The Other Half

That’s it – 13 miles done. Well actually that’s 22.69 km done, which is, according to my conversion app, 14.1 miles. Yaay, go me. That’ll be why it seemed to take so long!

My foot is officially killing me. I really struggled through that last session, still running for 7 minutes and taking 40 second walk breaks. It meant that although I was running for longer I could run a little slower. I still maintained 10:36 pace, which is faster than my best half marathon pace by far.

I will now rest up. I’ve stretched, dinner is cooking and I hear a bath calling my name. A wine bottle also seems to be trying to attract my attention, so I must see what it wants!

Recovery Miles

Sometimes after a grueling race the best thing you can do is the worse thing you feel like doing! Recovery miles are a downright slog, there is no other word for them! I don’t think I’ve ever come back after a long or hard run and done the next run with wings on my heels.

Last week I did one measly trail run with the dog clipping my heels. I enjoyed being out in the sunshine (rather than the rain), with a gentle breeze accompanying me (rather than a hurricane) and did a gentle 2 miles, there and back. I wasn’t bothered about my time, although I am hardly ever Garmin-less, and I’m even less bothered about sharing it now! It was 2 gentle miles.

And that was it for last week. It was my first week back at school and it was busy with after school meetings. Something had to give.

I was busy on Sunday organising a historic vehicle run for National Drive It Day. It rained all day anyway, so I wasn’t missing much and rather enjoyed tootling about the countryside in my convertible…with the roof up.

On Monday I had a lot to do, but I got all my chores done by 3pm and set off for a just over 4 mile run. It was meant to be 4 miles, but my route is just over and, well, I’ve been running 13, 15 and 17 miles so point something of a mile was neither here nor there!

In a moment of clarity I decided to run my usual route in reverse. It was quite windy and my choice actually meant that for once I was running mostly out of the wind! My only face on stretch was going to be downhill! Total result for the home team!

I didn’t struggle, although some of the uphills were a bit soul destroying; I remembered why I run this the other way after hill three, which came hot on the heels of hill two. I just ran as far up as I felt happy doing and walked up the rest. I honestly didn’t realise just how tired my legs were until I hit the hills. However, I wasn’t looking to do “a time”, just do a run.

I wasn’t happy carrying my water bottle. The juice was splashing about, my hands were sticky and I just don’t like carrying a bottle. Mind you, I had bought some cherry isotonic drink from Morrisons (because it was cheap) and it was a bit strong. Really water would have done. I don’t think my autopilot is used to me doing these short distances!!

I did 4.39 miles in 48:05, giving me 10:57 pace, which was fine. Funnily enough my “jog” back down to the village was at 10 min/mile pace – I must be doing something right. The only really slow bit was the uphill section at mile 3, so I’m happy with that.

On Sunday coming I have 8 miles to do and then that’s me done with my half training, for a while at least. I don’t think I’ll put myself through the training regime like I have done. I’ll still do the Jeff Galloway plan, but just the straightforward one. I honestly think that a couple of good trail runs and a long run a week more than set me up for any race, maybe even better than what I have put myself through this time.

On the treat front, look what I’ve replaced my water bottle with!

One hump, or two? My new Camelbak hydration pack!
One hump, or two?
My new Camelbak hydration pack!

I found this on ebay last week with a £15 starting price. Brand new, still with covers, I got it for £21 including delivery, which I think is a bargain! It has the 1.5 litre bladder, has room besides for my other stuff (inhaler, plasters and phone) and saves me carrying anything or having anything uncomfortably clipped around my waist. I realise that some people might think it’s OTT for a relatively short distance runner, but if it keeps my hands free and is comfortable enough I couldn’t care less!

I’m now off to UnderArmour to see about some nice loose fitting and flattering running tops. I’m sick of seeing a podgy runner staring back at me!

Reaching Unknown Territory

When I started my training programme for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon I opted to go along the improver route, looking to better the time I managed at the Great North Run. It’s not been an easy route and there have been times that I’ve struggled with my fitness and my reasoning. This weekend I ran into unknown territory; I ran 15 miles.


Previously my longest distance had been 14 miles, which is longer than most half marathon programmes takes you. The plans devised by Jeff Galloway makes sense to me because they ask you to run further than you will have to in a race. That gives you additional endurance and the security of knowing that, yes, I can easily run 13.1 miles because I have run further. I like that.

