Week 6 – New Year, new me…nah, just the same me.

It was actually this time last year that I started running. My Facebook memories said so….

2nd Jan 2019 : First run of 2019 done. I’m not gonna lie, the thought of me running for a full 5 minutes (week 4/Couch to 5K) was, well, a little ridiculous. A lifelong exercise avoider – it came as quite a revelation that I could not only run (well, lightly jog) for that long, but that for some of the time, I stopped noticing I was running and zoned out, enjoying the scenery instead 

2nd Jan 2020 : seriously? Only 3 miles today?

I think it’s great that the start of the year marks, for many, a positive change in their health habits. My running club is doing a C25K programme starting this evening, and I’m going along to offer support and encouragement to all the new or returning runners.

My training plan is also moving up a gear next week, so I’ll be able to complain about slightly longer midweek runs. This week has been another rest week (the plan pulls back on miles every three weeks to aid recovery and prepare for next increase)

Training Schedule – Week 6

  • Mon – 3 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 6 miles easy
  • Thurs – 3 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – 9 miles long
  • Sun – Rest/Cross Train

Monday’s run ended up 5 miles, with the running club on a 20 minute out and back run. I ran with Sarah R most of the way, and she gets a good pace on, so naturally, I ran a bit faster than usual. I really enjoyed speeding up a little, getting more out of breath and red in the face than usual. For the distance, I’m sure it’s not an issue (but don’t tell big Hal).

On Tuesday evening (Hogmanay) I kept the drinking to almost teetotal levels, unheard of for me, and was in bed by 2am (again, not normal behaviour – I’m usually the one you hear singing their heart out walking home at 5am). I’d arranged to do the parkrun double next day at Montrose and Stonehaven, and I was designated driver.

Montrose parkrun had an amazing turnout, considering it’s traditionally the time of year for raging hangovers and a severe drouth. I ran alongside lots of running club regulars and friends. Next up, after taxiing The Kinghorns, Graeme T and Gary J and I to Stonehaven, I contemplated the notorious ‘hill’ that forms part of the parkrun route, that you have to run not once, but three times. I didn’t have long to think about it though, as we gathered for a ‘Montrose parkrun regulars’ photo op.

The hill turned out to be no too bad. I managed to run up it all three times, and as always with hills, I love racing down the other side. Not sure if this was before or after, but I look fairly chuffed.

On Thursday I arranged to do my 3 miler with Laura and Caroline. We had hoped for a cheeky Costa at the end, but it was shut (2nd Jan is a public holiday in Scotland) so we visited our running buddy Claire instead who is nursing a broken toe at the moment.

My long run on Saturday wasn’t terribly remarkable. Except a couple of things I did differently. I tried out Clif Bloks energy chews instead of gels after finding some in Tesco. I have tried them before, when I ran the Templeton 10 mile race with Colleen and she gave me one before the race. They taste like sweeties, and I could easily eat the whole pack…but I resisted and had just the one before setting off. I had a couple of albums I wanted to listen to, the kind that I can listen to over and over and never get tired of. Interestingly, both were released years before I discovered them…which is a bit like how I feel about not discovering running sooner in life.

I’m glad that this easier week tied in with the end/start of the year. 2020 is going to be an incredibly busy year for me, with lots of big changes. I’ve managed to have a good rest over the festive period, and spend lots of quality time with friends and family. I am looking forward to embracing the challenges that are ahead, not least the next stage of training, which will culminate next week with my longest run to date – 14 miles!!

Thanks for reading and I hope you all celebrated the end of the decade in style.

Week 5 – The Christmas Edition

Bet you’re sick of Christmas now. It’s Hogmanay Eve and I’m over it. It always struck me as something peculiar to Western culture that the build up to Christmas is frequently more satisfying than the actual event and the days that follow. Or perhaps I am just stuck in a post-Christmas haze of temporal confusion , full of cheese and mindlessly flicking through Netflix to find something binge-worthy. Mercifully, my running schedule has been a decent anchor in a sea of conspicuous consumption.

