Road to the Great North Run 2017

Only when you are challenged, and only when you challenge yourself, do you discover what truly matters’ – David Levithan

Running. Where do i beginning with my running story? Well it’s less of a story and more of an anthology these days considering. To cut a very long story short, I started running in 2013 because it was a more favourable option than doing Insanity and Dave was training for ultra marathons so I didn’t want to be the fat wife sitting on the sofa eating cake while he was out running 50 miles a weekend.

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I started off really small, running half a mile, then a mile, then building up to 5K then 5 miles etc etc. It was always on my bucket list to one day, once in my life, do one half marathon (note the emphasis on one there as I have no intention of doing it again) and seeing as the start line for GNR is practically on my door step it seemed the obvious one to choose.

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Training wise I was lucky that I already had a bit of a head start in that I could run a 10K if i really had to which would bring on only a mild case of COPD and the loss of movement in my right knee for 2 days. So when I started my training plan I was feeling strong. The longer runs did become a challenge at weekends, not such down to physical ability but more the crappy British summer weather – running for an hour and a quarter on a treadmill is. not. fun. The biggest obstacle in training came at the end of July which saw my Birthday, my cousins wedding and a week long holiday in Cornwall 3 weekends on the trot during which I did no training whatsoever. Whilst I was glad of the rest, it set me further back in my training plan than I had anticipated so come the second week in August desperate times called for desperate measures. If i were to have any chance to hauling my blubber butt over that finish line in less than 3 hours I needed to pull out the big guns. So i stopped drinking. I know, I know. Drastic.

Race Day

I slept surprisingly well the night before the race considering how nervous I was and was lucky to have Ang come over to do my hair and help Dave cart my stuff across the North East. We made our way to the start line on the metro, which was busy but there was a good atmosphere. The time that took the longest really was waiting in line for the portaloos before the race for that last minute wee wee. It’s alright for blokes who can (and did) just stand against a tree but us ladies need a little more privacy!

Once I was in my pen it seemed to take ages to get over the start line. When you watch on the telly it looks like everyone piles through at lightning speed but it was a good 40 minutes from then gun going off to me stepping foot over the line. As suspected I started off way too fast as I just felt I was being carried along with the crowd but I had my Runkeeper App on which triggered every 15 minutes so about the 3 mile mark I had slowed right down into a more comfortable pace as the field spread out a little bit and I didn’t feel I was in peoples way as much.

I had my 90s hip hop cranked up full volumes and the mile markers seemed to be coming round relatively quickly. Around the 6 miles mark my maths skills once again proved to be my downfall when I congratulated myself that I made it half way, until i remembered that 6 is half of 12, and I was running 13.

It’s cheesy to say but the crowd really do carry you through and thanks to them I only walked twice for no more than a few minutes each time. My the 10/11 mile mark I was really starting to feel tired and was pretty ready for it all to be over. So it was pretty opportune that at the 11.5 mark i saw my friends Carrie, Emma and Jayne. As i was running alone I felt surrounded by people who were with other people or part of a big team so seeing some friendly faces was just what I needed and they gave me the big cheer and positive words that I was in so need of at that moment.

Once I left them it felt like pretty plain sailing to the finish to be honest, It’s still a good mile when you hit the South Shields seafront but the crowd is 10 people deep and it really spurs you on to keep going. I kept forgetting that my name was on my bib so was extra lovely that people cheer you on by name.

I finally got over the line in 2hrs 38mins 17secs which I’m over the moon with considering anything under 3 hours would have been a massive achievement! I had my awesome support crew waiting for me armed with prosecco and mars bars at the end and mum and Ang assisted me in getting out of my sweaty gear so we could position ourselves in the pub and wait for the metro queues to die down. Which turned out to the be the best idea really as by the time we were fully hydrated again at about 6pm there were no queues at all so it was plain sailing to McDonalds back home!

