Friday Finds – 9th 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.

Friday again and what a difference a week makes when it comes to the weather! After last week’s epic snow there’s now just a hint of spring in the air – perhaps I’ll be back in my running shorts again soon…

However it was a sad start to the week with the news that running legend Roger Bannister had passed away. His historic breaking of the 4-minute mile was a pivotal moment in the history of the sport, so unsurprisingly many articles have been written about him in recent days. I thought I would share a few of them:

As the week drew to a close there was news from another running legend, this time much happier. As if I wasn’t already excited enough about watching this year’s London Marathon, it has now been announced that pioneer of women’s running Kathrine Switzer is to take part in the 2018 event. This will actually be the first time Switzer has taken part in this iconic event and I can’t wait to follow her progress on race day.

Moving to a different topic now and one close to my heart – food! We’ve long been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and now Alex Hutchinson of Sweat Science is here with a bit of scientific evidence to prove that our energy is better when we shift more of our calorie consumption to breakfast time. Sounds pretty good to me!

Next up, as an injury-prone runner I really connected with this piece from Motiv Running. Having an injury that prevents you from doing the thing that you love can really affect how you feel about lots of things, and I remember back in 2014 I struggled with a lengthy injury and began to wonder if I would ever be able to run again. What did that mean? Could I still call myself a runner? Who was I? These are the kinds of questions examined by Hillary Allen in her meditation on life as an injured runner.

And finally, always a sucker for a story featuring cute animals, here’s a great one about how rescuing a dog helped one runner to find the motivation to run again after one injury too many. I’ve never tried running with a dog but it looks like such good fun!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess


Week In Review – The Final Countdown!

I made it! As I write this the school year is over at long last and I’m settling into “holiday mode”. Read on for a bit more about life and training in the last week of term as I join Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for their weekly linkup.

As usual, I followed my established routine for the week (for the most part):

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

On Monday I was feeling pretty exhausted. My brain was fried from the demands of the year, especially my recent exam marking which is enjoyable but takes a lot of brain power. I was also a bit daunted by everything I had to do in order to move classroom before the end of term. Getting into the pool for some gentle lengths was exactly what I needed, and I took it fairly easily as my whole being has been screaming out for rest! My swim always makes me feel refreshed though, so it was a worthwhile visit.

Admittedly, the last thing I felt like doing on Tuesday was a set of bike reps, however I also knew that this was the last set of reps before heading away on holiday and a repeat of last week‘s set. The knowledge that it was the last one and that I had successfully completed the same workout the week before gave me enough motivation to get to the gym and work my way through the reps. Finishing felt like such an accomplishment! After hitting the mats for some stretching and mobility work, I headed to the sauna to relax and unwind for a bit.

Last week I skipped my Wednesday run partly to allow the tightness in my right leg to settle and partly because I had a prior commitment. This week my leg was much better, but it still didn’t seem like the best idea to be doing a set of hill reps. Instead, I decided on a short run, but somehow getting myself home from work and organised for a run seemed to take forever. I was definitely procrastinating, but knew a run would make me feel much better. I told myself I could either run a 2.5 mile loop or a 3.5 mile loop – one meant turning right at the bottom of the road and the other left. Of course as soon as I got to the bottom of the road I was settling into the run and turned left for the 3.5 mile loop. This left me feeling energised for the remainder of the evening.

Thursday was the day I had been waiting for – the end of term! It was a half day and I headed into school knowing that I could get the classroom move sorted out quite quickly. I had already packed up the contents of both my classroom and the one I was moving into, so simply gathered a crack team of movers (pretty much any pupil who turned up in my classroom!) and got the whole thing done really quickly. I still have to go and sort out where I want everything, but that can wait until later in the holidays.  By the time we finished up at lunchtime I had already taken over 7000 steps just from marching up and down the stairs with boxes! I spent the afternoon getting a few things organised at home before heading to my Ashtanga yoga class. I LOVED the class this week. I don’t know if it was that end of term feeling or if it was something else, but it just felt really good. I mentioned it to my teacher who said that she had felt it too – like everything just flowed really well that night. I guess sometimes you just get classes like that. Whatever it was, it was such a nice way to begin the holidays.

On Friday morning I had intended to sleep a bit longer, but my body had other ideas, pre-programmed as it is right now to wake early. Still, being up gave me the chance to do some tidying and organise my life a bit before heading to the gym to relax in the hot tub and sauna before taking care of some pre-holiday errands. A relaxing day made that night’s meal with Steve even more enjoyable!

Saturday was in some ways a little different. Steve headed off to Edinburgh to get organised for his Ironman 70.3 the following day, while I headed to parkrun where I was the 27 minute pacer. Once more I was a little fast, finishing in 26:46, but I know I helped some people so that was great. It was a really busy parkrun and we got a new attendance record of 295 runners!

After getting showered and changed I walked to the hairdresser for my holiday haircut and reached my step goal on the way back home. That brings me to a full year of reaching my step goal and that makes me really happy. More about that in my forthcoming update on my 7 goals for 2017.

I also took delivery of the medal from a virtual race I had signed up for. Wonder Woman is ALWAYS going to sell it to me!

