Hello Spring!

What an amazing change in the weather we have had in the past week. Back in February when Jemma and I ran our first race of the year we thought that the winter was behind us as we ran along in the (rather chilly!) sunshine with clear blue skies above our heads. But no. Just a week later the snow began and it just didn’t want to stop. It was the kind of snow that you just get really bored with – always there but never on the ground for more than 5 minutes and just bitterly cold and annoying. At least it stopped for the majority of our race days, apart from a little flurry just before the beginning of our Loch Katrine races. The day after the Alloa Half Marathon the snow hit us pretty badly for a day or two – that was a very lucky miss! But here we are, 5 days in to April and we’ve had sunshine every day. I tried an evening run in shorts on Monday – maybe that was a little premature, but it won’t be long!

My training this week has consisted of the following:

Saturday – 11 miles of trail running with Jemma
Sunday – Rest day
Monday – 6 miles road running
Tuesday – Circuits
Wednesday – Rest day
Thursday – 12.5 miles, mixed road and trail
Friday – 5.5 miles cross country.

I won’t lie, this week has been a struggle. On Saturday I felt maybe it was too soon after my breakfast and that’s why I didn’t feel great, but when I went out on Monday I felt slow. I put it down to having had a busy day at work and still being a bit sore from Saturday but if I’m honest, I wasn’t. I spent most of the day on the phone speaking to parents and organising the next block of swimming lessons when I’m usually in the pool teaching all day, so I can hardly say I had a strenuous day! On Tuesday I went to circuits and I felt great. Towards the end we completed a “nightmare set”, which consists of pad work, body kicks and lots and lots of squats. Oh how I needed my rest day on Wednesday! Long run day was on Thursday this week and again I felt slow. I haven’t quite recovered from Tuesdays set even now, so maybe I should have taken an extra day before my long run! But on I plodded down the old railway line from my house all the way round to Alva where I found a bench to sit on and eat my banana. I have started running with a Camelbak on my longer runs and even though it probably slows me down quite a bit I am really thankful for it. Not only does it carry my fluid but I can stick my keys, tissues, phone and even my banana in there. And the longer I run, the lighter my bag gets, so the last few miles are never that bad. However I needed a bath when I got in and a very good stretch. Tiger balm has become my new best friend this week.
My run today was glorious. It was just beautiful! Shorts were back on, buff was left at home and my sunglasses even made an appearance! When I run cross country I have many gates to go through and cattle grids to hop over, so I’m never expecting a fast time, I just enjoy the scenery. And when it looks like this, you can look past the pain!

Snow topped hills, blue skies and the Wallace monument in the back ground!
Snow topped hills, blue skies and the Wallace monument in the back ground!

Reading other blogs and Twitter is starting to make me insanely jealous with all the marathons everybody is running. At the beginning of the year I didn’t think I’d ever want to run a marathon, never mind be ready to run one. But in the past few months I have really upped my game and with Jemma and my little brother training for marathons this year, I’m starting to wish I had entered one too! I’ll wait and see how they get on in theirs first… Maybe next year will be my year!

I have had 2 weekends without races and I’m starting to crave my next one. And what an amazing one it’s going to be – The Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon! I’ve seen quite a few people going on about it on Twitter and their blogs so it would be amazing to meet some new people on the day. Let me know if you’re doing it too – Jemma and I will see you there. After that I have the Callander 10k, the Balmoral 10k and the Balfron 10k, all in April and then the Loch Leven Half Marathon in May. After that my race calendar is actually empty. Give me ideas for more please!!!

Look out for me!!
Look out for me!!

This weekend I may have no races but I do have a lot on and maybe a wee wine or two with good friends. So for now I am hanging up my trainers and with all those running the Paris marathon in mind, I bid you Adieu!

A Week Of Pain

When I started racing, training mostly consisted of pounding the pavements, trails or treadmill for long periods of time. As I started to get fitter, I’d notice the distance I could run without feeling like I wanted to die had significantly increased and I was getting slightly faster, but that was what bothered me. It was only slightly faster. I used to do quite a bit of weight training and go to classes, but since I became a swimming teacher and don’t get out of the pool until 6pm every night, by the time I’m home and fed most of the classes at my local gym have finished. I used to LOVE going to spin classes and before my wedding I became a total spin addict. Now the majority of the spin classes are starting just as I’m climbing out the pool, dripping wet, freezing and in desperate need of my dinner. So I got into a cycle of getting home, having some dinner, going out for a run then coming home to watch some TV, catch up with Craig and go to bed. Another day over.

A few months ago my friend told me about a circuits class that was being run for woman at the local MMA gym. It consisted of pad work, weights, cardio and pain. But good pain she assured me! I thought why not, I needed something else to try and I really wanted to improve my strength so one Tuesday I tagged along with her and her sister. The good thing about the class is they let you work at your own pace and ability. If you are struggling with a move they let you miss a few out then join in again and don’t scream at you for doing so, as I’ve seen countless times in the past. But as I’m quite competitive, especially with myself, I wasn’t going to give up. One of the most painful sets to date was at the class last Tuesday and I think my butt has only just forgiven me. We started with 2 minutes of squats and then went straight into 30 seconds of straight punching with hand weights. After 10 seconds rest we then went into 1 minute 30 seconds of squats and and minute of straight punching. And so on until we had come down the pyramid and went right back up it again. Ouch. On Wednesday morning I waddled up to work with my bum and thighs feeling a bit tight but nothing could prepare me for the DOMS I suffered on Thursday. Oh.my.god. I struggled to get out of bed, I struggled to walk the dog and every second word out my word had to be censored (I work with kids!). Usually a bit of doms doesn’t bother me, but this was something else.

