Little Runner Gal

Running, eating, sleeping and all the bits in between

2014: Resolutions & Goals

Not just because it’s customary, but because I think it’s needed and a great idea to focus yourself on becoming better at everything you do, here are my goals and resolutions for 2014. I aim to do blog update on these monthly so please feel free to keep me in check! Some will be harder than others…

Resolutions

– To warm up before every run, when possible & stretch out after every run when possible – I say where possible as I do a 3 miler before work a few times a week and would not be able to do this if I had to fit in a warm up and down routine around it as well. But I definitely need to do it before my evening runs, club sessions and long weekend runs.

– Attend Bikram Yoga class once weekly – a new part of my routine and something that will aid my running further.

– Use my Tiger Tail before & after every run, and intermittently on a daily basis.

– Take professional advice! If the physio says I need to rest, I must rest.

All these are majorly based on my total fear of injury! And my want to become a better runner.

And finally….

– Chill out! Those around me would tell you that I stress out at the smallest things. I want to try and keep this in check. Remember that I’m lucky to just be here and have all the lovely things I have, I don’t need to stress about it.
Chill out

Goals

– Run a sub 4 hour marathon.

– Run 2014 miles.

– Run a sub 50 minute 10k.

– End 2014 even happier & healthier than I am today.
Bunny

Events so far

I’m signed up for the following events so far, but there are loads more I want to do, and will sign up for, as the year progresses.

Reading half – March 2nd
Surrey half – March 9th
Fleet half – March 16th
London marathon – April 13th
Electric Run – April 26th
Berlin marathon – September 28th

I also want to do a 24hr endurance event, more Hurt & Brutal off road events, maybe a Tough Mudder, and hopefully my first duathlon.

2014 is set to be a good one for me. Wishing you a Happy New Year full of goals, ambitions, happiness and love.

LRG x

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Bikram Yoga Review

Today I took part in my first Bikram Yoga session. Having tried various things to help support my running, and my increasingly injury prone legs, I’ve been hoping to find something to combine with my marathon training regime to keep the pesky little niggles at bay.

Both my aunt, a runner, and a chap at my running club recommended Bikram Yoga in Fleet, so I went along today to give it a go.

The website is good at preparing you for what to expect, and how to dress and prepare yourself accordingly (as little as possible and with various towels and water!) so I knew it was going to be a sweaty one.

Upon entering the yoga room, in my way too brief shorts and way too tight for the amount of Christmas nosh I’d put away vest, the heat instantly hits you. But it’s not at all unpleasant and they recommend you get there in enough time to have a stretch and get acclimatised. I was in a good beginners spot and could see the instructor and everyone to follow, as I had no idea what any of the poses were!

The session kicked off with some breathing exercises and then into the warm up stretches. With the heat ever increasing (or was it just me) the instructor was great at explaining exactly what we should be doing and when to take on water if necessary. The class moved on to the main poses and I quickly picked up the rhythm of what we were doing and it became a little more self explanatory. I found my body doing a lot of the things quite naturally, and others (like where to put my hands, or which way round) felt a bit strange to start with. But the instructor was good at correcting me in an understanding way, and it was easy to look round and see what others were doing.

The class flew by and by the end I was dripping with sweat with a heart rate close to a sprint I’m sure! I felt good, like I’d had a great workout and done my muscles and body a lot of good in the process.

A few hours on and I’m feeling achy in a good way, like I know my muscles have benefitted from the session. I’ll definitely be going back, and have made it one of my resolutions to attend once a week. With the 5 sessions daily this is more than achievable.

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone, especially runners, and I’ll let you know how I progress in the new year.

LRG x

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2013: The year I ran and ran and ran

2013 has been the year my running really kicked off. After first getting out on the roads in November 2012, this year has really been amazing and I’m now in a place I never dreamed of. I’m healthier, happier, slightly less stressed and I feel like I have so much more purpose. I’ve got an actual interest, a hobby, something I ‘do’, something I am. I am a runner. Before this year the interests on my CV listed shopping and the cinema! Nowadays 95% of the conversations I have are about my running!

So 2013 has looked like this:

March – Reading Half Marathon: My first real race. I hadn’t trained as much as I should have done. It was driving sleet and rain on the day. Everything hurt from about 5 miles onwards. I was amazed by the event, the spectators, the spirit, the fellow runners, the organisation, the whole thing. I finished in 2:10:34. I’d caught ‘the bug’.

