Not Running

A solitary foil finisher’s blanket, hanging from a tree, seems to sum it up well: my foot injury, months of not running, chasing the semi-privatised NHS to care about a non-life threatening issue.

I’ve been having pain along the outer side of my right foot since the tail end of last year. Even cycling has become difficult. Seeing all the runners enter the Reading Half Marathon made me really jealous, and that feeling isn’t going away now that Running Buddy has signed up for Race to the Tower.

I have tried to do all the right things: rest, see my GP. I was referred for an X-ray to rule out a stress fracture and now am awaiting the next step, hopefully physio, or something else that will get me back out there. In the meantime, this sad, discarded blanket shows a little of how I feel about the situation.

Farnborough Winter Half Marathon

I have never felt so much like dropping out of a race before it even started. 6am on Sunday morning was not a pleasant place to be. I was out late the day before and didn’t get much sleep. On top of that, I ate nothing but junk on the Saturday, finishing off with takeaway pizza. (Never mind a T-shirt saying “Vegan Runners”; we need one saying “fuelled by Dominoes”.)

This topped off a couple of weeks of fast-tracked, last minute training, trying to increase mileage by too much, too soon. I also did a hard training session on the Wednesday before, which may not have been the best plan.

As if all of the above wasn’t enough, it was absolutely chucking it down so we started the event by queuing for the toilet in the rain. We weren’t surprised that the queue for the toilet was so long as we don’t have the best impression of 02:09 events. (See my post about the South Downs Marathon 2017, when they ran out of water on the hottest day of the year.)

The rain stopped a little while after the race started though, as it became small fragments of ice, then light snow.

The thing about running a longer distance is that it doesn’t matter how light the rain is, slow steady precipitation will always soak you through eventually.

I don’t mind admitting that after an hour, I was really quite uncomfortable.

That was around the time that my Running Buddy turned to me and said, “This is your idea of a Christmas present – thanks for that!”

(He conveniently forgot that running this race was actually his idea in the first place.)

The course showcased some nice parts of Farnborough, running alongside a golf course and a country estate. It was all on pavement though and I really felt that the day after.

Despite everything, neither of us dropped out; we just slogged it out to the end, sticking together to the finish line, which we crossed after 2h3m45s.

RB reckons I could have gone faster but the point of this race was to support each other and get a decent distance completed before the end of January. To be honest, I’m happy to get the time I did after my abysmal preparation.

It was when I finished the race that I really started to get cold though. Seriously cold, my hands were completely swollen up and it was all I could do just to walk back to the car (it felt like a really long walk) and sit there with the heater on, thawing out.

It has to be said that at Reading, they give you those little silver blankets to stop you from freezing at the end. There was none of that here, although they were handing out milkshakes and cool race packs.

The thing I would say about 02:09 events, is that they just don’t seem to be prepared for any kind of unusual weather. I have now run one of their events in a heat wave, and one in the snow.

Later on, once I was showered, changed and comfortable again, that was when I started caring about the race pack.

It had electrolyte drink tabs, decent snacks, vitamins for your immune system and a hat!

We went for a pub lunch after that; it’s become something of a tradition. My Running Buddy’s mum came along to support, as she often does. She is a qualified NHS nutritionist and, despite her telling me that she does not specialise in sports performance, I asked her lots of stupid questions about ketogenic diets, the fat burning zone, protein supplements, and so on.

I did all of this whilst tucking into a lamb roast and then a sticky toffee pudding with custard.

(I’ve been taking the vitamins by the way, as ever since Sunday, I’ve started sneezing throughout the day. That’s normally how colds begin isn’t it? Well, as long as I don’t get one of the nasty strains of flu going around the UK at the moment, I’ll be happy!)

A Halloween Fun Run

A while back, I set myself the challenge of running 100k by the end of October (not all in one go). The project is called Running Down Dementia. The idea is to raise £100 for Alzheimer’s research and run 100k.

Anyway, I got complacent and just a little bit lazy about tracking all my mileage, especially since the website widget didn’t seem to work. (I think they have fixed that now.) So I’ve had to run my arse off over the last week or so.

I ended up on 95k by the weekend and thought a Halloween 5k fun run would be a good way to finish up the challenge.

This race was held in Thames Valley Park, Reading, and I think the organisers put a lot of effort into making it a great event. See just one small part of the display below (a carved pumpkin in a rowing boat):

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And the sea of Halloween pirates below (pun intended):

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It all kicked off at 8pm, to the sounds of sea shanties and Irish jigs being blasted through the speakers, and followed a course through the woods.

