Long run company and an epic refuel

Living on the South coast of England at the moment is quite interesting with storm Imogen howling about the place. Last night it was crazy; ridiculously strong winds, lashings of rain, thunder and lightning. All very exciting, but not much fun for Alfie, my dog, who freaked out. Then he decided (by the way this was 1am) that the safest place for him to sleep would be on my chest. This slightly restricted my breathing I must say…

Luckily the weather seemed only to be terrible in the evenings over the weekend. Saturday morning was actually OK at parkrun, albeit very windy. Our new signs had arrived! So much lighter than the previous ones. IMG_8174This was great in theory (less effort carrying them along the course to the right spots) but it meant in the wind they were in danger of blowing away. They had to be stuck very firmly into the ground.IMG_8176

The ‘Keep Right’ signs are huge! And we have so many now. Because our course is three laps there are quite a few spots where people are overtaking or coming back in a different direction and some of the course is fairly narrow so it really requires people to be sensible and, well, keep right. We don’t have a huge number of people at our parkrun (150-250) but if it’s busy then it will become quite dangerous and collisions could happen. Happily though the signs seemed to work (previously we had two very small ‘Keep Right’s).

It was clear fast times weren’t going to be easy due to the wind. Part of the course runs alongside the seafront and the wind just blows straight across you making it very tough running in a straight line. Though it did push us up one of the hills which is always much appreciated! I took it steady (I think that’s always what I do now, I want it to be a good effort but not full-blown sprint). On the third lap I caught up with the usually very speedy Chris, who I used to be faster than but since my injury and him getting better and better he’s probably a 30-50 seconds faster than me overall, and Mark (very speedy). They’d decided to take it easy, rather than me suddenly become super speedy Winking smile Mark helped pace me to a fast finish which was tough but helpful.


My time was 23:04 which I’m pleased with considering the wind and the effort I put in.IMG_8213

After clearing down I had to dash off to get ready for a lunch out with my mum and Di (Ben’s mum who I still keep in touch with).

We headed to Hayling Island where we had a nice walk along a coastal path (incidentally along part of the Portsmouth Coastal marathon route) and then headed inside, out of the wind, to have some lunch at The Ship Inn.IMG_8218

Between the three of us we shared a mezze board, which had a lovely selection of dips (hummus, tzatziki, taramasalata and an olive dip), feta, roasted tomatoes and pita bread. Very tasty. For mains we all had the fish stew, which was lovely big chunks of salmon, haddock and prawns in a tomato broth with sourdough bread on the side. We were all rather saintly and forwent pudding. It was a nice light lunch I must say, which is a change from my usual as of late!

During the week I’d received a message from a woman I used to know a few years ago, Shantha. She’s an awesome runner and had been chosen for the 26.2 Project for Women’s Running magazine in 2014. Through their very cool sounding scheme she trained and ran the London marathon in an incredible time of 3:19:20 (though her PB is around 3:14!). Anyway, she messaged me and asked if I fancied doing a long run with her as our paces seemed to be similar (she reads my blog: hi Shantha!). Normally I do most of my long runs on my own unless I’m combining it with a race so I was a bit nervous at first. What if I’m really slow? What if we have nothing to talk about?

I really needn’t have worried though. We met at Royal Victoria Country Park Sunday morning and straight away were nonstop talking. She’s training for the Race to the King ultra marathon in June (52 miles!!) and had previously run a longish run the day before and needed to run about 14 miles. I needed to run 17 miles so we agreed I’d add on the miles at the end. She’d planned a lovely route around Netley, Hamble and Burseldon. We were off-road at times in the mud and splashing through puddles and there was a tough stretch at the beginning on shingle and some testing hills throughout but otherwise it was a lovely relaxed run. The pace felt good though I did worry I was going too slow for her. I wasn’t sure I could have gone faster – not when the terrain was more varied than I’m used to on a long run. We even caught a little chugboat ferry to cross a small stretch of water (£1.50 and took less than 5 minutes – brilliant!).IMG_8219

Ferry boat selfie

It was such a nice change to chat away on a run instead of just zoning out. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a solo long run – mentally it’s just so refreshing. But it was nice to chat to someone so likeminded and at a nice pace. It was also really interesting hearing about her training for the ultra. The miles ticked by and soon we were back at RVCP and saying goodbye. Thank you Shantha for such an enjoyable run! Hopefully we’ll do it again soon.

