Week in Review – The Joy of Running!

As April comes to a close I can hardly believe our trip to Paris happened in the same month – it feels like ages ago! So long ago, in fact, that I’ve had my two weeks off running so this past week I was ready to lace up my running shoes again and get back out there. As usual, I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for my week in review.

Ever since watching the London marathon last week, I’ve been absolutely desperate to run again, particularly since that race showed me everything I love about marathons in one morning. I was glued to the TV coverage and wanted nothing more than to be on those streets running 26.2 miles, a sure sign that I was mentally and physically recovered and ready to run again. That meant planning a week that included my usual frequency of running, but without any particular pressure when it came to pace.

Mondayswim walk
Tuesday – easy cycle + swim
Wednesday – easy run
Thursday – walk
Friday – PT session
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – longer run

As you can see, the week began with a pretty easy day workout-wise. This wasn’t really my intention, however a later finish at work followed by some errands on the way home meant that time had marched on and while I could have gone to the pool, I would have been a bit rushed and I prefer to have my swim then take my time relaxing in the hot tub and sauna, so I decided to simply move my swim to Tuesday since I would be at the gym anyway.

Tuesday was another easy cycle at the gym as I didn’t want to leap into harder workouts just yet, but it was interesting to compare my workout data to last week. I cycled for the same amount of time and with more or less the same effort level, but covered a greater distance, which tells me that my recovery has progressed as I was able to work harder without really realising it. After my cycle I did a little stretching and mobility work before heading down to the pool for 20 lengths. I really enjoyed my swim as the pool was quiet and I felt really in control of my stroke, settling into my rhythm much more quickly.

Wednesday brought much excitement as it was finally time to run! I was quite amused to find that it took a bit more thought to get organised for my run than usual as I had been out of the routine for a couple of weeks, but once I was out the door my legs immediately remembered what they had to do. I decided to run a loop I like which is about 3.5 miles long, including a short uphill climb and delightfully long downhill blast. My plan was to take it relatively easy, to run to feel and just let my body do whatever it wanted to do. I must have been like a coiled spring ready to be set loose as my legs wanted to turn over fairly quickly and I probably ran a little faster than I should at this stage, but it just felt so good to be out in the fresh air and running that I didn’t try to hold back.

IMG_1584There was further excitement when I got home and opened up my copy of Women’s Running which had been delivered. Tina’s write up of the Paris marathon weekend was included so I flipped straight to that and saw the selfie Tina took of the two of us after the Breakfast Run. I finally made it into a running magazine lol! 🙂

78141BE0-3868-40F6-A4E1-D81BAA660633Thursday ended up being another rest day as there was no Ashtanga yoga class this week (my teacher was away for a family wedding and the usual cover teacher wasn’t available). I took a short walk for a bit of air after work then enjoyed a quiet evening at home. It had been a strange day as our senior pupils had their last day in school before their exams and I received the most thoughtful gift from a pupil I had worked wth closely over the last year or two. She had taken the time to produce a beautiful drawing of my cats (and as a tortoiseshell cat, my elderly lady is NOT easy to draw!) as well as a new mug since she had been witness to last term’s Great Mug Disaster. And some chocolate. You can never go wrong with chocolate! In all honesty I never expect my pupils to give me gifts, but this was such a surprise and so thoughtful that I was close to tears. Moments like this remind me of the impact I can have on young people’s lives. Hopefully a positive one!

IMG_1594On Friday, I had a PT session with Steve. Previously these had been on Thursdays, leaving Friday as a complete rest, however he told me the other week that he would have to change this due to a new commitment on a Thursday (those pesky paying clients haha!). This was a little frustrating as I felt we had established a workout week that works for me and I wasn’t sure how to tweak this without upsetting the balance, but in the end we decided that since those sessions are mainly mobility work rather than a high intensity workout, it would be ok to move the session to a Friday. The last time I had a PT session was the day before we left for Paris so I felt a bit out of the way of it, however we did work I was used to, targeting hip and upper back mobility using both that high-tech piece of kit the broom handle and the “giant maraca” that is the core momentum trainer!

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IMG_1603Saturday is parkrun day, and while I have been there as a volunteer over the last couple of weeks, nothing is quite like running 5k on a Saturday morning. The last time I ran was the 1st of April and I was a pacer then, so it’s been a while since I’ve run a 5k in my own way. It’s also been a while since I ran on our main course as we used the alternative course for a few weeks to allow the grass section to firm up and recover a bit. My plan was not to have a plan, just to see what my legs wanted to do and run comfortably hard without pushing too much. Given the time off I expected something in the region of 24:30-25:00, more likely nearer to 25 minutes, but as soon as we started my legs just wanted to go! Conscious that I hadn’t been running for a bit and my legs would have lost some conditioning I did ease off a bit, but still managed to not only finish in 24:15, but managed a Royal Flush Negative Split (each mile faster than the one before) which can be quite tricky when the grass, which can slow you down, is in the middle mile! 8:01, 7:58, 7:45(!) and the last 0.1 nubbin at 6:55 pace! It’s funny how the endurance work for a marathon, coupled with fresh legs, can result in a better-than-expected time.

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IMG_1641Of course I paid for my speed a little with slightly tight calves, but nothing to be worried about. My legs will soon regain their conditioning as I ease back into training. Clearly I’m needing to do some yoga to stretch out, so I’m glad Hatha yoga starts again next week.

After a couple of lazy Sundays, this week it was back to the normal routine of heading out for a run. I decided that 10k would be about right and worked out a route on some familiar roads. It was a nice sunny morning but I spent the first part of the run convinced I had forgotten something as it was so strange to be out on a Sunday morning without my hydration pack and gels that I had needed for my 18 and 20 mile runs! I took it at an easy pace and felt nice and comfortable, like I could go on which is always a good way to finish a Sunday run. Since it was my first longer sun since Paris, I thought it only right that my finishers’ top got an outing!

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IMG_1682And “only” running 10k meant there seemed to be plenty of day left to run a few errands and catch up with some blogging. Lovely!

How has your training been this week?

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Friday Finds – 31st March

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

It’s finally the end of term and I feel somewhere between elated and exhausted! The last few weeks have been tough and I’m definitely in need of a break, so tonight I thought I would bring you a more lighthearted selection of finds, focusing on some of the more unusual, entertaining and just plain mad aspects of running…

First up, a new variation on a previous trend. You might already be familiar with the #race the tube phenomenon which went viral in 2014 as a runner tried to beat an underground train between two stations in London. In this latest version, a German marathon runner took on the challenge of racing a subway train for 10k across Berlin. There’s some video included in the article – I hope your German is up to scratch!

