Running Long and Tapering Down

Today saw my last long run of this training programme. After today I’m on the taper.  And, to my relief, I’m feeling…



The weather forecast for today was dismal, so imagine my surprise to see sunshine and blue skies this morning. The weather gods were obviously smiling, so, after a breakfast of porridge, bananas and honey and having done my email duties for the morning, I set off. I had decided to run a tougher route than just along the fairly flat shore road. It’s my 4 mile loop which, if run again, becomes a 5 mile loop. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but if you take into consideration that if I’m doing a 4 mile run I walk to warm up and cool down adding the extra distance. If I run right round it’s 5 miles. Honest it is.

The run starts with a first mile which is mainly uphill. I always find that tough when I start off; my legs aren’t properly warmed up and my calf muscles are still too tight. However, I soldier on. After that the route undulates with some good hills to climb and descend. It’s a good route and I prefer to run a loop than go there and back. The only issue with this route though is that it tends to flood and yesterday we had some pretty nasty rain. I was expecting the worse.

The worst bit wasn’t as bad as I had expected, although as this road is being used as a diversion route for a farm which is cut off at present thanks to roadworks, it has suffered a bit. The road was pretty broken up in parts, with massive holes on either side; I feel sorry for the folk who live round there. The holes, predictably, had filled up with mud and rainwater and with the increased farm traffic the sloppy mud was being distributed all over the road. It was unavoidable and my lovely Brooks trainers are no longer quite as lovely; they are drying as I type, in the hope that the dirt might brush off. We’ll see.

I had taken with me my 33 Shake chia seed gels and my Camelbak with ¾ of a litre of water with a High 5 Zero tablet in it. I had been just using water, but I felt that I needed an extra boost. The High 5 Zero tablets had been sent out by the Edinburgh Marathon Festival organizers with my number, so I felt duty bound to try them out and I liked them; not too juicy tasting, salty if anything, and gentle on my stomach. I was a bit concerned when I got home though to discover that I had almost all of my ¾ litre left – I’m not drinking enough. I need to watch this, especially if I’m racing in warmer weather.

I planned to take my gels at miles 4, 8 and 12 but after mile 8 I forgot and ended up taking it at mile 9 instead. In the end I just didn’t bother taking the third one – I was managing fine with what I’d taken. Maybe the drink was helping there. I like the chia seed gels, but they are a bugger to swallow in a hurry when you’re a bit out of breath. I always take them on my walk breaks, but I inevitably run out of time. If I’m honest this is putting me off them and I’m wondering if I can do anything about it. I might contact the makers and see what they suggest.

By mile 8 the forecast weather had arrived and it was throwing it down. I stopped to call my son at home as I’d left two machine loads of washing on the line and knew that it would be soaked again by the time I’d run the last of that loop home. I decided at that point to head home and complete the run on the treadmill. The wind had picked up and the rain was extremely heavy – it wasn’t worth slogging out another loop. I may be mad, but I’m not crazy!

Having set up Star Trek on the DVD player I set off to boldly go (again) and boldly went with the Voyager crew. I felt surprisingly good and even ended up increasing the pace in the last couple of kilometres.

With my 14 miles complete in about 2:39 I had a rushed lunch of scrambled eggs, toast and humous and a strawberry soya milkshake and a quicker shower before heading into town to do the weekly shop! As a result, I haven’t sat down much, which might explain why I’m feeling so good! I honestly don’t feel pained enough to have run 14 miles – maybe that will come tomorrow!

But I hope not!

So now the taper begins. I’m pleased to have run my last long run before the race – I’m looking forward to saving my legs a bit. I’ve got two 30 minute runs to do this week, then a 5 mile run next Monday and two final 30 minute runs and then it’s race day!

After last week’s podiatrist downer I have some good news. I went to see my chiropractor (he of the Vulcan death grip) and told him what the podiatrist had said. When I got to the part when I relayed that I’d been told basically to give up running he stopped me. “Don’t give up running,” he said “Running has given you so much. Strength, confidence, achievement – don’t give up!” It was what I needed to hear. All athletes get injured. I don’t have the financial backing that elites have, but I do have a very good chiropractor who listens to how I’m feeling and helps me. Sometimes I need to work through injuries and having his support, as well as Jeff Galloway’s running plans, help me do that.

