Running, Training, Weather

Week 16 Training

This week I got back on track with my training – except none of it was on a track because I did everything on a bike to give my whingy ankle a rest, but you know what I mean.

Here’s how week 16 looked:

  • Monday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Tuesday: sprint 60 seconds, recover 3 mins, sprint 50, recover 3, sprint 40, recover 2, sprint 30, recover 1 on a spin bike
  • Wednesday: 1 hour on a spin bike, which was quite dull
  • Thursday: did a yoga session that absolutely killed me
  • Friday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (back), 10 minutes home,
  • Saturday: rest (my birthday – nice timing!)
  • Sunday: 19 miles!!!!!!

Sunday was amazing.  I did 2 x 9.5 mile laps and managed to do 19 miles in three and a half hours.  This is the longest I’ve ever run and I feel like I’m actually getting up into “I can do this marathon” territory now.  The second lap was hard and I had some walk breaks, but even so I’m on track for a sub-5 hour marathon which is my target.

One thing I’ve found is that heat really kills me when I’m running.  It’s no coincidence that on the second lap the sun had come out.  I’m finding it very  hard to carry enough water for these long runs, thank you to the cafe on Skeldergate who refilled my bottle for me.

It sounds weird, but for my remaining long runs I’m going to run laps that go past my house so I can dip in, grab water and get back out again.  It’s better than stressing about water or trying to work out a new system when there will be water stops on  the marathon route.   Running in and out of home should be good for mental strength too.

It should cool down soon as well which will mean I drink (and whinge 🙂 ) less.

Running, Training

Cross Training: Spin

The running plan that I follow has me running 6 days a week.  The runs are a combination of fartlek, sprints and recovers, longish runs and one long run on a Sunday.

I’ve really enjoyed following the plan, but 16 weeks in I’m finding the running is taking its toll on my body.  I’m not light, and I’m starting to get pain in my ankles (as well as a disturbing clicking sound!) which I can only attribute to the constant repetitive pounding that they’re getting when I run.

The other issue with running 6 days a week is it doesn’t give me much chance to cross train.  I think cross training is really important, and I’ve stuck with my twice weekly weights sessions because I need to be strong as well as fit to cope with a marathon.

To help my ankles out and give them a rest, I’ve been doing spin classes instead of running on some days.  I get an unbelievable sweat on doing spin so I can be sure it’s working my overall fitness, but I get to do it sitting down 🙂

Energise York where I train has a rather fabulous spin robot. It’s a touch screen terminal set up in a spin studio that projects a virtual instructor onto the wall.  They schedule classes each day, but if you go in between classes you can also set up your own personal spin class, choosing from cardio, fat burn, interval etc.   You can also choose green, amber or red for the intensity of each track.

That’s a great option for me, because I can choose a work out that’s similar to the run that I should be doing, in both time and intensity.

I wasn’t sure if a virtual spin class would be as tough as the real thing, but I find I work myself just as hard.  The virtual instructors are pretty good, if a little bit too happy.   When they ask “how are you doing?  You’re doing great!” I am occasionally tempted to throw a rude gesture in their direction.

This week I’ve done nothing but spin to give my ankles a rest.  Sunday is a long run (18 miles) and I’m hoping to feel an improvement for the break.  I’m trying to balance listening to my body and not drifting too far away from my training plan.

Running, Training

Week 15 Training

Despite all of my good intentions, this was a real ‘rip up the training plan and throw it away’ week.  I trained, just not how I was supposed to!

My main intention this week was to stay off my feet and do all my training on a spin bike, but it didn’t really work out.  I’m getting nagging ankle pain and clicking that isn’t getting any better, so I hoped a week off my feet would make a difference.   Maybe I’ll try that this week instead.

