Review: Sole Footbeds

I’ve never worn insoles in my running shoes before, I’ve always been a bit wary of anything that interferes with the running shoes I know and love, but when I was given the opportunity to try out some Sole Footbeds (they’re a Canadian company, I think that’s what they call insoles…) I was intrigued to find out more.

Sole are a peformance footwear specialist and claim they can help minimise your risk of injury.  Given I’ve had a fair few injuries over the last 12 months, I thought they would definitely be worth trying out.

The footbeds I tried are the Active Medium, which is part of their signature range, and they’re quite unique in that they’re heat moulded to your feet to give a bespoke fit.   After trimming them to fit your trainers (which may not be needed as they come in standard shoe sizes), you pop them in the oven for a couple of minutes and then immediately position them in your trainers and put them on your feet.  It’s dead cosy!

In the oven!

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The science bit:

The mouldable base layer is orthopaedic and adapts to your foot to give a customised fit.  This means the foodbeds can:

  • Reduce plantar fascia strain
  • Encourage good alignment of the feet and lower legs
  • Improve balance and provide natural, shock-absorbing heel support (ideal for someone who literally falls over their own feet, ahem)
  • Gently lift your arch into its optimal position

These ones are perfect for active types because they have the added benefit of Polygiene odor control technology (no smelly feet), Softec shock-absorbing cushioning (a bouncy feel) and a moisture-wicking topsheet (dry tootsies).

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My thoughts:

So far I’ve been impressed with these insoles, my feet have quite high arches so I’ve really noticed the additional support and they’re really comfy.  There was a brief moment of panic when I realised I had the oven on wayyyyy too high (watch that cause it’s inadvisable to set your house on fire), but after successfully heating and installing them into my trainers they really do fit like a glove.  It’s a bit soon to tell if they will offer added protection against injury but I really them, they gave my trainers a new lease of life, and will be getting another pair when they wear out.

I was kindly given a pair of Sole Footbeds to try out, all views are my own

 

Reading Half Training Day

Saturday morning was COLD, the kind of cold that made me ignore the offensively early weekend alarm and roll over.  But it was also the morning of the Reading Half Training Day so I  HAD to get up.  Unfortunately my unscheduled alarm-ignoring meant I didn’t have time for porridge and had to make do with breakfast in the car…

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We started the morning off with an overview of the day ahead and the race itself, which will be on the 18th March.  The Reading Half has been going since 1983 and has since evolved to a rather prestigious race that attracts a wide field of athletes with a pretty magnificent finish in the Madejski Stadium.  I haven’t run this one before so I’m really excited to be part of it this year, especially now I know about the secret wine and beer  hydration’ station at 8.5 miles (unofficial, obvs).  Hey, I ran a marathon drunk so a swig or two of wine will do me no harm whatsoever!

Selfie with the Townsend Twins

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Then came the fun bit, a 30 minute strength and cardio workout with the Townsend Twins, who are the official warm up partners for the Reading Half.  After loosening up, we were put through our paces with several rounds of exercises including squat jumps, lunges, ski jumps, dead lifts, planks, V sit-ups (yes, ouch), glute bridges, cycle sit-ups and back extensions.  It actually got pretty sweaty…and we hadn’t even been for a run yet.

Glute Bridges

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After re-hydrating, we then had a session with Ali, one of the official Reading Half pacers, who took us through all the key elements of pacing your perfect race.  He had lots of top tips to remember on the day:

  • Plan ahead and be prepared, especially on race day.  You don’t want to turn up late and not know where the toilets are (for the record, it’s unacceptable to pee in the bushes…)
  • Don’t panic at the start off the race and let adrenaline take over, you’ll only bonk before you finish.  Easier said than done that one!
  • Don’t weave in and out of people, it just wastes energy.  I’m definitely guilty of this and it makes a real difference when I have the self control not to do it.
  • Break the race down into bite-size chunks, instead of thinking of it as one long 13.1 mile run, think of it in sections
    • Miles 1-3 – get yourself settled into the race
    • Miles 3-11 – keep checking in on yourself to see how you’re feeling and adjust your pace and/or goal accordingly
    • Miles 11-13.1 – take it home and bask in the glory

If you’re interested, Reading will be offering pacers at 5 minute intervals from 1:20 all the way up to 2:30 so make sure you latch on to one of them and let them do all the hard work for you (OK, almost all of the hard work, I mean, they don’t offer piggybacks).

