Monday 28 November 2011

Living by twitter #hashtags

Today is day 5 of the #RWRunStreak.  Initially, that was the only hashtag challenge I was planning to take part in, but after looking at other things people I follow were involved with, today is also my fifth day joining in with #plankaday (where you do one
How a plank should be done!
plank each day, building up the time you can hold yourself in position as each day goes pastand although I'm not doing it every day, tomorrow I'll be out of my bed early for the fourth time for the #6amCLUB where everyone is up and out exercising while it's still dark and before the morning really starts!  

If it wasn't for the twitter hashtags, I wouldn't be doing any of these things...I'd be trying to stick to my running schedule of 4 runs a week but probably only managing 3, I wouldn't be considering planks, and I certainly wouldn't be up before the dawn!!  

I'm the first to admit, that this probably seems a bit strange, especially to people who don't "get" twitter.  I know it must seem very weird that I'm feeling compelled to change my behaviour to comply with some website and a load of strangers!

But that's not quite it. 

I'm actually feeling motivated to improve my training because I don't feel that I'm on my own, it feels like I've got hundreds of training partners out there going through the same things I am.  It's hard as the winter draws in to keep focused on training, and so far, keeping up with my hashtag obligations is really working for me!  

It's obviously a personal challenge for me to complete the Runner's World Run Streak (to run at least a mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Year) but it's also a challenge that hundreds of people all over the world are involved with, as well as lots of people who I would consider myself to be friends with on Twitter...and I love being a part of that too, and to share my experiences with everyone else.

So...#keepongoing, #dontgiveup, #staymotivated and maybe even join me completing the #RWRunStreak and #plankaday, then do it all at the #6amCLUB :)

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Keep on running with the Runner's World Holiday Run Streak

As we all know, Christmas (and Thanksgiving for my American friends) is a notoriously difficult time to keep focused on the running or any sort of healthy diet, and for me it's always the same old problem.  It's freezing cold outside, pitch black from 4pm in the afternoon, and I find it so hard to drag myself out of the door to run, so I find myself saying that I'll go out tomorrow.  But then tomorrow comes, and I have some Christmas outing to go to, and the run gets put off again :( 

So, with a much busier diary than I ever usually have, and worse weather than there usually is, my training schedule goes out of the window, and when I combine that with the enormous quantities of mince pies, cakes and biscuits that find their way to the office & my house (and ultimately into my mouth!), I usually find myself putting on lots of weight over the festivities.  Now don't get me wrong, I have a great time...but that's always tempered by the massive guilt that I also end up with, and the frustration that the running fitness I've spent the last 12 months trying to cultivate, falls right back to rock bottom!

This year, I'm determined things will be different.

I'm focused on my diet at the moment, and have got back into doing Weight Watchers, so I'm hoping I can be [relatively] controlled with the food, but I do think I need some help with the running, and so I've decided to take part in Runner's World Holiday Running Streak Challenge.I'm going to run at least one mile every day from tomorrow (Thanksgiving) until New Year's Day!

I've tried to do run streaks before (Janathon and Juneathon) but have failed each time...I think maybe I try to do too much, so this time I will try to maintain my planned schedule, and instead of rest days, just do a couple of miles, so I'm not putting that much extra pressure on or increasing my weekly mileage too much.  If I find I'm finding it hard to motivate myself to get out of the door on a scheduled running day, I also think it'll be easier to tell myself "well, I only have to go for 1 measley mile...I can do that!" rather than thinking about the hour and a half I'm actually aiming to be out.  Once I'm on the road, I'm sure I'll be keen to finish the original distance!
So, hopefully I can improve my mindset and get more used to heading out for a run as a habit rather than it always being a big deal, but not be too much of a time drain or a physical challenge.

From looking at the twitter feed it seems loads of people are taking part (#RWRunStreak hopefully the widget below is working!) and I'm looking forward to finally achieving some consistency in my training over the holiday season.  Whether I manage to stay controlled when the mince pies start calling me is another matter, but all the extra exercise should certainly help reduce the damage!

Tuesday 22 November 2011

I've borrowed some "awesome-inspirational-manifestos"

Need some motivation?  Want some guidance?

