Running in the US of A

I’m back everyone! Did you miss me? Two whole weeks without an update. Don’t worry, I hadn’t gone for a reallllllllly long run, but have been on holiday. SB and I went to the States to visit family in Chicago, and then spent a few days in NYC.

The weekend we were in Chicago was  the crescendo of my marathon programme, and during the holiday I was supposed to do a 20 mile run, a 21 mile run, and many smaller runs in between. As it turns out, having two city breaks with jet lag on top doesn’t make for good marathon training, but does make for excellent drinks-in-rooftop-bar situations.

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So I chilled the frick out, and made sure I got some running when I could. Here is what I did:

  • Saturday: 10 miles in Chicago, easy pace (1:24)
  • Monday: 8 miles of 1m jog/stride, 5x 1m fast, with 200m recoveries, 1 m cool down (1:04)
  • Friday: 6 easy miles around Central Park, with some time to take photos (59:27)

 

My family lives in a street in a suburb about 25 minutes from the centre of Chicago. There’s a path that runs right through it, and across loads of other suburbs, called the Prairie Path, which goes on for miles and miles. It was fab to run on.

 

Running in Chicago was very different to running anywhere else that I’d run. For starters, almost everyone said hello or good morning to other runners. That was an adjustment after the polite restrain of the UK, where a nod or even just eye contact will suffice. The town are State Cross Country champions, so there were tons of runners around. Another major difference was that cars tended to give pedestrians the right of way: at every junction, cars slowed down well in advance to let the runners cross. With the friendly runners and the polite drivers, running in Chicago was awesome!

 

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Plus I saw snippets of ‘real America’: a community clear up of some shared gardens, a tree on the road that was decorated with easter eggs just because, and kids training with their sports teams. It proved that everything I saw in Full House, Saved by the Bell and Home Alone as a youngster was true. Except for the weird, creepy robbers who fixate on children.

 

New York running was a whole other situation. It’s not really a city designed for running, so people had to travel before they could even start their exercise. Both London and Sydney are good running cities, but New York’s grid system means that you’ll always have to stop at lights. Plus, there are wayyyy too many pedestrians to run properly. Even in London – a hectic city – there are places in the inner city where you can run for a long time without needing to stop.

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However: then there’s Central Park.

 

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Central Park is an oasis in the city, and when you’re in the middle, it’s hard to believe you’re in the middle of Manhattan. I did 6 miles on various paths, and there were loads more to choose from, so I’m guessing you can go on new runs for quite a while before you have to repeat. But training for a marathon there wouldn’t be the most interesting.

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We ran on a Friday, when it was nice and clear, and you could choose any route without it being overcrowded. Another guest at our hotel ran on Saturday morning, and said it was like a race: there were so many people, and it was tricky to find your pace among them all.

 

I think it’s a shame that people in Manhattan don’t have the luxury of being able to leave their apartment and go running from their front door, and I’d definitely get tired of jostling for space on a Saturday morning. It’s a unique place to run.

 

After I finished the 6 miles, and eaten an ice cream, I was lucky enough to hang out with an icon:

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Beyond running, we spent a lot of time walking, eating, having cocktails, taking photos of our food and cocktails, and checking out the different neighbourhoods.  We also went to some awesome sports events. Who knew I was a basketball fan?! Go Bulls!

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And now back to reality: the taper for Edinburgh has begun. Although I still need to fit in two 20 mile plus runs to make sure my head is in the right space. Let the good times roll!

 

Ellie B

Morning Run, Sweden Style

Today I missed my flight, and so now I am spending the night at Copenhagen airport. Not actually in the airport, but in a lovely, but expensive, Hilton where I am working late to make up for the time lost tomorrow when I get my next flight. Unless I miss that, too.

 

So I did what anyone would do: I high-tailed it to the hotel bar, where I’m working, eating and drinking. I just had the best chicken burger, so life isn’t too bad at the moment.

 

This morning I went for a run in Stockholm. Yesterday our CFO told me about a really 10k/6 mile nice track through parkland in the city, so today I got up before 6am – like a proper runner – to try it out. That never happens, so you can tell how excited /worried about my training* I was.

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One of my favourite things to do in a new city is to go running: you can learn so much about a city when you run through it. In Stockholm, unlike London or Sydney,  there were more walkers than runners, but everyone I saw had fabulous Winter exercise gear. Power walking has never looked so stylish.

