Marathon Talk Weekend 2016–part 1

So I don’t even know where to start really. This weekend has been such an incredible experience. This post will probably be quite long (and will be in two parts) though I’ll try not to ramble too much…

I headed to the Marathon Talk Run Camp straight from work on Friday evening. Marathon Talk is a UK-based podcast all about running and marathon training and it’s co-hosted by Martin Yelling (a fairly proficient runner in his own right but also the husband of Olympian athlete Liz Yelling) and Tom Williams, the MD of parkrun. It’s full of banter and running-related information, like training tips, news and interviews.

I went to the first Run Camp two years ago and it was absolutely fantastic. I didn’t go last year but was really keen to go again this year. It’s based at the Sandy Balls (tee hee) holiday centre in the New Forest and there’s only about 120 people (including the Martin, Tom, their families and the guest speakers) so it’s actually quite a cosy affair. You stay in lodges (a bit like Centre Parcs) and the weekend is full of lots of running, informal chats, proper chats with interesting people and food. So right up my street!

My friend, Matt, who I had first met at the first Run Camp was going again so I would know at least one person. Though to be honest runners and Marathon Talk listeners in general are so friendly and easy-going I knew I wouldn’t be sat in a corner alone with no one to talk to. Matt and me agreed to meet Friday night at the Sandy Balls restaurant, the Woodside Inn. He arrived with his lodge mates in tow (mine hadn’t all arrived yet). We pushed a load of tables together and just got chatting straight away. It’s fairly amusing because there was always the standard questions that got asked: “are you training for a marathon?”, “which one?”, “is it your first?”, “where have you come from?”… and conversation just flowed so easily.Woodside Inn

For dinner I ordered the pulled pork flat bread with sweet potato fries and followed up with a Mississippi mud pie with honeycomb ice cream. Heavenly!

There was an informal gathering in the events room next door at 8pm so we all headed there and met up with loads more of the run campers. Martin gave a quick welcome and we just mingled and chatted with each other. I met some really lovely people and it was fascinating to hear about their training and the races they’d done (one guy, Pete, had run the Death Valley half marathon!!) and which marathons they were aiming for. People had come from all over the country so the races were very varied. It was somewhat amusing that as it got closer to 10pm we started heading back to the lodge. Marathon training runners aren’t know for having lots of late nights after all Winking smile and with parkrun in the morning we all wanted to be fresh.

IMG_8765The lodge was lovely. Quite basic but perfect for our needs (though it was really cold!)

I met two of my housemates (the other two would arrive the next day), Maureen and Hannah. I really bonded with Hannah. She was just so interesting. She had lived in so many different places and done so many interesting things. I was in total awe of her amazingness. She was also so easy to chat to and just lovely to hang out with.

The next morning we all convoyed to Moors Valley parkrun, which was about 20 minutes away. I drove Hannah and a couple called Deni and Marcin who were also really nice. We all arrived just before 8.30am and there wasn’t anywhere warm to stand. So the Marathon Talkers just stood gaggled together jumping up and down trying to stay warm as it was quite chilly that morning.Moors Valley parkrun

We then all got together for a Marathon Talk team photo.

IMG_8776I’m just off from the centre to the right in a black coat (Photo credit: Helen Williams)

After a little warm-up, we headed to the start. Moors Valley parkrun has only been going since November and I think they usually have around 150 people, but we almost doubled that with our invasion!

The course is beautiful: it’s set in the Moors Valley country park and it’s on compacted dirt tracks so it’s easy underfoot and it’s fairly flat. There were some cheeky inclines but barely anything to worry about really (in fact, some of the hardy Northerner run campers laughed when anyone said there was an incline on the route). It’s pretty much the same (but shorter) route as the Moors Valley 10k I did a good few years ago.IMG_8768

It was one loop, which was quite refreshing as I haven’t done that in a while! I didn’t want to go ridiculously fast but I found myself in a good rhythm and didn’t feel like I was pushing my limit so I’m happy with how I paced it.


There was a short section where we came back on ourselves so we could see the front runners. They were going eye wateringly fast! Martin Yelling (19:27 with the double buggy), Steve Way (18:34), my new friends Marcin (19:02) and Mark (18:05) were storming ahead. My friend Matt unceremoniously overtook me and squeaked a sub-20 by one second. We’re *sort of* around the same speed (though I’d say he’s just a bit faster than me – and definitely at the moment as he’s further in his training and a more experienced marathon runner) so I’ll let him have it. I got 21:29 which I’m over the moon about as that’s faster than Conwy’s from the other week (#progress).

My friend Hannah was doing her first ever parkrun so it was quite exciting. She’d volunteered before a few times but never actually run it! She really enjoyed it thankfully.