In the end I had about 4.5 miles to find to get to 17 and I popped on my podcast to get me through. My legs were feeling fatigued and now I was on my own it felt quite tough mentally. I decided to just run a loop and do some of the Netley parkrun but it did feel like treading water in terms of not being very mentally satisfying. Running loops to get miles in never is. But I got it done and felt fantastic at the end. 17 miles done!


Average pace overall of 8.30min/miles which I’m really chuffed with considering the terrain. Some good miles in the bag!

I got back in my car afterwards and felt on top of the world. Honestly if I could bottle that post-long run feeling it would sell for millions. I got home, ate my breakfast (I didn’t eat before I ran – though I had made sure I had a big meal the night before. I think this was pushing my capabilities of running fasted though. I’ll talk more about this on another post), showered, walked Alfie and then treated myself to a Starbucks. Starbucks is dangerously close: five minutes by car. I took it home, sat on my sofa, got Runner’s World out and fully relaxed.


I was so chilled it was lovely. I did some odd jobs and just kind of floated around in a post-long run fatigue and satisfaction.

I met up with my parents for an early dinner at….Coast to Coast (I know, we’re obsessed). We were celebrating my dad’s birthday early (which is Valentine’s Day) and we all love that restaurant so it made sense! I was absolutely famished. I’d had breakfast (well, porridge for lunch considering the timing) and though I’d had some good snacks during the day I was FULLY ready for a big meal.IMG_8250

I went for chicken wings to start (delicious), then the St Louis ribs for main (with the BBQ sauce this time – which made them far more tender) and chocolate brownie for pudding. I felt quite stuffed but absolutely satisfied. Yum.

Then I headed home and had an early night. I was pooped!

Have you been affected by any of the storms recently?

 Do you workout or run fasted?

Do you prefer to run long runs alone or with others?

Those ribs though…

Marathon training has truly begun! I’m shattered. I did my first ‘proper’ long run yesterday and honestly I can’t imagine how I was able to run 16+ miles last year regularly!! But rolling back to Saturday…

I was really not feeling the parkrun love. This is really unusual for me as I’m a self-confessed parkrun addict. I sing its praises high and low, to runners and non-runners alike. I love it. But recently I’ve just felt a bit ‘meh’ about it. It’s likely that it’s a combination of some really rubbish weather, the winter course and the fact that I just don’t seem to be improving at all.

Saturday morning I was woken up by the bin men at 6.30am and my alarm was set for 7am and I just laid there thinking how much I didn’t want to go. Because I’d already said I’d help set-up and clear down I couldn’t just bail though, especially as sometimes they’re really stretched for people to help. I decided to put on some proper layers to stop myself being cold and miserable at least. I decided I’d much rather be overly hot for 25 minutes running but warm before and after. I could bring extra clothes to wear before we start (remember I’m there an hour before we run setting everything up) and then afterwards but it’s so much faff and I never have that much time from setting up and the run actually starting.

Anyway, basically I wore leggings and a long-sleeved top. Annoyingly it was actually quite a mild morning so I knew I was going to be very hot running but hey ho. Despite not really wanting to go, when I got there and saw my parkrun buddies (parkrun fwends! ;)) I cheered right up and, as always, enjoyed myself. I had to laugh as well as Geoff, one of the main Netley parkrun guys, had spent three hours cleaning the cones in the week.


They looked so shiny and clean… this did not last long!!

The run itself went OK. I still find the first lap really hard and the second one is more of a mental battle. I’m definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, a long distance runner. By mile three I was feeling more warmed up and I just want to finish and, similar to last week, put the pedal down and sped up. I’m getting good at these fast finishes!
Netley parkrun pace

My time was 23:40. Annoyingly still not getting quicker but quicker than previous recent weeks (not sure how I managed to get 22:59 in December!! Seems ridiculously hard at the moment).

I cannot wait for warmer and drier running as well. I get so muddy it’s ridiculous (and so does the inside of my car *sighs*). I also have to strip off in the shower otherwise I cover my floor with mud and dirt.IMG_7354The rest of the day was standard housework stuff and then I headed to my parent’s house. I had somehow managed to persuade them to go to Coast to Coast again (we went there last week). I know, I know, I’m a little obsessed. When I like a restaurant I tend to do it to death. I really fancied the ribs my granddad had last weekend and I literally could not stop dreaming about them. As my granddad was going home the next day it did seem a good way to say goodbye as he thoroughly enjoyed himself last week as well.