The rest of my day was pretty relaxing, then Steve arrived home (complete with sliced hand from a sharp rock he got up close and personal with whilst checking out the swim course!) in time to eat then he had to get the last of his gear ready for an early start on Sunday.

I declined the chance to leave with him at 4:30am (!!!), instead getting a couple more hours of sleep all snuggled in with the cat. We had worked out that there was little point in me being at the swim start as it would be so hard to actually spot Steve or work out what was going on and much more interesting to watch the bike and run. After some checking of various options, I got the first train to Edinburgh at 8:50am and walked the short distance to the finish area at Holyrood Park (where the 5k and 10k of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival take place).

I arrived just in time to see the first finisher cross the line then battled for a bit with the online tracker to try and work out where Steve might be. In the end I discovered that there were some problems with that tracker and found another one that was a bit more helpful. Having established that Steve was out on the bike course (I was afraid I might have missed his transition to the run) I watched the first female finisher as well as the podium ceremonies (I got a bit too close to the women’s one and got splashed with champagne – cue me spending the rest of the day smelling of alcohol!).

I then made my way back over to the transition area and was able to spot Steve coming in then got some photos a few minutes later when he emerged from the transition tent.

The run course was three laps but I sought some shelter from passing showers during Steve’s first lap then caught him on the second.

There was then just enough time for a cup of tea (the weather had by this time completely forgotten that it’s July and I had several tops on!) before taking up my position to get a photo of his finish – a respectable 6:19:48!

I have to say, it was a bit strange watching the event. I knew the swim had been shortened due to the weather conditions and the bike course certainly wasn’t for the fainthearted, so spent the first part of my spectating thinking NOPE, not for me. But the more I watched delighted athletes crossing the line (and of course I was watching running, a familiar discipline) the more I thought “maybe one day…” and now feel inspired to refocus on my swimming again as I feel my progress here has stalled a bit. What I’m doing complements my running well enough, but it could still be much better. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring there…

Would you ever try a 70.3 triathlon?
What sporting event scares you the most?

Week In Review – Are We There Yet?

The last full week of the school year (the final week is shorter as we finish on Thursday lunchtime) was a busy one with a day out of school on a course, a school show to see, and the initial preparations for a move of classroom. What with all that and my decision to ease off on running for a few days to help settle the issue in my right leg, I feel like I didn’t train as much even though realistically I only missed one midweek run! As usual, linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for my weekly roundup.

Having already made the decision not to run midweek, my schedule looked like this:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 4-5 miles

The week began with me out of school for a one day course. Next session I’m going to be taking on the role of supporter/mentor for a probationer teacher and needed to attend a training course to learn more about the role and the various things that need to happen for that probationer to become a fully registered teacher at the end of the year. The course itself was really interesting, but I must admit that at this point in the year it was an awful lot of new information to take in and the room we were in was pretty warm. Still, I did have the additional advantage of being able to head straight home afterwards rather than get caught up in anything else so was in the pool by 5pm swimming my lengths. It did feel really refreshing after being so warm all day and I felt much better when I got home so decided to head out for a walk after dinner (it was a lovely evening and I still had some steps to get to reach my 10,000 target!). I’m so lucky to have this practically on my doorstep:

On Tuesday I had 20 reps of my bike intervals to do. Regular readers may remember that each cycle goes up to 20 reps before changing, so this is the peak of the current cycle. I chose the same bike as last week and started out very interested to see how my leg would feel. Interestingly, this week’s 20 reps felt easier than last week’s 18, so clearly the extra rest made a difference, which I found encouraging. I then followed this up with some mobility work and stretching before squeezing in a quick sauna to finish off.

Wednesday’s rest day came at quite a fortuitous time as I decided this would be the day that would best suit me to go and see our school show, Billy Elliot. We have been very lucky to get the rights to stage the schools’ version of the show and are the only school in the country to have the honour. Two boys were cast as Billy and performed on alternate nights so each had two shows. I have to say, I knew we had some talented pupils but watching the cast sing, dance and act to highly professional standards was phenomenal. They were in turns funny, dramatic and emotive, with me almost in tears at one part. It was just amazing and I felt so proud of them all, but particularly the ones I knew from my recent senior classes who have grown into fine young people ready to move onto the next stage of their lives. Sob!

I’m incredibly glad I had the chance to see the show, but my goodness I was tired on Thursday after the later night! Thankfully I had my Ashranga class that evening and it was just what I needed to stretch out and relax. I DEFINITELY drifted off during the relaxation this week!

Friday was another rest day. I was heading off for a post-school coffee with my colleagues and a former colleague who retired this time last year. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and we headed to the cafe at a nearby fruit farm. I really enjoyed my tea and peanut butter slice (yum) but couldn’t resist getting a punnet of strawberries to take home as well.

Having done lots of mobility work through the week to sort out the tightness in my right leg, things were feeling much improved. There was no longer any tightness at all in my calf and just a slight sensation of it around the back of my knee so I decided to go ahead with parkrun so I would have a comparison with last week. After a week off running my legs, of course, set off at a suicidal pace which I had to reign in, but there were no issues with my leg this time and I was pleased to finish in 24:15 – better than I expected and not too far off where my fitness has been recently. Very encouraging.

