Sunday, 11 January 2015

Let's do the Time Warp again....

Wowee, its been 3 years since I left this blog on a cliff hanger! I bet you all thought I'd died or something? I didn't needless to say, I lived to tell the tale and am back here again after a big old break.

The Brighton Marathon seems like several lifetimes ago now, a different era of a younger, fitter and much slimmer me I all but dont recognise any more. The marathon experience was amazing; I completed (and exceeded) the mini goals I set myself:

1. To come in under 5 hours - I just sneaked in at 4:53 but its respectable enough to count!
2. To run all the way round without stopping - I did and found it remarkably easy to do so, in fact I struggled to stop at the end my legs were so used to the same repetitive movement for so long.

Did I have a sense of euphoria? Im not sure, from what I recall I think I thought, "Well thats done now". Bit of a pants reaction and one that just sums me up all over... and has found me in the situation I am in now, having not run, up until 6 days ago, for 2 whole years. I did briefly toy with the idea of doing an Ultra Marathon (mainly because an Ultra is defined as anything over 26.2 miles so I thought I could probably manage 30 miles and it would still count!), but this quickly evaporated as the rigur mortis set into my muscles and bones, which not even a qualified sports masseur could touch. I slept incredibly badly for several days after the marathon. I imagined I'd collapse in a satisfied heap on the bed and sleep heavily and soundly for a good 12 hours, but alas the pain in my muscles was uncomfortable enough to keep me from enjoying my slumber and just made me ratty and horrible to live with. I'm painting a terrible picture arent I? I still find it hard to believe that I actually did it, I'm still not convinced I didn't actually make it all up now.

So what happened to stop me running? I think I came out of the marathon with the wrong attitude and without another goal to focus on, although I still can't imagine what that might have been other than to push myself to complete a further distance. I first became complacent with running, afterall I'd run a marathon so I didnt really need to try, if I wanted to run a couple of miles I could probably do it in my stilettos right? Wrong. I quickly lost the level of fitness I was used to from running 20-30 or so miles a week so it became harder and harder to just slip into an easy run and I did my usual, beating myself up over the failure to complete even the smallest run of a couple of miles or not meeting my split time. Every run became a fail for me and I'm not the sort of person who will allow herself to keep failing at something, so I eventually stopped, my last run taking place on 6th January 2013.

Here I am on 11th January 2015, having completed my first 3 runs this week in exactly 2 years and im starting over. Im 3 years older (and much closer to 40!), I'm 2 stone and a bit heavier (I don't wear it well) and my mental health has seen better days and Im starting my running journey again, for all the reasons I started doing it now 5 years ago, because some things never change. The thing that has to change is my attitude to failure which stopped me from continuing running after the marathon.

I have a couple of mini goals to kick start me; weight loss is a major contributing factor but I'm going to trick myself in to losing weight by focussing on reaching my 1000th Runkeeper mile by the end of 2015. Im at 837 miles which gives me a very doable target of 173 before the year is out (that is, my friends, about 14 miles a month, 3 miles a week). I can do this, and hopefully shed a few unwanted pounds in the process.

I also vow not to leave you on a cliff hanger like that again...

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Oh God, it's really happening...

I remember feeling quite similar at 1.15am on 13th January 2008, the day my son was born. And so, the day has arrived, or at least the night before the Brighton Marathon. I am currently sat in bed typing this as I know I won't be able to sleep tonight, I am so nervous I can't explain.

I'm drifting between a state of nausea and at risk of having a panic attack to convincing myself this is no different to one of my long training runs, the last of which was 21.3 miles and I'd only planned on going 16. It can be done. I can do it.

I've been carb loading all this week, which I think was a big mistake. Much the same as the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy when, encouraged to eat a little more to aid milk production, I went a bit overboard and ended up 3 stone heavier as a result. What this additional calorie count actually boils down to is an extra 100-150 calories a day, the equivalent of an extra slice of toast and a thick spreading of butter and marmalade, not, as it would turn out, huge slices of cake, extra teacakes with soup, more cake, lots of pizza and garlic bread and cheese. Each day. So here I am, full as an egg with what appears to be perma-stitch from over-eating. Ironic that I should end up in the same situation as I was when I was about to give birth, after all that is the reason why I started this running caper in the first place some 2 years ago now, and I have a not so little 4 year old I want to be proud of his mummy tomorrow.

With any luck this will be enough to get me round, this and knowing that I've managed to raise some much needed funds for Sussex Search & Rescue for whom I hope I never have the cause to meet (in the nicest possible way!) but reassured that every penny raised will contribute towards keeping this valuable volunteer service running.

