Happy Hogmanay!

Happy Hogmanay! Today marks the end of my first year (ok, six months and a bit) of running, and it feels amazing.

This time last year, it never crossed my mind that I would even want to run for a bus, and yet here we are, one year on, running 5K a couple of times a week and training for my very first 10K race. Who would have thought it?

So, this evening, rather than getting drunk and dreaming up New Year resolutions that I’ll probably never keep, I decided to celebrate the old year by going for a run.

According to my somewhat experimental 10K training plan, the purpose of tonight’s run was to build on my distance by running 4.5 miles. This suited me fine as I tend to take these runs fairly slowly and I was feeling pretty tired despite the early finish at work.

By the time I set out, it was already dark but the rain had stopped and, although it was still a bit blustery down on the seafront, the wind wasn’t too bad. In fact, it felt pretty good.

I took it easy for the most part, enjoying the peace and the solitude and the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. The aim was to run far, not fast, so I didn’t even bother checking my pace.

In the end, I ran a little bit further than planned – 7.85 kilometres, which is just under 5 miles. Not bad for someone who could barely run a hundred yards six months ago.

In a way, it’s kind of sad that 2013 is going to be over. It has been a good year on the whole, particularly the last six months or so, and it’s mainly down to running.

Running has given me a new lease of life. It has helped me to focus on my goals, believe in myself and pay more attention to my body. But most of all, it has helped me to put things into perspective and taught me to not take life too seriously.

So, here’s to the old year. Thank you for the ups and the downs, the miles and the yards, the lessons learned and the adventures had. Let’s hope next year is as good by half.

Happy Hogmanay!

A Wee Bit Chilly

It was more than just a wee bit of a tad chilly out there this morning. To be fair, I was up very early. About 6:00 am, which is early for me any day of the week. Not that I went out at 6:00 am. That would just be silly and way too dark, but at 7:30 it was still a degree or two colder than I am used to.

I realised this as soon as I opened the front door. My usual long-sleeved shirt with another t-shirt on top wasn’t going to be enough, so I shut the door and added another layer – leggings under my trousers and a zipper hoody type thing over the t-shirt. It was still cold, but I had to account for the fact that I was probably going to get quite warm once I started running.

For once, there wasn’t much wind down on the seafront, although the storms of the last week or so had left their mark. It was sad to see so many of our lovely beach huts battered, blown away and in some cases completely destroyed by the storms.

The run itself was nice though. It was good to be running on the flat and I enjoyed the absence of my iPod as the waves crashed on the beach. There were quite a few runners out too and everyone seemed quite smiley and happy running up and down the promenade, exchanging nods and greetings of “morning!” between gasps of cold sea air.

I was pleased that I managed to set off at a slower pace than my last two runs and avoided having to take a walking break, but I still haven’t quite mastered those negative splits yet – although I partly blame the fact that it was a bit slippery underfoot.

5K Splits- 2013-12-29

As I reached the end of the run, I was tempted to take advantage of the slippery surface and do an impressive sliding finish, but stumbled and almost toppled sideways instead. I don’t think anyone saw me, which is probably just as well.  Perhaps I’d better just stick to jogging slowly like everyone else.

Happy running!

Another Day, Another Parkrun

Two Parkruns in one week? What a treat! Not least of all, because I get to play with my new Garmin… again.

After Wednesday’s Christmas Day Parkrun, I was keen to get back out again and get to work on my PB. My original goal had been to run a Sub 30 5K by the end of the year, but what with injury and cold weather making my training less than sporadic over the last few months, that was going to be difficult at best.

Still, not to be defeatist about it all, I headed to the park for this morning’s Parkrun, armed with my new Garmin and a plan for better pacing and an improvement on Wednesday’s time. It was the usual type of thing. Try to avoid setting out too fast and aim for negative splits. Nothing too clever. Just take it easy for the first half (or so) and then run your heart out at the end.

Of course, I started off too fast. I always do. But I managed to rein it a little bit for the first two kilometres. It wasn’t an easy task and I was still going faster than I should have been, but it was an improvement on Wednesday’s lack of pacing so I was happy.

As with Wednesday’s run, however, I was slower on the third kilometre and had to take a couple of walking breaks on the fourth and fifth. Thankfully these breaks were shorter though and I never felt like giving up completely. In fact, for the first time ever at Parkrun, I actually did a sort of sprint to the finish.

I’d been kind of secretly racing against a couple of the other runners. Every time I walked, they would overtake me, so I would try to catch up with them. By the final half kilometre though, they were quite far ahead so I had to dig deep and call on my last few ounces of energy to overtake them again just before the finish line.

It was a lot of fun trying to get past other runners. It’s not something that I usually do, not in the last kilometre anyway, but it did help me to get a better time. My Garmin and the Parkrun stopwatch were pretty much in agreement with the outcome: Garmin 32:41; Parkrun 32:42. Not too bad for me!