I saw this tweet from @Predawn_Runner in my twitter feed today, followed the link, and found some awesome inspiration...scroll down, read, be motivated and have a great day! :)

 Greg Strosaker 

10 Insanely Awesome Inspirational Manifestos - bookmark it for when you need some motivation 
Retweeted by f

1. The Holstee Manifesto

2. Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

Baz Luhrman, best known as the director of films like “Strictly Ballroom” and “Moulin Rouge!”, released this song back in 1999. The lyrics are straight from an essay by Mary Schmich from 1997 called “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” and the song climbed music charts across the globe. Some wise words set to a catchy tune.

3. the lululemon manifesto

The corporate manifesto for thsi athletic wear company may very well be a bellwether for a shift in the culture of the new enterprising set. While the lululemon manifesto does tie in what their employees should to do in order to be able balance both work and life (which are for many, essentially one in the same), it is worth aspiring to for those who don’t work for the company as well.

 Greg Strosaker 

10 Insanely Awesome Inspirational Manifestos - bookmark it for when you need some motivation 
Retweeted by f

Monday 21 November 2011

I'm a happy running reindeer

It's been an awesome week! I've managed to regain control of my eating (and have lost 4lbs!) my dodgy ankle seems to be holding up well, and I got a PB at my 10km race yesterday! Couldn't be more pleased :)

The race yesterday was the RNLI's Reindeer Run 10km, around Lee Valley Park in Waltham Abbey and I finished in 53 minutes, 59 seconds.

It was an excellent race, really well organised, with a great marshal team who seemed to be on every bend on the course, cheering us all on!  It was primarily a fundraising fun run, and the RNLI gave everyone reindeer antlers to wear, and flashing red noses - and surprisingly there were loads of people who ran in them too!

There was an awesome atmosphere, with lots of children and families who were involved in the other events (a 5km or the 2km Santa Saunter) and everyone seemed to be having a great time, despite the fact that it was unbelievably freezing cold and foggy. 

Although I have a bit of an odd expression
on my face (I'm not very good with photos!)
 here I am with my antlers!
The course was over mixed terrain around the park, and followed some paths around the lakes and the River Lee and it really couldn't have been more beautiful with the fog rolling over the water - all very atmospheric and it made up for my numb fingers and toes!

I think my mood was also helped by the fact that I felt really strong after the first couple of km and so enjoyed the run itself (and overtaking quite a lot of people was very satisfying too!). In fact, I was a bit sad that it was over so quickly, and think I could have had a good performance over a half marathon distance - maybe that'll be an option next year...

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Will I never learn?!

Despite the fact that this happens every time I return to running after a break, I think i've increased my mileage too quickly over the last couple of weeks and all day I've had some niggling pains in both of my ankles, which have always been my "weak points", and prone to injury.  This is not good!! Just as I get back on track and feel positive and motivated, about both my training and my diet, something else goes wrong...and it's entirely my own fault.

I decided not to run this evening, and will wear supports on my ankles tomorrow - I'll probably still go out in the evening but may not do the 6 miles I'm planning.  I think I might also have to re-evaluate my expectation of reaching 1000 miles this year.  If I achieve it, but at the expense of causing myself an injury (rather than a bit of niggly pain that with a bit of rest I'm sure will resolve), I will jeopardise my 2012 marathon and ultra targets, and to be honest, they are more important than the 1000 miles.

I mustn't let myself get too annoyed...or too worried.  I am sure that if I take the next couple of days carefully, and reduce my total weekly percentage increases (yes, I know, should stick to 10%...but that just seems so low, maybe 15% will be ok!) I'll be absolutely fine.

But it amazes me that I've let this happen again!

Monday 14 November 2011

Taking control

Well, after my post on Friday, unfortunately my eating is still a bit out of control....but I'm very glad I'm not the only runner who continues to struggle with my weight.

This morning I read the blog post below from Ben Davis over at (and in the photo) about him refocusing on his weight loss and facing up to the scales again after starting to regain some weight.  It's come at just the right time for me!  I've blogged about Ben before, but if you haven't seen his blog before, it charts his extraordinary journey over the last three years - he's lost 120lbs, run marathons and completed Ironmen events, and even created his own movement that has inspired people across the world to lose weight, get moving, and most Do Life!  It's been fantastic following his blog, and while I'm struggling to get my eating under control again, it's good to know that someone like him can get a bit out of shape too...and hopefully I'm going to be able to join him in regaining control, one weigh-in at a time - starting tomorrow!

