fairweatherrunner

running blog


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Being Sensible

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The tell-tale mild burning sensation down the outside of my legs from hip to knee made me realise this morning that I have neglected my ITB and need to get back to foam rolling, strength exercises and stretches regularly. I must use my foam roller after long runs!

I decided that today should definitely be a rest day, according to my plan, and I shouldn’t even think about doing an extra day or so to make up for my lack of miles last week. My overall miles may be on the low side for a week or two but, as I’m always reminded, it’s better to get to the start line under trained rather than injured or not at all!

My exercise for Janathon day 7 therefore has been 50 squats, 10 press ups, 50 lunges and a plank. I was rather impressed with myself for managing 4 mins. 1 min on front, 1m right, 1m left, 1m front again in one go.

I am also half way through foam rolling my legs. Don’t worry about how horrible the blue one looks – I haven’t needed it because the green one is more than painful enough!

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Long run with an old firend

A couple of old friends actually.

First I found my favourite running gloves in the pocket of an old coat  (now you know where to look for yours) which are not only cosy but more importantly small so when they come off after the frist mile they are compact to tuck in my bra. I also grabbed my Thunder Run buff from this summer for the first time to keep my hair back, ears warm and stop me going out totally dressed in black from head to toe.

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But  my most successful choice of old friend was putting Audiofuel back in my iPod.  I haven’t run with music recently but now I’m starting my marathon long runs I wanted something to listen to today for 10 miles round and round Hyde Park.  Most music bugs me over a long run with it’s changes in tempo and lyrics so I decided to plug into a continuous long run training mix and see how it went.  It went really well.  Maybe too well as I probably ran at too fast a pace for a long run.

Audiofuel was just right, it’s a smooth continuous couple of hours at a consistent tempo (starts easy, builds, then cools down) the regular beat gets you into a nice long run rhythm and the absence of many lyrics means it doesn’t interfere with your mind’s wanderings while running. A bit of coaching gives you just enough motivation every 10mins or so you don’t feel alone and forgotten! And it was great to hear after an hour or so that my training was helping me to run a good time in my marathon! I hadn’t listened to this one for a year or two (over-did it when I first got it) and really enjoyed hearing some of the tracks again. I even turned back on the way home to loop around Round Pond when my favourite came on. And because some are 10 minutes long a whole mile or so can fly by before you know it

Janathon day 5. 10.37 miles  in 1.37.50

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Thermals

We haven’t had too many freezing days yet this winter when thermals are required but when the cold snap comes it makes sense to have the right kit ready.

I was offered the chance to review a thermal base layer so with my marathon training about to start and remembering last years cold weather I jumped at the chance. The product is from Damart who are celebrating their 60th anniversary. I obviously know the brand for their thermal underwear and my mother swears by their camisoles in winter. I was also vaguely aware that they did thermal sports base layers but I haven’t tried them out myself before now.

I had the choice of couple of different items and styles and decided on a long sleeve, round neck thermal T-Shirt.

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I ummed and ahhed about the size because it was XS (8-12) or M (14/20). I’m a size 10 so went with the XS but was a little worried because in my experience running stuff in size XS is a tiny size 6! This wasn’t helped when I received my top it looked very small. (All nicely wrapped in paper with a couple of Christmas chocolates and candy stick. Yum! and Oops, one way to stay a curvy size 10!)

Fortunately it’s very stretchy material so will fit a wide range of sizes but I did worry about it not being very forgiving and would highlight every bump bulge and wobbly bit! I put it on and was nicely surprised to find it felt very light and comfortable and the nice matt purple material made it reasonably forgiving to be worn alone (occasionally).

It’s very comfortable to exercise in. It feels weightless, is seam & lablel-less, has a good fitted shape and the articulated elbows are a good detail. The length is good and it has an elasticated band round the hem to hold it in place. I can pull it down over my hips but it might be a bit on the short side if you’re very tall. It does ride up a bit when worn over shiny lycra running tights but if worn as an under layer it can always be tucked in.

It does what it should do warmth wise. Keeps you warm, keeps the wind out and it has good moisture wicking properties to keep you dry, even if you get quite hot and sweaty! It has washed well, keeping its colour and shape and dries quickly. I prefer to wear it with a layer on top so found it a bit too warm with milder temperatures but it will be good if temperatures drop to freezing. It was good for cold BMF classes (post class pic below!) where I just wear a numbered vest on top and protected my arms well in the plank position from the wet ground. I also found it useful as a second light layer when cycling to keep me wind proof without too much bulk.

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Cycling in London

I’ve lived here for over 20 years but it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally cycled on the streets of London. And what a time to start. Cycling in London is very much in the news at the moment after a bad week with 5 cyclist deaths in 9 days. As I planned to go out for the first time I read and listened to the news, hearing about vigils, campaigns and views from all parties about dangerous drivers, busses and lorries, bad road designs, reckless cyclists and so on. Whatever the reasons, with the huge growth in cycling in London lets hope some solutions and actions are found and acted upon soon.