Training Schedule – Week 5

  • Mon – 3 miles easy 5.5 miles of hilarity
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 6 miles easy (Christmas Day)
  • Thurs – 3 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – 12 miles long
  • Sun – Rest/Cross Train

Going back to what I was saying about the pre-Christmas mood, my Monday run was on point. Running with an impressive 22 fellow Flyers, mostly dressed up as an assortment of elves, reindeers, santas and a spectacular musical Christmas tree (Graeme G taking the prize for best outfit by a country mile) we ran around town, blasting Christmas tunes and shaking up the local neighbourhood, fly-bying some of the best residential displays of Christmas lights Montrose has to offer. There’s a couple of great videos doing the rounds of us dancing around the human tree, courtesy of Ian and Lesley. I can’t imagine any other running opportunity where there would be as much hilarity and car tooting as this one. Yeah, yeah, training plan was 3 miles. Ended up an easy 5.5. Not even sorry.

Christmas Day!! New Garmin!! Early start though, gotta nip on and get 6 miles before eating my way through a gargantuan dinner and drinking the customary morning glass of fizz. As luck would have it, my local parkrun was on. Earlier this year, I made a (drunken) pinkie promise with Tasha and Jo that we would do Christmas parkrun. You don’t go back on a pinkie promise.

It’s 1.5 miles from home to parkrun, which meant I could bag 6 miles easily by ditching the car. I felt a bit silly running through town donning reindeer ears but just shy of the parkrun start point, I met the entire Jamieson clan (including Floyd the dog who looks a little like Dave Mustaine) then Colleen and Emily R, all heading for their festive morning run. When I arrived, it became clear my outfit was tame in comparison to some of the efforts made by others!

It was a great turnout, and after a lovely round of hugs and Merry Christmases, I found Jo and Tasha and we were off, full of Christmas cheer. I even got an action selfie with the two inflatable Santas.

The run was great fun, blethering with Jo and Tasha and making sure to thank each and every volunteer on our way round. Extra kudos to Tasha for completing her first non-stop 5K too!

I mentioned last week that I was going to make a vegetarian pie for dinner…well, I did, and it was delicious…possibly had a billion calories, but very filling and hard to eat more than a wedge at a time.

Boxing Day left one training run to do before the weekend long run. My husband Andy has a knack for guessing correctly at most things in life. I was pondering the distance of one loop around my street and local park to the rear of our house. Convinced it was about 500m, I roughly calculated 10 loops would equal my 3 mile target for the day. He guessed more like 1/2 a mile per loop, so 6 for target miles. Off I went, round and round, realising two loops in that the jammy sod had guessed right as my watch buzzed one mile. I took my defeat graciously, grabbing an afternoon post run beer from the fridge – which is entirely acceptable on Boxing Day. I guess it’s a good thing that I underestimate distances…it’s going to make 26.2 miles feel more like 22 based on my skewed distance perception.

Long run Saturday got off to a reasonably early start – so crack of 10am ish. I knew that at some point in the training plan a run around Montrose Basin would be in order. The route is a real milestone for local runners…I first ran it with a group in March this year. Then, it felt like an epic distance and I was SO chuffed to make it right round. I’ve since run it twice, once solo and another with my good friend Caroline. It’s around 10 miles door to door so I added on a couple of extra miles to the route. I have an almost perfect view of the basin from my house – to look at it, it seems SO FAR. But it’s not really.

Going with last weeks success, I set off with a gel, some water and another audiobook. I tried to rein in my pace and settled in for the distance. I chose clockwise so I could finish with a lap of the beach. Like last week, I got so engrossed in the audiobook I almost forgot to stop and take photos at my favourite viewpoint. There’s this house that used to be a church. When I was wee, I remember going out on a wild winter night, orienteering with the Guides, and ending up in this house drinking hot chocolate, unable to feel my toes, but being completely awed at the house/church. Incidentally, the road up this hill is a segment on Strava called ‘The Maryton Mile’. It’s a toughie. A gradual incline that builds to a fairly steep finish. Glad I was going the other way.