Here’s a few fun facts from the day:

Final time: 2hrs 38mins 17secs
Things i was overtaken by: 2 unicorns, a minion, Woody from Toy Story and a two person pantomine horse
Most random thing I saw: A full packet of contraceptive pills on the ground
Things taken from the crowd: Some jelly babies and a strawberry ice pop
Glasses of wine consumed post race: 5

Run a 10 Minute Mile in My Shoes….

‘It’s not that your goals are physically impossible that’s keeping you from achieving them; it’s that you lack the self-discipline to stick to them. It’s physically possible to lose weight. It’s physically possible to exercise more’ – Daniel Goldstein

I’ll openly admit that I’m probably one of the messiest, laziest person you’re ever likely to meet, and I’m perfectly ok with that. It also wouldn’t be unfair to describe me as wishy washy or flaky. I can make up a million believable reasons not to do something if I really don’t want to. One thing you may not know about me however is that every now and again, I’ll decide to do something and I won’t stop until it’s done.

On example of that recently was saving up for a trip of a lifetime to Vegas with Meagan. Another was just before Christmas when I set myself a challenge of being able to run a mile in under 10 minutes. I’ve never been shy of the fact that I’m not a natural runner, I’m 5’4 – with only a foot of that made up of leg, and my thighs are as wide as they are long (think less Beyonce, more international sumo wrestler) but I do know what good exercise it is, it tones me up like nothing else, and as cheesy as it may sounds, that ‘runners high’ you get when you’re finished is pretty addictive.

I’ve challenged myself with exercise a few times in the past. In 2015 I did a ‘10K Everyday’ challenge I invented myself as a way to stay fit over the Easter weekend and it’s been on my bucket list for years now to complete a half marathon at some point. The reasons I decided on a 10 minute mile challenge were four fold:

  1. It was less time consuming than marathon training and was something I could tag onto the end of a standard workout
  2. It’s something that can be done in the gym – which in the cold winter months was a huge attraction
  3. I feel I have endurance exercise down, I can zone out on the crosstrainer for 90 minutes on a good day, but fast, high intensity isn’t something I do much of, so will be good to try something new
  4. The treadmill at my gym shows you running around a virtual 400m running track and when you grow up with Janine ‘Gazelle’ Weightman and Angela ‘School Cross Country Team’ Harrison as your best mates, I want to prove to 12 year old Helen that running round a running track isn’t the stuff of nightmares it once was.

So after about two and a half months training (about a month of being frustratingly stuck on 10:15mins), on Sunday 18th December 2016 I did it, I ran a mile in 10 minutes (in under 10 minutes actually) and it felt pretty bloody amazing.

wp-1483563593927.jpgPhotographic evidence: calories, speed, time, distance

What’s even more bloody amazing is I’ve managed to do it again every time I’ve stepped on a treadmill since then as well, so it wasn’t just a one off – yippee!

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More photographic evidence from 04.04.2017

It feels good to set yourself a goal and achieve it. Not just achieve it actually but work it into your daily workout routine. Now I need to start thinking about what I’m going to do next; it’s Easter weekend again soon however I reckon the possibility of me running another 10K every day this year is slim to none – still, it’s something I can tell the grandkids I did once…

Are cheap ‘Fitbits’ any good?

‘Walking at a moderate pace for an hour a day is considered a moderately intense level of exercise’ – Michael Greger

I wasn’t all the sold on Fitbit’s when they first appeared. Mainly because I thought they looked like a court ordered electronic tag than a fancy-dan pedometer. Everyone who has one though seemed to really rave about them. My job recently has forced me to come mildly obsessed with data and trends and charts and such so off the back of that I started to become really interested in the built in pedometer on my phone and trying to aim for 10,000 steps a day. Problem is I don’t have my phone on me all the time, particularly at work so I was having to basically try and run a marathon a day to get my steps in.

For my birthday I was given a Shonco Fitness Tracker, or my ‘Faux-bit’ as I like to call it and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with it so far. I’ve reduced the steps to 8000 a day which is roughly 5K as 10,000 was proving damn near impossible. It comes in a variety of colours (mine is like a turquoise blue colour) and is nice a slim so doesn’t look too chunky on my skinny wrist.