Cold, cold cold!

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Then it was time to run!  After a warm up in the very chilly but sunny air, we were off on a 3 mile loop that took us through the start of the race course in Green Park, and round to the Madejski Stadium where we would be finishing on the track.  Unfortunately it was match day, so we couldn’t go in, but we could loiter suspiciously and peak through the gates imagining ourselves crossing the finish line to the roar of the crowds in the stadium!

Blue skies at the Madejski Stadium

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Back at base, it was onto the serious business of warm up exercises and post-run stretching.  You know, all the things we know we should do but tend to skimp on, or is that just me??  There were a few key things I took from this session:

Before you run:

  • Loosen tight hamstrings with The Slump Test (a new one on me!):
    • Sit on the edge of a table with your legs hanging off and hands behind your back
    • Slump your back so you fall slightly forwards with your head down
    • With a flexed foot, kick your leg vigorously upwards
    • Keep going until they feel looser!

Looks a little odd but it works!

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  • Another one for the hammys –  Heel Kicks.  A good way to do this is to stand arms length from a wall and kick vigourously towards the bum with your knees in line
  • Activate the glutes, yes, every time.  Donkey kicks are great for this

After you run:

  • Make sure you stretch the calves, hamstrings and quads!

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We finished with a Q&A and more info on the day itself.  In addition to the unofficial beer stop, there will be water stations supplied in pouches every 3 miles.  I LOVE the pouches because they are much easier to carry and are less of an injury risk if you accidentally step on one.

Green Park’s Foudry Brook

 

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I thought the Reading Half Training Day was brilliant for both new and experienced runners and I definitely learnt a thing or two about warming up properly!

The Reading Half Marathon is on 18th March and there are still spaces available here if you would like to come and join us.  There’s also a January competition to win some running goodies, including some wireless headphones, a foam roller, a Ron Hill LED light High 5 recovery pack, so make sure you enter!

Note: I will be taking part in the Reading Half as a race ambassador, all views are my own.

 

 

 

2018: Goals, Goals, Goals

Now we’re firmly on the wrong side of the silly season, it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and set some targets for the year ahead (I was going to put something self-depreciating here, but yesterday a friend  firmly challenged me not to say or think anything bad about myself…so I won’t).

1. The Big London Half – 4th March

The Big Half is organised by the London Marathon people and was created with the mission of demonstrating how sport and community can come together, inspiring people from all backgrounds to take part.  They wanted an event that mirrors the diverse demographics of London’s multi-cultural population, it’s new this year and I think it will be a big hit.

This one will be my biggest test in a while and the furthest I’ve really run since the London Marathon 2016 (ohhhhh god, it’s gonna be tough isn’t it?!).  However, I have a marathon to run and I need this to push me through the training. I’m sure it’ll be fine…just fine.

Race Goal: Not be last. Not be sick (that’s not negative, just realistic 🙂 )

2. Reading Half – 18th March

I’m super excited to be joining the Reading Half team as a race ambassador this year.  Reading has been on my list for a few years now, not least because it’s one of the largest and fastest half marathons in the UK, but also because of the incredible finish inside the Madejski Stadium.  Three weeks before Paris, this is good timing for me to practice an even marathon paced run, I can’t wait for this one!

There’s an exclusive training morning being held this Saturday (6th Jan) with an exciting line up of workouts, training advice and Q&A’s.  There’s still a few spots available here if you’d like to join in.

Race Goal: Run at an even pace. Don’t get too excited

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3. Paris Marathon – 8th April

All being well, Paris will be marathon number 14.  It was also my second marathon back in 2012 when I ran with my friend Porridge, and I have fond memories of the beautiful city (I say ran with, she beat me, but we drank champagne together at the end).

Porridge – this one’s for you xx

Race Goal: Get round. Don’t be a fool

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4. Poole 10k – 3rd June

This is one of my favourite races of the season.  Held in my home town of Poole in Dorset, the 10k is part of a Festival of Running that includes a series of minithons for children and a new half marathon this year.  The Poole 10k was my first ever 10k and I love it.

Race Goal:  Dare I utter the phrase PB…? Sub 45 would be just super please

5. Canada Day 10k – 1st July

I’m heading over to Vancouver in July, which just so happens to co-inside with Canada Day, and they’ve thoughtfully put on a 10k in my honour.  It would be rude not to wouldn’t it?!