On the way back towards town, I stopped to take on half of the gel (mmm, cola flavoured paste this week) and shortly after saw three ladies coming towards me on their run. It took me until I was almost passing them to realise one of the runners was Pauline. I managed a rather excited/surprised hello before we passed each other. I was surprised as Pauline has recently moved to Gothenburg. Before long, I was back in town and headed around the beach. By this time, it was prime family walk time of day, so I had to manoeuvre carefully around families without giving them a fleg. I was just about home when lo and behold I saw Pauline and gang again (Christine and Tina). This time, we did stop and chat. They had been around the basin too. I learned that Christine is training for VLM and Tina is doing the West Highland Way (all 96 miles!!) Pauline is also doing VLM, having secured a GFA place and managed to bag a Berlin Marathon place in the ballot. What an inspirational bunch!

My weekly mileage came in a little over my training quota at 27 miles, but it was all perfectly manageable. I also smashed my yearly goal of 1700 kms.

I did have a slight moment of terror on Sunday morning when this flashed up on my Facebook app though….

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a great Hogmanay!

Week 4 – I do believe it’s working, good.

Ahh, Comfortably Numb. Classic.

Week 4 has been pretty good. Culminating in a really positive long run on Saturday, the training plan does appear to be working. It’s Christmas Eve Eve at time of writing and I’ve just a few things to wrap, an ambitious vegetarian-friendly pie to bake (my entire family are carnivores, looking forward to tucking into their steak pie on the big day while I promise ‘I’m not a militant veggie, dig in’) and a few last minute Christmas cards to scribble apologetically. Then. I’m. Done.

Training Schedule – Week 4

  • Mon – 3 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 6 miles at Marathon Pace
  • Thurs – 3 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – 11 miles long
  • Sun – Rest/Cross Train

Monday was with the Flyers. Paired laps around Montrose’s Georgian masterpiece, The Mid-Links. Starting from MELVILLE Gardens (cheers Graeme T – none of us had a clue what it was called) we ran in teams of 2, in different directions, until we met our teammate somewhere in the middle, then turned back again. Matched for differing paces, I ran with Keith, who is on the speedy side of the bell curve (and was able to run for pretty much all of the Edinburgh 24 relay we ran in the summer – what a legend). The warm up was really good fun. Michael had us jog up and down touching our toes and throwing our arms up in the air sporadically. I’m guessing we looked a bit like lycra-clad, head betorched Village People, making a crap job of Y.M.C.A.

I went with a moderate pace – but not too fast. All in, including run to and from home ended up near enough 4.5 miles. Couldn’t exactly stop mid lap and say, ‘oh that’s me done my training miles, best stop’. I would make up for it during the week.

Wednesday was 6 miles at pace – a mile increase on previous mid-week runs, but I made it 5 after going over on Monday. Jake came along too, and I had a try with the GoPro in photo mode. When you spend your days looking in almost forensic detail at images from a pro level DSLR with top notch glass (that’s lenses to non-photographers), it’s going to be difficult for most cameras to impress. Putting the fact that my only other option for photos on the move is with my lacklustre iPhone 7, I was hopeful that the GoPro would give me better results. I’ll give it 7/10. Photo quality is ok, but the three widths of lenses and the fact I can chuck it in my pocket was worth a few extra marks. It was really icy, so I genuinely had to slow down a few times. Kenny later commented that it actually looks like the dog is trying to revive me in this photo. Pahaha.

Thursday was back with the Flyers, week two of the Lion Run series where you win a Lion Bar if you beat your 5K PB. I really went for it in the first week, got the Lion Bar and everything, but by a fair margin. Decided that with a long run looming in a couple of days, it probably wasn’t the best idea to go out all guns blazing. So I ran with Claire at an easy pace and fair enjoyed it. Graeme G had gifted some consolation sweeties, so I ended up with an Aero anyway.

I was really looking forward to a long run. It had been two weeks since my last one (trying not to sound like an AA member here), and I was raring to go. Saturday morning arrived with perfect running weather. Cool, no wind. Learning from my last experience of boredom during a long run, I went out with an audiobook this time. I also took a gel with me, just to try. Nothing fancy, one from home bargains with vague claims of ‘isotonic’ and ‘caffeine’. Almost everyone I’ve asked about gels have said they are bogging, so I had low expectations.