Saturday Hatha yoga classes are finished for the summer, but I did devote some time throughout the remainder of the day to further mobility work so I can finally overcome this issue in my leg and get back to some longer runs. No yoga did mean I could join Steve for a post-parkrun coffee and bacon croissant though 🙂

Since everything had felt ok on Saturday, a Sunday run was back on the agenda so long as I kept the distance down to between 4 and 5 miles. Steve set out early for his final big training session before Ironman 70.3 next weekend and I had a more leisurely start before heading out on a loop which I thought would be about the right distance. It turned out to be 4.8 miles which was perfect and my leg still felt ok when I was running so all the work I’ve been doing has clearly helped. It was a bit cloudy but I still felt warm so did all my post-run stretching in the garden – including legs up the wall, which this week was legs up the fence! I’ll not manage a run next Sunday, but hopefully things are getting back to normal for me now.

So that’s another week over. Listening to my body and taking the extra rest has made a difference and hopefully I won’t need to miss any more runs. Fingers crossed that by the time I return from my holiday later in July my body will be ready to ramp up the training again as I get ready for the Loch Ness marathon.

How has your training been recently?
What sessions make you feel strong?

PS Did you see my posts for Tough Girl Challenges this week? I wrote a piece for National Writing Day to encourage more women to have a go at blogging and make their voices heard (you can read that here) and a piece encouraging others to take up running as part of Women’s Sport Week (which you can read here).

Week In Review – A Bit Of A Battle

Sometimes running is brilliant: you glide along effortlessly and complete every workout with ease. Other times running is tough: your legs feel like lead weights and even an easy run seems difficult. Writing a weekly roundup means I can get a balance of both, sharing the good weeks and the not so good weeks. Most of this year so far has gone well, but as we approach the end of the school year and I find myself both physically and mentally exhausted, the chances are much higher that I’ll have a tough week. I’ve been feeling the creeping tiredness for a couple of weeks now, but to be honest this past week has been a real battle so I need to listen carefully to my body and adjust my training for the next couple of weeks to account for that. Read on to find out more as I link up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share more.

If you’re a regular reader then you’ll spot the changes in the plan for the last week straight away:

Mondayswim sports massage
Tuesday – bike intervals @ the gym + swim
Wednesdayhill reps easy run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + Hatha yoga
Sunday8 miles rest

The change on Monday was expected. I had my monthly sports massage booked and knew I could only fit a swim in beforehand if I was away from work sharp. But this week we had an after school meeting so there was no chance! My legs have been feeling a bit weary so I was looking forward to the massage and certainly felt fresher afterwards.

On Tuesday I felt pretty tired. I probably hadn’t slept enough and at this point in the year I really need as much rest as I can get. My bike intervals were a repeat of last week‘s workout and I headed to the gym a little unsure of how I would perform, but ultimately able to complete the set. I then slotted in a quick swim afterwards. No time to relax in the sauna or anything this week as I wanted to get straight home and log into the marking system so I could catch up on some work there, but due to some ongoing problems with the system I had to wait.

Despite needing to sleep, I decided on an early start on Wednesday to finish my exam marking. By the time I got to the end of my working day I felt exhausted and knew that hill reps would be a mistake this week. Instead I opted for an easy run, but even that was a struggle. I was warm, tired and could feel a niggling tightness in my right calf that just wasn’t settling down. Even worse, something happened that I rarely have any bother with: I got heckled. I’m confident enough in my running not to let that bother me, but it still made me angry that some yobs (who were frankly behaving in a dangerous manner weaving around a busy road on their bikes, causing drivers to take action to avoid hitting them) thought it was ok to ride by me and shout abusive comments about my running just to amuse themselves. I know this happens to many runners much more frequently and I’m lucky that most people around here are very supportive of runners and cyclists, but it is NEVER ok to behave in this way. Fuming already, I was tipped over the edge when I got to the bottom of the hill leading to our street and while waiting to cross the road a driver wolf-whistled at me. Seriously? Again, not acceptable. It was a warm day so I was wearing shorts and what I wear is MY decision based on being comfortable, not an invitation for someone to objectify me. These events, combined with the emerging issue in my calf, put me in a bad mood for the rest of the night.


Trying not to look too angry for my selfie!

Thursday brought me a much-needed moment of calm with my Ashtanga yoga class. I really needed the time to focus on myself and reset both body and mind. My right calf was still tight, but stretching it out in yoga felt good.

I rounded off the work week with a rest day. The cat had a checkup at the vet on Friday and I just didn’t have the energy for any more – apart from anything else I had completely lost my mind and agreed to mark some additional exam papers which were now available to me and I wanted to get a start on them. It felt so good to have the work week finished and enjoy our Friday night meal out!

On Saturday morning my calf felt OK (Steve had been helping me to work through some mobility exercises to target the source issue) so I decided to give parkrun a go. Everything felt fine in a warmup jog and as the run began my legs wanted to go quite quickly. Sadly, it didn’t last. Within about half a mile I could feel the tightness creeping in again so backed off the pace and kept my mind tuned in to my leg so I could monitor how it felt. Weirdly, the tight spots kept moving around (Steve later explained that this is because I’m feeling tension deep in the leg in my peroneal muscles, but it’s stemming from an imbalance in how my body is moving on that side right now). I was able to finish the run, but my pace just got slower and slower as I was feeling like the plug had been pulled put. Yet despite my feeling that I had run badly, whilst waiting to have my barcode scanned another runner complimented me on what a “lovely runner” I was. It just goes to show that even when everything feels awful, it doesn’t always show in your form!