The plan for tomorrow is, in order of importance:

1. Get round in one piece without vomming or having a panic attack
2. Get round in one piece running without walking
3. Get round in one piece, running and in sub 5 hours

Anyone who knows me well enough will know I will not give this up easily, so unless my feet get chopped off at the ankle and I'm forced onto bloody stumps, I will complete the course (I'm bringing plasters in case of this eventuality). Anyone who knows me well will also understand the challenge I will face if I don't manage my second and third goals above but I will try to curb my disappointment if at any point I do have to walk or if I'm still going at sun down. This will probably form the basis of the inevitable psychological trench I will find myself in on Monday once the endorphins have dissipated and it's all over, but recognising my failure to plan the next race after last year's half marathon, I have entered my next race this time (this year's Sheffield Half) taking place at the end of May so I know I can't just stop altogether. I might actually look forward to it this time!

So I wonder what I'll feel like this time tomorrow?

I hope euphoric, at a personal victory and humbled by the support of so many people come to cheer on loved ones and those running for charities that mean so much to them. I'm looking forward to making my family and my charity proud of me tomorrow because both have supported me so well over the last few months without which it would have been incredibly hard to keep focussed.

So look out for runner 17119 puffing around the course, probably in need of some cheering on at about mile 21 as this will be unchartered territory for me. If you're wondering how you'll know when I get there, then follow me live around the course at assuming my 21st century technology doesn't let me down!

Friday, 9 March 2012

It's been nearly 5 months since my last confession...

This has to sum up the whole reason for writing this blog - how does one fit in marathon training into a normal, busy, working and parenting schedule? This normal person has struggled, it has to be said.

My little supporter at
the Leeds Abbey Dash 2011
Since my last blog post I have:
  • Run another 10k race and achieved a PB of 56:55 (Leeds Abbey Dash November 2011)
  • Started a (demanding) new job
  • Developed perma-blood-blisters
  • Nearly stopped running altogether
  • Found a Kettle Bell and Pilates class to replace (as close as I can) my Power Plate classes
  • Bought a magazine about training for marathons (it made me feel better)
  • Lost half a stone and have a flatter stomach than I've ever had and (hurray!) and;
  • Run my longest, hardest and highest ever...
I've been in my new job for 4 1/2 months now, and whilst I'm really enjoying it and know it was the best move for me I've been the most sedentary I've been in nearly 2 years and I'm really struggling. Whilst working at the University I was blessed to be able to incorporate regular runs into my commute, running from the Uni to where I park my car 3 miles away. Sometimes if I missed the tram I would walk 1 or 2 stops to pick the next one up instead of standing around in the cold. The benefit being that I got home at a reasonable time and I didn't need to think about then donning the kit for a cold, night run. My new job sees me travelling to Ilkley 3 days a week by car and working from home 2 days. The work is good but demanding and, being the kind of conscientious gal I am, I get really absorbed in it and can sit for hours (unhealthily) staring at a computer screen to get done what I need to. I can't bring myself to wear a pedometer as I am under no illusion I probably don't manage more than 50 metres a day at the moment. My movements on a typical day look something like:

1. Roll out of bed to bathroom (3 metres)
2. Roll from bathroom to bedroom to get dressed (3 metres)
3. Roll into sons room to get him dressed (1 metre)
4. Trot downstairs (5 metres)
5. Trot to the car (5 metres)
6. Drive to nursery (0 metres)
7. Walk son into nursery and back to car (10 metres)
8. Drive to work (0 metres)
9. Get out of car and walk to office (5 metres)
10. Sit at desk for hours without moving (0 metres)
11. Walk to car (5 metres)
12. Drive home (0 metres)
13. Trot to house (5 metres)
14. Sit down on sofa and don't move (0 metres)
15. Go upstairs to bed (5 metres)

I'm suffering backache too from the driving, constant sitting and lack of running. Did I mention the last thing I want to do after getting home from work on a night (not evening I'm afraid to say) is run? I'm actually a lot more lethargic from not running as a result.