Race Goal: Earn the post race Canada Day cake (they said there would be cake…)

6. Great North Run – 9th September

Having tried for years to get into this, I finally succeeded in 2017 but, knowing I wouldn’t be able to run with any kind of conviction, I decided to defer.  This year Newcastle and I are going head to head.  I’ll be ready.

Race Goal: To smash it.  Sub 1:45 at least

7. Berlin Marathon – 16th September

Again, I was gutted to have to pull out of this last year, but I was lucky enough to get a ballot spot for 2018 so I’m taking it as a sign that it was meant to be.  Armed with a group of Chasers, this is the big one for me this year.

Race Goal: PB please

8. A sub 21 minute 5k

A tall ask? Maybe. But, if I can go sub 22, I can go sub 21.  Goal before the year is out.

9. Complete my first triathlon

I don’t know when or where, but I fear I can no longer get through another year without succumbing to peer pressure.  You’ll find me at Wednesday night swim sessions soon. Maybe…

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10.  Swim Serpentine – 2 miles

I’m adding this to the list for two reasons, firstly I can’t bring myself to leave the list at 9, and secondly, if I do this one I get a HUGE London Classics medal that’s awarded to people who have completed the London Marathon, Ride 100 and Swim Serpentine.  Call me shallow, but I want it.  The only caveat is that I can’t find a date for 2018 and it may clash with Berlin. Fingers crossed (although I’m not quite sure for which outcome).

Let’s get cracking then…

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Boston: Not yet worthy

So, I went to Boston.  I went to Boston to watch my friends run the Boston Marathon because, unfortunately, I am not quite worthy of my own Boston bib just yet.  Instead, I attempted to console myself by spending £46.11 on the official Boston Athletic Association 5k, to give me full licence to buy the expensive Boston Athletic Association running jacket, because it was the only thing not actually branded with the marathon.  I see how B.A.A make their money…

Bryn, Gaby, Martin, Me and Gemma at the start of the 5k:

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When I didn’t qualify for the race, I didn’t want to go to Boston.  I was grumpy and resentful and sad.  But, as time wore on, I realised that loads of my friends were all going on this amazing trip, all staying in the same house, and were all going to have a great time without me.  I was going to have to add ‘missing out’ to my grumpy, resentful and sad self.  So I changed my mind.

Luckily, our fabulous Phil has some friends in nearby town Newton, with a HUGE house, and there was still space for me!  Together with 11 others, we all went to stay with Joan and Donna for Chasers Marathon Camp.  Our wonderful hosts even came to the airport to pick each of us up!

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The 5k Story

On the Saturday, 5 of us went into Boston to run the 5k.  I’ve never quite seen such a big set up for a 5k but, with 10,000 people running, it was probably necessary!  The route started on Boston Common and took in some of the marathon course, including running over the official marathon finishing line on Boylston Street, before heading back to the common for the 5k finish.

The route was just as crowded with spectators as I would expect for a big marathon and, with a great atmosphere the whole way round, it made me feel like I was part of the marathon weekend.  Much different to the London Marathon, in which the event is just a day, Boston as a city really get behind the marathon and everyone really gets into the spirit for the whole week beforehand.

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Despite the pricey entrance fee for the distance, I loved this race.  You get to run part of the marathon course, a tremendous atmosphere, and a t-shirt and medal, definitely worth a trot round if you’re in Boston!

To top off a lovely sunny morning, on the other side of town Rob was pacing our host Joan to a big 5k PB in a different race and she was over the moon!

Chasers Marathon Camp post 5k: Full Team!

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Temperatures were starting to rise and, by the time Sunday came around, it hit 29 degrees.  Perfect for a cider in the sun, but not so perfect for running 26.2… It could be a warm one.

After Joan and Donna put on a big pasta party on Sunday evening, it was an early night for the runners as they needed to be up disturbingly early considering the 10am start time.  Everyone had left by the time I got up on the Monday but I still had Phil and Sally, who were also spectating, as well as Joan and Donna.  Phil, Joan and I went out for a 5 mile run up Heartbreak Hill (part of the marathon route named so because it comes at mile 20!) and, despite only being 8am it was already very hot.