I wasn’t in a “jumping shot” kind of mood!

After parkrun I had the final Saturday morning Hatha yoga class until August. I let my teacher know that I had an issue with my right calf, but to be honest the postures we did felt good and helped to ease the tension. Once home I completed my exam marking then went for a nap. For TWO HOURS! That just shows how exhausted I am right now. I only woke up because Steve shouted to say that my dinner was ready! I then enjoyed a relaxing evening catching up with some TV before bed.

During that tough parkrun I made the decision that Sunday should be a rest day. No point in running further given I had problems in a 5k – much better to rest and resolve the issue quickly rather than escalating the problem so I can’t run for ages.

Steve headed out for a brick session for his half ironman training and I tidied up a few things around the house before walking down to the gym for a relaxing sauna to help me chill out. I was already feeling better from having a bit more sleep and even my leg felt improved from the rest.

Later in the afternoon it was a visit to my parents since it was not only Fathers’ Day, but they are about to head out to Florida again. We haven’t visited them in a few weeks since I’ve been marking and even though we’ll be joining them in Florida shortly after they arrive, it was good to catch up on a few things. We sat in the garden since the weather was good and dad even brought out the beers. Check out the koozie he put mine in!

Looking ahead, I know I need to dial back the training through the remaining two weeks of term so that I can run strongly through the the summer and get my body ready for my Autumn marathon. I’ll let you know next week how it’s all going, although I’m feeling optimistic that the issue in my right calf can be easily and quickly resolved.

What are your summer training plans?
How do you know when it’s time to back off training?

‘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!


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.


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
  2. Running my first ever sub-2 hour half marathon at Aviemore in 2012
  3. Topping the podium for the first time ever when I won my age group at the Cool Summer Mornings 5k in 2013
  4. Running my marathon PB in Paris in 2014
  5. That time I ran 4 races in one weekend at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015
  6. Finishing as second female and ninth overall!) in the Caped Crusader 5k in 2016

‘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
  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!
    Aviemore 09
  3. My first ever marathon – Paris in 2010
    First marathon - Paris 2010
  4. My first ever experience of the Paris Breakfast Run in 2014

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!
IMG_5170 IMG_5175








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.


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:


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.

img_0659 img_0662
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.


Scan 2 227815_10150188088198176_2925263_n

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!


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
  2. Wearing my kilt for both the Perth Kilt Run and the Paris Breakfast Run








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!








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).

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 !

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
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.

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!


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…!

Currently…(October 2016)

It’s been an interesting few weeks. I completed a training cycle (without actually running the race I was training for!), identified a core weakness to address and had a much-needed break from school to regroup a bit and make some plans for the final months of 2016. Here’s a bit of a roundup of what I’ve been up to lately:

No, not like that! I mean a very different kind of streak! In my August update I mentioned that I had spent my summer walking a great deal, having set myself the challenge of reaching an ever-increasing step goal set by my fitness tracker every day. Returning to the classroom at the start of the new school year, I was determined to continue being more active and ensure I didn’t return to being “actively sedentary” as I know this just isn’t good for me physically or mentally. However I did know that continuing aiming for a goal that would increase every time I reached it would soon become ridiculous, and I would find myself wandering around at all hours of the day in order to “get enough steps” so reset my tracker to a fixed goal of 10,000 steps per day as this is widely publicised as being the ideal minimum for a healthy heart (it’s also worth 5 points per day with my insurance provider and those points lead me to rewards like a free coffee every week, so I must admit that was a driving force behind my step goal also!).


Enjoying the autumn colours on a crisp morning walk

And so I made some subtle changes to my routine in order to be more active outside of my running: I got up slightly earlier each day in order to take a short walk before getting showered and dressed; I spent the first few minutes of my lunch break heading outside for a quick walk around the outside of the school; and I continued to avoid using my car (other than to drive to work, which is too far away for any other method of transport) when I could walk instead, or to park a little further away so I would have to walk a bit. I did end up with the occasional “late night constitutional” if circumstances had conspired to prevent me walking as much, but for the most part this meant that I would reach my step goal much more easily. As I write this, my current goal streak is 115 days and counting! It may become a bit more challenging as the weather gets more wintry, but I’m determined to keep this streak going for as long as I can.


I wouldn’t see something like this from the car!

Training has been scaled back a bit while I concentrate on strengthening my hip, but I’ve not exactly been resting on my laurels. Despite not running at Loch Ness, I still followed my usual post-marathon recovery plan as I had been looking forward to the down time at the end of a busy term. This meant that during the last two weeks of term I had one week off training completely (other than walking and yoga) and one week where I added some light cross training. After this point, I usually begin to re-introduce some running, but without any pressure of pace or distance. At the start of my break from school I felt ready to try a bit or running (I had physio approval for this) and so decided on my usual three runs per week, but making sure there was a least a day in between my runs (so no back-to-back days at the weekend).

