This week has been one of trying new things. Don’t panic, I’m not about to reveal anything unsavoury. In an effort to reduce my 10k times I’ve been following Jeff Galloway’s Easy 10k app, jumping in towards the end and syncing the whole thing with my upcoming race at Jedburgh. As I’ve said, Jedburgh is not a PB course, but I would like to beat last year’s time. And then some.

This week has seen me doing tempo runs and interval training, sorry people but, all on the treadmill. It’s dark here now by half 6 and I can rarely get out before that. Early morning runs are similarly marred and I don’t have any choice but to run on the road as we have no paths. The trails I run on would be treacherous in the dark. So the treadmill is my winter training friend.

The interval training was a bit of a revelation. I’d started this app before doing my Great North Run training and found the interval speeds hard going. Not so this week! Yes, it wasn’t easy, but I also wasn’t running myself into the ground and having to stop, like I was before. I had limited time so I only managed 12 of the 18 400m intervals on Thursday, finishing off the last 6 on Friday. All good stuff.

Today I’m down for a long run of 12 miles, rather excessive perhaps for 10k training, but I’m looking forward to it. I am wearing my Jedburgh kit, checking it out before the day (I have my sensible head on), I’m trying SIS electrolyte juice as it comes in dry powder form and is easier to carry than bottles of juice when I’m away from home and I’m putting my iPhone in my waistpack instead of on my arm (I’ve been suffering from friction burns and would like to avoid them). I have no gels! Instead I have Dextro tablets to take every 15 minutes after an hour and, if the worse comes to the worse, good old fashioned Kendal Mint Cake!

My bag of stuff; my SIS drink, a gel plaster, some paper towel, dextrose tablets, Kendal Mint Cake, my inhaler and my lucky ‘BOOM’ penny found on a previous run. I’m good to go.

I’m not aiming to do the fastest 12 miles ever. I’m going out for a nice run in the Autumn sunshine, once the sun decides to come back out from behind that massive cloud.

I’ll see you later and let you know how it went!


Practising my 5k with a mouth full of midges

Intriguing title, eh? Well it sums up my run last night. A practice 5k, along the shore road just before dusk. Really I should have known better!

For those of you unfamiliar with the famous Scottish midge, it’s a winged insect that bites and sucks blood from its prey. Sounds scary doesn’t it? Truth is the midge is a tiny creature, just 1 – 2 mm in wingspan, but when they herd together, as they tend to do, it’s like walking into a cloud.

Unfortunately I was running into them, but let me start at the beginning for apparently it’s a very good place to start.

Jeff Galloway, my guru, informed me that I had a 5k run to do at race pace, just to test  myself out. It was a lovely day yesterday, although I was really busy and at one point actually wondered if I was going to get a chance to run at all. However I did and at 6:30 pm I finally laced up my shoes and headed out. I had a few new items of kit to test out and my 5k was perfect for that.

First off I’d treated myself to a hydration belt made by Asics. I had done a bit of research and this belt came up well recommended and none too expensive (always a factor for me) and so when I got a chance to try it on at Pete Bland Sports in Kendal the other week I jumped at it. It fitted well, snuggly on my waist and felt comfortable, far better than the old belt I’d bought from Lidl. The Asics belt cost me £15 and comes with a large water bottle in a quick draw pouch and has a secure and waterproof zipped pocket big enough for my iPhone, gels, keys etc…

..and the Kendal Mint Cake!

I was disappointed on visiting my local Lidl that the promised stock of sports bras had been completely bought out bar one bra that was too small. However, on a return visit my husband noticed an abandoned one on another aisle, obviously waiting for me to collect it! They also had some snazzy looking running socks in so I bought a couple of pairs of those too!

Fully loaded, I set off.

I waited until I was clear of the village before starting and Jeff gave me a countdown to get me going. The pace felt good at around an 8 minute mile when I was running, although I knew that after 4 minutes I would be walking. The target was a 10 minute mile pace. What I didn’t know until he said was that dear old Jeff was planning that the first half a mile was going to be a warm up to my 5k, not part of it! When the announcement came I was gutted! However, I restarted my Garmin and set off, again.