However, after my initial shell shock regarding the closure of my favourite exercise class I discovered, just before Christmas, a kettlebell class in Penistone my friend attends. I've been going pretty much every Monday night since then and have discovered muscles I never even thought my body possessed and the best thing - they're starting to show! It's a tough 1 hour workout on a Monday night straight from work but thankfully I tend to work from home then so it's not such a rush back from Ilkley to Barnsley. As if this wasn't torture enough, over the Christmas break I decided to look for a pilates class. I've always wanted to do pilates properly (and not just in front of the Wii or a DVD) and considered it a good conditioning exercise for climbing. Pity I've not been climbing for several months to test the theory... But I've also found it to be excellent for conditioning for running too. Whilst I find pilates a contrast to kettlebells (quite relaxing!) I often feel as sore the day after and, more often than not, my core hurts more from "against the wall" or "jacks" than any "russian twists" with a kettlebell.

So, how has this affected my running?

My speed hasn't improved, neither probably has my form, however my recovery period and ability to climb hills without stopping has certainly improved. Several weeks ago I ran my furthest distance so far (19 miles) and climbed my highest elevation in preparation for the marathon. Admittedly I wasn't very fast at all and at that pace I would barely make it round in 5 hours. I also felt physically wrecked - wretched in fact - like I can't describe (and incidentally am now scared witless about running a further 7 miles but that's another story) however I did it and managed to recover within a day - or at least could walk properly after a day. This is a far cry from the next furthest distance I've run at 16 miles which rendered me immobile for the best part of a week, in preparation for the Sheffield Half Marathon last year so I am at least fitter and leaner than I've ever been even if I won't be cracking a 4 hour 26.2.

I'm determined to finish though, so one day my boy can be proud of his ma.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Double Figures

Distance: 10.04mi
Time: 01:50:50
Surface: Road & Trail
Conditions: Cloudy, sunny, cool

This has been a week of leaps forward but unfortunately, also steps back.

I've run the most I have in 5 months this week, and today hit double figures, hurray! I had a bad couple of short runs at the beginning of the week, having to stop and walk due to stitch after only 2 miles (I blame the huge sandwich I had for lunch at work).

I did bite the bullet and book in for my first Power Plate session since July, which was quite a hurdle. I've certainly noticed the change for the worse in my running, power and post-run agony since I started my sabbatical and, as I've written in previous posts, Power Plate has been an integral part of my running training certainly in the last year.

So on deciding to take on a mammoth hill climb today and a 10 mile run, I was a little anxious at how painful my glutes were and whether I'd in fact make it even half a mile let alone the full stretch. I decided to leave the run until mid afternoon instead of my usual morning rush before my husband plays golf. It gets harder and harder to get up early enough as my runs get longer on Sunday, before he has to leave at 10am and as I'm so bad at getting up (even earlier) to eat I thought I'd give myself a break. The weather was cloudy and on the cool side so it's been a perfect day for running and I felt good as I tackled my first hill.

I'd decided on a completely different route today, a road I drive up everyday to take my son to nursery which I've occasionally seen the odd 'nutter' run up. Today I thought I'd join the ranks of nutter and see how far I got. I surprised myself at the first section of the 2 mile ascent as I kept at a steady running pace of 10:30 min/mi. I thought I'd slow down a lot but actually the hill seemed more level when I was running it than it does when I'm driving. I managed to keep a steady pace until the steepest section of the road, which felt like looking up at an incredibly tall building from bottom, but I kept going albeit at a much slower pace until I ran out of pavement (I'd not seen that one coming) so had to detour through the adjacent village. This made the steep climb agonisingly longer but actually less steep, which I could live with and I kept with it. After about 25 minutes I managed to make it to the brow of the hill and the road thankfully started descending but the sun had come out and yet again I felt over dressed for the occasion. Thankfully the road on my route is quite exposed to the elements (as well as having beautiful views over the hills) so it was relatively windy which I welcomed, and feeling totally fantastic at having made it up the hill, managed to pick up the pace u again, collect myself and enjoy the gentle descent to my normal route through the woods.

I even surprised myself; there's a junction at the end of the wooded section which offers me the short road route home or the longer trail route (with added hill finish for good measure) and on most occasions I would usually cop out and take the short route home but today found myself drawn down the trail where I passed a woman on a bike whom I run past at the beginning of my session an hour and a half earlier. I like it when that happens, it makes me feel like I'm part of Tom's Midnight Garden or something, but instead of maids and gardeners you get to see other people in shorts and dry fit t-shirts (sorry if you're too young for the reference to the cracking BBC children's drama of the 80's - go look it up, it's a corker).

And so, I made it home in reasonable time having hit the double figure mileage mark for the first time in a long while, and feeling great! So what of the steps back this week?

