Can I have a quick word?

I’ll be brief. This is my day off and I really should be enjoying the weather, sitting on my patio with a mocktail. I have a pile of ironing threatening to take over my spare room (so big that I am actually considering charging it rent) and a list of jobs as long as my arm. As I said, it’s my day off.

Today I was down for a 9 mile run. As it’s been so warm and so humid I decided to get up early and run before it got too hot. At least that was the plan. I got up early and was ready to leave at 7, but then got distracted by emails and left just before 8. It was already warm, with not a cloud in the sky, and I knew that my route along the shore left me with little shade. Being a fair-skinned lassie I’m just not built for sunshine.

As ever I was using my Jeff Galloway/LoLo Half Marathon app for iPhones. I’d set it for 4:1 run:walk intervals and 11 min/mile pace. This would translate to just over 11 min/mile pace as it was a long run (short runs adjust the other way – it’s all very clever!) What I wasn’t expecting was for Jeff to announce that today it was a 9 ½ mile run. Half a mile extra – really? That’s just too much to ask. My short circuit route had proved too long for two laps, so I’d chosen to run along the Bankend Road – a there and back route – so adding on that extra wee bit wouldn’t matter.

I managed to maintain a fairly even pace, although it did get quite warm and I must admit to stopping to shelter now and again in the shade of the few trees along the roadside. I also have to admit to stopping to fill up my FitSip which I’d managed to empty on the run out. Luckily a local smallholder was just at his van when I passed and agreed to let me fill up the now empty bladder. On hot and humid runs longer than 6 miles I need my Camelbak. No question. By the time I was within a mile of home I’d emptied the FitSip again. I don’t tend to drink a lot on runs, but it was very warm.

The last mile and half were tough as I was constantly climbing away from the shore; not by much, but by then I was tired and hot and I’d had enough for today, thank you! That extra half a mile was the killer, of course! I clicked stop at 1:47:40 giving me 11:21 pace. I was about two minutes slower than my app expected which, given the heat, is fine.

Post-run I feel good, although hay fever has my eyes itching like mad. I would rather not have a massive pile of ironing to do as well as the weekly shop, but I’m a wife and mother and them’s the breaks!

Running doesn’t define me; it simply refines me.



Stops and Starts

This time last week I was standing, head in hands, as another foot issue took hold and again stopped me from running. It was only Athlete’s Foot, but those of you who follow my blog will know that I am effectively allergic to Athlete’s Foot and what is a bit of a sore foot for some people basically incapacitates me. It goes from a mild infection to the raging abb-dabs in a blink of an eye and last Monday I was struggling to walk, never mind run.

However the foot spray I use is very effective and within a day or two my foot was improving. It looks shocking, with bits of skin hanging off, but I no longer feel as if I’m walking on glass.

IMG_2961I managed one trail run in the week, which I loved. I must have look like I was fit to explode when I’d finished, but it was the sanest I’d felt all week. When you are running through woods which look like this nothing can bother you.

The woods are currently being worked which effectively makes them out of bounds during the day, so any runs have to be done early in the morning or after 6 in the evening when all the workers have toddled off home. Seeing great swarths of trees being felled can be a bit disconcerting, the entire landscape alters daily, but having lived here for a few years now I know that nature recovers and new growth happens very quickly.

The only issue for me is that the cut trees have opened an entire track to the elements; where I ran sheltered from the sun’s rays, before I am now totally exposed. It makes you appreciate the trees where they are on a hot day!


Today I was in two minds what to do, whether to do my missed 8 miles from Monday gone or just carry on with the programme knowing that I had 9 miles to do next Monday. In the end I decided to stick to the programme, mostly because today was a Magic Mile test, a timed mile, and I wanted to know how I was progressing.

I chose to run early this morning before the sun got too hot. I would have set off earlier, but my husband (who had said last night that he wanted to accompany me on his bike) seemed unable to actually leave the comfort of his bed. Maybe he didn’t expect me to get up, make a cup of tea, get dressed and just go! I ran an easy first mile in 10:27 – it was already getting warm, but humidity is the biggest issue to an asthmatic runner. It was about 85% humidity this morning.

Before starting my timed mile I took time to stretch my calf muscles a bit. They’d felt a bit tight in the warm up mile, so I was being sensible. By the time I get to the start of the timed mile the road has levelled out and it’s the closest thing I have to a reasonably level race track. It’s not level by any means, but what I gain on one way, I lose on the other! Hubbie was very quiet and I took that as meaning that I was maybe a bit slower than last time. I was struggling to get my breath at times (maybe I should have run with my inhaler) but my legs felt great! I turned at the half a mile and ran back knowing that the last two tenths of a mile were slightly elevated. When I finished I tried to see what the mile was, but my Garmin was having “issues” and wouldn’t let me see! I had to be patient.

I jogged back at an easy pace and got back to the village before the children started pouring out of their houses in order to catch the school bus. Working at the local school has it’s positives. The kids seeing one of their teachers in lycra isn’t one of them.