I began really short with just 2.5 slow miles. This felt OK so I repeated the same route, marginally faster, a couple of days later before finishing my first week of returning to running with a slow parkrun (which was a bit soggy as I picked a particularly wet week to make my comeback!). This past week I ran 5k twice during the week before another parkrun, again allowing myself to go just a bit faster as my hip has been feeling much stronger.


Around all that I have continued with my weekly swim, a steady cycle (I’ll be reintroducing the bike intervals again shortly) and my weekly yoga as well as putting a real focus on strengthening my hip and glutes. I’ve been doing the exercises the physio gave me RELIGIOUSLY as well as working with a much stronger resistance band both on my own and in PT sessions with Steve. Things are feeling much more settled, and I know as long as I maintain my focus on keeping that area strong, I should be OK to keep gradually developing my running again.


All kinds of things! Having a break from work gave me a great opportunity to evaluate the training I have been doing and to give some consideration to how that will develop in the weeks ahead. Overall I was really happy with how I trained, so it was more a case of WHEN rather than WHAT I was going to do, as a term working within the new structure to our school day highlighted one or two difficulties in making my existing plan work as well as it could. During my time off I have constructed a new plan, taking into account not just my daily training but also how I intend to overtake my step goal each day while also allowing myself sufficient rest. I also, for the first time, gave greater thought to nutrition and came up with a template for a weekly meal plan for us to follow – nothing too prescriptive, just some thoughts on the kinds of things we could eat each day in order to maximise our health, complement our training and ensure a range of nutrients without relying too heavily on shop-bought meals. I’ll re-evaluate all of this again at the end of term and make any further tweaks necessary before putting a plan in place for the beginning of next year and the start of 2017 marathon training.

Don’t worry, there’s been plenty of relaxation too. This time of year sees the start of my favourite TV programme of the entire year – Strictly Come Dancing (known as Dancing with the Stars in many other countries). I’m a big fan and have never missed an episode, as well as seeing some of the pro dancers on tour over the last year or two. I have great fun every Saturday night following along on social media and exchanging texts with my mum and one or two other big fans I know to comment on each dance, the outfits or anything else we think important. There’s even a nightly sister show which delves deeper into the training, interviews the stars and features some other fun bits and pieces so I get my Strictly fix every day. One of my favourite things is to predict what the judges will say and the scores they will give each couple, as well as making my predictions for the eventual winner. I’ve become pretty good at scoring and my “armchair critic” credentials are second-to-none when it comes to comments too. Now if I could just become famous and wangle my way onto the show as a competitor…!


Two weeks off meant I also had a chance to catch up on some reading. I had loads of articles saved, some blogs to catch up on and, of course, the final book in my reading challenge for this year: War and Peace. By committing to reading a bit every day, I’ve made some headway and am now around 40% of the way through the book. I’m really enjoying the “peace” sections, but could probably do with a bit less “war”! Still, if I continue to read consistently then I should be able to finish it before the end of the year and accomplish something I’ve been intending to do for a long time!


What have you been up to lately?
What’s the longest/most challenging/most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

Reflections on Training

Back in June I wrote a little about how I had altered my training routine following the stress fracture I suffered towards the end of last year. Since then, I have mentioned on and off that I was making some changes, but I’ve never really written specifically about my training plan or reflected on its success. Today, I’m going to do just that.

First of all, a disclaimer: I’m not a qualified trainer or coach, I simply looked at the training I had been doing and made some decisions about what I should do next based on my experiences . What works for me might not suit someone else, and vice versa. I would always recommend chatting to a running coach or personal trainer to help you with an appropriate plan, as it’s important your plan suits you and your life, rather than you trying to shoehorn your life into the plan!

In the past I have always relied on Steve to write all my training plans and I have enjoyed what I have done. Each cycle would be different so my body wouldn’t get too used to the same thing, but there were some things that had become fixed features: 4 runs per week, a PT session and a Metafit class or two. When I had my stress fracture, none of this could happen. I swam more, used the bike at the gym more, and we adapted any PT sessions to focus on my upper body or to have no impact on my foot. Not running was frustrating, but I did enjoy my time in the pool and in the saddle.

Fast forward to February and I had the green light to start running again…sort of. My podiatrist recommended a VERY strict programme of run/walk intervals which would take me 10 sessions before I was running for 30 minutes straight. I was also only allowed to run 3 times per week rather than my usual 4. This worked for me and I continued to gradually rebuild my mileage alongside some cross training to boost my fitness ahead of the Paris marathon, which although not the race I had originally intended to have, was still a brilliant experience and taught me a lot about pacing and enjoying the journey.


It was once I made the decision to (secretly) sign up for the Loch Ness marathon that I realised the structure of my week was going to need some attention. I felt there was a pattern of injury which suggested that too much high impact work during the week (running, Metafit, drills) just didn’t suit me. I also knew that I tended to run my long runs too fast, meaning there wasn’t sufficient difference between that run and my run during the week. I figured that could be streamlined more to maximise my fitness and to give a real focus to every workout. I also wanted to build in more rest and (active) recovery, as well as minimising long midweek workouts during term time.

