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?

Running, Training

Week 11 Training

I knew it had to come…week 11 was the first week where I wasn’t able to properly complete my training plan.   Work took me to London last week, and I had long days, most of them with dinner at the end of them so it was tough to find the time to get my training done.

I stayed at the Thistle City Barbican which has a great gym, but sadly no air con for anything except deluxe rooms.  I had to  power through the week on very little sleep and lots of bad buffet food!

I did as much as I could and finished off the week with a half marathon length training run.  I got a personal best time of 2.10.03 which I tremendously proud of, hopefully the Great North Run will be a breeze this year (hopefully!).

The final route for the Yorkshire Marathon has also been announced – I need to get out and drive it now and look for any sneaky hills.  Coming up to the half way point of the training, I can’t believe how fast it’s going.

Week 11:

  • Monday: jog 30 – I did this on a cross trainer as I’m not brilliant on treadmills
  • Tuesday: sprint 60 seconds, recover 3 minutes, sprint 30, recover 3, sprint 60, recover 3 x 5 – done on an exercise bike
  • Wednesday: jog 20 – treadmill
  • Thursday: fail!  I didn’t have time to do the sprints I was meant to do
  • Friday: rest day (should have been Saturday)
  • Saturday: jog 10 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (chest), cave in and get lift home from the husband
  • Sunday: 13.1 long slow distance run

I did the long slow distance run with the husband.  It’s great to have him there keeping me going, but 9.55 minute miles isn’t really slow for me, it’s quite fast 🙂  It will be interesting to see how I get on when the mileage rises and the husband drops off, he wasn’t intending to train past 6 miles!

Hope you meet all your goals this week.

10k, Race Review, Reviews, Running, Weather

Race Review: Leeds 10k 14.7.13

Sunday 14th July was the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k.  The Jane Tomlinson events are always well organised and well attended, the entrance fees are steep but the atmosphere and the goodie bag are usually worth it 🙂

Getting there

Leeds isn’t too far from York so we had a leisurely breakfast (wholemeal bagels and honey, banana) and left the house at 7.45.  Traffic getting into Leeds isn’t bad and there is lots of parking, just make sure you read up on the road closures.  It was cloudy when we left York, but as we drove towards Leeds the sun really started to blaze.


There are lots of car parks in the centre of Leeds, and if you can find an on street space it’s free on a Sunday.


My pre-race wee is always a concern for me – will I have to queue, how grotty will the toilets be?  There were lots of portaloos but the queues there were quite big.  What most runners don’t know is that there are public toilets in the corner of Millenium Square where the runners assemble, and the queue there wasn’t too bad.   It’s a little thing, but a clean toilet and toilet paper make for a great start to the day.

The start

My only real quibble with this race is how early they want the runners to assemble.  The race started at 9.30, but we were supposed to be assembled by 8.30 to be walked to the start at 8.50. There was a lot of hanging around listening to the DJ rambling and most people just wanted to get going.  We found a little patch of shade which was much better than 45 minutes standing in full sun.

The route

The route was new this year – fast and flat, and similar to the Abbey Dash route (another Leeds 10k).  It’s an ‘out and back’ route, so the road was split in two for the faster runners to return while I plodded on.  I know some people don’t like this type of route, but I love being able to see the elite athletes zoom by, and when I’m on my way back I like to see if there are still people behind me.

There was a little bit of congestion in places but overall it was okay.

The finish

Slightly uphill!  Just like every finish in Leeds seems to be 🙂  The 200 meters to go sign was very welcome, and I crossed the line in 57.32, a new personal best (PB) for me.  I was targeting sub-60, so I was very happy.  The husband got sub-50 so he was delighted too.

The goodies

Jane Tomlinson events always provide a great technical t-shirt.   There was water, Lucozade Sport and  a couple of little chocolate bars which I devoured in the car on the way home.   There was lots of water and sponges on the route, which were very welcome in the heat.

My time

57.32.  It’s York 10k next month, now I have a new target to beat!  I really feel like my training is making me stronger and more consistent.  I’m a bit faster too, but strength is my goal with an eye on the marathon…it’s getting closer!

Positivity, Running, Training, Weather

Week 10 Training

Heatwave!!! Summer arrived with a vengeance in the UK this week – time to pack up the thermals and bring out the suncream.

Here’s how week 10 looked:

  • Monday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Tuesday: should have been fartlek 75, ended up run 60
  • Wednesday: jog 10, run 10, jog 15
  • Thursday: sprint 75, recover 3 minutes, sprint 60, recover 3 minutes, sprint 30, recover 3 minutes
  • Friday: jog 20 – 1o minutes to the gym, 1 hours weights (shoulders), 10 minutes home
  • Saturday: rest up and a visit to York Races
  • Sunday: Leeds 10k

Tuesday was the first day in 10 weeks that I’ve not completed what I should have done – I went to a friend’s house to run with her as she has more hills than I do, but the heat was punishing and I called time after 60 minutes.  I’m proud of the 60 minutes I did though!

Saturday at York Races was great, I spend so much time running round the access road there it’s nice to see what it looks like when it’s being put to proper use.

Leeds 10k on Sunday was another hot one, but I PB’d and will write the review this week.  Happy training!