Today I Went Jogging; NB: I Am Not A Runner….Or Am I?

Today was the first session for my second attempt at the SLJ Beginners Course. I was unable to complete the course last September as I had to step out due to demands on my time from family and some personal health issues- now resolved thank goodness. For some reason I had worked myself into a fine old tizzy and was more anxious second time around than I was last year. Seriously….why was I so worried? The welcome was as warm and open as ever it was last September and naturally I was not alone in my anxious state… my fellow beginners were equally dubious about what that they had signed up for.

Knole Park entrance

Our coach Hazel was immediately reassuring and swiftly gained our confidence as she led us off to the ‘Hole In The Wall’ entrance to Knole Park.

The warm up walk was reassuringly easy and a great ‘nerve settler’ and there was just enough breath to spare as we introduced ourselves and generally jelled as a group, a few knee high steps raised body temperature sufficiently for this menopausal member to strip off a layer before we even reached the first hill! The advice to dress for the second mile of your run is sooooo spot on!!

Our walk up the hill was made more interesting with just the right amount of challenge as we formed a single line, with the person at the back striding forward to overtake fellow groupies to take the front spot, this process was repeated in turn until the crest of the hill was achieved and we all had a lovely, healthy glow! A few moving stretches and then we were ready to start the business of the day: jogging!!

The deer don’t take any notice as we start our first little 30 second jog, alternating with walking so that an impressive amount of ground is covered almost without us noticing. The park is stunning, the sun is shining, the temperature crisp and exhilarating, the company is great and the experience is quite simply wonderful! We trot up and down dale, around the boundaries of the majestic house and its inner grounds, through woodland and open spaces: it is all beautiful and feeds the soul.

Now that we are on the home stretch and nicely warmed up we run for two minutes straight and remarkably no one is collapsing and we all share a high five moment as we celebrate our achievement! We return to Hollybush thrilled with the information we have just run and walked three miles…. yay for us!

On a personal note I have managed to exceed my daily fitbit targets with over 10,000 steps and 76 active minutes before its even lunchtime! Now that, my dears, is a result!!

Diary of an aspiring half-marathoner! Final Blog

Diary of an aspiring half-marathoner!  Final Blog

So, tomorrow is the big day, its finally arrived & here I am, calmly drinking coffee at Hollybush, post run with SLJ (post run for them, not for me – my morning has largely consisted of getting my nails done so far!) listening to encouraging words from the coaches and other ladies (“you’ve got this”, “all that training will pay off tomorrow”, “you’ve worked so hard – remember to enjoy it”, “Good Luck” etc..) & on the outside I’m smiling, nodding & making all the right noises in response desperately trying to carry off what I hope is a cool, confident & excited look.  Inside my head however…

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Diary of an aspiring half -marathon runner - week ten.

Diary of an aspiring half -marathon runner - week ten.


I don’t know about anyone else, but I always find the midweek evening training sessions much harder than the Saturday morning ones.  I’ve tried to tweak them so they suit me better – for instance, I now start earlier so that I pretty much run straight after work (so no danger of sitting down when I get home & then staying on the sofa for the rest of the evening!) which also means I have the chance to get home & cook a proper meal afterwards without it getting too late to eat (so therefore resorting to a takeaway). 

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Diary of an aspiring Half Marathon Runner - Super Saturday!

My targets for this week:
1. Run at least twice.
2. Try & cover at least 14 miles combined.
3. Longer run target = 9 miles – eek!

I’ve just had a reality check moment – here I am, starting off my blog like most weeks – I’ve already run the midweek session (5 miles, nothing out of the ordinary to report & as usual, took a while for me to get going!) and I’m taking advantage of a quiet moment on Friday morning, and I’ve just written the words “9-miles”. Wow. 9-miles. Just the thought that I’ll be running this distance tomorrow morning has made my heart beat that little bit faster, and my palms a tad sweaty.

This is the first real milestone week for me, and how it goes is likely to have a big impact on the rest of my training. I think I mentioned previously that apart from some 10K’s and a few 7 mile runs – until I started this training I’d only ever run further than this one other single time – an 8.5 mile run with SLJ on their increase your distance course (after which I decided I really wasn’t cut out for longer distances and promptly ditched the rest of the course & went back to my comfortable 4-5 miles).

So this week – 9 miles (oops, there goes my heart rate again!) will be the furthest I’ve ever run.  I’m trying my hardest to stay positive – it helps that last week I had a really good run & I honestly felt that if somebody had turned round to me at the end & said, actually – let’s keep going, I could have done. But there is still that niggle of doubt – that negativity that we all have within bubbling just beneath the surface, laying in wait for that opportunity to pounce – and today with the memory of that 8.5 mile run (which felt like hell itself) to fuel it, its whispering louder than usual “what if you can’t do it?”.

