Chicago Marathon Training, Running and Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Hello Baby Pear

Weeks  12 – 15. Hello Baby Pear.

The last few weeks have flown by. I guess there is one thing that helps time pass quickly, and that’s being busy. It’s been pretty full on, with two 10k races at Porthcawl and London 10k, more days in the classroom for the sports massage course, a full on weekend in London with the ASICS FrontRunner UK team, and of course general life and family madness. I’m caught between the passing weeks of pregnancy and baby growing, and the countdown of weeks until Chicago Marathon, but either way, they are both passing quickly.

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On the whole, training has kicked back up again. The first trimester symptoms have pretty much vanished, it’s been a welcome break. Nausea sometimes pops it’s head in to say hello, and I’m still relying heavily on regular carbs to keep it at bay but it’s no longer constant. Just don’t let me get hungry. I think this could be applied in normal circumstances, let alone when I’m pregnant. The fatigue has improved, and energy levels are back! Although now instead of being in a general, fatigued filled haze I do find myself exhausted more often than not by the time the afternoon rolls around. But it’s a feel good tiredness from training and growing this little thing. Granny naps are definitely an essential. Not always manageable though. I have found the best time to run the last few weeks is a couple of hours after breakfast. This seems to be my best time energy wise, and the rumbling tummy backs off long enough to get the job done. If it’s not possible, snack life is a definite must prior to attempting exercise. Pee breaks on the other hand have been an absolute nightmare the last few weeks. My routes are mostly now planned around substantial bushes and trees. It’s a good job trails are my thang, and also a good job I have no qualms about alfresco peeing. Although I think the dog is slightly miffed that he has marking competition. Funnily enough it’s not so bad cross training. I’ve been loving hitting the trails on the bike, and have been including lots of bike miles to compensate for lower running miles.

I have completely switched off from worrying about my pace. The last two races have been my slowest since I starting running. Each run my pace is slowing, and even the smallest things make it that little bit harder. But right now it isn’t about speed, it isn’t the need to set PBs. It’s all about the number one priority, and remaining as fit and healthy as I can do to support that. If it doesn’t support that, then it simply doesn’t matter. I’m just enjoying being able to get out. Porthcawl was super hot, and a delayed start by 30 minutes meant a little nausea hit as we set off, just because I had completely mistimed eating something before hand. Still, it was such a fun race. I really felt the love from fellow runners during this one, particularly familiar Instagram faces, Many took their time to come over and say congratulations to Matt and I, but a particular shout out to Jayne (https://www.instagram.com/pinky_pants_/) who was an absolute diamond, keeping tabs on me, and giving encouragement as we slogged it round, still smashing her own race.

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London was the same. Not in your face sunshine, but phewy it was muggy. An extra minute added on from Porthcawl, but this did include hug stops, laces stops, and taking my time to cool down through the mist stops. C’est la vie. I was also extremely tired from all day on my feet on the Saturday, doing the ASICS thing. So much fun, but completely topped me off. The heat is something I’m now trying to avoid. I’m not great at hot weather running as it is, but running avec bump, means I only have to feel a few degrees rise in temperature and I feel like I’m melting into a goey marshmallow.

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One thing I have trialled this last week is run/walking my long run. I know I’m going to be huge for Chicago, I have always carried big with previous pregnancies so expect no different his time around. I’m already feeling uncomfortable at times as it is, I can really feel the extra weight. So I decided to try a 3/1 run/walk ratio, and was pleasantly surprised. 8.5 miles later, I felt much fresher, and to be honest, happier. I looked forward to taking those walk breaks and it all seemed much more manageable. Until Chicago it will just be a play around with run walking and seeing what fits best with me and bump. I see some women continue to run fast and a lot during their pregnancies, and I am nothing but in awe. But this isn’t happening for me right now. And that’s more than ok. Although, maybe a slight break in the constant needing/going for a pee cycle might help that a little.

So there we go. Pretty much pee chronicles for the last few weeks, but training is carrying on, we’re chipping away!

Chicago Marathon Training, Running and Pregnancy, Uncategorized

It’s Crazy, Baby

I know, I know. It’s been a while since I last blogged. And many a thing has changed.

Following another lay off due to injury in April and May, I had decided to not go ahead with my planned Ultramarathons this year. After much discussion with friends, people who I trust, I decided to focus on getting stronger over shorter distances over the summer and work on my form and sorting the wonky mechanics. Give the Ultras a miss for a year and get sorted. Little did I know, as I was coming to this decision, something magical was happening.

Funnily enough the first sign something was different was a parkrun. I had held a steady effort, feeling really good, but had noticed my heart rate was much higher than normal . I’m not one of these with a high max heart rate anyway, but it was showing the max heart rate I can ever get to on hard intervals and speed sessions, not what felt like a stupidly comfortable pace. The heart rate stayed the same throughout that parkrun. Later that day I had a few more episodes of feeling faint when standing up, something was not quite right. Add in to the mix the now very late period, and we realised that maybe, it would be a good idea to rule out pregnancy. I would like to say when we did the test, it was a wonderful, romantic moment. However, it was pee on a stick, followed by childish squabbles over how to hold it whilst waiting for the results, who was going to hold it and how to interpret said result. Of course, when we realised it was positive, it was pure happiness. Maybe a few Oh Shits from me. I know what’s ahead.

 

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So just like that, everything changed. We were expecting a baby. For now, my journey has turned to running during pregnancy. Considering I have been through four pregnancies now, I have never been active during any of them. In fact, the opposite. My running journey didn’t even begin until my youngest was 6 months old. So this, is a whole new thing. I’ll be honest, a daunting thing. Having been there and got numerous tshirts, I know full well how hard pregnancy can be on the body. My pelvis and back have never forgiven me. I also know just how much I rely on running now. Mentally and physically. And my goals. How on earth can I train for a marathon in October. The last one is completely selfish, but we are all human. Selfish thoughts are ok!

Cue searching on the internet for advice, tips, anything to help someone with a bun in their oven wanting to keep to their current active lifestyle. As with any google search, there was lots of conflicting information, outdated information, everything from don’t run to crazy badass pregnancy feats. There is a wealth of information out there but as with we all know when it comes to Dr Google, interpreting and sorting the wheat from the chaff as they say is a tricky one.

First Trimester Running

What I did learn is that not over exerting yourself is a must. I found this to be true. I have stuck to my usual chest heart rate monitor for accurate readings when running. Wrist based data can be so inaccurate and vary wildly during an activity. Advice used to be for pregnant women to keep their Heart Rate to 140bpm and below. Now its more, keep to a conversational pace. You should be able to talk easily whilst running, cycling whichever your preferred activity is. So, simply put, keep it easy! I have stuck to using a heart rate monitor to keep an eye, as I have found at times my heart rate can increase for my usual easy pace, and because I am running by myself, I lose track of a conversational pace. Obviously if you are huffing and puffing, its a sure sign you’re going too fast. Already I have found that my ‘easy pace’ heart rate equals a slower pace than normal. My heart is already working harder. I have kept it between 140bpm and 150bpm. I have certainly found that if I have pushed it a little more, even as little as 155bpm, I feel fine during the run, but my nausea has doubled for a while following that run.

Talking of nausea, I have struggled with this in a huge way. Best way to describe it as constant motion sickness. Snacking has helped take the edge of this at times. I have actually gained a stone in weight during the first 12 weeks, simply because a constant stream of food seems to keep the worst parts of nausea at bay. Since announcing our pregnancy  I have had a few women message to say they can’t run because of nausea. How can they? In all honesty, you can only take it day by day. Some days, I headed out for a run, only to abort as it didn’t help. I’ve had a couple of runs getting strange looks by passers by as I’ve stopped to heave. Some days, running at a gentle pace, actually helped with the nausea. There’s no magic wand to remove the nausea, you simply have to play it by ear, take each day as it comes. Week 8 was the worst for me. Nausea levels through the roof. It did settle down a little after that.

Tiredness is another factor stopping many from running through the first trimester. It’s ground me to a halt many a time. In fact week 10 and 11 of my pregnancy I practically came to a stop with any kind of training. We shall call them down weeks. It works for me. It can be hard being overcome by tiredness. Especially when you’ve got a family, when you’re used to rushing around like a headless chicken. I stopped berating myself for missed runs pretty early on. Your body is busy creating a little human being. It’s magical. Listen to it, it will tell you what you need. If that’s an extra nap or two, go for it. Have a nap, then go for a walk. Winner, winner.

I have continued with strength training. More so actually. I’m not yet at a stage where I need to adapt it yet, but this will come shortly. I’ve particularly been paying attention to hips and pelvis. The more strength sessions I do, the more hopeful I am that it will help me to continue to run in this pregnancy as long as possible. I really enjoy the strength training, because unlike a run, nothing is different. I still feel strong.

I still raced. Well, when I say raced, I still kept to an easy heart rate. It was very early on when I completed the Liverpool Rock N Roll 5k, and half marathon the following day. I absolutely loved running these, taking the pressure off, and just enjoying a race. Although the nerves of speaking on stage at the runfit expo, certainly did kick up some nausea. My last 10k race, was the same again, keep the heart rate down, which was incredibly difficult on a hilly route. But I loved it. I felt really empowered that day, nausea was behaving, and I felt strong. I just kept thinking, this is great, I feel amazing, my body is incredible growing this little thing and letting me do this at the same time. I think that’s the other thing with running through pregnancy. It is extremely empowering.

 

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So there’s my first trimester in a little nutshell. I’m still planning on running Chicago Marathon in October. I say run. Who knows what will happen between now and then, how my body will cope with an active pregnancy. I’ve had pelvic issues with previous pregnancies, and awful sciatica to boot. No doubt it will rear its head again. But I will be marathon training in the hope of being in one piece come Chicago. Albeit, adapted marathon training. Having spoken to my consultant and midwife regarding everything I have spoken about, and my plans for Chicago, I’m extremely lucky to have their backing and encouragement. Although they do think I’m a bit bonkers wanting to do the marathon, but I will have their go ahead providing nothing pops up.  You probably wont see any ‘sessions’ from me. Well I can tell you now, you won’t.  Just a bucket load of aerobic running and strength. But however I go about it, whatever happens, I’ll be sharing with a weekly update. You lucky, lucky things you!

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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.

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A good week for the dreams

So last week two huge nuggets of wonderful news happened. Firstly, my awful history of zero ballot luck changed and it was a yes for Chicago Marathon 2018. It’s booked. It’s on. You see, my whole ‘good for age within a year’ kind of hinged on finally getting some ballot luck (there’s some irony there somewhere) due to my last day of the challenge being 7th October 2018. Chicago will be my final chance, on the very last day to obtain GFA. It’s set up perfectly. It would be perfect wouldn’t it, to swan in at the last minute and smash my goal at such an iconic marathon.

However I also don’t have much luck when it comes to something having the capacity of being perfect, and it coming to fruition. Just seems to work out that way. However, just as my ballot luck had to change at some point so does this.

Second bit of news, was a surprise gift from my husband of race entry to Race to The Stones. 100km non stop. All being well, I can also add ultra marathoner to my accomplishments. This makes my belly do all sorts of funny dances, both a mixture of excitement and fear. But I can’t wait for another challenge. It’s food for my soul! In all honesty, one I may not have had the balls to go ahead with, so the much needed gentle push has been very welcome. It’s all or nothing!

So there it is. Next year is firmed up and ready to be tackled head on.

First up though, Paris marathon training is in progress. I have decided to follow an 18 week plan from a wonderful read ‘Advanced Marathoning’ there are so many different plans and training ideas when it comes to marathons. One size does not fit all, and your choice of plan to follow or create is ultimately a very personal choice, a balance between what works for you with life commitments, fitness levels and what your body favours. Some may go for plans based on time, mileage or even just plucking one out of thin air. Having been through two marathon training cycles and trying two different plans, I’m hoping that I’ve learnt enough to be able to say this will work best for me. I shall be doing a separate blog post for this, along with documenting my weekly training. It’s just a little hectic right now, and I’m trying to make it through the festive period without turning into a self combusting turkey. Can’t imagine that would be pretty.