It’s on the basic side, it doesn’t have a heart rate monitor in it or anything but that’s fine, all I really want to know if how many steps I do a day. It calculates steps, walking distance, calorie consumption and monitors your sleep quality everyday. As it connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth you can set it to remind you by vibration when there are any notifications or phone calls coming in. Although the Bluetooth disconnects when its’ out of range from your phone the bracelet still tracks your steps or sleeping and updates retrospectively when you’re connected again. Oh it also tells the time too. Handy.

The data on the app on your phone is basic too but tells you everything you need to know, and breaking things down by daily, weekly and monthly data although one downside is it only shows you the current day/week/month, you can’t go further back and compare months or weeks, which is a shame.

Charging is easy, the band pulls apart to reveal a usb port that you can just plug into any computer. It takes about 30 minutes to charge fully and lasts about 3 days. The app that comes along with it is free on Android and iOS and although it means I have to keep my Bluetooth on and have the app running in the background all day I haven’t noticed it significantly reduce the battery life on my phone.

The main question with any of these things I guess is does it actually work? Well functionally it’s pretty accurate, however my advice would be to only actually wear it when you’re on the move, for example it thought I’d done over 1000 steps while straightening my hair one morning. It certainly encourages me to walk around more. I’ve started going out for walks at lunchtime if the weather’s nice and I walk the 1km to the gym now whereas I’ll be honest I used to take the car. I go to the gym often as it is so it’s not like I live a completely sedentary lifestyle but I’ve lost weight every week I’ve had it since my birthday so I think it is assisting on keeping me more active.

My favourite part though is the sleep data (I do love my sleep!), it calculates your quality of sleep based on your movement during the night and works out how many hours deep sleep and how many hours light sleep you’re getting per night. Makes it really easy to spot the nights I was drunk….

So it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a fitbit, but it is also only £20 instead of £70 so if you’re more worried about price than you are data analytics (or accuracy) it’s a decent enough substitute and will encourage you to get your steps done for the day!

Get yours here 

Getting My Running Mojo Back

‘I don’t generally like running. I believe in training by rising gently up and down from the bench’ – Satchel Paige

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with running, well with exercise in general to be honest. I only ever joined the gym because i’d started Weight Watchers and realised that the more exercise I did the more I could eat. I started running in 2013 after we’d decided to try Insanity at home then realised that anything anything would be better than that medieval torture DVD.

So suffice to say that any exercise I’ve done is because it’s been the lesser of two evils. And however cliche it may sound, when I first started running, I literally couldn’t run to the end of the street. So with Dave’s help (who runs ultra marathons incidentally, so there really was no excuse for me not to try). I did just that. I ran to the end of the street.

Then I would run to the next lamppost, then the next one, then the bench by the pub, and before long, I’d done my first 5K. Not long after that I set myself the goal of running to the airport and back, which is bob on 5 miles. Achieving that felt like I’d ran a marathon. I’d definitely caught the running bug.

Problem is thought i’m vey much a fair weather runner and it doesn’t take much for me to take an excuse to just go to the gym instead; It’s too windy, it’s too wet, it’s too cold it’s too hot, or most recently, I don’t have the right trainers – there’s that path of least resistance theory again.

I’ve mentioned before that I have flatter feet than Donald Duck, makes me great at swimming, crap at running and as such i need decent trainers that mean I no longer have the gait of a Weeble and make me need to hip replacement at 34 . I got some brand new trainers for my birthday (my trusty Asics Kayanos and quite literally wearing the lining off my last pair) so there really was no excuse now. Besides, everyone in the world seems to have been training for the Great North Run this summer, and I like feeling part of a gang.

So i laced up my new kicks, downloaded some cheesy motivational running tunes and set out for my first 5k in about 4 months. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had, and i was pretty much unable to move for 48 hours afterwards but i did it. And thinking how much effort it took me to run 5K not that long ago, the fact that I could run it reasonably ok after doing nothing other than crosstraining for 4 months felt like an achievement.

