Running Lately

So last week I  felt pretty rubbish. I mean, it was a kind of unspecific rubbish. Like I felt overwhelming tired and really nauseous when I woke up in the morning but then I’d feel relatively fine (asides from tired) in the day. In a parallel universe these symptoms might suggest pregnancy, but yeah: NO.

And when it came to running it was awful. I ran 10k on Tuesday and it was such a grind.It was a combination of the tiredness/bug thing and the fact that I’d done some heavy squats and glute workout at the gym the day before. So my legs were basically giving me the finger (what a sentence…).

On Thursday I ran with Mike and, as we were both doing the D Day 10k on the Sunday, we decided to do our long run that evening together. But those 10 miles, Jeeeeeeeesus. I felt bad for Mike as I was just dragging and literally counting down every 0.1 mile.I was glad to have run with Mike though as I’m almost certain I’d have binned this run had I been on my own.

Then at parkrun I felt terrible again. The only way to describe it is like I was trying to run 6min/miles and failing.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

But I was running over 8min/miles…and failing. In the end, I just stopped looking at my watch. I chatted to a guy who fell in step with me and that helped take my mind of the struggle. As the run went on though I felt more alive.

I finished feeling a bit better than the previous week, in 24:03.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

As I headed back to my car to grab my barcode I saw a girl who was still running suddenly fall over. At first I thought she’d injured herself and tripped but then I saw she’d basically almost fainted, like I’d done the week before.

I ran over to help. Others who were still running stopped too but as I’d finished I said I’d look after her while they carried on. She was OK but a bit out of it. She was adamant to finish so myself and another girl helped her walk the last 400m of the parkrun to the finish while she lent on us. Then I guided her to some shade and gave her some water. Eventually she felt a bit better and I told her about my wobbly the week before. Happens to the best of us 😉 I think she was OK in the end, just a bit overly hot.

Happily it was my friend Geoff’s 250th parkrun (amazing, right??) so there was lots of cake.Cake definitely helped improve my mood and how I was feeling. Sitting in the sunshine in the cafe as well afterwards was fabulous. I’d taken Alfie with me to parkrun and he’d been immensely spoiled and fussed over by some very helpful volunteers, my friend Carlos’ daughter and Mike’s daughter. So I had no reason to rush home. A few of us also managed to plant the seed of having a BBQ in Mike’s mind. He’d just oomphed up his garden and bought a BBQ so really it was an absolute necessity to test it out on such a sunny day.

A few of us reconvened a bit later for lots of tasty food and just general chilling outness, of which, again, Alfie was able to join.It was a modest selection (*cough*) of burgers, sausages, ribs, pork chops, lots of chicken skewers, a rogue couple of turkey skewers and chicken wings. It’s entirely possibly that I ran so well at the D Day 10k the next day purely because I was so well fed. Either way it was very tasty and a nice way to spend the afternoon.

So this week I FINALLY went to speed training. Occasionally, when I’m feeling good, I’ll go out and do my own speed training session. There’s a killer hill near where I work and I tend to use that as some hill training on my own from time to time. But recently I’ve lacked the enthusiasm. On a Tuesday night I’ve gotten into the habit of just plodding round 3-4 miles.

But I’m adamant to make more of an effort. I’m always wary about speed training with others as I’m scared I’ll push myself too hard and injure myself. I’m so competitive that I’ll try and keep up with people and won’t listen to my body. That said, when I train on my own I can be lazy and lacklustre when it comes to speed… so there’s a balance somewhere but I’ve yet to find it. For now I’ll try and get to speed sessions once every two weeks? It’s entirely possible this won’t happen, but at least I’ve acknowledged what I need to do…*sighs*

So I ran the 1.5(ish) miles to training and then did a hill session with my running club. We did two different hills and paired up with someone else. One person would sprint up the hill and back down and then their partner would do the same, giving the first person some recovery time. We did this for two different hills which kept it interesting. But wowza it was tough! Check out my splits though – never have I had such a fast pace for me.I paused my watch during each recovery and obviously I was sprinting the entire time (and so many downhills) so this is why it looks so fast. Pretty cool though. Afterwards I ran back home. So a fairly tasty Tuesday night run!

I’m definitely feeling better compared to last week, of which I’m obviously very pleased about. I’m just under 13 weeks away from the New Forest marathon and feeling in a very good place. I’ll be starting to increase my long runs soon and I just hope that everything continues as smoothly. With me, you never know. I’d like to think that I’m being sensible though in my training but I guess we’ll see!

