Sunday, 22 May 2016

RACE RUNDOWN: Tough Mudder (Midlands)

Yesterday, I returned to Tough Mudder. You may remember my first experience back in 2014 at London South (full review here) and whilst I decided that once was enough, I got the urge to try it again. I guess I wanted to see if I could take on a different course and improve on my strength for the obstacles, something I previously struggled with. 

So, myself and a couple of training buddies (husband included) opted for The Midlands race, held in the stunning grounds of Belvoir Castle. It look set to be a great weekend and we were all super stoked! Sadly for me though, disaster struck on Friday when I suffered a bout of sickness and nausea (something linked to medication I am currently taking). Highly unexpected and a shock to my system, it was a hard decision but I decided on the morning to opt out as my body felt incredibly weak and empty. There simply was nothing in the tank.

Despite my gutting setback, the two guys I came with were geared up and ready to go and I couldn't let them down. So, I headed out on the spectator route to see them round the 11 miles, 26 obstacle course. Luckily, the weather was on their side, albeit it a bit chilly and windy. What was also really great with this event was the layout of the course. From a spectator point of view, it was brilliant as a lot of the obstacles were in one centre field, meaning friends and families were able to see runners at various points.

Anyway, onto the actual obstacles and I think it is safe to say there was a lot of (smelly) mud. I first saw the boys at at Sewer Rat and did have a good giggle at everyone coming out of the tunnels and slipping all over the muddy bog that followed after. This was the second obstacle in and it's fair to say everyone was looking fricking filthy! 
Next, I watched them go over Bale Bonds (essentially a small tower of hay bales) and waved them off into the distance where they went through a swampy obstacle and took on new obstacle, The Liberator. This involves a slanted high wall with thin ledges for feet and small holes to insert pegs into and climb up. Following this was another tunnelled challenge, Birth Canal, followed by Kiss of Mud 2.0. This obstacle I remember being a tricky one that involves lots of bruises and scratches as you lay under barbed wire and drag yourself through mud, stones and grit. Bleughhh. 

By this point, they were under four miles in and coming back into the main field to take on the worst of them all, Arctic Enema. This year, they have modified this obstacle to involve a drop shoot, so there is not avoiding a gentle, steady entry into the icy water. I recoiled in memory of the sheer pain I felt when I did this and watching the boys drop down the shoot and come out the other side, the horror and shock was clearly etched on their faces. 
By this point, they looked tired, muddy and bloody freezing but with grins still in tact, they headed off down a small stream for a quick swim and then up into the distant hills to carry a tree (one challenge I fondly remember) and take on Killa Gorilla, which simply is running up and down ridiculously steep hills - nice!

Coming back into the main field, next up was Everest 2.0. I LOVED this one when I did London South. I did it at the very end of the race and my quick speed got me up the halfpipe on my first go. This year, the halfpipe seemed more slippery and maybe even slightly longer but shallower. They also had handy ropes at the top for those to grab onto if they couldn't reach the summit. Now I was a spectator and not a participant, I did enjoy watching people on this. 
After Everest 2.0, the boys took on the obstacle that was my worse fear at London South - Cage Crawl. I certainly wasn't upset to be missing this one but both of the lads hopped in and pulled their way through. It looked like they had made the gap between the water and fence tighter, meaning less room to manoeuvre - not good for claustrophobics!
The next time I saw my team mates was at mile seven where they took on King of the Swingers. Now I must say I am absolutely gutted to have missed this particular obstacle. It looked awesome! Involving a metal lever you jump onto, the aim is to swing up high to ring a bell, before falling into a pit of murky, muddy water. Whilst the boys didn't manage to hit the bell, they did get close - below is Dan's attempt on the left:
At the point, the guys had to run through the field and I managed to join them for a gentle jog alongside them to see how they were doing. Both were on an absolute Tough Mudder high and having the best time ever! I stayed with them until they got to another new challenge, The Blockness Monster. This consists of two revolving barriers submerged in water where Mudders have to climb over. It involves teamwork as you have to help others get over the barriers through pulling them down or pushing them up. Here's my team mate Paul halfway getting over the first barrier (in a rather elegant style I must say):
After this, the Mudders' ventured off into the connecting fields again for some longer run periods where they took on the Hero Walls (where us shorties suffer sadly) and Mud Mile (this I remember being a hilarious one where you are faced with a pit of thick, gooey mud you have to drag and pull yourself through). 

