Friday, 19 December 2014

My 2014 fitness journey

With 2014 drawing to a close and another whole year complete, what better time is there to reflect on your own journey - both achievements and learnings. 2014 for me has been a jam packed year full of fabulous progressions in all aspects of my life. I started the year newly engaged and with a new job which was very exciting and throughout the year, I have set myself many fitness goals. Some I have smashed, some I have failed. But that's OK - failures are simply learnings and everything I set out to do I always try to reflect on positively for the future.

So on that note, here are my 2014 fitness highs and lows.

1. Securing a 10K PB
1st January and half marathon training was back on track after three weeks off holidaying in Hong Kong. It was tough getting back into a routine but I actually found having a decent break to let my body chill and recuperate did the world of good! My pace was on top form - faster than before in fact and I didn't have one single niggle. By the start of February and crossing the start line of Mornington Chasers Regents Park 10K, I never dreamt of heading under the sub-46 minute mark. But I did! 45.45 to be precise. 

Funnily enough I returned to this course at the start of December and working at maximum effort, I finished in 47.40. I found it hard to believe that I had been two minutes faster at the start of the year and it made me realise that I have in fact lost speed. A big chunk of what I know I am capable of. 2015 will be focussed at bringing this back - especially for the triathlon. I am hoping my 5K plan (which you can read about HERE) will contribute to this greatly. 

2. Missing my half marathon seconds
After smooth sailing training, I was ready to smash my half marathon target of 1.45. My training had me on schedule to go clean under and I was so excited to cross the finish line with this secured. Choosing Reading Half Marathon for the second year running, I carried out the race in the wrong way from all aspects. Due to rainy, cold weather I decided to wear leggings and a skin under my club vest. Big mistake. Here's a note for you in case you didn't already know - no matter how cold it is, don't layer up. Once you start running, you will boil. I learnt the hard way and by the 5K mark I was beetroot red, itchy and irritated. 

Due to being so hot and bothered I started to stop at water stations, drinking far more than I am used to when running. This lead to a huge stitch at around mile eight. I was practically crawling now and at mile 10, with just 5K to go, the 1.45 pacer passed me. I remember it clearly. I was about to come up to the hardest part of the course, a dual carriageway. A long straight road that seems like it never ends is the easiest place to lose the will to live and once the pacer past me, I felt close to tears. 

Why had I gone so wrong? Well whilst I was thinking this, when I reached the end of the carriageway and turned into a road, I got close to the curb and a spectator's giant husky dog jumped up at me and nearly sent me head over heels. Yep - that definitely topped it.

Despite all these setbacks (most which I am to blame), I crossed the finish line in 1.45.30. In all honestly I found this worse that finishing way past 1.45. I was so close and I messed it up. It really got to me. I stood there at that finish line and bawled like a baby. I had never cared so much about a race and never had I trained so hard. 

It took a while to get over this race trauma but I am happy to look back at it now as merely a learning experience. Deep down, I know if I train right and avoid these errors, I can go under 1.45 and one day (when I am not 5K or triathlon focussed) I will definitely give it another go!

3. 24 hours of team running
By the summer, the most exciting event of my 2014 calendar (in my opinion) was taking part in Mizuno Endure24. Not only was I facing my biggest challenge yet, I was doing it with my home club and best friend. Donned head to two in Newbury A.C gear, I was raring to go and despite the horrendous storms that took place over the 24 hour period, the grin was not wiped off my face. I completed four laps, totalling 20 miles and kept each turn consistent with pace. Yes, I injured my ITB rather badly on lap three (at 3am might I add) and I was out of action for the next couple of months but it was worth it! Best 24 hours I have spent awake (mind you this has probably only occurred in my life twice - but still it was the best).

4. ITB woes
Post Mizuno Endure24 and I faced my first, ever proper time out from running. After experiencing a slip on lap three of the course, I knew I was in sticky territory. I knew it even more come 8am and heading out on my final lap where the pain in my right knee was agonising. 

In the weeks that followed I attempted running, only to find myself retiring a mile in clutching my knee in sheer pain. After a trip to my sports masseuse, it was confirmed I had damaged my ITB and immediate rest from high impact sport was needed. I came back home with a foam roller under my arm, a plan to switch to swimming and determined to get myself fixed.

5. A brand new shiny bike
So with my injury comes the urge to dabble in a new hobby. I had always wanted a bike in London (for commuting and getting about town easily) but my fiancé had always disapproved. However, I think seeing me in the depth of misery through my injury brought his soft spot to life and after giving his blessing to get a bike, I was out the front door in a flash to get one before he changed his mind.