Here’s how week 15 looked:

  • Monday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Tuesday: training plan said jog 10, run 30, jog 30.  Intended to do it on a spin bike but my car wouldn’t start, set off for a run in a very bad mood, wore my rubbish old gym trainers by mistake and made my ankle hurt more.  Not a success!
  • Wednesday: training plan said sprints and recovers, real world said walk 2 miles to pick my car back up from the garage.  At least it’s fixed now
  • Thursday: sprint 60 seconds recover 3 minutes x 6 – did this on a spin bike
  • Friday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (shoulders), 10 minutes home
  • Saturday: rest day, did some intensive gardening and soil shifting
  • Sunday: 14 mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales

Positives – I did lots of exercise.  Negatives – most of it wasn’t on the plan!  This week’s plan is to stick to spin bikes as much as possible, but stick to the plan too….let’s see how it goes.

Happy training this week!  Less than 10 weeks until the Yorkshire Marathon.

Running, Training

Proper Preparation…

One of the best things about running is it’s not dependent on anything.  If you want to run, you can just throw on your trainers and head out the door.  Up to now, this has been true for me.  Up to a 10k, I’d pop on my trainers and run.  10k to half marathon distance, I’d add water and my trusty Garmin Forerunner 310XT.

In winter, I add more clothes.  In summer, less.

As my marathon training has kicked in and the distances get longer, simple running isn’t working quite so well for me.  A combination of distance and my natural control-freakishness means my running prep is getting longer and longer.  Take last Sunday (15 miles) for example – here’s how I got ready:

  • Take my normal morning asthma inhalers
  • Apply sudocrem to areas liable to sweat rash
  • Apply vaseline to areas liable to rubbing
  • Take ibuprofen for recent ankle pain
  • Get dressed
  • Fill water bottle
  • Put on garmin
  • Put on iPod
  • Put gels into RooSport pouch

And only then was I ready to go…

Proper planning prevents poor performance!  If I’m not fully prepared, I’m much more likely to have a bad run.  Little niggles (for example, haven’t put vaseline under my arms where they rub if I wear a vest) become all I can focus on, to the detriment of everything else.

I’m undecided about whether this is a bad thing or not.  I like to be prepared, but I don’t want it to take over and ruin the simple pleasure of going out for a run. I’m not so bad heading out for shorter runs, so I guess it’s okay.  I might need a checklist come marathon day though 🙂

10 weeks to the marathon, and my Great North Run pack arrived in the post yesterday.  My life feels divided into ‘pre-marathon’ and ‘post-marathon’ at the moment.

Attitude, Positivity, Running, Training

Week 14 Training

I got my head down this week and tried to get things back on track, with some success.  @YorkMarathon tweeted “10 weeks to go!” this weekend – it seems like a long time away and frighteningly close at the same time.

Here’s my training for week 14:

  • Monday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hours weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Tuesday: sprint 60 seconds, recover for 3 minutes x 6 at York racecourse
  • Wednesday: swapped a 30 minute jog for a 40 minute spin class
  • Thursday: ran 7.5 miles with some small fartlekking
  • Friday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (chest), 10 minutes home
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: 15 miles in 2 hours and 37  minutes

Sunday’s long run felt a bit ‘make or break’ after last week’s disastrous long run.  I did 2 laps of a 7.5 mile circuit and felt pretty good.  I ran with my iPod for the first time in years, and I think it took my mind off the distance so I’ll be trying that again in future.

Proper planning also helps for a successful long run.  I’ll blog about how that works for me on Thursday.

Happy running this week!

10k, Race Review, Reviews, Running, Training

Race Review: York 10k 4.8.13

Sunday 4th August was my home town 10k, organised by the Jane Tomlinson charity.

Getting there

This is an easy one for me – just 10 minutes drive to the racecourse in York.  I do love organised runs, but I’m terrible with early starts so local events are always preferable.   I got up at 7am to eat porridge and a banana, that way I could make sure I’d done all my digesting before the run started.


There’s event parking at the racecourse itself.  We parked on a side street a few minutes walk away – the streets do seem to be getting busier and busier every year though.   I’ve heard lots of people say the traffic is bad getting to this run from further away, so make sure you’ve left plenty of time.