IMG_8775Left-Right: Marcin, Deni, Hannah, Matt and me

I wore my new parkrun t-shirt (personalised with my home parkrun, Netley Abbey). It’s such a lovely fit and has lots of the back as well. Though I wore a base layer underneath as it was quite nippy.

After the parkrun everyone headed to the quite large cafe (thankfully as it was quite full now!). The queue for food and drink was long but it was nice to chat to people so no one really minded.IMG_8772

As I knew lunch probably would be missed later due to all the things happening and timings I decided to fill up on a big breakfast to tide me over.IMG_8773The full English was really tasty. It wasn’t too greasy (though I had swapped hash browns for another tomato). Then it was back to the car where we were annoyingly we missed the car park fee cut-off by five minutes. Until 10:45am it’s free but after that you have to pay. And it was £6!!

After showering and getting sorted we then headed to the events room again for the official welcome. Some people hadn’t arrived last night (like our two other housemates, who were also very lovely) so it was the first time we’d all gotten together as a group.

IMG_8779Martin Yelling

Tom then did an interview with Liz Yelling and Steve Way which was really interesting. It was fascinating for me because they’d been interviewed at the Run Camp two years ago and that was before Steve has achieved his fantastic 2014 with qualifying and then running in the Common Wealth Games… But he was sombre in his reflection of 2015 because it had been full of injuries and set-backs and lessons learnt.

IMG_8780Tom Williams

He spoke about finding your limitations, recognising over-training, engaging in prevention not cure (he does Pilates all the time now and works on his core a lot more rather than just foam rolling himself “to buggery” when he gets a niggle). He also talked about what he calls good nutrition being simple, whole foods. He doesn’t prescribe to low carb/Paleo/Whole30 or anything like that. He just says that as the goal race gets closer he cuts out junk food (like his after dinner Magnum ice creams and sweets) and instead eats fruit or yogurt. To him it was just about making better choices, but never cutting out entire food groups.IMG_8781

This was something him and Liz were very much on the same page about. Tom made the point that he’s always known Liz’s diet, even at her peak, was never that different to other people’s. She didn’t eat slabs of cake or reward herself with cheat meals. She just ate a bit more but always protein, carbs and fats. Interestingly Steve said that though he runs up to 150 miles (!!) a week he knows he doesn’t actually burn the 1,000s of calories that his Garmin and apps tell him do because his body has become so efficient at running that it burn a very small number of calories per mile now. So to refuel what he’s apparently burnt would probably make him gain a fair bit of weight.

Another point that Liz made that really struck a cord with me was that though she could get away with eating rubbish, she’s conscious (or at least she was highly conscious during her prime running time) that everything she puts in her body has to help her achieve her goals. It wasn’t just about calories and macros, but what nutrients did the food contain that would help her recovery, keep her from getting sick and keep her running strong. Sure a cake wouldn’t cause her to gain weight, but how nutritionally-speaking would that cake help her long-term? Though she did admit she didn’t cut out cake or chocolate completely though (whew!).

After lots of questions and answers we then headed for another running session. I umm’ed and arr’ed so much whether to join in but I was sensible and decided to watch instead. A few people were injured or didn’t want to run again so I wasn’t alone and we walked down with Tom to the area where they’d be doing 1,200km reps. I was sad not to do it but ultimately made the right choice when I saw how hard it looked. As they did their loops (split into groups, wow the speedy guys were so fast!) I sat with a lovely lady called Jaz, who’s the head of HR for parkrun. So interesting chatting to her! We were also both eyeing up all the different running gear and making mental notes to do some online shopping pronto…

Jaz works very long hours for parkrun but it’s clear how passionate she was about it. She lives in Leeds (as does Tom) and I asked if the parkrun HQ was there and she said it was at Tom’s house! parkrun is still so much in its infancy and so much dependent on volunteers and donations that you forget it’s not a big corporate company. But the people behind it are just amazing. It was interesting to hear a bit about the behind the scenes stuff.

Deni joined us after one loop as she wanted to be sensible too. We were so cold sat there that we started piling ourselves with the gear people had stripped off!IMG_8783

To be honest though it was nice not running so I could talk more to Tom and the others. I was just like a sponge, absorbing everything being said and having a good old chin wag.

IMG_8823(Photo credit: Gary Derwent)

I’ll leave it there for now as otherwise this post will become more of a monster. I could go on and on about how amazing this weekend was obviously! Open-mouthed smile The next post will be about the evening and then the long run (with a race) the next day.

Have you ever been on a running camp or a fitness camp?

Do you run more than once a day ever?

What would you have asked Steve Way or Liz Yelling?

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?