I was gutted to find out my friend's Power Plate studio will be closing in November. I had always considered Power Plate as a core (excuse the pun) part of my running training plan and never considered it wouldn't be there throughout my marathon training. I'm so disappointed for both the hard work my friend has put into building such a fantastic fitness resource and for those people of Barnsley who will never know the benefits of the exercise.

I also find myself in a fit of panic, wondering what will ever replace the Power Plate classes that built up my core strength so well for the half marathon, and for which I need to get back (and some) to get me round twice the distance in now, under 6 months. Oh crap.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Fat Girls Chafe

Distance: 6.2mi
Time: 59:34
Surface: Road
Conditions: Cloudy and warm
Sheffield 101010 in 2010

I've kept it quiet, but today was Great Yorkshire Run race day. I'd kept it quiet for no other reason than I'd temporarily forgotten about it and I suppose I was  unworried about it. It's a sort of 1 year competitive race anniversary too as I took part in my first race on 10th October 2010 (Sheffield Ten Ten Ten) with a time of 01:01:24. A year on and my pace is slightly improved though I'm probably a good half stone heavier. I'm reasonably pleased with the time (although if I'm being truly honest I'm gutted I didn't beat my personal best of 58:26 at Leeds Abbey Dash last November) but I have pretty much started again in the last couple of weeks, and the second hill in the last 2km was paaaainful.

No pre-race nerves!
The route was pretty flat which is a miracle in Sheffield although having run 13 miles round Sheffield for the half marathon and having to contend with only 2 hills, I do believe in miracles. I'd entered myself with an expected time of 01:10:00 so was in the green band but decided to drop back to pink to support my husband who I felt responsible for bullying into taking part. We were also running with a few friends of which two decided to drop back as it was their first races too. The atmosphere on arrival was really good, it felt quite chilled out and not as expected based on the predicted throng of in excess of 8000 people taking part. The baggage area was well organised considering it wasn't at all (obviously) attended, and wasn't busy at either drop off or pick up.

I felt like I'd packed my entire running wardrobe; the weather forecast was for heavy rain but muggy during the race, but the previous week had been a mix of sleet, freezing conditions and hot sun. Who knew? I changed twice before I'd left the house and changed again at City Hall and ended up in a sleeveless vest (having changed out of a long sleeved t-shirt and waterproof jacket). Because of the weather forecast we left our son at home with my mother-in-law rather than drag them out in the cold rain for a couple of hours, which is unfortunate as I'd really liked them to have been there. We needn't have worried though, it was sweltering (OK exaggeration police, maybe not tropical but warm enough for a reasonable run).

The starting line up was pretty relaxed but the warm up was a wash out, the further towards the back you were the more random the flailing arms got as it was impossible to hear or see what we were supposed to be doing. Still the starts were prompt and we were off just after 10:21am but what a nightmare start! The route started off exceedingly narrow for the number of people and at one point just after we started we ended up walking as we hit a bottleneck which was very frustrating. This continued for about .75km before the route widened and overtaking didn't involve death defying leaps up the pavements and dodging people in big wigs. After this the number of runners thinned and it was manageable to keep up up a straight run and a reasonable pace. Pretty much all my running companions had over taken me right at the start, even my husband whose pace in training had always been much slower than mine. I am, however, pretty good at pacing myself and keeping slow despite the wave of people over-taking and the pressure not to be beaten by my newbie race pals.

I can't say the run was easy as it wasn't; I ran pretty much at full pelt for 8k. I could tell as my face was hot and my lungs were burning and my knee was twinging, sure signs I was pushing myself beyond my usual comfortable run pace. I could really have done without the last 1k uphill slog past Fitzalan Square, as could many others I'm sure, but as I turned the corner down Arundel Gate for the last 200m, despite telling myself not to do a sprint finish, the clock showed I'd been running very close to an hour and this was my threshold. I'll be damned if I was going to take longer than my first ever race, so I floored it across the finish line at just under an hour (there is photo evidence to substantiate quite how much I gave it, but needless to say they far from show me in my best light). My husband came in not long after me and finished in a respectable 1hr 5, so we were both in the first half of the running returners. I rather stupidly dug straight into my post race booty bag and scoffed the energy bars and drinks before I'd even had my chip removed from my shoe (which I discovered I couldn't bend down to do myself), and consequently nearly threw up by the side of the road, reminiscent of many a pre-school birthday party I'd attended (and a few drunk night outs). Classy.