What’s your favourite speed session?

Do you run when you’re not feeling 100%?

Do you often get tired during the week? I tend to get quite a solid amount of sleep. I get up very early (5am four times a week) but find I naturally get tired early so am in bed by 10pm which tends to give me a solid amount of sleep.

D Day 10k 2017

I went to bed the Saturday night before the D Day 10k at 9pm. This is despite getting up at the more leisurely time of 7am and having had an hour long nap at 6pm in the day. My body felt knackered. Last week had been a total grind.

All week I didn’t felt myself. I felt unwell, though not in like a dodgy tummy or sickness way but in a lethargic, foggy and overwhelming tiredness way. It felt like a virus as I didn’t feel right in myself, but other people have suggested low iron levels or over-training. But I don’t think it was. My heart rate, in general, had been normal when I woke up and during the day. But who knows.

ANYWAY. So I didn’t have particularly high hopes for D Day. Despite my early night and 8am alarm (so a very cushty 11 hours sleep) I woke up still not feeling like my normal sprightly self. But I wanted to do the race more to just be social and have a run with other people. I’d only mope about on my own and then do a feeble run later in the day anyway.

My friend Mike picked me up with his daughter and we headed to Portsmouth. Neither of us were “feeling” the race and we moaned about how rubbish we felt. We spoke to a few others and in general people were feeling a bit pants about it. But the sun was shining, it’s a flat course (albeit a lot of around a car park) and there’s a Starbucks just next to the finish.I said to Mike and my friend Geoff that I hoped to do sub-50. From parkrun the day before I just didn’t think my legs were going to perform well. Running was hard work recently. Mike was aiming to beat his PB but wasn’t sure how he’d fare. I was pleased to find that I could wear my Aftershokz headphones as they’re “bone conducting” so complied with regulations. I definitely needed something to keep me going!I hadn’t had breakfast that morning as I didn’t want to get up any earlier than 8am but had a glass of water with electrolytes and then an SIS caffeine shot 30 minutes before the race start. I hoped it would rev me up a bit.I did half a mile gentle jogging (something I rarely do but I had time on my hands) and then we headed to the start.We held a minute’s silence in respect for the victims of the London attack the night before just before the start, which was a sombre but respectful thing to do. Then we started. I had my music on and got going. As I weaved around people in front of me and got into my stride I found that I felt quite good. Nothing like the heavy leg and fogginess I’ve felt on my other runs that week. I checked my watch and was surprised to see 7:15min/mile pace. I genuinely wondered if my Garmin was playing up but decided to just go with it.

I kept with a guy from the club, Bernie, for a while and then felt myself getting stronger and overtook him. I actually couldn’t believe how strong I felt and yet how quick (for me) I appeared to be going. I decided to see what I could do. If I crashed and burned then so be it, but right then I felt comfortable.

The course itself at D Day is a bit dull. I’ve done it before a good few years ago but it’s changed hugely. It’s unrecognisable to what I ran previously. I knew there were three laps but I couldn’t work out where that would happen. I just kept focused on the runners ahead of me and gradually picked them off.

As I got into mile two, now down to 7min/miles, I was still wondering where this speed and ease of running had come from. The course was super flat and the wind, fairly gentle, seemed to be mostly going sideways at us or as a tailwind. Occasionally we’d run against it but it was only brief moments. Everything seemed to be on our side.I passed a guy who normally is miles ahead of me and wondered if he was just plodding it or having a bad day (I later found he was using it as a training sessions: first 5k easy, and then 1k sprints – wow!). I gentle passed runners and had no one pass me, which felt really nice! Though to be fair, it wasn’t a particularly big field.

There’s a section of the course that runs down a gravel path and alongside a lake and lots of greenery which was fairly pleasant. It was annoying to run on gravel at 10k speed but it was a nice change from the boring and hot car park that made up a chunk of the race. We were under some shade which was nice, but the path seemed to go on forever.

Halfway there was a water station and I grabbed a drink. I wasn’t terribly thirsty but it was hot so I swigged a good few mouthfuls before tossing it to the side (always a delicate operations to a) not hit other runners, b) not hit any spectators, c) not throw it somewhere really obscure that it can’t be cleared away later).

I hit four miles and now the effort level was high. I was in the zone of “stay with it, keep pushing” while all the time wondering when I was going to blow or have a wobbly. I felt the energy slowly being sapped out of my legs and tried to remember all the amazing food I’d eaten the day before that I was sure would still be helping me. I cursed myself for not having breakfast but wondered if that would have helped. Who knows.

