief to start running again. There was a nice bit of flat and downhill and I made the most of it to speed up as much as I could to make up for the previous walking. I was flying downhill and couldn’t believe I was seeing 7 min/mile pace on my watch. I wondered if by having these downhill moments I could make up for the uphills and try and even out my pace to be 9min/miles overall. This was quite a faraway thought in my mind as I knew my target was 2.5 hours anyway and I didn’t want to be too ambitious.I did a bit of over-taking and being over-taken by the second female ahead of me and we joked that this might happen for a while. As we got onto some seriously fun downhill action (we’re talking jumping over little streams, craggy bits of rock and fun little trails) and I followed her closely. We gained another person to our crew and all three of us had a whale of a time. It really was such good fun and certainly made up for the slog of the uphill earlier.The three of us stuck together for a couple of miles before the guy, his name was Dexter I found out later, and I peeled off ahead. It was nice to run with someone and chat though I was worried I was holding him back. It definitely helped pass the miles to run alongside him.We ran through a caravan park and were helpfully directed the right way by some campers as we momentarily were puzzles where to go. There weren’t any marshals on the course but they’d used signs where they could or hung strips of ribbon on branches to help guide. It was mostly easy to navigate and it helped that I had the course on my watch. Though this suddenly made me a guru of directions to others around me, not a good position to be in for someone like me…Then we almost got taken out by some sheep dashing away from us… there were a lot of sheep on the course! But otherwise it was relatively event-less. My legs felt good, I felt good… I was enjoying myself. The constant variations of the trail, the elevation and the surroundings meant you never got board. I didn’t miss listening to music, I was having a great time.

Eventually Dexter’s calves began to feel the burn and I was running on my own again. It was now time for the final uphill. I was quite thirsty at this point. It was warm, not unbearably hot, but I hadn’t taken any water and thought I’d be OK with the two water stations on the course. I spotted a man ahead walking slower than me with a hydration bag on. I decided to make it my mission to get to him and ask him for some water.

It took some time but I made it and asked if he’d mind sharing a tiny bit. He was very friendly and offered the tube to drink from. What was somewhat awkward was how short the tube was. It meant I had to walk very close to him to him and try not to fall over while navigating over the bumpy trail. Happily he wasn’t too bothered and I was super grateful for the water!Eventually I made it to the last water station and stopped to chug down three cups of water. I was gently chastised by the marshal for not asking for a single cup to be refilled rather than just take three separate cups and create more waste. I literally hadn’t even thought! I apologised – they were very nice but I still feel a bit stupid.

Then I headed off. I managed to overtake a few more people and found myself with no one ahead of me. Always a huge concern for someone not gifted with a sense of direction or common sense. Thankfully I had my watch to help guide me but I did have to shout back to other runners to double check where to go – they were a bit confused too. The sheep apparently like to eat the ribbons (we had been pre-warned of this).

Mile 12 was a crazy and scary downhill section. It was actually my least favourite mile because it felt so mental. You wanted to continually stop yourself and the pounding on your feet wasn’t pleasant. It felt ridiculous scary and hard. Then there was one cheeky nasty uphill left and then finally to the finish. Whew.My time was 2:03:46, 2nd female and 6th overall. So pleased!I felt really strong during this race and at no point felt like I was flagging (asides from slogging the uphills but I think this is natural). The variation in the course and changing in pace definitely helped with this I think. I’m mostly really happy that I beat my target so significantly. I would have loved a sub two hour time and had the course been a bit shorter I guess I would have achieved that but I’m super happy regardless.James did really well too. He also came second place and his time was a super speedy 1:47:33. So an awesome result for us both. James’ friend Lee also smashed the marathon coming first with a ridiculous time of 4:18:19. He finished and literally walked straight past the medal table and straight into the river behind where he laid himself out flat in it. It was quite funny.

The event was really well organised and good fun. There was a good spread of cakes at the end as well. Always a winner!It was a really nice day. James and I chilled in the finish area, laying out on the grass chatting to the other runners who’d finished. It was such a friendly affair. I chatted to the first and third lady and they seemed super strong runners. The first lady had a half PB of 1:25 so I mean she is FAST.