After all, if a 14 mile run leaves me feeling like Tony the Tiger, I’d be daft to let that go!



Gearing Up for a Great Run

On Saturday I’ll be running in BUPA’s Great Winter Run in Edinburgh. It’s a race I’ve done for the last couple of years, chaperoning my reluctant running husband around the demanding route up and around an extinct volcano in Scotland’s capital city. ‘Chaperoning’ isn’t maybe the best word I could pick – ‘bullying’ is probably more apt. Poor Grant. At the end of the first race in 2011 he said he thought he would die, after last year’s he thought he was going to be sick. How annoying, then, that I looked (and felt) as if I could run it again! Last year he announced that enough was enough, he wasn’t a runner (even though his 5k PB was an impressive 32:19 – not bad for someone who only trained for this race) and next year he’d be support crew. Although I miss bullying him (although I’m sure I can find other times/ways to do that), I’m quite pleased that this year I will be running my own race.

However this week has been a bit of a anti-climax. Our 16 year old Collie dog, Badger, has spent the last couple of weeks quickly deteriorating health-wise and our usual plans to make a weekend of this race went straight out of the window. He was our priority. We changed our plans to travelling the two hours to Edinburgh early on race morning and then coming home immediately afterwards. My son would be on hand to watch him whilst we were away. Sedated anyway, having suffered repeated seizures since before Christmas, he didn’t go far or do anything for that matter.

Yesterday, though, we made the sad decision to let him go. The seizures weren’t improving, the drugs weren’t working and the dog he once was, the happy go lucky bouncy Collie, was disappearing behind a veil of age inflicted maladies. We didn’t want that, for him or for us. He crossed the Rainbow Bridge last night. And we miss him.

Hesitantly and tearfully we are remaking plans. Today is a beautiful and calm day – the first for a while here in south west Scotland. I have my running gear on and my wee dog, Murphy, is desperate to get out and run with me. Once upon a time Badger would have joined us, but eventually it became apparent that he simply couldn’t keep up anymore. Try as he might. The dog that saw my running obsession start five years ago will today join us in spirit. And I know he’ll be there. Only this time he will be able to keep up, unfettered by old age, arthritis and lung congestion. Today’s run will be for him. And I can’t stop the tears from flowing.

Badger Big Dog - run free
Badger Big Dog – run free

We’ll travel to Edinburgh tomorrow and I’ll be fuelling up at Bella Italia at the Ocean Terminal, where they cater for those of us following gluten free lives extremely well. Hubbie and Murphy Dog will form Support Crew on the day and I plan to run 3:1 ratios up and whatever I can down the hill. If I can get close to my 30:32 5k PB I’ll be happy. I haven’t trained much – thanks to Christmas, New Year and that ever present Plantar Fasciitis – so whatever I achieve will be gratefully received! My foot feels good at the moment and Monday’s trip to my chiropractor helped loosen that calf and Achilles Heel off further.

Hopefully it will be a Great Winter Run!

When is your first race of 2014?

When 12.5 became 9 and a bit!

Hi everyone!

I’m back to training, to a fashion anyway. My Plantar Fasciitis pain hasn’t gone away yet. I’ve been doing all the necessary stretches, massaging, icing et cetera. I’ve even been to see the chiropractor, which was as much as date with the devil as anything I’ve done. That man knows how to hurt me. I’ve renamed many of his clinical ‘moves’ to names which I feel are far more descriptive. The ‘Vulcan Death Grip’, for example, sums up the shoulder massage I get.  ‘Knife Ripping Through Skin’ amply describes the move he does to break up lactic acid and send it on its way. And what is worse about that one is that I have to do all the work. He presses down on a certain spot and my movement causes the pain. And the release, it has to be said. Painful as it is, it works.


After visiting him on Thursday I was sure that by Monday I would be on for a long, slow run. Friday’s short run got delayed and delayed again and I found myself running on the treadmill on Sunday. Sticking with the longer run: shorter walk ratio I achieved a good 5k with ease. I was happy to try my long run on Monday.

As I’m now just a few weeks from my half marathon, The Great Cumbrian Run, I thought it prudent to more or less abandon the intensive training I’d been doing and just train to finish the race. This meant ditching the mileage and intervals and looking at shorter distances. This would have been fine after me doing 14 miles last week (and suffering for it) had the alternate plan not asked me to do 12.5 miles this week.

