Starting Again!

Last post I was talking almost enthusiastically about Garmin’s training plans. However, on a closer look the plans just ain’t gonna do. This is mostly because the plans are time, rather than mileage, based. Round here you can’t just nip up the next avenue to add a bit of time on because there aren’t any avenues. You need to plan a route according to the mileage you want to cover. There aren’t any cut through roads. The only other alternative is to run out, get so far and turn round half way, which I don’t like doing. So I’m sticking to Jeff Galloway and his plans for 5k, 10k and half marathon.

I also wondered about knocking my walk breaks out (which Jeff’s plans also cater for) and just running, but after re-reading a few of my early blog posts I’ve realised that there was a reason why I started running with regular breaks and also that with them I’ve achieved so much, without any real injury. So I’m sticking with Jeff Galloway lock, stock and barrel.

I spent Sunday planning out runs, noting the long run lengths in my diary so I knew what to expect. I set out this evening to do 7 miles. It had been cooler and cloudier today, so I was looking forward to a nice, pleasant run. I had even remembered to put Vaseline on my bra-line – how good is that?

Needless to say the sun burnt through the clouds at 0.5 miles and raised the temperatures as I ran from 63ºF up to nearer 70ºF. The sweat, as we say round here, was pishing off me! I ran a steady mile as a warm up and then 5 at race pace, before finishing with another steady mile. Had the weather been a little kinder I might have been looking at an easier 5 miles, but, in the circumstances, what I did was fine. My 10k came in just over my usual pace and that was taking the steady mile into account. I can’t complain at that.

My IPhone died at mile 6, but I wasn’t all that worried and just cruised the last mile home running at any pace I liked, which involved sprinting back into the finish. One day I’ll see the village sign and NOT think that it’s the finish line for the Olympic final of the 10,000m. Until then I will sprint.


I’m not due to run until Wednesday now, but I am determined to make use of the rest days by doing some gym work. I know that I should do this, but I’m useless at getting motivated and maintaining the motivation. It might sound silly, but I’m thinking of putting tasks in my diary to prompt me to get my backside off the coach on my in-between days. I’ve lots of excuses why this hasn’t happened, which I won’t bore you with, but I’ve no excuse now.


Running Like a Girl

A few weeks ago I replied to a random tweet sent out by the editor of Women’s Running UK magazine, who asked if tweeters preferred long or short runs. In an infrequent moment of clarity I replied that, generally speaking, I preferred a longer run, but that sometimes I had to fit in what I could and that running should complement, not antagonise, my life. Christina emailed me asking me for my address, a photo and my age because my words of wisdom had just won me a copy of Alexandra Heminsley’s new book ‘Running Like a Girl’. I was suitably chuffed.

Chuffed until the magazine came out. For those of you yet to cross the 50 age barrier I can tell you that being 48 is a long way from being 49, which is even further from being 50. I am a happy 48 year old, soon to be 49, but not yet. Imagine then my horror at seeing these words accompanying my words of wisdom in the July issue: “Julie Hollis, 49”


What I’d like you all to do is read 48 when you see that. Just until August.

So anyway, ‘Running Like a Girl’ duly plopped through my letterbox last week and, of course, I was too busy to start it. It was also a real book, something that I haven’t read for a while. I tend to download books onto my iPad these days and read them in bed without having to put my hubbie through the ordeal of trying to sleep with a light on. However, we were away for the weekend on a chill out, relax all you can holiday, so I took my paperback copy with me.

Having started it on Friday night, I finished it on Monday evening – almost unable to put it down. It’s not often that I gel with a book as much as I did this one, but I found myself laughing in agreement at some of the things Alexandra had put herself through in order to become “a runner”. I recognised myself in the woman who found all the excuses not to run, who had severe worries about not making it to a real toilet before she had to squat at the roadside and who beat herself up over finishing times of marathons she had run, when in reality she had run a marathon! Suddenly my blog appeared in front of me with someone else saying the things I’d said, someone else feeling the same things I had, that I still do. I realised that I was not alone at all, there were/are probably thousands of runners, not just women, feeling the same things.