So maybe not the best week for me as a novice (or returning) cyclist to be pushing my shiny new bike out the door. Or maybe it’s a good week because the more ordinary Londoners who take to two wheels the better for increasing understanding and communication between pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers (many of whom are users of all). More cyclists to create the demand for an increase in safe cycling routes and help to break down barriers between different road users as we learn to adapt to our congested changing city and make it better and safer for us all.

I have to add that I will be cycling in London in the mildest sense. I will be mostly cycling off-peak on quiet roads and cycle paths through the park. I’m lucky I have that option and won’t have to cycle anywhere in a hurry at busy times because I don’t have to commute nor take my exercise at peak times or after dark. I am happy to be the one you will see dismounting and using the pavement across a busy road junction before I go on my way. For now anyway while I build confidence and experience. Who knows where my cycling journey will take me.

Why has it taken me all these years to get on my bike? Fear (lack of confidence) and not having a reason to cycle until now when suddenly I find I have many reasons to get on two wheels.

Fear? Yes, London’s roads are daunting for many new comers, even in a car. I remember being petrified when driving for the first time in London as a student and it took me several years to get confident enough to drive where and when I wanted. Since then I have assumed that as an inexperienced cyclist (beast of a mountain bike in rural parts only) London cycling was not for me,

However these days, as a runner I notice that sooner or later many runners take to a bike. It follows that outdoor types will find that cycling makes sense as a form of cheap efficient transport. Cycling is one of the best forms of cross training for runners and the solace for many injured runners seeking a cardio fix. And road cycling has to be better than spinning class, hasn’t it? (Yes I hate treadmills too)

So when my OH told me he was buying another bike for training for a 3 day cycle ride next spring I decided that maybe it was time we had a joint activity (I’ll never make a runner of him) in preparation for our teenage sons flying the nest (wishful thinking) and he should buy me a bike too. I am one of the few people still driving to BMF classes and paying a fortune in parking charges when it’s only a few miles, much of which possible on cycle paths. Somewhere to start.

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So how has it been? Fantastic! I love it. As a friend said today there’s nothing like getting the wind in your hair to take you back to your youth. Straight out I felt good (yay for a bike that’s light and nippy). I have found the quiet roads far less frightening than I imagined and I have calmly coped with being passed by traffic of all sizes. I have used busier roads than I thought I would and have dismounted and walked less. I think my experience driving a very small car in London for the past year has helped me learn to be cautious of large vehicles and to adopt an assertive road position to indicate my intentions as well as learning all the back street routes.

I have new-found respect for cyclists. I’m reasonably fit and have even zoomed past Boris Bikes but have found many new muscles that other exercises haven’t touched. Today I discovered what triathletes refer to as a Brick Session. Trying to run at the start of my BMF class straight after cycling there, definitely a new wobbly legged experience! Next time I’ll leave earlier so I have a bigger rest between the two activities.

I start my marathon training proper next month. I don’t plan to use cycling as formal cross training but hope that commuting to BMF classes and running my local errands by bike will all add to my general fitness. All this extra fresh air is helping me sleep well too, which is essential for marathon training.


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Marathon training

This time last year I ran my first marathon at Rutland Water and this week I finally started training for my second.

It is just as well I’ve got 5 months until the London Marathon because it gives me time to get back in shape having lapsed my running a bit recently (not to mention gained a few pounds) and as many marathon training plans are for 16 weeks it also gives me a month to build up gradually and to try out my own ideas.

I’ve thought a lot about my training. What parts of training for races have I found difficult in the past? What are my barriers? What do I find easy to stick to and most enjoyable? Which bits do I find hardest or require a lot of self-determination and effort to get on with and how I can avoid situations that I will find hard to complete?

I’m not over keen on long runs, less so when I have get out of bed on a weekend morning to run them (or anything really) and even less so to run them by myself. I am good about getting to BMF classes regularly, even when I am totally unmotivated to do any other exercise because it’s sociable and fun, I (quite) like shorter speedy runs, I can motivate myself when there is a bit of self completion involved or a self or social commitment to fulfil. Some of the traditional training plans with 4 or more days running fill me with panic and dread about being able to keep up with them after many weeks.

So where does that all get me to?

Midweek training and long runs (unless it’s a race with buddies), keep up regular BMF classes with only 2 or 3 additional runs each week. Weekends for rest and recovery apart from when I can get myself to parkrun or have a planned race.

I will go to BMF classes on Monday Wednesday Fridays, Run my long run Tuesday (unless I have a weekend race) and a do a Tempo run or intervals session or go run club on Thursdays, I may swap a BMF class or the Thursday session for a Saturday parkrun when I want or if I need to rest tired legs midweek but otherwise plan to have my rest days at weekends.