With the threat of unsettled weather hanging over me I wasn’t sure if to run on Sunday or Monday or even which route to choose. My local loop floods with just a small amount of rain and that we’d had slightly more than a small amount, this being Scotland. I’m not keen on running half way and turning back but 15 miles would put me in the centre of Dumfries and possibly running through traffic. I decided to run on Sunday (unless I got up on Sunday to torrential rain) and run along the coast road.

I woke on Sunday to snow.

Luckily it was short lived and by the time I headed out we were being treated to light rain. My main problem though wasn’t the weather; it was technology. I had charged my Garmin Forerunner 405 in the morning to 100%, but when I disconnected it from its charger it went flat immediately. It’s done this before, about a year ago, and I almost returned it to Garmin. By a combination of research, friend’s advice and fiddling with buttons I managed to fix the issue, one that had apparently been caused by the compass services being switched on by accident. It’s possible that I had left the GPS switched on and this had caused the present issue, I don’t know for sure. When I checked nothing appeared to be on that shouldn’t have been. Reluctantly I left the watch recharging and took just my iPhone.

Usually I only rely on my phone for the Jeff Galloway app (including the beat synced music) and I have always had enough battery to complete a long run. Yesterday I had to also rely on the app’s GPS signal. I wasn’t sure whether I would have enough battery to last the entire run. It was unsettling. Without my phone I had no structure and I need that. Sad as that may sound. I’m happy to run without technology when it doesn’t matter, but it did matter. I had no idea how far 7.5 miles was away from my home. I didn’t know where along the road I needed to turn back.

I set off running in a vest, gloves and long tights. I could see the incredulous looks of passing motorists, but I was comfortable. I heat up quickly, possibly because of the amount of body fat I still carry, but my hands and thighs stay colder than the rest of me.

I was fueling on my homemade isotonic juice (I made a mental note to include less salt next time – my pinches are massive!) and dextrose tablets every mile or so. Nothing else. I’d breakfasted on porridge with millet and linseed, banana and honey. I didn’t pay much attention, though, to carb-loading before hand, although I did have polenta the night before. I need to think more carefully about what I’m eating leading up to a long run.

By mile 4 I was running comfortably. Before that I felt every muscle as it stretched and creaked! By mile 4, however, my iPhone battery was down to less than 50%. Running the app, my music and the GPS was just too much for it. I carried on in the vain hope that my battery would last until I got to 7.5 miles so at least I’d know when to turn back. At mile 6 I rang my husband. My Garmin had charged to just under 40% so I asked him to zero his mileometre and bring the watch out to me.

By the time he reached me I’d run 7.8 miles according to my phone GPS. Armed with a dying iPhone and a reluctant Garmin, I set off towards home. In order to save battery on my phone I turned off the app; I wanted some battery life in case of emergency. Not long after setting off I heard my watch beeping – it wasn’t happy and managed 2.1 miles before dying. To be fair it spent a mile or two dying and resurrecting until it finally kicked the bucket.

I’d made it to mile 10, but without my app or my phone telling me when to walk and run I was probably running less and walking more than I should have. It probably sounds silly, but without the music spurring me on and regulating my pace I was probably running too fast and wearing myself out too quickly. I was a bit of a mess.

I started to do something that Jeff Galloway suggested in his in app tips. I chose a tree or a fence or a building in the distance, ran to that and then walked for a count of 60 before choosing a new focus. It helped a little.

I finished my 15 miles in around 2 hours 50 minutes. Without my Garmin or my iPhone and having not noted a start or a finish time I can’t be exactly sure.


After getting home I ate everything in the fridge! I started with a ready mixed soya milkshake, then I demolished some crackers and humous and finished with some Quorn chicken strips – basically what was close to hand. I had a very hot bath followed by several cups of hot tea. I was cold.

After several pints of restorative Guinness, I retired to bed, but not before covering my legs with BioFreeze Gel. It smells very strong, but it is a wonder gel. I used it after the Great North Run and it really helped to reduce any inflammation and aches. I’m still using free sachets from goodie bags, but I think that I need to buy some. Today I have no real pain, just a slight ache in my thighs.

I think I’ve fixed my Garmin. After resetting it and recharging it, I’m not letting the battery drain by running the stopwatch. So far it’s been going for 12 hours. Once it’s drained I’ll recharge it and hopefully that’ll be that.

Onwards and upwards!