I managed a cup of coffee and a banana before setting off. I’m not really a breakfast person, I mostly run fasted in the morning. I had a fine route out to Scurdie Ness then back round town towards Hillside then home again. I’d like to say I meticulously planned it out myself, but I didn’t, I pinched it from fellow Flyer Ian.

Out and back to the lighthouse flew in, so engrossed was I in the audiobook. Just over 5 miles in, I decided to try the gel, with some water. Opening the damn thing was a struggle, but I got there and had a quick sook of the sweet, sticky, wallpaper paste contents….while standing, in the middle of the street, laughing my head off at the narrator describing her first race photo looking like ‘a white rhino being shot in the arse’. I dunno, I’ve tasted worse.

I had another bit of gel at mile 9 – now somewhere between Hillside and Dubton. I realised at that point that I had hardly noticed the distance. Only a couple more miles to go and I really didn’t feel all that tired. I used to breathe harder going for a walk. Hence the title, it’s definitely working, this training plan, or maybe it was the gel?

My Garmin most definitely is not. I’ve only had it less than a year, the backlight is goosed and the heart rate monitor is all over the place. Which is a shame, because I was genuinely interested in which HR zone this run was in.

Looks like I’ll be asking Santa for a new watch.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

Week 3 – Only 17 miles?!

….are words I’d never imagine saying. But I did. I was actually thinking I’d written down the plan wrong.

I hadn’t. Week 3 is a sort of a recovery week. The mileage is pulled back at little, to prepare me for the next couple of weeks of increases.

Actually, I couldn’t have timed it better. The weeks before Christmas in my industry are busier than Donald Trump’s PR team. I’m a portrait photographer, which means I start fulfilling Christmas wishes back in Oct, and final ordering and delivery usually reaches fever pitch around this week. Hours sitting in front of my Mac, digitally fixing crusty noses and snottery cheeks of the wee cherubs that I didn’t want to spook but getting the baby wipes out. More hours getting print orders sent, mounted, packaged and collected. I bloody love my job, but it has mundane elements like any other job. I’m glad to say that all my lovely customers now have their cherished images ready to bring tears to the eyes of their nearest and dearest on Christmas morning.

Meanwhile, I still haven’t put up my tree. I’ve not seen the inside of a shop for some time, Amazon Prime has taken all my money and the local couriers think I’m laundering money due to the number of parcels arriving daily. You’d think a running schedule would be the last thing I need. It has been my salvation. The headspace away from distractions and to-do lists is one of the greatest benefits of the sport. I always feel recharged and clear headed afterwards.

Training Schedule – Week 3

  • Mon – 3 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 5 miles at Marathon Pace
  • Thurs – 3 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – 6 miles long
  • Sun – Rest/Cross Train

Monday’s run was waaaaay faster than it should have been. Not parkrun PB territory, but at a nippy 9 minute mile pace. This is my problem when I run on my own, especially over a short distance. Not sorry. Felt great.

On Wednesday, I stuck with one of my favourite 5 mile routes, out and back to Scurdie Ness lighthouse. It was a decent day and I had taken delivery of a head strap for my GoPro (thanks to Amazon Prime) so off I went looking like a totally rad snowboarder without a snowboard, using the Timewarp feature to record. Really pleased with the footage. Also, the run was good. Pace felt comfortable and breathing was relaxed.

Thursday was meant to be 3 miles. It ended up being my 6 mile long run because there was the opportunity to hang out with my running club buddies. Grabbing a lift from my good friend Jo to the start point, we set out on a looped course mixing up roads and dark muddy farm tracks, then up a hill and down again back to the start. Had a good chat with Moira, Jacqui and Anya for the first loop, then realising it was over three miles per loop, I ran a modified second loop on my own to make up the six miles. I kept my pace easy and avoided a soaking by taking the opportunity to go vote while Jo, Graeme and Ian did a third loop. Kudos to them for going almost 11 miles total!