I set off in my new trainers, complete with off the shelf sports orthopaedic insoles (from Aldi, nonetheless – the bargain hunters paradise) and set off for an easyish long run. It soon became apparent that my insoles were too high. My right foot didn’t even feel as if it was in the shoe properly and after a couple of miles I stopped to remove the insole. My foot felt as if something was stinging it and when I looked the insole had been pushing my toes against the top of the shoe and I had my first (in four years of running) blister forming!

I carried on with one insole in supporting my bad foot for about half a mile. As my right leg is the shorter one and the left foot had the lift in it felt as if I was running with one high heel on. The insole had to go. It was either all or nothing. After removing the second insole I felt more balanced, but I could immediately feel that my arch wasn’t being as supported as it was when I was running before. What I should have done is popped in the insoles that I’ve been wearing in my ordinary shoes; they are a far smaller fit.

I ran 5 miles reasonably well, keeping fairly well to the the 7 minute: 40 second intervals and maintaining an 11 minute mile. The weather had been great – cloudy, a gentle breeze, not too warm and then suddenly the sun broke through and the temperatures lifted. Little was I to know that this was to mean that worse weather was to follow. I cursed the sun as I headed out to turn at 6.25 miles.

At the turn point I checked my phone and was a bit disappointed to see that it had only 50% battery. I wasn’t sure if that was going to last and as it was a new battery I was even more annoyed. I’m going to have to use my Mophie recharge system and get a larger armband to fit it in or carry the phone in my backpack.

As I started back the sun disappeared and the wind got up. I was running into it and watching the clouds forming rather too quickly. By now my foot was really aching and I was starting to limp as I ran. I was determined to make it back though and tried to push on through the pain.

And then the rain started. Just gentle drops at first, almost refreshing.

By mile 8 it was hammering down and it had started to thunder in the distance. All of a sudden I could envisage the headlines…


…well, a headline similar to that, with me in the frog’s place. Poor frog, by the way.

With my foot now really hurting, me limping along and the rain bouncing off the road I decided to call home and get my son to collect me. At that precise moment my phone went flat. And, as I turned round to check my phone our postman drove past and waved back at my frantic waves to cadge a lift. I had no choice but to limp to the nearest house and hope that someone was home.

I actually ran another mile and a bit before slowing to a walk and walked another half mile or so to the next house which was annoyingly only a couple of miles from my own house. The lady of the house took pity on the dishevelled runner dripping rainwater onto her lino and happily gave me use of the house phone. Luckily my son had not left for work and zipped round to collect me. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve had to cut a long run short and I’ve never had to be collected before, which might tell you just how sore my foot was at this point. I could hardly put weight on it.

It’s a day later and I’m walking again. The whole massage/icing/stretching routine couple with the use of the inserts that work have helped to straighten me out again, although I could hardly walk last night and this morning. I’m not annoyed by only completing 9 miles (and a bit) because I did well to complete those 9 and a bit miles in a reasonable time. My pace suffered but was still around 11:15 mile pace – not far off my intended 11:00 mile pace.

What I am worried about though is the fact that I may not be ready (or able) to run my half at the beginning of October. I’ve decided that until I feel confident I shall continue to split long runs in half and run one in the morning and one at night. That was if I can’t do the second half I’m not in the middle of nowhere (without a phone!). If that means that I have to do short loops, that’s what I’ll do. If it also means that I have to prepare on the treadmill, well it’s better than not preparing at all.


On an upnote I’ve entered the Great Winter Run, the 5k race I’ve done for the last two years with my non-running husband. It’s a toughie, climbing Arthur’s Seat – an extinct volcano in Edinburgh, but I’d love to do a sub 30 minute time on it having done 35 minutes as a chaperone and felt able to do more. That’s something to look forward to and focus on.


The Almosts and the Nearlys


For the last two weeks, this has been my running track. As you will have gleaned from my last post, we were holidaying in the north of Scotland in the Sutherland town of Brora. It’s a beautiful part of the world and this holiday we were blessed with fantastic Mediterranean-like weather. We were camping just the other side of the dunes from this wonderful beach which was exactly two miles long from end to end (actually it would have been slightly longer, but at the far north end you had to pick your way through rocks, so it wasn’t worth trying to include that in running mileage.)