Without killing myself…

After last week’s post you may be pleased to hear that I’ve backed off a bit and that I’m not being quite so hard on myself, for a change. Doing that 13 miles last Sunday in a half decent time, without hurting myself, has made me sit up and listen to my body. I am making progress. I don’t need to make myself ill. Even if I knock a few seconds off my last half time, that’s a PB. And I think I can manage that.


So instead of half killing myself in training, I’ve turned it down a notch or two and I feel as if a massive weight has been lifted! All of a sudden I’m enjoying running again. I might feel as if I’m going a bit slowly, but I do have the option to speed up if I’m feeling good.


Today was an interval day, with 14km of speed work to look forward to. Yay! (Don’t worry, I am joking!)

As I’m not near a track and the roads aren’t suited to intervals, I opted to run for almost two hours on the treadmill. That, people, is dedication. Or madness, you choose!

Runner treadmill ILLUS.jpg

In order to survive two hours on the treadmill I have my TV and a box set of DVDs set up in the cabin. I am happy to run with no music at all outside, happy to run with music for short treadmill runs, but for two hours of drudgery only TV will stave off the monotony I’m afraid! At the moment I’m half way through the Teachers (series 2) box set. I find that if I turn on the subtitles I can watch it without having to worry about ear phones or having the sound blasting out. I do have headphones on, but that’s so that I can listen to my coach Jeff Galloway’s dulcet tones.

Nice one, Jeff!
Nice one, Jeff!

And talking of the good man himself, Coach Jeff informed me that this morning I had not just intervals, but a mixture of running. I started off with a slow 10 minute run, followed this with four acceleration gliders (building up to race pace, holding for a few seconds and then reducing the pace whilst using the built up momentum to carry the speed) and then into ten lots of 800m intervals. As I had knocked the pace back a bit I wasn’t sure what speed the intervals were going to come in at and I was pleased to see them still at 11.3 kph. That’s a kilometre less per hour than I was doing, but looking at my overall training (i.e. THE BIG PICTURE) it’s not making that much difference. The difference it did make, however, was that I felt more comfortable. Yes, I was pushing myself, but not over the edge.

I finished with a 10 minute slow run and felt as if I’d done a good training session.

My nutrition was a bit lacking though; because  in my head I wasn’t running “a long run”, I only took an isotonic drink. I neglected to consider that I was still running 10 miles and that I should have been supplementing that with something else. At times I felt light headed and there were a couple of stumbles on the treadmill when I just forgot where I was. Next time I will have to remember to give myself plenty of fuel.

Next weekend I had planned to run the Kilomathon in Edinburgh, 13.1 km, but I’ve decided not to. The start is at 8:30 am and unless I stay over it would be too early a start for me to drive up. I can’t afford the time or the cost of a hotel to stay overnight, so it’s going to be scratched off the list. I have to be practical in terms of money, time and how races fit into my training and the Kilomathon doesn’t really rate highly in any of those terms. On Sunday I have 15 miles to run so after running a fast 13.1 km (because it’s a race and I couldn’t help myself!) I would then need to do an extra 11 km. It’s a shame, but maybe next year I can do this instead of other races.

Next year, maybe!
Next year, maybe!

So, here I am heading into week 11 of training! Wish me luck!!

The Wrong Trousers

Arrrgh! I’ve been doing it again! After saying last time that I was finding the training hard, I finally reached crisis point on Saturday. When I get to that point things have a habit of going one way or another; it’s pretty black and white with me. All I can say is, thank goodness for friends and social networking!

After a grim training week I felt that my half marathon time goal was completely out of my grasp. I came home in the light (for a change) and decided on Wednesday to take my faithful hound into the woods for a half an hour 3 miles or so. I came back disheartened with my rubbish pace, even though I was wearing, as Wallace and Gromit would say, ‘The Wrong Trousers’ (tights that just have no give in them at all) and the trail was so muddy in places I was walking for a good few minutes. I ached, really ached from the effort and wondered if my treadmill workouts had left me “softened”.


On Friday I had no choice but to hit the treadmill. I was meant to do a straightforward run at above race pace, but after Wednesday’s run I knew that I wasn’t up to it and ran at my normal pace with the idea that if I found it too easy I’d crank up the speed. Needless to say the speed remained constant throughout.

By Saturday I was starting to panic.

I had 13 miles to accomplish on Sunday and whilst I didn’t doubt my ability to complete the 13 miles, I was worried that all my weeks of training had been for nothing. I said as much on Facebook and asked for my running friends to give me some advice. As it happened I had friends who run and friends who don’t all offering encouragement. It was lovely to read.

On Sunday I woke early and determined to run exactly 13 miles at my 11 min/mile pace. I knew that I could achieve that normally and, feeling like I did, I needed to see that I could achieve that on that day. Without boring you with the detail, I ran easily and thoroughly enjoyed every step (except for maybe mile 12, by which time I was really tired) and even managed to race to the end! I did the 13.04 miles in 2:26 giving me an average of 11:14 min/miles. I chose a particularly hilly 5 mile route, ran that twice and then added an extra circuit on the end. It was a hard 13 miles.

In short what I’ve done is prove that my training is working. I could easily have run my 13 miles faster, maybe not much, but fast enough. What I think is difficult in my training is doing the 800m intervals on the treadmill. It would be difficult to maintain a constant pace on the track and you would naturally slow down (or start off slow and speed up) but I’m expecting to be able to maintain a fast pace for the entire 800m and it’s no big deal that I can’t!

I need to…

keep_it_real_-_sky_kids_cu_1 (Thanks Banksy)

I’m on course to improve on my half marathon best and if I don’t then at least I know I’ve tried my best.

Garmin Connect – 13 miles around Ruthwell (2 loops and a bit).


Pre-run: Instant Oats, soya milk, banana and honey

During run: OJ/water isotonic juice (200ml OJ/400 ml water with 1/4 teaspoon salt); Dextro dextrose tablets as necessary (approximately once every third walk break)


Nike vest; Karrimor long tights; Karrimor gloves; Nike peaked cap; Brooks Ghost 5 trainers; Asics waistbelt

Revealing All

The last words I said about using the treadmill were to my husband the other day when I said that running 10km on one was more than enough.

So today I ran 14.1 km.

It’s week 8, day 4 of the Improve Your Half Marathon plan that I’ve been following and it’s bloody hard work, let me tell you! Improving apparently means working harder. I wasn’t expecting that. It involves running faster intervals and counting your steps and learning how to coast. I wasn’t expecting any of this. Let’s just hope that it works, because it’s bloody hard work. Did I say that already?

My training programme looks like this:


(taken from

I’ve asked it to give me 10 minute pace which should give me  2:17 over 13.1 miles. We’ll see. As it is I do seem to be keeping to the pace on longer runs (not 10 min/mile pace yet though – the long runs are at 11 min/mile pace), but I admit that I find the raised pace in training sessions really tough.

I mentioned in my last post that my PT son had concocted an isotonic sports drink for me.

[Isotonic – quickly replaces fluids lost by sweating and supplies a boost of carbohydrate. This drink is the choice for most athletes – middle and long distance running or team sports. Glucose is the body’s preferred source of energy therefore it may be appropriate to consume Isotonic drinks where the carbohydrate source is glucose in a concentration of 6% to 8% – e.g. High Five, SiS Go, Boots Isotonic, Lucozade Sport. Taken from]

The recipe Ben used was:

  • 2 parts water to 1 part fruit juice (he used pure orange juice from concentrate)
  • pinch of salt

It tastes fine and, if it does the job, is a lot cheaper than shop bought drinks. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenC106 He’s talking about starting his own blog on fitness, so watch this space.

On being quiet and just getting on with it.

I take my blog writing style from the fictional Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City fame. Carrie, I feel, had that way of approaching subjects that are only important to a few select individuals and making them everyone’s latest big issue. My blog is read by few, probably appreciated by less, but is important, I hope, to one or two select individuals.

So, what is my latest big issue?

Not much, to be honest. I find myself blogging less about what I’m doing, even forgetting to blog about long runs, as the runs get longer and my free time lessens. As the title implies, I’m just running, getting the job done and getting on with life. And, sometimes, that’s all we can do.

(See, now that was a Carrie style metaphor for life. I can hear your impressed applause from here!)

I’m up to 11 miles now in my long run status in training for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Edinburgh at the end of my Easter holidays. I’m really looking forward to the whole Rock and Roll weekend. Hubbie and I have booked our wobble box (the caravan) into a good camp site nearby and I’m excitedly reading about the  many bands we will be listening both on the way round and in the after race concert at Holyrood. I will even attend an expo, my first proper expo! Even the Great North Run last year didn’t have an expo to attend, just a few races with one or two celebrities at the quayside. I can get my photo taken looking excited prior to the event – how cool. How very American! I’m secretly very envious of my US running pals who have fabulous pre-race, in-race and post-race photos. I get a pic taken in the caravan of what I looked like before and then a few blurry blob in-race photos to share. It’s terribly sad.

Last weekend I ran my 11 miles on the shore road. I was going to do two loops of my 5 mile circuit, but the weather has been so wet I doubted that the loop would be puddle free and, as regular readers, you will remember that a Scottish puddle is the equivalent of a pond elsewhere. Ducks swim on them. Dolphins have been spotted.

The weather was lovely, total running perfection. Calm, blue skies, sunshine and chilly. I went out fueled by porridge and banana and took an isotonic drink and a handful of dextrose tablets. I had downloaded a new running album, all rock songs, and was eager to see how they sounded. Although the original artists weren’t serenading me, it certainly wasn’t karaoke central. I was pleased by how well the songs fitted my pace and how good they sounded. If you want to download a bargain this is it:

I ran fairly smoothly, although as usual it took me a few miles to feel comfortable. It’s as if I have a brief respite between feeling sluggish and then feeling knackered and the miles just whizz by, briefly. I was running at just under 11 min mile pace. I find running at below race pace tough. I’m meant to be building up my speed and seeing 11 min/miles on my Garmin really gets to me! I know that’s the point, long runs should be easy and are there to build up endurance and it shouldn’t frustrate me, but I’m just too competitive, so it does.

This week I’ve struggled with feeling “right”. I didn’t feel that my long run was particularly stressful. I recovered very quickly. I don’t seem to ache as maybe I should after a long run. I am tired, but I get no real muscle ache, just a bit of initial stiffness if I’ve been sitting for a while. Maybe I’m lucky like that or maybe the run:walk philosophy is keeping me injury free, I don’t know. Whatever the answer is, I’m not changing anything. It works for me. Anyway, what should have been an interval session on Wednesday got swopped for a recovery run and a short one at that. I’m meant to do two 45 minute runs in the week, a walk on Saturday and my weekend run. On Wednesday I could hardly put one foot in front of the other and ended up doing a measly 30 minutes and being really annoyed with myself. On Friday I knew that I was due for a straight 45 minutes run at above race pace and I knew I wasn’t ready for that either. I adjusted the speed (it’s easy done on the Jeff Galloway Half Marathon app) and this is what I heard:

“OK, I’m pleased that you are listening to your body. Let’s lower the pace.”

Isn’t that what we all need to hear sometimes? I actually did 30 minutes at 10.3 kph and the last 15 minutes at 11.3 kph, adjusting the pace on the hoof. And I felt good.

Today I have 800m intervals to do. I was toying with heading to a local track and doing them there, but there is a race on. So, unfortunately it’s an treadmill day. I say unfortunately because the weather is perfect for a long run and it would be great to get out there. If it stays like this I’m tempted to do a short recovery run tomorrow.

I will be fueled today by porridge and banana (I’m typing this whilst waiting for it to “land”) and a sports drink made by my son who has been studying sports nutrition this week as part of his B.Tech course. He has made a cheap and nutritionally equivalent sports drink out of orange juice, lemon juice and salt. It tastes fine and lacks added sugar that shop bought ones have. I hope that it works; I have a gallon of orange juice in my fridge. Maybe I should worry more about being a guinea pig. Last night I dined out prior to a concert on Beans in Tomato Sauce (which, I know, sounds like a can has been opened, but was actually very nice) served with boiled potatoes, green beans and carrots. I won’t divulge the starter and dessert. That’ll just spoil the picture you have of my carb and protein high dinner. Instead I will leave you with a video of the band we saw last night. The world’s greatest rock and roll ba-ha-ha-hand.


This post is going to be a mishmash of all the things I’ve done this week. It may not make any sense! Just go with me on this.


Training is going well, if being permanently knackered counts as “going well”. I must admit that I’m finding the Improve you Half Marathon element of the Jeff Galloway Half Marathon training app tough.

I’m doing things I haven’t done much of before (proper interval training) as well as things I’ve never tried before (gliders, cadence counting). The gliders and cadence are fine; the intervals are killers! 800m

reps at 12.2 kph/7.6mph with 3 minutes walk in between (not even rest!!) is hard and sometimes, I admit, I’m not always making it to the end of each interval.

However, I will persevere.

I’m up to Week 7 of the plan now and looking forward to a dry and sunny 11 mile run this coming weekend.

Ab exercises

What a mess I’ve made of this. I am naturally stiff in the neck and shoulder; I can’t help it, that’s where I carry my stress. Before, when I was doing a Plank-a-Day, I had to stop because my neck kept going into spasm. I thought I was doing well with my Ab Workout, but the week before last I had to stop. My neck and upper back were solid.

My son, who is completing a B.Tech in Sports at the local college, asked what my posture was like and, of course, I had no idea because I can’t see myself! My husband said that I tend to lift my head first before coming up and my son thinks that this is the problem. He reckons I should be looking straight up towards the ceiling. I’ll try again, although at the moment the only thing I want to do is a nice bit of yoga to try and relax a few stiff muscles.


The GoRuns are still performing well, although I think I’m landing heavier than I was wearing my Brooks. It might just be my imagination, but I seem to be fair slapping my feet on the treadmill. I don’t feel any more tired though and my legs aren’t suffering.



I need to refresh my running music. Much as I love the Quo, I need something else as well to get me going. I keep looking at iTunes and most of the albums (showing my age here) seem to be full of songs I’ve never heard of. I did see one a while back that was all rock songs, which would be great, but I’m still to track it down.


I’m seriously impressed by the EnergyBits. That’s two good runs I’ve taken them for, just a handful before setting off, and they’ve powered me up to 90 minutes with juice. They aren’t the nicest things to take, that’s the drawback, and I don’t know how I’d manage with them on a run because they are the same size as an average vitamin pill and you have to take between 20 and 40 at a time! This last time I took 20 in one go and they aren’t sweeties! I’m going to look at pricing though, see if it’s feasible.

I also discovered this last week that potato crisps are on my list of banned substances. It must be to do with the way they are produced because even the supposed gluten free ones are giving me the most awful stomach cramps. I’m sticking to tortilla chips and the like, unless I find something that is labelled “gluten free, we promise – stick needles in our eyes if we lie.”


Race Nutrition; Old v New or Science v Nature

Something the Old RunningFox said about one of my earlier posts has got me thinking. I’d commented that I was using a combination of gels, dextrose tablets and isotonic drinks to fuel my long runs and he said, quite rightly, what would Ron Hill have made of that? In his day just a sip of water was enough to see him through a half marathon or even further. Quite true, I’m sure, and if I could run a half marathon in a hour or so I wouldn’t need all this extra fuel. But I can’t. Yet!

I’ve always gone by the rule that for runs up to 30 minutes I don’t need anything. Just a drink of water before I start and a drink of water when I’ve finished. Between 30 minutes and an hour, I carry water and sip it as I need it. Nothing more. Anything over an hour I take an isotonic sports drink with me and anything over two hours I take a gel half way round. I think that’s pretty standard thinking, although I’d be glad to hear if you think differently.

When I first started upping my distance I relied purely on water and jelly beans, not even fancy sport ones, just plain old jelly beans. Apart from the fact that they tend to merge into one huge jelly bean the longer I’m running, I’d probably be more inclined to take beans with me rather than gels or dextrose. What I’d really like to do though, is investigate some better, more natural, less scientific and ultimately cheaper ways of fuelling long runs.

I bought a bag of jelly beans the other day, purely for research purposes you understand. 100g (half the bag) contains 370 kcal, 0.3 g protein, 91.3g carbs (of which 52.9g are sugars), 0.1g fat (saturated), 0.1g fibre and not much else. In comparison the Dextrose tablets contain 1535 kcal, 0g protein, 88g carbs (79g sugars) and 0.3g fat per 100g. Not much difference energy wise. Costwise my bag of beans cost 89p for a 200g bag. A packet of 12 Dextro tablets cost 75p. Dextro Energy suggest popping a 3.4g tablet every 15 – 20 minutes. An equivalent amount of beans (approximately 12) would see me having to carry and consume, on a two hour run, almost 100 beans to every 8 tablets. I think I would be sick. I have no choice now but to eat my jelly beans to help fuel my search.  Yum.