After a bit of back and forth with Steve trying to work out the best pattern, I settled on:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – tempo run (between 5k and 10k, averaging about 4-5 miles)
Wednesday – interval workout on the bike
Thursday – run-specific PT session followed by Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest day
Saturday – parkrun (basically a speed workout) followed by Hatha yoga
Sunday – long slow run

And for the most part, this worked for me. I felt I was fit, but without lots of high impact workouts all the time. The fact that I got my parkrun time right down close to what I previously thought was a “rogue” and unattainable PB was testament to that fitness. The bike intervals were developed each week so that overall I increased the resistance and the number of reps. This added to my fitness, made my legs feel strong and helped to keep my legs turning over at a higher cadence, all without any impact. Swimming gave me some active recovery the day after my long run and my flexibility definitely improved thanks to yoga. That flexibility also highlighted a weakness which I need to address, and which ultimately meant I did not run my race, but I’m looking on that as a positive thing since part of the idea behind training for an autumn marathon was to make my body stronger for my spring marathon training. Addressing the issue now should hopefully mean that I at least achieve the goal of being stronger in the spring. I may be short of one marathon medal, but I’m still pleased with how my training went and take solace in the fact that I didn’t get “injured” in the sense of doing any damage to my body, I simply discovered a weakness to work on.


Finding the ideal training plan is tough. You never know what obstacles life will throw in your way, nor can you really know how your body will respond to the demands of the programme. I think everything I did was right, I just missed out a bit more core strength work to complement what I was doing. With that in mind, I can now make some tweaks to my plan as I move forward.

Right now, my training is a little lower key. Allowing some recovery time after a training cycle is important, and realistically I was “only” 26.2 miles short of completing my plan. I took a full week off training in the week after our trip to Loch Ness, then followed that with a week of light cross training, as per the recovery plan I know works for me. Now, I’m using my school holiday to get back into the swing of training, but without any particular pressure or demand on what I’m doing. I’m gradually reintroducing running alongside continued work to strengthen my hip. I’m swimming, using the bike, going to yoga and walking lots.

And alongside all of that, I’m working on my new training plan. Aside from the workouts I do each day, I also have to look at WHEN I do those workouts as the structure to our school day has changed and now my daily routine feels a little bit different. After one term of working within that new structure, I now have a better idea of the time I have available each day and have been looking at how I can maximise that as well as ensuring I have enough “down time” to allow me to rest and recover. I have some ideas, so just need to put the finishing touches to the plan and see how that pattern works in the term up to the end of the year. Watch this space…!


How do you construct your training plans?
What are the key workouts you include in each training cycle?


Just three, seemingly innocuous, little letters.

D. N. S.

They could stand for anything you like:

Does Need Sleep.

Don’t Nag, Silly.

Danger: Now Sad…

We could play this game all day! But in running, those three innocuous little letters usually suggest a story, not of overcoming odds and vanquishing fears, but of disappointment and heartache.

Did. Not. Start.

As runners, it’s pretty inevitable that from time to time we’ll enter a race and then not take part, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we just don’t get the training done, sometimes life throws a spanner in the works, and sometimes, despite everything we do, our bodies work against us with illness or injury. In these situations a decision has to be made: can we carry on with adjusted race goals or do we give it a miss this time? Such a decision needs to be based on many factors, and for me it comes down to the consequences of going ahead with the race. I have to ask myself if racing will result in further time out of running and what value that race holds for me. It can be a hard decision to make, but ultimately no one else can tell you what to do.

And so, a confession: for months now I have been training. When people asked me that standard runner question, “what next? Any races coming up?” I would say something a bit vague about short races over the summer and Paris next spring. I listened with polite interest while people told me I needed a race to aim for and made half-hearted promises to look into various events. But that wasn’t entirely truthful. I pride myself on being a very honest person, indeed I use this blog to share my running and racing experiences as truthfully as I can, however I have been dishonest for months. I apologise for that. I was always going to come clean, but had my reasons for secrecy which I’ll discuss in another post. Still, I was keeping something from all but those who needed to know.

I was training for the 2016 Loch Ness Marathon. There. I’ve said it.

Right now, as I begin this post, that race is happening. Steve is over half way round the course, yet rather than approaching that same point myself, I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Inverness writing a blog post. I did not start. I didn’t even pick up my race pack. I’m fit enough and really wanted to do it, but on Friday evening made the difficult decision to sit this one out.

Training throughout the summer went really well. I’ve been trying out a new approach to my training (more on that to come) and was feeling good. I thought I might have a crack at a new marathon PB or perhaps even that sub-4 hour time I so desperately want. But then something went wrong.

The morning after the Perth 10k I felt a tightness in my left leg. It reminded me a bit of an IT band issue, but I haven’t been troubled with that since I first started running. I put it down to the fatigue of a hard parkrun followed by a 10k race. Throughout that week I worked with Steve to try and resolve the issue, ran an easier-paced parkrun on the Saturday and followed that up with a slow 16 mile run on the Sunday. There was still a slight tightness in the top of my leg, but not enough to make me feel I had to stop running. A few days later and with no real change, I decided it was time to see a physio as I feared a repeat of the strain I had in my quad in early 2015.