The main thing i like about running, other than it tones you up like nothing else (i swear I almost saw an ab once) is that it’s all you. The effort is all you. You’re not being helped along by water, or a machine, and yes sometimes you get lucky on a particularly windy day and get pushed home but other than that it’s you doing all the work and that’s why it hurts so much! But it’s also why it does you so much good.

So although my first 5k was a success it still feels like a long road back to 10K. Out all i needed to get my running mojo back was a new pair of trainers and to run out of excuses.

Ultra Dave’s Ultra Diary – Holiday Edition

‘Chafing, black toenails, and dehydration are just the rites of passage for those of us who race 50 and 100 miles and more’ – Scott Jurek

It’s been nearly 2 months since Dave completed the Kielder Ultra 80K race and within a week he’d signed up for another one:

Dave:

I felt relatively fine after the Kielder race, so much so in fact that I was back out running the same week.

I decided to strike while the iron was hot and enter another race quickly so I didn’t come complacent and let food and beer undo all the hard work I’d done so far. The St Cuthberts Way Ultra on 16th July 2016 was the next logical step. It’s local and as it’s 100k felt like unfinished business after dropping down to 80K at Keilder. It was nice to have something achievable in the pipeline to aim for again.

Training since Kielder has been going well other than I haven’t really done many long training runs which seemed to dominate my training for the Wall. Even so I’ve managed to remain relatively injury free which is nothing to be sniffed at.

Halfway through training for St Cuthbert we were due to spend 2 weeks in The Algarve. Experience of previous holidays as been if you take a fortnight off training it takes a month to get your fitness back up to where it was and I didn’t have time for that.  I’d experienced running every day on holiday in Greece last year and found it was something I built easily into my day and felt better for it when I got home. I’d done it in Greece so didn’t see why I couldn’t do it in Portugal too.

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The main difference running in Portugal over home (or Greece) is that it feels much more isolated. Too much beer and Kleftiko In Greece meant I did all my training runs early evening, however in Portugal I limited the amount I drank which allowed me to get out at around 10am before it started getting really hot. The two things that made it a lot tougher this year was the heat and the hills. I do, however prefer running in warm weather, so long as I have enough water with me. Although I don’t run as fast as in the cold, I find the warmth keeps your muscles nice a lose and tend to experience less pulls or strains. I also ran farther in Portugal than I did in Greece; 7.5miles instead of 10K – although both seem to have the universal foreign dog problem nipping at your ankles or just generally scaring the crap out of you as you jog past!

The training plan after holiday is pretty much 2-3 weeks of running as much as I can, doing way easy on the drink if not stopping completely than take a week or so to taper in the run up to the race.

For St Cuthberts I’m looking forward to the terrain and conditions being much more manageable that it was at Kielder. My practice of hill running in the heat in Portugal will hopefully have been good practice for any potential warm whether (for the North East!) and the 500 metre climb over 8 miles I did in the hills should stand me in good stead for the 2500 metre elevation on race day. My biggest hurdle I think will be that I haven’t done many long training runs however as always, I imagine the biggest real problem will be something I haven’t even considered yet.

 

Ultra Dave’s Ultra Diary – The Kielder 100K

Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further past what your mind wants to let you. That’s what ultrarunning is all about; introducing you to a self you’ve never known’ – Rex Pace

When you start to think about people you really admire, it’s easy to come up with the same old answer every time, a celebrity or a sports star, people you’re detached from and are almost superhuman. It’s easy to forgot that actually real people are doing amazing things around us all the time, we just don’t notice it as much because it’s not trending on Twitter.

I admire lots of people in my day to day life; there are lots of female senior managers at work I aspire to be like, my mum raised two kids alone in a foreign country while my dad worked to provide for us, my dad and brother how work ethics that are second to none. All little bits of different people that I take inspiration from and wish I could be like.