Night running can be a really unique experience, especially on a clear night, with the moon visible through the silhouetted trees.

There was another nice touch to be had around the 4k mark- a band of drummers in a clearing. Think intro to Michael Jackson’s “They don’t really care about us”.

I have a new running buddy who ran the race with me but he has issues with his knees so has to take it easy. Nevertheless, we came in at 33:14, and that was only his third run since we’ve been training together.

Upon crossing the finish line, we received one of the funnest running packs ever: chocolate coins, jellies, and a fiddle toy. (I would definitely recommend bringing kids to this and letting them do the 2k fun run.)

I finished the event with a tasty post-race cup of pumpkin soup.

Most Active Blog Award

I have received a nomination for the Most Active Blog Award. I can’t say I post all that often and have dropped out of the picture for a while at least once (except for using the reader). I guess my blog is active in the sense that it’s about running, but I think that’s cheating!

Anyway, I am thankful for my nomination, which came from Sage, who is a new blogger with an unusual concept. She writes about…well, life, essentially. I won’t say too much except that you can find her blog here.

My nominees are:

  1. Plz do life – a personal weight loss journey and posts about the ketogenic diet, including recipe suggestions
  2. Love Yourself – this blog is full of positivity
  3. Lost in between worlds – part time management, part weird alien artwork, part…well, just about anything goes on this blog
  4. And I say follow your heart – this blog only has a few posts so far but the latest one is quite powerful
  5. Why Yoga – no prizes for guessing what this blog is about

To my nominees, these are the rules:

  • Create a new post saying that you’ve been nominated by me, including a link to my blog.
  • Nominate other bloggers and let the cycle continue.

Also, you could check out New Blogista and That Girl4Ever who came up with the award.

First run in three weeks

I have been very lazy lately. It started out with putting running on hold to focus on getting a lot of other things done but then as one week off became two weeks off, I developed the habit of not getting out there. 

I think this is very easily done. I have heard it said over and over from self-improvement type people that habit is more important than motivation. Habit is reliable; it keeps the wheels turning long after fickle motivation has moved on, or burnt itself out. 

So I’m trying not to be too harsh on myself. (If you could peek  inside my head, you would know that this isn’t an easy thing for me. My internal voice tends to come out with stuff like: “What’s your excuse today? You’re so lazy, you make me sick. You’ll put all the weight you lost back on at this rate. You’ll lose fitness etc. etc.”) 

Thoughts like this won’t change the fact that I’ve had three weeks if inactivity. 

On top of that, who’s to say a rest is actually a bad thing, especially after non-stop training for events throughout the whole year to date? A lot of professional runners have a few weeks off at the end of the season. It is highly beneficial as it gives the body a chance to rest and repair. 

Of course, I’m not a professional and I didn’t plan to have a break. But let’s just sweep that inconvenient consideration under this rug for a minute shall we? 

I may have inadvertently done myself a favour, even if I am full of it. 

And none of the above analysis does anything to change the period of inactivity. In fact the only thing that can amend it is to get back on it again, like I did this morning. 

If you ever find yourself experiencing a slump like mine, whether it’s been three weeks, three months or even three years, don’t let negative thoughts stop you from sorting yourself out. Accept what you can’t change, lace up those shoes and be glad about it! 

Internal monologues

10:38

I can’t be bothered to run today. It’s the first day of my holiday and I’ve lost the early morning magic. I let a few hours slip away already. The day’s basically done now anyway.

I’m allowed to have one lazy day on the first day of my holiday and I did a lot of driving yesterday to get here, and I’m tired because I couldn’t sleep-in past 06:30, as usual (thanks for screwing up my body clock, work!)

And I can’t be bothered. AND I DON’T WANT TO.

 

11:02

Wow, this is going well – killed my first kilometre in less than five minutes. I hope I do this again tomorrow. I just need a bit less faff tomorrow morning.

Hello, friendly old lady, good morning to you as well!

 

11:23

Cool, 5k in 26m46s and it didn’t even feel as if I was going that fast. Keep going though – I love this track.

 

12:12

Feeling so good after my bath, what shall I do with the afternoon?

 

 

Running in the Rain

I wasn’t expecting that – a torrential downpour specifically timed to coincide with my run. It was sunny when I went out, and after I got back, it was sunny again, but whilst I was out the river level rose and there was flash flooding on the paths.