I wouldn’t say that I’m suddenly inspired by what I’ve read. Entertained, completely. Reassured, without doubt. However, it’s almost as though I’ve been given permission to behave in a certain way, to feel the things I have and still to be a valid runner and I’m grateful for that. Alexandra has split the book into sections, firstly dealing with her own tentative steps into running which developed into the success of completing a marathon alone and a second motivating a friend. This was such a great read – you felt privy to information that a friend would divulge to another. At points I found myself laughing out loud and nodding my head in agreement. The arrogance of some running shoe sales people and their off-putting attitude struck a chord, sadly. The book then went on to trace the history of women’s competitive running, some of which I knew from reading magazines, but was a pleasant read nonetheless and it certainly made you think about how privileged we are to be able to enter races willy-nilly. The final section dealt with all those stupid questions we are too embarrassed to ask!

If you haven’t guessed, I can thoroughly recommend this as the Bridget Jones version of ‘Running with Kenyans’ or ‘What I Think about When I Run’. It is fun, informative and unputdownable, as my husband will so testify!

Click on the book to visit Amazon and buy it, download it – just read it!

Easily offended? Look away now!

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Sorry, I just had to get it out there. I’m just home after one of the worse runs I’ve done in a very long time and I’m so bloody annoyed with myself. I have excuses, but I’m not listening to them. Neither should you.

It’s an absolutely gorgeous day here in south west Scotland; the sun is shining in a blue sky, there’s not a whisper of a breeze and it’s cool, as Autumn days here tend to be. I love such days. I was so looking forward to a nice, easy 7 mile run this morning. I had new kit to try out, a Shock Absorber bra bought with much cheapness from eBay and a new vest top to boot. I was genuinely pleased to get out there.

In the week I’d updated my training diary with Jeff Galloway’s 10k training plan for someone aiming for a 59 minute 6.2 miles. In truth I’m only hoping to sub-60 minutes, even if that’s by a couple of seconds, but Jeff doesn’t have a training plan for that! I have the Jedburgh 10k as my target race, even though there is no way I can sub-60 on that, not with all those blinking hills! However, the training will do me no end of good. Jedburgh is at the end of the month so I counted back to today and labelled that Week 9 (if I’d been following his plan, week 9 is where I’d be at with a few weeks to go to the race.)

This morning I reached for the Jeff Galloway 10k training app on my iPhone. Looking at the first time and the improver settings there was no way the app and the book matched. No way José. Bugger. According to the app, whichever one I looked at, I was due for a 5k “race”. Well, the weather was perfect for it and I could run on a fairly flat route. Yes, OK, 5k it was then.

The last time I ran a 5k race was the Race for Life in July. I did the race in 28:17, beating my previous time of 30:12 by quite a margin. Last year I had a cheap sports watch and nothing to tell me how far I’d run. This year I had my Garmin. When I posted my time on here with a report one eagle eyed follower said that something wasn’t tallying. I said I’d check it out, but I forgot and just accepted my time as read. Today’s events gave me cause to have a proper look. I was devastated to discover that the Race for Life wasn’t a 5k at all, it was short by 0.23 miles. I ran 2.87 miles in 28:17. No wonder my pace was 9:52. No wonder it didn’t tally. Well done Eric for spotting it. In my misplaced euphoria I missed it completely.

So what happened today to make me look you ask?

Well, with Jeff Galloway in my ear, I set off from the village having set the app for a 9 minute mile pace (quite quick for me) and 4:1 minute run/walk rate. The first half a mile was meant to be a warm up. By the first quarter of a mile I knew I was in trouble. I had, sensibly, had two puffs of my inhaler before leaving the house, however these were having no effect. For all it was sunny and warm (I’d been hanging the washing out before I left in my running vest), the air was cold. A few intakes of cold air and my lungs couldn’t cope. I started wheezing and gasping for breath with every step. I gave myself a good recovery time after the half a mile warm up, walking up the hill to get as much of a flat route as I could for the “race”.

When I started “racing” I was not really any better. I was meant to be running around 8:30 pace and, according to my data, I was slightly faster than that to begin with. Maybe I was just running too fast at the start? I was listening to the music and running to what I thought was the beat, but that first run section had me running between 7:30 and 8:30 pace. That’s really fast for me and maybe this is why I couldn’t sustain it? I was struggling to breathe properly; I couldn’t manage a deep breath at all.