As I planned this out I had in the back of my mind that by December I would revert to a ‘proper training plan’ will lots of runs. However the more I researched the more I felt confident with my schedule. The runners World Smart Coach gives me a marathon plan with just 2 key runs per week (a long run plus a speed/tempo/pace run) with cross training or rest on other days, no different from may own plan. I’ve also had a look at the FIRST training program (Run less, Run faster) which has 3 key runs (track repeats, tempo run, long run) and two cross training sessions. Effectively I am following the Smart Coach plan and its mileage and pace details (which I will check are in line with those from the FIRST plan for my target marathon time).

My plan starts properly 16 weeks before VLM so in the meantime I’m getting accustomed to my 5 workouts and building up my total weekly mileage gradually in preparation.


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Puma Faas 600S

A while ago Puma Running offered me a pair of their new Puma Faas 600 S running shoes to try. Great timing because from what I read they sounded like they might be just my thing and very useful for my marathon training long runs this winter. Plus if (2.30.46) marathon runner Susan Partridge trains in them they should be good for my more modest training attempts for sub 4.30!

They appealed to me because they are light weight and flexible yet offer a certain amount of stability and cushioning. I have got used to running in fairly minimal running shoes or racing flats, preferring less shoe (basically I hate heavy shoes) as most of my runs are short but last time I ramped up my mileage for marathon training I became aware that I needed a bit more support and cushioning for those far too long, long runs.

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My first impressions walking around in them were good, comfortable, light weight and flexible with sufficient height in the toe box for my toes to flex. A good fit around the heel but I did have to re-lace them to make sure they were plenty wide enough for my feet which are now used to splaying out..

As often the case with new shoes the first few runs I was not sure, mainly because anything different or new feels strange. So I wore them a lot more and got them soaked and muddy at BMF and they began to feel better and part of my feet.

They are not as responsive for a flat-out sprint as some but the more I mould them to my feet and get used to them the less I’m aware of that. I found them smooth and stable for pavement and road runs and surprisingly, for a road shoe that didn’t look very grippy, good on wet grass and mud.

The shoe Is an 8mm drop, to encourage midfoot striking and described as an every day running shoe. As a midfoot striker who runs in shoes from 4mm to 9mm drop they felt pretty good and close enough to the ground. They are lightweight for their stability and cushioning (only 50g or so more than my usual (Adios, Kinvara, Green silence)). My only minor problem as been the tongue slipping off centre because I don’t quite get a perfect fit around the upper but they have been the first pair of shoes for a long time which have stayed laced up when I forget to double knot!

A very good everyday running shoe. The big test will be whether these are still on my feet in 6 months. I certainly intend to use them for my long road runs when I start marathon training next week rotating them with my old shoes on short fast runs. I am also interested enough to look into the other faas models when I come to replacing other running shoes.

Product information…

“The Faas 600 S has a distinct Midsole and Outsole that offers greater stability and forefoot flexibility, a distinct women’s last for a women’s fit, and an upper pattern with a sexy and more anatomic shape. Built for the slightly more traditional stability runner who heel strikes, the NEW Faas 600 S is at an 8mm Heel to Toe Drop which encourages runners to midfoot strike. The shoe features PUMA’s innovative one piece midsole Faas Engineered Stability technology that is one of its kind in the industry.

RRP: £85 Stockist: Sportshoes.co.uk or ProDirectRunning.com”

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Focus

Hello World!

Getting back into training again after a summer break usually takes me a couple of weeks in September while I adjust to Autumn routines, get my act together and dig out my mojo. This year it’s taken me nearly 8 weeks, Oops!

Excuses? Yes lots. Since the start of September things have been rather full on with work, home, family and life plus my OH has had a stressful and disruptive month work-wise so my focus has not been on running nor blogging.

I did get a bit of focus when I received this in the post…

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And then some more focus when trying to find something to wear recently. I had to admit to myself that my clothes were not the problem but my lack of running and therefore expanding muffin top!

I haven’t been totally sedentary. I might not have made it out of my front door once on a run since the summer but I have been to BMF 2 or 3 times a week which has maintained my general fitness. I have also run a couple of un-trained half marathons. The first was Run to the Beat at the start of September, enough said about that the better! My record slow finish time wasn’t just my complete lack of training as the race crowding (standstill at one point) and a long loo queue added a good 15 minutes.

The second was the Ealing Half Marathon . A great race again, like last year, which I treated as a long Sunday run (with added bonus of water stations and support along the way). I was very pleased to find that I had maintained my fitness enough to be able to run the whole distance, at an easy pace, without getting puffed and only 9 minutes slower than last year. My legs however, having not had many miles in preparation, were feeling quite painful for the last 3 miles.

My final focus was to pay for my London Marathon ballot place this weekend so I’m committed! I already have a Brighton Marathon place for the week before London so I have some thinking to do before then.

I’m going to start training on 1 November. I have 5 months so have time to try out my idea for a training plan during the first month and see how it goes. But more about that later, time for me to get out that door…