So in stark contrast to last week, where I was really looking forward to the 8-mile run, this week I am dreading it to be truthful.  On the one hand, my competitive streak is sniffing the air in anticipation of establishing a new distance record on my Garmin, but as exciting as this prospect is, I am worried that my previous conclusion that “I am not cut out to run long distances” is correct.  Never in my life have I ever wanted to be wrong as much as I do right now (and I don’t like being wrong!), but I honestly believe that if I can have a successful run tomorrow it will give me the confidence needed for the longer distances yet to come, as I can lay that demon to rest.

Even as I write this I am sitting here arguing back & forth with myself – “what if …” – “stop it, stay positive – you can do this” – “but, what if…” – “nope, don’t go there – it’s not the same. This is training with a real goal in mind – that was just having a go at something” – “but…” – “lalalalalalalala I’m not listening!” No doubt this will continue as in reality there is only one way to settle it – I guess we’ll find out the winner tomorrow!

____________

… So its Saturday morning and as I eat my breakfast & watch TV before setting off, I am catching up on the events overnight at the Olympics hoping to draw some inspiration from the amazing team GB before I head out the door.  Just as I’m about to lace up my trainers, one of the presenters asks a question “will this be another SUPER SATURDAY?”  I know that they are not actually directing this at me through the TV! But still, I feel in a way they are as it pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling this week – I really, really hope it will be a Super Saturday!
Tune in next week to find out….

… only kidding!  As if I would leave you all hanging like that!  Well, I only went & bloody did it!  9-miles (9.2 actually!) me!  No problems on the way round, no collapsing at the finish line feeling like hell – I felt amazing – actually, I felt like an Olympian!  Very briefly, followed by feeling like a bit of a wally after jumping around like a complete loon in the golf club carpark when I heard the buzz of my Garmin indicating that I had done it!  I think the golfers thought I’d lost the plot!

I know that I will still have ups & downs.  I know that I’ll still have the odd run that doesn’t go according to plan & I know that I’ve still got a way to go yet before I’m ready for the big day itself – but I honestly believe I can do it now!

Diary of an aspiring Half Marathon Runner - week 6

My targets for this week:
1. Run at least twice.
2. Try & cover at least 11 miles combined.
3. Longer run target = 8 miles.

So I’m back after two weeks break due to a friend’s wedding up t’North followed by a week in Vegas – I’m just going to be upfront & admit right now that I did zero training whilst away. 

Zip. Nada. 

I can’t even try & claim that I did some swimming as the closest I got to this was sitting at the edge of the pool, in the shade, dangling my feet in whilst engrossed in a book!  I did clock up 3 miles walking one day, but considering it took over 3 hours I don’t really think this counts as it was an extremely casual dawdle at best whilst I meandered around the air-conditioned shopping malls of Vegas! But at least I’m feeling relaxed & rejuvenated & ready to grab that bull by the horns, look it well & truly in the eye and say – I will do this, just you try & stop me!

I had a couple of days to get over the jetlag before heading out for the first (shorter) mid-week run. However willing my mind may have been, the rest of my body must have missed that memo & it started protesting pretty much right away!  The calves were the first to grumble after only half a mile, and they kept it up for a good couple of miles before they finally realised I was blatantly ignoring them & they could either behave or go on strike – thankfully they decided to behave!  Breathing was also harder than usual – it was like I’d temporarily forgotten how to breathe and run at the same time & it seemed to take me forever to get it under control & in sync with my stride.  But once the calves had warmed up & I was breathing properly it got a lot easier.  It helped me enormously to know that we had options regarding overall distance too.  Knowing I’d been away & might still be tired/jetlagged, Carrie had broken the route up into sections with the aim being “we’ll run to here and then see how you feel and then we can go this way for shorter or that way for longer”.  It really worked and at each point I assessed how I was feeling & we pressed on. I’m pleased to say we managed a little over 5 miles which was further than I expected!

To say I was looking forward to the Saturday run is an understatement – despite having a lovely time away, I had missed running and the camaraderie & chat/gossip that it brings and I was looking forward to seeing my SLJ buddies and falling back into the old routine!  It was an away run today with SLJ from Godden Green, but as we needed to get some extra miles in, we started early at Hollybush & ran out to join the main group at Godden Green.  It really was a beautiful day – the sun was shining, it was warm (but we had a nice shady run through the woods) & I was in great company – it really couldn’t have gotten much better!  The run itself felt really good too – for once I was automatically selecting the longer loops (rather than having that battle with myself in my head first before doing them reluctantly) and I didn’t seem to be trailing at the back of the pack for once – I also found I didn’t always need the breaks when we regrouped, and actually sometimes I was feeling a little impatient to set off again! By the time we got back to Hollybush we’d done our 8 miles and I felt pretty good!  I was tired, but I didn’t feel about ready to collapse like I had on the previous 8-miler. Thanks to a post-run bath with epsom salts I didn’t ache or feel stiff afterwards either so I’m taking this as a good sign for the weeks ahead as we start to increase our distance.
Later that evening the three of us noticed that we’d picked up an identical “badge of honour”! We must have been accosted by the same pesky thorn/bramble bush en-route that morning! 