I’ve not managed to fit a parkrun into my training so far. My local parkrun is great and I’ve missed my regular Saturday morning social. Like all parkruns, it’s run by a team of dedicated volunteers who make sure the panhandle course is well marshalled and clearly marked. This week saw Run Director Val at the helm, giving us all the news that the course was a fair bit icy in places, before we set off. In keeping with their excellent community partnership values, this week was also a collection point for food bank donations. It was heartening to see the ‘parkrun trolley’ filled to the gunnels with donations by the end.

I ran a nice easy chatty pace with Lesley and Emily R, always a giggle running with those two! My new runners had their debut too…it was about time to get some new shoes, Strava had been nagging me for weeks and my usual shoes had done over 900km. I had been getting sore ankles the last few runs, and my toes were poking out of the top mesh so I bit the bullet and ordered the same style in my favourite colour. Pleased to say my ankles felt great!

I still feel 17 miles was a bit lazy though. Next week it’s 23 miles.

Week 2 – Trails and tribulations

Yes. I meant trails. I’ve spent a fair bit of this week running on them. Tribulations is a bit strong, but my runs have been tough. Also, I really like running off road. It’s just, well, more interesting.

Most of you reading this who are local to Montrose will recognise this epic view. If you are not from ’round here, it’s from the top of a cliff in St Cyrus, looking south towards Montrose along the North Sea. This was my 9 mile route on Saturday. More on this later, along with the descent of the cliff filmed using my shiny new GoPro.

Ok – onto the nitty gritty. Week two had a similar schedule to week one. Someone wise once said you shouldn’t increase your mileage by more than 10% per ??. It was probably my physio friend Caroline as it’s her voice I hear when saying it to myself. She’ll perhaps confirm if it’s per week. Anyway, I ran a whole extra mile this week. So not even close to 10%.

Training Schedule – Week 2

  • Mon – 3 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 5 miles at Marathon Pace
  • Thurs – 3 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – 9 miles long
  • Sun – Rest/Cross Train

I rocked up to my Monday night running club social run in a waterproof jacket. Got drookit anyway. There are so many great Scottish words for rain by the way, but drookit is how I would best describe my 3 mile run. Pace was decent and easy, had a good chat with Lesley, Emily and Colleen then nipped off early so as not to overdo the mileage. The route was in town, so all road running. Which is fine with company. Later, Lesley informed us on her Strava post that her feet stayed dry despite all the mad puddles. Now coveting a pair of Gore-tex Brooks.

Wednesday was meant to be a repeat of last weeks 5 mile marathon paced jog. But there was a pretty awesome off road route planned for Thursday running club. Just shy of 5 miles. So I swapped my days and went for a 3 mile run/dog jog instead. I forgot to compensate for the fact that I was running on a more challenging terrain, at one point, stopping to scold myself out loud to slow down, heart hammering away in my chest.

Oh, and this is Jake, my 5 year old border collie. He comes along for most of my solo running adventures that are away from traffic and roads. He bounds along beside me, doesn’t care where we go and enjoys a good sniff and checking his pee-mails on our regular routes. He’s almost never out of breath. I once saw a tv programme about designing the perfect human based on the best bits of other species. A dog’s heart is one of the most efficient in the animal kingdom.

What he thinks he looks like running
What he actually looks like

Who likes running in the dark? In Scotland at this time of year, we have around 7 hours of daylight, so you adapt. I quite enjoy it. Sharpens the wits looking ahead with more scrutiny at possible obstacles and dangers…especially on open roads. A head torch and reflective/bright clothing are a must. I have a head torch. I don’t have the latter, so the opportunity to run with a group at night is great from a safety point of view.

Our club run was on a similar route to my Wednesday run….but I’ve never attempted to run it at night. Not alone anyway. Joining the slower pace group, I caught up with Jane who’s been on the injury bench recently, great to see her out again. My pace was a bit nippy for marathon pace but I didn’t want to hold anyone up and it felt comfortable enough, although it was positively mediterranean for a December evening.

My friend Jo kindly tagged along with me to do the extra bit to make up to five miles. Apart from feeling like a boiled lobster by the end and jabbing away at the aircon on the drive home, not used since at least August, it was a fun way to run the 5 miles.

