Adverse Camber

I started this blog to get me through the London Marathon 2011. It was quite a challenge as I only started running on the 3rd of May 2010. I finished the marathon with painful blisters and quite a lot of money for a great charity!

This blog is now taking me on a new journey - to a fitter lifestyle aided by running.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Running pride

I feel so proud.  Wow, I can hear you ask, have you achieved a PB or run further than you ever thought possible?  Well, yes - but that's not the reason for my pride...I have my first toenail injury!  I am now a proper runner!  One of my toenails gouged a small hole in the next door toe - I feel so proud.

Now, excuse me while I go get the Savlon and a plaster. :) 

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Treadmills vs the outside

There is a lot of debate amongst runners as to whether treadmills are better or worse than running outside.  Personally I have always run outside because of the variance in the surface and cambers that better prepare you for races, which after all are also held outside.  However, the rains of autumn have already started and it won't be long before the nights lengthen and I will be spending the only daylight hours at work.   

As I'm sure you've got from my hints before, I don't live in the nicest of areas and running in the daylight is okay, but running around the park in the dark is an entirely different matter.  It is not something I would welcome.  How does one get round this?  Well, my running group will continue once a week so I can run with a group which will be safe, I can still do my long runs on Saturdays and that leaves one more run to find this side of Christmas (two afterwards).  I am seriously considering doing this run at the gym on the treadmill and I took myself there on Thursday for a little taster session.

I have run on treadmills before and did find I could run for a longer period than outside, hardly surprising when I lived on a hill.  This time I found I could walk at a fast pace so I really had to crank up the running speed.  The biggest challenge I found was having to run at a very regular pace, I could not slow down without resetting the treadmill first. The sweat poured off me and it was very tough going.  But it was also boring.  There was no breeze, nothing to look at (and you know how I like to let my eyes wander), no dogs to say hello to...all in all I was not enamoured and I know if I had to do all my running on a treadmill I just wouldn't have got the running habit.

I guess when the nights are dark and cold I will find my way to the treadmill, but I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy it.

Are youa treadmill or an outside runner?

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Climbing trees

Okay, climbing trees - not really running related, eh?  Bear with me - in my thought processses there was a connection.

You remember the park I run in?  One of the things I love about it are the variety of trees and there is even one I secretly stash a water bottle in away from lunatics and urinating dogs.  I was thinking about this tree and I suddenly wondered why on earth I had never climbed it; then I realised I haven't climbed a tree since I was a kid.  

As a child I loved trees and if it could be climbed, I climbed it.  In my grandparents' garden there were many trees, my favourite was the apple tree - easy to climb once you learnt the secrets of where to put your feet.  There was one wonderous branch in that tree I could actually lie along and I spent many summer afternoons in that tree.  My brothers, cousins and I were intimately acquainted with all the trees in that fantastic garden.  We each had a favourite and often the trees would be an important part of our games and adventures.  Our parents were also the type that took us to the great outdoors at weekends and in the holidays and we made the acquaintance of new trees.  So you see, I'm a big fan of trees.  The strange thing is though - when did I stop climbing them?  When did we all stop climbing them?  I mean, honestly have you seen an adult who isn't a tree surgeon in a tree? 

Well it all changes now!  Tomorrow I'm going to the park and I'm going to climb me a tree!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Bad running

I am a bad runner.  I feel awful.  On Monday I was scheduled to do three miles and all I could manage was one and a half.  My shin hurt, I was tired and had no energy whatsoever.  

"Why am I doing this?" I asked myself, "everyone is faster than me." And it is true, with my running group I am at the back of the pack (and I'm not the newest runner or carrying the most weight).   Note - I did not consider giving up.  You can just see some of my perfectionist character coming through.  I want to be better.  I want to be one of the fast runners.  If I do something I am usually used to doing it well.
Is running distance about speed?  Do we all have to aspire to be Paula Radcliffe?  I'd love to have one tenth of her style and speed.  Does not being Paula Radcliffe...or even one of the faster runners at my group make me hate running  or even want to stop?

I want to paraphrase and share a story with you now.  I read it in 'The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer':

Mark Block was a high school runner.  One day he was out driving with a friend, they were checking the route of a run he wanted to do.  Suddenly they missed a turn in the road and the car ended up in a ditch.  The full details of the crash are a little gory, so I'll spare you them.  The result was Mark was dead at the scene, but some paramedics had a go at resusitating him and to their surprise got a pulse.  He had head trauma, a broken neck and a partially severed spinal chord.  Needless to say his condition in hospital was touch and go for a long time.  When he came out of a coma he was paralysed from the neck down and people kept telling him what he couldn't do anymore, they told him he would never walk again and would probably be paralysed from the neck down.

I remember thinking "What have I got to lose?"  I turned the energy of fear into the energy of recovery.