Sticking with 10k for now, here’s a story from a most unexpected source for a running blog – Horse & Hound! Including this makes me feel a little like Hugh Grant’s character in Notting Hill when he interviews Julia Roberts about her new film and says he’s from Horse & Hound magazine haha! Anyway, I’ve had my fair share of interesting encounters in races, like seeing those guys who run the London marathon every year dressed as rhinos, or that time I got chased by cows during a hill race, or last Sunday when I had a rather low fly-by from the scary bird of prey that sometimes attacks runners near here… but I’ve never found myself running alongside an actual horse! Yet that’s exactly what happened to runners in a 10k race in Trafford recently when the wonderfully named Mildred escaped from her field and joined in with the race for a couple of kilometres until she was caught! Now that’s not something you see every day!

Another unlikely source for this blog is Classic FM, and yet somehow I’ve come across a story combining both running and classical music as a student at the Birmingham Conservatoire plans to run the Liverpool half marathon this weekend dressed as a viola in an attempt to set a new world record. The current record stands at 1:26:57 so he’ll need to be fairly nippy to beat it. As a fellow string player, I wish him all the best.

Speaking of half marathon records, former professional runner Chris Estwanik set a new record at the recent New York City half for the fastest half marathon whilst wearing a suit. Why? Well, because it was a bet, of course! The Bermuda-based runner was offered a free round of a rum cocktail if he could break the record, and his time of 1:11:36 took more than SEVEN MINUTES off the previous record, so I think someone must owe him a drink!

And finally, if you fancy trying something a bit more unusual yourself, then take a look at this list compiled by The Guardian. It makes me wonder how many more totally bonkers races there are in the world (and how they came about in the first place!). If you’ve tried anything a bit different then I’d love to hear about it…

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

‘Your Pace or Mine?’ Follow Up: A Running Record

In my recent review of Lisa Jackson’s Your Pace or Mine, I noted that the final section of the book is given over to the reader to use as a record of their running. I really liked this idea, but since I read the book on my Kindle rather than in paper format, I didn’t have the opportunity to fill my record in. Instead, I thought it might be fun to write up my record book (to date) as a blog post. It’s going to be a long one so put the kettle on!

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Favourite Race Photo
I have a few photos that I like: some from mid-race, some post-race medal shots and some of me leaping around like a loony after a run. But when it comes to actual race photos, my all-time favourite is this one from the Paris Marathon in 2016. I was undertrained thanks to being stopped in my tracks by a stress fracture at the end of 2015, but on race day I was injury-free and determined to get out there and enjoy a self-conducted running tour of my favourite city. I ran it my own way, stopped to take photos and enjoyed a buffet of orange segments, sugar lumps and that pink sports drink they hand out that acts like rocket fuel! When the photographers snapped me in the finishing straight, I looked like I’d had an awesome time, even though I was completely exhausted and my legs were begging for mercy. Sometimes you just have to forget your race goals and go out there to have fun.

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Name
Allison a.k.a The Running Princess

Date When Started Running
I don’t have the exact date for this one as my diaries from that part of my life are not all that detailed. That said, I can remember the day itself clearly. It was the beginning of term in August of 2005. We actually started on my birthday that year and it’s entirely possible that it was actually on my birthday that I went for my first run. My friend who is a PE teacher (and at the time we were car sharing for work as well) took me to the local park and told me to start running at the pace I thought was about right. Predictably, I set off far too fast and didn’t get very far at all. My friend then sorted out my pace and so began weeks of building up the length of time I could run before having a walk break (which had to be shorter then the running time). The first time I ran all the way round the park (about a mile and a  half) without stopping was my first big running milestone.

Age When Started Running
I was just about clinging on to my twenties when I took those first tentative steps, however I was in my early thirties before meeting Steve and venturing beyond the odd slow 5k plod.

Reasons Why I Run
My first ever blog post was all about why I run, but I suppose that was really only about why I started, not why I run now. At first it was all about a personal challenge and wanting to raise funds for charity in memory of my gran; now, running is a habit. In many ways it continues to be a personal challenge as I look to improve my times or push myself in new ways, but even without that challenge I would still want to run and it only takes a spell of injury to remind me of how important running is for clearing my head, helping me to manage stress, releasing endorphins and giving my thoughts some clarity. I love how running makes me feel both mentally and physically as it helps me to keep sane as well as fit. Running makes my body lean and strong. And it also makes me hungry! I love the appetite running gives me and surprising people with exactly how much food I can put away!

IMG_0605Proudest Running Moments
Running has given me lots of opportunities to feel proud of myself, so narrowing it down to just a few was a bit challenging! Here are some of my highlights:

  1. Completing my first ever marathon in Paris in 2010
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  2. Running my first ever sub-2 hour half marathon at Aviemore in 2012
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  3. Topping the podium for the first time ever when I won my age group at the Cool Summer Mornings 5k in 2013
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  4. Running my marathon PB in Paris in 2014
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  5. That time I ran 4 races in one weekend at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015
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  6. Finishing as second female and ninth overall!) in the Caped Crusader 5k in 2016
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‘Dreaming Big’ Goals (Races, Places, Times)
I love this heading. A chance for me to think about the things I would do if there was absolutely nothing to stop me. I would love to run all the marathon majors, something which isn’t an option for me right now as they don’t all fit in with my school holidays. I’ve run London, but would love to go back again with a Good For Age time. Right now that would be sub 3:45, a full 20 minutes faster than my current PB. We are dreaming big though! I would also love to do a Run Disney race. I know there’s a half marathon at Disneyland Paris now, but my ultimate dream would be the Walt Disney World marathon. My sister has done this, but again I’m held back by my school terms. Finally, there’s this year’s goal of some race PBs: if I’m dreaming big then it’s a sub-4 marathon, a sub-1:55 half marathon and a sub-50 10k. My other dream is to run in Central Park. It doesn’t have to be a race, I’d just love the experience of lacing up my trainers and heading off for a run in such a famous location.