By mile 10, the boys were on the home straight with their final challenges being the Pyramid Scheme. Another one where team work is crucial, this involves a slanted wall where Mudders' have to lay down and build a human pyramid to the top. Expect bums in faces and elbows in ears for this one!

At the final streak was the beastly Electroshock Therapy and participants weren't hanging around for this one. Dashing through the dangling live wires, people were jolting and falling at the electric hits, before tumbling/crawling through the finish line to be crowned with their must deserved head bands. 

The boys had made it and I was so proud of them! Despite the aches, pain, mud stains, cuts and bruises, they were beaming from ear to ear and clearly exhilarated to have achieved everything within the whole experience. To give you an idea of the impact, here's a rather humorous before/after shot of the champs themselves:
Being a spectator oddly put an interesting spin on this review. Whilst I was so upset to not take part, I oddly don't feel like I missed out on much. With the grounds of Belvoir Castle allowing a lot of the obstacles to be easily accessible, I was able to watch a large chunk of the race and I honestly really enjoyed seeing the action happen for once, rather than be a part of it. 

Of course, I haven't been able to form a fair comparison between this event and London South but from what I saw, The Midlands looks like a goodie. With beautiful grounds, a slightly flatter run and more obstacles closer together, it seems highly action packed and adventurous. With it also being an hours train journey from London, it was really easy to get to!

Whilst The Midlands event won't until next year, the 2016 race series is still in full swing, with five events across Scotland, North and South England still to come! With places available, it is worth considering for a fun day out with friends/family/colleagues. The teamwork and camaraderie is incomparable to any other obstacle challenge I have done and nothing quite beats getting the beloved headband at the very end - something that all Mudders' treasure forever. 

To find out more about Tough Mudder and the UK events remaining, visit the website here. Book by the 31st May before the prices increase!

Lipstick Runner.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Tough Mudder 2016: What's to come

So the season of mud pits, freezing murky waters, obstacles and cross country running is upon us - or in simpler terms Tough Mudder. At the end of April, the series of events kick off in London and then travel across the UK to seven locations (I have Midlands in the diary!). This year, the team behind this super tough obstacle race have upped the anti, introducing two new obstacles to the mix: Blockness Monster and Backstabber.

In 2014, I experienced my first ever Tough Mudder (see my review here) and whilst I walked away with mixed reviews, I thoroughly enjoyed the day. My favourite type of obstacles were those that didn't require height (at 5"3 I could not reach up to walls, rings, ledges etc) so I really like the look of Blockness Monster. I would hope this will be after a really muddy obstacle so we can wash off the layers of mud congealed on our clothes. Backstabber looks like an obstacle that will require height and I can't see myself getting very far up the frame - I hope there will be a platform at the top for someone to pull me up!

As well as these new obstacles, some of the classics are returning. Kiss of Mud is back by popular demand and I have already planned how I am going to get through this without scraping my legs and knees on the gritty surface (FYI, this is the place to roll and not crawl). Arctic Enema was also a likely choice to return and I have never forgotten the pain that shot through my body as I hauled myself out of the shipping container full of ice. Then there is also Electroshock Therapy, Cage Crawl, Everest and many more which make up the 20 obstacle, 12 mile race. 

With Midlands just over a month away, both myself and my husband (who will be joining me to claim his first headband) will be getting ourselves prepped. For me, it is all about recovering from my achilles injury (which has caused a huge set back in my running) and focussing on strength and core work. I know this was my weakness last time and I want to ensure I have the ability to fight through the obstacles that require strength and not endurance. 

Here's to claiming my second headband!

Lipstick Runner. 

Friday, 1 April 2016

Biking, hiking and then getting injured...

