Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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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 ┬áto set some achievable goals and then see if I can exceed them, rather than making it too hard for myself.

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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The Early Morning Run


She wakes me every morning – that blasted cat. I hear her clawing at the quilt incessantly, knowing that eventually I will give in. The problem is, over however many years of her doing this, especially in summer, I have trained myself to wander into the kitchen, give her a handful of cat kibbles and go back to bed. But now that my time is more constrained and I am determined to run, for the first time in a very long time, Dizzy is more of a blessing than a curse.

I have found that in order to make myself go out in the morning, I have to have laid my running gear out the night before. There is a little pile on the floor – shorts, t-shirt, socks, underpants, bandana for my hair, water bottle filled, bum pack ready to put my iPod in. When I get up, I feel the battle begin – every morning it’s the same…

“Oh, it would be so nice to get back into bed for another half an hour…the quilt is still warm”

“You know you are going to feel lousy if you do”

“Yes, but I could always run this evening?”

“There is no chance that is going to happen, you know it”

“But it looks like it is raining outside”

“Since when have you ever been bothered about running in the rain?”

“But…but…just another half an hour”

“Come on, Nancy – get your gear on, get out there, you know you will enjoy it. Just 5 miles this morning. It’s not that much”

As time has gone on, the voice of running reason has been winning out more and more. I slip into my gear without even bothering to have a coffee and I am out.

I start my run accompanied by Steve Runner at Pheddippidations. I am still working my way through his archive so I reckon I have plenty of mornings to go yet before I run out of recordings of his encouraging voice. After 10 minutes of a slow warm up jog I am beginning to enjoy myself. I generally find myself smiling at one of Steve’s jokes or nodding at an observation. The most wonderful part is getting the enouragement from my cyber running buddy which helps me over Richmond Bridge, or pushes me into the next interval. If I get through an episode of Steve before my run is finished, I listen to Nigel at Running From the Reaper or Matt at The Dump Runners Club. One of those two will usually bring me home – sweating and very, very content. Ready to start my day.

I know this is easy in summer, when it is light well before I get up. But my hope is that I can get the routine so firmly entrenched that when winter comes, and the pile on the floor also includes gloves, woolly hat, rain jacket, lights and reflective bib, I will still win the argument with myself.

Now let’s see if Dizzy can still keep up with the wake-up call when it is cold and dark in the morning. You’d better – oh fat cat – I’m relying on you.

Weight! I’m not ready to race yet!

In my dreams, I am a tall, svelte, cheetah-like runner who could easily be mistaken for Paula Radcliffe if it was a little overcast. In reality I’m not tall, I am not at all svelte, and I would say I was less cheetah like and more…well, as my boyfriend says, more like a lion – and a well fed one at that (I would add). Actually, after my hiatus, I think I most resemble my black and white cat, who has had to go on a diet as she was getting too large to get through the cat door.

No, I don’t say I am fat – it would be tough to say that after running a sub 4 hour marathon. But I am certainly heavier than I was before. And goodness me, can I feel it! Every time I get out to run, it is just that little bit harder. I can’t help but think that the extra kilograms I am carrying with me are like picking up a bag of potatoes at the supermarket and nipping out for a 5 miler whilst carrying them in my arms. It just makes things that little bit harder.

I am sure I have mentioned here before that an article I found a while back suggested that dropping a stone could improve your marathon time by a minimum of 8 minutes. Wow! That would get me down near the 3.50 mark or less! But losing a stone…what a miserable thought. That would mean…

Argh!

That would mean I might have to eat less!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t overeat by any stretch of the imagination. I eat a very normal and usually pretty healthy diet (if you don’t count my favourite and very necessary glass of Pinot Grigio that I just have to partake in after getting home from the office). But I like food. I really like to eat. I get enormous satisfaction from eating out and trying new restaurants. I am not much of a cook, but I do thoroughly enjoy every bite I have. And I am known to nibble on chocolate in the evening – never very much, but enough to satisfy.

One of the reasons I run, I am quite comfortable admitting, is so I can enjoy my glass of white and my bit of chocolate. It is only because I haven’t been running that I have put on the weight. Normally it all balances out quite nicely. But I am also aware that if I want to come close to challenging any of my personal bests while I still can, I probably should try to discard a couple of potatoes at least. That way I will be far more ready to launch into my race schedule and will be far more likely to really finish the four marathons I want to do before the close of 2008.

So, on that note, I am going to get my running gear ready for the morning, and I think I will just have a salad for dinner. And perhaps another splash of the Pinot Grigio…

I’m Back! Post-Marathon Blues, a New Structure and a New Challenge

The past two and a half weeks have been spent nursing the post marathon blues. You can’t help but fall into them. For weeks and months you have been building to the big day, and then afterwards you suddenly find you are missing something. That and the fact that after a marathon, you become prone to catching a cold or flu due to your vulnerable defences. I had gone for weeks without being sick – my post marathon cold has now lasted almost a fortnight. Ah well, it was worth it.

However, I am back and with the dawn of a new challenge comes a rethink about the structure of this blog. You see, in a similar way to training I think a bit of structure could be a good thing. I get so many ideas of topics to write about when I run, but then when I sit down at my PC, they all disappear. I don’t want this blog to just be a dull monotonous “yesterday I ran 4 miles and felt good”, “today was sunny and I ran 10 miles and felt good” and “I just ran 7 miles and felt good” because that would send me to sleep as quickly as it would send you the same way. So, I am going to try a bit of structure.

Each week I am going to write something about Mind, Body and Inspiration. The Mind aspect will be about the mental side of running, such as motivation, confidence, success and failure and so on. The Body post will talk about health, training and injuries, and the Inspiration section will look at some of the ways to inspire you (and me), whether it be amazing people, challenges or goals. I am then going to allow myself a Post of Self Indulgence each week which will be all about me, me, me, me and me – how my running is going, what I am aiming for, and perhaps even a bit of “today I ran 5 miles and felt good” if I really want to indulge myself. I don’t expect this last post will be very interesting, except to Mum and Dad (hi, Mum and Dad!) but hopefully with the structure, it will prompt me to actually write about some of the things I muse about when I run.

Of course, I will be doing my usual good, bad and ugly race reports after each race as well. I kind of enjoy those.

Now, the new challenge. I want to run the Dublin Marathon on the 27th October this year. However, as a bit of a challenge, I am going to do two other marathons as my long training runs rather than head out myself for a 22 miler. The other two will be run without any real consideration of time (although I will record it – as if you could run a marathon and not!), I just want to use them for getting used to the distance and because it means I don’t have to carry drinks with me :). My osteopath asked me whether I wanted to try for the 100 Marathon club.

Er….I think I have a bit of a way to go yet…