Most Memorable Races
I’ve got a lot of wonderful memories from racing, but I think I’m going to pick my “firsts”:

  1. My first ever “proper” race – the Kinross 10k in 2009
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  2. My first ever half marathon – Aviemore in 2009. Memorable because Steve proposed the night before so all I can remember of the race is running along lost in thoughts of wedding dresses, possible venues and the most fun way to tell my parents later that day!
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  3. My first ever marathon – Paris in 2010
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  4. My first ever experience of the Paris Breakfast Run in 2014
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I’d also like to include running around the race circuit at Knockhill for the Graham Clark Memorial race, running over the Forth Road Bridge as part of a 10k race, and, of course, that time I ran a 10k PB (by one second!) at the Great Scottish Run then proudly announced my achievement to one of my running heroes, Paula Radcliffe!
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And although not technically a race, I’m including an honourable mention for parkrun during the I Am Team GB weekend when I got to meet a local Olympian and see a Rio medal up close.

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Favourite Running Motto/Mantra/Race Sign/Motivational Quote
My favourite mantra is “I can, I am, I’m strong” which I came up with for my first marathon. I had picked up an injury and seemed to be surrounded by people telling me that running my marathon was impossible. My mantra was a way to fight back against all the people saying, “you can’t” and remind myself that anything is possible.
I don’t often remember race signs, but I do love seeing all the firemen out in force in Paris with signs slung from their ladders declaring “les pompiers sont avec vous” (the firemen are with you). As for a motivational quote, it has to be this one:

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Funniest Running Moments/Favourite Stories Heard on Runs
Well, there was that time I got charged at by some scary looking cows whilst taking part in a trail race. Unfortunately the race route was such that I then had to run back through the same field on my return. Thankfully the cows had moved on to another part of the field by then!
There was also the time I did the Edinburgh Winter Run around Arthur’s Seat. It was freezing cold and as I came down off the hill it started snowing. I thought this was absolutely hilarious so the official photos showed me laughing like an idiot in the middle of a blizzard!

Favourite Medals/Race T-shirts
Funnily enough, I have a fair few of these! After a bit of thinking, I’ve decided on the medal and finisher’s T-shirt from Paris in 2010 (my first marathon), my London Marathon medal and, as a collection, my 4 Paris Marathon medals and the commemorative T-shirt I bought to mark the 40th edition last year. As a bonus, I’m also going to include a medal from a virtual race – the Platform 9 3/4k from the Hogwarts Running Club, an event I’ve participated in 3 times now.

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Charities Fundraised For and Amounts Raised
Since I began running to raise funds for charity, you’d think I would know exactly what my total is. But I don’t. Back then donations were made by sponsorship form, however I think across the 3 times I’ve run the 5k Race For Life I’ve probably raised around £150 for Cancer Research.

An early example of my signature "medal pose"!

In 2011 I pledged my support to a local charity, PKAVS (Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Services). They provide support to a number of different groups, perhaps most especially known for supporting young carers. I was inspired to help as a friend works for the charity and listening to her describing the challenges some people faced made me feel I should do something about it. Working alongside the charity, we set up the idea of “going that extra mile”, with participants joining teams for the Edinburgh Marathon Relay. Most were new to running and Steve put on weekly training sessions (often aided by moi) to help everyone prepare. For me, it was actually an extra 26.2 miles as I committed to running both the London and Edinburgh marathons which were just a few weeks apart. It was my first really big challenge which I completed, with a PB (since beaten) in Edinburgh and a total of £800 raised for a good cause. It was a real family affair as Steve also ran the marathon while both my dad and my sister were in relay teams.

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More recently, Steve and I took on an even bigger challenge when we decided to fundraise for Macmillan Cancer Support following our experiences of seeing family members and others close to us battling cancer. In 2014 I was supposed to run 3 marathons (Paris, Edinburgh and Loch Ness) however injury forced me to withdraw from Loch Ness and replace it with an all-new challenge: cycling! I took to two wheels and completed Cycletta Scotland which had Macmillan as the title sponsor. In 2015 I decided to take care of my unfinished business by running the Paris marathon for Macmillan in order to complete that triple marathon challenge I had set. But, being one who never does things by half, I also decided to go bigger with my cycling and take on the Etape Caledonia. I then rounded off what was basically a spring challenge by taking on the Edinburgh Marathon Festival – 5k and 10k on Saturday then half marathon and final leg of the relay on Sunday (logisitcs meant it wasn’t possible for me to go from the half to the full marathon). With over £5000 raised in 2014 (with massive thanks to my friend Ian and his clients for their support) and a further £1000 in 2015, that made a grand total of over £6000 raised for Macmillan. Phew!

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Biggest Challenges Overcome in Races
Generally speaking, my biggest challenge is injury. I have completed marathons despite being in a great deal of the wrong kind of discomfort (I’m looking at you Lochaber Marathon of Pain!) and also when undertrained as a result of injury. This is why I believe I’ve never truly demonstrated what I’m capable of over 26.2 miles.  But the fact that I’ve completed those races demonstrates that I can overcome challenges, usually with an altered goal.

Races With Best Snacks/Entertainment/Crowd Support
Without a doubt the best snacks have been at US races, particularly the Cool Summer Mornings 5k which often has post-race hot dogs, pretzels, beer, etc despite the fact that these will be consumed around 8am! The Chocolate Sundae Run, while a bit of a boring route, did have the draw of ice cream at the finish line! I also enjoy the on course “buffet” at the Paris Marathon as they lay out raisins, sugar lumps, sliced banana and orange segments. I can say without a word of a lie that those oranges have been the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted and a sugar lump late on the in race provides a fantastic boost to get you moving.
IMG_6102 When it comes to both entertainment and crowd support, the title needs to be shared by both London and Paris. I run with one earphone in so I can tune into my music if I need to without having to faff about, but I have absolutely no recollection at all of actually listening to my playlist in London thanks to all the various places blaring out music along the route, the wall of noise in Canary Wharf and the unwavering crowd support in the final stages along the Embankment when every fibre of your being is screaming to stop but every time you do, someone shouts at you to keep on going. In Paris there has always been phenomenal support from “Les Pompiers” but perhaps not as big a crowd as in London. That all changed in 2016 when, probably in an act of defiance at the atrocities that have taken place in the city in recent times, the streets were lined with supporters cheering the runners on and fighting back against those who commit such terrible acts. Paris also prides itself on the huge number of “animations” (entertainment) along the route. There are an assortment of bands in just about every genre you can think of from rock and pop to a bit of German oompahpah and the always fun samba bands. Many have dancers as well and the lift the entertainment gives the runners is visible.