However, I am a little bit confused by Wednesday’s Parkrun as the stats just don’t add up. According to the Garmin, I ran around 33:20; but the Parkrun computer gave me a new PB of 32:12. Much as I hate to admit it, I’m pretty sure that’s not right. Apart from the fact that there’s no way I delayed stopping my watch for a whole minute, I’m pretty certain that my walking breaks slowed things down more than just a little bit on Wednesday.

I can only assume I got the wrong chip and have dutifully informed The Powers of Parkrun so that they can put it right. For now though, the new PB still stands, which is kind of annoying. Still, I guess it’s gives me an added incentive to get on with this whole Sub 30 malarkey.

A New Tradition

Trying to stay fit and healthy isn’t always easy, especially at this time of year when tradition dictates that we indulge ourselves in over eating, over drinking and sitting around on the couch more than usual watching television and playing family board games. So, before settling down to food, alcohol and the comfort of my couch this morning, I decided to indulge in my first ever Christmas morning run.

I knew that there was going to be a local Parkrun at 9:00, but I wasn’t sure if it would go ahead as we’ve been having some pretty stormy weather over the last week or so. Either way though, I was determined to run. Not least of all because I was getting my new Garmin watch for Christmas and I was dying to try it out.

Note: If you’re ever getting a Garmin for Christmas, make sure you get Santa to deliver it via Amazon so that you can charge it up on Christmas Eve!

Luckily, when I woke up this morning, my Garmin was fully charged, the wind had died down and the rain had stopped completely. So, after opening the rest of my presents, I headed out in search of a satellite signal and a couple of hundred festive runners to share the adventure with.

Everyone seemed to be in good spirits at the park and it was great to see so many runners and volunteers (thank you Parkrun volunteers!) dressed in Santa hats, tinsel and one was even wearing a reindeer suit!

I was glad that, for once, I left my iPod at home. Although my RunKeeper app is now redundant, I usually like to listen to music when I’m running, but that seemed a bit anti-social for a Christmas morning Parkrun.

Just before 9:00, the sun came out and a few minutes later we set off.

It has been over two months since I’ve run in the park, so I’d forgotten how easy it is to start off too quickly. Perhaps it’s because it takes a while for the crowd to thin out, but I thought I was going much slower than I actually was.

Of course, when I checked the Garmin, I realised that my pace was quicker than usual; but because it didn’t feel quicker running with a group, I put it down to the prior inaccuracy of my RunKeeper app.

Needless to say, by the end of the third kilometre, I was starting to feel it. True, I wasn’t used to running on the inclines, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I’d set off too fast, with an average pace of around 6:19 for the first two kilometres, which was gradually slowing to a halt.

At this point, I actually thought about calling it a day, but as I started the final lap of the 2.5 lap circuit, my spirits were lifted by clapping, cheering and words of encouragement from the volunteers. I knew then that I didn’t want to quit. And I didn’t need to either.

So, I kept going, jogging at a much slower pace and even walking a few times to get my breath back. I’ve never walked before on a Parkrun, but I realised that there’s no shame in it. There were plenty of other people who took walking breaks and they were given as much praise and encouragement as anyone else. It isn’t about being the fastest, or being able to run the longest; it’s about doing your best to complete the course.

And I did.

Ok, so it was my slowest Parkrun to date, but I did it. I got out there and ran and walked and ran some more until I crossed the finish line with a huge grin on my face, enjoying the atmosphere and the knowledge that I’d succeeded in what I’d set out to do – I’d started a new Christmas Day tradition for myself.

Do you run on Christmas Day? Did your local Parkrun host a run this morning? Please share your thoughts in the comments and… Happy Christmas!

A Bit Of A Wash Out

This wintry weather is really playing havoc with my training plan. Not only did I manage to miss every mid-week run this week (again!), but my weekend running has also been a bit of a wash out. Today though, the weather seemed a bit better, so after a light late breakfast, I headed down to the seafront for this week’s long run – 4.5 Miles.

As with last Sunday, the weather was a bit breezy with some drizzle in the air. Ideal for blowing away the cobwebs and getting set up for the rest of the day.

However, when I reached the promenade and started my usual stretching routine, the weather decided to take a turn for the worse as the heavens opened and the wind picked up. According to the Met Office website, we had gusts of about 37 mph, but who knows how accurate that is.

Anyway, I figured that it was still worth setting off. I was going to get soaked walking home anyway, so I might as well run.

The first kilometre wasn’t too bad as the wind was behind me, but I could tell that it was going to be tough running against it, so I decided to run around the lawns and back up to the road where it might be a bit less gusty.


As I changed direction though, I soon discovered that it was impossible to keep going. The wind was pretty strong, but that wasn’t the problem. I could have persevered with it, pushing against it at a slower pace than usual, but as soon as the cold air hit my lungs, I was in agony. I just couldn’t catch my breath. Even walking made my chest painful, so I stopped. I turned off my RunKeeper app and abandoned the run.