We grabbed some food from the tearoom while we chilled and I got a cheese scone…And the most insanely tasty cheese and chutney toasty. It literally rocked my world. Such a good combo.Unfortunately neither of us had put on sun scream and went home with some very nasty tan lines (sports bra tan lines for the win eh).So a lovely but challenging trail half! Fully recommend.

Do you prefer road or trails?

How do you tackle downhills?

Do you walk hills or try and run them?

It’s a Knockout hen do and Bath parkrun

I dread when I get invited to go on hen dos (bachelorette parties). I fear it’ll involve clubbing, which I detest. I’m too old for that sort of thing now – sticky floors, luminous sugary alcohol, smoke machines and toilets that made you gag. Not my thing. So I was hugely relieved that when I was invited to my university friend’s hen do in Bath it wouldn’t involve clubbing. Hurrah!

I’d taken the Friday off so I could get to Bath at a reasonable time so decided to switch my long run around as I knew Sunday would never happen. I’d planned to run 16 miles but on waking I realised mentally I wasn’t in the game. To try and persuade myself it would be OK I decided, instead of doing a huge 16 mile loop like I usually would, I’d break it down into a 10 mile loop then a 6 mile loop. As it was quite warm this would work well as I could drop by the house to pick up water if I needed to.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. As soon as I started running I knew 16 miles would be a real push. My legs felt heavy and my mind just wasn’t happy running. It was such a struggle. The weather was fine, it wasn’t even that hot, I just didn’t want to be running. In the end I managed 10 miles.

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I hadn’t put on any BodyGlide either and my underarms were really sore from chafing. Basically it was a thumbs down experience.

Thankfully I had a fun hen party weekend to look forward to! We stayed in a beautiful three-story house doing fun activities and going nowhere near a club Smile

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The furniture and decor were awesome and the amazing Rachel and Charlotte, who organised the weekend, decked it out with balloons and hen party paraphernalia, food and drink.

But first can we just marvel at my amazing parking? This was in central Bath and there was literally nowhere to park but this one tiny space.

IMG_1096My little red Fiat 500

This might not seem amazing to any normal, able driver but to me this was a HUGE feat. A curb might have been mounted in the process but that’s just details…

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Eventually Shell, the hen, arrived and the frivolities began. We enjoyed many glasses of Prosecco and finger-food on the Friday night. We all got suitably merry!

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My friend, Kate, mentioned that she was going to go running the next day. HOLD THE BOAT – what?? This is all very new to me. She doesn’t normally run. She said she’d started the Couch 2 5k programme and was working steadily through it. I tried to persuade her to come to parkrun with me the next day but, understandably, she said she wasn’t ready for that distance yet. She’s also very embarrassed about running, getting up at 5am in the week so no one sees her. This really makes me sad. No one should ever feel embarrassed about running in public. I know there are knobs out there who are awful and heckle people (it’s happened to me many a time!) so I can understand her reluctance, but it still makes me sad that she’s so worried.

I wasn’t sure how my run would go if I’m honest. I’d planned on driving to the parkrun as it was just up the road and I didn’t want to push myself when I felt so rubbish the day before. However I was worried about losing my parking space and that stress all over again. parkrun was only two miles away so I thought I’d risk it and run there. If I felt awful on the two miles I could turnaround.

I felt good during the first mile so kept going. Then suddenly I was going uphill and when I say uphill I really mean UP A MOUNTAIN.

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It was almost an entire mile uphill. It just kept going and going. No wonder the parkrun is called Bath Skyline!

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My pace on the first mile was 8:02 and the second mile was 10:26! It was ridiculously tough, especially after the night before. I thought I was going to be sick about 10 times.

Eventually I arrived at the parkrun. I saw some suspect parkrunners so followed them trying not to look creepy. They noticed me though and asked if I was parkrunning. Then we chatted away about the course and running, as you do. parkrun is just so friendly!