The other issue, for me, is that a lot of sports fuel have nuts or gelatine in then and I can’t/won’t eat those. I hunted high and low and read the small print on many, many gels before settling on the MaxiFuel Viper Active ones. I took one at 7 miles on a half marathon distance run. Their spiel says to take 1 – 2 every hour of exercise, which would really mean me having to take four of them.  I tried the SIS gels on the Great North Run, opting to take three spaced out over 4, 7 and 11 miles as they suggested three per hour! Beforehand I thought this was excessive, but my Garmin data showed a definite boost about 10 – 15 minutes after consumption. The SIS gels are labelled as vegan. The MaxiFuel ones I will have checked as vegetarian, at least. On the run I find all gels difficult to open though; sweaty hands and wee rip off tops just don’t mix.

The problem is that gels and tablets tend to be more energy efficient per gram than anything else. That’s what they’re designed to be. So can I find something else, as compact and as nutritious?



The Last Really Long Run before the Great North Run!

That’s it. I’ve reached that point at which things start to wind down, giving my body time to build up resources for the Great North Run. In a way I’m already not looking forward to stepping right back; I’m already talking about trying a 15 mile run after the race and building it up to see how far this middle aged body will take me. I must be mad.

Yesterday I got my husband to take me into town and drop me off so that I could run home, rather than run to a point and back. They were roads I knew well, although the first part out of Dumfries I’d never run on before. The weather seemed perfect – not too hot, not to sunny and sporting a gentle breeze.

I’d tried to carb load, but I’m not good at it. I think too much about everyone else and cook what I think they’d like, rather than what I need. I really need to do something about that. I had tacos the night before, when I probably should have had pasta or rice, and breakfasted on boiled egg and toast, when I probably should have had porridge. With all this in mind I think I was almost certainly under fuelled for a long run. However…

I was dropped off at Castledykes Park and, after a quick visit to the loo, set off along the Glencaple Road. I started off trying to listen to my body and run at what felt like an easy pace. It turns out that my easy pace is around 10:30 min/mile pace as the first two miles came in at 10:34 and 10:11. I even stopped now and again to take photographs; I was feeling relaxed and happy. My left ankle was stiff to begin with but soon started to loosen off and that had been my main worry.

The River Nith heading out into the Solway.

As you can see from the photo it’d had started to heat up a bit. I’d left starting the run quite late, not helped by the fact that as I was ready to go my husband decided to do an online search for a new cooker hood to replace the one that has been broken for the last 3 years! Only mad dogs and English runners set off in the mid day sun!

It gradually got hotter and hotter and I could feel my pace slipping, despite me trying to maintain it. In the front of my mind though I was telling myself that only distance mattered today, not pace. I just wanted to do a long, slow 14 mile run. However I also realised that the slower I ran, the longer it would take!

My husband had promised to follow me along the road once he’d finished his cooker hood shopping and eventually caught up with me as I finished mile 7 and was reaching for my gel. I stopped to talk to him for a while before he drove home.

Caerlaverock Castle across the fields, subject of some of my paintings.

My splits tell the story:

The first three miles were on the button.
After that I started to feel the heat and slow up.
I took a gel at mile 7, which helped a little, but just felt as if I was crawling the last few miles.
These two last miles were pure torture.


I stopped slightly short of 14 miles because I’d reached the pub! My son is a bar man there, so I popped in to see him and get my water bottle refilled. After that I walked home as best I could after 14 tortuous miles! My husband met me as I walked up the road. He said he wasn’t worried, but just thought that it was time I was due home.

I knew that I was weak; I drank my recovery protein drink (a banana milk shake) as soon as I got in and went for a dip in the hot tub. I went hot and cold and hot again and lasted maybe 10 minutes before I started seeing stars. I had to get out. I quickly made myself a sandwich and forced myself to eat it, even though it was the very last thing I wanted. Quite quickly I started to feel better so I ran myself a cold bath and sat in that for 10 minutes. Once the initial shock had subsided, so long as I didn’t move, it actually felt good. My legs were still hot despite being in the cold water for 10 minutes.

After that I was just ravenous. We walked to the local pub and besides my favourite Guinness recovery drink I had to have a packet of crisps (US translation: chips) before ordering my veggie chilli supper! It’s not like me, but I had literally used up every reserve I had – I was running on empty!

Today I feel OK. I’m a little stiff, but not at all sore. My previously sore leg is feeling fine. I’m planning a gentle bike ride to help loosen things, but that’s all. I do have a bad case of sunburn though, highlighting just how hot it was yesterday.

On Wednesday I am booked into a 10k race in Dumfries, but I’m waiting to see how I feel about it. I won’t run if I think it’s going to spoil what I’ve worked up to so far. However, I think I’ll be OK although I won’t be aiming for a PB!