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Seeing Sense

If you are questioning whether or not you should be starting a race, then the you most likely shouldn’t be doing it. We’ve all done it. We’ve all done that race carrying an injury, when we haven’t felt well, or done that spur of the moment one with lack of training, which will inevitably hurt. This time of year especially, marathon season is upon us, and months of hard work has led to this. The lure of that race you’ve been training months for can override all sensible thoughts.

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Last weekend I made the decision not to run Paris Marathon. It was incredibly hard to make even though I knew it was the right one, and despite numerous people who I love and trust giving me numerous reasons why Paris would be a bad idea, it was a decision I had to come to myself. I didn’t make the decision until late on the Saturday. The weekend was non stop as the marathon coincided with the ASICS International Frontrunner meet and I headed into it, thinking I would still be running Paris. I had convinced myself that I would be running, that despite the ankle niggle and the glute issues from Manchester, that I could just ‘take it easy’ enjoy the sights of Paris whilst completing 26.2 miles. Sounds easy right? I had a rude awakening during the marathon breakfast run on the Saturday morning. The whole thing was agony. That was only 5k.  It’s no surprise really, if you are limping when walking, you are going to feel it more when running.

 

Not starting any race is a really hard decision to make. I found it especially hard being surrounded by people who were racing it, in a city tingling with marathon atmosphere. But when I stopped to think about why I should or shouldn’t run it, it came up to being brutally honest about what I actually wanted, what was important to me and weighing up the pros and cons.

What is making you question starting a race?

For me it was physical. I have been carrying these niggles for a while, and still limping from Manchester. 26.2 miles is an awfully long way, the marathon has a hunter skill set. It will seek out any physical weakness and leave it nowhere to hide. Even ‘taking it easy’ would of been a slog.

How important is the race to you?

This wasn’t wasn’t my goal race. That was Manchester. I had run Manchester with these niggles because it WAS my goal race. But it had been horrendous, and the memories of the pain of the second half were still at the forefront of my mind. It would have been amazing to run such a huge race, but the experience of it will still be there another year. Was I prepared to go through the physical pain for another medal. No.

Are you prepared to take a long period of time off?

For Manchester, I was happy to accept that I may need a while off from running to recover. I just wanted to complete it. That was my only aim. The trade off was worth it to me. But knowing if I ran Paris, that I would need an even longer amount of time off, that wasn’t worth it. If someone sat me down and told me I could chose only one option for the rest of my life, running almost daily wherever you like, or races only, of course I would go for the first option. I’ve been through extended periods of time away from running due to previous injuries. I want to limit that, it’s inevitable it will happen from time to time, but I don’t want to extend that time through pig headedness. Running means so much more to me than showing up and getting a bit of bling at a race.

As hard as it was not racing Paris, it was completely the right decision. Races will always be there. Running longevity is far more important than risking far too much to complete one event. And as much as I had huge FOMO, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the morning cheering on and witnessing all the determination and emotions associated with marathons. Hopefully the decision not to run this time will pay off, and mean that I am able to continue with the remaining races I have planned this year. Short term, I’m focusing on cross training and strength training to try and maintain some fitness and correct my weaknesses until the ankle has fully settled down. I have an Ultra marathon next month as well as Liverpool Rock n Roll marathon to look forward to, all being well. I’m still trying to hone my sensible streak, it’s very much a work in progress!

 

 

Manchester Marathon Training, Uncategorized

All The Ps

Another week in the bank, one littered with errors. I’m hoping the bad dress rehearsal superstition also applies to marathon training. It does feel a little theatrical at times. However the beautiful, and unseasonal weather we are having right now has certainly helped take the edge of it.

