Tomorrow I travel to Jedburgh, about two hours away in the Scottish Borders, to take part in a 10k. It’s the furthest from home I’ve travelled to take part in a race and it’s somewhere I don’t really know very well. Hmmmm. I’m trying very hard to take this in my stride, remembering everything I need tonight because we’ll have to start off at about 8 tomorrow morning. I’ve even remembered to wash my favourite bra and it’s drying as I type!

The Jedburgh 10k is part of the Jedburgh Half Marathon and its only the second year that the 10k has been run. I must admit I am tempted to do the half. Even though I’m programmed to do 5 miles this weekend (yes, I realise 10k is 6 miles, but what’s a mile between friends?) and my “race” is meant to be next weekend it is SO tempting to step up to the half! I won’t though – I promise!

I’ve fuelled up on a gentle chickpea and Quorn curry with brown rice and I’ve allowed myself one glass of red wine before drinking grape juice for the rest of the evening. I will get an early night. It’s 10pm now and I’m nearly ready for bed. I might just have to take a wee look at the Strictly dances first! We have an extra hour in bed tonight as the clocks go back marking the end of British Summer Time.

I’ll blog again tomorrow, letting you know how I get on. I’m hoping to better my 65 minutes for the Gallovidian 10k in September. Fingers crossed!

Recovery Running

Running out of time on my blissful day off, I decided to do my 30 minute easy run on the treadmill today. Now that I’ve converted my old studio into a gym, complete with Trevor Treadmill, a wobble board and a yoga mat (I’m working on the rest!) it’s great to be able to pop out into the garden to train and still feel part of the countryside. The reason for that is that my gym overlooks a small paddock with trees and occasionally horses. I lose myself gazing into the trees.

It’s been raining on and off all day here today; my washing has been out on the line one minute and whisked in the next. I wasn’t in the mood for heading out and getting soaked and getting soaked was a distinct possibility.

I hopped on the mill and set it to 9 kph for the first 10 minutes. I had it in my head to just run for 30 minutes, non-stop, no walk breaks and see how I got on. I did it the other week when I was doing intervals and really enjoyed it. Gradually I cranked up the speed from 9 up to 9.5, then to 10 and 11kph. It felt good to stretch my legs a bit.

I didn’t check my distance until 28 minutes in and when I did I could see I wasn’t far off 5km. hitting 12 kph my easy run became a race to the tape (I’m such a competitor!) and I hit 5.03km in 30:10. Negative splits from start to finish and not a walk break in sight.

Stretching out, I still felt good and I was really pleased to see that my average heart rate is coming down. I’ll get another run in on Friday and then I’ve got my 10k race at Jedburgh on Sunday!

Bucking the trend: hot baths and stretches

I wrote that after my 14 miler on Sunday I’d taken a hot bath rather than the cold one everyone and their granny prescribes. I thought I’d let you know how that worked out!

I’ve been rereading ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer. Not all of it, but zoning in on what I think are important areas. For example, Danny doesn’t advocate pre-run stretching and I’ve read a lot recently about how stretching static muscles can cause muscle tears. I’ve tried Dynamic Stretches and still incorporate those (when I remember) as I’m doing my warm up walk, so long as no one is watching! However Danny suggests that Body Loosening Exercises are far better for you than static muscular stretches. These involve loosening the joints, ligaments and tendons of the ankles, knees, hips, sacrum (my old enemy and weakspot), spine, shoulders and neck. I’m not going to go into huge detail about these because if you are really interested you should buy Danny’s book, but I have to say when I do these looseners I always run smoother (from the start) and with less wear and tear.

After a run Danny says you must cooldown (my walk) until your heart rate and breathing are back to normal and then stretch to release the lactic acid in your muscles into your bloodstream. The stretches are the normal ones you see advertised in any decent running mag.

Then he says soak your body in a hot bath.

Soaking your legs especially warms your muscle and relaxes them back into their normal shape. Soaking in hot water, he says, dilates capillaries, which help to flush metabolic waste out of your muscles and into your bloodstream to be eliminated.

He then goes on to say that you can take a cold bath if you like because it does help with inflammation and allows the blood to then circulate to any injuries. I suppose if you take a cold bath you could be running the risk of trapping toxins as the cold causes constriction.