My usual physio was away teaching so I got an appointment with his wife instead. I’d never met her before but she was lovely. After conducting all kinds of tests and practically tying my legs in knots, she noted a greater range of motion in my left hip compared to my right. I had noticed this recently too, putting it down to yoga and feeling pleased that the hip which had previously been less mobile was now increasing in flexibility. I thought this was a positive thing, but in this case it seems to be at the heart of my problem.

The physio’s theory is that because I’ve increased the range of movement in my hip, it now has some “laxity” i.e. while it was strong in the range of movement it had, now it’s moving into further extremes that probably haven’t been used in years (if ever!) there’s not enough strength at those extremes to support the impact of running. As a result, my hip has become irritated and I’m feeling the result of that in the area around my hip, glutes and quads (it moves around a bit, further supporting the diagnosis and ruling out any muscle strain or issue like tendinitis or bursitis). It’s a kind of unexpected problem for me to have given that my left hip has historically been “picked on” as lacking mobility, but it does make sense.

To solve the problem, I need to get the discomfort settled down and focus on lots of strengthening exercises. At no time was I told to stop running, but was advised to put a day in between my runs, hence my recent Friday evening runs and volunteering at parkrun. Even as recently as Monday I was told that I could go ahead with my race, but to expect some discomfort later on (nothing unusual there when it comes to running 26.2 miles!).

And so I carried on with the intention to run. I made a list of kit to take, I bought supplies, I continued to keep quiet about my plans (I have outright lied to a number of people in recent weeks when asked directly if I was running Loch Ness. If you’re one of them, I apologise). I ate well, I panicked about a cold and I suffered the level of maranoia that uses up a lot of hand sanitizer, but all for nothing!

On Friday, I headed out for an easy-paced 5k, as recommended by my physio. I anticipated some discomfort but expected my hip to settle down as I continued. I tried to think about the race ahead, what it would feel like to cross the finish line and achieve my goal, but I just couldn’t get my mind off my hip which wasn’t settling as much as I would like.

I just didn’t enjoy the run and the more I thought about it, the more I realised I didn’t want to run while feeling like that. It’s one thing jogging round a bustling city route and enjoying the experience, quite another spending hours in the middle of nowhere feeling discomfort at best, pain at worst. What value would it hold to carry on?

Did I have to prove I could run 26.2 miles? No, I’ve done that 8 times already. I know I can run it.

Did I have to prove I could run 26.2 miles with the odds stacked against me? Nope: been there, done that.

Did I still believe I could get a PB? No, that ship had sailed!

Did I have to complete a “journey” by running a goal race? No, nobody knew I had entered and I could, if I wanted, continue to keep my plans a secret.

Did I want to risk an extended recovery period and being practically immobile come Monday morning? No, I want to be able to run sooner rather than later and prepare my body to run in Paris come April.

So after a great deal of soul-searching I realised that the race held no value for me under these circumstances. Yes, the physio said I COULD run, but weighing up all the possibilities I decided that there were too many risks involved. Could I do it? Yes, I’m sure I could. But should I? That was a totally different proposition and in the end I decided that no, I shouldn’t. I just couldn’t face 4+ hours of discomfort, and for what? A medal and some bragging rights? Not really worth it in the long term.

Which is how I ended up sitting in a coffee shop in Inverness while Steve ran the marathon. That’s right, having decided not to run I still had to travel to Inverness to support Steve! I’d be lying if I said that was my idea of a great weekend, after all there’s nothing tougher than spectating at a race you were supposed to run, but I would never bail out on him.

And unsurprisingly, it’s been a tough weekend. I’ve had to field questions about whether or not I was running, why I wasn’t running and deal with people’s assumptions about how I would be spending this weekend. I’ve been surrounded by runners, visited the expo and stood at the finish line. I had to put my sunglasses on to disguise my tears as my late decision to withdraw meant I was still feeling pretty raw. But I was there to see Steve finish, to feel pride at his achievement and I know in my heart of hearts that I made the right decision. It may not have been easy, but as I’ve written before, the right decision is often the hardest.

This is not the post I expected to write today. I expected to write something a bit more triumphant, featuring a medal and a monster, but it wasn’t to be. I know the Loch Ness Marathon is one I would enjoy and one I could run well, but so far the universe has not seen fit to allow me to take part. Maybe I have unfinished business here, maybe I don’t. What I do know is that there are plenty of marathons out there, that this marathon will continue to be here in the future, and that I WILL reach my goal of a sub-4 hour time. It just wasn’t meant to be today. Right now, I feel a little down, my emotions are raw, but I also have the motivation to resolve the issue with my hip and emerge fighting from this experience.

Until then, tomorrow is another day…

The Running Princess

The Worldwide WordPress 5k

Things have been a bit difficult for me lately, at least as far as running is concerned. I’ve been seeing a physio about a problem with my hip (nothing too serious but it has limited my running) so what little running I have been doing has been at a fairly easy pace and I’ve been keeping it short. Fortunately, however, my phyios’s suggestion of an easy-paced Friday 5k coincided with the Worldwide WordPress 5k (#wwwp5k) which I had wanted to be part of. I was drawn to the opportunity to see bloggers around the world united in running – what better for a running blog!