It's been a while since my last post (which was a review of my half marathon!). March has whizzed by in a blur and I have been super busy kick starting my training for Cotswold's Triathlon in June. It has been so nice to finally get back on my bike and reduce the milage in my runs. I have definitely made the most of being on wheels with a few good long cycles, including a 40 miler from North London to Richmond and back. 

Things were going really well and I was really excited to finish the month spending Easter in the Lake District hiking with my family. We had an absolute blast and managed to get in some good climbs. I did however come away with a rather painful injury to my right achilles, which even six days later, I am still suffering with. Looking back, I am wondering if its linked to my hiking boots (which to be honest were just a cheap pair from Mountain Warehouse). They didn't have the best support, especially around the ankle and I assume that I am now paying the price for this. 
Running is now currently off the cards and cycling is just about manageable. Going uphill is a bit painful. I can luckily still swim (thank god I can do something!), but even walking is painful. The aim of the game is to ice and stretch as much as I can to ensure I make a speedy recovery! I am definitely not in a place to be injured (well who ever is!?). I have Tough Mudder just round the corner and need to make sure I am in tip top shape for it!

Do you have any tips for achilles niggles? Would love to hear any advice for a quick, secure recovery!

Lipstick Runner.

Monday, 22 February 2016

RACE RUNDOWN: Wokingham Half Marathon 2016

It seems like it was only five minutes ago that I started my Hal Higdon half marathon training plan. After a failed attempt two years ago at Reading to secure a sub 1.45, I decided to follow a plan for Wokingham Half Marathon that I entered for 2016. 

I won't go into too much detail on my training as this post is more about the race itself but you can see my progress in previous posts documenting this journey. However, to summarise, I took the method to follow a plan which focussed around me running a 7.55 mile pace come race day. It consisted of paced and tempo runs, speed work and long weekend jogs. I also incorporated a swim each week to bring in an element of cross training - something I highly suggest for anyone following a half marathon plan. 

I have really enjoyed the last 12 weeks and come race day, I was feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Would I break the dreaded 1.45 barrier - something that haunts me. Or would I creep in just over again? The latter terrified me.  

Wokingham Half Marathon has been running for 30 years and has become a very popular race for club runners and those looking for a PB. Described as 'fast and generally flat', I was instantly attracted to this course, especially as many fellow runners at my club had secured their best times here. 

On race day, the skies were grey but the temperature was mild. Despite it being dry (yay to no rain!) the winds were incredibly strong, which concerned me. Parking in the town centre, we had a 10 minute walk to the start line, which was in Cantly Park (it may be quicker but we were fighting gale force winds!). The main base is rather small and basic, but has all the amenities you need (changing tent, kit drop off and several port-a-loos). The start line itself is very long and narrow, with pen markers for you to line up beside. Sadly no pacers are at this race, which can be a concern for some, so it was super important we line up in our correct time slots. I popped myself in the 1.45 pen, which was very far down the track. When the gun went off, it took me three minutes to cross the start line.
Starting off, we set headed down country roads with the first mile and a half feeling slightly downhill. I resisted the urge to set off too quick (my biggest fail at Reading 2014). It was quite busy in the first couple of miles and I did find myself weaving in and out of a lot of people who, I presume, did not place themselves in the correct pen at the start. This peeved me a bit but by 5K, it had petered out. I was relieved to feel no winds what so ever and the first 10K whizzed past. Running down mainly country roads, we passed through small villages where locals came out to cheer. Most of the course seemed flat, with a few short uphills to cross a couple of motorway bridges. I found myself running 7.35s and whilst I was concerned this was way too quick, it felt really comfortable. The water stops are at 3.5, 5.5, 7.5 and 9 mile markers. These are simply water in plastic cups, which I do struggle to drink whilst running so I did find myself stopping to have a quick gulp. I also took an energy gel between miles seven and eight. 