Photo by Michael Loudon
The Evening Shift – Photo by Michael Loudon

I recently treated myself to a GoPro Hero 8. My previous GoPro was the Hero 3 so it’s not an upgrade I rushed into. I had spent Friday night watching endless YouTube tutorials on running with a GoPro and planned a route with suitably interesting terrain to film.

My Saturday didn’t get off to the best of starts. I slept in. My GoPro was flat. My Garmin was in its death throes at 9% battery. There was no way to attach my GoPro to the ancient gorilla pod I had planned on using. The forecast for that afternoon was stormy. Friday night me was all ‘haha, I’ll not have to worry about the weather, I’m all set with my weather app and will be home long before it kicks off’. In true multitasking/panic mode I managed get everything to at least 50% battery, throw on my running gear, mobilise a family member to give me a lift to my planned route start point (thanks Grant, getting the bus would have taken an age) and nip to Argos en route to acquire a GoPro handler. As I set off, the weather was ok, not even a breath of wind.

I know this is a running blog and not the diary of an amateur filmmaker, so I’ll not go into the details of recording the footage, while running. Instead, here’s one of the more successful captures.

This is speeded up – I’m not a mountain goat.

For me, one of the most challenging aspects of a ‘long run’ is dealing with boredom. Training for 26.2 miles of mind-numbing, relentless plodding with nothing else to do but think about the fact that I have 4.5 hours of mind-numbing, relentless plodding ahead of me is crucial if I’m going to succeed. My longest bout of running is just over a half-marathon, and I had company. I have always listened to music while running, but even that becomes annoying after a while.

It was only an hour and a half of running on Saturday and I had the benefit of trying out all the functions of my new camera. I was so focussed on that, the running became almost secondary. Then the rain and wind picked up. Hard to film when the lens is constantly covered in raindrops. The last two miles were horrible. I sped up to keep warm. My hip, ankle and knee started to ache a wee bit too. Not painful, just mildly uncomfortable. Weirdly, all were fine again the minute I stopped. All in the mind? Maybe.

So another week complete. I did manage to take my son out for another run/walk session. Impressed he’s maintaining interest and I’m hoping he’ll take the initiative and go out on his own soon.

A wee plug for my running club too. If you or anyone you know would like to start running, they are doing a beginners couch to 5K programme starting in January. An excellent opportunity to run with a supportive bunch, so pass it on.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment, especially if you have any boredom prevention tips!

Week 1 – Training Begins

Thinking of a title for my blog took approximately 0.3 seconds. Admittedly, I’d just watched the far more interesting Brittany Runs a Marathon a few nights ago, so it’s a shameless mix of blatant plagiarism and bandwagon-jumping.

I’m not much of a jumper, but I do run….

…and I have signed up for my first marathon….and my name is Wendy.

A running buddy suggested I blog my experience (thanks Claire), perhaps it will be useful to others?

I do talk about running a lot, and I will happily admit I am not an expert, or even an experienced runner. I’m perhaps best described as an enthusiastic novice….so decide for yourself if you want to read on, or not.

Over the course of the next 18 weeks, I’ll blog weekly on my experience of training for a marathon. I’ll make an effort to add photos and links to things I’ve found useful. The marathon is in Gent, Belgium (ooh lala, a fancy place for a first marathon you may be thinking. It’s one of my favourite cities, and I get a wee holiday out of it). The date is 29th March 2020. I’d tell you one of my all time favourite drunk stories from when I last visited Gent….but as this is my first blog post and a bit long-winded, I’ll save it for another post.

I’ve been running just shy of one year. It’s been a brilliant year. Prior to this, I was a couch potato. I couldn’t have told you the first thing about pace, heart rate, gait, the relative importance of rest day….personal bests, strava segments, how to lace your running shoes, isotonic drinks, smart watches, tempo runs, fartleking (actually, still not sure what that is) and the runners favourite topic…how to plan a race around your bowel habits.

