Happy Global Running Day!

I just found out that today is Global Running Day! An appropriate day to have completed my first run since last week; 3.52km in 30 minutes.

It’s been just over a week since I went to London and ran in the Vitality London 10,000. I already wrote about how proud I am of myself, but to celebrate Global Running Day today, I want to tell you about some observations I made about myself while I was doing it.

The major one was that rather than becoming tired, having expended my energy, I actually found that the experience, in particular the actual running, got easier as I went along. My total time was 1h22m19s but the timing devices on our shoes also recorded the time at which we crossed the 5km halfway point and it turned out that I completed the second 5km 8 minutes faster than the first 5km!

One factor of this I think is the breaking down of the mental barriers that had got me so nervous. In training I’d be getting tired and sore around 2 or 3 km and I’d think ‘I can’t do it’ and stop. On the day of the 10k though, giving up and going home wasn’t an option. I had to push through whatever I was feeling and just get on with it. Doing that, and finishing the race gave me the proof that actually – I can do it!

Another observation which was slightly less positive was that my ankles were BURNING. That’s part of what I had to push through and fortunately that got more bearable and less severe as I went along. I ran from the start line and the first time I felt like I had to slow down and walk was because my ankles were hurting. But as soon as I slowed down, they hurt even more! That was a pretty unpleasant conundrum. I’ve been to see a sports physio who suggested that the burning pain may be some irritation/inflammation of the tendons around my ankle joints. I need to take it easy until I’ve had that investigated a little further I think, because I was told that that type of irritation can increase the chances of stress fractures. But I’m not going to stop running and I’m going to aim to run 5k regularly now as part of a general exercise routine.

This newfound ability to run makes me feel like a kid with a new toy!

I Did It!

10 weeks ago I decided to take on the challenge of running 10 kilometres in the Vitality London 10,000.

In that time I’ve been through a range of thought processes from ‘Hell yeah I can run 10k’ to ‘Running is actually quite hard’ to ‘It’s okay, I’ve still got time to pull it back’ to ‘Crap, it’s in 2 weeks and I’ve barely run more than 3km’.

I stopped writing so much about it as the event got closer ’cause I became really scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it and I knew I hadn’t trained as much as I thought I would. This was down to a range of reasons including bad mental health days, family members in hospital and stressing about uni exams.

At the beginning of the process I felt really confident and was running in the gym every couple of days. Then I took my training outside and realised that running on the road is way more impactful on my ankles than running on a treadmill. Before Monday, I hadn’t run more than about 3km in one go.

And yet, I completed my first 10k in 1 hour, 22 minutes and 19 seconds! When I crossed the finish line I was so bloody chuffed with myself and two days later I actually still can’t quite believe I did a 10k!

I need to shout out my amazing boyfriend, Toby, for coming with me and waiting for me at the 8.5km mark to spur me on for that last stretch! I ran with my phone in my hand so that I could listen to music and he kept sending me encouraging messages along the lines of ‘Keep going! You can do it!’.

I intend to keep training and keep running, so it probably won’t be too long before I’m doing another 10k! I’ll let you know!


May 1st – Running (Shoes)

Look, I know it’s the 2nd of May and only for another 4 minutes (at the time of writing – it’ll probably be the 3rd by the time I publish this). But some unforeseen car-related troubles took up my attention today and I’ve only just sat down and had a chance to write.

The first prompt for May, Myself and I is ‘running’, which is convenient, since that’s what I’ve been writing about anyway! I am not making all that much progress honestly. Since I announced/decided 6 weeks ago that I would do the Vitality 10k, I’ve been unwell TWICE and I know that to have run during those times would have made it worse. I know when I need to let my body rest and recover and not distract it with unnecessary effort. Add to that my very up-and-down motivation and I really don’t think I’ve run as much as I should’ve done.

What I have done however, is go out and buy myself a pair of proper running shoes. The trainers I’ve been wearing up until now are the ones that I bought in Chicago in January 2017, when I was on holiday and had forgotten to take my trainers with me, but had all the rest of my gym kit. They are not specifically running shoes and they’re not tailored to my feet.