My Magic Mile came in at an encouraging 9:33. That’s faster still and I actually feel as if I’m starting to get back to where I was before injuries started hitting me last summer. My husband reckons that his bike computer was showing an average speed of between 6.8 and 7.2 on the first half mile and 7.0 to 7.6 on the second half. He says that at one point I was running at over 8 miles an hour. I’m impressed. I think he was too!

Preview of “W8D4 Magic Mile by paintergirl21 at Garmin Connect - Details”



New Challenges

30 Day Challenges

I’m on a mission to make myself a better runner, both physically and mentally. My mission has meant that I’ve  taken up James Dunne, performance coach, on his 30 Day Challenge. James follows me on Twitter and when I saw the link to this free resource on Twitter, I had to go and see what it was all about.

James’ website summed up why I need to try this, and probably you do to:

If many years of coaching experience has taught us one important fact, it’s that there are a number of key exercises and drills that 99.9% of runners and triathletes will benefit HUGELY from, if performed on a regular basis.

The irony is that most runners simply don’t do this type of training. Without it, they’re left more susceptible to injury and constantly fall short of their true potential come race day!

This is exactly why we’ve created this 30 Day Challenge…

Each day we’ll provide you with a specific 10-15min set of targeted techniques, drills and exercises, chosen to Transform Your Running over the coming month!

(taken from

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? I started yesterday with day one, exercises aimed at my hamstrings, adductors and hip flexors. They aren’t easy, which probably proves that I’m doing them right, with 3 lots of 20 reps of each exercise. On top of this James also has some fab proprioception exercises for people, like me, who have poor co-ordination skills but also aimed at everyone who needs to improve balance and motility and I guess that’s most of us!

Today I did day 2 which was all of these exercises again plus an additional flex which I found disturbingly difficult! I used to go to regular yoga classes and this particular pose was a nice finishing off pose. Today it near finished me off! I’m not sure why – maybe I’m just older and stiffer, but the low back mobility cross stretch was hard going. I’m hoping that this will improve as my flexibility does.

I’m also following the Plank Challenge from Tribesports, doing an increasingly long plank hold for just about every day for a month. It looks like this:



I might struggle to get past a couple of minutes, but my abs deserve some attention!

Training Again

I’m back on course for the next half marathon on my list, the Fleetwood Half. I’ve booked a campsite nearby and adjusted my diary so that race day is actually race day. This means that I’ve come in at Week 5 with a 6 ½ mile run and yesterday was Week 6 Day 4 – Magic Mile day! I left running until later in the day so that I could honour a chiropractor appointment in the morning and then spend some quality time with my hubbie. My quality time also involved visiting my favourite running shop and buying a couple of new running tops. As my husband had just bought a recovery truck, my £26 worth of bargains went uncommented upon. I know how to bide my time!

It was 6pm before I headed out to run. The weather had by then improved and it was a lovely calm evening. A perfect running time. I chose a fairly flat route and my cycling hubbie decided to come with me, after a little persuasion. My warm up mile felt incredibly slow, but as I’ve readjusted my app and am now back doing 4:1 run:walk intervals I let it ride and slowed my pace. The timed Magic Mile started just as we reached the flattest part of the route, which was ideal. I ran the first half a mile well paced at about 6 – 6 ½ mph according to hubbie’s bike computer. On second half I tried to lift my pace a bit and was encouraged by hearing that I was running faster. I was between 6 ½ and 7 mph, not much faster, but still an all important negative split! I completed the mile in my fastest time of this year of 9:58. It’s not startlingly fast, I realise this, but it’s the fastest I’ve done since returning from injury and it’s under a 10 minute mile. It’s progress. And progress is good.

The run back was a slow affair, with my pace dictated by the app. I was happy to just jog back – I’d done my hard work for the day!

Ode to the Chiropractor

Simon, a follower of this blog, my running and my art, has rekindled an interest in haiku – the Japanese poetry form. I used to write a lot of haiku and have taught countless children how the syllable patterns worked, but lost the time to write them. I use the traditional teikei 5-7-5 pattern, although I know that this is a bit outdated for modern haiku writers. It suits me.

Last night, on the jog home, I paced out this poem – an ode to my chiropractor.

My chiropractor

Whose instruments of torture

Ensure pain means gain.

I’m sure my chiropractor will love it – I’ll make him a calligraphed copy!

As it happens my visit this month was fairly low-key. My calf muscles are behaving and aren’t too tight. My neck and shoulders were, as ever, stiff, but his new machine (looking and sounding much like a nail gun) pummeled them into submission. The only new twinges are coming from my left knee which is starting to sound as if I am receiving regular injections of Rice Krispies. Some pain across the front of the knee when I’m relaxed caused some chiropractic concern and I’m icing it following some cross-friction treatment. It doesn’t bother me when I’m running, just at rest, so I’m not worrying too much.

Other than that I got a clean bill of health – I am a picture of running fitness, so long as your picture looks like this!