No parkrun and no race

Although I was looking forward to the weekend gone, I was a bit down that I wouldn’t really get a good lie-inI normally get up four times in the week at 5am to go to the gym and around 6am on the other day so I like to sleep a bit later at the weekend to ‘catch up’ (although I know there’s to much science to catching up on sleep but it feels good!).

My university friends were popping down on Saturday and as always I’d planned to do parkrun. But as I was meant to meet one of my friends at the station at 10.30am it was going to be a bit of a push, what with showering and getting myself sorted. It would also mean, to save time, I’d have breakfast before parkrun and this would mean a 6.30am wake-up. On Sunday I was doing the Stubbington 10k and wanted to run 6 miles beforehand, so again another early morning.

Luckily though I’d got Monday off so I knew I could at least sleep later then. But as I thought more about Saturday I realised it was causing me a lot of stress to make parkrun and meet my friend on time (and being on time is my New Year’s Resolution…). So to make life easier on me I decided to forgo parkrun. Sad times indeed. To be honest though, I probably did need a week off to reignite the parkrun love again.

So Saturday morning I slept in until 8am which was just glorious. Then I got my running kit on, walked Alfie and then got on with my lonely 5k round my block.IMG_7541

It was VERY cold. I’d decided straight off the bat to attempt to be speedy, which was ideal considering how cold it was. I put some music on and just focused on finishing. My hands, despite wearing my Nike gloves, were freezing. My face was numb. I know we’re very lucky to not have any snow but it was very cold!

I’m really pleased with my splits. It was a pretty flat 5k with a few turns and a couple of sharp (but short) inclines at the end) so the fact that I was able to do a negative split is really encouraging. My time was 22:41 and I came FIRST overall (in the race in my head… haha).5k

I was able to then sort myself out and get ready and be on time to pick my friend up without having to stress or rush. Obviously I missed parkrun and everyone there (especially as it was a couple of friend’s 200th parkrun!) but it had to be done.


It was lovely to see my uni friends, as always, and they got to see my new flat. Then it was time to head off for some lunch. So, er, this is embarrassing. We went to Coast to Coast… this was my fourth time in pretty much as many weeks. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you probably notice that when I like something food-related I’ll just keep eating it or keep going there again and again until I’m sick of it. Jamie’s Italian for example… Porridge for breakfast (this has been happening now for over 10 years – no toppings, just plain; yes, I am that boring)… Apples… Cake.

So apparently because I raved a lot about it they wanted to go. What can I say, it was their choice! 😉 And they all loved it and said they wanted to go again. Success! (Also, I’m not the only re-offender, I know several people who have gone back a few times… *cough* Mark).Coast to Coast

This time I went for chicken wings with a BBQ rub for starters, which was simply divine. Then I decided to try the baby back ribs for main with sweet potato fries (last time I had the St Louis’ ribs which were huge) and then finally the carrot cake. The baby back ribs were far more tender than the St Louis ones but smaller (I’m the greediest person alive so for a normal person they’d be just fine). The carrot cake was delicious and on par with the brownie I had last time.

After my friends left I headed to my parents’ house which is just five minutes from the start of the Stubbington 10k, the race I thought I was signed up to. I realised from other people’s posts in my running club’s Facebook group that I was missing a confirmation email and my bib number. After scouring the entry list I realised I had in fact not signed up at all. What an idiot. I’m not quite sure how I had assumed I had!

So my plans of running 6 miles, then running Stubbington 10k were scuppered and I planned a long run instead on my own. I wasn’t too sad as I wasn’t planning on racing anyway and it saved a lot of faff in the morning of getting my bib and getting to the start in the morning. My parents didn’t have to come and support me so they could have a chilled morning – though my mum, bless her, did ask if I wanted them to come and support me somewhere on my long run! Haha, could you imagine?12.6 miles

I did run about 4 miles of the Stubbington 10k route anyway, just about an hour before everyone else did. I saw the 1km markers and the drinks station with the bottles all stacked up neatly and a few marshals. A friend from the club also ran with me a little way as she was warming up before the race which was nice. Then I veered off the route and carried on with my run. I felt really good running. I rarely look at my watch on long runs and just run at a speed I’m comfortable at. This will slow down when the long long runs happen though I’m sure.

Better than last week was how I felt post long run and for the rest of the day. I had no headache and didn’t feel drained. I ate well through the day and actually felt pretty normal.

Though I did have a nice relaxing evening of watching one of my favourite films, You’ve Got Mail. I literally smiled the whole way through it. It’s such a classic and I just love Tom Hanks.