Depending on the heat and my mood I would run between 2 and 4 miles every other day and walk the same every day. Despite the excess holiday eating and drinking, I’ve put on no weight. It’s all good and I actually also have a bit of a tan, as much of a tan as a lass with celtic colouring can amass!

I’m home and back to earth a bit this week. On Monday I set off a little bit too late in the morning to get a comfortable run in before the heat started to build up. I had been messing about with miles and app settings whilst on holiday and was expecting a 6 mile run, but ended up doing a 5k ‘race’ with a warm up, so about 3.5 miles, instead.

I didn’t really think about which route to take and found myself running along towards the shore, which is relatively flattish. My beach running legs felt pretty good and the warm up, once my initial asthma shock had subsided, was fine. I reset my Garmin and gave the 5k my best shot. I did the first mile in 9:17 and I’m pretty chuffed with that, but in truth I was struggling to breathe properly. I think I need to run a mile before I can properly breathe, so trying to exert myself before that is probably a no-brainer.

As I started the second mile it became apparent that it was getting very warm, very quickly, and that I was running on a road with no shade and in full glare of a very angry sun! I tired very quickly and the second mile came in at 10:32.

I realised that despite this I was very close to getting a sub-30 minute 5k time, so I tried my hardest in the last mile. I think at this point I probably needed some support, someone there egging me on and I probably would have done it, but as it is I did the last mile in 9:51 and finished my 5k in 30:54.

In the circumstances I’m not displeased with this. I haven’t done much speed work lately and I’m obviously capable of slightly better than this on a cooler day, so with some groundwork I’m not far away from getting under my target. I’m off to do some speedwork this morning, but just on the local playing field because it’s quite a journey to the nearest track and I guess I have to compromise.

Compromise is a big word in our house at the moment. It’s become the subject of some conversations revolving around what we want and actually what we can presently manage to have. In order to be a successful teacher, artist, wife and mother I have to make compromises and often it’s my running that gets compromised. If the difference between running and not running means running on a playing field instead of the ‘local’ running track 10 miles away, then I run on the grass and grin and bear it. I have to.

Yesterday, free from gym membership (I struggle to justify the cost, but I’m starting to realise the benefits of a air-conditioned gym this weather!) I worked out on our decking, using my makeshift gym equipment. As I’ve mentioned before I am desperate to strengthen a somewhat pathetic core, but I have neck problems when I do regular crunches, regardless of how I approach them. My neck soon goes into spasm and I end up spending an additional £25 at the chiropractors getting fixed! I’ve been gathering some exercises, mostly from my running magazines, working on cross-training and core conditioning.



Armed with a kettle bell, a gym mat and two tins from my larder (chopped tomatoes and mushroom soup, to be precise) I did two lots of 15 reps of squat jumps, superman stretches, back lunges with rotation (weighted), single leg running arms (weighted) and toe taps. I couldn’t do the resistance band exercise I wanted to because some bugger has nicked my resistance band! I’ll look for that for next time! I also did 1 minute of kettlebell exercises, working my cardio as well as strength building (figure of eights, single arm shoulder press, single arm swing, single arm row, single leg bend). I found the exercises where I had to balance on one leg and complete the movement really difficult and at the end the sweat was dripping off me! I still need to find more exercises to exercise my core without having to lift my head, so that’s a priority.

On Sunday I have my next race, the X Border 10k, which starts at Gretna and takes us along the M6 service road to Kingstown in Carlisle. I’m looking forward to this. I’ve even prepared myself for being last across the line, although my semi silent coach assures me that I won’t be!  I’m not sure how well I will do. My 10k pace doesn’t seem to have increased much, but it’s not decreased either. I have no expectations of the course because I’ve never run it before, so I’m just going along and will do what I can. I might surprise myself and knock a few seconds off my road 62 minute 10k time! That would be lovely.

dual-offerAfter that I start my half marathon training again in readiness for the Great Cumbrian Run in October. Again it’s not a race I’ve done before, so we’ll just go and see what my little legs and podgy body can do. Who knows, by then I could have transformed into a racing whippet.


Firsts, Lasts and A Loose Goose

That’s it! I’m done.


Sunday saw me finishing my half marathon training programme with a nice, short 7 mile run. It was meant to be 8 miles, but I had a hissy fit a few nights before when checking my Jeff Galloway app.