So, I took a hot bath. A big fat bubbly one and relaxed. It was great.

I also used some ibuprofen gel on my hips and knees, just the once about an hour after the run.

The next day I didn’t feel any ill effects of running 14 miles. No stiffness, no pain.


Read into that what you want, but, believe me, next time I run I’ll be taking a nice hot bath!

Google Link to buy

From Here to Eternity

My latest longest run ever (LRE) was today’s 14 miler. I am sitting here typing to stop myself from falling asleep before teatime! Tired? I could sleep standing up…if I could stand up that is!

It’s not actually that bad; I’ve had a lovely long, bubbly bath and half a tube of Ibuprofen gel rubbed into my hips and knees, the dodgy bits! I can actually stand, walk, bend – all normal things. So far so good!

I set off having left an hour after having had a couple of slices of toast and Marmite (for extra strength) with water and a few remaining veggie Gummibears. My idea was to run my 5 mile loop 3 and a bit times to get my 14 miles, allowing me to refuel at home after each circuit. I was rewarded for setting off early with a sight of my friend Mr Fox at Ruthwell Station (no longer a station, but the name remains for the hamlet). His long bushy tail is so amazing to watch as it steers him along. It made me smile, which was a good thing as I had a mile of climb ahead of me.

It was raining softly when I set off. It also must have been raining for some time last night because once I reached Twathats Farm (I kid ye not) the road was totally flooded. I had no choice but to take to the farm wall and go through the farmyard, but not before I had soaked my shoes. Wet feet at 2 miles in, not ideal.

I got a bit further on and lo and behold the road was flooded again. Even taking to the extreme verge it was still soaking wet (the water was running off the fields either side of the road) and I just couldn’t avoid another soaking.

3 miles in 33 minutes. 

I decided at this point that I should change my route. Running this twice more would be silly, with this amount of water on the road, not to mention the mud at every farm I passed. I know that it can’t be helped; these roads are rarely used so there isn’t the traffic to disperse the mud and water.

I ran home, filled up my water bottle with sports drink and popped my gel into my back pocket (new tights, with pockets!) My plan was to run back through the village and down on the Bankend road to Bankend itself and then back. It’s a better road, not busy but in better condition than the loop. The only problem was what would I do when I ran out of juice? As I left the house it started to pour down. I was grateful that I’d had the sense to change my long-sleeved top for a vest (as well as change my socks for some dry ones!)

It was easier running on the flat; it’s not perfectly flat, don’t get me wrong, but it’s less hilly than the loop I do.

6 miles in 67 minutes.

The only problem with the Bankend Road is that it’s a bit boring with long straight stretches. It seems to take forever for the bend in the road to arrive. I countered this by looking in the fields, saying hello to all the animals and nebbing in the cottage windows at  the locals watching TV as I ran past. Who is the daft one I wonder?

By mile 9 things were starting to hurt. My groin especially was tightening up and I spent the walking intervals taking huge strides to try and work through it. Goodness knows what people think when they see me. Apart from that it was just my hips (a little bit) and my lower back that was getting sore.

I reached 10 miles and Bankend village in 1 hour 56 minutes. 

At this point I stopped and decided it was time to try this gel I had to hopefully power me enough for the last 4 miles. I also rang Grant and asked if he’d bring me some water or juice as I was getting low. I’d been looking for a tap somewhere on route (sometimes farmers have taps on the fences to fill animal troughs) but there were none and, short of knocking on someone’s door, I was running the risk of dehydration if I didn’t get some water at least. The gel was not unpleasant, but wasn’t the nicest thing I’ve ever tried. It was a banana and strawberry mix and I wasn’t going to try and down it whilst running, or even walking!

When I set off I did feel re-energised. I think that was probably in my head because before I knew it my legs were starting to wobble. I ran on, waiting to see Grant’s van turning the corner any minute now and couldn’t work out why it was taking him as long. Then I remembered the lorry that had whizzed by me and started to worry that it’d put him off the road. It certainly stopped me from worrying about how I was feeling! Instead I had pictures of my husband and his wee blue van upside down in a ditch, wheels spinning in the air.

And then I saw him.