We got the racecourse in plenty of time and spotted a MASSIVE queue for the portable toilets.  I didn’t even need a wee but the husband and I didn’t have much else to do so we joined the queue and stood around for 15 minutes.  By the time I got there, I did need a wee so all was well before the start of the race.  With an estimated 6000 runners, I think a few more loos would have been good.

The start

I’ve done this race in previous years and the start has been a bit of a mess – everyone penned in on Knavesmire Road and not able to hear the announcers.  This year there were pens for sub 45, sub 55, sub 60 minute runners to assemble in, to be followed by 60 minute + runners, joggers and walkers.  A huge improvement!  I set off with the sub-60 runners and was a bit surprised to see people walking within the first kilometre.  A bit ambitious in the group they stood with perhaps 🙂

The route

This run is billed as one of the most beautiful 10k’s in England and they’re right.  It goes past the river, York Minster…it’s lovely.  The route is mostly flat, with a few small inclines.  It does get narrow at some points though, so competitive types might find it a bit frustrating if they get stuck.

I had Harry Gration from Look North (our local news) running behind me for a while, he was getting so much attention from the spectators!  I sped up so he didn’t overtake me.

There were lots of people on the route cheering us on – thank you so much!

The finish

The finish came quite quickly for me.  Up to 7k I felt fine and like I was going fairly fast.  I didn’t dare look at my Garmin in case I was actually going really slowly!  The 8th and 9th kilometre felt harder but I had enough to get a sprint to the finish.

The goodies

A disappointing goodie bag, but I think I might have a got a defective one.  I got a medal, technical tee and small chocolate bar.  The husband got medal, tee, chocolate, lucozade and a stack of leaflets.  Oh well.

My time

56.41.  I’m delighted with that, another PB.  If it had been a little cooler I think I might have gone even faster too.

10k, Positivity, Running, Training

Week 13 Training

I had some good times and some bad times this week.  I think overall what’s happening is what I sort of guessed would happen – I’ve hit a plateau and the steady improvements I saw in the first few months have tailed off a bit.  It’s only to be expected, so I need to dig deep now and make sure I don’t lose focus or get disillusioned.

The biggest fear/doubt/worry I’ve got at the moment is the long runs.  Once I get past a certain distance I just fall apart mentally, rather than physically.  My long run this week went to pot in the last few miles so I need to make sure I have a good long run experience to get over that.  I wasn’t properly prepared so I finished hungry, thirsty and over-tired – all lessons to learn.

Here’s how week 13 panned out:

  • Monday: 14 miles – I finished it, but had to do some walking and wasn’t pleased with my 11.04 minute/mile average pace
  • Tuesday: fartlek fail – my chafing injury from last week turned 45 minutes into 20 minutes
  • Wednesday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Thursday: run 60, 1 hour climbing
  • Friday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (back), 10 minutes home
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: York 10k – race review coming later this week

My main lessons are:

  • Don’t drift away from the training plan
  • Don’t do a long run when I’m tired and badly prepared
  • Focus on the positives and don’t let one crappy run destroy all the progress I’ve made

Onwards and upwards for week 14!

Injury, Kit, Running, Training

Ouch! Chafing

There are some things that runners only talk about in small groups.  We huddle together, whispering about our dark secrets.  You might hear the occasional word “nipple” “blood” “vaseline” “toilet”.

This week one of running’s dirty secrets hit me hard – the dreaded chafing.  I didn’t feel it as it was happening, but at the end of my 14 mile run I had a swollen red line at the top of my leg that was unbelievably painful.  Now I have to work out what caused it and how to prevent it.

Chafing happens anywhere your skin is rubbed.  It can be on your chest, legs, feet, anywhere!  If I run in a vest I get it at the top of my arms where my underarm rubs against the sleeve hole on my vest.

Chafing can be a problem if you’re running regularly as it needs time to heal.  I had to cut short my last run because the chafing I’d picked up the day before was so painful.