My run came at the end of a hard week. I was exhausted, had halted the arrival of a cold so generously shared by one of my pupils, and had a night away in Inverness to get ready for. I wasn’t feeling at my best and needed to run!

Thanks to the niggly hip (my physio thinks I’ve irritated it and need to do a bit of strength work as well as lots of stretching to help it settle, but has not advised that I stop running completely) I decided to keep to a fairly flat route – or as flat as I can get around Perth! In the end I settled for a mile heading slightly downhill away from the house to let my hip warm up (it’s a little uncomfortable for the first mile but then settles down and this is what my physio needed me to test in order to see how well it was settling) followed by a flat mile leading me to the nice path that brings me back to the area I live in. I love running and walking on this path and can’t believe it’s so close to me. I just wish it was a bit longer!


I finished with a short “up and down” loop near the house to complete the distance, managing to finish bang on 5k just beyond my front door. Now that’s good route planning!


In all honesty, it wasn’t my greatest run ever. My hip did settle down, but I never fully forgot about it and I felt I wasn’t running as smoothly as usual. That said, it was still a valuable run as it helped me to make some decisions about how I should proceed. I know that running with this issue isn’t causing any damage, yet at the same time running when something isn’t quite right is just not enjoyable. I want to enjoy my runs, even when they’re tough, not spend the whole time distracted by something feeling uncomfortable or “off”; I want to make positive progress, not plod around wishing it was over; and above all I want to run healthily, not worry about the potential to prolong a problem.

And so, for the time being, I think I need to stick to other activities. Running is always going to be there for me, but at the moment it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do. I’ve had too many injuries where I’ve tried to carry on and ended up on the injury bench for ages. This time I’m going to nip it in the bud and get straight on to resolving the problem before it causes me further grief.

Every run teaches us something. This one taught me the importance of listening to my body, and for that I’m grateful.


What lessons have your learned from running?
What are you grateful for just now?

The Recovery Process


The more we run, the better we get at figuring out what works best for us by way of post-run recovery. My routine these days is generally to stretch, rehydrate, refuel and, if I’ve been for a long run, to wear compression calf sleeves/socks as well as enjoying a relaxing soak before bed.

But what about after a marathon or goal endurance event? It’s very easy to plan every single step to get to the start line, but it’s just as important to consider what happens afterwards in order to recover well and (hopefully) avoid injury. In 2014 I had a lovely time recovering in Paris after running a PB, but I got carried away on a post-run high and returned to running too soon, resulting in some quality time spent on the injury bench. In 2015 I did a much better job of having a recovery plan, particularly since I had gone into my marathon carrying the niggling after-effects of a strained muscle which had impacted on my training. This allowed me to run well through the summer and take part in all the events I had planned. Having a plan worked much better for me.

Which brings me to this year. This year, my pre-race training was unconventional thanks to the stress fracture I suffered at the end of 2015. So what did that mean for my post-race recovery plan? I already know that my body responds best to two full weeks off running after a marathon, but I wanted to make sure that my return to running was also carefully planned to avoid overloading my body and picking up another injury. I needed to make a plan.


My immediate recovery was the same as ever – rehydrate, refuel, try to keep moving and wear compression socks/calf sleeves for a day or two – but once home, it was time to think about my longer term recovery. I decided on one week of complete rest (I was lucky to still have the rest of the week off work so I didn’t have to do much) followed by one week of VERY gentle cross training. This was mainly swimming and cycling, but I limited my time to 30 minutes and made sure that my effort level remained comfortable. I knew that in the second week I would be keen to run again, which is exactly why I needed to have a plan that would stop me sneaking out the door for a quick 5k – I even signed up as a parkrun volunteer in advance so that I could still be part of the event but without running!


My plan even extended to my return to running after my two weeks off. Initially, I decided to stick with 3 runs per week (2 during the week and 1 at the weekend) and to keep them “low and slow” – no more than about 3.5 miles and at a relatively easy pace. So with no real pressure of speed or distance, I used the opportunity to explore some of the paths near our new house which I had not yet checked out. I really enjoyed that, and it helped me to keep my pace nice and gentle as I took in my new surroundings.

IMG_6221 IMG_6222 IMG_6236 IMG_6237
















And of course, I returned to parkrun. Thanks to the rest and recovery, I actually found myself running a bit quicker than before the marathon, but without putting in an all-out effort. I hope that’s a positive sign for the coming weeks!

Interspersed among the runs, I continued to swim and re-introduced metafit to my weekly routine as I find it useful for all-round fitness. I also made sure to still have one rest day per week and to find time to read, relax and get plenty of sleep. All of which has left me feeling good and ready to start building up my training again. I’m already considering what my next goal will be.


I’m certainly no expert, but experience has taught me what works well for me. My best advice for recovering after a marathon or endurance event is therefore to listen to your body – you have, after all, put it through a lot and asked a lot of it, so give it a bit of love and care. Get some rest, eat well and enjoy catching up with friends and family who may have been a bit neglected during your training cycle. You know your body better than anyone else, so listen to it and not the voice in your head that insists you need to be straight back out training again, as that may very well lead to injury or overtraining. Besides, if it’s good enough for the elites, it’s good enough for me!

What’s your post-race recovery plan?
Do you have any favourite products that help you to recover?