Little Runner Gal

Running, eating, sleeping and all the bits in between

Guest Blog: Mull-ered

My coaching has really kicked off, and I had the pleasure of online coaching one of the fab #UKRunChat community from the world of Twitter @JeNeSuisPasClem

He kindly wrote a piece for the blog about how it went. Read on…..

“When I moved to Glasvegas I made a decision to run more frequently and join a run club. So I did. The run club is ace and I started to run a bit more.

I also booked a few races. The Polaroid series (Dumbarton, Helensburgh, Vale of Leven and Clydebank 10km races), Rouken Glen 10km, Glasgow half Marathon in October and Mull half marathon. The Mull one looked dead good. Only 150 entrants and I’d have to go up to Oban and get a ferry over to the island to race it which I thought would be a cool little trip.

I did all the Polaroid races….getting faster each race, even with the last one at Vale of Leven which was hilly and very wet.

I then did Rouken Glen 10km, because someone said it would be a good idea. It was a frickin nightmare. It was a trail race with massive hills. I like it sunny, flat and tarmac with a gentle downhill gradient. Anyway, I ran it, it hurt, I binned the t-shirt and went bonkers at the end for them not being clear about it being trails. I didn’t run for a bit after that….for like a month. I knew Mull was looming in August. I thought that as long as I had six weeks training I’d be okay. I’d even almost stopped going run club. I was starting to get familiar with Glasgow and there was much better stuff to do in the evening than run….and more weekend house guests to go and get lively with as the weather improved.

June passed in a haze of Campari and gin, so I had to make a decision to either go and get some miles in, or just can it off. I really wanted to go to Mull so I thought, look, I need some help here. Less than 5 weeks to go and I’ve only been doing 10km’s. The last time I’d run further than that was when me and Tess did the 10 mile Longman trail run in East Sussex in January (minus 4 degrees if you wondered)….further back than that was the 10 mile Great South run in Southsea….in October 2014. Shit. When I thought about it the last time I’d run 13.1 was at Hackney Half mara in May 2014 and that was such a nightmare I could hardly walk when I’d finished. I needed to outsource this.

So….I asked Sarah to help.

For two reasons.

1. She’d started coaching and recently had some excellent successes

2. I knew that she’d be annoyingly relentless in getting me to do the sessions, plus I’d probably feel guilty if I didn’t do them.

After a tough negotiation involving half commitments, threats and a bodyweight of Turkish delight, she agreed to help.

We did make one serious commitment though that I guess Sarah knew would work. She only agreed to give me a plan for 3 days in advance. That way it wouldn’t scare the crap out of me and give me a reason not to go and run. I struggle with getting out there all the time, I absolutely adore running and love it when I’m out there, it’s just I can usually get easily distracted by something more interesting or fun to do. I have absolutely no idea how I committed and did all the training to run Brighton marathon.

We had little time. It started really well. Short runs, early runs, progression runs and horrid 6-5-4-3-2-1 runs. First weekend I did a 75 min run. I actually felt alright. No twinges, no stiffness. Week 2, same again with slightly longer run….(well done Katie!) Week 3, excellent midweek run and by now I felt strong.


After the hardest session

Then, probably expectedly, when things were bang on with training, I went out on the razz hard from Thursday until Sunday and missed 2 sessions and the longest run. I had a very freakin brilliant time, however, after considering whether to change my email address and just hide I thought I’d better respond to the many messages from Sarah asking for Garmin reports and progress. I did give a brief report and update on what I’d been doing however from the shocked response I got back I’m not sure that’s what she expected.

So I had guilt ridden sessions for the last week, culminating in a hard progression run that really got me buzzing on the Thursday before the race.

My Glasgow friend Jude had decided to go and do Mull so we drove up. This is a brief outline of what happened in 36hrs – however, I am happy to write a full account if required.

