Mr Blue Sky

16 Jan

So we’ve had Blue Monday (that was rubbish, wasn’t it? I feel no shame in being an utter cliche- the weather was horrible, I’ve got no money, I’m fat as a house, it’s dark ALL THE TIME, Frank’s upset about going to school, and summer seems like a distant dream), and today was Blue SKY Tuesday. The sun shone, and my goodness, doesn’t that make a difference. Just a bit of Vitamin D, and wearing a sensible coat and gloves instead of trudging through the sleet in a flimsy mac and a ruined blowdry made my Tuesday inordinately better than Monday. Although I did have that thing today of looking in the mirror at one point today and thinking “who ARE you?”, dressed as I was in a way that didn’t look quite- well, me.

I am too scared to face the scales. When you know, you know… I’ve definitely flabbed up a bit since the summer, and whilst I do think some extra winter weight is a normal mammalian response to the dark, and the cold, and the dark (did I mention the dark…), mainlining your children’s Haribos and seeking chocolate in whatever form at 11pm is not. This was meant to be the week I got on the sensible train, but after a weekend of partying, and the ensuing hangover, a lovely meal out with a friend last night where I didn’t make sensible food choices (but zero f*cks given because it was Blue Monday), and the general theme of “allowing it” that I seem to be following, with marathon training, I can feel my clothes getting tighter as my mileage goes up, not looser.

I basically need to have a bit of a word with myself. Running is easier when you’re hauling less weight around, there’s no doubt about it. I need a bit of guidance on this, which is one of the reasons I’m looking forward to my club’s marathon talk tomorrow evening. I’m hoping someone will be able to give me an idiot’s guide to eating well when marathon training, combatting my seemingly endless hunger, and factoring in family meals.

It’s not very pleasant when your clothes start to feel tight. I’m going to brave the scales at the end of January, so I at least know what I’m dealing with- and my hope is that I can reverse some of the bad work before then.

But contrarily, I went out at lunchtime today, from the office, to do my 5k circuit, and did it in 29 minutes dead- that’s quicker than my Parkrun PB. So not running since Friday, and food and booze galore since then obviously wasn’t too detrimental on this occasion! Let’s call it the exception, rather than the rule. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and my uninspiring perimeter-of-the-airport route flew by thanks to dreadful 00’s dance music (Darude, anyone?!).


I even asked an unsuspecting passerby to snap me as I got back to the office- red head and all:


I’m doing Farnborough half marathon as my long run this weekend, and what I ran today was pretty much a quarter of what I’ll do then:



So back to it, after a few days off. Health health health!





LSR Friday

13 Jan

My feet are mashed. Runners feet are second only to ballerinas feet, in how much of a mess they are, in how punished they get. I kept them in check all summer, with pedicures, and moisturiser, and the like- but since Christmas, and increased mileage, everything has gone to pot. I had a lot of pain after a club trail run, in the summer, and lo and behold, bruised toenails. My trail shoes are just really hard on my feet, and are probably half a size smaller than my road shoes, and that impact in every footstep- well, it’s only going to lead to one place, and over Christmas I lost both big toenails. Utterly gross, and also quite painful for running, as now there’s no protection. Someone should invent some sort of toe thimble for this very purpose. I’ve found someone called The Foot Man locally, who I’m going to pay a visit to, but suffice to say there’s little point in anything resembling a pedicure till after London, when I will treat myself to the WORKS. And, in the meantime, I’ll be the one in black opaque tights for all occasions.

Today I went for this week’s long slow run, with two club mates, and it was so lovely to have company, and feel comfortable, that the rain wasn’t even a big deal. Three hours though. That’s a long time to be out on your feet. That’s longer than Andrew runs a marathon in. And the scary thing is that every week, give or take, I’ll be adding another mile, and that all being well on the day, I’ll be looking at two more hours than I was out today. It all seems quite overwhelming BUT I am confident that if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, slowwwwly, then I’ll get there.

The biggest issue is finding the time for long slow runs, because, for me, it’s the whole day. I was so tired after today’s efforts that we got fish and chips for supper, and I got horizontal on the sofa with the children. And I ate and ate (I am definitely not going to lose weight, training for this marathon), and drank about four litres of water. It’s quite nice to think I’ve got a few scheduled days off running- and next weekend is Farnborough half marathon, the first big event for a while, and the first with the marathon in mind.

A run reprieve 

12 Jan

I had reluctantly planned to do this week’s long run early on Saturday morning, to fit in with weekend plans, but the prospect of another pre-dawn alarm call and then a good hour of running in the dark was not filling me with joy, it has to be said. So I when one of my club mates said that she was doing 14 miles slow and steady on Friday morning- my day off- I was keen as mustard to join her instead- daylight, company, and no inhuman weekend alarm call, result!

I was meant to get in the gym tonight, but a distressed baby, and work to do meant that by the time I was ready to head in there, it was half 9, and I couldn’t be bothered- too late, too tired, too over it. No bad thing to have a rest day, with 14 miles to do in the morning.

The only reason I’m able to do this, however, is due to my sister taking Ned for a few hours, which I’m terminally grateful for, and for which (along with the gazillion other things she and my parents help out with) I feel terminally guilty. Such is the parent’s lot. I feel guilty on work days when I don’t get home till the children are asleep- I feel guilty on home days, when I dash off to the running club as they’re finishing their tea. I feel guilty when I don’t drop them off or pick them up from school. I feel guilty when I don’t read with them, or have enough time to play in the week, or when I’m rushing them out of bed on a school day. I feel guilty because I hate craft and paint and stuff like that, and avoid them getting it out at all costs. I feel guilty asking if family members are able to babysit, and guilty that we don’t see friends and family enough. And I feel guilty that we’re always rushing, that there’s never enough time, and that time is flying by faster than I ever could have imagined.

I’m largely relying on the following cookbooks for weeknight suppers at the moment, both of which were from Philippa! I do love a well stocked larder, and tonight’s quick and easy sausages, cannellini beans, and broccoli went down a treat with everyone. Time will tell if tomorrow night’s Brazilian fish stew is as popular (with Frank, I think probably not).

I’m still on the fence regarding gels for long runs- i.e., I’d rather not, and am not going to try them, unless I feel it completely necessary. I treated myself to some Lidl’s finest jelly sweets for tomorrow’s run, so let’s see if they have super powers!

Wednesday club run

11 Jan

So tired again- in this first week back to school and nursery, the first half of the week has knocked me for six. And I’ve got much less time to blog than I had last week!

Running club tonight, and I did a comfortable 5 miles with Yellow group, then added a couple onto the end to make seven- but annoyingly, whereas my watch says seven dead, Strava seems to have lost me point one of a mile. 

Hoping my energy comes back tomorrow- pre weekend long run 😬


10 Jan

Yesterday evening I didn’t run. Yesterday evening, I arrived back from work, and stood at the bottom of the stairs, listening to Andrew reading bedtime stories to the children, their voices pleading for just one more chapter, just one more page- and the jolt of memory from my own childhood was so vivid that I had to catch my breath. 

I went out for three miles today, at lunchtime, and although I got a little bit getting lost, I worked hard, and enjoyed it, despite drizzle and unappealing scenery. I’ve got to find some better lunchtime routes around Farnborough though. The ring roads around the airport are just a bit bleak.

And then Pilates for the first time in ages tonight! I’ve really missed having a good old stretch session once a week, so very pleased to get back into that. 

But now, bed.

Week one done

8 Jan

The alarm went at 5:45 this morning, and I snoozed it a couple of times before reluctantly getting up and making a mammoth breakfast, despite still feeling bloated from last night’s pasta party; porridge, with some added extras from scavenging in the kitchen- berries, whey protein powder, a few nuts, and some spirulina (?? Me neither, but it was in the cupboard and said “superfood” on the packet, so in it went. It turned the porridge a very unappealing shade of Swamp Green). A massive cup of coffee, and two pints of water, and I was good to go. 

Except I wasn’t. It was still dark outside, and I faffed about just about enough that I then didn’t have time to make it to Seale by 8am. I got 100 yards down the road, and turned back- by which point the baby had woken up, so I got to cuddle him for 10 minutes before heading to Seale by car. Some might say that faffing was accidentally on purpose so that I got some Ned time before my run. To be honest, it was bleak being up that early, in a cold, dark, silent house- I was quite happy to wait till the sun was up to leave.

Once at Seale, I met my club mates for the pre-run run- a couple of miles out and back to add onto the group seven miler, which left at 8:30. The group run was great- mostly off road, some vertiginous ascents and descents, on Crooksbury Common, and lovely company as always. At the end, my mileage was up to nine, but that was still way off the 14 I’d initially planned. Two of us ran the out-and-back that we’d done at the beginning, again, and then after meeting up with another BVR group, I decided to carry on a little further, and basically did the same couple of miles again, making my total distance today 13 miles. As that was no less than I did last week, I’m not unhappy with it- especially as I felt strong and could have carried on, had the prospect of getting off the windy road, and tucking into a cuppa and a bacon sandwich not been so appealing by that point. It also meant I’d made it to a cool 30 miles for the week, which is the furthest I’ve run in a week for years and years.

Elevation not shown!

Team at the top. That’s a lot of high vis (thank you Shanie for the pic!).

My thoughts from yesterday about en route nutrition didn’t quite translate today, as I didn’t take anything on board when running, not even water- but my supper last night, and this morning’s breakfast did the trick from an energy point of view. However, I know I need to work out what I’m doing. Perhaps I’ll take some wine gums, my favourites, with me on next week’s LSR. One thing I did do was have a sports shake thing that Andrew gave me, when I got home, mixed with milk. It was basically chocolate milk, which is fine by me. That, lots of water, LOTS of coffee, a can of Coke, and a bacon sandwich carried me through quite nicely to dinner time- which was roast lamb, rubbed with olive oil and rosemary, and studded with enough garlic cloves to keep the vampires away. Like I said- I never lose weight when training for long distances. Too hungry!

Does this make me a proper runner, even though it’s effectively just chocolate milk?

Fred Flintstone stopped by for supper

It’s back to work for me, and back to school for the children tomorrow, and so today was a day of Sorting Our Sh*t Out, including lots of batch cooking for me. I have a weird obsession with feeding my family- if I know they have proper, balanced, hearty meals, I feel that all will be well. It’s clearly a control thing, as on the whole, the little buggers are completely unappreciative and ungrateful, and would be much happier if I shoved chicken nuggets and waffles in the oven every night. 

I had to have a good think about my schedule is week too, as I am going to have to be more clever with my time, now that I’m back at work. This first week of January marathon training has been fantastic for me- given the killer New Year blues that I was suffering this time last week, having the club mileage competition, and Janathon, as well as marathon training has meant that I’ve run when I might usually have procrastinated, and have got in the gym, when I might usually have baled- and it’s been really positive for my state of mind. I need to continue in this vein. I won’t be able to get such a high weekly mileage this week, but I’ve put my stake in the ground now with my plan of what I’m doing, and so now I just have to stick to it…

There goes the fear (again)

6 Jan

Up bright and early- except not that early, as I am always late- for Rushmoor parkrun this morning, where my running club staged a takeover. This basically meant letting people know a bit about who we are and what we do- which I think is really helpful, especially if you’re someone who runs 5k regularly, and would like to run more often, or further, or faster, but aren’t sure how to do so. That’s where a friendly club, like BVR, is brilliant- lots of likeminded local people, with cumulatively hundreds of years of experience, and always someone of your pace to run with, which is particularly invaluable in the dark of winter. 

Before I joined my beloved old running club, Dulwich Park Runners, I had an opinion that clubs were for “proper runners”, not a slow coach like me- and this was despite (or, perhaps, because of…) growing up in a family who were very active members of a local running club. DPR changed all that, and made me realise that if you lace up your shoes, and put one foot in front of the other, you are a runner- it doesn’t matter how fast you go, or how far, or how frequently. If you run, you are a runner, and it’s as simple as that. Being a part of a club is a great way to run with others, to improve your running, should you wish, and just to encourage enjoyment of this most egalitarian of pasttimes.

And there’s always cake at running clubs, which is an added bonus.

Today was great; a big turnout of runners and lots of smiling faces. I had worn thermals, gloves, and a hat, but forgot an extra pair of socks, and I was very grateful for the car’s heater on my feet on the way home!

My plan for Janathon was to get in the gym and do a boxing set, but the day ran away with us, as Saturdays are wont to do, and so I’m saving it, because tomorrow is long run Sunday, and I am scared because:

1. 14 miles is further than I’ve run since I can remember.

2. I have to run from home at 7am, which means getting up before 6 if I am to have breakfast, (which I really should, with this distance), and allow time for it to go down before starting- and I hate getting up early, AND I won’t be hungry. 

3. I am doing a bit of a chop changey route, some sections on my own, some with people, and I haven’t run it before so have that fear of the unknown.

4. Leaving at 7am means leaving home and running for an hour in the dark.

5. The current forecast says it will be one degree at 7am. Marvellous.

6. I still haven’t experimented with gels, or any kind of fuel en route, or indeed water, which I understand some find crazy, but I drink a couple of pints of water before I leave, and at this time of year, I can keep going for a couple of hours without needing more. BUT 14 miles is very different to 26.2, when I am going to physically need something. So I really do need to start working out my fuelling strategy. 

These are all valid reasons to feel afraid, but no point belly aching- I am doing this, and I’m doing it for a jolly good cause, and it is these 6am Sunday morning starts that will make this marathon happen. 

So after the most enormous portion of spaghetti carbonara (this is why I don’t lost weight when training), it’s a reasonably early night, and a ridiculous alarm call set. I feel nervous that this is what Saturday nights will be like, by and large, for the next few months- feeling quite apprehensive and grumpy about what the (very early) morning will bring- but the knowledge that all over the country, there’s other runners in exactly the same boat is more comforting than I would ever have realised. That some of those runners are my fellow club members and friends is doubly comforting!