January Training & Snow Running

Well January is almost over, so I wanted to let you all know what I’ve been up to this month in terms of running…

 

This month was about getting back on track after a slow December. To start with I was doing 5-6kms, and then worked my way up to 8kms 3 times a week, but LAST NIGHT I DID 10.5KMS! It’s the longest I’ve gone since 14th December, and it felt goooooooood. Actually – for the first 2kms it felt good, and then it began to snow. Big, fat, angry snow that flew up and down and in every direction. Then it wasn’t so easy.

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I haven’t been able to push it hard, which has been weird. To keep myself from trying to go too fast too soon, I listened to all my calm music. Out went the Iggy Azalea, Plan B and Rudimental and in came nice acoustic songs that you want to have a cry to. It made every run feel like I was in a movie about personal growth and development.

 

So. Running slow took some getting used to, and that’s why I came up with this ‘be kind to yourself’ motto. I’m a very competitive person, and I don’t like feeling that I’m not at my best, so whenever I start to feel frustrated, I chant ‘be kind’ in rhythm with my feet. Such a change from when it was all about ‘main-tain’ and ‘keep-going’! Those days will be back though.

 

On the whole it’s also been really nice. There’s time to appreciate things more, and without the focus of trying to reach a certain pace/distance, you can let your mind wander more. Also: it doesn’t hurt as much, and the recovery is much quicker!  And  – I’m not going to lie – there’s more time to look through the windows with open curtains. I’m always soooo fascinated with what people do with their spaces. I promise you I’m not some freaky stalker, but if you’re running past an open window, sometimes it’s hard not to take a quick look….Tell me I’m not the only one!!!

 

But last night I did 10k, which was awesome. Running on snow is better than running on ice, but even so last night wasn’t the easiest of conditions. Here are my top tips for running in the snow and ice:

  • Wear trail shoes that have better grip than usual runners
  • Wear a hat! Don’t try running without a hat, or at least a headband to keep your ears warm
  • Keep your fingers moving! Don’t let them get cold
  • Layer up , but not too much. Don’t let the temperature deceive you: you will get warm.
  • Make sure you’re wearing bright, reflective gear – especially if it’s snowing
  • Start your run facing the wind, so that you finish with it at your back – you don’t want a blast of wind to hit you when you’re sweaty
  • Take it easy. Don’t go out there with any expectations, just see what the conditions are like and how you feel in them
  • When you’re finished, get warm quickly!!!
I mean, this is what I tell myself. It gets me out the door I guess. I'm not sure it's 100% true….

I mean, this is what I tell myself. It gets me out the door I guess. I’m not sure it’s 100% true….

Last night, encouraged by my chilled, acoustic soundtrack, I tried to watch the snow in the street lights. It was really pretty, and you could see how the wind would come and change their direction, swirling around each other. I’m sure I was on the verge of having some kind of epiphany about how we’re all just floating snowflakes, trying to make our way in the streetlight that is the world. But then the wind changed, and the very same beautiful snow flakes threw themselves in my face with such force: it was like someone was throwing sand. So that was that, and I remain unenlightened about our snowflake-state-of-affairs.

 

In summary, I would say January has been: slower, chilled, a time for re-prioritising and a time for patience. It’s been a good month after a month where I hardly ran at all.

 

Ellie B

 

The Run-Walk

Well well well! That was an unexpected break! I didn’t intend to stay away so long, but other things have kept me pretty busy. Yes, I am a surprised as you, apparently it’s normal to maintain some kind of life outside of running.

 

Anyway, today I want to talk about walking and running. When I first started, I thought that as long as you kept running, you were a Serious Runner. My goal for the first race I ever ran was to finish without needing to walk, and this is something that’s been consistent in my running since.

 

I knew the run-walk was a great way to build up running strength and stamina, I never considered it for my own training. Not that I’m some ultra-speedy running machine, but I was part of the ‘Walking’s Cheating’ club. It’s similar to the ‘Eating’s Cheating’ club for nights out (of which I am not a member), in that it can work for some people, but can also be a bad idea if you push it too hard.