The runner’s best defense against chafing is Vaseline.  It’s not glamorous, but rub it all over any spot you might chafe,  There are some runner specific lubricating gels, but I’ve not tried them – if you have, let me know what you think.

If you get chafing during a race, look out for first aiders by the track with their hands stuck out – those hands are probably full of some kind of petroleum jelly.

If it’s too late and the chafing has already happened, try Sudocrem.  It’s not just for babies bottoms – it will help you to heal more quickly.

Running…it’s all about the glamour!

Running, Training

Week 12 Training

Week 12 has been another challenging week where I’ve not been able to fully stick to the schedule.  I’m getting runs in, but it’s hard when I drift away from what I should be doing and it does give me a vague sense of anxiety!   A busy week at work and a weekend away in Wales with my family conspired against me.

Here’s what week 12 should have looked like, and what it actually looked like 🙂

  • Monday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Tuesday:  run 90 minutes (9 miles)
  • Wednesday: run 90 minutes (9 miles)
  • Thursday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (shoulders), 10 minutes home
  • Friday: should have been sprints and recovers, but turned into a rest day as I had work to finish up before my weekend away
  • Saturday: the official rest day, did a 4 mile walk with lots of climbs
  • Sunday: 2.2 miles, half up-hill with a 211 meter rise

All in all I didn’t do too badly, but the long run I should have done on Sunday now has to be done on the Monday of week 13.  I like the Sunday long run as it’s a definite end to the week, so it feels odd to have it hanging over into the next week.

Sunday’s hill run took me 20 minutes to do a mile uphill – hill training is definitely required!  It was very steep, so I had to do little sequence of 100 steps, 10 breaths stopped to recover, 100 steps etc.  The top of the hill was the stunning Castell Dinas, so it was worth the climb!

Hopefully the runs will get back to normal this week…fingers crossed.

Kit, Reviews, Running, Training

Kit Review: RooSport

Now I’ve worked out a rough strategy for gels for the York Marathon, I need a way to carry them.  I can hold a single gel and a water bottle quite comfortably, but four or five gels requires something a bit more formal.

I’ve seen runners wearing belts like the Spibelt that have holders for gels, but I’m not sure I will be comfortable running in a belt.  My skin is very sensitive, and anything that rubs against it when I’m running or sweating can lead to sore red irritations.  Even labels or a twisted bra strap have hurt me in the past.

While I was looking online for inspiration, I came across the RooSport.  This is an alternative to a belt, it’s a pocket with a magnetic tab.  The pocket slips into your shorts, and the magnetic tab folds over and holds it in place.

Alternative to the Spibelt

Alternative to the Spibelt?

The RooSport isn’t available from Amazon or other retailers, only directly via the RooSport website.  The ordering process was fairly seamless, but I was a bit nervous about the lack of detail about shipping – there are no lead times for international orders.  I did email to check, but didn’t get any reply.

That said, the delivery was very fast, my RooSport arrived in about 3 working days.  I’ve had UK Amazon orders that took longer than that 🙂

I’ve tried the RooSport on 2 long runs now.  The good points are:

  • It does feel totally secure and you do forget you’re wearing it
  • It is very easy to get gels out
  • It’s hand washable and dries quickly
  • The material is very comfortable

The not so good points are:

  • The more you put in it, the more noticeable it gets.  One gel and you can barely see it, but more than one gel and it starts to look like a huge lump
  • The website claims it has space for five gels, but this isn’t true for the SiS Go gels I’m using – it will take three at the most, any more and it doesn’t shut and feels quite ungainly

I was a bit worried about the zip on the back which is facing your skin as you wear it, but this hasn’t caused any rubbing or irritation so far.

Overall I’d give the RooSport 8/10.  It’s a great idea that has clearly come from a runner’s experience, but I’m not sure it’s big enough to get me through a marathon.  If all you’re carrying is car keys, then it’s ideal – I see from other blogs that people use it as a money belt substitute when they travel too.

I’m going to try a Spibelt as well, so I’ll let you know what I think when that arrives.

How do you carry your food?