I downloaded the app last year and followed the finisher’s plan. It worked really well and, without killing myself, I managed a 2:22 Great North Run. This year I opted to follow the improver’s plan. This meant doing lots of interval running, which near finished me off – especially the 12x800m ones! On the original plan my longest run was 14 miles; on the new plan it was 17 miles. I did all this and, at the end of the day, made no improvement at all. So last week I looked again at the finisher’s plan and discovered that when I input my pace (11 min/miles) the predicted result was exactly the same. I was killing myself for nothing.

I’ve decided that I’m happy being a finisher for the time being. I would rather enjoy my running than feel that it is a task. So instead of finishing on 8 miles I ran a paced 7 miles. I took my Camelbak and, once I’d worked out how it all fitted together, it was great. Nothing jiggling about my waist, nothing in my hand, just a back pack holding a small bottle of juice and my gloves (when the sun came out!)


The following day I went for a sports massage. My first ever sports massage. Those of you who have experienced a sports massage will understand when I say that it was a mixture of pain, more pain and pleasure; the pleasure comes when the pain stops. It’s a necessity though. Over the last few weeks I’ve felt that my legs have become heavier and stiffer and no amount of stretching would alleviate that. I talked to my beauty therapist who told me that she was also trained in the heavier techniques, over and above a Swedish massage.

We concentrated on my gluteus, IT band and calves. I was prepared for pain because my chiropractor has offered it as part of my therapy with him; I knew what to expect! I won’t go into gruesome detail; I survived, albeit feeling a tad bruised two days later! I definitely feel looser. My calves and Achilles especially feel less tight. Had I not had a meeting tonight I would have tested those loosey, goosey legs on the trails! Tomorrow will have to do!

So, what now? I’m looking for another half marathon for sure. I have the bug. There are two on the horizon, one local, one in The Borders. I’m wondering about another in between then and now. 5ks and 10ks on Sundays or evenings are few and far between, but I’ll find something! What I would like to do, though, is make greater use of my GoRun minimal trainers. I want to see if running more naturally will help improve my running style and pace.

Not as bad as I feared, thank goodness!

After my kick back run on Sunday my stiff right ankle became stiffer and stiffer, to the point that I could no longer walk without a pronounced limp. To say I was worried was an understatement. I couldn’t decide exactly where the pain was coming from, which made dealing with it difficult. Depending on what was causing the pain I was to stretch, or not to stretch. Dilemma City!

I tried icing my heel and ankle and used an stretch band to work on the mobility of my foot. I even stopped running in an effort not to make things worse. I haven’t run since Sunday. I wore a heel lift which took some of the pressure off my Achilles, which was sore and worrying me most. I don’t need injuries now, with just two weeks to go before the Great North Run. Yesterday I could no longer deal with the mental stress and rang for an emergency appointment with my chiropractor.

I described my pain; basically it felt as if I had a tight band around my lower leg. I’d been probing and had identified nodes in my calf that were painful, taking my thoughts away from Achilles Tendonitis. My chiropractor listened and then got the baby lotion out.

Oh no, not the baby lotion!

Those of you who have endured a sports massage will understand my fear at the sight of baby lotion! This indicates that the next few minutes are going to H.U.R.T.

And they did.

My chiropractor identified, almost immediately, that my foot was virtually immobile. He thinks that I had somehow jarred it before my last run and, as a result, was running in a compensatory style which caused the rest of the problems. He worked on improving my range of ankle movement, including a few quick adjustments, and then looked at my shins. That’s when I hit the roof. Aside from childbirth, I don’t think I’ve felt pain like that. Needle sharp rips down my leg followed his slippery hands, excruciating but gradually getting easier with every movement. My calves got a similar treatment – just as painful, but I knew that one was coming!

I left with better ankle movement and a lot less pain. My Achilles is slightly swollen, so I need to ice that for 15 minutes a day, but it’s nothing to worry about. Last night my ankle looked puffy, but elevation sorted that out. I still have a less stiff ankle, so I still need to work on improving its mobility and I’m allowed to stretch it out once its warmed up.

So, here I am. I still haven’t run this week so I’m planning an easy treadmill run tonight, just to test it out. Fingers crossed!

When Twelve and a half became Thirteen point one – a post by Pooh Bear

As I drove into town following Monday’s run I was planning exactly what I wanted to say today. I’ve long since forgotten, which may be a good thing now that the dust has settled. I’ve a feeling this might be the shorter, less rambling version of events!