The last mile down that gravel path was tough. I found myself alone now. The runners ahead too far away to catch and no one behind me giving chase. Mentally it was tough. Physically it was tougher. I was then off the gravel and onto the final stretch of pavement to the finish.My watch beeped 6 miles and I told myself to just hold on for a few moments more. A “400m to go” sign appeared and I could see the finish ahead. Ah, smile for the camera (I’m sure that was a grimace…), “200m to go”, keep going, keep going. Annnnnd finish!No wobble but the sheer sense of effort and “God I feel sick” feelings hit me. I bloody hate 10ks. My watch said 43:13. I was over the moon. I couldn’t remember my PB but I knew it was 42-something. I checked my blog as that’s where I keep a list of PBs (so handy) and found I was only 23 seconds off!

There was a small Hedge End Running Club turn-out due to other events happening (*sobs* the Romsey Beer and Cake race being one) but it was a nice gathering. For the most part, I think people did fairly well and were happy. Mike achieved his PB as well so he was happy (once he’d finished dying on the grass).And finally a few of us headed to the very nearby Starbucks and we celebrated with some tasty coffee (I went for decaf as I’d already had that SIS caffeine shot – which, by the way, I think really helped my race!)So from initially not even wanting to show up to D Day, to being close to my PB…well, a definite turnaround! I’m really pleased that since January my 10k time has come down from 46:26 from the Stubbington 10k, to 45:27 from the Brighton 10k in April, now to 43:13. Annoyingly my official chip time is 43:22. Initially the race organisers had issues with some of the chips so I only had a gun time of 43:27 and then they added the chip time later (43:22). Though I’m not sure that’s accurate either as I spoke to a few others in the same boat and their watch times and new chip time don’t match at all either. Hey ho, 43:22 is still a big mark of progress though!

I’m not aiming to improve on this 10k time as marathon training is about to begin, but it’s always nice to naturally get quicker. I have another 10k in July so we’ll see how much of an improvement I can make, but I won’t be losing sleep over it! I do so hate 10ks…

What’s your favourite race distance?

What’s your favourite post race drink?

Have you ever surprised yourself with a race result when you weren’t feeling it?

**Full Disclaimer: I’ve been sent SIS products to test for free in exchange of reviewing them on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Lots of running and a little bit of mud

From -5 degrees Celsius to the positively balmy 11 degrees today…what is going on? And the crazy snow in the US, this doesn’t bode well for us I don’t think for the future!

But anyway, I did quite enjoy going to parkrun on Saturday morning and not a) freezing or b) getting soaked. It was misty, a bit chilly but otherwise perfect weather. No wind!

My friend, Kelly, from my running club, and I joke every week about how we’re neck and neck in the Netley Abbey points table. She’s number one and I’m number two. To be fair, she’s quite a distance from me and it would take her not to turn up to parkrun quite a few times for me to catch up but it’s nice banter anyway. There’s more chance of the number three lady overtaking me at the moment! I’d love it if Kelly and I both got podium places for the leadership board this year. I think there’s only about eight weeks or so left.

The parkrun itself felt really good. There was no wind, which definitely helped, but I felt speedier running. It was still tough going and the effort level was high but I was running a faster pace. And Royal flush negative splits! For so long I’ve had trouble with getting negative splits for 5ks but now I seem to have found the magic. Holding back a little at the start really does help.parkrun

My time was 22:31 which is my fastest parkrun since August (and that includes the Southampton parkrun at the start of the year which is so much more flat) and my fastest ever on the winter course. I’ll take that! Turns out hill training and my long runs seem to be working 🙂

Saturday evening I went round my friend’s house for a girlie evening with some other friends. We had takeaway and lots of moreish crisps (cheesy Doritos, why do you taste so damn good??). It was such a relaxed evening. Before we met up one of my friend’s messaged saying she just fancied wearing some comfy jeggings and a large jumper, and I said my hair would be scraped back into a pony tail and I’d be wearing my glasses and my other friends agreed on making zero effort – because that’s what friends are about: comfort and no judgement! Love evenings like that.