Cycling along with a plastic bag hanging off the handle bars, presumably containing my drink! I was very relieved to see that he had both sets of arms and legs and a head still on his body!! We refilled my bottle and, once he’d put the chain back on his bike, set off for the last 2 miles.

By this time I just wanted to stop and the only way to make that happen was to run faster. So I did. From running 11 and 12 minute mile pace I suddenly started running 10 minute mile pace. Not quite negative splits, but not far off it.

13 miles in 2 hours 33

My ambition has been to run a half in 2 and a half hours. I think I can do that.

14.1 miles in 2:45:35

I have to admit that for the last mile I was clock watching and counting down the tenths of a mile until the magic number 14 appeared. When it did I stopped, cheered, waved my hands in the air (yes, Mr Corsa driver, that was me!) 14 miles. 14 of the longest miles in the world. All mine. I own you 14 miles. You are mine!

Today I ran from Here to Eternity.

At least that’s how it felt.

I came home and followed Danny Dreyer‘s advice and had a hot bath. Danny says that taking a cold bath doesn’t allow the toxins to escape as the blood flow is being inhibited in order to reduce inflammation. Instead a hot bath opens up the muscles and allows the blood to flow and take toxins away. He says that you can follow a hot bath with a cold one, but I thought some anti-inflammatory gel, such as Ibuprofen, would do the trick. So that’s what I’ve done. I’m up and mobile, cleaned out the chucks, made lunch and done some household chores. Tomorrow might be a different story, but I have my magic gel!

Catching up with a week’s worth of waffle!

We were away last weekend so I didn’t get a chance to update the blog with the long weekend run, which was a steady 4 miles around Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. We were camping at the park ready for a show on the Sunday. My long run was meant to happen on Sunday, but I was tired after slow walking around the show all day (for some reason I find slow walking really hard on my back) and decided to leave it for the next morning.

Grant decided that he’d come with me for the first 2 mile lap. We even took Murphy with us and he happily trotted alongside me. It’s so annoying to see those little legs trotting effortlessly away whilst we slog along the path!

I know that I push Grant on, he’d happily run at a slower pace, but I feel that I have to or my own pace will suffer and I know that I’ve said this before. Plus running at his optimum doesn’t do him a jot of harm! We finished the 2 miles in 23 minutes and I left both him and Murphy to do another, hopefully faster lap.

We were running on the tarmac perimeter of the park. It was reasonably flat and would actually make a great race venue with the many roads crisscrossing the venue.

I finished the 4 miles in 43 minutes, completing the second lap 3 minutes faster than the first.

Once we got home on Tuesday it was too late to run again so I instead took Grant for a trail run on Wednesday. He decided a couple of miles was enough so we just ran to the turnaround and back. 2 miles in 22:46, not bad for a trail run!

For some reason we didn’t run again until Friday and it was getting dark when we set off. My in the week runs are meant to be 30 minutes, but Grant has it in his head that that must be 2 miles! We ran along the road and turned on 1 mile, but I made him run the extra half a mile to get as close to 30 minutes as I could! 2.47 miles in 27:18. And then, unbelievably, Grant actually decided to sprint at the end to get the run over with (he said)! A negative split – well done my love!!

Taming my Boobage

Yesterday I did a 20 minute interval session on the treadmill courtesy of Women’s Running magazine. I’ve got workouts cut out and stuck in a scrapbook (oddly with Spiderman on the front of it – go figure) and I scroll through that to pick out what I want to do. It depends often on what time I have and yesterday I was running before heading into the gallery, so 20 minutes was enough. 30 minutes with the warm up/cool down.

The session consisted of pyramidal intervals, starting at 9 kph and working up to 13 kph and then back to 9kph. Repeat that and that was my workout. It was nice to inject a bit of speed; running with hubbie has made me a bit lazy and I was horrified to spot that my 12½ mile run was slower than my 11 when I wasn’t feeling well! I have a need for speed people!

The run was fine, no problems.

My chesticles, on the other hand, were well out of control and, gentlemen, that hurts! (Ladies, I am sure you understand!)

I have many sports bras, from the strappy down type to the underwired type for the fuller bust. I understood from the start that good support was essential, not just for comfort, but also to reduce the possibility of damage to the supportive tissue. The phrase “irreversible sagging” echoes around my head; we’ll be having none of that! I’m not big busted, but I’m not flat chested either. I’m a, probably fairly normal, ‘C’ cup and have been since I was a teenager. No matter how much weight I lose I don’t think my boobage will get that much smaller; I’m more likely to lose inches off my body.