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I learnt about the course from the man I spoke to, which is also very handy. Not particularly flat as it has 37 steps towards the beginning you have to go up! I wasn’t planning a speedy run (let’s not further encourage a Prosecco-related incident) so I was quite happy to hear it was scenic.

Bath parkrun is a very varied course. The terrain pretty much has everything from trail, to grass to pebbles. When the marshal had explained the course she mentioned being careful of cows and I thought she was joking but we ran through a field and had to dodge cowpats! The steps were tough-going and, like many people, I walked up them.

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At one point there was a spectacular view of Bath. I wish I could have taken a photo. I got stronger as the run continued and started picking off people towards the end and was chuffed at overtaking a few ladies, though one speedy lady I just couldn’t catch and she finished two seconds ahead. It was nice to feel a bit of speed again!

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My time was 23:50 which I was quite pleased with. The first male finished in 15:58! It was more busy than Netley but it never felt crowded.

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And then I had the glorious run home. The mile downhill was amazing (6:49 mile!)…to start with and then became a bit of a pound session for my feet. They were tingling when I got back.

Kate’s run had gone well too. It was surreal talking to her about running. Normally my non-running friend’s just think I’m a bit mad. Kate’s going to do a parkrun with me hopefully in June when they come down for my birthday so this is HUGELY exciting.

Anyway the main part of the hen do was going to It’s A Knockout in Bristol. It was like hen and stag do central there. There were 24 teams in total (each hen/stag do was a team). Many were dressed up in crazy outfits (the best being a stag do dressed as Apple – the stag was an actual apple whereas his compatriots were all dressed as Steve Jobs wearing black turtle necks and glasses).Its a Knockout

The day involved several different games trying to win points. The games were things like dressing in a huge giant costume and then trying to get across mats that were moving, to wearing vision-changing goggles and kicking footballs at blow-up targets. We’d been told we might get wet and I had visions of that previous hen party I’d been to involving a freezing lake… But thankfully there were only two wet games. One which involved standing in a line on buckets (above photo) and throwing wet sponges to each other to the last person who had to squeeze the sponges into buckets in order to get the most water to win. I was the ‘runner’ by which that meant I ran backwards and forwards collecting the dry sponges to bring back to the person dipping them in the bucket. It was like interval training!

Another game involved trying to pull ourselves over that blow-up slide (above photo) using a rope while there was soapy water all over it. Only two of us managed to get over (me being one of them – thank you, gym!) so the two of us just went over and over again (each time we’d get a point). We won every single game but one and sadly we used our ‘Joker’ (triple point enhancer) on it (the 24 teams were split further into 4 groups against each other for each game). We came 5th at the end which wasn’t too bad at all!

It was fairly exhausting but such good fun! We had such a laugh. It was gone 4pm when we got back and we hadn’t had lunch so a few of us high-tailed to a local burrito place and got something to eat.

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I went for a salad as I was planning on having quite a big dinner but the salad was actual massive! I had pulled chicken, cheese, sour cream and guacamole and it was delicious.

After showering and getting dressed up we were ready for some more fun and games that evening. We played more drinking games and watched Eurovision (I’ve never actually watched a whole Eurovision, this was an experience!). We got food delivered using the Deliveroo app, which is amazing! Most of us went for Grillstock (probably due to my squealing about how excited I was about the food…).

IMG_1204I went for wings and ribs (are you surprised?). It rocked my world. Not the best ribs I’ve ever had (bit dry and not that meaty) but the wings were awesome.

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We had a great evening watching Eurovision while playing drinking games and just generally having a laugh. This even included the cereal box game (you have to pick up a cereal box with nothing but your mouth and nothing touching the floor but your feet, and the sides get chopped after each round so it gets lower and lower).

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I came second to the amazingly flexible Charlotte. Anyway a good night was had by all! The next day it was Operation Tidy Up and then off home!

If you drink, what’s your alcoholic drink of choice?

Are you competitive?

Did you watch Eurovision?