So when my cousin suggested we enter a marathon to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society in memory of our Grandma, it seemed like a do-able challenge! In preparation we entered a local 10km road race in May, which I completed in 56:25, and a series of 3 10km trail runs entitled The Hurt! As we discovered that the marathon we’d signed ourselves up for was an off road marathon, we thought we’d better get into the woods and see what it was all about. The Hurt series were an eye opener; hills, mud, hills, trees, hills and more hills. But we completed a lot, they were great fun and helped to build our confidence.

Marathon training with my cousin was a particular highlight of the year. We’re close in age but drifted apart over the years, so having this challenge together has been fantastic. I’d never have got through it all alone and the friendship that has blossomed from such an experience is irreplaceable.

In July I signed up for ParkRun, which is amazing. It opened my eyes to shorter runs based on pace, but more importantly a world of people just as excited about running as me!

In September it was the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon. The most painful, intense, liberating, fulfilling experience of my life. My training had taken me to 23 miles, but those last 3 and a bit seemed to take an age! I finished in 4:57:50. I couldn’t stand up afterwards!

In October, just 2 weeks after the marathon, I joined a running club. I’ve blogged about it enough but I can honestly say it was the best thing I ever did to progress my running. The speed sessions, the social aspect, the cross country league, everything! And also the month I had places for the London & Berlin marathons confirmed for 2014.

2013 has changed my life. 2014 is going to be even better. I hope you continue to join me in my journey.

LRG x

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New Shoes!!!

I wouldn’t be a self respecting female if I didn’t enjoy shopping…and even more so, a sale! In years gone by this would involve trawling through the sale rails of the high street stores looking for jeans, dresses, jumpers and heels. But yesterday was a whole new level of sale shopping – RUNNING GEAR SALE SHOPPING!!

Anyone that read my last post will know how excited I was to be planning a trip to the London Marathon store in Bishopsgate, London, and it didn’t disappoint. After finding the place (I was magnetically drawn to it from the tube station exit) I entered my own little heaven. I knew I wanted new road runners and was happily greeted by Jason who went through the wall of shoes with me and briefly explained the gait analysis and customised insole service they offered and left me in the capable hands of Steve.

Steve analysed the pressure points on my feet and explained that I was pretty normal when it came to my arch and the points of my feet touching the floor. He then took me through a series of foot movements, taking pictures of them, and showing them back to me to show how my Achilles lines up at different points of my foot strike. We made my insoles and I jumped on the treadmill to do a quick run. Steve took me through the slowed down footage of my foot strike and he concluded I had a very slight tendency to roll in, so suggested a mild support shoe with a bit of a harder compound material over the arch.

I tried the Asics GT1000, Mizuno Wave Nexus & Brooks Ravenna on the treadmill, and they all seemed very comfortable and supportive. The insoles definitely made a difference. In the end I plumped for the Brooks Ravenna 4’s. They fit well, felt good on the treadmill and I already have a pair of Brooks Cascadia for trail running, so the brand won it for them in the end.

Steve also gave me some advice on the various rollers they have in stock and I plumped for a Tiger Tail, as I’m pretty rubbish at supporting myself on a traditional foam roller, which my lovely fella bought me as an extra little Chrimbo pressie.

All in all a very enjoyable and educating experience at the London Marathon store. I’d highly recommend it if you can get there and want some great advice from people that know what they’re talking about. Steve is also marathon training and clearly knew his stuff.

Then to Nike Town….incredible! I picked up some new running tights and a couple of winter running tops for a steal. I’m not a brand whore with a lot of things, but I really do prefer the Nike running gear. Just personal preference and previous experience. Next, to Lillywhites (which is now Sport Direct…shocker) for a bargain Camelback ready for the looooooong marathon training runs at the weekends.

So all in all, a bloody fantastic trip.

Kit

And so, to actually put this kit to the test!

Today I put on my new running tights, new long sleeved top and spent 15 minutes with my Tiger Tail before grabbing my Christmas present Garmin, Christmas present headover and lacing up my new Brooks Ravenna’s with custom insoles and heading outside. Now, I can’t say whether it was the new threads, rolling my muscles, fantastic shoes or fully supportive insoles (or more likely a combination of the lot, plus the rest I’ve had) but I had a great 7 mile run, at a good (if slightly inconsistent) pace, and felt fantastic afterwards.

Ravenna

So I am one happy Runner Gal today…here’s hoping it lasts!

I’m off to do a bit more Tiger Tailing before gawping at my precious new trainers for a while!

LRG x

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Easy does it: Returning from injury

Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas. I’m sat here eating the last (well they weren’t the last, but they now are) of the 3rd box of chocolates I’ve gone through in the last 3 days….how long does the excuse “well it’s Christmas” last?!