Once I was off the main stretch of the seafront though, I found that the wind wasn’t too bad and, even though I was feeling pretty drenched and miserable, I decided that abandoning my run completely would only make me feel worse. So I started up again.

I wasn’t too bothered about my 4.5 Miles by this point. I just wanted to get some running done, so I headed off on a slow jog through the streets of Hove. I didn’t really have much of a plan about what route to take. I’d just try to keep out of the wind and avoid crossing the road as much as possible.


In the end, I managed just over 4K before deciding it was time to go home and get dried off, making my total distance for the day 5.17K, or 3.21 Miles. Not what I had planned for, but better than nothing.

Of course, now that I’m home, the rain has passed and the sky has brightened up, so at least the whole day isn’t going to be a wash out.

Less Is More

After last week’s high mileage (well, high for me), I didn’t run at all for six days. It wasn’t planned, but after this morning’s run, I was glad that I had taken a break.

While my training schedule is pretty ambitious for a novice like me, I decided that I wasn’t going to worry too much if I decided to skip a session. As each session has it’s own purpose, skipping a speed session from one day shouldn’t have any real impact on the next day’s endurance training. But what happens when I skip a whole week of workouts?

Well, today I found out. My last run was last Sunday, a three and a half mile run which ended up being closer to four miles. I’d felt pretty good after that run and was pleased that adding on the extra miles had been easier than expected, but for the next few days I didn’t feel so good.

This may have been down to overdoing the running, but I also had a bit of a dodgy stomach for most of last week, so I’m not sure. Either way, I didn’t feel like running so I took a break.

This morning, the thought of going out and tackling four miles was slightly daunting. I had skipped the workouts that had been designed to get me used to running the three and a half miles, so I wasn’t sure if I could do it. But then again, even doing three miles would be better than doing nothing. So off I went into the Sunday morning drizzle.

It was pretty windy down on the seafront, but the combination of the light drizzle and the spray from the sea felt good as I made my way down towards the Peace Statue. The wind wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be, other than the fact that I kept having to pull my cap down to stop it from blowing away, so I was able to keep a nice steady pace for the most part.

As I turned and headed to the lagoon, I noticed that the other runners and joggers seemed a lot more smiley than usual. Perhaps it was just me being more aware of other people, but it did seem like there was some kind of unspoken respect going on as one runner after another grinned as they passed – Look at us running in this shitty weather. We must be awesome!

To be fair though, I do like running in the drizzle. There’s something quite refreshing about running in the rain, as long as it’s not pelting down of course. This may or may not have had something to do with what happened next.

As I approached the four mile point, the finish line of my planned route, I realised that I didn’t want to stop. I was having too much fun. So I kept going, all the way down towards the Peace Statue and then back up to my starting point.

I had no idea how far I had run as I had stopped paying attention to my RunKeeper app as I skipped (ok, stumbled) past the puddles, grinning at everyone who passed me.

When I finally decided to stop, I discovered that I had run just over five miles. That’s more than a mile further than I have ever run before. I couldn’t believe it! I even managed to keep my average pace close to my comfort zone of seven minutes per kilometre.

I’m not sure if I would have run faster if I hadn’t taken the week off, but I doubt I would have been able to do five miles. I guess it just goes to show that, sometimes, when it comes to training less really is more.


Increasing The Distance

I wasn’t sure if I was going to run this morning. After yesterday’s 5K Santa Dash, I was feeling a bit tired and stiff, but after an extra hour in bed and with the thought of having to brave the shops for some Christmas shopping instead, I decided to go for it.

According to my training schedule, Sunday is all about distance. The plan is to increase my running distance by half a mile each week so that, in eight weeks time, I should be fairly comfortable with running 10K. So, this morning I set my RunKeeper app to three one mile splits with a half mile split to finish.

I headed for the seafront as usual, with the intention of keeping the pace as slow as possible to ensure that I could cover the distance. There was a nice breeze but it wasn’t too chilly, so I set off at what felt like a nice comfortable pace.

I decided to add the extra half mile to the start of my usual route. It’s a bit of a psychological game that I play with myself, but somehow the idea of doing the extra at the start of the run rather than at the end seems to help if I’m struggling with the last kilometre or so.


The problem with this though, is that this morning I didn’t map out my distance before I started running, so I wasn’t sure about when to turn around and head back. In the end, because I was feeling pretty good, I ran all the way to my usual turning point, with the intention of stopping wherever the 3.5 mile mark turned out to be.

However, when my RunKeeper app told me that my workout was complete, this meant that I had to walk a bit further than I had thought. This isn’t usually an issue for me and I generally stop running when I’m told to, but this morning I decided to keep running all the way back to my starting point.

In the end, I completed 3.86 miles (6.22 kilometres) in 42:48, which I was surprised at because I thought it would have been a lot slower, especially after yesterday’s 5K. Still, I’m not complaining. I’m actually feeling pretty good and might even manage to drag myself into town for some Christmas shopping after all.