At the recommendation of my Aunty Sara, who’s been running for around 10 years, I went to a shop called Runners Need to get a gait analysis done. They have a few branches around the UK, I went to the one in The Lanes in Brighton. In this free service, they put you on a treadmill and ask you to run at a steady pace and film you for about 15-20 seconds. Their trained staff then watch back over the video frame by frame to see how you run. The staff member who served me (I think he was called Terry), was super helpful and really knowledgable. A runner himself and a coach at Lewes Running Club, I felt like I could trust his advice. Have a look at this link to find out more about gait analysis. https://www.runnersneed.com/expert-advice/gear-guides/gait-analysis.html

I was told that I have a ‘neutral’ gait, which means my ankles don’t roll in too much or too little. Excellent news really! This means that a pair of neutral shoes is suitable for me, rather than anything with a lot of corrective support, and I invested in a Swiss brand called ‘On’ (although in their logo, the O looks like a Q, which Toby [my product designer boyfriend] would say is poor logo design). The shoe is called ‘Cloud’ and it’s super comfortable and really lightweight. I haven’t tried them on a proper outdoor run yet but they always let you do a test run on the treadmill in the shoes before you buy them. I was hoping to take them out for a spin today but other events took over. My new plan is to go tomorrow and I’ll let you know how I get on with them.

One other thing I’ve liked from Runners Need is their online material. They have an ‘advice and inspiration’ section on their website which is kind of like a blog/selection of articles about a range of subjects, from training tips and injury recovery to nutrition and gait analysis. If you’re a runner, I’d recommend checking them out because they’re pretty interesting and could be useful to you!

Check in in about 30 minutes for my May 2nd post! And keep watching out for updates on my running!

(NB: I don’t really need to say this ’cause I’m definitely not important enough for this to be a concern, but I haven’t been paid or given anything by Runners Need to say nice things about them.)

Creativity for Creativity’s Sake

Full disclosure: This one ain’t about running. The next one will be though!

Since March last year, I’d been putting off writing on this blog because it was originally about my travels in Australia and I figured anything else I had to say was kind of irrelevant and not worth sharing. Then I decided to do the Vitality 10k and figured that that’s an adventure worth writing about and I can loosely tie it in to the travelling by playing on the fact that it’s a training ‘journey’.

But the truth is, running and travelling aren’t the only things I want to write about. I love writing. I’ve been privately writing fiction based on dreams or thoughts or things I overhear for years. I once started a blog under a false name which you will never find so don’t go looking. The point is, sometimes I want to do it for the sake of it and the love of it, not just because I have a specific thing to document.

I will still be writing about my Vitality 10k journey of course, and with four weeks to go, I’m going to be ramping it up somewhat. But I’m going to try something else for a while too.

In my first post about Vitality 10k, I cited Gi Fletcher as an inspiration. Well, her sister-in-law has long been an inspiration to me too, mainly because she’s a fantastic actor, but also cause she’s just really cool and interesting. She’s embarking on a project this month which she has coined ‘May, Myself and I’ where she creates a video for YouTube each day in May. It’s not as simple as just making a vlog about her day though; Carrie has a list of 31 prompts, one for each day’s video. She’s shared the list of prompts and encouraged her viewers and followers to join in in whatever way they feel like. So this is how I’m going to do it. I’m going to write a blog post each day in May, based on the prompts which Carrie has chosen to use for her videos.

Conveniently, she’s also running the Vitality 10k and her first prompt for the month is ‘running’… so watch this space for my latest update!

If anyone else is interested in joining in, I’d love for my friends to get involved so I’ve linked Carrie’s video below.

Outdoor Running is Hard!

I went for my first proper outdoor run today. Or at least I tried.

I was all motivated and dressed to go to the gym, when I realised we don’t have any guest passes left in the house (that’s how I’ve been accessing the gym in Salisbury, I do not pay for two memberships!). Since I was so ready to go, I decided to just go for a run instead.

I knew what my route was going to be; there’s an easily navigable circuit where I live – turn left out of the house, up and round through a suburb called Bishopdown, onto the main road, and then along there until you approach my house from the other side. There’s a bit of a hill to go up and down but it’s not monstrous and the rest of the route is pretty flat. The route is just under 2.5km. I have to admit though, I only managed to run about a kilometre of it on this occasion.

I found that running on the actual earth is much harder than running on a treadmill. Is this normal? Was it psychological ’cause I haven’t done it before? Was it made worse that I chose the warmest day of the year so far to venture outside? I don’t think it’s an issue with my actual fitness as the thing I struggled most with was the pain in my ankles and the tightness of my calves. When I slowed down to walking, my body wanted to spur on and keep up the pace but my ankles weren’t coping well.

I know that practice will really help and I’m hoping to get out again over the weekend, although I do have work and a Christening to fit it around! But I feel like just keeping on running isn’t enough to make it more comfortable and I need to find some tips on strengthening my ankles and legs in general.

It was a little disheartening, considering the progress I felt like I’d made at the gym but I’m going to focus some of my frustration into some internet research. I’m not the first person to do this, nor am I the first to write about it. As Isaac Newton once said, we see further by standing on the shoulders of giants. So giants, share your wisdom!


Best Day Yet at My Home Gym

Apologies for the quietness over the last week. I’ll be totally candid and say that it’s because I haven’t worked out. My mental health and fitness are fatally intertwined in the sense that working out makes me feel better but if I’m not feeling great, I can’t bring myself to workout. And I’ve had a week where I just couldn’t get myself there.

I didn’t beat myself up too much though on the basis that I knew I’d be coming home for the Easter break this week and would be able to use my favourite and original gym. And today I did! AND it was my best workout yet.

I followed the same workout structure but stretched it out to 40 minutes, alternating between running and walking. It was meant to be 5 minutes of each all the way through but I lost track of time at one point and did a six minute lap and a 4 minute lap. But that means I ran for a total of 20 minutes and my longest continuous streak was 6 minutes. And I felt good doing it! It’s true that the first run is by far the most painful and that the pain reduces with each subsequent go. Today I felt confident that I could push myself without it feeling like I might not be able to handle the extra.

Now, 4 hours later, as I’m sat at my computer writing this, my lower back and hips are aching so my next task is to find out how to reduce that side effect.

Now that I’m home for a couple of weeks and can use Parkwood Gym, my aim is to go at least 3 times a week and to make a small improvement each time (as I have done so far). Next week I have a PT session booked in with my lovely friend Charley at Parkwood, who I used to work with and who is so passionate about her job as a PT. I’m excited to have her input and will let you know how it goes!

Vacancy: Gym-Buddies Needed!

Part-time position, hours negotiable. Open to males and females of any age. Must be enthusiastic and reliable. Payment in smoothies and eternal gratitude.

I have never been good at self-motivation. If I don’t feel like doing something, I probably won’t do it. The only thing you can guarantee getting me out of bed in the morning for is work and that’s only because I’ll be punished if I don’t and the other thing I’m not good at is confrontation!

The fact that I’ve signed up for this 10k and have managed three workouts in a week is a bloody miracle! The excitement and sense of achievement is a big motivator, I won’t deny, and it’s certainly got me to the gym so far. But, what I’d love is for someone to come with me and shout at me about what a great job I’m doing!

Last week, when I did those first two stints on the treadmill, the people next to me must’ve thought I was nuts if they could hear me under my breath muttering, “Go on girl, you can do it, just 30 seconds left, yes that’s it, you got this…” etc etc. Much less embarrassing when someone else says all of that to you!

Teamwork makes the dream work; they said it in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I’m saying it now. Whether it’s someone to motivate me through, or someone who’ll convince me to get out of bed when I don’t feel like it, or just someone who’ll join me in the sauna after a session, I’d love to have people support me on this journey. I’ve got friends who just like gyming and friends who’re doing or have done courses or degrees in sport/personal training/fitness. Whether you’re one of those or something in between, or if you’re a stranger reading this who either lives in Brighton or Salisbury – get in touch! If you’re a friend I haven’t spoken to in years but you want to help me on this journey, reach out!

I’d love to hear from you.

First Week Round-Up

If the next 9 weeks go by as quickly as this one has then I’m gonna blink and it’ll be race day!

I’ve always been fairly on top of my fitness but as a runner, I am a complete beginner. When deciding whether this was really a good idea, I had to tell myself that if I could run around the athletics track in Year 11 to warm up before a PE lesson then surely I can still do that much and work up to this 10k. The fact that that was 5 years ago is but a minor hitch!

Despite my nerves, I’ve done 3 runs this week, and I am so proud of myself.

Run the First

I got home from uni last Monday (before posting the first blog about this – I wanted to make sure there was some chance of this happening before I committed online!) and before I could change my mind, I put on my trainers and headed back out the front door. Opposite my house in Brighton, there’s a little cul de sac so I decided to head in there and give this running a go. The residents probably thought I was staking the place out for a burglary; there’s not far to go in a cul de sac other than round in a circle! I was out for maybe 10 minutes and I didn’t even run for all of that, it was part walking. But the first step is the hardest to take and that’s the one I knew I needed to get on with. I just wanted to see what, if anything, I was starting with.

Run the Second

The second attempt had a bit more structure to it. On Thursday afternoon, I went to the Gym and got myself on the treadmill. One of the reasons I’ve never done much running is because of a problem with my left knee where my patella (knee cap) doesn’t track in a straight line, as it should. Basically, I’m wonky. It’s been okay for a couple of years but when it was at its worst, the impact of running was unbearable and I got into the habit of using the cross-trainer instead. It’s been my best friend for cardio ever since. Alas, when gearing up for a 10k, one must make amends with the treadmill. So, on I hopped, and started with a walk to warm up. I’d checked out some of the advice on the Vitality London 10,000 website and there’s a beginners 10 week plan on there which I’m using for inspiration. Interspersing running with walking is the main gist of that, so I experimented with my own little routine, which ended up as follows:

5 minutes walking (to warm up)

3 minutes running

2 minutes walking

3 minutes running

4 minutes walking (Guess where I started to get tired!)

3 minutes running

5 minutes walking (to cool down)

A total of 9 minutes running out of 25 doesn’t sound like much, but for me, it felt like a massive win! I did a little bit of weight training after that, and headed home feeling victorious.

And what did I do the very next morning? I got up and went to the gym again (don’t get carried away, it was 11am – I am still a student!). I did the same thing but managed to push myself a little bit. The second set of 3 minutes became 3.5 and the third became 4 minutes. That’s a minute and a half increase!

I took the weekend off to let my body recover and tomorrow I intend to be back at it. Week 2, let’s be ‘aving ya!

I have no shame about taking gym selfies!

10 Weeks to 10k

On this day a year ago, I returned from my amazing trip to Australia, all 3 months of which, I documented on this blog.

Today, I’m going to start documenting an entirely different, but (hopefully) as exciting and fulfilling journey…

But first, a word of context. Someone who really inspires me in the area of body confidence is Giovanna Fletcher, author, actress, wife of McFly’s Tom Fletcher and mother to three adorable (according to Instagram) little boys. Giovanna, who tends to be known as Gi, knows that even though her body may not look ‘perfect’ according to society’s ideals, it’s done so much for her and deserves to be loved and taken care of. One of Gi’s body’s achievements is giving birth to her three children and if you’re familiar with any of her work, you’ll know this is what she’s most proud of.

I haven’t been all that happy about my body in the last few months. I’ve always had issues with my back and my knees, I regularly see a chiropractor to keep my spine from crying, and recently I’ve felt so lethargic and lacking in energy. Things like exhaustion, headaches and lack of sleep come as symptoms of my poor mental health. And while they won’t officially diagnose me with asthma, I use a Ventolin inhaler to keep me from wheezing when I exert myself a little too much. My body may be keeping me alive but sometimes I feel like it doesn’t let me do much more than that.

I want to do something to remind myself how amazing my body actually is and what it’s capable of, and give myself a chance to nurture it while also giving it a gentle push to get its act together!

Obviously, bearing children is not part of my immediate plan, so I can’t use the same approach as Gi Fletcher, but I can attempt something else. I’ve decided to run the London Vitality 10000; a 10k race, taking place on 27th May.

I think it will be an important and challenging experience for me, plus I miss writing something that isn’t lecture notes, so I’m going to write about my training journey on this blog (Pipe down, I never said it would be exclusively a travel blog!).

The run is in 10 weeks, so I’ll be starting from scratch and publishing plenty of posts about how I’m getting on. Also, if you’ve done anything like this yourself (Mickie, I’m looking at you), I’d LOVE your advice. As someone who doesn’t usually run unless it’s for a bus, I’ll be needing as much help as I can get.

(Featured image courtesy of https://www.vitalitylondon10000.co.uk/)