Week 9

  • Monday – 3.6 recovery miles
  • Tuesday – 7.9 Miles Interval session
  • Wednesday – 2.6 Easy Miles + Strength Training
  • Thursday – 18.2 Miles Long Run
  • Friday – REST DAY
  • Saturday – Missed run – REST DAY
  • Sunday Brighton Half Marathon

Total Miles – 45.7 (If you have a little OCD like I normally do when it comes to rounding up to whole miles, I apologise. This looks messy)

The week began with a speed session interrupted by a hypo (low blood sugar) Fortunately these don’t appear too often now, I seem to have mostly gotten to grips with controlling my sugars and running. (If you are a type 1 diabetic looking for some tips, check out an earlier blog post Type 1 Diabetes and Long Runs But this is Diabetes. It doesn’t always like to play ball, and sometimes a spanner can be thrown into the works, just because.

Thursday saw another attempt at a 20 mile long run. I decided to try somewhere new to try and keep things interesting. It was a lovely route, 10 miles out and 10 back along the Gloucester to Sharpness canal. Again, beautiful weather, everything was set up perfect to get at least one decent long run in. It wasn’t to be. This time tummy gate. I’ll talk openly about it, because lets face it, if you are here, reading this blog you are more than likely a runner, and have more than likely encountered this problem at least one time or another. If you haven’t, consider yourself very, very fortunate. Around 7 miles in my stomach started cramping up. I hadn’t done anything different to normal. As I tried to continue running along, I prayed it was a bit of trapped wind, alas releasing hurricane kellogs did nothing to help. The cramps got worse, until the inevitable happened. The alarm went off, and I had around 10 seconds max to find somewhere discreet. I will add, that discreet poo stops were far and few between along an open canal route. It is amazing, how inventive one can be when it really is an emergency dash. Did you know you can almost make it look like you are just taking a breather and pausing for thought whilst crouching with your ass in a thorn bush. I think I carried it off anyway. So poo gate ruined this one. It didn’t get better, just much worse. I don’t know how I managed to get back (and to 18 miles) without shitting myself.

Anyway time to move on from that. Time to look forward to the first race of the year, Brighton half marathon. Saturday preparation for the half was far from ideal, but I was still excited to get to Brighton and give it a good bash, see where I am at. A good bash I gave it, and chucked every rule book out of the window. I ran like a knob. I dashed off, running the first half mile quicker than my 5k pace. What on earth was I doing. I slowed a little, giving myself a good talking to. I then slowed more, and more and more. I pretty much POSITIVE split the whole race. I literally ruined any chance of running a good race in that first mile. I know I was keen to have a go at it, but that was just stupid. Even as I was out there running, the 5 Ps were whirling around in my head (Proper Pacing Prevents Poor Performance) in fact even the old army adage of 7 Ps might have been apt (Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance) even the fact that I had been told only a few hours earlier, go out, run the first few miles easy, then pick it up. I have to say, it was lucky it was such a beautiful day, a lovely route with lots of support, and an overall wonderful race. Because without that, I think it would of just been miserable. Lots of distractions meant I actually enjoyed the race despite the above. A well earned ice cream on the beach was also worth it.

 As with every other week, lots to take on board. Still trying to work out what gives me a tummy flare sporadically, and I really do need to work on pacing. And planning. And preparing. And not being piss poor.

Have a great week!

Uncategorized

There’s Goals. Then there are Goals.

Chicago Marathon is coming up fast. Two weeks to go. I’ve found myself in the horrible situation of picking up a niggle, not listening soon enough, and said niggle now meaning that I am cross training my way to the start line. But it’s all good. Because actually I’d rather get to the start line relatively in one piece and just enjoy the experience of another world major. I’m fully intending to ‘Jeff’ my way around. Run, walk or craw. Powered solely by sweets and high fives.

Had you said this would be the outcome, last year or even a few months ago I would’ve cried. You see, Chicago was my goal. My ‘Goal’ for a whole year since saying I wanted to obtain Good For Age time in a year last October (after another London marathon ballot reject) in my mind, all I wanted was to obtain that at Chicago. But a lot changes in a year. And actually, I have learnt a lot about myself and also about how goals do and don’t work for me. My heart has also been stolen this year. No longer am I driven to find fast road marathon times. I’ve found my love for trails. For Ultras. My whole outlook on what I want to run for has changed, and has made me a happier person (mostly) for it.