November 13, 2011

I bought some new batteries for my scale. It died a couple months ago and I haven’t put any effort into getting new ones because I haven’t wanted to face the scale. All that changes today.
The fact is that I won’t be able to get through 52 marathons next year if I don’t drop some weight and get back into the shape I was in this summer leading up to Vineman Ironman.
And so begins 47 days of weighing myself.
A weigh a day.
Every morning I will roll out of bed and onto the scale.
But, Ben, isn’t weighing yourself daily a bad thing?
 Yeah, there are probably some dieticians and Women’s Health writers that have some psychological list of reasons you shouldn’t, but right now I need to wake up, every day, and face the results of the previous day’s actions—good or bad.
I will take my scale with me wherever I go.
I will put the effort in and I will see it reflected on the scale. Because that’s all it takes and I know it.
So join me tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. (pacific) and every morning for the next 47 days as I get ready for the new year
A weigh a day.
Party on, party people. 
I bought some new batteries for my scale. It died a couple months ago and I haven’t put any effort into getting new ones because I haven’t wanted to face the scale. All that changes today.
The fact is that I won’t be able to get through 52 marathons next year if I don’t drop some weight and get back into the shape I was in this summer leading up to Vineman Ironman.
And so begins 47 days of weighing myself.
A weigh a day.
Every morning I will roll out of bed and onto the scale.
But, Ben, isn’t weighing yourself daily a bad thing?
 Yeah, there are probably some dieticians and Women’s Health writers that have some psychological list of reasons you shouldn’t, but right now I need to wake up, every day, and face the results of the previous day’s actions—good or bad.
I will take my scale with me wherever I go.
I will put the effort in and I will see it reflected on the scale. Because that’s all it takes and I know it.
So join me tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. (pacific) and every morning for the next 47 days as I get ready for the new year
A weigh a day.
Party on, party people. 
Thanks're awesome! :)

Sunday 13 November 2011

1000 miles in a year

Francis and I went for a bike ride today (which was lovely) but on adding it to my log I noticed that the mileage had taken me over the "1000 miles covered in 2011" mark and it really started me thinking about my running mileage for the year.  That total on my dailymile log includes the cycling I've done, but I don't really think that counts, so I do keep a separate record on my training schedule spreadsheet (yes, I have one of those) and my running mileage, as of today, is 770 miles in 2011.

Back in May, I wrote a blog post about the number of miles my training schedule showed me completing by the end of was 1,316!! I was realistic enough to know that I may not achieve quite that distance, but I remember thinking at the time, that I was definitely going to get to over 1000 and being really pleased with that as an idea.

Now though, with the various issues that have reduced my mileage (long recovery after races, injury, extended holiday, and too often laziness!), I still have 230 miles to run to get to 1000 miles in 2011, and in 7 weeks that's going to be a big challenge.  However, I'm going to try and do it.  Having spent quite a lot of time tweaking my training schedule I will just be able to get there by the 31st December, but only if I really focus and stick rigidly to the plan, even over Christmas.  Obviously, it's not quite the achievement of running 1,316 miles (that's London to Rome you know?!) but still, running 1000 miles in a year for me for be an achievement I could be very proud of! 

So, that's what I'm going to try and do.  I have a couple of races coming up too, a 10km in Ley Valley Park this Sunday and the Bedford Harriers half marathon at the beginning of December, so with those, and my 1000 mile target to complete over the next seven weeks, I will certainly be spending a lot of time pounding the pavements! 

Friday 11 November 2011

My favourite food group? Does cake count?

My eating habits have always been somewhat erratic at best, and although in June I started my Weight Watchers programme, was eating pretty healthily and managed to lose over 20 lbs (and, partially as a result, in September smashed my marathon PB) since coming back from holiday, my diet has reverted to being supported mainly by the biscuit, cake and chocolate food groups!

