Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Two's Company - Competitive Running at The Oxford Half

For eagle-eyed readers of my blog, you may have noticed I missed a person out of my previous post.

Rest assured this was deliberately timed to provide a lead in to this follow up post - running with friends part II. 

In the last year and a bit, I've had the privilege of hanging around with a boy (I know right, eww), and the inevitable early-relationship bulge soon turned to a proper little paunch. 

With both of us suffering the onslaught of one too many Nandos (medium heat, if you're asking), something had to be done. So we both signed up to The Oxford Half. 

Ready to run...
Hanging out with the team at the Kassam Stadium - Oxford Half

Running with a boy is funny, especially for me as I'm very much a solitary runner, so he has to put up with me cutting him up at every turn and people looking pitying at him because I'm clearly slowing him down! 

But despite all that, he sticks with me... And that's because training with a buddy is so much more fun. For starters, they'll force you to get outside when really a full packet of Doritos and a Netflix boxset is calling, and they keep you running when you start to feel rubbish. 

But more than anything, they help put the competition back into running which is the one thing I know that can sure-fire get you up in the early hours, chasing down PB's.

If anything my running was a bit stagnant before I started running with a pal again. I was trailing the same routes, never really paying attention to how long it was taking me to get anywhere, or running with a rucksack (more on run commuting later) so there was always some excuse for my varying pace.

5K PB's

In the last two weeks I've smashed my 5K pb and come within a minute of my half marathon time (given the level of training I did, it's quite an achievement), and that can only be attributed to someone who's reignited my competitive streak. 

So cheers boy, you may have beaten me by 3 minutes this weekend but I was just playing nice. Game on. 

Race time: 1:59:05

Friday, October 10, 2014

BBC - Get Inspired Series

For regular readers of my blog, you'll know I'm pretty passionate about the link between exercise and mental health - and there I'm not just talking about those people who are diagnosed sufferers of illnesses; I'm talking about everyone who feels stressed or anxious sometimes.

My wonderful friend, fellow runner and occasional guest on the blog Lottie (shout-out), sent me a link to an amazing campaign that the BBC are running as part of their Get Inspired series.

The campaign focuses on how exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help with a whole variety of mental illnesses and kicks off with a short film about a bipolar sufferer named Simon Lamb.

I urge you to watch the film below, and find out more about the campaign here.

BBC Get Inspired - Running Saved my Life

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Confession: My One Big Love

Running is one of my great loves. Don't get me wrong, we've fallen out and been that on-off couple that everyone really thinks isn't right together, but this time I really feel that we've turned a corner. And what's sparked this now unwavering devotion to each other? By turning it into a three-some.

Everyone knows that exercise with pals is best, but actually finding those pals that want to wake up at silly o'clock, don some lycra and go do squats in some dodgy park is pretty rare. I'm extremely lucky that through the last year, I've been able to find two of those people and introduce them to running.

The first, is my wonderful sister. A long suffering supporter of mine, from the banks at Henley to calling me mid-marathon for a chat - it really is those little touches that make all the difference.

Throwback - Jog Off
I'm sure she won't mind me sharing this throwback...

Back in June, while I was on a totally amazing holiday in Kefalonia (eating all the bread, olives and baklava I could get my hands on), I noticed a post by Bupa Running giving away places to the Great North Run to those who had specific goals they wanted to meet. Given my sister lives in Newcastle (where the run takes place), I somehow got it into my head that it would be amazing if we could do it together. It seemed an amazing fit, as she was leaving to head back to Oxford to become a doctor (hello, Bupa!), and it would be an amazing send off. Unfortunately for her, I forgot she doesn't really run.

So, I signed us up and we were lucky enough to win places each. Having delivered the news to my sister, and received a very over-enthusiastic, not-entirely-genuine response, we started training. It's slightly strange as she was in Newcastle, yet I was in London so there were a lot of WhatsApp conversations, but the thing that helped the most was setting up a Google doc, where we recorded what we were doing as our training.

Having given my sister only three months to go from 2k to 20k, I was truly surprised by how amazingly she did come race-day. We ran together the whole way and to get to go through that experience with someone is incredible, from those first few optimistic km to the sections where I really thought she was going to hit me (there were some poorly aimed water bottles at least...).

Crossing the line with her was pretty special so a big thanks to Bupa, and head over to their Facebook page as they're running a Great South Run promotion right now.

Race time: 2:31:41

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Another Year...

... Another rejection magazine from the London Marathon ballot. To add insult to injury (oof, sorry), the boy has got a place after only his first go!