Favourite Fancy-Dress Outfits
Running in fancy dress is not really my thing, but it has happened:

  1. Taking part in a Santa Run every year
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  2. Wearing my kilt for both the Perth Kilt Run and the Paris Breakfast Run
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3. Celebrating our parkun’s birthday with fancy dress. So far a beach party theme (in November!) and a superhero theme. To be honest, I quite enjoyed running as Supergirl!
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Most Beautiful Places Run In
I live in Scotland so beautiful places to run are often just a few minutes away and I love nothing more in nice weather (it can be a bit miserable and lonely when the weather isn’t so good).
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Away from my standard training runs, the Lochaber Marathon was beautiful, even if I didn’t really enjoy the race thanks to an injury flaring up. And of course, there’s my beloved Paris. What a beautiful city to run in !
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Countries I’ve Run In
Scotland (obviously), England (London Marathon), France (Paris Marathon), USA (training runs and events in Florida every July). I’m really going to have to work on adding to that list!

Cities I’ve Run In
6/7 of the Scottish Cities: Perth, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Inverness
London
Paris
Davenport, Florida
Winter Park, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Clermont, Florida

Marathon Majors Completed
Only London. One day…

Friends I’ve Made Through Running
Running has brought a lot of people into my life, from those I’ve trained for marathons with (connected for life!) to those I consider my “parkrun family”. Running also led me to blogging and there are several people I’ve come into contact with through blogging that I would probably never have met otherwise like Jaynie, Danielle and Kyla. It’s also what ultimately brought me to the Tough Girl Tribe and the fantastic women there. Running is such a fantastically inclusive community and provides a shared experience to base a friendship on or just start a conversation. Just one of the many reasons why I love it.
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Personal Bests (Time/Date) 5k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2, Ultra, Tri
I’ve got these listed on my Race History tab, but here they are again:

5k – 23:14 @ Perth parkrun 2015
10k – 50:14 @ Great Scottish Run 10k 2015 (aka That Time I Met Paula!)
13.1 – 1:56:35 @ Aviemore Highland Half Marathon 2012
26.2 – 4:05:07 @ Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris 2014

Race Record
This is a list that could go on for a while! All my race reports since I started the blog are under the Race Reports tab, but to summarise (and account for those pre-blog years!):

5k x 33 (inc Christmas events)
Parkrun x 66
5 mile x 2
10k x 20
10 mile x 3
Half marathon x 13
Marathon x 8
Other distances (e.g. EMF Relay, CHAS Devil Dash) x 10

Total = 155 events (89 if you don’t count parkrun) – phew!

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And now it’s your turn! Either write a post of your own to create your record book or share some memories in the comments below. I can’t wait to read them…!

Week in Review – Hello 2017!

It’s been a while since I wrote a series of training updates and so, with a spring goal marathon in my sights, I thought that I would go to the opposite extreme from my last, secretive, training cycle and aim to write a weekly recap of my training for the Paris marathon and my goal of setting a new PB this year. I also thought it would be fun to link up with Jessie at The Right Fits and Jess at Jess Runs ATL as part of their weekly linkup, so this will be my first post as part of that.

2axmzdpMy main goal as the new year got underway was to make sure I recovered properly from the madness of the New Year Triple last Sunday then make sure I maintained the consistency of my workouts to set me up for the weeks ahead. I was also taking part in a virtual event, clocking up my miles from the 1st-8th to start the year on a positive note and earn this fantastic medal that doubles up as a magnetic chalkboard!

Photo from Virtual Runner UK Facebook page

Photo from Virtual Runner UK Facebook page

The pattern of my training at the moment is:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike intervals at the gym
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – PT session plus ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest day
Saturday – parkrun plus hatha yoga
Sunday – long run

With the past week still being a holiday, not all of this happened, but I still put in a solid week of training and am happy with what I’ve done.

Following Sunday’s exertions, Monday became a rest day. We had family commitments that day as it was Steve’s brother’s birthday and our first chance to really toast the new year and indulge in some party food after being very well behaved on Hogmanay. It was great to spend time with family and friends, and we played a great game which I liked (because I kept winning!). What a laugh when my brother-in-law said he hadn’t realised I was so competitive!!

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But it was business as usual on Tuesday as I headed to the gym in the late afternoon to complete a set of intervals on the bike. I have been doing a 10 minute warm up followed by 45 seconds hard at a high intensity then a 15 second rest. This was my last session at my current intensity level, so I had 20 reps to complete before a 10 minute easy cycle to cool down. This is a tough workout, but I know it has been benefitting my running as it boosts my fitness without the high impact of running and keeps my legs turning over at a reasonably high cadence. I listen to podcasts to give me something to focus on when it gets tough, then treat myself to a nice sauna once I’ve stretched and done some mobility work.

On Wednesday I was out first thing (or as “first thing” as I get when I’m not at work!) for my hill reps. Again, this was the last session in my current cycle and it was a warm up of about a mile followed by 20 reps. I have been using a hill close to our house and measure my reps point to point. It takes me around 30 seconds to run hard up the hill, then I have a 1 minute rest interval to jog back down and “reset” for the next one. After the last rep I enjoy a nice cooldown jog home.

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Yes, Santa DID bring me that New Balance/J Crew running top I asked for!

Thursday got off to an exciting start when my new parkrun T-shirt arrived. I ran my 50th parkrun in early November, but had to wait for new stock to arrive before I could claim my free 50 club milestone tech tee. I was so excited to finally be able to get mine!

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I then headed off to Steve’s studio for a PT session where we did some core and mobility work using the core momentum trainer. It’s a great piece of kit, but using it does make you sound like you’re playing the maracas! My yoga studio was still closed for the festive season this past week, so I used the remainder of the day to relax and get my head ready for returning to work.

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Friday was my rest day and it’s always really tempting when I’m not at work to have a really lazy day, but since I want to maintain my streak of reaching my step goal, I decided to walk to the gym to relax in the jacuzzi and sauna for a bit then walk home, taking in one or two errands along the way. Steve and I always go to a nearby pub to eat on a Friday night rather than getting a takeaway as your weekly treat, so by the time I had done all that I had reached my 10,000 steps.

Of course Saturday is known around here as parkrunday and this week was no exception. It was a rather foggy, murky looking day, but I still had great fun volunteering as a pace runner. You can read more about that here. My hatha yoga class doesn’t start again until next week, however I had some errands in town and I wanted to get a few things organised before the new term begins, so I was kept pretty busy!

