Virtual Running

I decided to take a couple of days off work this week, partly because I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather and don’t want to get sick, but mostly because I’ve got an exciting new project that I needed to do some work on.

It all started back in January when I was fundraising for the Chichester Priory 10K Road Race. I hadn’t really done much to raise money for my chosen charity, The British Heart Foundation, and the race was only a few weeks away, so I felt I had to do something to help me get closer to my fundraising goal.

The problem was that I have this thing about asking people for money – I don’t like doing it! Especially people that I don’t know. So, even though the blog seemed like a good place to mention it, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea of using it to raise money.

running4

So, I decided that instead of just asking people to sponsor me, I would offer them a medal in exchange for a donation. As this is a running blog and most of the people who read it are runners, they could join me in a Virtual Run and earn their medal at the same time!

I was so excited when Leah and Sam emailed me saying that they wanted to take part. I’ve been following both of their blogs for a while now: Leah and I completed Couch to 5K at around the same time and has always been a great source of encouragement and support; and Sam, who I’ve been following since he started Couch to 5K in August, has also gone on to complete his first 10K race and continues to inspire me with his progress and his enthusiasm for running.

As well as donating to The British Heart Foundation, both Leah and Sam wrote a blog post about their run for the fundraiser (thank you guys!) which you can read here:

Leah’s Post: Virtual Running February 5K

Sam’s Post: My First Virtual 10km Race

Now, if you’ve already read Leah’s post, you probably know what happens next. You see, I started to get thinking about this whole virtual running malarkey and, being a bit of a tech geek, I thought it might be fun to see if I could organise a proper virtual race – you know, one with it’s own website, regular races, maybe some medals and a bit of fundraising and perhaps even a little blog hop to encourage more runners to blog and more bloggers to run and… well, you get the idea.

So that’s what I did.

Circle HopAt the end of January I launched Virtual Running UK and, with the help of a new Twitter account and a few more medals, people started signing up for my very first Free Virtual 5K Race and Blog Hop!

The idea is pretty simple. All you have to do is register with Virtual Running UK, log a 5K run any time during the month, send in your results with your registration number and evidence of your time, and include a link to your blog if you want to hop. Then, on the first Saturday of the month, the results are posted on the site along with links to those taking part in the blog hop.

So, if you’d like to join the fun, go and check it out. There’s still time to register and you can log any 5K run that you’ve done this month. Oh, and did I mention the prizes? There will be prizes. And points. And lots of other good stuff.

Here’s the link: Virtual Running UK

Have fun!

Brighton Half Marathon 2014

I didn’t run today. I was going to. The weather was perfect for once and I’ve grown to love those long Sunday morning runs, but this morning I had other plans. This morning was the Brighton Half Marathon and I wanted to check it out. Not just to support my friends and all of the other runners, but because maybe, just maybe, I might think about running it next year.

Despite the recent storms, the organisers had made a pretty good job of clearing the pebbles from the promenade, leaving a nice clear path for this morning’s runners.

Hove Seafront Pre Half Marathon

After taking some pictures to test out my camera, I positioned myself by the beach huts somewhere between miles 11 and 12 and waited for the front runners to come in. And boy did they come in fast! The first twenty or so were looking really strong and I really had to be on the ball to get some pictures. But I did manage to get a few decent shots.

Front Car
Approaching Mile 12
Male Leader
First Man
Women's Winner
First Woman

About one hour and three hundred or so photographs later, however, I ran out of pictures. But I was having so much fun that I decided to stay and cheer the rest of the runners on. There was only a smallish crowd of spectators at this section of the course so I joined in and clapped and cheered, shouting words of encouragement for those who had been running for close to two hours.

Brighton Half 2014

A lot of them looked pretty exhausted, but they were still smiling as they walked, jogged and paced themselves along the promenade to the finish line.

Marmite

For many of these runners, this was their first Half Marathon. Some were running for friends or family, some for charities or good causes, and some were doing it just because they wanted to run. And I realised that, tired and exhausted as many of these later runners must have felt, I wanted to feel it too. Not just the exhaustion, but the determination and the exhilaration in knowing that they were about to achieve something amazing – their first half marathon!

Brighton Half Marathon

Who knows who’ll be joining them next year!

There’s still a few more photographs to upload, but you can check them out by following the link here.

C25K: Reflections On Week 1

So, I completed the first week for C25K and it feels great! Even after only three short runs, which were more walking than running, I already feel fitter, stronger and healthier. But this week has been about more than just running. It is changing my attitude towards a whole load of things. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Food and Diet

My reasons for doing C25K are more to do with fitness than weight. In fact. my BMI is pretty much smack bang in the middle of normal and never seems to change. I put this down to the fact that I only really eat when I’m hungry. Some days, I don’t each much at all, while other times I seem to do nothing but eat. I’m lucky that my appetite tends to reflect levels of activity and that I have a good metabolism. However, now that I’m exercising, I seem to want to eat all the time.

This concerned me a little bit at first, as I don’t want to gain weight, but then I realised that I didn’t actually want to eat any of the usual rubbish that I like to indulge in. I don’t want to drink coke or snack on cakes and biscuits. They leave me feeling tired and sluggish. Instead, I’m craving fruit and pasta and cereal. I’m guessing this is no bad thing, but I also need to make sure that I learn more about nutrition to make sure that my eating and exercise work together.

2. Body Awareness

I’ve never really taken much notice of my body. I accept that some mornings I wake up stiff and sore, that some days I feel out of breath after walking to work, and that sometimes at the weekend I’m too tired to do anything. It’s just part of getting older, right?

Well, maybe a week ago that was true, but now I’m starting to pay more attention. I’m taking notice of the aches and pains in case I’ve injured myself, I’m aware of my breathing because leaning to breathe properly makes running easier, and I’m altering my lifestyle to make sure that I have enough energy to complete my runs. After all, 39 is not really that old!

3. Support Network

Having a support network of people to encourage and motivate you is not something that I have ever really bothered about. I live on my own, my family are hundreds of miles away and I don’t really have any close friends. On the whole, I’m a happy ┬áhermit. I like to keep myself to myself and just get on with whatever I’m doing.

For some reason though, I told my colleagues at work that I was doing C25K and was surprised by how supportive and encouraging they were. Some of the younger people in my office are into exercising and they gave me some useful tips and advice, which was really nice.

4. On-line Community

But one of the best things I have discovered is an amazing on-line community of runners, joggers and bloggers who are willing to share their own fitness journeys and help and support others.

So, to all of you who read, follow or leave comments on this blog, thank you. It means so much to have your input and to share ideas and experiences. I have discovered some fantastic bloggers here, from C25K rookies to experienced runners, and it’s unbelievably inspiring! I love hearing your stories and following your journeys, so please feel free to leave a comment and tell me how you’re getting on.

See you tomorrow for the start of Week 2!