Monthly Archives: October 2013

The one where my confidence takes a knock …

I’m a slow runner. I know this. And I’ve accepted it. But sometimes someone makes a comment and it knocks me. A friend made a joke on Saturday night about my GNR time being slow. They laughed. I laughed. We all laughed. But somewhere in my little head a seed was planted. And two days later, I’m still going over the comment. Yesterday I bought Runner’s World magazine and instantly felt like a fraud buying it. What would the shop assistant think if I told them my half marathon time? And this is how it starts. This is where self doubt creeps in.

I’ve been running for a year now and I have improved slightly in that time, but I’m still slow. Only last week I was at running club when someone announced they had just done a half marathon in a time three minutes quicker than mine. She’s a good 15 years older than me. And she said she hadn’t done much training. My heart sank a little. The comment on Saturday was the last thing I needed.

Running is something I do for myself. I don’t do it for praise from others so it’s annoying when people offer comment on something they know nothing about. They don’t understand how far I’ve come, how much I’ve trained and how difficult I find it. For me, when I ran my first 5k in under 30 minutes, it was a massive achievement. I have no natural ability. I started from nothing. I didn’t do any sports at school. I have not done any exercise in my adult life. I don’t even go to the gym. I started from scratch and I managed to run two half marathons this year. To me that’s an achievement. I’m always going to be slow, but I’ll always make it over the finish line because what I don’t have in speed or strength I make up for in determination. So, you might have finished your marathon and be on your third pint when I cross the finishing line but who cares? If you’re only enjoyment of running is your finishing time, you’re missing out.

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The one with a little inspiration …

The one with the training plan …

The last couple of weeks have been bliss. Not once have I considered putting on my trainers or getting up for an early morning run. Instead my life has pretty much revolved around eating and drinking with very little movement in between. I’ve eaten what I like, when I like, I’ve drunk numerous bottles of wine and I’ve read a lot. My top three things about not running are:

  1. I can have another glass of wine without thinking I have a race in the morning
  2. My washing pile has decreased by about 400%
  3. My head isn’t full of split times and minutes per km calculations, leaving much more time to think about other stuff, namely my new job and the impending Christmas Budget!

But the holiday must end soon, and for me, it’s in three days as Monday is the first day of my marathon training plan. I keep looking at it but instead of absorbing the information I end up staring at it and losing all focus and sense of it. Am I the only person lost in a fear of such a busy running plan? I can’t imagine a time when I will think of a 10 mile run as a ‘short run’ but according to my schedule that’s exactly what’s going to happen early next year. Yikes!

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The dreaded training plan

And Christmas, I don’t understand where Christmas will fit in. But the more I think of it, the more a 10 mile run might come as welcome relief from the inevitable family arguments and heart-attack inducing stress levels. Maybe I’ll increase it to 13 miles instead!

Yes, maybe there are positives to all of this running. I need to remind myself what I love about running …

  1. No carb-guilt!!
  2. The feeling of beating a PB, or even better, beating the man who repeatedly overtakes me then walks at Parkrun. I’m coming for you, Parkrun nemesis
  3. Those glorious dreams of crossing the finishing line at the London Marathon and then waking up to the realisation that in just six months it will all become a reality

What does running mean to you?

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The one where I don’t want to dress like Barbie …

So, I like to think my blog has been a happy place, full of happy stories, occasional hysterical outbursts and a bit of neurotic lunacy thrown in for good measure. Well, I’m afraid it’s about to get grumpy. Very grumpy.

 It all started with me spending yet another day in meetings at work and ended up with me wanting to rip up every single piece of pink clothing on sale in Runners Need.

 After work – to get out of my mood – I went shopping for a high viz top and found myself faced with a wall of hot pink and no other colour options! Why is it that running clothes brands use so much pink in their collections? Who buys this stuff? Do they think all female runners want to dress like Renee Zellweger in Legally Blonde? Or perhaps they think all female runners like the attention they get from men wolf whistling and beeping their horns so much that they want to dress head to toe in pink just to make them really stand out. WE DO NOT!!

 I know I’m not the only female runner who has had this issue so why do clothing manufacturers still do it? I looked around at the male running clothes and the colour ranges were immense – blue, black, red, yellow, orange. The women’s had a bit of red, some black and then just a sea of pink. After trying on a yellow high viz top in a men’s size small and deciding it was way too big for me, I gave in and bought a bright yellow tabard. So I now own a tabard and a bum bag but at least I don’t dress like Barbie! 

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The one where I stop running …

It’s been three weeks since the Great North Run and I’ve had to give in and take some time off running. After the run on Tuesday night (MONSTER hill), I was left physically exhausted and felt like I had no energy left. I probably shouldn’t have gone circuit training on Thursday, but stupidly I did, and that seemed to finish me off completely. Add to that the fact I just started a new job with a much longer commute which means I’m getting up an hour and a half earlier, and you get one very tired Helen.

I think I trained so hard up to the GNR that my mind and body just hit a wall as soon as it was over. But I carried on training. I was out four times a week the following week but found that my legs were tired much earlier into the run, my left calf ached and I couldn’t run beyond a 5K. I should say that I did knock 3 seconds off my 5K PB in this time, but I didn’t feel strong at any point and was left exhausted at the end.

So I decided to stop training for the next week. Instead I spent the weekend supporting the boyf at his Parkrun on Saturday morning (he came fifth) and at the Great Notley Autumn Duathlon (4K run, 21K bike, 4K run) on Sunday. He was brilliant on both occasions, and it was nice to not have any feelings of jealous, just pure enjoyment at watching him compete. He was amazing, finishing 37th out of 200 people at the duathlon, despite the fact he didn’t have all the gear, or even a flash bike. I’m one very proud girlfriend.

So my plan for this week is to eat well and get lots of rest. Because this time next week will be the first day of my marathon training. Oh Good Lord.

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The one where I compete for the first time …

Okay, so the header to this post isn’t entirely accurate. As the boyf pointed out, I compete every time I go out running, but normally it’s against myself or Parkrunners (usually just the wheezing ones at the back). But last night was my first race for my running club where I was competing against other club runners. Since the day I took up running, I’ve always looked on club runners with varying levels of awe(how do they run that fast?), disgust (when they run so hard they throw up on the finish line) and envy (I could train for years and never run their times), so it was a massive shock to find myself at an event, having become ‘one of them’. And I loved it. I should point out at this time, I wasn’t running so fast anyone was in awe, I don’t think anyone was envious of my time and I didn’t throw up on the finish line. 

We were taking part in the Chingford League, running a 5k route of a cycling track in Redbridge. Everyone taking part seemed to have a sense of what the course entailed, which was good for them as the entire thing was pitch black, the only light coming from head torches worn by marshals around the route. Perhaps if I had been told about the MONSTER hill I had to run up four times I may not have turned up. The third time round, I genuinely thought my legs might give in and my lungs explode. Having said that, having done hill training for the GNR, I found I was able to push up the hills albeit slower than the real club runners. I ended up leapfrogging one woman all the way around. As I overtook her on the hills I mentally high fived myself, but before I knew it, she was passing me on the downhill. I really must work on that! Still, I ended up overtaking her on the MONSTER hill just before the finish, spurred on by people from my own running club shouting ‘Go on Helen’. It’s amazing what a bit of support can do to your energy levels. 

So, now I’m a club runner. Who would have thought it?

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So happy to be away from that hill!

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