I went to Marks and Spencer recently and got measured. I say “measured”; the assistant (a lovely lady) measured under my bust, did a quick sum and then took a look at my norks and said “C cup”. What a talent that is! It’s the kind of job my husband would kill to have!

We went and chose a high impact  M&S sports bra, underwired and coming high onto my chest. It’s the best bra I have, by far, but it’s still not perfect. I want to not feel any movement at all.

So my quest is now for a good bra. Suggestions and recommendations will be gratefully received, regardless of your own boob size. Sorry guys, this is one for the ladies!

EDIT: Since writing this I have bought a relatively cheap sports bra from Aldi. It only cost £7 and is so supportive! It has padded straps and vented sections to allow air to circulate. It’s a far better bra than any of the others I have, including the M&S one. Unfortunately they were popular and there was only one in store in my size. It’s very similar to another Lidl one I have and so, when they come back in, I will be there at store opening time!! Well recommended.

The Longest Run of My Life (so far)

On Sunday I was destined to run 12½ miles as part of my half-marathon training programme. Training for a half-marathon that, as yet, I haven’t found. I must be mad!

And this is what I kept saying to my hubbie as I ran.

I know why I had to do it like this; I need challenges to keep me interested. I need the next mountain to climb, the next Everest. Knowing I could run 10k was no longer a big enough challenge. That said I will not be training up for a marathon next! I have neither the time nor the notion to train beyond 13.1 miles. Sometimes fitting this training in has been difficult and, with the winter coming and nights getting longer, it wouldn’t have got any easier.

Before Sunday I had two last long runs to accomplish; this 12½ and a 14 mile. Then I’ll be ready. For what, you might ask? Just ready would be my answer. I will pick and choose the events I take part in, for their distance from home and race day, and do the ones I want to do. I feel no pressure at all to do lots of races. No matter how hard people try to push me! I am already thinking of my next challenge though. It will be to get my 5k and 10k time down. More intervals. I’ve pushed for distance; next I’ll push for speed.

So anyway, back to Sunday. It was a perfect running day. Soft drizzle, cool enough for a vest, but not gloves and a gentle breeze. Hubbie had decided to cycle the route with me, which was great; I’d have someone to talk to, someone to distract me. Think on.

I set off at a reasonable pace. Remember that I run in intervals (4 minutes running, 1 minute recovery walk)? Well I was determined to finish reasonably well and decided to pace my runs at 10 minute miles which, for the most part, I managed to maintain. The first mile or so is the hardest on my route, it’s all up hill – a hill that seems to go on for ever. I know, I know – it’s all good for me! After that is over I can start to get into my stride. My 10 minute pace fell to 9:30 and felt good, so I just went with it. I knew I would slow down on hills but I felt a lot stronger than I did on my 11 mile run a couple of weeks ago.

That gentle breeze started to pick up as I ran and, at times, I was trying to run into it. It really slowed me down, I have to say. As I said to hubbie though, every obstacle makes me stronger and more determined.

I’d run the first loop fuelled by water and the odd Gummibear so we called in at the house for a quick refuel. I filled my bottle with a sports drink and refilled my pocket with Gummibears. I put my gel into my back pocket, just in case, before setting off again.

My first loop was just shy of 5 miles. I had planned to run down the castle drive and back before heading out on the second lap, but completely forgot! It wasn’t until I was half up that blessed hill that I remembered! Doh!!

The second lap was hard going. My quads and hip flexors were getting sore and the hills weren’t helping at all. It felt as if I was running backwards but, looking at my times, it really wasn’t that bad at all. I was working hard to maintain that 10 minute mile pace, dropping below it at times but picking it up in other places. By mile 7 I was starting to struggle, but I had hubbie with me to distract me! Nope – he cycled in silence whilst I tried to make conversation. Normally I can hardly shut him up! So on Sunday I learned all about ESAB welders. I got him to tell me all about them, the capacity, the capabilities…anything! Then he said something that turned me round. He said “You can stop you know.”