Training and food lately

I know I start 90% of my posts about the weather, but I’m British soo… It is raining ridiculous amounts at the moment. I realise I’m extremely lucky to not live in any part of the UK that has flooding risks or issues, or places in America that were snowed under, but I can only comment on where I am right now. And it’s soggy to say the least.

Despite the rain and wind, I went out after work and did some hill training on Tuesday evening. I’d wussed out last week to do this specific hill because it’s not lit at all. It’s a long path off the main road and there are no street lights along it so it’s actually really hard to run up it without any light as it winds and turns. I don’t normally run in a headtorch unless I’m trail running when it’s dark, but I needed it for the hill.IMG_7854

Despite the rain, the shorts are back in action – as is my new Forever21 ‘Focused’ top (light and waterproof)

I’ve mentioned this hill before in this post, but basically it’s a12% incline for over 0.2 miles, which usually lasts about 3 minutes. It’s a beast. There’s a Strava segment on it as well and I love to test my fitness to see how well I’m currently running.

I did a mile warm-up then ran up and down the hill three times. I’d planned on four but three was enough! I had my music going (the only way I can survive a solo speed session) and just focused on my form (swing arms, use my bum, look ahead), trying to ignore the pain. The rain was pounding down but I was oblivious to it. I then continued on with my hilly route to make a total of six miles. Honestly, this run was awesome. OK it was painful and tiring but for whatever reason I felt like I was flying. I felt like my form was on point (or as on point as I can achieve!!) and like I was cutting through the rain. When I checked back to my splits and the hill segment I found I’m doing nicely in gaining back my speed. I’m not at my fastest for the hill but I’m getting there.

I love this about marathon training (when I get it right that is…). Seeing the progress, even if it’s tiny, is just so motivating each week. For me the two important things that really help my running are hill training and long runs. I’m always a bit weary of intervals and, whether justified or not, I feel like I dice with injury with them. But with hills I feel I get stronger.

Another important factor for me for marathon training is maintaining my strength work. I know I say this so often but my glute, leg and core work are really important for me to remain uninjured. This involves lifting heavy weights to keep my body strong; big compound moves like squats and deadlifts help strengthen not just your legs but your core and posterior chain. And the more running-specific moves, like wall sits, glute kickbacks, crab walks and box jumps help too. For me the strength side of things isn’t to increase my power or speed, it’s to keep me healthy. It’s also a something I thoroughly enjoy doing – who’d have thought?! Fabletics leggings

I know my focus shouldn’t be on how much I can lift and squat but there is something so empowering about increasing your weights or reps. It’s also, in a weird way, a nice comfort to know I have the love of lifting to fall back to if running and me have another fall out (*touch wood* I don’t!).

I just need to make sure I don’t burn out. Nutrition is a big factor in this and I can assure you, I’m eating lots of good nutritious food. For one thing I’m on a culinary exploration of all the cheeses. So far I’m in love with Stilton… but Camembert and Brie make regular appearances. I’ve found some nice cheese from MuscleFood as well (the French Chevre and Lincolnshire Poacher).Cheese

Lately a lot of my dinners have been fairly simple with meat, veg and cheese. And honestly, I’m loving it!

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Most of my carbs happen earlier in the day: porridge for breakfast and with my lunch at work I have my standard popcorn (home-popped with salt and pepper). I’m not a huge carb eater, as I’ve said a few times on the blog. I don’t eat a lot of bread unless it’s good stuff at a restaurant and I don’t eat pasta. It works for me though!

Tonight I have an easy 5 mile planned, then parkrun on Saturday and a 16 mile run planned Sunday. The long runs are getting longer! Speaking of long runs… In a couple of a weeks I head to my grandad’s in Wales, who I’ve visited a few times. That weekend I had an 18 mile run planned and I mentioned it to him and asked if he had any ideas of good routes. He came back with this:Boston marathon prep

He planned an 18 mile route that compared to the Boston marathon course elevation!! How amazing is that?? I’m so pleased. He’s also offered to cycle alongside me to help navigate and provide a bit of support. I mean, can you get better than that? This is my 82 year old grandfather by the way, who has his own Strava account capturing his regular walks up and down the nearby hills of Llandudno. Yep.