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I decided to take it easy this morning: I wanted to see how my leg felt, there was a long day ahead of me, plus I didn’t know the route. It was awesome to just enjoy a couple of junk miles, and I stopped wayyyyy too many times to take pictures.  But it was so gorgeous! It was a little cold, but the air was so fresh and clean, and the sun was beaming down to warm things up. And I saw a house which must have been the inspiration for every haunted house in the entire world. So, if that’s not worth the early wake up call…..

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According to Strava I did 10.2k in 53 mins exactly.

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And now I will return to my work emails and Sauvignon Blanc. Happy Hump Day everyone!!

 

Ellie B

 

Stockholm, Stitches, and Stuff to live by

Hello from Stockholm! I am here for work for two days. I haven’t been before, and I tried to see as much as I possibly could during my lunch time. It wasn’t that much, considering I was tottering around in my high heels like Bambi. Basically, what I have picked up on is that it is a very beautiful city with lots of water, lovely buildings and expensive shops.

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It’s been a while since a weekly training summary, so here is how last week went (we’ll count the weekend of week 9 too cos it’s impressive):

  • Saturday: 18 mile run in 2:35. Was shocked at the difference between 16-18 miles, and am now quite intimidated about the whole 26.2!!!
  • Sunday: Pole session with Bendy Kate. Handstands and flips
  • Monday: 7.4K with Tempest Runners. Ended up being a bit of an interval session as I ran between two groups of varying speeds.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles of 1 mile jog, 3x 1.5 mile fast, with 400m recoveries, 1 mile cool down in 59:12
  • Wednesday: Rest day
  • Thursday: 1 mile jog, then 3 miles brisk (23 mins), 1 mile cool down. Taught two hours of pole in the evening

 

I felt a pretty strong twinge in my left leg after Thursday – I guess that’s what happens when you run the longest you’ve ever run and then not let yourself recover properly. Superman I am not (thank goodness – there’s no way I could make that lycra work for me). So I have taken 5 days off running. Wise? Yes. Though wise would have been not to get into this situation. I am worried because we’re on holiday on Friday, and I don’t know when I’ll squeeze in my 20 mile run whilst seeing ma famille in Chicago.  We’ll see……

 

One of my friends suffers from stitches every time she runs. She says it feels like she can’t breathe, and the stitch is right behind her ribs where she can’t easily press in on it. After doing some reading, it turns out there are literally a million things you can do for a stitch. So… there you go, good luck!!

 

Haha, not really. A stitch is when your abdomen reacts to jostling around so much, making it spasm. Think of it like any other muscle cramp: it needs to be stretched. There are lots of treatments for a stitch, but here are some of the most common ways that I found:

  • Concentrate on breathing deeply, and push the air out of your abdomen
  • Take a deep breath, hold it for 10 seconds, then exhale with force
  • If you find that one foot is always hitting the ground as you breathe out, try to make sure you vary it. Breathe in for the count of 1-2, and breathe out for the count of 1-2-3 to make sure you’re exhaling on each foot, not just one
  • If you carry a water bottle, try changing hands throughout your run
  • Press up into the stitch with your fingers and breathe deeply (my personal favourite)
  • Don’t eat an hour before you run
  • Slow down, or stop, and work on some of the above whilst you recover

 

You should find that your stitches decrease as your fitness increases. :)

 

Last week, SB and I spoiled ourselves: having Mum to visit was the perfect excuse. Our week was full of food like this:

This was to share. I could have smashed it myself.

This was to share. I could have smashed it myself.

 

This has never been more true:

 

My philosophy. I am lucky that running is so awesome.

My philosophy. I am lucky that running is so awesome.

Ellie B

 

 

 

Famous Last Words: Weekend Running & Pole

‘And no doubt the 18-miler tomorrow will give me the ass-kicking I missed this week’. Oh, how confidently I wrote that last week!

 

Consider my ass well and truly kicked. This distance is the furthest I’ve ran in training – and ever – but given that 16 miles wasn’t too bad, I was looking forward to it.

 

I chose a route that I’ve not run before, to get some variation, and very quickly I noticed that, mentally, this run was going to be harder than the others. It took a while to warm up, and my left leg was aching from a week in high heels the week before. By mile 6, I was heading out of Durham, and started towards the next town.

 

Running to a whole new town is kind of a big deal in my opinion. You actually leave your familiar surroundings and venture into a whole new postcode. I ran from DH1 to DL16. If you don’t know how exciting that is, then I can’t help you. 

