Beating the Heat

I’m sorry that I’m not posting more often. I think I got out of the habit when I was unable to run (and a bit depressed about posting about not running) and it’s just difficult to get back into it. Especially as I have so much to rebuild.

It’s been so hot here recently that running has been largely out of the question, but this morning I decided to hit the trails early and get a couple of miles in. The sun had been up for hours, but it was still cool as I headed out of the door accomapnied by Murphy the Running Dog. He was happy to get out as the heat has largely stopped his walks too.

I’ve somehow managed to resurrect my old Garmin Forerunner 405 through a series of resets and battery drains. I am amazed that it’s still working! I’ve had it pretty much since I started running and the battery should be goosed by now, but it keeps resurrecting itself. The Jesus of Sports Watches!

I’m running a 45sec/15 sec split using LoLo’s 10k app. Two things to explain there: Firstly, I’m running for 45 seconds at 7 mph and then walking for 15 seconds at 12 mph. This averages out at about 11 min/mile pace on the road, a little slower on the trails. Secondly, I decided, in the middle of my second shot at the 5k app, that as I wanted to work up to 10k anyway, I might as well hop across to the 10k program now. I’m was on day 3 of this plan today, a 2 mile run. The 45/15 split means that I’m pretty much running continuously, but giving my extremely tight calves (and plantar fasciitis) a chance of getting to the end of whatever I’m doing.

In the trees the temperature was bearable, but as soon as I came through into the open I could see that both Murphy and I would struggle if I did my usual there and back route, so I decided to run around up to the castle and benefit from almost constant tree cover. Thankfully the midges were pretty scarce, so this was still a good decision. Apparently there’s a national shortage of midges because all of the puddles have dried up. I can assure you that there are still a few puddles on this running route, left behind as the sun never gets through, but the midges could be seen dancing in the sun and I just made sure my eyes and mouth were closed when I ran through them!


I got to two miles just past the castle and decided to just enjoy the walk back and cool down a little. My new running shoes, Asics Noosa FFs, are a little on the small size (even though I bought them in a full size bigger) – so I’ve not been wearing socks in them. Unfortunately a couple of tiny bits of grit ensured two lovely blisters today. I’m looking for a good pair of inexpensive trail shoes now! I’ve seen some Karrimore shoes at Sports Direct which will do, but didn’t want to pay the extra £4.99 postage to get them! I’m sure that our local store can order them in for free if they don’t have them in stock! I may have to invest in another pair of runners if the Asics prove to be just a bit too small.

I’m still attending Physio at the local hospital to try and help with my core strength, inflexibility and plantar fasciitis. I’ve got a shed load of exercises to do on a three times daily basis, which I sometimes manage – but often forget to do! To make up for this I’m also doing a Daily Yoga challenge, which I forgot to do yesterday – so that’s going well too. Jeesh.

I’m hoping that I’ll have got far enough through my program to run at Jedburgh in October. It’s the hardest 10k I’ve done (so hilly and windy!), but I enjoy the route and it would be nice to get back to doing something reasonably competitive. 5ks aren’t really my thing, they are too fast and I don’t enjoy them the same. (Although I do like the BUPA Winter 5k run up and round Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh! Maybe I just like hills!) I’ve always said that 6 miles is my distance, even having run at half marathon distance and beyond.

So that’s it. I have a goal. Get myself race fit for October and see if I can beat the hills of Jedburgh again.

Running Hot

The weather in the south of Scotland has been amazing for the last week or so, with temperatures in the low to mid twenties centigrade. It doesn’t make for good running weather, unless you like getting up in the middle of the night (i.e. before 7am) or waiting until almost dark.

I’m working my way through my 5k training plan and I’ve just got up early to finish Day 13, having got completely mixed up and done Day 11 twice, followed by Day 12 and then back to Day 10! I need a prescription screen on my phone. I’ve actually looked seriously at jumping across onto my 10k plan, just so that I can start to get some better miles under my expanded belt. Running 5k distances just isn’t shifting my weight and I know that I need to run for longer than 30 minutes to start doing that.

Before I start I need some better trainers. My Sketchers are doing ok, but I’m wearing them out rapidly and if I’m upping distance I need to know that my feet are ok. I was waiting for an appointment to see a biomechanic podiatrist, which is happening next week, before buying anything. I just need to hang on a little longer. Which is probably a sensible thing to do and fairly easy when it’s sometimes just to hot to run!


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Murphy just loves to come along and, at almost 12 years old, he is still keeping up. 