So, as I say, by 10K I was feeling fresh and strong. However, this suddenly changed as we turned back on ourselves to make our way back up to Cantly Park. It seemed that we had ran the first half with the wind behind us which only meant one thing - facing it head on in the second half. My god, was it strong! It also seemed to get worse the closer we got to the finish. Miles 7-10, it was bearable and I managed to run 7.50s but the last 5K was hell on earth. The winds were houling and at times, I felt myself swaying and trying to not topple over. To add to this, the course was starting to become a climb uphill, crossing back over the motorway bridges and taking some long, subtle uphills back up the roads. I dropped down to 8.15s and was absolutely shattered. Not only were my legs heavy as lead, I felt like I was running through treacle fighting the gales. Everyone around me was the same but we all trooped on. By the time you reach the 13 mile marker, you turn a sharp bend and the finish is in sight.  With all my might, I sprinted (well attempted to) to cross the finish in 1.42.40. 
Overwhelmed with joy at my time mixed with stress from the last 5K of windy torture, I felt delirious crossing that line. There was a good bunch of crowds around, which including my parents who were waiting on the sidelines for celebratory hugs. After dropping my chip in the buckets provided, I collected my medal and skipped round to the side where the crowds were standing to cheer in my friend that was also running. Once she had crossed the line, we walked back to the base camp to have a quick change and collect our bags. We also treated ourselves to the tech t-shirts on sale that had all competitors names printed on (short sleeved: £10, long sleeved £15). I opted for bright orange. 
To summarise, Wokingham Half Marathon is a lovely race that has the perfect balance of popularity yet intimacy. I loved that it was much smaller than the big wigs in half marathon events (e.g. Reading, Bath, Bristol etc..) yet it had a brilliant turnout of dedicated runners. There were around 3,500 runners, with most of them being club runners. Despite this though, there were a mixture of abilities making it a great choice for anyone. The course itself is very open, with the right amount of turns to keep you interested. After Reading and the dreaded dual carriageway at mile 11, it was nice to have a course that gave you lots to look at. The only downside for my race was of course the crazy winds but this cannot be helped. Although I do wonder if I could of got a faster time if these had not be so disruptive...

If there was anything for race organisers to improve on it would be to maybe introduce pacers, mainly due to the fact that runners of all abilities were mixed together, which meant chaos for fast runners caught up with the slower ones. However, this is only a minor criticism. Overall, I would highly recommend Wokingham Half Marathon. Priced at a reasonable £24 (£22 for affiliated runners), it offers a great PB course for anyone looking to secure a shiny new time. 

To read more on this event, you can visit the website here


Course: 4/5
Scenery: 5/5
Facilities: 3/5
Water Stations: 3/5
Medal & T-Shirt: 4/5

My time: 1.42.40 (February 2016)


Lipstick Runner.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

TRAINING UPDATE: Week 10 of half marathon training

I can't believe I am in the last days of my training. Wokingham is now only two weeks away and I have been in the final stages of race prep before I begin to wind down and taper. 

Week nine was an interesting one. I had ended week eight with a 10 mile training run. I luckily had my best friend join me and we tend to chat ALOT when we run together so the mile pace for this was a very casual 8.50. The following day, I didn't ache exactly but I did decide to give my body a rest from cardio and instead I did a small weights workout. I am now successfully using my 5KGs at least once a week which is huge progress given that I was struggling to lift them only weeks ago. 
(10 miles with my bestie!)

By Tuesday, I was starting to feel the familiar feeling of training fatigue. I always get this towards the end and I was also experiencing a very busy period in my job which doesn't help. Cycling home that evening, I couldn't be arsed to go out for my paced run and when I got in, I decided to skip it. However, as I started to get changed out of my cycling kit, guilt flooded over me and I fought the urge to slob on the sofa and told myself to get into my running kit and get out the front door. 

It was hard but I eventually was outside, Garmin set and starting off on a four mile paced run (it was meant to be five but sod it!). Despite feeling absolutely shattered, I decided to take a different route to  my normal one to change things up. This one turned out to be bloody hilly! My god it was so hard. Up and down, up and down. It was endless! Time managed to pass quickly though and I was super chuffed to see that I had finished with an average mile pace of 7.38 (faster than it should be!). I was ecstatic and so glad I had plucked up the courage to head out. 