The next morning I got a nice lie-in as I’d planned to do the local cross country race which started at 11am and I was going to run there to make it into a long run. This meant I could set of after 9am. I ran 10 miles from Stubbington to Hedge End, which is actually quite an undulating route! I’d planned the route the night before and tried to remember the different road names I needed to take, but still somehow I got it wrong. It blew my mind when I popped out of a junction and found myself in a familiar area but of which I had never intended to get to. Thankfully and amazingly my route came to an almost perfect 10 miles (8.07min/mile ave).

10 miles

I arrived at the cross country race location, in Manor Farm, a bit earlier than anticipated (better to have had more time than be late though!). I found some of my Hedgie team mates and also the lovely couple who had looked after my bag as I needed to change into my Hedge End vest and my trail trainers.IMG_7788

It was chilly but not that cold and thankfully not raining. It was definitely squidgy and muddy underfoot though. The race started in a bit of a kerfuffle unfortunately as the path up to the start line was basically the same path we’d have to run down. This meant that trying to get past the start line to line-up (and past the speedies at the front) was quite tricky, especially as people weren’t keen to go all the way to the back. So in the end you just have a wall of people not moving, but facing directly at you ready to start – despite 1/3 of people still not actually behind the start yet!

The race itself was good fun. I definitely felt the previous miles on my legs at the beginning though. I’d already decided to continue with the same effort as before (long run speed) – though this would obviously mean slower in general as the terrain was so up and down and very muddy and technical underfoot. I wasn’t racing or pushing it as this would have been silly for me.IMG_7800

Photo credit: Becky Woollard

Despite this it was still really hard going. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it though. The mud and windy paths were fun to run and it was always interesting. I did get mud splashed in my eye though my an over-zealous puddle splasher. It actually burned!IMG_7803

Photo credit: Becky Woollard

I knew that the race would end on a rather awful hill and when I got to it and checked with my team mate, Keith, running beside me that this was the end. It was. Otherwise I would have walked it if I still had a distance to go, but as I knew this was it I desperately tried to plough up it. Keith was amazing next to me keeping me going and encouraging me on.Manor Farm cross country (3)

Photo credit: Alan

The above photo is literally on the hill. I was fully aware of the camera but it was far more important to push up the hill and not die than try and smile and look relatively OK! Some of my team mates (and friends from other clubs) were at the top and shouted encouragement as well which was much appreciated!Manor Farm cross country splits

I’m really pleased with the splits and how I got on. I think I came 36th female overall? I can’t remember as I was in that much of a daze after the hill and possibly fourth in my club out of the ladies. Not too shabby!


I was covered in mud but chuffed. I’m so glad I didn’t bother cleaning my trail shoes beforehand either!

Cross country muddy legs

It was quite amusing putting my really muddy trail shoes on before the race as my socks were so clean in comparison!IMG_7795

Some of the Hedgie gang (Photo credit: Kate Maslin)

I had planned to stick around for cake (obviously) but my dad was picking me up and the refreshments area was apparently a long way a way. With a heavy and sad heart I headed to meet my dad. No cake for me 🙁

My dad had brought a number of bin bags for me to sit on, get into and generally keep the car clean as I’d pre-warned him about the mud. It worked quite well!IMG_7794

A terrible photo but basically me sitting inside a bin bag in the car

When I got home he suggested I wash the trainers…good idea! I don’t have an outdoors area or hose to do it at my flat or anywhere to keep them drying so I could utilise my parent’s facilities.IMG_7797

It worked quite well. I didn’t actually realise my dad was taking a photo of me at the time… I was trying not to splash myself which really was pointless considering how muddy I was anyway!IMG_7799

Ahh, look how shiny and clean they look! I don’t plan on doing any more cross country races in the future so hopefully these will stay relatively clean now (which I realise is kind of silly considering they’re trail shoes…). They’re now drying off in my parent’s garage – stuck on two poles to air properly.

The rest of the day I spent at my flat, chilling out and just resting. I was very tried from the long run and cross country but it was one of those satisfied feeling of tiredness. I watched random TV, read my book (Station Eleven – very good) and went on some nice walks with Alfie. I even treated myself to a cheeky Starbucks.IMG_7796

What did you get up to this weekend?

Do you combine long runs with other events to make them a bit more interesting?

What do you prefer: starting a race on a hill or ending a race on a hill? I prefer starting on a hill as the entire cross country race I was just dreading that hill.

Southern Cross Country – Lord Wandsworth College

My running club take part in the Southern Cross Country League which runs, joyfully, all through the winter months. But I’ve previously avoided cross country races like the plague.