On the main part of the run I allowed my pace to be dictated by the beat of my running playlist, all carefully beat synched by LoLo, the makers of the Jeff Galloway Easy 10k app. The result was a reasonable sub 9 minute mile, except for a patch at the start  where I was fighting midges! Alongside of the road heading out there are woods and this is where the midges are happiest. I’d chosen the worse part of the day, dusk, and they were hanging around in swarms, just ready for me to run into them, mouth open. YUK! I really hate these little creatures flying around me. If they stayed in the bushes or even dodged out of my way I’d be perfectly happy, but no. I had wee flies in my eyes, up my nose, in my mouth – oh ugh.

Once I turned at 1.4 miles I was on the opposite side of the road and it was better. Not midge free, but better. And so was my pace. But I guess the damage was done. I was already on an average 10 minute mile pace and I was hoping for less than that. However, if I added my surprise warm up to the mix and subtracted the last half mile I probably would have had a lower average.

It matters not. It was a good run in the circumstances, my belt was great, there was significantly less bounce with my new bra and my feet were comfy.

Aside from chocolate and wine, what else can a girl ask for?

Long Runs in Unfamiliar Territory

Running the day after having run the day before isn’t something I often do, but as it was such a nice day yesterday I just felt that I should get my long run out of the way.

That’s not quite what I mean; I enjoy my long runs, even though I find them challenging. What I really mean is that the weather here in The Lakes has been so changeable that running when it’s good is a total plus! I’d actually forgotten that I’d run the day before. What I did remember was that we’d walked a good 5 miles around Kendal with the dogs and that my hips were still feeling it. The 2.5 miles I’d done with Grant was nothing in comparison. The different muscle groups used for walking and me being quite unused to long distance walking meant that I was a bit sore. Following my 10k training app again Jeff Galloway told me that I had almost 9 miles to do, including warm up and cool down walks.

I don’t know this area at all. Plotting a route wasn’t easy as our map wasn’t detailed enough so I resorted to using online maps and getting an idea of what roads went where, although I didn’t have the facility to print anything out. I decided to run north from the campsite, along the path as far as it went and then turn back and head into Kendal.

I was totally unprepared. I had bought a sports drink, but it was a low calorie one and I hadn’t anything remotely sugary to help my energy towards the end of the 9 miles. Just before I headed out I grabbed a pound coin and popped it in my back pocket. At least I could buy something.

Running north turned out to be a bit of a disaster; the path running alongside the A6 lasted maybe a quarter of a mile tops before taking a turn into a lovely little church high on a hill. Oh well! I turned round and headed back past the campsite entrance and towards Kendal. I ran the first mile in 9:41.

Once I was in the town things started to slow down. I’ve never really run in a town before, certainly not during the day. There were cars, vans and people everywhere to avoid. I found myself dodging pedestrians, dogs on leads and stopping to cross roads. I tried to keep to quieter routes, but it was going home time for many shoppers and workers. I ran the second mile in 10:17 and the third in 10:52. The views along the river were lovely and I stopped to take a photo at one point, just to prove how nice running in the town was, despite the millions of people and traffic getting in my way! Well hundreds maybe…

I ran up into the town centre, passing by all the shops I’d seen the day before. It was still quite busy in the centre despite it being late afternoon. On the way down from the town centre I ran past a Holland and Barrett and quickly hit pause as I went inside to find some jelly babies! I eventually found some Dextrose tablets for 75p (remember I’d only taken £1 with me) and handed over my somewhat sweaty coin with apologies to the assistant. For some bizarre reason I felt that I needed to tell him that I had another 4 miles to run, maybe excusing myself for coming in mid-run! I must stop doing that! I feel daft as soon as I open my mouth! Mile 4 – 10:47.

Once I’d come off the High Street I had no idea which way to go. I carried on along the main road following my nose, realising that the path I’d chosen was running parallel to the A6. Eventually, on a walk break, I asked a lady if I could cut through onto the Shap Road. She gave me a really complicated route that I had no hope of remembering especially as it would take me through an industrial estate. We then got chatting (eventually I remembered to turn off my timer!) and she asked me if I was training for anything. When I told her that I was working up to running the Great North Run it turned out that she has herself run in the GNR in her twenties. I explained, as she wasn’t that much older than me, that I hadn’t been running for long, just a couple of years. I said I needed to cover another 4 miles that day which put a totally new complexion on the route she recommended. She said that there were some lovely routes roundabout but to get me across to the A6 I should go via Burneside. With vague instructions I thanked her and headed off. Mile 5 – 12:12

I hadn’t gone far before I had to stop and check my Maps app, just to see that I was on the right road. I was. I had been told that the route was quite, and I quote, “uppydowny”. Understatement! The first hill, before I’d even reached Burneside village, had me walking. It wasn’t the last hill to do that! At least I was still running on paths.