This morning Murphy, my running dog, and I hit the trails. It was already warm and the sun was up. If I’d left it until now, two hours later, it might have been cooler because the sky has clouded over. However I knew that it would be just a 20 minute run and I wasn’t tanking it. When I set off my asthma tightened my lungs and it was the usual struggle to breathe for the first minute, but then I decded that I should shorten the run intervals. I had an email from Jeff Galloway last week in which he said he’d just completed a marathon doing 15s:15s walk:run intervals, so me dropping my intervals to a minute was nothing in comparison. I changed it from 3:1 to 1:1, and then increased the intensity.

The amazing thing is that changing the ratio it actually made me run faster and better. I was able to increase my speed in that minute and cover the same distance in the same time as I would have running slower for longer. And at the end, where I would usually be too tired to do anything but walk, I actually jogged home…in the heat.

Two happy miles run before breakfast and the rest of the day to enjoy! That’s how to do it.

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No need for a shower then!


Not my first, but My First 5k

If you don’t follow this blog normally, or don’t know me, then you’ll be completely confused by this blog title. Apologies for that!

In January I got my long awaited spinal fusion, wherein four screws were drilled into my lower back to give my back more stability. Up until my spine started to collapse I’d been an ardent runner, running beyond half marathon distance, and, post-surgery, I had to start off by simply learning to walk any distance again.

These shoes haven’t seen the light of day in three years!

A couple of months ago my neurosurgeon finally gave me permission to start running again. And that meant starting again. And that’s exactly what I did.

Today I completed my first 5k run in almost three years and not only did I do it outside, but I chose to run it off road, on the trails behind my home.

So what, I hear you ask? Well this was my first outdoor run since restarting, all of my other runs have been on my treadmill. I promised to start running on even and level ground and the trail, whilst fairly level, the trail isn’t the treadmill.



Those who follow my painting will recognise this scene.
Murphy couldn’t believe his luck! 3 miles of smiles!










I can report, however, that all went well! I ran with Jeff Galloway’s Easy 5k app, set to 1:1 Run:Walk ratio and it was auto set for an easy run. It wasn’t the fastest 5k ever, but that doesn’t matter – speed will come with practice. I’m just happy to have a) covered the distance and b) run outside, with a huge smile – no matter how tough I found it at times!


The Final Countdown

Here I am, three days from the first half marathon of 2014. I’m feeling pretty good, if truth be known. With 14 miles under my belt from last Monday and a further 5 from yesterday I’m on target for a good finish. I’m not planning on breaking any records, but I am planning on crossing the finish line before the sweeper bus catches me.

Who am I kidding? I’m on target for a 2:20 half which, if I can get close to, I’ll be happy. I’m presently running 3:1 run:walk intervals and doing my trail runs at a faster 1:1 ratio in order to work up some speed. The trail running is definitely making me stronger and more confident.

So far as my kit bag is concerned I’ve got my running number which is a rather scary 39890! Over 40,000 runners? I’m hoping that at least 20,000 are full marathon runners who won’t be starting until I cross the line! Dodging runners was one of the reasons I started entering small races, so we’ll see how this goes.

With my racing number came a sample of High 5 Zero, which I’ve written about before. I was pretty impressed with it, so I’ve bought a tube of tablets. I can just add a tablet to my water, rather than have to cart a juice bottle around. I contacted the 33Shake guys about how to use the chia seed gels and their advice was a bit of a revelation. They said use one per hour of running. So I’m looking at using one and a half. If I break the mileage down I could either do half a gel at 4, 8 and 12 and have half left over or do 3, 6, 9 and 12 and use the lot. I think I’ll call that on the day. At least I now know that I don’t have to try and eat an entire gel at a time, so I’m pretty glad I asked! I’ve also bought some beetroot juice to try. This is meant to be a good boost, but I think I’ll try it tomorrow first – just to be sure!

My running kit is sorted. I tested my Diabetes UK vest yesterday and it’s fine. No chaffing or riding up; I shall be burn and embarrassment free. I will probably wear ¾ leggings, ones which I know are comfortable. I could do with some sunglasses. My trusty Fosters IronGirl shades have departed to sunglass heaven, thanks to one arm falling off. Whether I get some replacements in time, well, we’ll see. Lastly my shoes could do with a clean after my 14 mile dirt run the other week. Leaving them to dry so that the dirt would dust off hasn’t really worked.

I’ve checked the weather forecast and it’s saying humid (93% humidity) and cloudy, turning to light drizzle  about 10 am. It’s still a few days away, so that could change. I’m happy with that though, except for maybe the humidity. I need to remember to take my inhaler!

So that’s it then. I’ve spent the last hour locating my paperwork, gazing quizzically at the EMF website and checking the camping arrangements. I’ve discovered that we need to get to the Park and Ride for 6 am (yes, that’s 6 in the morning!) and that I’ll get dropped off at the start whilst hubby and hound get taken straight to the finish. Undeterred by those arrangements, my husband is seemingly quite happy to wander the streets of Musselburgh for three hours or so. There must be a car sales pitch there, or a boat yard or something of that nature. Jeesh!


Lastly, my fundraising is going well. I’m up to £150 at the moment. That’s £50 over my race target, so I’m happy. If, however, you want to add to that, here are the details again!


New Kicks for a New Day

My last post was a bit down. I don’t apologise for that; it’s a reality that life dishes out downers and we need to deal with these and carry on. So I’m carrying on.

Yesterday I crossed the border, left Scotland and went to Carlisle in England’s county of Cumbria. Carlisle is just under 30 miles away, quite close by our standards, and a much larger place than our local town of Dumfries. I hadn’t intended to go to a running shop, but my chores led me in that direction. Honest they did!

I ended up gazing longingly at nice new trainers in Chivers Sports. I tried on about half a dozen different pairs, mostly Asics and Brooks – the two trainers I’ve bought in the past, and ran up and down the shop under the watchful eye of one of the salesman. He knew his stuff! I explained that I had been told that I was a neutral runner, but that I’d had Plantar Fasciitis and had the start of bunions on each big toe (requiring a wider fit). He wasn’t put off by my peculiar running style (flicking my twisted right leg so that I landed well) but noticed that my left foot rolled in slightly. I needed some support, but not the excessive support of the Asics I’d worn previous to owning my Brooks Ghost 5s.

Choices, choices.
Choices, choices.

In the end we were choosing between the Ghost 6 and the Defyance 7. I noticed that the Ghost  dipped away at the left big toe, making me want to roll more in that direction, but the Defyance had me landing square. It was a no-brainer: I choose the Defyance.


Brooks state that the Defyance has…

..that same amazing balance of the GTS…smoothly infused in the Neutral construction of this hybrid ride. From the reliable transition of the segmented crash pad to the adaptability of anatomical Brooks DNA and the adjustable eye row, this versatile shoe wins the all-around award every run.

After choosing, my salesman disappeared with my kicks for quite some time. It transpired that they keep records of every shoe sale to every customer and note down any issues that the customer has. My poor salesman had an essay to write! I eventually left with new shoes, at a discounted price and a discount card for future purchases.

So far as my running is concerned, well I’m almost ready to restart my half marathon training. I’ve been treading water a bit since Christmas, not wanting to put any undue strain on my left foot and re-spark my PF. I’ve done mostly short trail runs (up to 3 miles) and treadmill running. I’m enjoying trail running again, as is my dog!

Murphy in sniff-mode.
Murphy in sniff-mode.
The trail is great at this end! Wish it was all like this!!
The trail is great at this end! Wish it was all like this!!

The excessive rain we’ve been ‘enjoying’ has made parts of this route very, very muddy, but it doesn’t bother me other than obviously slowing me down! My old Nike Alvords are looking really manky these days, but they dust off when the mud dries and they are still  comfortable. I’ve even started leaving my Garmin at home and not timing my running. It’s quite liberating really!

My half training starts next week, so I’ll have to dust off my Jeff Galloway training app. I’ve set it for 11 minute mile pace, which I know I can more than handle, and will adjust the walk:run intervals as I feel fit. I’m feeling really positive about things just now so let’s just hope that I can stay injury free!

Running up a Storm!

The weather in Britain over the last few weeks has seemed to consist almost entirely of storms and gales, punctuated briefly by days like today – calm, bright and cold. Further north and in the high areas further south they’ve also been treated to snow and some poor people have been without electricity since before Christmas. The power companies have been working their socks off trying to repair storm damage, but as soon as it’s repaired another storm hits! We have been more fortunate and, to be honest, we are so used to power cuts here (caused either by bad weather or geese flying into power lines) that we also have a back up generator which is large enough to power the house, providing we have enough fuel!

I’m in that lull between festivities when all I want to do is tear the house down and rebuild it. We’ve come close, laying a carpet on Christmas Eve (no kidding) and today hubbie mowed the lawn. Yes, in December. It was a job waiting to be done and neither of us have had time to do it. This is what our lives are sometimes like.  We are perpetually short on time. And used to it.

So used to it that yesterday, in the middle of a raging storm, I decided to go for a trail run and hubbie decided to mountain bike alongside. I’m not sure if I got his company because he wanted to be with me or because he was feared that a tree would be blown down and his chef would be squashed. In any case I was glad of the companionship.


I intended to run 3 miles, the furthest I can run through these woods. Regardless of rain, wind, mud and anything else nature was hurling at me I was going to run 3 miles. Murphy Dog was a little less ambitious and seemed to want to settle for just one mile and a cosy bed by the fire, but 3 miles it was going to be! When we set off it was windy. About a third of a mile in we turn a corner, out of the cover of the trees, out onto a longish straight. The wind tends to funnel along this straight, held captive by the trees on either side. As we turned the corner we realised just how strong that wind was. My pace slowed right down, my effort per inch raised and I was going nowhere fast!