Come the next day and elation had quickly turned to pain. I woke up with the most painful shins. Even to lightly touch them made me wince - it was horrid. Every step I took was agony and I found more comfort on my bike than actually putting my feet on the ground! By Thursday, it was even worse (it always is the second day isn't it?). I was worried I had come down with the dreaded shin splints but after much research, I think I had a bad case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Still though, it was awful and I decided to skip training for three whole days. 

By Sunday, I was down to run 13 miles. Ugh the dreaded long run of my training plan. Luckily, my shins were feeling OK by this point but the weather outside was greatly putting me off. It was chucking it down with rain and I could see trees bending over backwards from the strong winds. Seeing my husband snuggled down in the duvet, I begrudgingly got out of bed and changed into my kit. I opted to wear my new Mizuno Breathe Thermo Wind Running Top (shop here). I got this for Christmas from the hubby and it is a beautiful piece of kit. It works to keep you dry and warm during the winter months as the yarns captures escaping heat. I was a little hesitant of its thickness and that I would overheat but it turned out to be an absolute lifesaver! The rain was awful and it kept me dry up until 7-8 miles before I started to feel slight dampness on my skin. I think that is good going though!

(wearing Mizuno Breathe Thermo Wind Running Top)

Going back to the actual run, I found myself going at quite a good pace. I was ranging between 8.10 - 8.40 mile pace and it felt comfortable and controlled. I ran all over North London and then ventured down to Angel and St Pauls, followed by running up the Southbank and over to Buckingham Palace. Doing 13 miles on my own was a bit lonely but I kept myself busy taking in some of London's wonderful sights. 

(Sunday morning practise for the Queen's guards)

By the final mile, I dug deep to try and do it at target half marathon pace (which I did) and found I finished the whole run in just over 1.48! To say I was chuffed is an understatement. I was surprised at this time as I did try to go at a pace that was casual and not overly strenuous. I'm pleased that this turned out to be faster than I expected. 

Coming into week 10, I didn't feel too tired from my long run. Again, I made Monday a weights day and headed out for a paced run on Tuesday. This did come out a lot slower than all my previous ones (and I mean ALOT - my average mile pace was 8.58) but I do think my legs were a bit heavy from the 13 miles two days previous. Due to social commitments, I skipped sessions on Wednesday and Thursday but switched them to Friday and Saturday. First up was my weekly swim session (which went well) and then early Saturday morning I headed out for a speed session.

I opted to carry out the pyramid session my club had done at training on the Thursday I missed. It involved started long and slow, then getting shorter and faster and going all the way back up to the top again:

1200m (half marathon pace)
800m (10K pace)
400m (5K pace)
200m (sprint!)
400m (5K pace)
800m (10K pace)
1200m (half marathon pace)

(60 seconds rest between each set)

I love doing these as at the time they feel bloody tough but you know you are pushing your body hard. If you decide to do these sessions, make sure you follow the correct pace. Try your best to go fast on the shorter distances but remember to reserve energy for when you are back up to 1200m. That last set burns! It totals just over 5K and I was happy with my average pace and mile splits:
The next day (today) it was my weekly long run. Now I was actually supposed to be doing the Regent's Park 10K race today but I felt like I needed to get another long run in for practise. So, I headed out on this gloriously sunny day to take on 10 miles. I managed to keep similar pace to last weeks 13 miles and again felt steady and controlled. Opted to do the last two miles at target half marathon pace and ended up doing them much fast than anticipated! Wahoo! The weather was so beautiful today too so London's sights were in their true glory. 

(Left: St Pauls, Right: Buckingham Palace)

So this brings me to the end of week 10! Looking back on my whole plan, I do feel pleased with where I am. Yes, I have missed a couple of sessions and maybe tweaked a few too many paced runs but overall, it isn't too shabby. Do I think I can secure that all important sub 1.45? At this time, I honestly don't know. Whilst I feel happy I can do the distance, I am a little fearful I will run out of steam at mile 9/10 and end up wilting away in the final stage. But, this could be mind over matter and I will need to ensure on race day my head in screwed on properly and ready to take on the challenge and reach my goals. 