The Best Support Crew in Boston:

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After watching the start of the race on TV, we all headed down to mile 20 to watch the elites come through.  Joan’s house is only a mile away so we didn’t have to go far.  Unsurprisingly, there were police everywhere, and everyone was in high spirits.  As predicted, it was hot but we took a blanket and a picnic at set up the Chaser banner.

The marathon app was working pretty well so we knew when our guys would be coming through but the heat was clearly getting to people.  We successfully spotted and got a smile from everyone, with Sally getting a surprise hug from marathon-obsessive Rob, and Gemma telling us off for not having any beer waiting for her.  In fact Gemma didn’t really shut up, we practically had to push her up the road to get rid of her so she could finish…

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It was a tough day out there, both the course and the heat took it’s toll on people, but everyone finished in one piece and we even had a PB!

The Strava Socks Story

We all love Strava.  We love Strava segments, Strava challenges and Strava stalking.  So when Strava announced they were giving away socks at a pop-up shop in Boston to anyone who completed their ‘26.2 miles in 10 days challenge’, I was almost as distraught at missing out on Strava socks as I was on Boston Marathon branded gear.  There was no way I’d get those miles in by the time I realised.

Shuffling along quietly behind everyone to said pop-up, I watched with envy as they were all given a pair of special socks.  It was fine.  However, as we left the shop, Bryn (who is never nice to me unless he thinks I’m going to cry) actually gave me his socks!

Just to be clear. These aren’t just socks. They’re STRAVA BOSTON SOCKS. Thanks Bryn 🙂

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Boston was brilliant.  It’s a brilliant event in a brilliant city and I want to go back.  But next time I’ll be running.

So the BQ quest continues. Roll on Berlin.  Oh, didn’t I mention?  I’m now running Berlin in September…  #MarathonLove

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone

They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone and, when it comes to fitness, I can definitely concur.  I’m not sure how much time I had off from running, but I think it was a good 3 months of doing very little, including an entire month off exercise completely, whilst recovering from foot surgery.  If nothing else, I’ve learned that I genuinely had no idea how fit I actually was.

When you constantly surround yourself with people who do more exercise, and more running, and more EVERYTHING, than you do, it’s easy to forget that what you’re doing yourself is actually far from ordinary.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t, at the very least, half marathon fit, if not marathon fit, and be able to not only run the distance, but race it in a time that was better than average, even though I was never happy with my time!

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Coming back from an injury that has set me right back to square one has been challenging on many levels.  How exactly do you motivate yourself to do something that has become so difficult and laboured unenjoyable and, quite frankly, hard work?  It’s a bit like dragging yourself to a hardcore tempo session that you know you need to do, but the difference is, there’s no reward.  There’s no reward to sending yourself out on a run that’s not only half the distance than you’re used to, but takes you 90 seconds per mile longer than you’re used to and leaves you more knackered than you’re used to.  No reward, just a lot of AAAARRRGGGGHHHHHHHH.

I’ve had a lot of arguments with myself.

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Undeniably, I’m getting fitter and stronger.  I can feel it.  Especially with the strength work I’ve been doing – Monday nights burning at the Barre in a ballet inspired strength class are becoming my favourite!

While I know I’m still fitter than most, I’m still not ‘me fit’ and I’m not ‘my friends fit’ and that means I still can’t run with them.  That’s right, I can’t play with my friends and I’m miserable about it.  (Fair play to Gemma though, she has offered to run with me but I fear she doesn’t quite know what she’s letting herself in for…)

As I plod on with my slow runs home from work, attempting tempo at Parkrun because I can’t join in at actual tempo, and slowly increasing my mileage, I’ve found a new found awe for my former self.  She was tougher than I thought.  In light of that I thought it was time to set myself a new goal and, being lucky enough to get a place in Great North Run, I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally try and beat my half marathon PB of 01.40.50. Gulp.

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Suck it up Princess

Running is hard.  Running is harder than it’s ever been (if you can actually call it running at all) and  I’m really struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel (there’s going to be a light isn’t there…please tell me there’s going to be a light??)

I’ve moved on from the run/walk strategy.  It was good while it lasted, mostly because it took the huge pressure off hitting a pace I was vaguely happy with rather than my foot, but it had to end at some point.  In all honesty I hadn’t planned to end it quite as soon as I did but it was actually snowing in London and my blood is 100% southern so, you know, I get cold and running is quicker than walking.  I didn’t dare look at my watch.