How do you plan your really long runs? Do you go anywhere interesting?

Carbs, protein or fat? What’s your favourite? Unsurprisingly mine is protein!

What do you prefer: intervals or hills?

SIS Rego Rapid Recovery Review

Hello! I’ve been missing in action this week because I’ve just had quite a few things going on..courses, moving house (which I’m doing tomorrow, argh) etc.

I really wanted to do a longer post to catch up but I need to crack on and literally move everything from upstairs in my house to downstairs to make the actual moving process easier, do lots of cleaning and just get everything I don’t need for the next day into a box. I’ve hired a van for tomorrow which I collect in the morning and then move all my stuff into the van before midday (contractual I have to be out of the house by then) and pray that before midday I’ll be given the OK to move into my flat rather than literally have to cram everything in the van and be in limbo. I’d rather be able to do a few trips! Oh the joys of completion…

Anyway, I have a review for you guys for a neat little protein drink sent to me by the ProBikeKit website. I’ve previously done a review for them before and I was happy to do another as they’re a great company. They have a cool site with lots of cycling-specific gear but also running as well, and a great selection of nutritional items.

I was sent some Science in Sport (SIS) Rego Rapid Recovery protein powder specifically designed for endurance athletes. There are obviously loads and loads of protein drinks out there but usually they’ll be more protein-heavy, whereas this baby has a nice balance of protein and carbs which is ideal for when you’ve done cardio, like running or cycling, rather than post lifting weights.

SIS Rego Rapid Recovery

The idea behind this is that you take it 30 minutes after you’ve exercised and it provides your body with high levels of easily digestible protein and carbohydrates in order to accelerate your recovery. It was developed with Chris Boardman’s, the Olympic cyclists, input and feedback which is quite cool!

There are four different flavours available: vanilla, banana, strawberry and chocolate. I chose the chocolate flavour as it was a no brainer for me.SIS Rego Rapid Recovery 1

You mix one scoop (50g) of the powder with water. Interestingly, unlike regular protein powders, you only mix the powder with water, not milk. It advises that if you mix it with milk it will slow down the absorption process.

The nutritional stats are really good as well:

SIS Rego nutritionSource

Though the ingredients list is quite long… But it is suitable for vegetarians.

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Thoughts? I was really wary of the fact that it’s just mixing with water… I thought this would make it taste watery and not very nice. But I was pleasantly surprised! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Nestle chocolate milk but it’s not unpleasant. I quite enjoyed it. For me it was a problem-solver for when I run after work and then have a long commute home – basically a long time before I get any proper food. It’ll be really handy after races as well, when I find hours go by before I get any decent food in me.

I’m really happy to continue to use this, especially with marathon training cropping up soon and the fact that I’m still loving lifting weights at the gym. I don’t want my body to suddenly start eating away at the muscle I’ve strived to build over the past few weeks.

Check out ProBikeKit’s website for more cool nutritional products like gels, protein bars and drink mixes, etc.

Have you tried any of the SIS products?

Do you take any protein powders?

What do you have post workout?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent this product for free in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Rants and Raves #16

This week honestly has been going on forever. It is just dragging by. Saying that though I don’t want things to speed up either. I’m a big believer in enjoying every day – whether you’re at work or not. There’s no point just living for the weekend as that’s only two days after all!

I have a few rants and raves for this jolly Thursday anyway…

Rave: First and foremost, this is the biggest rave I’ve had in a while. Alfie got a haircut. This is him beforehand:

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All cute and scruffy. Malting everywhere but rather rugged and handsome.

Then after three hours at the groomers (his hair was gently pulled out – as is the way of Westies. I hasten to add that it’s painless, it just comes out very easily) he turned into this:IMG_2609 Honestly, when I first saw him I couldn’t stop laughing. Like proper belly-ache laughter. He just looks so naked!! He doesn’t look like Alfie at all. But he is adorable. He looks like a puppy again. He’s so small!