You see a goal doesn’t work without a spark. When setting a huge goal, it needs to be something you truly want. Something that really does set your soul on fire. I am, essentially a goal driven person. I need that, for motivation, for achievement. Goals and dreams are very much the same for me. I still very much, want to achieve my GFA and complete all world majors even though I seem to have developed a slight aversion for road running. But I’ve taken it off my priority list. For me, it’s now something that will happen eventually, and as part of the process of achieving my new goals.

So what have I learnt about setting goals?

Set a goal that means something to you.

What you want to achieve, may be completely different to the runner next to you. You may want to get that sub whatever time 5k, you may want to complete your first marathon in x time, or you may want to run from John O’Groats to Lands End or run 5k non stop, Whatever it is, it has to be something YOU want to do. Don’t follow the crowd because that’s what everyone else seems to want.

Just because it seems impossible, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it.

The ‘big’ goal. It should be big. Big enough that you have to work for it. The goals that both terrify and excite us are the ones that you won’t be able to stop chasing. Goals are there to challenge you. To make a change for the better.

Set mini goals.

Yeah, I’ve just said set a huge goal.. but break it down into smaller goals on the way to achieving the big daddy, it keeps you motivated. If you’ve set a goal that will take time to achieve (which it should do) you need smaller aims to keep you motivated and enthusiastic along the way. Chip away at it, one step at a time.

Don’t lose heart

If you truly want it, stick at it. Some super humans are able to set a goal and progress in leaps and bounds towards it, making it look effortless in the process. But this isn’t the usual. And if you were to ask that person how they’ve done it so effortlessly you will more than likely find that they have put their all into it, they’ve grafted away still. You’ll have ups and downs. The trick is, when going through the downs, keep in mind that the up will soon make up for it. Expect the rough with the smooth. Not everyone’s progress or journey is the same.

If it isn’t working for you, change it

Last but not least. Don’t be afraid to adapt your goal, or change it completely. If it’s not working for you, or you change your mind completely on your journey, as I have, then drop it, adapt it, make it work for you again. There’s no shame in that. At the time of setting my original big goal, I don’t think I really knew who I was as a runner. Sometimes you need to go on a journey to discover more about yourself, and that might not fit with what you originally started with. You’ve got to be you.

So that’s about as far as my little nuggets of wisdom go. Above all else, find that goal that makes you soul happy. Then knuckle down, buckle up and enjoy the ride on the way. My news goals excite me, and I can’t wait to share them with you. Needless to say, 2019 will mostly be trails, Ultras and mountains…. and THAT fills my belly with fire.

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Summertime Funtime

So, I have been missing in action. Again. The summer has been full of fun, the kind that leaves your heart full, but your blog writing capabilities on the back burner. Hidden somewhere between the need for a granny nap, and standing looking aimlessly at an open fridge wondering whats going to be devoured next.

My last post was Race to The Tower Ultra. I thought that was it for ultras for a while but as it turned out, fate decided it liked me falling over various parts of the countryside, and turning into an emotional wreck. Ultra number two happened two weeks after the first one. Race to The King. I think Ultras are much like childbirth, I can only remember the good bits. That’s for a reason. Otherwise you wouldn’t do it again. It was actually a really good race, I fell three times, leaving some pretty awesome permanent scars to remember it by. I got sick in this one. But nonetheless completed another double marathon ultra two weeks after my first.

July consisted of Thunder Run and the ASICS Frontrunner UK weekend meet up. Thunder Run was amazing! A 24 hour event, entered as a mixed team of 8 Frontrunners. It brought a new meaning to the term team bonding, camping together, running through the night and day. There’s not much to hide during these things. But an amazing weekend spent in great company. Our UK meet up followed in Warrington. Again, another hugely fun weekend spent with teammates, enjoying Parkrun, sports day, presentations, casino night and a few well deserved beverages.