After a bit of a faltering start, I've managed to get back into my training after the month off, but I'm finding it much harder to get my eating into line, and am rapidly edging towards putting all the weight back on that I was so happy to have lost, never mind actually dropping the 15lbs more I still have to lose.  Now, obviously, that bothers me when I consider the effect it has on my appearance - one day I'd love to look like a stereo-typical runner and when I line up at the start of a race with all of those slim athletic types, I don't want to be bulging out of my lycra!  More importantly though, I'm never going to run the fastest marathon I can, if I'm carrying an extra 20lbs or more.  I'm going to be slower and put more stress on my body and joints - it's a no brainer that as a runner I need to try and be the strongest and slimmest I can healthily be. 

But as well as the weight, I don't think my body can perform in the best way...or recover efficiently...if I'm not properly fuelled!  I've blogged about this before, have felt like this fact it seems I've spent half my life thinking about what and how much I should be eating and then ignoring my own advice! But, that's not going to stop me trying to get it right.  Having restarted training after the holiday, and suffering as frequently as I do with hyponatremia (had another bout in Madagascar), I really do need to be more aware of the nutritional value of the food I'm eating, and make sure that my diet is healthy and properly balanced.

It's not a question of giving up the the biscuits, cakes and chocolate entirely - I know that's unrealistic, and I certainly wouldn't want to stop eating foods I enjoy so much...but they can't continue to constitute the majority of my daily intake!

I'm still paying for my Weight Watchers membership, and tomorrow, as they say, is another day.  So, I've decided that I'll be restarting my food tracking in the morning, refocusing on my diet goals, and probably rereading this post every half an hour through the day as I try to resist the office snack table!  Here's hoping I can be as successful as last time - I desperately want to succeed in my running goals for 2012, and fuelling myself properly is as important (yes, ok, I know not quite as important but you get my drift) as getting the miles in during training, and I have to work hard in both areas if I want to achieve my best performance in the marathons and my ultra next year.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Running home

Combining my run with my evening commute earlier this week actually worked out pretty well, despite the fact that it was absolutely tipping it down and I got drenched!  I ran from one station away from my usual one, and managed to get a 4.5 mile run in without getting home any later than usual!

The hydration pouch I used as a rucksack was perfectly comfortable, after a few adjustments, and although I do want to invest in a bigger rucksack,  (maybe about 10litres) so I can my day clothes in there, I think that I can just about get away with the current one until payday and do plan to work the commute run into my regular running schedule.

However, there was one thing that was a bit odd about being a commuter felt very different, by which I mean, it didn't feel like my usual evening outings, where I get ready at home and head out "for my run".  I was just trying to get home, and certainly didn't feel as focused as I usually do, it was all a bit odd.  However, maybe it was just because it was a new way of getting the miles in, and as it becomes a more frequent part of my training, it'll feel more normal.

From next week, I've scheduled three runs home from the next station away from the house, so rather than 4.5 miles, it'll be 6.5 miles.  Fingers crossed they work out as well :)

Tuesday 8 November 2011

How to fit in your weekday runs

I don't think I can be the only person to struggle with deciding when to fit my runs into my day during the week...and as marathon (and ultra) training ramps up and my weekday runs get longer, it's only going to get more difficult.  I'm probably more lucky than most, in that I don't need to worry about childcare, I can pretty much go out when I want, and I have lots of choices available, but I still haven't found a time that really suits me - having to commute up to 3 hours a day and spend a further 8 hours in the office does reduce the available time!

Early morning
When I started my current job just over a year ago, I ran or went to the gym in the morning - getting up at 5am or 5.30am, running before work.  The streets are empty, and (depending on the time of year) you get to experience the beautiful sunrise, and it always made me feel much more ready for had the effect of reminding me that my life wasn't all about the office, going into work was just something I did during the day, it wasn't the reason I got up in the morning...running was!  I was also very lucky that my new manager was also a runner (or at least had been in his hey-day) and he was happy to let me change my hours to start half an hour later every morning at 9.30am, to give me time to run, shower and get into the office without having to rush!  So, sorted, you'd think, except that my boyfriend naturally always stays up late - he rarely goes to bed before midnight - and I really didn't want us to be going to bed at different times, but I was getting far too tired with only 5 hours sleep a night.