On Friday I decided I needed to stretch my legs out so I planned a little jog along the old railway line from Tillicoultry to Dollar. “It’s nice and flat and I’ll only a do a few slow miles” I told myself. But once I was out and running, I got a little carried away. 7 miles averaging 8 and a half minute miles. Ooops…. I was trying to save my running legs for Saturdays long run with Jemma! But I was feeling good, so on I plodded…

Saturday morning I was up and over to Jemma’s by 9am. We hopped in the car and drove over to Mugdock country park and set out on our planned 17 mile adventure. About 4 miles in I started to feel a tad queasy. At 7 miles I was struggling to pick my feet up and at 9 miles we looked at each other knowing what the other was thinking. I just wasn’t feeling it, which was a total shame as the weather and surroundings were beautiful. I just knew I didn’t have another 8 miles in me. So we plodded back to the car and finished our run at just under 11 miles. Not too bad, but we were both disappointed we didn’t make our target.

The back drop for many of my runs
The back drop for many of my runs

However, I must add that even though I have only been doing it for a couple of months, I’m pretty sure the circuit training is doing something. Since the beginning of the year I have shaved nearly 2 minutes off my 10k time and a whole 5 minutes off my half marathon time. So maybe the pain is worth it after all?

I’m off work for a week from Wednesday so in that time I plan to run long distances, take amazing photos and eat some left over Easter crap (seeing as I didn’t get an egg… grumble, grumble…). I think I deserve it!

My one eyed easter treat
My one eyed easter treat

Just out of interest, what do you take with you on a long run? I take a few gels and a couple of jaffa cakes, but what other treats do you fuel yourself with? I need ideas!

You’ve got to start somewhere…

I have been thinking about writing a blog for a long time now. I often tell people I have an inner monologue when I’m running and for so long I have been meaning to write this all down… so here I am!

I have been running for about 2 years now. I’m still a long way off becoming as fit, strong and fast as I could be, but I’m getting there. I first started running at school and was one of the insane people who longed for the cold months as we got to do cross country in P.E. It got to the point where I was so far ahead of the girls I was told to go and run with the boys. And with boys being the competitive creatures they are, along with the thoughts of “we can’t be beaten by a girl!” I pushed myself even harder. After school I ventured off to University and running (or sport of any kind really!) took a back seat for a while as I found my social side taking over. So it’s only recently I have taken up running properly. I say properly as in more than just a jog to the other side of the field and back. I now pay to get muddy and be in pain for the few days after a race, but I love it.

My first proper race was the Alloa half marathon in 2011. I had been running for a while before this and even though I hadn’t raced a 10k before I thought I needed more of a challenge. I had been training for a good few months leading up to it, I was feeling pretty good and I just kept telling myself was all I had to do was finish, In one piece. And in under 2 hours would be nice…

Race day came and I walked up to the local leisure centre where the race started from. I wasn’t running with anyone and most of my friends and family were working so I did feel a bit lonely waiting about for the race to begin! But along came 10am and we were off. Having never raced properly before I didn’t have anything to monitor my mile splits. Come to think of it, I wasn’t even wearing a watch! I just trundled along, walking every now and again and just trying to shake of the ever increasing ache in my knees. By mile 11 I had had enough and really just wanted it to be over, and then appeared a hill. Not just any hill but a long, gradually increasing, no end in sight hill. I started off thinking it wasn’t too bad but no, it was. I walked most of it! The last 2 miles were pretty flat so I managed to power on down to the finish line and just as I came around the last corner I saw the timing clock at 1:58:40 and I threw everything I had left into finishing in under 2 hours with 1:58:57. I nearly cried. Mostly through happiness but the pain in my knees was excruciating. I hobbled home, had a bath and climbed into bed and fell asleep almost instantly. In pain, but first half done.

First ever medal!
First ever medal!

After that I put racing to one side for a while. Mainly because I didn’t like doing it on my own and very few of my friends were into running.I would happily run for hours on my own when training, but racing was something different. I eventually convinced my friend Becky to start running with me and we started training nearly every week together. Our next race was the Balmoral 10k 2012 and what a run it was. I finished with 55:45 and Becky in 1:09:37. We were both high with adrenaline all the way home and were already planning our next race.

Since then I have started running with my little brothers girlfriend Jemma and we have completed many more races. Some together, some separately but it’s just so nice to have someone to race with and to share the post race buzz we get. A list of all my completed races and times are in the link above.

Next up is the Edinburgh Rock n Roll half on the 14th April. My training is going really well and as Jemma is running the Strathearn marathon in June, my training run mileage has significantly increased as well. Who knows, you might even get a marathon out of me by the end of the year…

The only half decent picture I have of myself running to date!
The only half decent picture I have of myself running to date!