This isn't related to the article. But it's snowed here, which means Cool Runnings!!

This isn’t related to the post. But it’s snowed here, which means Cool Runnings!! I already used that joke on instagram, and I’m very pleased to use it again. 

But if last year was all about building a base for my marathon training, this year is all about being kind and chilling out. It turns out you can do that without compromising on standards. Sort of. I mean, you can’t go hardcore intervals while taking it easy, but you can run distance and relative speed.

 

So I’ve introduced some walks during my runs: once I reach the top of a hill, or after a block of running. At first it took a bit of getting used to, but now I like it. It keeps the stitches at bay, and I also noticed that I finish stronger.

 

It turns out I’m not the only one who’s come across this gem: today one of my Facebook friends posted this article, which noted that those who incorporated some walks during a marathon not only finished at a similar time, but also had similar heart rates, and finished feeling better:

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 19.51.52

 

One of my favourite bloggers, Shut Up and Run, wrote this post about marathon advice, and number 7 on her list is to walk through the water stations. Not only can you drink your drink without pouring it all down you, but she also says it also gives you some time to regroup. If there’s one time you should be kind to yourself, it’s during a marathon, so giving yourself time to hydrate and chill (even if it’s for a minute – when you’re not running, you’re not thinking about maintaining your pace!).

 

After more research, I found this article on RunnersWorld.com which really highlights the benefits of the run-walk, and looks at some triggers to use it effectively. Personally, I’m guilty of pushing through leg pain at the end of a long run, and for losing form as I get tired. I’m one of life’s high achievers, and it’s great to know that it’s ok to walk during your run… you’re not being weak, you’re just being smart!

 

On a completely separate note, has anyone seen American Horror Story? I’m only on episode three, and it’s soooooo creepy. But I can’t stop watching! I have it on now, and SB is out, so I’m trapped in my living room until he gets home. Because I am too scared to go into the kitchen. Yes, I’m in my thirties, people.

Even this is scary. Don't try and tell me it's not.

Even this is scary. Don’t try and tell me it’s not.

 

Ellie B

Half Marathons: why they are the best.

This week I heard that a friend of mine is doing a half marathon in March at short notice. When I read her text, I had to sit on my hands so I didn’t sign up, immediately grab my keys, and drive 3.5 hours to her house 2 months before the race actually takes place. And then wonder what the hell I had done getting over excited like that.

 

You see, the half marathon is my favourite distance. If it were a drink, the half marathon would be a Dom Perrignon White Gold. If it were an album, it would be the Beatles’ White Album. If it were human, it would be Helen of Troy. No, it’d be George Clooney.

Yup. This is on here.

Yup. This is on here.

So why is the half marathon such a hot ticket? Well, here are my reasons:

 

  • It is a killer distance. 13.1 miles/21kms is nothing to turn your nose up at. Use Google maps to see how far 13.1 miles actually is – normal people would travel that distance by car rather than run. It’s a distance to be proud of
  • You can’t just wake up and run a half marathon: it takes commitment, training and determination
  • It’s manageable. It’s not easy, but it’s also not a full marathon. It’s unlikely that your training will see you running for three hours straight, so you can still have some kind of lie-in on the weekends (lazy Saturday mornings and full marathon training don’t really go hand-in-hand). And you can still enjoy Friday night drinks.
  • You benefit from the Whole Running Experience in that you need to build your mental strength as well as your physical strength.  The race is long enough for the initial adrenaline to wear off, and you need to have a mind of steel to keep your pace up. This is one of the best/worst parts in a race: it’s the hardest part, but once you push through it and get your rhythm back, you feel like you’re the champion of the world. Mile 9 was my stumbling bloc in my first half, and by mile 11 I was flying high – only 2 miles to go and feeling good! So long, Mile 9!!