August was mainly ruled by surviving summer holidays (parents will just know) but also some time to get reacquainted with the 10k race. Which I still suck at (5k and 10k races are really not my thing) starting with Westonbirt 10k. A terrible race, that I completely talked myself out of, but I still managed to take over 4 minutes off from the last time I raced it. There was the international ASICS Frontrunner weekend in Amsterdam, which was beyond amazing. I don’t think we stopped all weekend. It also included another 10k race. The kind of race you turn into a fun run (as much as you can with a hangover) Fair to say we partied hard, trained hard. For a great blog about this weekend check out this piece from my fellow UK attendees.

https://www.asics.com/gb/en-gb/frontrunner/articles/what-happens-in-dam

So there it is. Lots of fun times, running time, and family time. Chicago Marathon is creeping up fast now, with just over four weeks to go, and training for it has been interesting. There hasn’t been any structure as such. I’ve not stuck to a plan. I’ve just tried to incorporate key sessions and easy runs around having fun. I don’t regret that decision for this marathon. It’s kept things fresh, and the lack of pressure works wonders for the soul.

Summer Summary done, normal service can now resume.

Uncategorized

All That Is Good

The last week has been amazing in so many ways. I have been more than quiet on the blog front, and I’ll be honest, continuous injury lead me to a horrible place. One where I was fighting daily to make something work, that wasn’t going to work. I was so desperate to make the marathon start line that I kept pushing, putting pressure on myself and my body that wasn’t needed and only had a detrimental effect. Which leads me to the start of the week. The moment of clarity.

I finally decided (a week out) that I would withdraw from the marathon. The decision came after what should of been a wonderful Easter trail run on the Saturday with fellow Asics Frontrunners, which ended up with me hobbling back after a mile. If I couldn’t run a mile, even going super easy for 26.2 would have been disastrous. I cannot even begin to describe the instant relief. The weight that I felt lifted from my shoulders. I had made myself so unhappy for weeks on end, that when the relief came from choosing to withdraw I realised the decision should have been made much sooner. It is an incredibly hard decision to make, when you’ve trained for, and been geared for that single event. Eventually (a little late) I realised that the first marathon was not my goal this year. A summer of doing my first ultras and going for GFA in Chicago Marathon IS my goal. It came down to looking at the bigger picture. I’ll be honest. Just to run carefree and pain free is something I had taken for granted, and something I desperately need back in my life for mental and physical happiness. There are plenty more marathons in the sea! On a little side note I did however, learn a whole array of useful cross training and strengthening work, which I shall detail at a later date.

It was also my birthday. A wonderful day spent with my family, which also saw the return of proper pain free 2.5 miles. Albeit incredibly cautious and unfit miles, but they felt wonderful. No pressure. Just go out and plod. Another 4 miles on Friday and a wonderful bit of fun Parkrun tourism with friends (the beautiful Ashton Court) chatting, giggling and messing about in puddles and the miles are creeping in.

Then Manchester Marathon. Cheering duties. A wonderful night and day spent with fantastic company, and being totally inspired by the wonderful runners. If you ever need a huge dose of positivity, to see determination and grit working across all types of runners, please do go support a marathon. Any race. If you can’t run it, support it. You never know just how much you may help someone, how you may just distract or encourage with 25 miles of pain behind them, the final agonising stretch so close, yet so far. I had wonderful hugs with many of the Instagram runners. All wonderfully inspiring, and such a pleasure to see! There were two who stuck with me for different reasons, and reiterated all that is good about running. The two Dans. I managed to catch Danny O’Reilly twice on the course (@the_running_dan https://www.instagram.com/the_running_dan) who was officially pacing a group of 3:30 runners. Brimming with positive energy, and making it look effortless, he stormed by with his pack all smiles. The type of running that made me want to hop in and join. If a pacer can make you believe you can stick with him, he’s the man! The second, Dan Cogswell (@the_marathon_dan https://www.instagram.com/the_marathon_dan) who’s face lit up when he spotted us, with a mile left to go. It was one of those hugs where you knew he was battling, he was giving it everything, he was hurting, but he was smiling….and that’s when it really hit home how much support is valued. Such a special moment, and actually really emotional.