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And Sunday was a return to a more “normal” routine. The last few Sundays have been a bit out of the ordinary what with the Santa Dash, festive trip to Edinburgh, Christmas Day and New Year. In the weeks before that, Steve and I enjoyed some fantastic trail runs, but it’s now time to get back out on the road and prepare our bodies for the marathon. This week was a gentle solo 10k which I really enjoyed. It feels like a while since I headed out on a Sunday morning with my podcast to run at an easy pace, and it felt good to finish knowing I could have carried on. I know it won’t feel like that every week!

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Overall a nice, consistent week with a bit of room for some final festive celebrations. Now it’s time for a return to work and a return to normality (whatever that may be) while I tick off my training in my exciting new training journal. Right now I feel refreshed and am looking forward to the challenges ahead.

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What are you training for right now?
What has been the highlight of your week?

7 for 2017 – My Goals for the Year

It’s that time of year again. If you’ve been with me for a while then you’ll know I don’t hold with all that “new year, new me” stuff as I believe that pinning all your hopes for change on one particular day (a day when, let’s face it, many aren’t feeling at their best!) is doomed to failure. If there’s something you want to change, change it now. If there’s something you want to achieve, start taking steps towards it straight away. Why wait? Too many people try to make massive and unsustainable changes on the 1st of January then feel miserable when they fail. Surely it’s better to change one small thing at a time or develop habits that have already been created than to try and completely reinvent yourself? So rather than resolutions, I prefer to set myself goals – things I would like to achieve over the course of the year that will help give focus to what I do and bring me one step closer to where I want to be.

I’ve already shared my final roundup of my 2016 goals and was, for the most part, pleased with how those went. I am aware, however, that a couple of them weren’t SMART enough in that they lacked clear cut ways to measure my progress, nor did they all have tangible deadlines to work towards. Those that I achieved tended to have something very clear and time-focused to strive for, so this year I’m going to try and address that a bit more.

And following the example of Sarah Williams at Tough Girl Challenges, I’m going to have 7 goals this year. Sarah has been encouraging the members of the Tough Girl Tribe to create and share 7 for 2017, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. As ever, sharing those goals and sharing my progress throughout the year will help to keep me accountable and make me reflect on how I’m getting on. So here we go…

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  1. Set some new race PBs
    The last time I set a big running goal, I kept it quiet. Not this time. This time I’m putting out there exactly what I want to achieve, and I want to achieve the big ones! This year I want a new marathon PB. My best currently stands at 4:05:07 from Paris in 2014, and in 2017 I want to better that. Ideally, I’m going to FINALLY achieve my dream of a sub-4 hour marathon, and that’s what I will be training for. I’m entered into Paris again, so that will be my primary target, but I’ll keep the idea of an autumn marathon in reserve just in case!
    As well as that, my half marathon PB has stagnated at 1:56:35 since the autumn of 2012. I find half marathons tough as they’re somewhere between the speed of a 10k and the endurance of a marathon, and I never quite get my pacing right. I think I could get closer to a 1:52 and this year I’m going to have a go at achieving that. I don’t yet know what my target race will be, but hopefully something will work in well with my marathon training.
    And in for a penny, in for a pound, I also want to have a go at breaking 50 minutes for a 10k. I ran 50:14 in the Great Scottish Run 10k in 2015, so I’m within touching distance. Let’s see what 2017 brings there…
  2. Run my 100th parkrun
    A very tangible goal. I ran my 50th parkrun at the beginning of November, and have continued to participate regularly ever since. Assuming my New Year’s Day goes as planned (I’m writing this in advance!) then I will be sitting on a nice round 60, leaving me the whole rest of 2017 to complete 40 parkruns. Even factoring in a post-marathon rest and being away on holiday, this is still achievable. I just need to keep myself as healthy and injury-free as possible.
  3. Maintain my step goal streak
    Back in the summer I set myself a mini-goal of achieving the step goal on my fitness tracker every day throughout my summer break from school. For an added challenge, I allowed that goal to increase incrementally and finished the summer feeling so much better for being away from my car for so long, getting more fresh air and walking everywhere. Unwilling to stop once the new school year began, I reset my step goal to a fixed 10,000 steps per day and came up with some creative ways to fit extra walking into my daily routine. The end of 2016 saw me reach a whopping 183 days (or 6 months) in my streak and there’s no way I want to stop yet. While I keep setting myself interim goals (100 days, 150 days, to the end of the year…) realistically I’ve come so far now that the only thing that I could really allow to stop my streak is to be incapacitated in some way such as illness or injury. My mini-goal right now is to reach the summer and make it 365 days, but what I would really love is to get my 10,000 minimum every day of 2017. Watch this space!
  4. Read at least 30 books
    One of my most successful goals in 2016 was to read more books, and I used the annual challenge on Goodreads to help me out. My goal (based on a bit of guesswork!) was 15 books, but I finished the year with 27 completed books so I’m making my minimum target for 2017 a nice round 30. I’d love for more of these to be running/cycling/adventure books as well as an assortment of fiction. I’d love your recommendations!
  5. Make more time to relax and prioritise rest during the work week
    I’m terrible for being on the go all the time. Work is busy, there’s training to do, and I often don’t find time to sit down and relax until about 9pm. Steve and I have worked together to create a training plan that has my longest workouts at the weekend, and I need to manage my work commitments a bit better to allow me to have a little more time to myself. I’d love to be sitting down (in my pyjamas!) a bit earlier in the evening, and if I can do that then I should be able to find more time to read, watch tv or even write more for the blog. I might even try getting to bed earlier on weeknights to help me rise earlier and achieve more in the early part of the day (a tough one since I’m a natural night owl) so will work on that in the new term.
  6. Commit to more yoga outside of my weekly classes
    2016 was the year I finally started going to yoga. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I really love that time out in my week to help me stretch, settle my mind and get stronger. At present I go to two yoga classes each week – a midweek Ashtanga class to really complement my other training and a weekend Hatha class to help me stretch and unwind. Now I think the next step is to commit to a more regular practice outside of those classes. That may be as little as once more per week, even just 10 minutes to help me unwind in the evening. There are plenty of online videos to use and I also have the Hit Reset book by Erin Taylor from Jasyoga, so will use these to help me on my journey.
  7. Blog more consistently
    I’m hoping that success in my other goals will help me with this one. In 2016 I committed to the WordPress challenge of a post per week, which I have achieved, however there were times in the year when I felt like the blog was limping along on nothing more than a Friday Finds post per week. And while it never fails to amaze me when people tell me how much they enjoy these (by their nature they invite less interaction) I’d prefer to put out more of my own content – training updates, life updates, thoughts on various running/fitness topics – and connect with more people. In 2017 I’d like to try and publish a post per week IN ADDITION to Friday Finds. You may notice a flurry of posts whenever I’m not at work, so what I’d really like to do is even things out a little bit and find some more time to write posts in advance so I can schedule them for specific dates or have something in reserve if I know I’m not going to have much time to write. I think this is going to be a challenging one, but I really want to give it a go and see if I can grow my total views in 2017. Any tips from more prolific bloggers than me would be gratefully received, as would your comments on any topics you’d like to see covered.