Since then, starting off with the brilliant couch to 5K program, I’ve run numerous 5K’s and 10K’s and half marathons…some with brutal hills. And parkrun, as a local and a tourist. I’ve nabbed a few Strava crowns and I took part in a team relay 24 hour race. We came second. I decided I wanted to run a marathon in the afterglow of the relay race.

This all sounds rather gloaty and effortless. In keeping with my self-deprecating Scottish roots I have also; fallen flat on my face at parkrun, in front of everyone, had to take an al fresco toilet break during a run and had some truly cringeworthy photos taken of me towards the end of a race (shared on social media, of course). I’ve bought around 20 sports bras, but I wear the same three in rotation. I also realised wearing a running ‘skort’ was a terrible idea, 2 kms into a half marathon when the wind kept catching it and revealing more than I’m comfortable with for the remainder of the race.

So anyway, moving swiftly on.

I found it quite difficult to find a training plan to suit my running ability and goals. Like my running shoes and clothing size, I sit halfway between accepted norms. Somewhere between a novice and an improver. While researching training plans I was watching a bunch of YouTube running videos one night, and I came across the name Hal Higdon. I checked him out and bingo, a running plan for an inbetweener like me.

With a few tweaks (the training days didn’t really work for me so I switched Mon/Tues) I giddily input all the runs into excel and calendar. It’s an 18 week plan, the longest run is 20 miles, there’s no speed or hill work and I can fit the rest of my hectic life around 4 runs a week, if I skip cross-training. It’s doable, I think.

Training Schedule – Week 1

  • Mon – 3 miles easy
  • Tues – Rest
  • Wed – 5 miles at Marathon Pace (*more on this below)
  • Thurs – 3 miles easy
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – 8 miles long
  • Sun – Rest/Cross Train

My first training run was pretty easy. I had the benefit of running with my local running club on one of their Monday night social runs, blethering away until my watch buzzed 3 miles.

Next up was the 5 miler at marathon pace. That’s the one I’ve been working towards in the last few weeks. It went well.

*Until recently, my focus was always on getting faster. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a boost when you run so fast you want to puke, but bag some Strava bling and a ‘harder than usual’ effort…however, I really can’t see me nipping on like that for 26.2 miles and finishing. So I’ve been learning how to run slower (aka sexy-pace). With a bit of trial and error I’ve discovered that’s, for me, around 6:00 min/km (or 9.39 min/mile in old money). That should bag me a none too shabby first marathon time of under 4.5 hours…give or take.

By Thursday, I was fighting the urge to go for a full on sprint fest/interval session. What the actual? I have never been a fan of this. I thought about my new-found desire to push things harder than the training plan allowed, while running 3 miles easy and decided it was probably a blip, my propensity to rebel maybe. Anyway, the run was over sooner than I wanted.

Saturday came around soon enough. A proper ‘baltic’ sort of a day. Below freezing, but bright. My first long run would surely tame the beast within and satisfy my craving for something more challenging. I set off early, but still managed to catch various people. My good friend Caroline warming up for her triathlon club meet, a couple of parkrun volunteers on their way to their marshall point (including my running friend Beverley I later discovered), a couple of older gentlemen who flagged me down to tell me that I was a bit early for parkrun (winking at each other conspiratorially at their apparent brilliance and on-fleekness) and a lost dog situation that required me to stop and confirm that I hadn’t seen the owner, but that I would let them know if I happened to pass them (I didn’t, hope the dog was microchipped).

I hardly noticed the miles flying by with so many distractions! But it was a satisfying distance, and I didn’t speed off, and I was left feeling I could run on…which I think is the idea. And there was pretty light. My butt was frozen though…I almost searched Amazon for heated running breeks. Do they exist?

Bonny sunrise

On Sunday, I was supposed to rest or cross train, I thought maybe a swim. I did neither, my teenage son decided that he would like to try running (this is after months of resistance to the idea). If you have teenage children, you will understand that their minds can change in a flash. I wasn’t going to let that happen. We went for a run/walk together. He managed 5K. He wants to go out again next week!!

So all in all, a good first week.

It was also our running club prizegiving on Saturday. I won a trophy for the most improved! Delighted!

That’s me second from the left, grinning from ear to ear.

Until next week…thanks for reading.