It’s the start of a brand new week, and another new chapter for me. The start of working with the wonderful Team Project Run https://www.teamprojectrun.com who have already been extremely welcoming and positive. I’ve never used a coach before. After the fiasco of the start of this year, and with such a huge amount still left for the year, I’m trusting my training to the watchful eye of a coach. Hopefully safely tucked underneath a guiding wing, good things will start to happen in preparation for Race to The Tower and Race to The Stones, and even more so for Chicago marathon 😊.

So there it is, a brief (ish) round up. Normal service will now resume.

ASICS Frontrunner, Uncategorized

There’s Always Room To Dream

The last week has been an unbelievable whirlwind. The kind of week where when I think about it, I do a little head shake in disbelief.

Take it back to January. ASICS opened their 2018 frontrunner applications to find new members to join their existing inspirational frontrunners. Of course, I applied. How could I not. I remember submitting my application, shaking. I really wanted this. I really wanted to be part of such a positive, encouraging network of people. I wanted to be inspiring, like the frontrunners I had followed and watched as their journeys progressed. Immediately I tried to forget about it. As the days and weeks passed I could see so many wonderful people from all backgrounds had applied. So many others wanted the opportunity just as much as I did.

Imagine my complete shock when I received an email to say I had been successful. Out of 4600 applications, I had been chosen as one of the 26 new members. I screamed, I read the email over and over. My eldest daughter squealed in delight as I read it to her. She squeezed me with an almighty bear hug around the waist, her face completely lit up and told me she was so proud of me. My husband was proud of me. The youngest two, just wanted a treat, trying to take advantage of the excitement!

I’ve never thought of myself as inspirational. I’ve never really thought of myself as anything other than just getting on with it, sharing as I go. Maybe encouraging. I will always try and encourage anyone to just try. Try it once. Try it twice… just to make sure. I’m ridiculously positive. I do know that. I truly believe that there is a positive in everything if you look for it. I’ve been through some almighty soul crushing moments in my life. I’ve lost a child, something no mother should ever experience. I have a serious condition which has the potential to be life threatening on a daily basis, and will no doubt lead to life changing complications in my old age. I’ve made mistakes left, right and centre…. but generally I learn from them. Even whilst doing the three peaks challenge solo and breaking my wrist on the first mountain, I still remained positive, and managed to still complete the challenge in 22 hours before heading to A&E. I wouldn’t advise climbing Snowdon in the dark solo with a broken wrist however.

I’m relatively new to running. Two years. I didn’t really start taking it more seriously until last year even, when I stared training for London Marathon! But I’ve been hooked since. I love everything about it, I love learning about it, expanding my knowledge, learning from others, sharing with others. And whilst I was sat in a conference room in Birmingham this weekend, meeting fellow ASICS frontrunner team members for the first time, I realised this was just what this team meant. People from all walks of life here to share, encourage and promote running. Not just for frontrunners, but for anyone. Everyone. It was an exhilarating feeling being surrounded by so many motivational, inspirational people. Not one of us were the same. We all have something different to offer. There may be similarities, some of us like marathons, some ultras. Some triathlons, some a bit of everything. New runners, experienced. Old and young. But we are all individual. A diverse group bringing our individuality together, to get moving. To encourage. To support.

I left Birmingham, happy. Invigorated. I left feeling part of something special. I am beyond excited to see where my journey goes this year. And yes, I’m still going for that GFA. That’s my goal, because I don’t like being told I can’t achieve something. No one should ever listen to that.

“Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits”