Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Marathon training kit

Like I ever need an excuse to treat myself to new running stuff? A few of these are Christmas presents to myself and a few from others. I bought this h&m running jacket after seeing Leah post it on instagram. I had been eyeing up both Nike and Sweaty Betty's reflective jackets but they are both ridiculously expensive. At only £35 (actually £25 after a few online voucher codes!) I am pretty impressed with this. The only down side is that it doesn't have zipped pockets on the front, but one big zipped pocket at the back. But that is where my bumbag will come in handy!

While doing the parkrun, I keep my car keys and phone in my jacket pocket but my old jacket only had mesh pockets and the keys would work their way through them and everything would jangle around irritatingly as I ran! Plus when it gets warmer I can't be wearing a jacket. So, the bumbag will be perfect for parkrun and longer runs too. I don't usually take my phone with me on runs but on longer runs I think it will be useful and I can also store gels in it for mid-run fuelling. 

I also asked for a hat for Christmas to keep my head warm and dry when running in the rain. The peak will also keep the rain out of my eyes which is my pet hate when running in the rain. I won't have any excuses for avoiding runs now!

Running clothes

I also got some of my favourite nike running socks and nike running leggings. When I first started running, I would just buy whatever was cheapest from Sports Direct. Whilst I do still like a bargain, I definitely like to get some better quality pieces now. These nike leggings are my favourite, I have a plain black pair that have seen me through the last 2 winters. Compared to cheaper ones from Aldi or Karrimor, you can definitely tell the difference. No fraying or thinning anywhere and they actually keep me warm! They are so comfortable too, nothing worse than uncomfy running clothes. 

And to show you all how awesome and reflective the jacket is, I took a photo with the flash on. Everyone will be able to see me coming while I'm wearing it!

Running clothes

So, now I feel equipped to train for my marathon. I am going to kick it off tomorrow with a New Years Day parkrun, fingers crossed I can get out of bed! Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 - a year in running

384 miles, 2 half marathons, 1 10k, 1 5k race and 3 park runs later...

Liverpool half marathon

March - Liverpool half marathon - 2.15.08

Chester half marathon

May - Chester Half Marathon PB - 2.05.05

May - Manchester Great 10k PB- 57.48

June - Knowsley Active Challenge 5k PB - 26.37

2013 is the year I really felt like a 'runner'. I've done a few races before but when I look at my mileage from previous years, I've never even topped 100! Looking back at my training logs though, I'm really proud that I have ran 384 miles in one year. I know it's not much compared to some and I wish I had made it to a nice round number like 400, but for little old me who hated PE and breaking a sweat, it's almost amazing! I'm even a member of a running club which would amaze any old PE teachers. 

I'm a bit sad I didn't do more races in the second half of the year but I had entered the English Half Marathon but didn't end up doing it because of being too busy planning a wedding (what a shame!) and then time and money prevented me entering more. I started going to my local park run in November and enjoy that though (when I can get myself out of bed that early on a Saturday morning). 2013 has been a challenging year at times and running has given me the opportunity for 'me' time and to switch off. I always feel so much happier when I have been running regularly and noticing the small improvements from week to week, whether it's going further or faster, give me the motivation to carry on. 

I have enjoyed my half marathons the most this year and since returning from honeymoon in October, I have been debating my 2014 race targets. I've entered my very first MARATHON! Absolutely terrified on the one hand, but really excited to get stuck into training on the other. Scott is running  it with me too so it will be nice to have some company on longer runs. 

I've picked the Rock n Roll Liverpool marathon as my first marathon because what better than one on home turf? The route actually goes past the bottom of my street! There are some killer hills on the route, but it's also very scenic and hopefully I will be able to round up some good moral support. I'm also looking at a few races in the build up to this to enter, but running races can end up being quite a pricey hobby! So far the Southport Mad Dog 10k in February and Liverpool Half Marathon in March are on my shortlist. I will share more about my marathon training plans shortly, I'm going to update the blog a bit more regularly throughout training so I can look back on it after my first full marathon.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

First week of training

Well, it should be first 2 weeks of training but the week of the 1st July turned out to be a bad one training-wise! I had an extremely busy week at work and a conference that I was presenting at and lots of things to finish off before I had a week off. I ended up quite run down and had migraines all week so decided against any exercise and even skipped running club. I knew in the long run it would be for the best so that I could enjoy my week off work.

I rested all day on the Saturday and felt great by the evening. Training is as follows:

Sunday - 5k run
Monday - 45 minutes at the gym (30 minutes cardio, 15 minutes weights)
Tuesday - 6 mile run in 57 minutes
Wednesday - 1 hour in the gym (45 minutes cardio, 15 minutes weights)
Thursday - Running club - 4.6 miles
Friday - rest
Saturday - rest
Sunday - not been yet but a 7 mile evening run is scheduled!

Birthday runBirthday run

Birthday run

These photos are from my run on Tuesday morning. It was my birthday on Tuesday and yes, I decided to get up super early and go for a run before it got too hot. It was such a nice run. I ran around Sefton Park, down onto Otterspool Prom and then through Otterspool Park. I have been loving the hot weather but it does make running hard. I went to running club on Thursday evening and suffered quite a bit. I'm pleased that I managed just over 4 1/2 miles though. 

This week I am back in work but I'm hoping I can up the mileage a bit. The heat does slow me down but I'll have to get used to it as I think it's here to stay. 8 weeks to go until my half!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Half marathon training plan

So, after my last post I decided to enter the half marathon anyway. I think I had already made my mind up and I've been itching for a new challenge really. Plus, to have run 3 half marathons in 1 year will be pretty awesome considering that last year I only ran 2 10k races.

So, on the 8th September I'll be running 13.1 miles throughout south Warrington. It's only 9 weeks away so training will start in earnest. I've just drafted my training plan. I'm no expert really but I've made this to fit in with my schedule and my current ability. Every Thursday I'll go to running group where we run around 4-5 miles but sometimes change this up. This is also just something to aim for - from previous half marathon training plans I know that sometimes life gets in the way and that I have to skip a work out. But the important thing is I never beat myself up over it. I still managed to finish both races. I'd like to meet a runner who follows a training plan exactly to schedule (other than elite athletes of course!). My main focus will be the long runs, as without building up this distance each week it will be hard to finish in a good time. 

My current PB is 2hrs 5 minutes and while I would like to beat that, I'm also going to realistic as wedding planning will obviously be a priority in the final month also. 

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1st July Run 10 mins warm up, 10 mins threshold, 10 mins steady. Yoga Gym Running group Rest Rest Run 6 miles
8th July Run 5 x 5 minutes, 2 minutes rest inbetween Rest (Birthday!) Swim am (45 minutes) Running group Run 3 miles easy Rest Run 7 miles
15th July Gym (1 hr) Run 5 x 5 minutes, 2 minutes rest inbetween Strength training Running group Rest Rest Run 8 miles
22nd July Rest Yoga Run 3 mile intervals Running group Run 4 miles easy Rest Run 9 miles
29th July Gym 45 mins Run 7 x 5 minutes, 2 minutes rest inbetween Strength training Running group Rest Park run Run 10 miles
5th August Run 10 mins warm up, 20 mins threshold, 10 mins steady. Swim (45 minutes) Run 6 miles easy Running group Gym (1 hr) Rest Run 11 miles
12th August Gym/Run 7 x 5 minutes, 2 minutes rest inbetween Yoga Rest Running group Rest Rest Rest
19th August Rest Run 10 mins warm up, 20 mins threshold, 10 mins steady. Gym Running group Run 7 miles Rest Run 13 miles
26th August Gym Run 10 mins warm up, 25 mins threshold, 10 mins steady. Strength training Running group

Park run Run 6 miles
2nd Sept Gym Yoga Run 3 miles Running group Rest Rest RACE DAY

This week I also received this ace running tote I ordered from Nicola Rowlands. Yes, yes I do run hills. Lots around Liverpool, it's almost impossible to avoid them where I live actually. The route for the English Half Marathon is also apparently quite undulating so I'll try to incorporate as many hilly routes into my training runs as possible.

I'm actually really excited to start training again and upping the mileage for my next challenge! I'll be recapping each week here and letting you all know how it goes. 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Knowsley active challenge 2013 & a running dilemma

2 weeks ago I ran my first 5k race. Can you believe that?! I've ran 5k a lot in my training and quite like it as a distance as I can get it over and done with in half an hour. The coach at my running group mentioned this midweek 5k race to us and we all decided to enter. We even had our own t-shirts printed! Coach had made the mistake of not getting technical t-shirts though and it was very very sweaty. He also only order medium or large, despite us all being girls who are quite petite! Needless to say I don't have a photo of myself in my t-shirt but it was good to be representing our running group. 

The race was around the ground of Knowsley Hall, just outside Liverpool. It had been a bit of a wet day which I was relieved about because our last run at running club was in ridiculous heat and I felt terrible. The race started at 7.15pm on a Wednesday, which was strange but it also felt good (and smug!) to be doing a midweek evening race. I was aiming for about 27/28 minutes. I started running with my friend Holly and we kept up a really good pace until about 3.5k and Holly started flagging. It was a bit like Titanic! I started slowing down too but she said 'No! You go on!' so I did. I crossed the line in 26 minutes and 37 seconds! My friend crossed the line just 5 seconds later. We were so pleased! What an amazing PB to set in my first 5k race. All of the other runners in my running group finished in under half an hour which everyone was chuffed to pieces with. Our coach finished in 23rd place with a time of 20 minutes 46 seconds AND he was carrying an injury. Speedy. 

So, I have my first 5k medal. And now the realisation has dawned on me that I have no other races entered. I have been a bit lazy with my running lately to be honest, only running short distances. I have found a half marathon at the start of September but it is 2 weeks before my wedding. I feel confident that I will be able to train for it. My only worry is that I'll get an injury for my honeymoon, will be too tired during training or some other worse case scenario. It is the weekend of Scott's stag do as well so it would give me something to keep busy. I'll then have done 3 half marathons in one year! So, what do we think? Good idea to run a half marathon 2 weeks before your wedding? Am I overthinking it? Should I just bloody enter? Advice please!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Bupa Great Manchester 10k

I finally decided to give in and create a dedicated running blog instead of boring readers of my other blog with running tales. I felt then I could ramble more about my running and not feel as self conscious about people not being interested.

I decided to call the blog 'Running up those hills' as A. 'Running up that hill' was already taken, B. I live in Liverpool which is full of hills so my runs often consist of running up multiple hills and C. Who can resist a Kate Bush reference? I have a love/hate relationship with hills. Running them does make you faster in the long run and what comes up must come down, but when you fancy a really fast run and there are very few flat places around it does become difficult. A hill right at the very end of a 10 mile training run once defeated me and I hit 'the wall'. I was at the bottom of the hill and just could not face it. I sat down and took some time to compose myself mentally and finally ran up it.

Anyway, my first blog post isn't going to be just about hills. I'm going to do a race report of the hottest, sweatiest and fastest 10k I've ran so far in my running career.

I won a place on the Bupa Great Manchester 10k through Women's Running Magazine and was so excited as this was the first race I ever ran 2 years ago. I had never managed to break the time that I got on that 10k race so I knew that this would be a prime opportunity to get a new 10k pb. I had been in training for 2 half marathons in March and May, so I actually didn't dedicate much training at all specifically to the 10k distance, but I felt healthier and faster than I ever have done.

I woke up on the morning of the 10k and it was warm already. The decision to wear shorts and pack sunscreen seemed a risky one but was definitely a wise one. I was in the blue wave so dressed accordingly (subconsciously).

Manchester Great Run 2013

I was SO sweaty. All along the final stretch (between miles 5 and 6) was along a dual carriageway with no shelter at all. As my wave set off at 11.30, we were running in the baking midday heat. There was a water station at 4.5k and a shower at 7k, both of which I took full advantage of to cool down. They really could have done with putting out some extra water at the 8k mark though where they had the bupa boost point with jelly babies and massages (who is going to stop mid-race for a massage?!). A lot of people were suffering with the heat.

The route itself isn't anything special unless you're a Man Utd fan I guess (which I'm not). It gets a little bit boring looping back onto the same dual carriageway again. Although it starts in the city centre, you're out of it almost instantly and most of it is actually in Trafford. When I did it the first time I decided it was a pretty boring route and wouldn't bother entering again as it's so expensive, but I was lucky enough to win this place. I still wouldn't enter it again because it costs £39 to enter. Yes, £39!! There was also a lot of bottle necking around the course, with people starting off too early in their waves and then starting to walk after about 2k. It was definitely a more congested course than 2 years ago, I can only assume they now allow more people to enter to the detriment of the race.

Of course, it all depends what you are running it for and I think that because it's on TV and is so popular, it entices a lot of people to enter, raise money for charity and get into running. It was my first race and if it gets people into running, then that can only be a good thing. It is a great entry-level race as the atmosphere is good with lots of support around the track and it's a good distance that is more of a challenge than a 5k but not as difficult to train for as a half marathon. I would recommend it as a first race for someone, but not to someone aiming for a PB (like me!).

So, with all the bottle necking, terrible heat and boring course, you would expect that I did terribly right? Well, wrong! I got a PB! I finished with an official time of 57 minutes and 48 seconds. 2 whole minutes off my longstanding PB. I kept looking down at my Garmin and being amazed that my legs were managing to move so fast. You can see I slowed down quite a bit on the final mile, I even had to stop at one point because of the heat. (I also forgot to stop my Garmin after I crossed the finish line as I was so desperate to find a drink of water!) It made me wonder what I could do under cooler conditions and on a quieter course...55 minutes one day?! Who knows! But I am so pleased to have finally broken my 2 year old PB.