(No, I can’t. I can’t stop. I’ve set out to run 12½ miles and that is what I will do.)

I’m not saying that the next 5½ miles were easy, far from it, but I had gotten my kick up the arse. I’m not a quitter.

The last hill was hell on earth. My quads were in tatters, or so it felt, every step was painful. I must be mad, I kept saying, doing this for nothing, no reason! Once I’d reached home I’d done 10 miles and had an extra 2 ½ to do. Rather than run a bit more of the loop and turn back I decided to finish off my running up and down the castle road as often as it took to finish. My logic for this was that it was tree lined, and maybe more sheltered, quiet and not too much of a climb. It’s not flat, but flatter than the long hill! Running from the castle I had the wind on my back so it was easier and I was running as well as someone could having just run 11 miles for just the second time and knowing that they still had a miles and a half to go!

I ran it four times, down and back, down and back, to get to 12.4 miles. Not being beaten I ran all the way to my gate for the extra 0.05 of a mile. 12.45 miles – as close as I could get.

My new Garmin was fabulous; I love it. I managed to set the training intervals, lay in the course and track my pace and distance using autoscroll. There were a couple of times I thought I’d zeroed my data, but Mr Garmin had me sussed!

I didn’t use my gel in the end. My water, isotonic drink and gummibears did the trick it seems.

So there we are – 12 ½ miles down, 14 to go.

12.5 miles by paintergirl21 at Garmin Connect – Details

Rocket Fuel

I’ve been giving considerable thought to fuelling these longer runs that I’m currently doing. Today I head out for a 12½ mile run.

Sometimes reading articles can make things even more confusing; I was sent a link by Run Addicts which more or less said forget gels, just take a sports drink and only drink it half way in.

To be fair this is all I have been doing, supplementing the drink with some jelly beans. But the jelly beans were not a success – they just don’t work in a dry mouth, bits get stuck on my teeth and I drink too much trying to wash the residue away. As a vegetarian my access to gel-based sweets/candy is severely limited; most sweets have pork or beef gelatine in them. So I took a trip to Holland and Barrett, my local health food shop, and found these!

£1.45 for a packet is a rip off, but a price I was prepared to pay for animal free Bears!
I also picked up a IsoGel – I’ll take it with me and maybe use it at the end if I’m flagging, but as I’ve never had one of these before I don’t want to chance Runner’s Belly half way through the run!
I’m ditching my belt; I hate wearing it. It twists round, the bottle get in my way and it’s just uncomfortable. So I bought myself a handheld bottle with a handle and a wee zipped pocket for my Bears and Gel from T K Maxx for £4.99. I’ve probably gotten what I paid for, but at least I can test this out for not much money!
Be back later to tell you how I got on….

Running on Empty…or not.

IBS reared its ugly head again this week. It was my own silly fault; after a long day at work and a run with hubbie I decided to cheat at dinner time and have pizza. Big mistake. I only had ordinary pizza, not gluten-free. A few hours later and I knew I was in trouble and also sure that wheat gluten is my problem. It not just bloats me up to uncomfortable levels, but it also leaves me feeling drained. I get a feeling of fullness and almost constant nausea which means I don’t want to eat and that means I can be left light-headed for a few days.

I decided not to run yesterday, feeling like this, and instead pursued a drastic course of action: a lentil curry.

Today I was left feeling a little better! Still not 100% and with a gale blowing outside, I decided to run my allotted 4 miles on Trevor Treadmill. So as soon as I got home I got changed and away I went. I decided to run at varying speeds, just to spice things up a bit. I started off at an easy pace for a kilometre and then started to crank the speed up a bit every kilometre. If I’m honest, with how I’ve been feeling, I just wanted the run over and done with, but I surprised myself with a good 6 miles in 41 minutes  – around 10 min/mile pace! And I do feel better for having done it. As always!

I’ve spent the last few hours sorting out my latest acquisition – a Garmin Forerunner 405. I’ve set it up with intervals for my longer runs and I think I know how it works! I was pleased with the deal I got – the watch + heart rate monitor + Ant stick for £130 from Comet/Currys. Other than obvious scams, this is the lowest price I could find, although I admit I didn’t realise I was also getting the HRM. I’ll no doubt keep you informed with my trials and tribulations!!