But I was laughing!

Whether it was that I’d escaped the house after a few days of incarceration or that the wind was making me hysterical, that didn’t matter, I was running with a smile.


Or maybe that was G-force.

The route I take turns left down towards the shore and we realized that this was where the wind was coming from. The air was salty and the force was that strong that as I ran DOWNHILL it literally stopped me dead. And on the return it pushed my 16 stone husband UPHILL on his bike. Coupled with this though was the rain, which was by now quite heavy and horizontal. We were soaked to the skin. Even the dog was wet through. As we turned to come home Murphy Dog took off, running as fast as his little legs would take him back home to that cosy fireside bed! Every now and again he would race back as if to say “Come on! Get a move on!”

The run back was a bit easier. The wind was on my back, flipping my pony tail over my shoulder and pushing my homeward. There are more uphills on the home journey, but they seemed less relevant. I had a jet pack propelling me onwards. If only I always had one!

I did my 3 miles in 34 minutes which was a good trail 3 miles for me regardless of the weather.

IMG_2369I’m now sitting with three diaries (home, school and gallery) and three websites (http://northernrunningguide.com and ) planning my 2014 Race Calendar. It’s a complicated thing which I hope to simplify into races I can afford, can maybe make a weekend of and want to do. I have my regulars (Gallovidian 10k and Jedburgh 10k) and new regulars (Great Cumbrian Run and Cross Border Challenge) which are tried, tested and approved, but the others are more of a mystery at the moment. As soon as I know you’ll know too.

This new year I am not setting challenges. All I want is to have as injury free a year as I can. I hope to do that and improve on my PBs, but if running free of pain is all I can achieve that’ll do me fine! 2014 will be the year of joyous running. Yes it will.

Less is More

Minimalists will tell you that less is definitely more (and probably end the sentence with “darling”) and in my case recently it’s certainly had to be. I’ve had to cut right back on my mileage, run mostly indoors whilst watching TV (to alleviate boredom) and monitor my Plantar fascia/calf/Achilles like a state registered nurse. However, as I enter the last week before my half marathon, that seems to have paid off.

Today I had my last “long” run to do, a 5 mile taper. I decided to run it completely off road on trails close to home with my trusty hound. It was a good decision. The wind was up and had I run along the shore road I would have surely been running into it either going out or heading back. The trees afforded me shelter, most of the time. In fact it was a delight running through the trees as Autumn is starting to creep in. There are a few golden leaves on the ground already, scattered like confetti at a woodland wedding. The sun was out and the temperatures were ideal for running, not too warm, not too cold. Baby Bear weather.

I had new toys to take with me! A new armband to replace the one I’ve been using for the last goodness knows how long, held together with sellotape, and some gorgeously comfy earphones to replace the cheap ones I’d bought from Aldi that felt as if I was wearing drawing pins.



My armband is an Armpocket i25, which is big enough for my iPhone in its Mophie Juice jacket (giving me double battery power at least), my keys, gels, dog biscuits and a small country, I think. It’s roomy, shall we say! It’s dearer than a lot, but I wanted something big enough to carry my phone in the battery pack as my battery just isn’t up to lasting the distances I am currently running.) I paid £17 including postage from eBay, but I was prepared to pay £25 for one, if I had to. I rarely replace this kind of thing, but having a waterproof jacket for my phone is essential when I run in the middle of nowhere.  The earphones are Karrimor bought from Sports Direct at a knockdown price of £4.99. They made up for the armband.

I had loosely planned to do two laps of a route that I thought might be around 5 miles, but ended up changing this slightly as I ran. It wasn’t a fast run, trail runs rarely are, but it was a solid run with only planned walk breaks and a decent off road pace. My split times are fairly consistent, which is great. That’s the first time in ages that an outdoor run hasn’t disintegrated into a limp! My data is here, if you feel the need to look!

My foot held up fine, although I am starting to feel it now as I had expected. I’ll be limping for the evening, but it should be OK by tomorrow morning. I’m away for a bath shortly and then I’ll ice my heel. It’s becoming a well-kenned routine.

So I’m on for Sunday’s race, providing nothing happens between then and now. I won’t be looking to beat any personal bests – I’ll be happy to finish without any problems. I will be taking regular walk breaks and won’t beat myself up over the time.


I will be wearing these nifty things, bought after seeing them on Facebook. They are called Event Clips and are a replacement for safety pins. They don’t break the fabric, but pinch it between the front and back of the clip, holding your bib number securely (hopefully). I’ll report back on how they performed.

I’ll leave you with some photos I took on the trail as I head off for a lovely, bubbly bath!

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