My first mile came in at 9.23.

I tried to keep my pace as constant as I could, hoping that my breathing would settle down. I’m not sure how many additional puffs I’m allowed on my inhaler. I’ve never needed anymore than a couple. Maybe I should start carrying it in my pouch as a precaution? Even as a reassurance? I also put in more walk breaks when my chest really tightened up. I wasn’t giving up on the run, but I had to make it manageable. My second mile running pace was still between 8:00 and 8:30 pace and I finished it in 10.02.

By the last mile my pace had started to slow. On my running sections it ranged between 7:55 and 10:08! I was walking less, but running slower and mostly uphill, albeit gradual inclines. Walking further at the start had meant that I was going to finish long before ‘Grant’s Hill’, the final hill before coming into the village. So why I was still running past my start point and on down the hill towards the dip I don’t know! As I came out of the dip I still had tenths of a mile left to do. I hate running up that hill at the end of a run – hate it!!! 3.1 miles didn’t come fast enough. When I hit the stop button I was devastated to see 30.32 as my time, totally devastated. It was meant to say at least 29 point something!

Overall pace 9:51. Hang on, something ain’t right here I thought. My overall pace on the Race for Life was 9:52. I’d just run a slightly faster pace and achieved a slower time.

It was a long walk home, feeling deflated and sore. My breathing still hadn’t worked itself out and I was still wheezing like an old accordion. My Garmin data revealed all:


This, then, was my fastest official 5k. To say I’m disappointed that I haven’t broken that elusive 30 minute barrier yet is an understatement. So close and so far away. It has taught me a lesson though. I must never trust race directors who say this is a 5k when it is far from it. I shall only, in future, compare like for like i.e. one race results with the same race results the following year. The fact that I bettered my Race for Life 2011 time this year by almost two minutes is good enough for me, providing I ran the same course, which I think I did. It does fit in with the fact that I ran the Gallovidian 10k a few weeks back 2 minutes faster than the previous year, following exactly the same course. 2 minutes appears to be the time I’ve improved 5k/10k wise. Which I suppose should mean that next year I will be easily breaking that 30 minute barrier. All is not lost!

So there we are.

I really hope that I didn’t offend anyone with my bad language. Truth be told, this was toned down! You should have heard me on my walk breaks if you think this is bad!



Catching up!

Hi there! Here I am, after a weekend away, catching up with my posts. I spent the weekend at nearby Moffat polishing my Alfa Romeo Spider like crazy at the Moffat Car Show. It was a lovely weekend, with beautiful sunshine interspersed with heavy downpours. Typical Scotland really!

Anyway, I had decided that despite being away I was going to do my long run on Sunday evening after the rally. It was dry and warm by then and I had preplanned a route which although I wasn’t familiar with I knew more or less where it went.

I was determined to use my new Jeff Galloway 13.1 app but had left my earphones at home. As I have many, many earphones at home (possibly one for every outfit) I bought a cheap pair from the 99p store, but they were worth slightly less than 99p in my opinion. In fact they were about as useful as a chocolate teapot. The problem was with the jack plug being too loose. I set off anyway and I had tried taping the plug down, but it just kept working loose again and I just couldn’t hear Jeff or the music. I tried carrying my iPhone, holding the jack plug in, but that didn’t work either. In the end I unplugged the earphones and, in trying to find a good place to hold it so that it was both secure and I could hear the music etc., I put the phone under my bra strap. Almost immediately the phone slipped down and nestled happily between my boobs, held snug by the front of my sports bra! It wasn’t going anywhere and I could hear perfectly, so I left it there! I’m not sure what the few people I passed thought as this woman with a musical chest approached them, but it worked!

The route was wonderful, making me really appreciate the place I’ve chosen as my home. Once I’d left the main road (which was paved – I’m just not used to the luxury of a pavement!) I ran mostly along single track roads, obviously rarely used ones. And what a shame that is! The views were spectacular; rolling green hills, gentle rivers bubbling along, lovely houses to peer into (!) and views from the top of hills right across the valley. I loved it.