Thanks for that, sky!

I normally enjoy a bit of rain on the run. It can be refreshing, and it gives you that slight edge – you get to feel just that little bit tougher. After all, nothing is worth doing unless it’s hard. The only way to build character is to take yourself out of your comfort zone. He (or she) who conquers adversity becomes that much stronger because of it.

etc. etc.

Today I just hid under a tree.

After all, it really was raining heavily and the gel from my hair was running into my eyes, making them sting (that will teach me to be such a metrosexual and use products).

Back to the gym tomorrow, I think.

First steps

Mr Wrecket gave me a very thoughtful shout-out the other day, and, considering that he was the one who made me finally start a blog, I think it would be wrong not to return the favour. This post is an awesome cocktail (or dirty pint, depending upon your perspective) of seething social commentary and useful hints on the world of publishing.

Fantasy Road

first-steps-2

Good Morning you ‘orrible group o’naysayers! Today, is a great day! Why? Because its one more day closer to friday than yesterday!

Done much today? nah? not surprising. Realistically all people do from the moment they wake, is repeatedly spam pointless shit on their social media page… “OHMIGODZ TOTES JUZ MADE IT TO THE TOP OF DUH STAIRS, DIDNT EVEN AV AN BRAIN ANEURISM OR NUFFINK. ALL BY MYSELF TOO!” Shut up. you didn’t? thank you so much for sharing this, I feel enlightened already; who even needs buddhism when I have your majestic self to stimulate my breadbox.

Incase you haven’t realised by now, yes… I have a real problem with all of these social media sites, I’m absolutely certain there must be a direct link between IQ and social media use; the more time you spend on it, the more you turn into a potato.

Anyway, down…

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The three things I take on a run

For runs of an hour or less, I don’t take water. Yes, hydration is important, but it can become something of a neurosis, and most people should be able to easily be out for this length of time without needing a drink. Plus, carrying a water bottle is a pain in the arse!

I normally have a glass of water when I get back though, and either a chocolate milkshake (this is always being recommended as a recovery drink in Runner’s World) or a home-made smoothie. (I have a frozen smoothie mix from the supermarket, which I blend with apple juice. It has kale, spinach, mango and kiwi fruits in it. I like it because it has fruits but the kale and the spinach balance it out so that it produces less of a whopping sugar spike!)

So coming back to my three items, number one is my door key, handily detached from the other keys so that it doesn’t jangle with every step.

The second is a five pound note; this is my emergency money. I like this because it is the new plastic style note, and is therefore more sweat resistant than the older notes. (Yes, I really do sweat so much that even the stuff in my pockets isn’t safe!) I know that this won’t help anyone who is not from the UK, but having a contactless card will also help to avoid carrying coins, which, again, will jangle incessantly as you run, attracting all sorts of unwanted attention from people in the park. I prefer the note though because you can spend it in shops that haven’t yet joined the contactless revolution.

(Funnily enough, the only thing I have ever had to buy with my emergency fiver was a drink.)

And that brings me to my third item, which is a bit of a cheat because it’s my mobile (+headphones). This is for emergencies and music, and Zombies, Run!

The Zombies running app tracks my stats, just like any other running app, but it also immerses you in a post-apocalyptic story, set to your own music, as you run. I turn on “chasers”, which means that occasionally I get a warning that zombies are closing in on me, and unless I temporarily increase my speed by a given percentage (adjustable in the settings), they will catch me. This is good for HIIT training, but a bit of a pain when I am waiting at the traffic lights.

(It even has a groaning zombie sound effect which is very disturbing on a deserted early morning run.)

For runs that are longer than an hour, I do need to take my mobile hydration system! This is a running pack with a “bladder” and a tube (ok, a straw) so you can sip little and often. My bladder has a one litre capacity, which is good for about a two hour distance.

It looks really cool.*

The little backpack it comes with can also carry a few extra items, including a light rain jacket (a must on long runs, because in England, the weather will switch from pleasant to chucking it down in twenty minutes or so), and you can use the side pockets for energy gels and hand wipes (the salt content of your sweat really starts to build up at this distance).

Apart from that it’s just a hyper-awareness of how silly I look, a nagging sense of self-doubt and a general awareness of my own inadequacy as a human being. (Whoops, I meant a positive attitude, and a sense of wonder at the ever-changing landscape around me.)

*It really, really doesn’t look cool.

(This post was written in response to the word prompt, “jangle”.)