I did recover enough to enjoy a post race lunch and deconstruction of the morning's running events with the hubby before returning home. Especially proud, I am, of his great race time considering his training runs were a good 15 minutes longer than today, a triumph indeed (and a result of being diagnosed and treated for Asthma in the last couple of weeks). Mine on the other hand was a little disappointing, as I had hoped (admittedly in those last 200m and not before) that I might beat my personal best achieved at the Leeds Abbey Dash in 2010.

So, we returned home, husband in a glow of glory, and me, just a bit moody, licking my chafing wounds from having too fat arms.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Uphill Struggle

Distance: 7.50mi
Time: 01:28:15
Surface: Trail/Road
Conditions: Cloudy and hot

We're experiencing some freaky weather considering we're now in the full throws of Autumn, and I chose today, with temperatures in excess of 25 degrees forecast, to start tackling some hill training and add a bit more distance. All being said it didn't go too badly, I ran all the way including a steep hill half a mile long which, even at my peak I rarely relished or succeeded in completing. My average pace did suffer however at nearly 12 mins/mi (practically walking!). I ate before running this time as we were up early (child afraid of the dark) but didn't take any water with me (my bad) and I think I really suffered for it. My water consumption still isn't great on average and I'm certainly not consuming the recommended 2 litres per day so I really should have taken some out with me especially considering the heat. I have a Camelbak waist belt that is reasonably comfortable however in an attempt to make these runs as easy and as light as possible I've been shedding as many accoutrement's as I can - maybe water shouldn't have been one of them.

I did try out some new socks on this run too, X-Socks Sky Run. Basically they sound amazing and should have  cut my pace in half. OK, maybe I'm slightly over-egging the pudding, but they are recommended for controlling foot temperature and for preventing blisters by having specific protection points across the toes and heel and fast wicking away of moisture. Perhaps I was concentrating too hard on the temperature controlling properties of the socks but for the first 20 minutes my feet felt like they were on fire, not at all what I was expecting! This is probably an unfair assessment of these (pricey) socks - they were very comfortable and I didn't suffer any blisters (though blisters don't usually hit until I hit double figure mileage) - and perhaps I should have washed them first as recommended by Women's Running magazine. I'm not one for reading instructions, as my cooking prowess will testify.

Aside running up the hills, for which I employed any old method that meant I could get to the top without stopping, on the flat trail terrain I attempted my breathing technique and raising my field of vision described in my last post. I am sure this quickened my pace instantaneously by greater than 1 min/mi and at one point I'd reached a pace of around 8 mins/mi which I'd dearly love to maintain across a 10k distance (at the moment it's a good day if I make 10:45 min/mi which is my current "starting again" target. I did begin to struggle with thigh pain about half way round, experiencing quite acute tightening down the outside of my right thigh. I'm still suffering now walking down stairs too. I suspect I've over stretched myself (or maybe under stretched to start with) but it has brought a rather blunt fact to my attention - I'm a bit too fat. For the last few months I've got rather friendly with Mr Cake, and he's taken a fancy to my bottom, and my hips and now my thighs and now won't let go. Running progressively longer distance has just highlighted that my once reasonably toned thighs from regular running, Power Plate and climbing, are now just a bit too wobbly and running hurts more than I remember it.

I know I need to do 2 things to rectify this:

1. Eat better
2. Start Power Plate again

Now, I don't eat badly, I just eat a lot. I like my food and to be honest have struggled with knowing when to stop in the past. But I've lost a lot of weight twice now so I know what's possible I just need to buckle down, but that's not all. I need to find the bit in my brain that will allow me to maintain it for more than a couple of days and I think I'm nearly there, but until I am there's no point I'll only yo-yo diet and that's just within the space of a week.

The second thing I need to do is to restart Power Plate classes. During the last couple of runs where I've tried to blast it, I've suffered from leg pain, particularly calf pain which I never suffered from whilst I was doing Power Plate. I'm also not as powerful. The 30 minute Power Plate classes, twice a week saw me right; built up what now appears to be some good core strength (which means less back ache post runs) and  some fantastic muscles in my thighs, bum and calf (which gave me increased power). I've had nearly a 12 week blip in my attendance. I don't really know what happened (except for very little) once the half marathon was over. I seemed to give up on the 3 things I loved doing for exercise most - running, climbing and Power Plate, a seriously magic combination as far as I'm concerned for overall fitness and shape - which has had a knock on negative affect on my general being. More about that in another article...

