Heat? What Heat?

I have just come back from three weeks in Australia where I started my marathon training with a vengeance. It was hot. Really hot. And where I stayed with my parents it was hilly. Really hilly. So I am feeling quite good about my fitness because of those two factors.


It’s Icy

Dear Running Conscience,

Yes, I got up and ran again yesterday morning – another 3 miles in the dark and cold. Even as my feet were slipping and sliding everywhere I felt good that I actually made it out. There had been a light dusting of snow overnight which meant everything was white and very pretty so it was worth getting out.

But this morning I just didn’t make it. Everything was white again but that was because of the fierce frost which had coated everything. My bed was just too warm! Although you made me pay for it by showing me a number I didn’t want to see when I stood on the scales this morning. Oh well, so I need to lose at least 5kg and I need to increase my running each week…so I guess that is nothing new from every other marathon lead up.

I will be back in the morning – I promise.

The Training Begins

Dear Running Conscience,

Well, this morning marks 18 weeks to the London Marathon. So, despite the sub-zero temperatures, the black ice and the darkness, I did get out and do 3 miles this morning. I know, I know, I don’t exactly deserve a medal yet but at least I did it. I have decided to use a different training program this year – 18 weeks rather than 16 weeks, and just mileage rather than sprints etc.

Yes, I hate sprinting, and I am not trying to avoid it (really I’m not). It’s just that I never run every training run on my schedule. Something inevitably gets in the way and it always used to be my sprint days (funny that…). So I have found the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 training schedule and I will try and fit my fartlek and tempo runs in when I can, rather than feeling obliged to on a certain day.

Why 18 weeks? Well, because at the moment I am finding it so hard to get out of bed, that I needed a goal and I needed it to start pretty much straight away. Even with the thick frost covering everything.

Signing out for today…


2009 Round Up

I just lost my way with the blog this year. Fortunately, I didn’t lose my way with the running, but getting to the computer to write was something that got on top of me. Although this wasn’t just with my running blog – my book blog suffered as well (something I am very disappointed about as there were books I have read which I haven’t recorded). But the thing about life is that when something seems to go wrong, you just have to pick yourself back up and try again. This is actually far more relevant to me this year than simply relating to my running blog. But then that is another story.

Anyway, I achieved 3 marathons this year – two short of the five I had hoped but I simply ran out of energy by the time I did my third and knew I couldn’t push it to do a couple more.

I ran the Edinburgh Marathon in May under rather difficult circumstances. I was tired and distracted and it was incredibly hot (yes, believe it or not, it was baking hot in Scotland). My time was just over 4 hours – 4:08.33 to be exact. Not at all shabby considering how badly sunburnt I was when I crossed the finish line.

I then ran what is now my new favourite marathon – Guernsey. It is my favourite not just because of the route and the organisation, but the Island of Guernsey is one of the most beautiful, friendly and wonderful places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. I can’t wait to go back. I finished smiling in 4:05.07, placed 77th out of 164 finishers. I still think back fondly of that race (despite my usual wall and the usual 20 mile agony). I am already planning 2010.

So, the plans for the new year are London again, hopefully Guernsey and then at least one other. I am looking to do an ultra marathon at some stage in the future. Whether it ends up being 2010 I don’t know. The time has come  to set some achievable goals and then see if I can exceed them, rather than making it too hard for myself.

OMG, What a Wall That Was!


Well, the first marathon of 5 is run and it is arguably the best one. I absolutely love the London Marathon (although if you had managed to get me to say that at mile 20 it would have been a miracle) and finishing it in a time of 3.58.16 was impressive indeed. Faster than last year and that was with the mammoth wall scaling I was doing at mile 17.

I don’t know why it hit me so badly this year. I don’t think I have ever smacked that wall with quite such ferocity. It was at exactly mile 17 – I mean I hit it as I was passing beneath the mile 17 marker. I literally stopped and knew that no matter what, I simply couldn’t go on. I was almost in tears as I leaned up against a fence, dimly aware of runners running past me. I simply couldn’t find anything to get me moving again. All of the feelings of failure and disappointment mingled with the exhaustion that I was experiencing and I just wanted to find the nearest St John’s person and wave the white flag at them.

How I managed to get going again, I honestly don’t know. I do know that I began talking to myself, then shouting at myself  “Come on, Nancy! Come on!!”. I have no idea what people must of thought (actually, I don’t really care), but the verbal whipping was enough to get me moving again – but it was one of the toughest things I have done. I had to walk again at 19, and then I finally managed to find my focus, settle into my mantra, and get it finished. The final six miles were run with me visualising my new favourite run along the tow path between Woking and Pyrford Lock. I pictured that run at 6.00 in the morning, with the mist coming off the water, the sun shining onto everything and the rabbits hopping madly away from me. Strangely enough, that kept me going and I finished in fantastic time.