I went for the BBQ platter to share with my dad to start (same as I had here) and then I ordered the ribs for main. The funny thing is when I ordered them the waiter said to me, “I have to warn you, they’re a huge portion and it could be too much for you.” Erm, excuse me? I’m a whole-chicken-at-Nandos kinda girl, I think I’ll be fine thank you very much.IMG_7358I went for a dry rub rather than the BBQ sauce only because I really enjoyed it on the chicken wings I had and there was BBQ sauce on the table anyway. Out of all the ribs I’ve had (and I’ve had a lot) they were pretty damn good, but next time (which I’m sure there will be at some point…) I’ll go for the sauce as they weren’t as juicy as I like. Don’t get me wrong though, they were amazing. I was in meat heaven. By the time I got down to the last couple of ribs though I was really struggling. The meat sweats were starting 😉 But I finished them, much to the amusement of the waiter. Ha!IMG_7363We had a bit of a break and then decided on pudding. As I was ridiculously full I decided the carrot cake and ice cream that I was initially tempted by might push me over the edge and went for the brownie. The brownie was good but it wasn’t as dense as brownies normally are so it reminded me more of a fudge cake – which isn’t a bad thing! It came with chocolate honeycomb pieces on top and honeycomb ice cream, divine.

Then sleep needed to happen. Eating so much food is exhausting! I was slightly worried about my long run planned for the next day but the food was too good not to enjoy.

When I got up Sunday I actually felt fine, though I didn’t feel hungry (obviously) which I normally do in the morning when I wake up. I took Alfie for a walk and was pleased that the weather actually looked OK. Yes it was cold but there was barely any wind and no rain. Until 10 minutes into the walk and the heavens opened up. I decided it was time to get back home before both Alfie and I got soaked so I ran with him the last bit (I was wearing my running gear). I’ve never really run with Alfie before and he loved it! He was pulling me alone and really going for it. When I stopped, as I was worried I’d puff him out, he just kept trying to go on. And he’s speedy! I’m thinking he’s a 7min/mile dog (for at least a short distance anyway). He’s definitely more of a sprinter than me.

The rain didn’t seem like it was stopping any time soon and I wanted to get going so I popped my podcast on and headed out. It was tipping it down with cold rain and as I ran up the lane I seriously considered just giving up and stopping. I was soaked and cold. But I thought how much I’d regret not going and just sped up and got going. I was going too fast for my first mile but the incentive was to just get warm. Then the hail started and it seemed laughable. By the time I’d gotten a quarter of the mile up the road I was warm, into the flow and enjoying it. I saw other runners and cyclists and we all just smiled or laughed at each other at how ridiculous it was to be outside in such crappy weather – a king of “aren’t we mad??” sort of exchange.

11 miles

I had a different route from normal which actually took me along the Stubbington 10k route, which I’m doing next Sunday. It was quite nice to see what it would be like on my own.

Stubbington 10k is a local race I’ve wanted to do for the past two years but haven’t been able to because of injury. The start is five minutes from my parent’s house walking so it’s perfect. I won’t be racing though as I plan to run some miles beforehand and make it into a nice social long run.

Anyway, my long run was a dream. I felt smooth running and in the zone. I’m going too fast again I know but it felt natural. I also think that this is just how I do my long runs (at least these middle distance long runs anyway). I did most of my long runs for Liverpool at a similar pace and it worked well. I find it doesn’t become such a shock on marathon day when the pace is just a little bit faster or similar. I could be dancing with injury risks I know but the whole run felt fine and I felt fine afterwards, albeit tired and, well, like I’d run 11 miles. It’s ridiculous to me how I can get into the groove and run these paces so easily in a long run but when it comes to parkrun it just doesn’t happen. I ran a 7.30min/mile for mile 11 and I can’t seem to do that easily in parkrun!!IMG_7365

I felt fantastic after finishing. Really chuffed with myself and strong. Fingers crossed this continues! I have to say though it was a good while until I was hungry. Those ribs certainly did a good job!

What was clear though was how unused to long runs I am. I was shattered for the rest of the day and once I was finally hungry and had breakfast I was like a bottomless pit. But it’s all part of the process, my body will adjust and the miles will increase. I do love marathon training when it goes well!

What did you do this weekend?

What’s the furthest you’ve ran recently?

Do you ever get really strong cravings for certain foods or meals that you just have to satisfy?