And that’s my 7 for 2017. Stay tuned for updates throughout the year to see how I get on.

What are your views on resolutions?
What are your goals for the months ahead?

Race Report – Perth 10k 2016

Somehow, late August rolled around again, and with it the Perth 10k, my local race. Steve took over the organisation of this one a few years ago, so it’s become a race I simply expect to do each year rather than plan to do, and this year was no exception, even if I do leave it fairly late to enter!
(If you’re interested, you can also read about my previous experiences of this race in 2015, 2014 and 2013, as well as on the previous route in 2012 and 2011).

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Race logistics meant that registration was closing a while before the race start, so I opted to head down first thing to collect my race number and T-shirt then go back home to have some breakfast and get changed at a leisurely pace. That meant I could go back down with enough time to nip to the loo, chat to some folk and simply race without lots of hanging around. Although a little overcast, it was shaping up to be a warm day so I opted for my favourite Under Armour running skirt, an Under Armour vest (that’s a tank to my American friends!) and my trusty Ultra Boosts.

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Arriving at the North Inch, everything went pretty much as expected: I found my dad (recently home from sunnier climes), spotted a number of people I know from the local running “scene” and grimaced through one of those tedious mass warmups that I hate – there’s just never enough space! Soon enough though, we were heading towards the start line where I snapped a quick picture before making sure I was all ready to run.

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The route has been fixed for a few years now so I knew exactly where I was going: around one side of the Inch, up the riverside path then cutting off to follow the road through a housing estate before rejoining the riverside path to retrace our steps to the finish. Flat, fast (on a still day) and good for a PB if the training and conditions are right. My original plan had been to run hard and see what happened, however my over-exuberance at parkrun the day before meant I wasn’t as well rested as I would have liked. I set off at a nippy pace, but around halfway my body began to remind me quite insistently that I had already run hard that weekend and should maybe slow down. As well as my body feeling tired, it was getting pretty warm too so backing off was inevitable.

During the first part of the race I had been listening to my running playlist, however when we headed out into the housing estate we had been asked to remove our earphones in order to hear any instructions over the traffic. I can run quite happily without my music, I just usually prefer to use the time when I’m running to catch up on podcasts or enjoy the chance to listen to music. But on this particular occasion, I was enjoying the distraction so had to come up with something else to occupy my mind for the mile or so stretch I would be alone with my own thoughts. My solution? To “do a Paula”. No, not that way, I mean to count! Paula Radcliffe famously counts to 100 repeatedly and knows that after doing that a certain number of times, another mile will have passed. I found it to be a pretty good distraction and it helped me to keep in a rhythm, the only problem was my poor English teacher brain kept losing track of how many hundreds I’d counted, so I’ve no idea what I actually counted to! Still, it’s a strategy I may use again in future, perhaps in those tough final miles of a marathon when all I want is to be finished.

Soon enough, I was back on the riverside path and decided to put my earphone (I only use one side) back in and listen to music before I descended into a ridiculous level of counting. My favourite tunes, combined with being on the home straight, helped me to pick up the pace a bit again, however with about a mile to go my stomach suddenly became a bit sore. I’ve never had this before but am guessing it was simply a symptom of running hard on a warm day as a short walking break (something I would never normally do in a race) helped clear it really quickly and I ran strongly to the finish line.

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All things considered, I’m pretty happy with my finish time of 51:48. Still about a minute and a half slower than my PB, but I really wasn’t targeting the race and did myself no favours by running fast the day before. It was faster than last year though, so that’s a bonus!

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Swag for this race includes a T-shirt (issued at registration) and a medal. No other goodies except a bottle of water at the finish, but that’s fine with me as I don’t need anything else when I’m so close to home.

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After finishing I hung around for a while chatting to folk, but then headed home while Steve wrapped everything up at the race site. When he arrived home we did get ourselves a little treat, which the cat was DEFINITELY interested in. Honestly, she’s after just about everything I eat these days, the wee monkey!

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I definitely think I could go sub-50 over 10k, but this wasn’t the day. Still, it was another successful event and I look forward to next year. If Perth is close to you, you should definitely consider entering.

Currently…(June 2016)

Despite my best intentions, I’ve just not managed to write as many posts as I would like recently, so I thought this would be an ideal time to fill you in on what I’ve been up to lately…

Running
Since my recovery from the Paris marathon, I’ve been pretty sensible about my running. I decided to stick with the three runs per week that I was doing during my post-inury return to running, rather than the four I’ve scheduled previously. My thinking is that if I had an injury based on repetitive high-impact, then reducing that impact would be a good idea. Those three runs all have a different focus so that I can continue to build my fitness and gradually stretch my mileage a bit again (I don’t want a sudden leap in mileage as that will inevitably result in some kind of bodily breakdown). At the moment that means a tempo effort during the week, parkrun on a Saturday to get some speed in my legs and a longer, slower run on a Sunday to build endurance. I’ve probably been guilty in the past of running too fast on my long runs, so I’m really focusing on keeping that pace down and running comfortably. My parkrun times have come down and I’m almost back to where I was pre-injury; my longer runs are up to 8 miles, although I know I could easily do at least 10 and I’m generally running 4-5 miles comfortably hard during the week. In terms of racing, I ran the Great Women’s 10k in early June and have a couple of summer 5k races on the horizon, but other than that it’s been good to just run with no pressure of time or distance to constrain me.