Holy Shit

  • There are some really great half marathon routes you can choose. My favourite is the Great North Run. And there are often multiple half marathons in the larger cities. If you wanted to race in London, you’re not limited to only the London Marathon – there are loads of halves to choose from as well.
  • At the end, you know you have completed a half marathon. You have just covered 13.1 miles on your own two legs! And when people ask you the question they always ask when they find out you run – have you run a marathon? – you can reply: ‘no, I prefer halves, because they’re definitely really hard work, but I can still enjoy my social life, HAHAHA!’.

 

So basically, the half marathon = training, adrenaline, toughness, awesomeness, finish, medal, food. Repeat.

Getting ready for Run to the Beat with a pair of Wallies.

Getting ready for Run to the Beat with a pair of Wallies.

The half marathon was a major milestone in my running career. It was the first time I run a ‘serious distance’, and the first time I thought that perhaps I was ok at this running thing. Until then, my 10k races and 14k City2Surfs were good, but the half required an actual proper training program with intervals and everything. Rather than try my luck, I had a game plan. Because of that, I started running a lot more frequently, and before I knew it, regular (and long) runs were woven into the fabric of my weeks.

 

I would definitely recommend the half marathon to anyone interested in giving themselves a challenge, for alllllll of the reasons above. At the end, you feel elated, tired, hungry –  for more races as well as for food!

13.1 addict

And that concludes my Ode to the Half Marathon. I am now going to eat quite a lot of Indian food and watch The Wizard of Oz.

 

Ellie B

 

 

Dark January is here – but so is your running….

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed your Christmas. After writing about Formula 1 driving in December, SB and I thought the best way to spend our Christmas holidays was to drive over 2000 miles across the UK – more than once. It was the equivalent of doing this return trip:

 

Dude, if this doesn't look like fun to you, I can't talk to you.

If you’re not spending at least 4 hours in a car every second day, you’re doing something wrong, my friend.

We had a typical Christmas for our family: loads of roast dinners, chocolate and board games (that are only played once a year). My brother, SB and I also tried to whip our our musical talents and sing Christmas songs around the piano, only to find that we don’t have much musical talent.

 

In terms of running, I was still taking it easy, but I have started to up my game in this area. And, may I tell you Ladies and Gentlemen, that it is very exciting.

photo 1-32

Whenever you start back after a break, your first run back can often be disheartening. I get it. It’s cold, you realise how much fitness you’ve lost, and it’s much more attractive to stay on the couch. Last January I was running 10k in 47 minutes without working up too much of a sweat, this January I am working my way up to 7k with a speed that would make my Nana laugh. Except she wouldn’t – my Nana is very supportive. And also it doesn’t matter how fast you run – if only I could get my ego to believe this….

photo 2-28

So how do you keep the goblins of your mind at bay when you’re trying your hardest to get your running thang on? Here is what I do:

 

  • Go into the first run knowing it will be hard. You’ll get tired quickly, you’ll get a stitch when you least expect it, but if you do accept that things won’t go as beautifully as you hope, it will help push through it.
  • Figure out what your goal is. Don’t try to do too much too soon. Is it the regularity of running you want again? Do you want to work on your speed? Or your distance? Mine is the last one. I’d like to build my ‘regular’ runs back up to the 10k mark they have been for the past few years. Then I’d look at speed. Give yourself one thing to work on, and once you’ve achieved that, start on another goal.
  • If you decide today is the day you will run, frickin do it. Don’t let any household chores stop you (I promise you that running will be 100 times better than doing the ironing), don’t let the dark evenings put you off. Decide when you’ll go, and make sure you get out there.
  • Figure out your route before you go. When you’re half way through the run and you have a stitch, it’s much easier to continue if you can visualise the rest of the run, including the end. It’s pretty hard to continue when you don’t have a plan!
  • Be kind to yourself. You will get back to your former glory, just give it time, commitment and patience.

 

I hope that helps… I’ll keep you updated to my re-emergence in the running world! I feel like a butterfly emerging from its Chrysalis.

 

Ellie B