Then there’s my husband Dave, who, as you’ll know has taken up running ultra-marathons over the last couple of years, which, as far as my fat stumpy non-runner legs are concerned is nothing short of bionic. A few weeks ago Dave undertook his second Ultra; the Kielder 100k, which he’d planned to do as a warm up for the EnduRun24 in May, but when that got cancelled, Kielder turned into race day.There are 3 distances you can do for the Kielder Ultra; 50K, 80K and 100K.

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So, how did he get on? He and fellow runner Ryan who completed (and only bloody won!) the 50K leg tell all…

How did Kielder compare to any races in the past?
Dave: I only really have one ultra, The Wall, to compare to. Kielder is shorter (even the 100K distance) but that is where any prospect of it being easier ends. The terrain under foot is probably the most difficult aspect of the race. It is extremely wet bog for large portions of the first half of the race. There are also some very steep hills, far from runnable for all but the very gifted. The course is designed to take the most difficult path so doubles back and takes odd detours just to be awkward! It is very pretty though, if you can see through the fog…

Ryan: It was quite similar but less hilly than most races of late, however the terrain took me by surprise. I’ve ran many parts of Kielder before but not where the course took us, it was fantastic and brutal in parts.

What are your pre-race rituals?
Dave:
This race was unusual because it took place on a Sunday. Most ultras seem to start on a Saturday,as they may go on well into the next day depending on the cut off times and the speed of the competitors. We were due to register in late afternoon so having stuffed the car full of equipment we drove up to the start/finish point. We were one of the first people to arrive so went and chose our camp spot and put up the tent. Registration was simple and pretty low key. After that we went for a short walk down to the edge of the reservoir to take in the view and soak up a bit of the spring sunshine. The race briefing didn’t add much information and the details which were added went over my head a bit. I found it difficult to retain any navigation tips and apply them to a course I hadn’t seen, especially without a map in front of me. After the briefing we cooked dinner outside in rapidly dropping temperatures before quickly deciding that the local put was the best option (tonic water only for me). I didn’t really feel nervous rather just impatient to get to the running. Out camp was quite comfortable, but it still took a while to go to sleep.

Ryan: This has changed in the last year, I used to have a bowl of pasta and half a bottle of wine! Recently I’ve been reading a book by Renee McGregor called “Training Food” no I’ve don’t drink the night before but still have a carb rich diet. I make sure my kit is ready and laid out for the morning, most ultras start really early so I like to be really organised and have no stress in the morning.

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The weather was pretty dramatic early on, how did that affect you physically and mentally?
Dave: We weren’t expecting to wake up to a tent covered in snow! It made getting to the start on time more of a panic and made me a bit apprehensive. It also made it hard to know where you were placing your feet. I fell over multiple times and almost twisted an ankle on countless other occasions. My feet were soaked almost immediately from the start and stayed that way despite multiple sock and shoe changes throughout the day. They were uncomfortably cold at points and the wet going made me over concerned with the chance of blisters which contributed to some tactical mistakes. I did actually find that the deep snow on my lower legs felt like it was keeping them nice and cool so wasn’t a problem.

What was the hardest part of the day?
Dave:
The hardest section is the first big loop (leg 2) that the 100/80K runners complete over Deadwater and Peel fells, due to the terrain and steepness. However for me, the third leg was worst as I changed shoes to get dry feet, but this left me in shoes that did not give enough grip. The paths were partly very wet clay/mud which was extremely slippery, and I fell hard twice in as many minutes. The logging tracks were also covered in the debris of logging activity, particularly stray branches which slowed me to a crawl.

Ryan: I found the lakeside paths the hardest, I’ve ran around them over 20 times but as I’m training for another race currently most of my training has involved running up big hills, the more undulating sections of the lakeside path were more difficult than previous times I’d ran on them. The guys I ran with had really good flat speed which made me struggle.

What nutrition/hydration kept you going?
Dave: I ate mainly jelly babies but I stuffed the odd bit of different food into my mouth at checkpoints. For hydration I used Nuun hydration tablets with water and some sports drinks.