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Training
The change from four runs per week to three was part of a complete overhaul of my training plans. When I thought about what I had been doing in the past, I realised that there was just too much impact on my body: four runs, one or two Metafit classes and a PT session which involved lots of hopping drills. There were very few days with low/no impact and that had to change. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and consulted with Steve over some of the details, to arrive at my new weekly plan:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – tempo run
Wednesday – bike intervals at the gym or a cycle
Thursday – run specific PT session plus ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest day
Saturday – parkrun plus hatha yoga
Sunday – long slow run

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a couple of yoga sessions in there, something new to my weekly routine. Yoga didn’t feature in my goals for the year, but I’ve believed for a while that adding yoga to my training might be really beneficial to boost my flexibility (especially around my hips) as well as strength and balance. I began a weekly ashtanga class at the start of May at a local yoga studio and am absolutely loving it. I can already see some differences in my flexibility and can’t wait to see how much more I progress. Recently, a friend of mine completed her yoga teacher training and has started a Saturday morning hatha class at her studio. Since I felt that one yoga session wasn’t quite enough, I decided to go along to that as the timing is perfect to grab a quick shower and change after parkrun then head along. I’ve found the combination of parkrun followed by a really good stretch in yoga feels fantastic and helps me to recover before my Sunday run. In an ideal world I’d like to do much more yoga during my summer break from school, so fingers crossed that works out for me. So far this new training plan has felt really good. A bit of me misses that fourth run, but I also know that this is best for my body and it makes me enjoy my other runs all the more.

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Listening
Regular readers know that I’ve become a big fan of podcasts. I listen to the Tough Girl podcast on my Tuesday run and Marathon Talk on my longer Sunday run (if you see me laughing during my run, that will be why!). I also like to listen to podcasts in the car on my way home from work so am always on the lookout for something else I might like. Recently I began listening to the Runner’s Connect Run to the Top podcast hosted by elite athlete Tina Muir and have really enjoyed it so far. The interviewees are really informative and it’s been interesting to get a bit of an insight into the training of an elite along the way.

Celebrating
So many celebrations recently, ranging from a number of significant birthdays in Steve’s family to the imminent retinal of one of my colleagues. This month also sees Steve and I celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. That’s right, we’ve managed to put up with each other for six whole years filled with madcap schemes and some utter lunacy like Steve “doing a hairy” and my 4 races in one weekend adventure. We’ve not done anything truly mad in a while, preferring to be a bit middle-aged and talk about things like garden sheds, lawn mowers and watering the freshly laid lawn at our new house, but I’m sure we’ll come up with something else crazy soon!

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Planning
With the end of the school year almost within touching distance, it’s time to start thinking about the summer and all the possibilities it offers. We’re making plans for our trip to Florida, plans for the house and plans for our ongoing training. It’s not been an easy year, and I really can’t wait until I can lie on my sun lounger with the pool in front of me, sun above me and my Kindle in my hand. Bliss!

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What have you been up to lately?
Any exciting plans for the summer?

Race Report – Great Women’s 10k 2016

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The Women’s 10k is one of my favourite events in the race calendar. I first took part in 2013 then returned in 2014 for a PB, however couldn’t manage last year as the date just didn’t work out for me around my other training/racing commitments. This year, however, the date moved from mid-May to early June, and with nothing else in particular to train for, I thought I’d give it a go. I knew I was nowhere near 10k PB form, but I also thought it would be a useful benchmark of where I am right now (as well as a chance to earn a bit of bling!). I left it fairly late, only signing up a couple of weeks in advance, and my race pack only arrived two days before the race, but these days I’m reluctant to sign up for races too far ahead, just in case!

As well as the change of date, there was also a change of route this year, so it was exciting to see how that would work out. Instead of running through residential streets and a couple of Glasgow’s parks, the route would now begin near the University (my alma mater), making its way down to the riverside then snaking back again. Like the previous route it would be almost a loop, starting and finishing at different sides of a park. Knowing Glasgow, I knew this would mean a fairly steady uphill to get from the river back to the university and so a good test of my fitness.

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With the race due to start at 10:30am, an 8am departure from Perth was in order. Steve was originally going to drive me through however amid some logistical wrangling to allow him to fit in a run too, I was offered a lift through with some other runners I know so decided to go with them and let Steve have his run. We met at the Park & Ride not far from my house and set off for Glasgow, chatting all the way as we had not all seen each other for ages, which made the journey pass quickly.

Soon, we arrived in Glasgow and parked right by the building I used to have my lectures in! We were meeting someone else there, so there was time to pop to a well-known coffee chain for a pitstop before sorting ourselves out and walking the 10 minutes down to the race start where we joined the toilet queue then headed off into the park to find the bag drop. It was forecast to be a warm day, but under the shade of the trees it still felt a bit cool as we walked back to get into our starting wave.

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In the past, participants have been assigned to a wave based on their predicted finishing time. This has usually seen me in the front wave with my predictions of below 1 hour (this race attracts a lot of first-timers and groups just looking for a fun day out). This year, that changed with the novel idea of “musical” start waves. Instead of time-based waves, participants could pick a wave based on the music they would like to set off to – 80s, 90s & 2000+ – as well as a “time focus” wave for those wanting to take things a bit more seriously. We were all in the time focus wave, but even then we soon realised that this would mean runners of all different abilities would be in every wave, meaning that there would likely be a bit of weaving to get started.

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There was, of course, one of those awful mass warm-ups where 5000-odd participants attempt to join in whilst squeezed into a space the size of a postage stamp! It’s a wonder we didn’t all end up with squished toes as we jumped around and tried in vain to follow the instructors who were on a raised platform just slightly too far away. Still, it passed the time and the choice of music was good. There was then a few more minutes to wait as the course was checked one last time, then some intense music was played to get us all focused and excited before the horn sounded.

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Unsurprisingly, the start was a little crowded and I did notice a few women who began walking within the first kilometre, causing a bit of weaving. The first couple of miles were undulating, with a few out and back sections. The temperature was rising, but there was a fair amount of shade and I kept a decent pace, feeling pretty comfortable. But the closer we got to the river, the hotter it became and from halfway we were running in direct sunshine (which was also reflecting off the water) with no respite. I had been averaging around 8:30 per mile, but this soon began to slow as I got hotter and hotter. I grabbed some water at 6k, drank some and poured the rest down my back to cool me down a bit.

Around 8k there was a bit more shade and the welcome sight of a water mister. A few runners avoided it, but I made a bee-line straight for it, knowing it would be refreshing and give me a bit of a boost for the last of the race. As I ran through the mist all I could hear was the other runners around me letting out grunts and sighs of relief as the cool water hit their warm skin. It fogged up my sunglasses a bit, but it was definitely worth it!

From there, we had to gradually make our way back up hill again. There were also some more switchbacks and out and back sections which sometimes made it difficult to work out if the runners you could see heading the opposite way were ahead or behind. Fortunately, there were also lots of spectators along this part of the course shouting encouragement to keep us going.