Seven months later and I am glued to my bike. I pretty much go everywhere in London with it and rarely travel by bus or tube anymore. It's brilliant! I never knew how much fun cycling could be and I will make sure in 2015 I broaden my horizons and take up more cycling adventures. I'd love to head out of the city somewhere, see some sights on route and get a good grip of long distance cycling. 

6. A 10 mile comeback
Come September, my ITB had healed and I was getting back into the routine of running. Rather a relief considering I had Cabbage Patch 10 just weeks away. With very little time to train, let alone strengthen my ITB, I decided to just do the best I can and not set any expectations. After Reading Half Marathon, I wasn't prepared for disappointment again thats for sure!

I focussed on distance over speed for this one. I hadn't attempted 10 miles since the spring so putting aside how long it took me, I trained up to eight miles which turned out to be just plenty come race day. I honestly believe going into a race with little expectation can be more beneficial to you than setting a target. It proved to be right for my 10K at the start of the year and it did for this too. A PB wasn't secured, no, but courage and belief was. I ran the whole course light footed, relaxed and well, breezily. I finished in 1.22 (two minutes slower than the previous year) and I was overjoyed!

7. Tri-life begins
Around late summer, I had decided that I was going to bite the bullet and enter my first triathlon, choosing Blenheim Palace in July 2015 as my debut. By November, I was starting my first month of full training and am now in a regular routine of swimming, cycling and running each week. It has been a hard adjustment to make as I have only been used to training in one discipline up until this point. However I have now found my rhythm and am already seeing improvements in my swimming and cycling.

My parents also kindly took me for a day trip to the palace itself to get a feel for the course and see the lake that I would be swimming in. I have never done a 'reccy' before, mainly because I haven't felt the need to. However, seeing where it will be taking place was so helpful. I am a little daunted at taking on this challenge but I do feel slightly reassured that I know the surroundings of the event a bit more and it won't feel so alien to me on the day.

I honestly cannot wait for the big day to arrive! To say I have completed a triathlon will just be incredible and I am already feeling so chuffed that I will be taking part.

8. Getting trim
One of the best things about triathlon training is the change that is happening to my physique. As you may have read, I have started Operational Bridal Bod. A fitness journey to me becoming bride ready for my wedding in July 2015. Since I started this back in September, I have dropped 6lbs, nearly a whole dress size and already areas of my body are slightly trimmer.

Of course it wavers at times. With Christmas coming up, I am expected to lose concentration a tad (because who wouldn't?) but knowing the level of training I have to take on for the tri, I really hope I see further improvements in my overall appearance over time. I can't afford to gain anything extra otherwise the wedding dress simply won't fit. What more motivation do I need eh!?

9. Feeling Tough
I was incredibly fortunate to experience one of the most sought after obstacle events in the world. Tough Mudder takes place at various locations across the UK and after being invited along to the London South course in October, I was rather curious as to what the whole experience would be. I was given a months notice so no time to train at all but I went out there with my Tough Mudder team and endured 12 hilly miles and 21 obstacles. I faced my fears of being trapped in water, got electrocuted and hauled my body through a shipping container of ice.

I think it's safe to say I will never experience anything like Tough Mudder again but I am slightly smug at having the honorary headband as evidence of what I went through.

10. Losing speed
As of November, triathlon training began and I went to solely running three times a week to swimming, cycling and running - aiming to workout four times a week. Having to focus some attention on two other disciplines does mean my running has dropped slightly. My speed on track and in races has reduced and whilst I actually feel quite miffed about this, I have to accept that this is actually to be expected in the early days of tri life. My body is still adjusting to this massive change of routine and I'm hoping once it's in the loop of things, it will begin to advance across all three sports. For now though, its a case of grim and bear the setbacks and work towards moving forwards.

So there we have it. My 2014 fitness journey. It's been really invigorating writing this post and looking back over the past year. I am so proud of all that I have achieved this year - both the good and bad experiences - and I am really excited to get stuck into 2015 and the new challenges that I face.

What are your 2014 highlights? Do you have any challenges set for 2015 too?

Lipstick Runner.


  1. I hope that you don't mind me saying but you looked amazing before you even started on your fitness journey. This really is an inspirational story and you have such a lovely figure as a result of your efforts. I've been wanting to start training myself, but 10k just seems like such a long way. I get tired walking to the shops!

    Catarina @ Wild Fitness

    1. Hi Catarina. Thank you so much for reading my post and for your lovely comments. 10K is in your sights! As long as you take it steady and increase your mileage gradually, you will be there in no time. Get a race day booked so you know what your goal is! GOOD LUCK! :)