It’s never been something I was tempted by because I was convinced I hated it (the mud, the cold, the hills, the competitive element) and it’s frequently been at awkward times in the day like 1pm or 2pm. But when there was one over the Christmas break at a relatively normal time (11am) I really had no excuse but to go and try it. It’s free, loads of my club were doing it and the car-share point was a short walk from where I live.

Ridiculous I know, but I was quite nervous. My running has been more plodding lately and I wasn’t sure how mud and hills would go down with me. But there was a lovely crowd going and I felt more at ease. I had no goals; just get round, get the miles in and use it as a training run. See what my legs fancied doing when I got there basically.Hedge End Running ClubThe weather was beautifully sunny, but fairly chilly. Still shorts and vest weather though – unbelievably at the end of December!

The course was two laps and I’d heard there was a nasty hill, which you’d therefore have to do twice. I did a little warm-up with the club and then headed to the start which was basically in a field. No one could hear what the race director was saying and we were all stood shivering just waiting until it was clear we were off.

It was a free-for-all at the start across the field until we got to the main course and then it was a case of finding your place in the line. I managed to overtake a chunk of people and then was stuck behind the person in front. This wasn’t so bad though as it forced you to pace yourself and you couldn’t go flat out. Well, you couldn’t really go flat out anyway as the trail was tricky under foot and very muddy in places.

Straight away my nerves disappeared and I was loving it. It was exciting, fun and required a lot of concentration for where to put your feet and what the person ahead of you was doing. We came to a bottleneck and everyone had to stop quickly, almost banging into each other, and then we were off again. It was just so different to normal road races where you’re go-go-go the entire time and focused on maintaining a certain pace. It was a completely different story. The course required you to pay attention and it involved jumping up verges, balancing along narrow pathways and slopping through ankle deep mud.

The downhills I took at breakneck speed to gain some places and get past people and then it was back to being behind someone. The infamous hill was a killer though. I’d already pre-planned to walk it (my friend, Chris, had advised this was the best way as it was so steep) so I took the time to catch my breath and plough on up. Some people attempted to run it but barely went faster than the walkers and most gave up and walked. Those who persevered with running were caught up again on the straight as they’d knackered themselves.

The second lap was even muddier due to all the people running over the course. I found myself smiling as I sloshed my way through the mud – happy to take the muddier route to get past a few more people who were teetering to the side.

I was putting in a good amount of effort and thoroughly enjoying myself. The miles ticked away quickly as you had no time to dwell on pace. Then it was the final stretch back to the start area (now the finish area).

Lord Wandsworth cross country

Photo credit: Dan Bailey

The ground underfoot became even trickier as it was now wet grass rather than mud and dirt and slipping became a real risk. I pushed on, seeing the finish in the distance (you could see the finish from about a quarter of a mile away which was both depressing and motivating).

Cross country splits

I finished first female in my running club and 18th female overall, which I was chuffed with! I was pleased with my paces as well. Not too shabby at all!

Everyone was covered in mud at the end. Some people washed the mud off in a large puddle but I was proud of my mud and left it be (plus I didn’t fancy getting cold and wet).


Also, how satisfying is picking dry mud of yourself? Just me…?IMG_7073

I was so chuffed with myself. I literally loved every minute of that race, tough as it was. It felt like an adventure and reminded me why I love the Cheddar Gorge and Stansted Slog trail races so much.

I hung around and cheered for the rest of my club and spent some time chatting with some of the guys at the club at the end…IMG_7075

Photo credit: Simon Sinclair

Not realising that a queue for the cake and tea had started!!Cross country cake

This wasn’t even all of the cake!

I knew there would be cake (you pay £1.50 for sandwiches, cake and tea) but I didn’t realise how bloody long the queue would be at the end. I might have got there a bit more sharpish. I started to get cake anxiety, fearing that all of it would be gone by the time I finally made it.

I needn’t have worried though… There was so much cake it was unreal. It’s funny because the line was also for the sandwiches but I just wanted cake so I asked if I could skip that line and just get to the cake bit (after queuing to get to the actual food area). I’d like to say it came as a surprise to my club that I had absolutely nothing savoury on my plate buuuut they know me too well.IMG_7072

That plate is pretty damn good if I do say so myself. Cake heaven!

So I’m now a cross country convert (and not just because of the cake…). There’s another race from the league at the end of January which I’m going to do as well which I’m looking forward to. I don’t know why I was so worried beforehand!

Have you ever run a cross country race before?

Do you like getting muddy when running?

What have you done recently that you were nervous about beforehand?