Lipstick Runner.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Joe Wicks Lean in 15

In the last year, I have made drastic changes to my diet. For those that know me personally or have read my blog from the beginning will be aware that I was a pescatarian (one of those veggies that ate fish). Almost a year ago, I decided to go one step further and throw in chicken and very recently, all meats. 

Fellow vegetarians may gasp in horror (I know a few that did when I told them) but for me, it was something I was really comfortable about. I had become a vegetarian through upbringing and choice but also through laziness. I loathed cooking and found it easier and cheaper to avoid meat. My husband, a true carnivore, supported my diet from the day we met but it did make dinner times odd as we were practically eating separately. Then there's eating out, where the choice on the menu normally formed some sort of tomato risotto or veggie burger (if I was lucky). I had become that painful dinner guest that would always have to make sure there was something I could eat at a place ahead of time or be the awkward one that asked to go somewhere else when there was nout.

Not only was I irritating myself with this, but I was also starting to have the urge the try new things. My diet was pretty bland and in all honesty, I am not the biggest eater of vegetables. When I did go out for meals, I was always curious at other options on the menu. Also take into account my increased training plan by entering the world of triathlon and my appetite went through the roof! So, I started eating chicken/turkey (which by the way I love) and over Christmas, I went the full hog (literally) and opened up my diet to all types of food. 

For Christmas, my husband got me Joe Wicks' (also known as The Body Coach) new recipe book, Lean in 15. Flicking through, all the recipes looked immense and so easy to make (given the title, these were meals that took 15 minutes to make). I decided there and then that New Years would kick off with me following the recipes in this book. Fast forward five weeks and I am a Lean in 15 convert!

The best thing about this book is that everything is straightforward. The recipes contain normal, everyday ingredients (even things like seasonings) and are split into two sections - reduced carbohydrate and post workout carbohydrate refuel recipes. The idea is that you only have carbs if you have worked out (and that is really the only time you should allow them). Taking into account my half marathon training plan, I planned the right recipes for days I worked out and rested. By also planning in advance, it meant I was only purchasing groceries and food that I needed (and not wanted). I have turned to the world of online shopping and it is the best thing ever! No naughty treats at the end of shopping aisles for 'just £1!' to tempt me.

So what are the recipes actually like? Well, bloody delicious to put it bluntly. I have tried probably 60% of them and I have definitely found some favourites. Below are a few that I strongly suggest - ones that are super scrummy, lean and fulfilling. 

(this is to die for!)

(great option for veggies!)

(we also chucked in spinach)

(we threw in some toast as we opted to make this a post workout meal)

(this photo was sourced from the hubby's Instagram!)

This book hasn't also just changed my diet, it has improved my lifestyle too. Each night, I come home from work super excited to cook with my husband and also to sit down and eat together. I have grown very fond of the kitchen and have found a love in prepping good, healthy and honest food. We chat about our day over the hob whilst we cook and the sit down to enjoy our feast as a couple - how it should be. We have also become savvier shoppers and enjoy planning our meals in advance. Another huge benefit to this book is that my food bill hasn't increased greatly (of course meat has made it more but it isn't breaking the bank). Each week, our average food bill is £40-45. For two people that isn't too bad!

Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough. I urge you to hop on Amazon immediately and make the purchase. It will change your life. 

Lean in 15 is available to buy here.

Lipstick Runner. 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

TRAINING UPDATE: Week 8 of half marathon training

I'm two thirds into my half marathon training and I must say I am feeling a little apprehensive. It has been a manic couple of weeks, what with a new job and just generally getting back into the swing of a normal routine post Christmas. I have managed to upkeep a strong steady plan (I may have missed two sessions though), yet I am feeling utterly exhausted!