 Nothing on his body worked, apart from his brain so Mark began to exercise that.  He imagined walking, what it felt like and what parts of the body moved.  Then he moved his right foot - the nurses told him it was a spasm.  Then he worked at sitting up and threw himself into physical therapy.   He left hospital using only a stick to help him walk.

Mark's amazing story could have finished there.  It doesn't.  He went back to university and decided to try and enroll on the 'Marathon Class' at the University of Northern Iowa.  The irony was he struggled to walk 20 feet to the door and yet had no doubts over joining a class to prepare him to run 26 miles.  The leader of the class was impressed with Mark's attitude and arranged for his goal to be to walk 10k whereas the rest of the class would be running the full 26.2 miles.  This goal was soon extended to 13 miles.

On the marathon day Mark was meant to start at the half marathon line, instead he decided to start at mile 11.  He started an hour early, but it was not long before the runners began to pass him.  During his last few miles even the traffic control and water stands were gone.

It took him 8 hours and 33 minutes to walk fifteen miles.  This is the man who was told he would never walk again.

If you want to read about his story in detail I suggest reading the book, it is certainly full of inspiration and tips for a beginner marathoner.  And I am going to try and remember his story when I beat myself up for not running 'fast enough' - I am running, isn't that enough?

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Morning runs

I honestly don't know what to write today. I am pooped.  I had a late night so I got up late and went off on my 'long run' after midday, or 'morning' as it felt to me.  I just cannot run in the mornings!  This is a real pain as this is when the races always are and, of course, the marathon.

My calves ached from the off, having just been dragged out of bed, my pace was ridiculously slow...but I kept at it.  For an hour I plodded away, running up to Cockfosters and into Trent Park on all different terrains.

I want to run faster!  I want to run in the mornings like I can in the evenings!  And whilst we're on it, I'd like a little bit more energy please!

How does the time of day affect your running?

Monday, 9 August 2010

Weather vs the runner

Now, you recollect I began this mission in May?  The weather this May was rather lovely...if you like hot weather.  I am a true cold weather girl, I can't stand being too hot.  There is one advantage to summer weather running though - everything looks beautiful and it lends a real joy to getting outside.  Who could refuse getting up off the couch and out into the great outdoors with golden beams of sunshine making everything look so darn pretty?

Alas with the sun also comes humidity and hayfever - enemies of the runner.

Today was my first 'bad' weather run.  It began raining before I left the house so I donned the 'waterproof' jacket I had bought for just such an occasion and headed off.  Within eight minutes I was soaked through.  However, soaked as I was I just didn't care.  I was one of those children who loved rain and if there was ever a storm I thought all my birthdays and Christmasses had come at once.  I just ran.  There was no humidity or pollen to upset my breathing and no high temperatures to irriate my body.  I just ran.  It was great.

Bring on the rain!

What is your ultimate running weather?

Friday, 6 August 2010

Want it all, want it now?

Spending a week outside stinky London I had intended to do several rural runs, including along the beach at Southsea seafront.  However, after my first run down to the local castle I developed a niggle in my shin.  On my following rest day it bugged me, but then continued into the next day when I had planned to run the length of the seafront.  Following all the advice I had read about running I gave it another day of rest.  It worked.  The niggle went and I was able to run after a two day break.

So, are we our own worst enemies when it comes to our bodies?  Does our enthusiasm and the 'want it now' attitude of the new century affect the way we train?  We have been led to think that if we want anything we can just go out and get it instantly.  Want a new house/car/electric gadget?  Sure - no problem with the easy credit of the last decade or so.  Only now is our economy suffering from our 'want it all, want it now attitude'.  Our bodies can suffer too, we try too much too soon and injure ourselves or, as so many beginners find out, put ourselves off the idea entirely.  Years of misuse and lack of exercise cannot be repaired over night, it is a long process and we owe it to our bodies to do it right:
  • Don't run on an injury, rest it
  • Don't expect to be able to run one/five/thirteen miles overnight, take small steps towards a realistic goal
  • Beginners - have at least one rest day after very run day; your muscles and skeleton need time to adjust
If we do it slowly and properly we can get there, injury and stress free.  Sounds good to me!

Lessons I have learned

These are the things I have learnt about running through my reading and running itself:
  • Don't try to improve speed and distance; work on one at a time
  • Build up a good base, run 1 mile before starting a 5k program and run 5k before starting any other kind of training program
  • After running walk for at least five minutes to get rid of the lactic acid in your muscles, if you don't - you'll be regretting it for hours!
  • Get a good pair of running shoes from a running shop, if you start to get aches and pains your first thought should be whether your shoes are old/ill fitting
  • Don't beat yourself up over a bad day or one that doesn't come up to your normal standards - get over it so it doesn't ruin your long term goals.  We all have bad days, get over it
  • Book a race three months into the future and raise money for charity, that way you will have to do it and have to train for it - when that's done book in for another
  • You need to eat!  Carbs will become your friend, you need them for energy. Don't start a diet and start running at the same time, you need to get used to eating smarter, not less
  • Dry wicking tops are a great investment for a runner, they really do work at keeping you cool and dry
  • Don't try and run someone else's race or at someone else's pace - we are all unique individuals
  • Don't forget to take your hayfever tablets
  • Keep a piece of gum in your pocket so you can chew on it if your mouth begins to dry out
  • Tell everyone you are running, what you are running and who for - it's scary, but it makes it real
  • Celebrate your achievements, remember what it was like on week 1 day 1 and put things into perspective, okay you might not be where you ultimately want to be, but look at how far you have already come
  • Keep going; when I can't be bothered getting off the couch I remember this quote someone on a FB group found - "You'll never regret the run you do, but you'll always regret the run you don't do"
  • Yes, you can do it!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

My first 5k!

In the 8 weeks I spent following Personal Running Trainer's 8W25K I had never run more than 4k.  I knew this because I used Map Your Passion to measure my loop around the local park.  Door to door (including the 5 minute warm up and cool down) it took me about forty minutes.  I wanted to run my first 5k in under 50 minutes to feel like a 'proper' runner.  I know elite athletes can do it in under 20 and most runners sub 30, but as a beginner this was my personal target.

After Su and I shook on the marathon deal one of the first people I contacted was Vikki.  I've known her for years and a couple of years ago she got into keeping fit by running, kayaking and cycling.  She is now the fittest person I know and a real inspiration.  I messaged Vikki through Facebook and explained I wanted to start running.  She was a great source of encouragement and advice.  Through FB Su, Vikki and I became our own little running squad...who just never ran together.

Before the race (I'm the one in pink).
Su and I booked in for our first 5k and Vikki decided to show support by doing it with us (although she was now used to longer distances and faster speeds than I could do).  We all signed up for the Race for Life in Finsbury Park.  We began raising money as this was a sure way of making sure we kept up the training and actually did the race, we could not let down a good cause.  I also told everyone at work I intended to run the whole thing, with no walking.  If you start to tell people it begins to feel real.

On the 25th of July we met outside Finsbury Park station with my boyfriend James and Vikki's son FredE as our official bag carriers and photographers.

Of course the first thing to do on arrival at the park was to join the queue for the toilets, we then did a little stretching and watched as a crowd of women joined in the warm up that we decided would be too exhausting.   There was a great atmosphere, two ladies in pjamas and curlers, rabbit eared women and generally a wash of pink over the park.  Vikki confessed to trying not to read the backplates that stated who people were running for.  I read a few and then agreed it was probably best not to - so many people of all ages affected by cancer.  At least we were doing something about it - between us we'd raised £305 on justgiving and in our places of work.

Finding it hard  going!
From the off it was clear both Vikki and Su were fitter and faster than me, I also got distracted by everything as we wound our way round the park with the 'joggers'.  Who would've thought there were American Footballers in Finsbury Park?  Or a large pond?  Being good friends though they waited for me and encouraged me on.  We did the first 1k in 8 minutes which I thought was rather good having never timed this before.  At 4k Su pointed out to me I was now running further than I ever had before, I checked my watch and we had done this in 37 minutes, my PB! 

The last 1k was hard, I hadn't eaten properly, or drunk enough water the previous day (due to going 2 hours to Swindon and then back again in a car) and since a sleep study at the hospital on Wednesday I had barely slept.  If nothing else this made me realise us runners need to look after our bodies; we need food, water and sleep - without it we cannot function properly.

The finish line.
The last 500m was signposted so I picked up my pace only to realise there was a whole extra loop which had been out of sight.  We crossed the finish line together and I stopped my watch - 46'28", sub 50 minutes as I had wanted and I had not walked once!
My first finisher's medal!

Reading on running

I am a big reader and whenever I get interested in something I tend to do a lot of reading up on the subject. On Amazon I found a great book by Bob Glover, The Runner's Handbook, and although a little American and dated it offered me a lot of advice and inspiration. I recommend it to all of you who are thinking of starting on this journey. There was one thing I noticed in reading it though, Bob does not have much tolerance for those who are overweight and his instruction is to lose it.

After that I bought my first copy of Runner's World magazine and felt an absolute amateur and slightly out of my depth.

Out of this reading though I realised I was making the classic beginner's mistake - running too fast. When beginning running it is important to build up your stamina with distance or time, not to sprint yourself into a wheezing heap. So, I slowed down and actually started to enjoy myself. I also downloaded an excel running log (there are lots free on the net) as everything I read said keep a log.  If you are not sure where to start try looking at these links to free logs from the Serpentine Running Club.

On some of the early days I really didn't want to get off the couch and out the door, but I had to - for Su. Of course, I still expected her to cancel the whole plan but I would not be the one to let her down.