Of course after I had transitioned to continuous running there was no way back, you don’t make progress by taking steps backwards, and so for the last 2 weeks I’ve been shuffling around London trying to remember how to be a runner again.  It was hard and it was scary and it wasn’t particularly enjoyable.  I didn’t know why I was doing it.

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The last two Saturdays I’ve made an appearance at my local Parkrun on Tooting Common.  Running with other people helps me to forget that I’m running and that I’m finding it hard, Parkrun is the perfect place to learn to run again.  It feels kinda safe.

The only problem was trying to run a Parkrun without running as fast as I could, that was another new one on me.  Being much slower than I usually am is difficult to deal with, but I have been enjoying running again and that was the whole point.  You’re ace Parkrun, thank you!

You can’t be at the top of your game all the time, there will always be times when you’re just a little bit rubbish.  But you don’t make progress by hiding away and doing nothing about it, you have to get out the door, suck it up and do it.  So that’s what I’m doing.  I’ve also never got as much Strava kudos for so many rubbish runs so THANK YOU for making me feel better about it, it really does help.

I will get faster and I will get back to the top of my game but, for now, I need to suck it up and plod on.  Joy.

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Back to Basics

So it turns out that after breaking your foot you can’t simply throw your trainers back on and run 12 miles.  Not even close.  But that’s OK because, you know, it’s winter and it’s dark, and it’s cold out, right?

Yep, that’s really OK…

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I’ve had some physio. Sometimes we got on (when she let me run) and sometimes we didn’t get on (when she didn’t let me run), so throughout most of our relationship we didn’t really get on much.  But we did have a common goal, and as frustrating as I found it, I did everything she told me to, like rest, and glute activations, and mobilsation exercises, and squats, and more rest…which was, you know, lots of fun.

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On my final physio session, 6 and a half weeks after surgery, and after lots of squatting and hopping and jumping around, I was actually  allowed on the dreadmill. It was the BEST DAY!  We’re talking 2 whole minutes of running…OK maybe ‘jogging’…but still huge progress!

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What I’ve really had to learn is to simply go back to the boring stuff basics, which has been mentally challenging.  When my physio told me I was allowed to go for a little run that weekend, after an excessive warm up of course, BUT I was only allowed to alternate between 1 minute running and 1 minute walking, I wasn’t sure my ego could handle it…I mean, what if people SAW me?

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However, I did as I was told, well, almost, my legs being the little rebels they are settled into a pattern of 2 minutes running and 1 walking but it was close enough.  It was actually quite enjoyable because it took the pressure off trying to run at the pace I was used to, so I just didn’t worry about it at all.  Three miles successfully completed and I was back in the game!

The one thing I’ve found most difficult to deal with is my running confidence hitting rock bottom.  Just the very thought of actually going outside of my house and running in the actual outdoors made me anxious and nervous, how I ever managed to run a marathon was beyond me.  Something that used to be so natural, and a normal part of my life, now seemed a little alien and a little intimidating.  I now understand why people find the thought of taking up running daunting.

Of course, I really didn’t have a choice, I HAD to find my confidence again because, you know, running is like oxygen.  So I’ve been getting back into it slowly with short runs of 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking which has helped both physically and psychologically, as well as getting around because I can finally run home from work again (yeah, screw you tube strike!)

I’ve also taken the running-down-time to up my game in the gym which has helped improve my strength and stability and I’ve promised myself it will remain part of my regular routine, ya hear that body?  PROMISE

It’s taken a couple of months but, this morning I woke up with my entire body aching and feeling exhausted, and that makes me soooo very happy because I actually feel like my old self again! Well, being well rested and ache free is for wimps right 😉

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The one where they told me I needed foot surgery

So I have a broken foot. Yes. A. Broken. FOOT.  I know I’ve been quiet for a while, but when you’re a fitness blogger with an injury that will only let you do one legged planks and tricep dips (so that’s fun then), you find you don’t really have much to say.

My foot’s been wonky for a while, I’ve even used it to excuse why I’ve fallen over thin air after a few proseccos, but I’ve kinda been ignoring it.  The problem was, I was starting to get shooting pains through my foot not only after I had been running, but when I was simply laying down too.  I knew there was a problem.

It turns out that my big toe hasn’t been doing what it should and my other toes were taking all the weight.  Whilst this apparently isn’t too much of a problem for muggles, for an obsessive compulsive marathon runner (I’m coining the term OCMR), it’s a real pain in the arse…and the foot…and in fact the whole bloody leg.

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So, the official diagnosis was ‘Wonky Foot’ and the bad news was that surgery was the only way to fix it.  On the plus side, it explained a lot and explains why I was getting frequent injuries in my right leg, it was all related to a gradual change in gait to account for my wonkiness.

So I had a choice:

  • Don’t have surgery, continue to be wonky and struggle to run, but always have an excuse for prosecco based tumbles
  • Have surgery, have an injury that would stop me exercising for a while and lose the prosecco based tumble excuse, but potentially get fixed and comeback stronger

Before I had a chance to change my mind I was booked in for surgery.

Apparantly the procedure was fairly simple, they break the bone, realign it with pins and sew it back up to leave a double-hard action man scar.  Of course when I tell the scar story later it’ll involve a crocodile and the heroic rescue mission of an adorably cute puppy…

So this is my Frankenstein’s Monster foot.  Just be grateful it’s the post-manicured picture:

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After being pretty much housebound for the dullest 2 weeks ever, I was finally allowed out to play again last week for Christmas fun (you know the, sensible, well planned out controlled type of fun we all dream of), it made me so happpppyyyy!

Sensible, controlled fun has never really been my strong point so after a few mulled wines on Saturday morning (yes morning, it’s December, it’s fine), I found myself jumping (OK hopping) at the chance to participate in the Chaser pint mile relay!

It’s pretty easy, you just drink your pint as quickly as you can, run around the track as fast as you can, then tag the next person.  I went 4th in our team to avoid getting in anyone’s way and succeeded in completing a 3 legged hobble of the track putting our team firmly in, ahem, last place.  Honestly, I have never been more excited to go around that bloomin track!

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So, it’s been nearly 3 weeks and my broken foot is on the mend.  Not being able to run, or indeed fit my foot into anything other than an Ugg boot, is driving me completely insane but it’s Christmas so I’m trying to to chill out and let myself heal.  Who would have thought relaxing would actually be so challenging?

Hopefully I’ll be back in my trainers very very soon and I can work on my #ComeBackStronger approach.  In the meantime I still have these memories to remind me what I know I can do and a whole lot of sensible, controlled festive fun to look forward to 🙂

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“The biggest mistake is doing nothing because you can only do a little”

I don’t know who said that but, for now, I’ll credit it to Dad French.  Not long ago I came back from a 5 mile run (I say run, this most definitely fell into the ‘jog’ category) downhearted about both pace and distance. ‘When will I get faster again, it was so slow I may as well not bothered’ I moaned to my Dad.  He simply turned around and said:

There aren’t many people that can just go out and run 5 miles, they say the biggest mistake of all is doing nothing because you can only do a little

And he was right.  As I try and get myself out of a real running rut it’s time to hit the reset button and shake off the mindset that anything less than 10 miles isn’t worth getting out of bed for.  Easier said than done though.

Instead of going out for shorter runs I found I was making excuses not to go out for 12 mile runs.  My thought process went a bit like this

  • What if I can’t run that far?
  • What if someone I know sees me?
  • What if I forget to switch my watch off before it uploads to Strava for the world to see  how slow I am?
  • What if I get attacked by a dog?
  • What if I get attacked by the Beast of Wandsworth Common?
  • What if I can’t actually run at all anymore?
  • What if I fall over?
  • Well, 12 miles is quite far isn’t it, maybe I should just go for a run round the block?
  • No, that’s just stupid, what’s the point?
  • Maybe I’ll just stay here and watch the next episode of Stranger Things then…

And so that’s how it went.  Of course, eventually I ran out of excuses and finally managed to bribe myself into running 3 miles round the block with my favourite smashed avocado on sourdough.  I even managed to face the Beast of Wandsworth Common.  Don’t be fooled by those friendly eyes and little twitchy nose…

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I think it’s all so easy to get swept up in marathon madness and forget that it’s actually OK to run shorter distances (even at the weekends, yes really) and it’s much better to run a little, not matter how slowly, than to not run at all.

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Cabbage Patch 10.  That’s 10 whole miles.  I was dead nervous.  I woke up early on a Sunday morning to a miserable day pouring with rain and felt sick.  Honestly, if I hadn’t of promised Graham a lift to the race there’s a 90% chance I wouldn’t have turned up.

But I did turn up, I ran, and I got the t-shirt.  Plus, if you take out the pain of seeing my Garmin flash up embarrassingly slow miles, and the fear of coming last, I actually enjoyed running.  I needed that race to kickstart my confidence again.

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Sure, I’m slow.  Sure, I’m scared of long distances right now.  Sure, I can’t see myself improving.  But I know I will as long as I keep going.  Besides, I don’t really have much choice now I’ve signed up for the Brighton Marathon in April…

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Tallinn Marathon: The one that wasn’t

  • At mile 8 I was still hopeful
  • But at mile 9 my right leg really wasn’t so sure
  • By mile 11 my jog had turned to a distinctive shuffle
  • At mile 12 I was walking…
  • …and at mile 13.1 I was well and truly OUT

Just 2 and a half hours after I had started the Tallinn Marathon, I was back in my hotel room, physically and emotionally broken, having only completed half of the course.  I wasn’t sure how much cider and wine I was going to need to deal with the situation.

It turned out to be a lot, luckily I had good company…

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It was never going to end well.  I was undertrained and injured.  But my head was in a different place to my body, in fact, it was so far away, it may as well have been on a different planet.  Through a combination of really not wanting to go running, being too busy, and carrying some kind of leg injury that quickly shut down my late attempt to get marathon ready, it really should have been the one I never started.

But I did start.

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Tallinn is actually a very beautiful city, and with the weather bright and sunny, and some Chaser buddies around me, it really could have been a lot worse.  After a lot of thinking, and trying to figure out how I felt about the situation, I realised that although I didn’t run the full marathon, and I didn’t get my BQ (which was the reason for signing up in the first place), I still ran half of it and had a really good weekend in a place I had never been before.

The marathon is part of a weekend of events that consists of a kids 5k on the Friday evening, a 10k on the Saturday, and the marathon and half on the Sunday.  The marathon is 2 laps of the half, which starts later in the day.

The kids 5k in full swing

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Beginning in Freedom Square, the route takes you around the city and heads out along the coastline for around 7 miles, before switching back to the city again.  It was actually better supported than I expected, I thought it would be quite low key with less than 2,000 runners in the full and around 3,000 in the half, but there were people cheering along the route and a few bands making some noise.

It’s pretty flat, and a great course for a PB, although it could get quite windy by the sea in different conditions.  There’s also a smell, a kind of putrid dead fish type of smell that gets worse as the day goes on and really puts you off your caramel macchiato caffeine gels.  Be warned.

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I was feeling OK for the first 8 or so miles, I was running slowly, but I felt OK and was even enjoying running again.  But somewhere on the way back to the city, my right leg started to hurt and my hip flexors felt tight, I was getting slower and slower.  It was frustrating, and I was trying to calculate how I could adopt a run-walk strategy to the finish but, by 12 miles run-walk was more walk-walk.  It wasn’t happening.

As Freedom Square got closer and closer, I had to make a decision.  And I knew what the decision needed to be, I just didn’t want to admit it.  I could have carried on and shuffled around, but I really didn’t see the point, I was injured, I was going to be painfully slow, and I was already back near the hotel.  As my watch hit 13.1 miles, I pulled out.

Tallinn is a well organised event, I can’t take that away from them, but I wasn’t impressed that they wouldn’t let me get off the course very easily, and they wouldn’t give me any water despite having run 13 miles in warm conditions.  It didn’t help my mood.  Plus, as I hadn’t officially downgraded to the half, I didn’t even get rewarded for my efforts despite having run the half course.

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Well yes actually, I do. And I deserved one. So I got one.  And I wore it allll night.  Thank you to Paul and Lorraine, who managed to sweet talk the Estonian medal police into letting me have one, it made my day!

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Although Mike unfortunately couldn’t run due to injury, the rest of the Chasers ran really well with a sub 3 PB for Paul, a sold BQ for Rob, a great run from Emma despite hurting her back 2 days before, and an awesome PB for Lorraine in the half.

What then followed were a lot of drinks, some dinner, some more drinks, some silliness and some music.

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There’ll be other marathons, and other opportunities to get a PB and a BQ but, right now, I’m a little bit over 26.2.  I’ll face up to the fact I’ve signed up to a mountainous marathon in Gran Canaria next year a little later…