Week six of training was my first week in my new job so I had get used to a new cycle route. This one is slightly longer than my previous commute and includes some short, steep hills. Three weeks in and I am already seeing the benefits this commute is having on my cycling. I feel faster and stronger which is an added bonus as it helps set me up for triathlon training in March. Anyway, going back to week six and it kicked off with a swim using my new Garmin watch that I got for Christmas. It quite simply is such a delight to have one of these on a swim now. Gone are forgetting how many laps you have done halfway through a swim and now I can finally see how fast I am going. This watch has an accelatrometer so I have to make sure I push off for the start of a new lap hard enough for it to clock a new length. For this session, I did a simple front crawl swim up to 1250m and was really pleased to come in just over 27 minutes. 
Next up on Tuesday was a paced four mile run where I really struggled in the first mile to reach a 7.55 pace. I was almost 30 seconds behind schedule! So I upped my speed and overall finished the run with an average pace of 7.54. This is great as its my half marathon target pace, however, due to that slow mile, I had to run the last three faster.

By Thursday, I had decided to venture down to the athletics track with my running club to kick off the year with a tough speed session. Annoyingly, I forgot my watch (I was livid!) so I had to run blind a session of:

1200m threshold running
5x 400m @ 5K pace
1200m threshold running
(60 secs rest between each set)

Despite not knowing my pace, I ran the fastest I could and felt super energised at the end - can you tell!?
At the weekend, I rested on the Saturday, rolling and stretching to get prepared for a 10K race on Sunday. This was the normal 10K I do - Mornington Chasers Regents Park 10K. I was oddly feeling quite nervous (even though I have done the race so many times!) about the pace I would be able to keep for this and the weather that particular morning was fecking freezing! By the time I arrived at the park, my hands and feet were frozen. I just wanted to get running to warm up!

Luckily after the first of three laps on the course, I had warmed up and was stripping off my gloves. I tried my best to keep steady throughout and managed to cross the finish line in 46.45 with an average pace of 7.30. I am really happy with this as it has been my target 10K pace in the tempo runs I have been doing.
The next day (and the start of week seven), I opted to do a workout session at home as my legs were a bit tired. For Christmas, I got Joe Wick's Lean in 15 book (which by the way I highly recommend) and he includes some HIIT workouts in there. Looking at the weights focussed one, I thought I could do it so I picked up my 5KGs and got to work. 

Oh my lord it was hard! I had to use these weights for squats, lunges, bicep curls, press up arm pulls and a couple of other things. I had to repeat the workout three times but sheepishly gave up after two as my body felt broken. Man alive I am weak! Give me endurance any day but tell me to do a weight session and I am useless. The next day I felt it too. Lets just say I took the lifts that day at work.
The rest of the week, I carried out a swim, hill repeats and a paced run, ending the week with a nine mile run. Joined by a fellow running buddy, we went out easy and finished with an average pace of 8.55. The distance didn't feel too bad either which must be good!

Come week eight and I am starting to feel tired. Work was particularly busy this week and I found myself staying late some nights, which caused a bit of disruption to my training plan. On Tuesday, I was supposed to get up at 6am for a run but told my alarm to f**k off when it went off. I laid in and woke up with enough time to get ready and dash to work. I felt guilty I didn't go for a run and so I decided to make up for it and would do a quick run session after work before I met my friend for a catch up coffee.  My GPS wouldn't work on my watch so I decided to run hard for 30 minutes. And I really did - so much so that halfway round the outer circle of Regent's Park I tripped and went flying! I managed to save myself from any rolled ankles or grazed knees thank god! I finished in Kings Cross where I met my friend and felt like I had maintained a good pace. When I got home that night, I decided to look at the route I took on MapMyRun and it turns out I did four miles bang on. So in 30 minutes that is 7.30 pace! Wahoo!

After this successful session, it went downhill from there as work was still crazy busy. I ended up missing a planned tempo run on Thursday. I tried so hard to get up on Friday to do it before work but I was unbelievably tired and just couldn't drag my body from the warmth of my bed. 

Do I feel guilty for missing this? Well yeah, but at the same time work has to come first over my hobby and sometimes this just cannot be helped. Instead of feeling bad, I am going to dust myself off and carry on. Next up is a 10 mile run tomorrow where I will again be going casually to get my legs used to the distance. 