On Sunday I was due to run 12.5 miles as per my Jeff Galloway finisher training plan, but someone had other plans for me on Sunday and sent heavy rain just as I was due to set off. I waited for a while, but it didn’t show signs of stopping, so I did my tax return instead. Hang on, who really IS in control here?

I had to run on Monday morning before going to see my chiropractor, basically because I couldn’t see the point of seeing him before I ran! It was drizzly, but only that.

Now, this is where my ego kicks in. I looked at 12.5 miles. Boy, that’s tantalisingly close to 13 miles isn’t it? Just an extra half a mile, 0.5, not much at all. And, as luck would have it, if I added another tenth of a mile I’d have done a half marathon. It was too much to bear. I had to run the extra six tenths and see what my half time would be!

I had planned a simple there and back route, running from one castle to another! I guess not many people can say that! The route took me along the shore road, up into Bankend village and turned onto the Glencaple Road. My turn around point was just short of the turn off for Caerlaverock Castle. It wasn’t flat and there were a few steep bits, but it was quiet so far as cars are concerned.

I had a light carb breakfast of spelt toast, waited an hour and then set off.

I listened to Jeff Galloway’s Half Marathon app. It paced me perfectly, although when my first mile was completed in 9:40 I wondered if I had it cranked up too fast! It evened out after that to around 11 minute miles, some faster, some slower. One thing I have noticed though is that without the GPS turned on the app is taking me further than the prescribed miles. I must be going faster than the app anticipates because I hit my target miles far faster according to the Garmin.

My new Brooks Ghosts felt like slippers. I love them. I run better in them, more easily should I say. The effort required to push my wee legs forward has been lessened. I realise now that I might as well have been running in high heels the way the Asics held my heels up. The Brooks allow my heels to sit down and I’m running on my mid foot more than my heel. I’m getting less aches and pains in my legs, with no knee pain at all on Monday.

The weather was typically Scottish. I went out wearing long tights and a vest (my No Meat Athlete vest to be precise!) and a reflective arm band because it was so dull. It drizzled lightly and then the rain became heavier. By the time I’d reached Bankend (5 miles) the sun was beating down on me! Once I’d turned and headed back it dulled down again and then the cloud and sun played some peepo game!

Miles 1 and 2 were sub 11 min/mile pace. Miles 3 and 4 were exactly 11 min/mile pace. After that I started to slow down a bit. Mile 5 was 11:14, not bad, but Miles 6 and 7 were both 11:42. My only thoughts on this were that I was running up hill a lot more until turning at 6.7 miles. I was, however, running up the hills!

I took my Maxifuel Viper Active citrus gel at mile 7. Previous to that I’d only been sipping Lucozade Sport, an Isotonic sports drink. I don’t know how much it helped, or if I was heading downhill significantly more, but I completed mile 8 in 10:17, my second fastest mile! I remember that mile because that’s when I had my runner’s high. Everything was wonderful. I was running with ease. The sun was shining. The birds were tweeting and the bees were humming. I had a total Disney moment and felt great!

And then came miles 9, 10, 11 and 12. I held my pace at around 11 min/miles through sheer determination. I WAS going to finish with a sub 11 min/mile average. I kept forcing myself on by looking at my watch and seeing the average getting closer to 11! At some points I was running under 9 minute pace before taking a walk break. I still didn’t know what effect this would have on my overall time; I just hadn’t worked that out! I was getting tired and light headed and, for the very first time, I thought I was going to be sick. I held off the feeling and pushed on.

By the time I hit mile 12 I could see the village again. I’d tried to time my turn around so that I would finish before getting to the village, mainly because there is a hill coming into it, a long draining hill that I really didn’t want to finish on. I miscalculated. In my enthusiasm to get going I started off in the village and still turned at the same spot. As I rounded the corner I knew that I was going to finish on the hill. I pushed and pushed. My pace got slower and slower as I tried to sprint up the hill; I had no sprint left. There were no people there to encourage me, no line to cross, just what was in my head and the slow ticking of the odometer as the hundredths of a mile passed.

I stopped the watch at 13.1 miles.

2:23:41. A new PB.

I was 11 minutes faster than my last half run completed in October 2011. That’s a minute faster for almost every mile! I am very pleased with that. If I can only replicate that come the Great North Run I’ll be very happy. If I can’t, I have this as an official PB at least. But who knows. Could I run faster?

On walking back to the house I realised just how much energy I’d used up. I stopped briefly to read the  village notice board and started seeing stars and feeling decidedly unsteady. I got home as soon as I could and popped a potato into the microwave to bake. Ten minutes later I was sitting down to Jacket Potato with Lemon Humous with a glass of soya milk. It was my 80%:20% carb:protein recovery meal. Very simple, but very effective.

I didn’t run at all on Tuesday. Truth be told, I could hardly walk without pain!  After visiting the chiropractor on Monday afternoon I felt a little better, and managed to relax in the hot tub in the evening,  but soon stiffened up during the night. Tuesday, my birthday, was sore! Today, Wednesday, I feel fine, although I did pop a few ibuprofens yesterday!

I’m about to head into the gym for a treadmill recovery run, nothing too tough. I’m saying this out loud so that it goes into my tiny brain! I am, after all, a bear of a very little brain!

New Shoes, New Limits

After my meeting with my chiropractor last week, everything started to make more sense. Yes, I run far better off road than on. I’m more relaxed and my posture is totally different. I realise that the terrain has much to do with this, but so does my shoe. I run off road in old Nike Alvord 7s that probably stopped being made five years ago, but bought them from the Nike Outlet at Gretna just last year. They’ve only got 100 miles on them because my off road running tends to be only 3 miles long.

When I was on holiday in Harrogate last week I went along to Up & Running in the town centre. I wasn’t running yet because my back was still sore and I was certain that I needed to heal properly before going out again. A few days missing running are neither here nor there. I did a fair bit of walking to make up for it.

The guy at Up & Running was extremely helpful. He put me on the treadmill and videoed my running style wearing Brooks Ghosts. Not wanting to say anything against the analysis of my style done previously, he wondered if my style had changed significantly. Read into that what you will! In any case I do not over-pronate; if anything I have a neutral footfall. I don’t toe strike either though. I land mid foot, which is good. I watched the video with him and was really surprised how straight I run. I’d always imagined that my right leg, the twisted one, would kick out more, but it doesn’t really. I do a good job of straightening it out and putting one foot in front of the other. It’s very strange watching yourself running!

The short story is I left the store with a pair of Ghosts, a free pair of socks and good wishes for the Great North Run.


I didn’t test them out until Sunday when I ran into Harrogate and back for a 4 mile run. I’d forgotten that it was a Magic Mile run and I wasn’t really up for one, if I’m really honest. I should have just run my 4 miles at 11 min/mile pace and enjoyed it, but I did try to do a MM and failed miserably. I didn’t really know where I was running, I was crossing roads constantly and having to stop to do so and I wasn’t physically fit enough! My MM came in at 10:24, which is abysmal for me.

I did enjoy the easy run back though and I love my new shoes. They are comfortable and I had no issues at all and, wonder of wonders, my back was totally cured post run. I’d gone out feeling a bit tight and stiff and returned without a twinge.

Yesterday I took my dog for a trail run on my usual 3 mile route. It was very warm and humid and I said to my husband that I was just out for an easy 3. My Garmin had died so I took Jeff’s app and listened to the music – not something I do often on the trail. I started off easy and just ran. It was a lovely evening and I was enjoying myself. I found my running easy and I felt strong, even the uphill sections were easier, although I should have known that something good was happening when my core started to ache. When I finished I realised that my easy 3 had turned out to be the fastest 3 I’ve ever done off road. 3 miles in 30:19.

It’s lovely when that happens.

The Day after the Chiro

This morning I’m a tad sore. Understandably when you think how my poor back was manoeuvred back into place yesterday, albeit by the gentlest of hands. I’m taking it easy, still taking co-codamol even though they seem to upset my stomach and I’m not planning any running today.

I did ask my hubbie to put the exercise bike into the Wee Gym as I may have a few kilometres on that later. I’ll see how it goes.

I’m a big fan of listening to my body, although I realise that running 11 miles on Sunday having cricked my back wasn’t really harking what it was trying to tell me. I’m obviously paying the price now, although how much worse I’ve made it we’ll never know. I suspect that I haven’t added much to the load.