Once I reached Burneside I had to cross the road and turn right. My friend had described this as a cut through that could be a bit of a Rat Race and that I would have to run on the road. There ws a path part way along the road though and I used that until it suddenly disappeared into a housing estate, leaving me to climb a wall to get onto the road! I crossed over to see if the path continued on the other side, but it didn’t. The dilemma of an unknown route! Mile 6 – 11:20.

The cut across was quite a nice road, even though it was definitely on the large side of being uppy and downy! It wound its way around farms and homesteads, over rivers and across towards the main road. As I reached the main road, after climbing a double hill, Mr Galloway said that i had 2 miles to go. As I hadn’t switched on the iphone GPS I didn’t know how accurate this was or exactly how far I actually had to run, my only issue with the app. Planning a route isn’t easy when you don’t now how far you need to cover. Mile 7 – 11:23

I could see the pretty little church on the hill ahead of me; I’d come out above the campsite with at least a mile to go. I’d been popping Dextrose tabs for the last couple of miles and I was starting to tire with all the stops, starts and hills. I decided to run down past the campsite entrance to Morrisons and back. That should just about do the mileage I needed. The wind was against me again, but by then I felt as if I was barely running! Mile 8 – 11:19

As I reached Morrison’s Jeff told me that I was on the last mile. I knew that that included a cool down walk so running back up to the campsite was my last half a mile. I turned and started back up. I was tired out. The A6 is a busy road and the further you get out the faster the traffic comes at you. I’d just picked up my pace when a lorry sped by and the gust of wind that followed it blew my running cap clean off my head, taking my earphones with it! I slowed down to sort both out before finishing my last 0.41 mile in 11:40 pace.

I completed my 8:41 miles in 1:32:38, giving me 11.00/mi pace overall. I had hoped to get under 11 minute mile pace, in fact I had hoped to crack 10 min/mi, but with all the stopping and starting that running an unknown route brought I should be happy with what I achieved. I am. Honest I am!

Pains, Paths and Positives

This week I have been holidaying in the English Lake District, just outside the small town of Kendal to the south of the lakes. We’ve often passed through Kendal, but rarely stopped, so pitching camp to the north of the town seemed like a great chance to explore the town and roundabouts.

We were staying at the Camping and Caravan Club site just off the A6. It’s a nice, small site with around 50 pitches, although be warned – some are grass only i.e. without electric. Luckily for us, even though I’d booked a grass only pitch, there was still one hook up available when we arrived.

The weather has been typical Lake District; fine, drizzle, fine, hail, fine, heavy rain – you get the drift! It hasn’t been cold though, just a bit damp now and again! We both brought our running gear with us and finally got a chance to run on Tuesday morning. It was all I could do to convince my husband that we should run before eating the bacon roll breakfast he was intent on having. He seems to think that he has to fuel up before every run. If you could see him you’d realise that he has plenty of onboard fuel and eating more before every run is the last thing he needs! We headed out in overcast, but dry conditions.

As soon as we got out onto the man road the wind hit us. At least it would be on our backs on the way home! We had the luxury of running on a path the full length of the road into Kendal – nothing like what we’re used to back home! Almost immediately hubbie started to complain of a muscular pain across the bottom of his stomach which later seemed to travel down his legs as he rain. He said it was quite sore and had to stop a few times. I was concerned because it sounded like a hernia type pain, but know him well enough not to show my anxiety. I was happy to stop when he needed to rather than make him run through what sounded like bad pain. As it was we weren’t running that slowly, although stopping to cross roads was a bit of a pain in itself. We ran into the town and did the shortest loop I could find for him before heading back up towards the campsite.

The route home was slightly uphill, but with the wind behind us it was fine. As I started on the last mile I could feel myself wanting to run on so I opened up a little, leaving hubbie behind, but close enough for me to stop and administer whatever first aid a hernia stricken patient might need!

4 min run : 1 min run
Lap 1: 10.25/mi
Lap 3: 10:28/mi
Lap 5: 13:35/mi
Lap 7: 12:09/mi
Lap 9: 11:00/mi
Lap 11: 11:42/mi
Lap 13: 11:59/mi
Lap 14: 10:39/mi – I ran on through the walk break

2.85 miles 34:47.19 (12:11/mi)

Positive thing – even though we stopped often for ‘pain breaks’ our pace was still faster than last week’s pace. It’s all good!