So these are the things I need to work on in the next couple of weeks as I approach the 6 months threshold before the marathon.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Rough and the Smooth

Distance: 6.66mi
Time: 01:14:25
Surface: Trail
Conditions: Cloudy and humid

Distance: 3.0mi
Time: 00:31:31
Surface: Road
Conditions: Sunny, cool

I've experienced two contrasting runs in as many days. Yesterday I repeated my 10k trail route (proving Monday wasn't a fluke) and today, my usual 3 mile road route home from work. Yesterday was hard, really hard. I was on the clock as my husband plays golf on a Sunday morning with his dad so I have until 10.30am to complete whatever length run I've planned before I need to be back to take on the the childcare relay.

Within minutes I was aching all over and my lungs were fit to burst. I donned my arm warmers and had them off within minutes as I was so hot. The weather was glum but very humid, nasty weather to run in aside blistering sunshine. However all being said I ran the distance - including the evil steep uphill at the end of the trail that takes me across a main road. I'd anticipated a better time as I felt faster in my final mile but was gutted to find I'd come in longer than Monday's run. We're talking a minute and a half, but really, every second counts.

Defining features about yesterday's run?

1. Starvation run, I think it's called. Basically where you run on an empty stomach. I don't like to do this often but with a small window of running opportunity on a Sunday I rarely have time to eat, let my breakfast go down then do a I recent length run.
2. I was tired & achy. I'd been indoor bouldering with my family on Saturday afternoon. OK, it was only an hour and I'd spent most of that time spotting (catching) my little boy but it was the first time I'd been for a while and I tackled a few climbs that perhaps I shouldn't have done for someone who's put on a few pounds and is suffering from muscle atrophy. Anyway, I was suffering for it on Sunday.
3. I was too hot. After celebrating my Nike pro performance running tights in my first post, and despite having stripped off my top layer, I was still too hot. Seriously considering some pro performance capris now. I'm sure Sweatshop has a summer sale due...

And so to today's run. After a day at work, and without a lunch break I considered today's run as a means to an end - the end being getting to my car in less time than it would take to walk, however much shorter, by a tiny margin, that might be. I never considered I could actually do it in a reasonable time. I ate light today, favouring a half bowl of Rice Krispies for breakfast and an inhaled glass of orange juice on my way out of the door whilst arguing with my son about why taking a plastic Playdoh knife to nursery might be misconstrued as threatening behaviour to the other 3 year olds. For lunch, I enjoyed my homemade Peanut Butter & Butternut Squash soup (amazing Hugh F-W recipe from River Cottage Everyday - try it, it's a great winter warmer), a banana and a packet of crisps. There may have been a small baked goods incident around 4pm... but really, nothing to be concerned about. So anyway, I was travelling light by the time I left work at 5.30pm and had kept well hydrated through the day, which makes a positive change. The going was good from work; I have to cross 3 major roads before I get onto a reasonable straight so invariably it's a stop more than it is a start for the first 10 minutes, however today I was lucky with 3 green men in a row. I felt pretty good, thinking I was making good time, and so was very disappointed to have it reported by Runkeeper's dulcet tones, that my average pace would make dead tortoises look fast. So I had a word with myself. No really, I did, and it worked. My legs weren't feeling too bad and my breathing was fine so I took on some of the advice from an exercise professional friend - head up, shoulders back, and focus on maintaining core strength. I've read it's not a great idea to look at the floor whilst running, but on the trail I find that virtually impossible for fear of turning my ankle over on twigs and leaf mulch, however it's pretty easy to do whilst road running. I kept my field of vision slightly higher than my direct eye line (say, just below looking at the light on a street lamp) which had the net effect of straightening my posture and actually increasing my pace very slightly as I took bigger strides. Some more amateur theory - raising your hands higher than your heart when you run increases your heart rate and also assists with propulsion. It works you know, especially good uphill and combined with raising your field of vision a few degrees really helped improve my pace. Finally, as I sped up, I found myself employing the same breathing rhythm as I naturally fell into during the Half Marathon, breathing in through the mouth and nose, and puffing out through the mouth (all hail the ante natal class and the 5 candles technique - bloody useless during labour but marvellous for running!). All in, I managed a good 5 minutes off my recent total running time and actually ran my 4th best time ever on that route, who knew!

Defining features of today's run in contrast?

1. I ate light (excepting the 4pm scone)
2. Kept well hydrated, about 1.75l during the day (for me this is good, though well under the daily recommended amount I know)
3. Employed proper breathing technique
4. Kept my eye line and arms high to improve stride and propulsion

Instead of doing this for the final mile, next time I'll attempt this approach for the whole 3 miles. I reckon I could spank the ass off my best time of 29:51!

Next time is, by the way, tomorrow...