To reflect on the past eight weeks and the next four until race day, I feel OK(ish). I don't feel strong and confident to secure the all important sub 1.45 but I am going on the hope that everything will all come together on race day. For now, I just need to keep focussed and simply do the best that I can. There is no point in worrying or piling on the pressure. At the end of the day, whatever I do will be an achievement and who can complain about that. :) 

Lipstick Runner. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

TRAINING UPDATE: Week 5 of half marathon training

The Christmas break is over and we are all back into our everyday routines. Mine hit me like a ton of bricks! After two full weeks off work, I am on struggle street this week trying to get my body back into life mode. Over the holidays though, I did have a strict workout plan in place to ensure I stay on track for my half marathon training.

It all kicked off with a parkrun on my first day of the Christmas break. The previous fortnight had been, to be quite frank, boozy and the night before this particular workout, I did opt for a few too many gins. I did feel quite rough come morning but I dragged my ass out of bed and trotted down to my local parkrun. I felt really queasy jogging there and did wonder whether I would be able to do it! Despite how I felt, it was punishment for all the endless G&Ts I had recently and whilst every step of the way hurt, I was impressed to finish in 23.41. No where near a PB but definitely faster than I expected! I also got to see my tri buddy for a catch up which was nice.
In the first week of the holidays, I was visiting my in-laws and I had three runs to squeeze in. I decided to do two before Christmas and one after. They live in the hilly countryside so these runs are tough. Everytime I run there my calves are in agony! I managed to bosh out successful paced and tempo runs pre Christmas Day but by the time it came for my weekly long run (this one in particular was seven miles), I was so full of mince pies and food, I was dreading it.

I had every right to dread it. I felt like a slug crawling through treacle on this run. Combine this with the hills and I was in agony! It felt like it went on forever and when I reached the last mile, I was so relieved for it to all be over. I managed a pace of 8.24. Not great but not too shabby either.

I feel like after this long run, everything went downhill in the second week of my break. By this point I had travelled over to my parents in Wiltshire (again countryside setting) but the weather was absolutely awful all week that I dreaded going outside.

Luckily Monday was spent doing a swim session so I was indoors in the luxury of a heated pool. My first run however was my weekly paced run. On this day, we were experiencing the gales from Storm Frank and I don't think I have ever ran in winds so strong. At one point, running up a hill, I had to stop for a moment as it took my breath away! On a positive note, I decided to run through the local park which does have some wonderful places to run...
The next day I was back out, this time doing a speed session of 8x 400ms. My legs ached from the pace run but I trooped on (again in gale force winds) and managed a pace of 6.42. This was a lot quicker than needed as 5K pace was required (which for me is 7.20s). Come the weekend though and it was a different story. As I woke up, I could hear the wind and rain whilst I was snuggled in bed. It was so bad I thought the window pane was going to smash!
Did I want to go out for a run? No fricking way! I had to do eight miles and judging by the weather conditions outside, I did not pack the right clothing for it. I knew I couldn't miss this run though - the distance sessions for me are super important. So I forced myself to get dressed and luckily my sister let me borrow a thin windproof jacket (every little helps!). Setting off, the rain was so bad I felt utterly miserable. Weaving around the country lanes, I felt so isolated and had no enthusiasm what so ever. Two miles in I had to stop to check GoogleMaps as I got a bit lost. Getting my phone out from my bumbag, it was damp from the rain. In fact, I was soaked through to my pants and I could feel the shivers coming on. By this point, I thought 'sod it!' and turned around to head home. I didn't care about the eight miles, all I cared about was getting home. I did however take a slightly different route home, extending it slightly to finish at five miles. Appalling I know but I have never felt so happy to be back home and in my dressing down.
Coming back to London, I felt mixed about my training over the holidays. I hadn't had a great success in the sessions and I know this was down to my body being out of sync and drugged on endless mince pies. However, I had stuck (almost) to my plan. That surely is better than nothing right?

I am now back in the working routine and already feel good getting back into my daily schedules. I am back on the cycling commute and already completed two training sessions. Now I just need to stay focussed and avoid any minor slip ups before the big race on the 21st Feb.

Lipstick Runner.