During weekdays, I also have the option of running at lunch time - many people in the office do, there are beautiful places to run very close to where I work (Hyde Park, along the Thames, St James Park and so on), and we have decent shower facilities.  However, this is something I've never tried and don't really fancy- in that short time available, I can't really run far enough to make it worth all the hassle, and I think that running around the very busy London streets filled with dawdling tourists to actually get to those beautiful places would probably be pretty stressful!

The option that has worked for me in my training for the last two marathons has been running at night.  I get home from work at about 7.45pm, have dinner, catch up with my boyfriend and spend a bit of time in front of the TV, and then at about 10pm (or as it was last night, 10.30pm after we'd finished watching Junior Apprentice) I head out for my run.  I know to a lot of people this seems like the least attractive option for when to run, but it has suited me - the streets are generally very quiet (except on a Friday night, when they're entertaining instead!) and I can still spend some time at home with Francis, watch some TV & relax after work, but also get the miles in.  However, it does mean that every night I run becomes a really late night, especially as by the time I get home, stretch, and shower...and more importantly calm down from the run, it's often the early hours of the morning before we get to bed.  I don't have to get up too early, especially as I still have my late 9.30am start at work, but it's not really normal! 

The commuter run
The fourth option for when I can run is something I've not tried before, but I've decided to give it a go.  I get the train home from work every day, and tonight, I'm going to get off the train a stop earlier than usual and run the rest of the way, with a rucksack for my stuff.

I'm hoping that this way, I can still get my miles in but reduce the impact on my time at home.  I'll be able to sleep until a normal time in the morning, and go to bed at a normal time at night.  I wont have to disappear in the middle of the evening, leaving Francis home alone, and it should help with the motivation too...once I'm ensconced on the sofa, it can be difficult to drag myself outside on a cold, dark, drizzly evening!  Also, by running during the time that I'm usually on the train and walking home from the station, I figure I'm actually saving myself some time too.

The only issue I foresee, is running with a rucksack, which is what has always put me off before.  I don't have a running specific rucksack, and don't want to buy a new one just yet, so tonight I'm using an old hydration pack with the water pouch removed.  I bought it ages ago and never used it, but will try it out, although if it doesn't feel comfortable (or if it's just not big enough!) I'll be starting a new series of blog posts reviewing running rucksacks!

I'll let you know how it goes....

Monday 7 November 2011

Am I just interested in running or actually committed to it?

I am committed to my running.
I will go for a run tonight, I will stop moaning about having lost my motivation and
I will just get out there and get on with my training!
I have a sub 4hr marathon to run in 5 months and that's all there is to it, so 5 miles tonight & 19 miles this week...if I want to be a runner, I have to run!

Sunday 6 November 2011

Have I left my motivation in Madagascar?

I've been back from our month long Madagascar holiday for 5 days now, and despite my best intentions, my motivation seems to have completely evaporated, and I've only been out for one run since my return, and that was only a 4 miler.  However, it was far enough to confirm that my fitness levels have plummeted as a result of the holiday, and if I'm serious about running a sub 4hr marathon in April, and completing my 50 miler in July, I have to seriously start to focus on my training and do whatever it takes to rediscover my missing mojo!

I'm not quite sure why I've not been able to get back into the groove, because I really enjoyed that single run (even though it was very hard work!) but I'm hoping that by starting to blog again, and by spending some of today surfing some of my favourite running websites, reading some articles, even trawling through twitter and dailymile, I'm going to be able to get back into the right mind set, remind myself that if I want to be a runner I need to actually get some miles in, and be motivated enough to head out for a decent run.

There's no doubting that it is very much colder than it was before we left on holiday, and it's more likely to be raining than not when I step out of the door, but not going out because of the weather really isn't a legitimate excuse, and to be honest, I think it's more an issue of a profound laziness that's come over me, that isn't just about running...I haven't even unpacked my suitcase from holiday yet - maybe it's the holiday blues?!

Well, whatever the reason, I just need to man up, pull my finger out, get over it, and get on with it!  If I'm not careful, and this laziness continues much longer, not only will my realistic aim of running a sub-4hr time become a distant memory, but the weight loss success that I've achieved so far this year is also going to be entirely undone, I'll end up in the same shape I was in this time last year, and will end up missing my running targets.

I would be so upset if I let those things happen - it's certainly not worth another hour in front of the TV - so I really need to get back out and start pounding the pavements!