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I couldn’t stop cuddling him. I also found it funny that the groomer asked if I wanted his eyebrows and beard doing (I said leave them). How cute.

Rant: Trying not to get too stressed or sad about house moving stuff. There’s so much to sort, pack, give to charity, sell…I feel exhausted just thinking about it. Sorting through certain items as well is hard and I’ve just sort of grown a thick skin and have to get on with it. Sentimental items are not being kept and I’ve just got to move on. My flat is going to be my space, my world and my new life. My new start.

On a more amusing note, I took some Xbox and PS3 games to Game to sell. A massive stack of them. Some of them were even special editions.

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And the money I got back? £23. Wow. Split that in half and it’s time to go shopping! Ha.

Raves: I ran after work on Tuesday night around Basingstoke [AKA Amazingstoke ;-)] and did my standard hilly route. Well, there really is no other route to be honest as Basingstoke is just hilly in general. I got to the usual really nasty hill (12% incline for over 0.2miles) during the first mile and really went for it. I’m keenly aware that there’s a Strava segment for that hill and I’ve been trying to whittle down my time for it. I actually don’t know specifically where the segment  ends so I just power up the entire thing and then keep powering even when I’m over the hill. It’s good practice anyway but it is HARD work.

(The blue line is my pace)

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And I beat my PB by six seconds! I’m third on the leader board and that’s probably where I’ll stay as the ladies above me are amazing (1:34 compared to my 1:48. I mean wow). Anyway 4ish miles in the bank with a good load of hills.

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Speaking of hills, I’m mentally preparing myself for Cheddar Gorge marathon in just over TWO WEEKS. As I did Cheddar Gorge half marathon I have the elevation data handy (it’s two laps of the half). For fun and games I decided to compare it to my most recent hilly half marathon (Stansted Slog).

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They both look tough but I can’t work out which is worse. I’m thinking maybe Stansted as there are more sharp inclines, whereas there are a lot more long inclines for Cheddar and generally a nice bit of downhill from miles eight onwards. Who knows. Well I will soon find out!

Rant: I stayed at my parents house over the weekend and when I got back from my long run I was freezing so had a cup of tea, a shower and then finally had breakfast. By this point it was almost 11am and I was ready to eat. Like the standard idiot I am I was rushing and being too quick and as I got the porridge out of the microwave it slipped from my hands and was thrown all over the floor. My parents thankfully saw the funny side as they’re used to my clumsiness but I was devastated: my breakfast!! Why am I so incapable of not dropping things all over the floor? When it had cooled down my parents let the dogs eat it (gross). They gobbled it up within seconds! (Obviously I cleaned the floor afterwards as well though – and the fridge door…).

Rave: I’m really enjoying reading the New Rules of Lifting for Women. Cathy brought it to my attention and I’m really grateful.

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She questioned why I was doing 30 repetitions of strength training exercises like squats and deadlifts, explaining that doing less reps at a higher weight would be more beneficial in terms of building strength. After having a read and doing some more research of my own, I found that interestingly the more reps you do the more muscle hypertrophy you’ll achieve (i.e. making your muscles bigger aesthetically but not necessarily corresponding to actual strength increases).

It’s like I’ve seen the light. I’m not sure I’m going to follow the plan to a T in the book but I’ve dropped my reps and increased the weight I’m lifting. And I’m finding it a lot more enjoyable. It is hard obviously, but mentally it’s easier to think “OK only 8 reps (or 15 as you start with in Stage 1) to go” rather than 20 or 30. And you get a great burn!

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It does mean venturing and staying in the male-dominated weight section though. Most of the time I would pop there, grab my dumbbells (because apparently outside this area 10+kg dumbbells don’t exist. And on that note, I can’t believe there are even 1kg dumbbells available). But at 5.30am it’s hardly heaving. Plus no one really cares because people are doing their own thing – it’s all just a mindset.

And a last rave: I saw this and thought, yes 100%.

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What are your recent rants and raves?

Have you ever moved house? Any tips on packing/sorting/not imploding with stress?

How do you strength train? High reps/lows reps?