• It took 5 and a half hours to get to frickin Oban
• Seals
• The hotel
• Room of murders
• Jude in the room underneath moaning about me shouting incoherently and walking around all night.
• Whiskey / beer / whiskey / wine / whiskey / lager / accordion and bagpipes / Father Christmas / Guinness
• Biblical weather
• Nun stalking
• Ferry sick
• 1 mile walk to the start line
• Old peoples home
• Hills
• 3 hour wait for a bus in a pub where I couldn’t drink
• Rocky ferry
• 2.5 hour drive



Anyway. The important bit was the race. After a wet two hours waiting to start and a mile walk to the start line, we were off.




I’m in the middle with my arms in the air!

I felt dead good, even if it was very wet, I hadn’t run for two days and after the hard week session I’d done, I actually felt ready. My PB was 2.07. We didn’t really commit to a time, however I was convinced I’d go faster than that because of how I felt.

I trained with a Garmin, however didn’t want to wear it for the race as I’d just be preoccupied by it. At mile 3 a Garmin beeped – I asked the pace and we were doing 8.30’s. Woahhh! I slowed right down. I thought I’d be okay around the 9.15/20’s. At the 10km point I hadn’t been overtaken. I felt strong, felt good. I had no idea on time, I just knew I felt aces and I said to myself, you know what, fuck it, I’ll just run the last bit like a 10km….then I got to mile 10…11…12, still no slowing, no pain and weirdly, no tiredness. The last 5km flew by. It was probably helped by the completely breath taking scenery. It’s a pretty damn beautiful and special place Mull.


The finish was outside a pub in Salen, just a few houses and a pub and everyone outside cheering. As there were only about 150 people running it everyone was just hanging around.



Straight through the finish and bingo I’d done it. Now….what was my time. It took an hour or so to get the official time….fuck yeh. 1hr 57min. Done it. When I first started running the only goal I had was a sub 2hr half marathon. Proper stoked.



Thank you Sarah. What you did worked and it worked really well. I do not claim to be knowledgeable about running coaching, I do have an opinion though on how Sarah got me to run knock 10mins of my PB, sub 2hr and to take me from only 6 miles in the legs to running 13.1 in under 5 weeks.

She spent loads of time asking me about when I could run and what I could realistically commit to.
When I didn’t run she quickly adapted the plan to still get me to work hard in the time we had.
She understood me. Only giving me 3 days in a plan in a week really worked.
Slow runs slow and fast runs fast. Proper mixed sessions and lots of threshold.
Time on feet and not measured distances.
I felt she actually cared too, in a non-weird sister kinda way and bloody good communications. Made me feel that I wanted to do good.

…now I’m back to run club, feeling really good about running again and ready for Glasgow half in October.

Get a coach for a race. It’s a cracking and exciting thing to do and you’re not doing it on your own. Shared up and down journey, shared success – that can only be a good thing.

Cheers girl. Top work coach xx ”

I’m super proud of how he got stuck into the sessions I gave him, and how the Mull Half Marathon went for him…not that I was ever in any doubt that he would get under that 2 hour ultimate goal! The communication and constant feedback was essential, as was the honesty when life got in the way of running, which happens to us all.

Well done @JeNeSuisPasClem YOU ROCK!



Race Review: Adidas Thunder Run 2015

“…it’s the busiest day of the summer to be on the roads” confirmed the radio, 5 hours into the supposed 2 and a half hour journey to Catton Park, South Derbyshire. It’s OK though, it was p*ssing it down with rain and I was making the journey to camp in a field with a bunch of people I’d never met, and run in circles at random times of the day and night, so it was totally justified! Pulling up at the UKRunChat camp site I spotted a bunch of smiling faces I recognised from running selfies all huddled under the gazebo, hugging cups of tea. Loads of friendly introductions and it was as if we’d all known each other forever. Pop-up tent quickly nailed down and if was off to the pub! We got chatting about the event while waiting for our final civilised meal of the weekend. As I was at Thunder Run last year, I gave a bit of advice on how it all worked but urged everyone to just have a great time and take it all in. One last trip to a luxury loo and we headed back to the campsite to get as much sleep as possible. My pop-up 2 man (yeah right) was bursting with me and my stuff (essential kit, you understand) but I managed to get a few hours kip wedged in between it all. Lucky for us we had 3 camping kettles, and they were put to the test with the Rocket Fuel coffee that morning! IMG_3919 I was first up for UKRunChat Team Alpha (we have a Team Beta too) so I got kitted up in our smart team vest and we all headed down for the briefing. It was busy with all the teams, pairs and solo runners at the start line, so Annabeth (runner 1 for Team Beta) and I got ourselves tucked into the pack and waited for the start gun. IMG_3921 Lap 1 – Saturday 12 noon