I’ve had a fantastic festive few days with family, too much food and even a little bit of alcohol – I don’t normally drink. It has helped to take my mind off of the fact I’m not running, but knowing I should be running nearly every day and then receiving numerous running related Christmas pressies, I have been cursing my damn calf and climbing the walls to get out for a run.

So, feeling ‘fixed’ this morning, after 9 days resting (yes, it has been pointed out to me that this isn’t quite the 2 weeks I was advised – I have resolved to adhere to professional advice in 2014, promise!) I went out for the first run with my fab new Garmin Forerunner 220 (I now realise how people can fall in love with techie things) and my very very very warmed up calf muscles.Garmin

The Garmin is fantastic, can’t recommend it enough, and my calf held up well. I did actually apologise to my new watch afterwards promising that our future runs together would be much better than today. 3 miles at a massively inconsistent pace wasn’t our best introduction, but it broke the ice and gave us something to better together, and more importantly got me back out there. Being honest, I felt pretty disheartened when I got back, but after a bit of twitter encouragement, and reading my last blog post (I shouldn’t think I can just pick up where I left off) I was just pleased to be back out there.

The last few days of 2014 will be spent equally resting and doing a few easy miles to ease myself back in, training planning for the months ahead and looking at resolutions and goals for the new year. Oh, and tomorrow I’m visiting London Marathon Sweatshop store to treat myself to some new road runners, and maybe a few other bits….like kid in a sweet shop!

If you’ve got any recommendations on good road trainers for a neutral runner then please let me know!

LRG x

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Fairweather Blogger

I’ve not blogged in a couple of weeks, because I’m injured. Rubbish reason. So this has taught me a hard lesson about myself. Turns out I’m a Fairweather Blogger…happy to chat about my successes, PB’s, bettering pace, great events, etc etc but as soon as I plateau, get injured, have a crap week, I become a recluse. But as it’s not going away and I need to learn some bloody hard lessons about this then I’m sharing it!

So I’ve strained a calf muscle. Not the worst injury at all. Osteopath says 2 weeks off and I’ll be right as rain. You’d think over the festive period that this would be a dream dioagnosis. But not for the marathon training addict. I’m petrified that anything deviating from the plan is going to leave me right back at the beginning again. Or worse…back into a routine with the sofa and Friends repeats.

I took 3 days off…OK, 2 and a half, and felt a bit better. Did a couple of shorter runs, went back to club running, yeah it wasn’t fixed. Cos 2 and a half days isn’t 2 weeks and apparently your muscles know this even if you’ve somehow managed to talk your brain into believing it.

And tonight, at club interval training, I was in agony. On the return back to base I got talking with one of the lovely ladies who ran the London Marathon this year and she gave me some great advice.

1) Take the time off. Especially if an expert has diagnosed it.

2) Take the time to strengthen your core. Many marathon planning books, websites, YouTube, Google etc can halp with core exercises for runners.

3) Cross training. Swimming, cycling, anything that doesn’t hurt your injury. You can either get professional advice or just give these things a try and see what works for you. Helps to keep your CV levels consistent and works all the bits that are still functioning.

We also touched upon pilates and yoga, but neither of us has much experience so any advice on this is welcomed.

She reminded me that despite my greatest fears (and apparently I am definitely not alone here) I wont regress by months, I wont be starting all over again, and that actually I’m well ahead on my plan anyway having started a bit earlier. I’d love to say this was on purpose..!

And last bit of advice was ease back into it. At most, pick up where you left off. But don’t try and skip straight to where you should be in your plan. Yeah you’ll be back a week or so but in the grand scheme of marathon running, it’s nothing. And certainly beats a muscle tear or worse.

So this leaves me rearranging my training week. I’m a sucker for a schedule so I’m re-scheduling now.

As well of this, just has some advice from fellow blogger runnerjackson to get reacquainted with the foam roller. So that’s on the list too.

In other news a friend at running club saw an article about strengthening glutes and instantly thought of me and my lazy arse, so brought the article along tonight. So I now have time to incorporate that in to my schedule as well. So really I should be grateful for a bit more time to better myself from the inside out…and enjoy a few mince pies!

Ok, this has been like therapy. I now feel a whole lot better and can see the silver lining and light at the end of the tunnel already. Jeez I hope the next couple of weeks fly by and my trainers don’t forget the shape of my feet!

LRG x

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Confessions of a Lazy Arse

So my lazy glutes continue to plague my runs, and the last couple of days have seen some set backs and some progressions.