I loved it especially, I think, because it was new. It was the same old routes I’ve become used to. I had different things to see and experience and that made it all the more interesting. It wasn’t a particularly gruelling course. It had some fairly gentle hills, but nothing drastic. I really couldn’t have chosen a nicer route if I’d tried! I wish I’d taken a few photos to share with you, but I was too busy running!

I did my 6.55 miles in 72:48, giving me a steady 11 minute pace. If I can maintain that throughout my training I’ll be hopefully knocking almost 20 minutes off my last half-marathon time come September.

Today was promising to be gorgeous this morning, with blue skies and sunshine. By 5pm, when I arrived home, it was tipping it down. Not proper rain, but that horrible misty stuff that threatens to drown you. I decided to hit the treadmill whilst I also cooked dinner (I am a woman, I can do these things!) Dinner had 45 minutes to cook, I had a 30 minute run to do!

I altered my app to the treadmill setting and changed the units to metric. My treadmill is in kilometres and it’s easier for me to just do this than try to work out what speed I should be at mid-run. As it happened the app just called for a straight 30 minute run at 10.3 kph which would have been easy enough to work out, I guess! Once I got into my running it was an easy pace and towards the end I really wanted to go faster, but I held back. I ran 4.8 km in 30 minutes, giving me just over 10 minute mile pace.

I’ve been asked about my opinion of the Jeff Galloway app – it’s really too soon to tell, but so far I’ve enjoyed knowing that I have the experience of a well known trainer offering me support and suggestions throughout my run. I liked the 5k and 10k training apps and so buying the 13.1 app was just the next step. It appears to fit exactly with my training plan, which gives me some peace of mind.

My Jeff Galloway Book on Running arrived on Monday morning – bedtime reading for me, much to my husband’s despair!

Bedtime reading for the over 40s?
I’m sure that it could be worse, Mills and Boon perhaps, but there we go.

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?

The trail of two bras

I’ve talked before about sports bras and generally how ineffective I find them. I’m not a big lassie, but I find any movement incredibly uncomfortable and can be sore for a few days after a long or fast run if I’m not adequately supported. So much so that recently I’ve taken to wearing two bras. This seems to be the most effective answer to my bouncing problems, both of them! I still favour the wide shouldered Crivit bra sold by Aldi and the similar one made by Crane and sold by Lidl, but on top of these I’ve started wearing a stretchy over the top bra or a vest top with an integral bra.

To test this out I took my boobs and two bras out onto the trail today and have to inform you that I am feeling no ill effects of running 3 miles off-road! Mind you, I am typing this in my running gear and haven’t worked up the guts to remove either bra yet! I suppose that says something about comfort if nothing else.

The run itself was another down through the trees run with the dog. Today we saw two deer, one running in ever decreasing circles in amongst the stumps left by the loggers and the other ran from the stumps, across our path to the other side. Neither were to be seen as we turned and headed back so I’m guessing they had donned tree disguises. Pretty dammed good ones too.

I ran 4:1 intervals, which felt good. My average running pace for each run were: 10:35 (flat), 9:56 (slightly downhill), 10:33 (up and down), 11:53 (flat), 11:32 (up and down), 12:02 (uphill), 11:25 (slightly downhill) and 9:24 (flat). Within each of those I had some great best paces, fastest being 7:40 and that was slap bang in the middle going uphill! The stats are always interesting to read, even for me!

Click to open in a new window

On a training front I have ditched my Jeff Galloway app. My main reason is that it’s just too demanding and I just don’t have the time to meet those demands. Trying to fit in two long runs in a week was starting to stress me out and basically my running is meant to be relaxing and fun! I’ve not left Mr Galloway’s plans however. Instead I went onto his website and have picked up his 10k training plan which involves one long run and I’ll do that on either a Sunday or a Monday depending on my plans. For the rest of the week I can do 30 – 45 minute runs either on the trail, road or treadmill, walking on days in between and resting on a Saturday.

I’m coming in on week 8, which should be fine. To be honest I feel quite relieved. I’m happy to do this and not push myself too hard at the moment. Yes, I would love to get my 10k time to around 60 minutes, but it’s not that far away from that now.

You can find Jeff’s training plans here

I’m off tonight to do some cross training – I’m learning a cha-cha! It’s tough on the calves, but great for the core!