Despite the blue sky, the beautiful cross country course was VERY muddy from the rain the day before. Being lap 1 it was very busy on the single track so we walked a lot of the first couple of miles (through traffic and fear of slipping!) together. Being the same as last year, the route quickly became familiar and I remembered all the lumps, bumps, hills and tree roots! IMG_3912 We saw our team mates just after 2km and worked our way through the campsite, over the fields, up the hills and through the woods, with varying levels of mud along the way. IMG_3920We ran the whole first lap together and crossed the line to handover to Joe & Martin, who quickly took off. We made our way back to camp for a well deserved cuppa! A sit around, some food, a good chat and watching the others come and go to do their laps, we were having a great time. The sun stayed out and the rain stayed away. As more people came back we started to discuss the possibility of running double laps the next time we went out, and a few of us agreed we’d like to do it. Howard (our top of the range camp site support) was coming with me for a recreational run on the first of my double laps.

Lap 2 – Saturday 6:58pm

Howard and I set off in matching purple vests. It was hotter and with much less mud this time. And much fewer people. Deep in conversation, we were passing runners all over the place. He’s clearly a fell runner, powering up the hills. I just about managed to keep up and, as a bonus, wasn’t too out of breath! The familiar course was felt good, but I was starting to regret saying I’d do 2 in a row! It would be fine! At the start/finish line, Howard and I parted ways and I continued on.

Lap 3 – Saturday 7:50pm

Having just done a pretty quick (for a cross country) 10k, my legs felt pretty heavy starting out immediately on the next one, but I managed to keep the pace up until the next incline, which I allowed myself to walk…quickly! The twists and turns of the course were second nature now. Frankie kindly passed me a gel and some water on my way passed camp, which I was really grateful of as dots has started to appear in front of my eyes! They did the trick and I ran on, smiling, chatting and passing people along the way.

Never been so happy to see Joe’s smiling face at the exchange area.

And it was off to camp for a cuppa and an attempt at some sleep. I wasn’t to get a night lap, which was both disappointing and relieving all at once.

Lap 4 – Sunday 7:11am

I managed a decent few hours sleep. God only knows how, as the camp behind us must’ve stayed awake all night. I could have updated their white board for them…I’d heard every conversation about every time and every run!

Anyway! I set off again. My legs took a while to wake up and the people around me were weary, but the spirit was awesome and the run was just what I needed. The weather was still OK and the course was cool and springy.

Less cheers and more of a sedate ambiance, it was nice to come back and have some proper breakfast.

On my return, we worked out that a few people wouldn’t be running again, so I;d get in a 5th lap, at the end of the 24 hours, which was good news for me as I fancies 5 laps!

Lap 5 – Sunday 11:32am

The final lap and I really went for it. The course was quiet as everyone had started to finish, but the support was immense.

Ran had started around 10:30 and the course was now very slippery, so it was a fitting to end the weekend how I had began it!

I ran the whole way and thanked and congratulated everyone. Got quite emotional towards the end due to all of the support of the last km around the camp site.


The event didn’t disappoint, and the people I was with were truly fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer bunch to share the experience with.


An awesome medal and finisher’s tee to boot!

Massive thanks to #UKRunChat and Adidas Thunder Run. I can’t recommend this even enough….even for someone that dislikes (it has been downgraded from HATES) camping!!


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