Yesterday’s morning run started as most of my morning runs do…barely awake. But things quickly warmed up and a mile in my calves were doing all the work as normal, and a bit further on they were showing their usual signs of unhappiness, with my right knee and ankle joining the party. Now rather than think “engage glutes to stop pain” my brain thought “well it IS early and you have only just discovered your glutes, you can’t expect them to be working at THIS time of the morning”!!! Really?!! I mean really, my brain thought that this was logical, that because I’d neglected to use the bloody things previously that I could just ‘let them off’ when they decided not to join in…NOT cool!

So, the lazy buggers were to join in on yesterday night’s club hill intervals session, AND THEY DID! They made a fantastic appearance. With my calves still screaming louder than Bon Jovi circa 1987, my glutes were rocking the show. The hill intervals were hard and long and hard, so I had to really think about it to get them to do the work. As instructed, strengthening my core and correcting my tilted hips slightly worked. And that, along with the inclines, fired up the ol’ butt muscles! And once they were going, and boy could I feel it, it was easy to keep them working.

Tonight’s run was very similar. I’d chosen a flattish route so that I could practice the technique and it seems to be working. And I even tagged on an extra couple of miles just to beast the lazy slabs of meat!

I think this is really going to be one of those ‘practice makes perfect’ jobs, but I just need to keep it at. The down sides are that a) I have to think about it (which interrupts my thinking about food) when running, and b) it changes my cadence and breathing pattern slightly as my posture is shifted…which isn’t proving too much of an issue so far, but might on longer runs, we’ll see. 

In other news I’m smashing my marathon training plan and it must be time to watch Love Actually soon!

LRG x

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A super week & a Grim weekend

This week has been a pretty good one in terms of running. Most days have started with the evil call of the alarm and a chilly early morning run. I literally NEVER thought I would ever be one to get up in enough time to run before work, but now I bloody love it. Another sign I’m a ‘real’ runner I guess…or just a real nutter, which is more likely!

After my awesome club session on Tuesday I’ve been working on my glutes and it’s safe to say I’ve found them, but not in a good way. well, it’s difficult to say really. Nearly every run since attempting to ‘engage’ my glutes I’ve nearly pulled one! So they’re there, they’re doing something, but I need to work on control! More work in progress.

And in even better news, the club running (hills, intervals, and heaps of encouragement) are still doing wonders for my pace. Club run on Thursday was, as always, led by the super fit fasties of the group, but d’ya know what, I wasn’t far behind at all. I was so chuffed I was keeping a fantastic pace. I didn’t need to look at my watch to know it was a quick 6 miles this week, but looking at my splits afterwards I was really pleased to see that my average pace was another 10 seconds quicker than pre-club, and miles 3-5 were over 30 seconds better. Small steps, but it all adds up.

And no weekend would be complete without some crazy event. Yep, I’ve been up to the ‘normal’ (how this has become normal I’m still not sure!) and been dragging my lazy arse through mud and water, up the hills and under the cargo nets at the Grim 8 – an 8 mile obstacle mud fest on the army land of Aldershot. The first couple of miles were nothing but rough terrain, easier than the average cross country run (not for the Santa’s, superhero’s and men dressed as old women! But for me it was) but then came the first of the deep water obstacles. Waist deep water and mud to wade through whilst trying to remain upright, easier for some than others. With no feeling in my feet it took a while to work out I had a nice handful of gravel in each trainer. But back into the water we went! So many people tripping over themselves and going in face first, it was great, and then it was very nearly me! But I managed to keep my footing and wade out the other side. Just.

More hills in the ‘Alpine’ stretch (and a right glute that was threateneing to ping) and then the cargo nets and the type of sandy clay mud that weighs you down and turns everything yellow! My mum, uncle and cousin were amoung the supporters lining this area watching the spectacle! Their support and passing the 6 mile marker made it easier to carry on. Lots more thick mud (and I’m thinking ‘please don’t let me have lost my ankle tied timing chip in that!’) and a lot more water and I could hear the names being reeled off by the man with the loud speaker at the finish line. The last lake and straight to the finish line! What a great race!

GRIMSurvivor t-shirt and water collected, it was clear I was in for another afternoon of washing!! Oh well, it was worth it. And I bagged myself a decent time. 1:13:34 and 457th out of over 2500 entrants!

So, yet again, I am singing the praises of running club and trail events, but now also early morning running (I’m still shocked at this!) and the slow discovery of my glutes!

Now I’m off to empty the washing machine, praying that the entire contents isn’t ‘clay sand yellow’!

Ooh, which just reminded me, I won a Virgin Money hi viz vest this week for being one of the first people to start fundraising for the London marathon on their site http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SarahErskine. How good is that?! I never win anything!!

Over & out!

LRG x

 

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