Ryan: I’ve always been good with nutrition on races, I’ve luckily never suffered from stomach problems and can eat anything, I’ve been known to eat jalapeno pizzas! Recently I’ve switched to Tailwind nutrition, www.tailwindnutrition.co.uk it gives me everything I need to get round, it also aides my recovery. Since I’ve switched to it my results have improved beyond belief, it’s given me a new found confidence.

Who did you meet along the way and how important is it to have company?
Dave: I ran with a guy called Stu for some of the first leg. I like to talk to people early on to distract me from any nerves. I ran most of the exposed Peel Fell section with a lady called Cathy which was really reassuring because the visibility was terrible, the course markings not always obvious, and I wasn’t carrying GPS.

Ryan: The thing I’ve always like about ultras is the people you meet. As you’re not usually running at eyeballs out pace you can generally have a good chat and get to know people, you’re out on your feet for a long time so it’s a great way to pass the hours. I met Simon and Mark within the first couple of miles, we got chatting, it turned out I knew friends of Simon and knew who he was through the twitter ultra community. It made a huge difference, we worked as team really well, by that I mean there were times were one of us was struggle at some point and we stuck together to get each other through. I’ve ran on my own and in groups and can honestly say wouldn’t have got through the day as well if I’d been on my own all that time.

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Dave had signed up for the 100K race but made the decision to drop down to the 80K…..
Dave: There were a variety of factors in the decision to drop down. Leg 3 was a disaster in terms of footwear, which slowed me a lot and made me concerned about falls. Being behind schedule I realised that the head torch I was carrying would not be up to the task of running off road in pitch darkness. I had thought I would only really need it at the start when there were lots of other people around. The conditions, terrain and to some extent, the hills were much more severe than I expected so I was concerned about how much this might have taken out of me. Also other runners and even some of my support crew were talking about changing to the 80K distance from early on, which planted the thought in my head. The deciding factor I think was that the weather changed so dramatically that by the decision point it was glorious sunshine. I had done very little proper running due to the terrain so decided a sunny 20K around the lake to the finish sounded much better than
more rough terrain and hills. This would allow me to finish at a better time for supporters and for the drive home.

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The weather was sightly better by the afternoon!

What state were your feet in afterwards?
Dave: Not bad, I think maybe one small blister. The main problem only showing itself towards the end of the race was bruised big toes. More unusual for me has been that I’ve had a sore mouth, particularly gums for about five days after the event which made it painful to eat or have hot drinks. My main guess is that it is something to do with the electrolyte drinks but it could high glucose in food and other drinks, or just the amount of air breathed over the 12 hours running.

Ryan: Feet were fine, they got a soaking in the first 2 miles and again throughout the course.  Touch wood, I’ve always been lucky with my feet, I on’t tend to suffer from blisters.  I wear Injinji toe socks and Salomon Sense Ultra shoes and it;’s a combination that seems to work really well.  After St Cuthberts 100km, race director couldn’t believe how good a condition my feet were in, he jokingly questioned if I’d actually ran the course!

What one thing will you take away from the day?
Dave: Well I coped better than I thought as this was my first real trail race. Finishing 6th with relative ease and finishing strongly (3rd best final section time) confirmed that starting slow and getting stronger is more fun than heading out fast and running out of steam.

Ryan: The two great friends I made in Simon and Mark, my first ever race win and a lovely new Salomon Slab 12 Set, my running pack of choice!

Finally getting some editing done #kielderultra #teamvague

A post shared by Helen Newman (@honestlyhelen) on

What’s the next date in the running diary?
Dave: July 16th, St Cuthbert’s Ultra, another 100K race. I’ve got some unfinished business to attend to!

Ryan: I’m doing the Highland Fling on April 30and then my first 100 miler attempt, South Wales 100, a beast of a race in the Brecon beacons.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing their first ultra run?
Dave: Firstly, have you considered something more sensible?! Before the race, test out decent kit and do as many training miles as possible without injury. On race day focus on nutrition, hydration and pacing.