In an effort to lift my spirits Life yesterday sent me my Great North Run number!

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It was a slightly scary, but welcome sight, making the experience a little bit more real. However, I’ve now started to worry about logistics which those of you who are long term readers will know that I can be OCD about arrangements! We will be staying at Whitley Bay on the weekend of the run, so I need to spend time working out how to get to the start line (I don’t care about getting back!) on time for a 10:40 start. I need to work back to see what time I need together up, have breakfast and get my kit on. I know, it’s August. I have a full month to worry. Dear God.

I would welcome any advice from locals and veterans of the GNR!

Silver Linings

What a 24 hours I’ve just had.

Yesterday morning, in helping my hubbie to put together our old Citroën van for a huge Citroën gathering this week, I twisted awkwardly and felt my back “pop”. It was a sickening and familar “pop” and I knew it was the start of something sinister, which might make it difficult to understand why I then went out to run 11 miles. Truth is, I honestly thought that running might help loosen the muscles that had already started to go into spasm.

I had decided to split my 11 miles into two runs so that I could fit them into a busy day. I chose to do 6 miles in the morning and 5 later on in the early evening. In doing so, I also managed to get the best of the weather, which was a bit of a bonus. I decided that I would run along the coast road and turn back midway. Yesterday was just about clocking miles, not about time or route or hills or anything else. The coast road is pretty flat and that was fine by me.

However, I almost didn’t start at all. My first few steps were excruciating, there is no other word for it. I felt sick. I was dosed up on co-codamol and had applied ibuprofen gel to my twinging back, but it was hardly working by then. However, I carried on – in the blind hope that things would get better. It did. Whether I have codeine, paracetamol, ibuprofen or natural chemicals to thank for that I don’t know, but I got into an 11 minute mile pace fairly easily. One thing I have noticed though is that Jeff Galloway’s Half Marathon app runs behind actual distance. For all I’m keeping to the 11 minute mile pace, following the beat synced music and taking the prescribed walk breaks, I’m still running faster and covering more distance than Jeff thinks I should be. I don’t, however, use the GPS on the app, worried about using my my phone battery and rely on the Garmin information for distance, time and pace. It might be more reliable if I were to turn the GPS on.

6 miles in 66:43.

The second session came after I had raced across the region to put up an art exhibition. I was tired and my back was really starting to hurt, but I was determined to get my miles in. I ran the same course at the same pace.

5 miles in 55:44.

I was then treated to dinner at the pub with my favourite recovery drink of Guinness, of which I had several pints. I slept well.

The Grey Cloud

When I woke up, however, the cocktail of pills and the Guinness had worn off and I was in a self-imposed straight jacket. I struggled to sit up in bed and couldn’t get out. I was in a lot of pain. Touching the tender area I could feel the protruding lump of a vertebrae. The surrounding muscle was solid, in protection. I managed to get an emergency appointment at my chiropractor’s surgery at 12:30 and before that I had to struggle back to add some items to the art exhibition (including a large table!) I had an interesting morning, to be sure!

The Silver Lining

The chiropractor was a stand in as my usual one was on holiday and, it turned out, she was a God send! After I explained what I’d done, including admitting to the 11 mile run, she revealed that she was a triathlete! Thank you Lord!! Someone who understands!!! Short story is that she fixed the spasms and lumpy bits and then went on to tell me that I was wearing the wrong running shoes. In a short space of time she had established that I was an anti-pronator, who lands on her toes and has a high arch that flattens out. Since I started running I had thought I was a heel-striking over-pronator. What a revelation! She recommended that I ditch my Asics and invest in a pair of Brooks. I’ve got stretches and pelvic rocking to do and I have to not run for a few days, but she says I’ll be fine and wished me luck with my GNR training.

So here I am, in recovery mode. I have the Olympics on the TV and a nice cup of tea to hand. Every now and again I have to get up and stretch and go for a wander – none of this feet up malarky apparently! I have a golf ball under my left foot to help to stretch the plantar fascia muscle which is too tight (also possibly attributable to my shoes) and tomorrow I am allowed to test out the second hand Everlast exercise bike that I bought last week for £30!

My next run will be on Sunday. I am taking this seriously. I have a kick back week with a 4 mile long run to do, one mile of which is meant to be a Magic Mile. If it’s not, I’ll not be worried. I am pleased to be walking without a wince.