This is the main route I took. See what a big deal it is to run to a different town?!

This is the main route I took. See what a big deal it is to run to a different town?!

You remember how far it is when you drive, and get some satisfaction in knowing that you’re relying on your two legs to take you there. The people are different, the landmarks are different, and the mentality is different. It took 2 hours and 35 minutes.

 

What I’m realising about this whole long distance thing is that I rarely get a stitch, or need to stop because I can’t catch my breath or anything. The challenge is in your head – you just have to keep going – and for me, in my adductors. They don’t really like going strong for 2 hours or more!

 

So, all you seasoned marathoners will be familiar with this. I came back from Saturday’s run feeling more intimidated by the distance, and more than a little bit tired. It was the first run that I think did kick my ass – so, you know, good prep for the day and all that.

 

Then the next day, instead of resting, I thought it would be a good idea to go to a pole workshop. Actually, I had been signed up for a while. It was with Bendy Kate, aka Miss Pole Dance UK. I thought it would be all stretchy and flexy, but instead we did handstands, pole flips and some other different moves.  Each guest teacher has their own style and moves, and I really liked Kate’s new variations to get upside down on the pole. I’ll post a video when it looks better than it currently does….

This is a move we worked on called Allegra. That is not me.

This is a move we worked on called Allegra. That is not me.

 

love that stuff, but was just too knackered on Sunday! Plus in the warm up, we did running races, and I 100% completely face-planted. As well as ruining any credibility as a runner among my pole friends, I am now sporting a lovely yellow bruise on my chin and knee 😉

 

After such a busy weekend, it is a good thing that my mum has been here this week. What is it about being with your mum that makes you feel like you can eat whatever you want? On Monday we had KFC for lunch and Thai for dinner. Plus she bought us chocolates, which didn’t last long.

Showing Mum the finest Durham eateries. We started with KFC.

Showing Mum the finest Durham eateries. We started with KFC.

 

Ellie B

 

 

 

 

 

Kermit’s Week of Panic

This week is a London week. It’s 10C warmer here than Durham, which is awesome, but my work project meant that I was hardly outside. This is what I have discovered this week:

 

Big work project + Staying away from home + Not as much running opportunity = PANIC!

 

I have woken up every morning at 6am in a panic because of the amount of running I’m not doing. And I never naturally wake up before….. let’s say 8.30am. That seems acceptable.

 

But this week, I have lept out of bed in terror that I’m not getting the mileage and the speed work done. On Wednesday I went to the hotel gym and tried to do some hill reps on the treadmill, but it was hard!! Running and trying to get the right incline requires more coordination than I have apparently. So I gave up (ashamed) and did some squats, lunges and stretches.

 

The next morning, I lept out of bed and did what I should have done the day before: hit the pavements. London is an awesome city to run in, especially at 6am when there’s nowt but you and other runners around. London had dangerously high pollution levels this week, and the city was cloaked in a haze. The lack of other people (apart from runners) plus the haze made it feel like I was in an armageddon movie. This was pretty exciting for a Thursday morning, let me tell you.

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However – I didn’t clock anywhere near my goal mileage this week. So that’s a bummer. And I have a flexibility workshop on Sunday, where my splits will be resurrected and we’ll see how much the running has impacted them!

 

I know that this week couldn’t be helped, and to be honest, it was so nice to run along the Thames again and see all the classic sights. To make myself feel better, I did some research on what happens if you miss your training. And the news was not bad at all:

  • If you need to miss a training session or two, try to make sure that the ones you do fit in are the hard ones
  • Don’t try to overcompensate for missed training sessions as stressing your body like that that can lead to injuries
  • Your aerobic threshold doesn’t decrease significantly during the first 10 days of inactivity
  • The most dramatic reduction in general fitness occurs within 10-28 days of not training: either side of that, the reduction isn’t as great

So there’s plenty of time to rest up, or focus on important things other than training in that initial window of time. And no doubt my 18-miler tomorrow will give me the ass-kicking I missed this week! And at the end of the day, it’s awesome to be able to get out there and run at all – particularly in a city like London.

 

In other news, this happened this week:

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Yep. Kermit is my new nickname – thanks colleagues. Not sure how that happened really. It’s not like we’re really similar is it…?

 

Happy Weekend everyone!

 

Ellie