IMG_7582Post run

As I said, I also had Monday off and had another lie-in. It’s quite amusing that on Friday I thought I’d be struggling with no lie-ins and I actually got three solid night sleeps and lie-ins! I went to the gym in the morning and then had a reflexology appointment at midday (more on that in another post – but, spoiler alert, it was amazing). And I got my hair cut, which happens pretty much once a year. My hair was so long it was driving me up the wall with washing it and blow drying it. Now it’s a lot more manageable and a lot neater, but pretty much exactly the same. I’m not one for huge changes to my appearance 😉 So a standard good weekend for me: friends, running, good food and cake!

Do you have restaurants and food you always go back to?

How has the weather been round you? I much prefer it being cold and dry than wet and mild.

Have you ever thought you’d signed up to something to find out you hadn’t?

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?

Christmas – lots of food and parkruns

So Christmas has been and gone far too quickly! Depressingly quick. It’s still nice to be off and enjoy the time to relax and see friends.

Rolling back to Christmas then, the morning began with me dressing up like an idiot in fancy dress (with Alfie) and heading to the Netley Abbey parkrun. I was staying at my parents and before I left I somehow managed to persuade my dad to take a photo of me. I was heading there early to help set up which is why it looks so dark.Christmas fancy dress runIt was so lovely seeing everyone and wishing them merry Christmas. Lots of people had dressed up too so it felt very festive.Christmas parkrunThe run itself was tough. I felt like I was plodding the entire time. My body just didn’t want to go any faster. Luckily my friend Mike felt similar so we ran together, taking it easy, dreaming of the turkey to come later 😉 I managed 24:58 which I wasn’t too happy with (considering Mike and me had said we’d aim for an easy 24…whoops). Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. And when I’m dressed in a tutu on Christmas day I’m not going to complain about it!

Alfie loved his time at parkrun and got ridiculously muddy. He also managed to get his little Santa outfit off at the end as well, bless him. I think he felt a little ridiculous in it. Can’t understand why personally…Christmas fancy dress dog

We cleared up quickly and parted ways, everyone heading off for their respective Christmases. I went straight back to my parent’s house where I first had to get Alfie in the bath and clean. My parents thankfully took over so I could go and shower and not delay the celebrations. I enjoyed a cheeky glass of Bucks fizz with my porridge and then we opened presents.

I got some lovely gifts which I was rather chuffed with. My parents had bought me some Nike pro shorts (I’m obsessed), some bits and bobs and some items for my new flat.Home decor

The ‘A’ is battery powered so I can turn the lights on and off.

Then I helped my dad cook the Christmas meal. We both really enjoy cooking so it was quite fun. We had Christmas music on, peeling carrots, scrubbing parsnips and just enjoying the day. The food, as always, was awesome. We had a prawn and salmon starter and for main turkey with all the trimmings.Christmas Dinner

It rocked my world. I probably say this every year, but Christmas day is my favourite meal of the year. I just love it. I requested for broad beans as one of the veg as it’s one of my favourites (I know I’m weird). And we had Monopoly crackers!!!Monopoly Crackers

After dinner we went for a walk with the dogs. The weather was so mild but fairly windy. It was great to see all the houses all lit up and people enjoying Christmas. Walking on Christmas day is one of my favourite things to do. It’s a shame we didn’t go down the beach but it was just ridiculously windy and dark so we kept it simple with round the block.

When we got back we had pudding. Normally you’d have Christmas pudding in the UK but no one really likes Christmas pudding in my family. So my mum and granddad had a panacotta and my dad and me had giant portions of a melt in the middle chocolate pudding with ice cream. LITERALLY THE BEST THING EVER.Chocolate puddingThen we played the Logo Game which we’ve now played for the third time in a row at Christmas. Christmas dayI love it. I stayed at my parents over night, which meant I could get into PJs and watch some Christmas TV into the evening with them (where I enjoyed round 2 of Christmas dinner with the leftovers…because it’s Christmas!)

The next day, Boxing Day, was the proper parkrun as it was Saturday. My tummy didn’t feel in too great a shape to run it must be said…All that food. But surprisingly I felt far better running than the day before and I managed to shave almost a minute off my time (24:12). I felt myself getting stronger as the run continued as well which was great. I usually warm up into a run about five miles in… I’m a slow burner I think (and probably why I hate 5ks and 10ks).

I spent the rest of the day at my parent’s again and my sister, her fiancé and little girls came over. It was manic but lovely. Ellie, my little niece who I ran the kid’s race the other week with, loved her Nike leggings I bought her. She even asked me if one day we could run together and I could run at my top speed and hold her hand so I could pull her along. Bless her!

So Christmas this year was very chilled, a little bit different to normal but full of fun, happiness, family and (let’s be honest, the best bit) GOOD food. Now it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m going to be heading to my friend’s house for a chilled evening of lots of food, films and games.

How was your Christmas?

What’s your favourite Christmas food? Mine is the whole turkey dinner.

What are you/did you get up to on New Year’s Eve?