With all the twists and turns, I could hear the finish before I could see it, but eventually turned a corner to be faced with one last uphill burst to the finish. I crossed the line in 54:23, with one of the other women I travelled with just a few seconds behind me. Given the conditions, I had expected to be around 54 minutes and I found the second half really tough with the heat, hills and a headwind that felt like running into a hairdryer! I did see someone in a social media group comment that they didn’t find it particularly hilly, but my data begs to differ:

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On a cooler day it probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much, but we Scots aren’t really conditioned to running in the heat as the weather is so changeable. I have been running in warmer weather, but not racing, so that made a difference for me. Still, I was 511th out of around 4750 finishers and 110th out of around 1000 in my age category. Can’t be too upset with that!

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Our group had pre-arranged a meeting point and had no trouble finding each other. There was lots on offer in the park including food trucks, massages and yoga sessions which sounded pretty tempting, but we were keen to get home so after a group photo we collected our bags and headed back to the car. One last coffee chain pitstop for the road and we were on our way.

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Lovely view of the University from the park

Once home, it was time for the requisite check of the goody bag: water, Lucozade, food, foil blanket (DEFINITELY not needed!), multivitamin sample, magazine, leaflets.

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And of course the medal and T-shirt, which this year was a tech T-shirt instead of the previous cotton ones (side note: despite being a women-only race, the T-shirts were unisex so my small will still be fairly roomy)

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I’m not yet sure how I feel about the new course. On the day, we all agreed we found it tougher than the old one, although it was also a much hotter day which had an impact. I think a part of me missed running through the leafy parks and there were also some parts where the support was a bit sparser compared to the residential areas we used to go through. I’m also not sure about the musical waves. It’s a nice idea for those out to have fun, but for those looking to get a good time (which could be anything from 35 minutes to 2 hours depending on the individual) this setup may not be the most conducive as each wave seemed to have the same range of pacers. That said, the event was very well organised, the start/finish areas were well signposted, the marshals and other staff were very good and the goody bags were decent. Overall, I think the race is good value for money and would have no objections to taking part again. In fact, entries for next year are already open if you fancy it…!

Friday Finds – 5th February

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

How’s your running going this winter? Perhaps you’ve been hitting the streets in all weathers or perhaps you’ve found yourself either missing runs or heading for the treadmill instead. For me, running outside is always far preferable, but there can still be a place for the treadmill e.g. when the weather is such that to head out would be dangerous or, as at present, when I’m coming back from injury and looking to play it safe. To my mind, heading out in the fresh air is far superior. Surely being in the great outdoors, running on a variety of terrains and taking in the scenery must be of greater benefit than the unvarying surface and views of the average treadmill? And it seems that Michael Mosley, writing for the BBC, agrees with me. But as he points out, the best kind of running is the kind you will stick to, so if the treadmill is your thing, keep going!

Another story which caught my eye on the BBC website surrounded a very intriguing 10k race in Moldova. Imagine running around 100m underground, guided only by a head torch and with no fresh air to breathe, just the heady scent of more than a million bottles of wine. If that sounds like your kind of thing, then this race is for you…you even get a mulled wine at the end for your efforts!

Having recently listened to an interview with ultra runner Susie Chan, I followed with interest as she took on the 12-hour treadmill record. As you know, I love to see stories of positive female role models, so was thrilled to learn that Chan beat the previous unofficial record and earned herself a place in the record books.

A more unlikely source for running-related articles is Business Insider, yet that’s exactly where my next pick comes from. Taking the oft-quoted point of view that running is a cheap sport, the writer examines some of the true costs incurred by running competitively, as well as sharing some of the free benefits of the sport. I’ve often thought it would be interesting to add up just how much my “cheap” sport costs me per year when race entries, kit and new shoes are added up, but to be honest I’m a bit scared to see the result! Still, there are far more unhealthy ways I could be spending my money, so for now I’ll not think about it too much!

And finally, a friend recently sent me the link to this listicle on Buzzfeed. I don’t know about you, but it certainly seems to sum up many of my thoughts on running!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 15th January

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

So once more it’s been a Big Week in athletics, with the publication of the second part of the WADA report into alleged doping. You have no doubt seen some of the extensive coverage of the report over the last few days, but if not then the following article provides a neat roundup of how various newspapers responded. Most noticeable, is the treatment of current IAAF president Lord Coe:

Prior to the publication of the report on Thursday, UK Athletics put forward a number of proposals to help clean up the sport. The proposal which attracted the most controversy was the one suggesting a “clean sheet” for world records, which would effectively mean all existing records would be cancelled. There are, no doubt, records which have been set by athletes who were doping and it’s only fair that they no longer receive credit for those performances, however there are also plenty of records which have been set by clean athletes and it seems unfair that they should have those feats “cancelled” due to others not playing by the rules. It seems that the intention in publishing these proposals was to provoke debate, and debate is certainly taking place, with marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe putting up strong opposition. This will certainly be an interesting debate to follow in the coming weeks, as any decision will likely have a huge impact on the future of athletics.

But I don’t want this post to be taken over by all the negative news of the week, so let’s take a look at some other things that caught my eye.

An interesting story published today surrounds food labelling. Opinions are constantly changing as to the best advice to give with regard to what we eat, however I was interested in the idea presented today by the Royal Society of Public Health. This latest proposal by the health body is to introduce new labelling on foods which would show how much activity would be required to burn off the calories in the product. Now while I know that health and fitness is not as simple as “calories in and calories out” and that telling people how many minutes of running would be needed to burn off a bar of chocolate does not necessarily equate to that activity actually taking place, I still wonder if presenting the calorie content in this manner might go some way to making a difference in people’s choices. It would make for an intriguing study.

More heartening news came from the This Girl Can campaign which was launched a year ago. Figures published by Sport England suggest that the campaign is having an impact, with more women now exercising regularly and crediting the campaign with motivating them to do so. Even more encouraging is the news that the campaign has been talked about on social media every single day since it’s launch in January of last year. That’s a lot of #thisgirlcan hashtags and having been a fan of the campaign from the start, I think this is fantastic news.

And finally, if all the doom and gloom of January is beginning to catch up with you, here’s some interesting news for runners (and would-be runners) who enjoy the odd “adult beverage”. A new 10k event in Glasgow this September will offer participants samples of wine rather than water at the aid stations. I wouldn’t normally advocate drinking wine whilst running (although I have to say the Marathon du Médoc holds a certain appeal…) but I may be tempted to give this one a go. Anyone else?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess