Cycle Map Run

Hello 2018

We are a week into 2018 and I am just getting round to finishing a blog post I started on New Year’s Day. I am hoping it isn’t too late to reflect on 2017 and the novelty of New Year’s Resolutions hasn’t worn off just yet. First of all, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and weren’t too hungover on NYD. I spent NYE with my family, introducing them to the UK Run Chat hour on twitter and planning races for the upcoming months. 2018 is set to be the year of new challenges and hopefully smashing some PBs but before I get into all that, I will take a look back at 2017…

2017

After the GWR smiling because I surprised myself with a new PB.

I wasn’t running too much at the start of the year as I was finishing my Masters dissertation alongside my full-time job. Looking back, I don’t know how I fitted it in but I completed it, presented a poster on my work at a conference in Vienna, passed with distinction and had a lovely graduation back home. Having free time again in summer meant I could really enjoy getting out running again! The first race of the year was the Jurassic Coast 10K in August, memorable for the hills, heat and my first insight to off-road running. The Great North Run in September was a fantastic experience. I will never forget running across the Tyne Bridge just as the Red Arrows flew overhead and I definitely won’t forget the pain in my quads which forced me to walk a bit at around mile 9 (tip: don’t cycle 50 miles the weekend before a half marathon). With a half marathon PB of 1:56 gained at GNR, I felt relaxed as I lined up for the start of the Great West Run in October. Clearly having a carefree attitude is the way to go as I powered up those hills and achieved a new PB of 1:52! Lastly, I took part in Run Up 2 Christmas with my club UKRC Exeter and collectively we ran nearly 1000km (that’s the target for this year!) and despite having a cold and all the usual Christmas distractions, it was good to have motivation to get outside.

New Year, New Me?

 I like throwing that phrase around to wind people up when discussing resolutions, however I did tweet recently that I am very much pro resolutions because why not try to make some positive changes in your life? Sure you can decide to eat healthier in June or try spin classes in September but the start of the year seems like a good time to start afresh. I do have some personal goals to achieve this year but I know you just want to hear about running so I will get to it!

2018 is the year of the marathon.

I am just a bit terrified. I tell people that I am now officially in marathon training and it tends to sound quite casual and generally in a calm tone. Then this happens:

Friend: Oh a marathon, how far is that again?

Me: twenty six point two miles

Friend: TWENTY SIX MILES?

Me: twenty six POINT TWO

Friend: WHAT! That is so far, how on earth can you run that?!

I know it will be ok. I have very supportive friends and family, no other major commitments (outside of work) and plenty of shorter races to run between now and the end of May including a few 10K races in Exeter and a half marathon in Taunton.

Of course, I will then be running the marathon at the end of May. That’s ages! Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Currently I feel quite motivated and ready to tackle the training but I’m sure that will change over time. I am sure you will all agree that the best thing to do is not get too worried, keep up consistent training and enjoy the challenge. I will try to listen to that (plus any other advice) over the upcoming months.

Before my first run of the year! Smiling on the outside, crying on the inside.

I guess now (finally at time of writing and posting) I have finished week 1. My first run was on New Year’s Day and it was horrific in the rain & hail at a hilly forest at home. Since then, I have been back to my running club (@UKRCExeter), been to the new Exmouth park run & completed everyone’s favourite – the long Sunday run! I ran a total of 38.8km this week (I do not like leaving it so unrounded but I’ll live) and not had a drop of alcohol or a bite of chocolate (chocolate ban only started on the 2nd) so I am feeling pretty pleased.

Just in case you’re a bit nosy like me, my other goals/thoughts for the year ahead are:

  • Read more books. It takes me forever to read a book unless I am lying on a beach in 25 degree heat. I want to read/listen to more this year to stop myself looking at a screen all the time and maybe it will give me something else to talk about other than PBs and negative splits.
  • Drink less alcohol. I am taking part in Dry January just to give myself a bit of a boost and yes I probably will have a glass of wine as soon as February hits but I am going to try to not drink so much this year. I can tell this one might not go to plan…
  • Work hard. I’m currently listening to What Happened by Hillary Clinton (she even reads it herself, it’s fab!) and it has filled me with motivation in nearly all aspects of life but especially my working life. They key thing here is to not doubt yourself and what you can achieve.
  • Save money. Yes another typical one but to be fair this already happens, I just need to maintain it and that’s what direct debits are for.

I’m sure I will come back to these in a few months time and think “How did I think I could give up alcohol, are you mad?!” but at least it’s all written down and that means I will at least try to focus on the list above. I’m going to go drink a nice cup of tea now and read my book (see, I am already a better person).

I hope you all have a productive and successful week ahead!

Here’s to 2018!

Rach x

Exmouth Park Run. It was freezing!!!
Post-long run selfie today. I managed 8 miles in the freezing cold after helping at Junior Park Run.

It’s the most run-derful time of the year

December is my favourite month. I absolutely love Christmas and it’s my birthday this week so what’s not to love?!

I am currently sitting in my cosy flat with a little Christmas tree on the table, because there isn’t enough space for an actual tree, & there’s a box of Quality Street sitting open and being very, very tempting. I could easily sit in every night enjoying strawberry creams & drinking Baileys but I have a marathon to run next year and I don’t really want to start back at square one in January. My plan is to keep the miles ticking over until the New Year then I’ll get focused on a training plan but it’s pretty tough when it feels like -1 outside and it’s dark before 5pm. I’m sure most people experience the same dip in motivation over winter so here is my list of things to do/ways to keep both the running and Christmas spirit alive…

Headband, Unilite head torch and Buff – the essentials for a run home from work in the dark!

1. Embrace the drop in temperature and treat your self to some warm winter clothing. When I buy new running clothes, no matter what month, I always get a boost. Use this to your advantage and get some long sleeved tops, gloves and a buff etc. If I could wear my buff 24/7 I probably would. I wear it as a headband when running to keep my ears warm & to stop my hair blowing around my face when it’s windy. As well as clothing, equipment like head torches and hi-vis arm bands can come in pretty handy if you aren’t always running along lit up roads.

2. Prepare some good food. I am not very good at this and really need to find some new recipes instead of relying on pasta or cheese on toast. I did make a lovely spag bol last night alongside a big pot of soup to get me through the next couple of days AND I do have something planned for later in the week. I guess most blogs/magazines etc would say that a good filling meal will stop you from snacking on rubbish. That may be true but I also like to believe that eating something nutritious (plus doing some exercise) means I can also have chocolate. Enjoy the selection boxes, Christmas puddings and prosecco while you can. Just have some brussel sprouts too.

3. Sign up to a race. I encouraged the rest of UKRC Exeter to sign up to Run Up To Christmas, which means we are all trying to run as much as we can from Dec 1st-25th in aid of Mind, the mental health charity (http://runuptochristmas.com/). It’s only the 3rd and we are already clocking up the miles, and a little bit of competition never hurt anyone! We also took part in a Santa Run this morning, which is another great excuse to get moving!

4. Try to get some sunshine when you can. I am lucky to work somewhere with flexible hours and lots of showers so I can pop out for a lunchtime run. I will probably need to do this over the next couple of weeks as the mornings can be a struggle and my evenings will be spent in the Christmas Market. It’s all about balance, right?

5. Be inspired. On the nights when it is really pouring down or you just can’t face putting your trainers on why not pick up that running book you bought but haven’t got round to reading or watch a documentary on Netflix (Finding Traction or The Barkley Marathons are my top choices). Soon you will want to be out there. I can usually have a flick through Runner’s World and read something that makes me lace up and head out the door.

This probably hasn’t convinced anyone but I’m pretty sure we can keep up fitness whilst indulging on the sweet stuff over the festive period. I will be out with my running club, wearing my buff & thinking about all of the chocolate I will eat afterwards.

Enjoy the festivities,
Rach

Running down memory lane

I am long overdue posting a new blog post and of course I have lots to talk about, that hasn’t been the problem, I just haven’t had time. My usual time to write a blog post or at least post one is at the weekend however my last 3 weekends have included trips to Edinburgh, Manchester and back home to Northern Ireland. I managed to squeeze a run in on 2 out of 3 weekends – Manchester got the better of me unfortunately! In Edinburgh, I did a few laps of Inverleith park (see photos below), which was freezing but lovely with families out for walks and sports teams out practising. At home, I dragged my brother along to Portrush Parkrun where it was also freezing and although a beautiful part of the world, it was not lovely that morning. It was my brother’s first Park run (he would not let me tell people that on the day) and we battled against the bitter wind and incoming tide to get through the funnel in just under 30 minutes – if you were there you would understand the struggle. There were no PBs achieved by any of the runners that day.

The photographer managed to snap us before we completely froze

Now I’m back in Exeter having had 3 wonderful weekends of seeing friends and family and therefore feeling quite content. It has also made me think about how I love going to both new and old places for a run. There are some routes that really stick in my memory and I love going back to them such as:

– the forest near me at home – the hills there are a killer and I used to hate the place but when I first completed the 7km loop without stopping I felt invincible!

– My go-to run around St Andrews lead me along both East Sands where I could see the pier, the castle ruins and the beautiful West Sands. I also remember running out of the town towards Guardbridge, which always felt like a huge achievement.

– 12 mile route from my house to the coast – This also stands out because of the achievement factor but I do remember it hurting although this was quickly forgotten about once I got picked up at the other end and had an ice lolly (it was roasting that day and I ended up getting tan lines on my legs because I had been outside for so long)

There are so many more, the list is endless. It doesn’t help that I have a good memory and could probably tell you the songs I listened to on those runs, the top I was wearing or what else I bought in the shop after those 12 miles.

I sometimes think back to my favourite places when out running now and picture myself being at certain points along the route, which I think does help me sometimes. It brings back a nice feeling of nostalgia and before I know it I have another mile completed and the whole time I’ve just been thinking about the food I used to eat or people I used to know in a certain place.

I think running keeps you connected to places and can definitely provide a sense of belonging. You really get to know a town when you’re running up and down streets trying to get last quarter of a mile done. You also start to notice other things that regularly happen around you like the same people out for a walk at the same time as you starting your Sunday long run each week. It can make the town/city you live in feel a bit smaller or at least improves your spatial awareness. I have friends that haven’t ventured to areas that I regularly run through and I don’t understand because I think of it as being on my doorstep (“It’s 2 miles to Aldi?!” “That’s not even 20 minutes away, come on let’s go!”).

It is quite funny to think that probably, at some point in my life, I will be looking back at the days when I would run along the Exe Estuary and get the train back from Exmouth, or cycle to Killerton for a muddy Park run. I should enjoy the opportunities that the South West brings me while I can and of course it has better weather than anywhere mentioned above!

 

Post park run pose
Ready to rock & roll
Inverleith Park in the sunshine
Running off the prosecco

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