Diary of an aspiring half - marathon runner week five

Diary of an aspiring half - marathon runner week five

I’m on holiday this week so may be taking a break from training.  I say “may” because i’ll be in Vegas, and I struggle enough in the temperatures we get at home so I’m not even going to attempt to run in temperatures of 40-degrees plus!  However, my hotel will probably have a gym which will no doubt be air-conditioned to artic conditions! But I can already imagine the type of clientele at the gym - steroid pumped guys with muscle vests & bulging biceps and young, skinny gym bunnies wearing tiny scraps of lycra sipping whatever meals they’ve juiced up for the day! Somehow I think an overweight, 40-something, red faced & sweaty woman on a treadmill will spoil the picture somewhat! But I’ll make do with plenty of walking & swimming instead!

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Diary of an aspiring half - marathon runner week four

Diary of an aspiring half - marathon runner week four

This week, on the first training session I picked up my very first running injury!  A chafing injury no less!! 
Is it wrong to be secretly proud of it do you think? I’m sort of treating it somewhat like a war wound or a badge of honour – something that says that I’ve now crossed over into the territory of being a proper runner!  Finally when others talk about different injuries and pitfalls they’ve come across as a runner, I’ll have something to bring to the table!   

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Diary of an aspiring half -marathon runner - week two

OK – so although my first blog was only published last week, in real time I’ve had a while to get used to the idea and it’s really starting to sink in now that in October I’ll be running a half marathon! 


It still sounds ages away, but once you add in the fact that I’m away quite a bit between now & then, plus I’ve got to somehow fit training in around busy full-time employment and other commitments - it’s really not that long at all! 

But, according to my trusty advisor(s) on such matters, apparently based on the fact that I could probably run 10K without too much of a struggle, I could be ready to run a half-marathon in as little as 6 weeks (yeah right, dream-on!). Thankfully we have more than 6 weeks, so allowing for holidays etc… I should be able to get a solid 11-12 weeks of training in, so in theory double the time needed!    

This week I started my “proper” training schedule and the plan for session one – complete 5 miles.  What was that? “Piece of cake” did I hear you say?  I agree that normally this wouldn’t give me too much cause for concern as the usual steady SLJ run is 4 – 4.5 miles most weeks, but I’ve been away or busy on Saturdays for over a month so I’ve missed all but one of the usual SLJ Saturday sessions (where I opted for the “gentle joggers” on account of feeling a little (ahem) “delicate”) and I’ve not managed to fit in any mid-week sessions either.

That said I did run just the once while on holiday where I learned a valuable lesson about not always putting your faith in technology, but I’ll leave that tale for another time!  I know I could have made time to run more whilst away and in between if I really wanted to, but the truth is I just don’t enjoy running on my own – I need the support & camaraderie that comes from being part of a group like SLJ.

Therefore I woke this Saturday morning, excited but also more than a tad nervous to embark upon my training.  Normally after a several weeks off running I’d ease myself in gently with 3-4 miles with Sue & the gentle joggers, a nice gentle pace with stops & walking breaks – but that wasn’t an option today. Not only would I have to jump straight in at the deep end and run with Siân & the main group – but I’d also have to do the extra loops to make sure I hit the 5 mile target! I feel the need to point out here that I’ve NEVER run the extra loops before – I’ve always avoided them like the plague, after all they’re for fast runners aren’t they…?  Well, I can now categorically say the answer is no, they’re not!  That’s not to say that there weren’t some fast runners up the front, but there were another four of us bringing up the rear, taking a steadier pace but still covering the extra distance.  We still caught up with the main group at the previously agreed check points and in true SLJ spirit, nobody was left behind.  

I’m pleased to report that thanks to the extra loops I did indeed achieve the 5 mile target, and it didn’t kill me! Hooray! 

All in all a good start to the “proper” training, and much better than I feared which hopefully bodes well for the weeks to come. Watch this space!

Diary of an SLJ Beginner - Week three

I've always liked the idea of being fit; it's just the getting fit part that has been a bit of a stumbling block.  I've tried the gym, swimming, kick boxing, cycling...I've even tried pole dancing.  Swimming bored me and cycling ended rather abruptly after an incident with a lorry, a cracked helmet and first aid from the local vet.  

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