Ryan: Get entered, get training and enjoy the whole experience. It’s more doable than you think, if you break it down into sections, checkpoint to checkpoint, it makes it much more manageable. One last tip, when you think you can’t possibly take another step, trust me you can, it’s amazing what happens when you push yourself beyond that point. As long as you keep moving forward, you’ll get there eventually!

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Ryan Hogben has always enjoyed distance running after completing his first ever half marathon and building from there. He says he’s never enjoyed the shorter distances and after couple of guys at his old running club had done G2E, a 55 mile ultra along canal paths from Glasgow to Edinburgh, he took the plunge and was hooked. The Kielder Ultra was his 12th race of ultra-distance.You can follow his own running adventure here.

Thanks very much to Steve at www.granddayoutphotography.co.uk for allowing me to use his brilliant pictures!

2016 Resolution number 6 – an Update

‘It’s not exactly the most relaxing activity, granted, but I always imagine I’m sweating out all the things weighing on my mind’ – Becca Fitzpatrick

Back in January it felt obligatory to jump on the blogging bandwagon that was doing the rounds that week and I created my 16 in 16. 16 resolutions for 2016 (god help me in 2072!). I remember posting it and getting a few positive comments about them and it was all lovely but I don’t think, if I’m honest with myself I was under any illusion that I would actually do any of them. Believe me I’ll say pretty much any old shit for the sake of a half decent blog post.

So fast forward a few months I  noticed on my stats page that for some weird reason, my 16 in 16 post was being read again, which made me read it again, if only to laugh at myself for spending 3 hours creating a useless list of half baked ideas that were going to somehow make my life better. The most surprising thing is, I have actually managed to do a few of them. Perhaps one of my resolutions should have been ‘be less hard on myself’?

Anyway, that gave me the idea to create a few posts giving updates on some of the things I said I would do, and low and behold I actually have!

Number 6 on the list was:

Get back into running – I still have a love/hate relationship with running. I don’t particularly enjoy it and I find it difficult, but I’ve always a bit of a masochist, I like punishing myself by doing things I don’t enjoy. Health wise nothing tones me up like running, it gives me the opportunity to discover new music, and it completely clears my head when I’m down. I know all the benefits it brings, I just need to get it done.

I’m not ashamed to say I’m a fair weather runner. I don’t find anything wrong with not wanting to run outside in the pissing rain, or snow, in fact I think that’s a perfectly normal attitude to have. Problem is, spring has sprung, the clocks have changed so we have more daylight hours, which means I have less excuses not to get off my fat backside and get out and get it done.

I haven’t ran properly since I did the Blaydon Race with Dave and Steph last year and it’s worrying to think that this time last year I ran 10k everyday over Easter weekend, there’s no way I could have done that this Easter weekend. No way Jose. That’s not to say I haven’t been trying to keep fit of course, I’ve started spinning semi regularly and still going to the gym almost 6 times a week. I just haven’t been running. So I decided 2 weeks ago to start up again.

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As you’ve probably gathered if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I don’t go particularly easy on myself. My usual comfortable distance always used to be 10K but I knew that trying to do that after not running for 8 months would be ridiculously hard and I would say really horrible things to myself when I was unable to achieved it. So I’m basically starting again. Well, starting at 5k at least, then building on that whenever I can.

So far so good, I’m trying to get out at least twice a week (weather dependent) and building up a kilometre a week. I figured that if I can maintain that level of ramping up, I should be running 10k’s again by the weekend of Steph & Chris’ wedding at the end of April.

Not that their wedding requires their guests to participate any form of distance running of course, that would be weird, but it should hopefully mean I’m back to a level of fitness that enables me to wear a very unforgiving bodycon dress I’ve had in my wardrobe for 18 months and never been brave enough.

I’m really hoping I stick with it and get back into it again, even if it’s just bashing out a 10k once a week when I have time at the weekend because when I’m fitter, I do enjoy running a bit more, and the better I get at it the more adventurous I can be by running in some areas with nicer scenery – like along the river Tyne, which is one of my favourite places to run.

I’ll be perfectly honest though, the main reason I like running so much is that it absolutely melts calories which means I can eat more chocolate and drink more wine!

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