Sadly, as thrilled as I am at the achievement, it is a long way short of the 3.50 Boston Qualifier that I need. And I know, the only way I am going to achieve that is by not hitting the wall again as hard as I did on Sunday.  Back to the books. And back to the tow path…well, as soon as my quads stop screaming at me.

Thank you to Joriel Joz Jiminez for the image

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A Shoe Dilemma

How she kick boxes in athletic shoes she can s...
Image by colorblindPICASO via Flickr

A pair of running shoes will only last around 300 – 500 miles. Although I am not that good at recording how many miles I have run in a pair of shoes, I know when my shoes die. I can just tell – my ankles start to ache, I can feel the strain from where I am over-pronating and the shoe is no longer providing the support, and my sciatica plays up more than normal.

You should never run a marathon in a new pair of shoes. You should give a pair of shoes at least a couple of weeks to run them in, just to make sure that they don’t give you blisters or any other problems.

You see, I know these two facts. I know them well. And yet, here I am, less than 2 weeks before the first of my five marathons (London is on the 26th of April) and my shoes died on the weekend on my final 22 mile run. It wasn’t just the mud that I was running through that killed them (although they did used to be white once). They have hit their 500 miles and they are about as useful now as running in a pair of desert boots.

Which means, I need to get new shoes.

Which means, I am going to break rule number 2 and have to run in new shoes.

It has been a bit of a dilemma. Old shoes which could end up doing some serious damage, or new shoes which could end up giving me blisters? I am kicking myself. It’s not like this is the first time I have ever run a marathon. I know this stuff – really I do. But one thing and another – break ups, house moves, works, life – got in the way and I have found myself glumly holding a pair of dead shoes in front of a calendar with only a couple of squares left.

I hope this won’t be a hard lesson to learn. I hope that by simply buying another pair of trainers just like my last ones, I will avoid the worst of the problems. But now, on my calendar, I have noted down when I am going to need the next pair after this, and I won’t let it happen again.

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Do These People Even Know What ‘Sport’ is?

Oxford Street, at a busy junction
Image via Wikipedia

This is going to be a bit of a rant, so I apologise in advance.

Last week, I decided that I really needed a new pair of running gloves (I appeared to have lost one of my old ones so I had at least one very cold hand when I went out running – and I looked a bit silly). I thought that while I was at it, I might pick up a new pair of running tights as well, seeing the weather is pretty cold. So, I marched up to Oxford Street and went to a ‘Sports Store’.

Notice the inverted commas there?

Upon entering this ‘sports store’ you might be fooled into thinking that actually there was only one sport in the world (football – not such a bad sport but not helpful in this situation). You could also be fooled into thinking that anyone who does ‘sport’ is actually far more concerned about what they looked like than the sport itself. And then you had to look around at the people shopping there, and realised that ‘doing sport’ probably never came into it.

I am not kidding, but there were quite a few whose idea of sport was probably lounging in front of the TV with a jumbo bag of salt and vinegar crisps. Of course, they would be decked out in all of the latest Nike gear whilst they were in front of the TV, but it wouldn’t go beyond that.

Do these people even know what sport is?

I went to the desk and asked a somewhat gormeless looking young chap whether they had running gloves. He mumbled something vaguely incoherent and waved me over to a corner where a big sign proclaimed the word ‘running’. OK. That’s a start. However, the running section consisted of three sad looking clothes rails, two of which were filled with brand name shirts (of which half weren’t even technical) and the third holding about 10 pairs of shorts and three-quarters in sizes 14 and above.

I marched immediately back out, wondering when sports clothes had changed from being clothes for sport to little more than a fashion statement.

My next stop was the Nike flasgship store. Yes, brand name central. And fashion central as well, so it seems. Honestly, I am a runner. I don’t care if my clothes match. I don’t care if my top is colour co-ordinated with the flash on my super technical running pants which then colour coordinates with my latest super technical running shose. If you saw the state of me on most runs, you wouldn’t need further convincing. But it isn’t just the state of me. Every runner I know couldn’t care less about latest fashion, colour matching or brand advertisement. We run because…

Wait for this…


And to that end, I just want a pair of running gloves and a pair of running tights and I don’t care what brand, colour or innovation they carry, they just have to do the job.

I know. I’m getting old. It happens.

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