So, off I go to contact all of the charities that I'm truly passionate about to see whether I can get a place. Otherwise, I'll have to make do with cheering from the sidelines for another year.

Having said that, I may just have to start planning another overseas marathon trip instead...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Confessing my sins

It's been a while, lets not lie. But in the same way as dining with old friends, the words come easily enough. Stick with me, there's a story behind this silence.

The last year has been full of ups and downs, injury and heartbreak and just really really busy life. I've seen a boy, dumped a boy, seen another boy (still happily going strong), and been really really poorly. I've travelled (some of) the world, and I've moved house (too many times).

But the one thing nagging me through all of this, was this. This tiny little corner of the internet, that only my mum and occasionally my friends read. My mum now has a full time occupation, which means she can't sit around each day reading her youngest daughter's whimsical chatter on her blog anymore, so my regular readership is now a bit fat zero.

But do you know what? I don't care, not one bit. I've re-read my posts at times when I've felt a real pang of guilt and sadness about leaving behind my own little slice of the internet and it's brought back to life what I was doing, and the way I was feeling at a particular time. And it's brought it back so vividly and so brightly, I hate the idea that all these memories and thoughts and feelings are all going to waste.

So, with three half marathons ahead of me until the end of the year, this is my little pledge: however infrequently, I will write on this god-damn blog.

So stick with me guys, there's plenty of miles in this old girl just yet.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

#RunINCA - My Dream Run

Last week Nike Running's Facebook page ran a competition to design your dream run; whether that was Everest base camp or Route 66, anything goes. If your entry is compelling enough and you win, you get to run it...

I saw their post on the way home from work and instantly my mind was racing with awesome places to run: the great wall of China, through the Grand Canyon, I even considered Kilimanjaro. I got home, had dinner and sat down to write my entry telling them where my dream run would take place and why I'd chosen it.

Three hours later after significant distraction, my masterpiece was done. I clicked submit and waited. Nothing happened. I clicked the submit button a few more times (little bit trigger happy on the mouse), and still nothing happened. So in a moment of stupidity I clicked refresh. Gone was my work of literary art, my three hours (two if you don't count the time I was really watching 24 hours in A&E) were all for nothing.

So, while I await a response to my query as to whether my entry went through, I'm going to share as much as I can remember of my run with you because my god, it is dreamy.

(Picture Credit: Julian Bilowas)

26 miles of pure unadulterated scenery at 13,000 ft - I wasn't dreaming lightly. Spanning snowcapped mountains, through lush cloud forest and subtropical jungle and finally across paving stones set thousands of years ago as part of one of the world's most advanced transportation systems.

You've probably already guessed it but this adventure is not for the faint hearted (literally). #RunINCA is the run of a lifetime, a ten hour ordeal through some of the world's most famous trails following in the footsteps of the ancient legendary Chasqui runners.

The South American City of Cusco is the starting block. The lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu as the finishing line.

(Picture Credit: Here)

(Picture Credit: Here)

So there's my dream. Big it may be, but if you're not dreaming, you're only sleeping.

You can find Nike UK's Running page here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Running in Paradise

It took three days for the endorphins to run out. In the middle of paradise and surrounded by my two favourite people in the world and I was feeling irritable. Yes I was a little tired, we'd got up early and I'd probably not recovered from our 3am wake up call yet but I was in PARADISE. I was having withdrawal symptoms from my exercise endorphins...

So before the morning sun had really started to heat up our island, I laced up and went for a run. I didn't go far, I certainly didn't run hard but it was enough to have me skipping down to breakfast to join them.

How on earth could anyone be irritable with a view like this?

Thinking about it, I'd really built up a very regular and quite frequent running schedule recently - mostly running home from work to avoid the awfully hot and sweaty tube journey home. Could it be possible that I was building up a dependance on the endorphins I was receiving from these regular journeys?

After a hard day at work, it feels good to get out and clear your head but actually becoming addicted to the post run endorphins? That's an interesting thought.

Whilst I don't suffer from depression personally, I've had a lot of experience with it and as such, I think I'm probably very aware of my moods and how quickly things can spiral downward. I count myself lucky to know that if I'm feeling down or stressed a run can perk me back up again and render most of the pre-run dark thoughts ridiculous.

So I guess it's up to me to work out whether this is a coping technique, a dependance issue or a mixture of both... but I think I'll leave that until after the Venice Marathon. Looking at my training plan, I'm going to need all the help I can get!

On our holidays...