Summer Training Recap : Keeping The Miles In My Legs

I can't decide if I'm suitably embarrassed or completely proud of this "official" photo from my most recent race (more on that in a bit). Sometimes I think I need to bloody grow up or maybe I'm just having the BEST year EVER, taking on challenges to help me become a better person all round and listening to advice from my peers. I'm never going to win prizes or stand on a podium again so I might as well have a bit of fun whilst doing something I'm learning to love. 

Summer Training Recap : Keeping The Miles In My Legs - leaping photo from Ribble Way 10k Trail Run
Photo courtesy of Ribble Way Run

After my second half marathon I decided that I needed to try and maintain a 'running for pleasure' attitude seeing as though I was enjoying running so much. Our running club had a fantastic summer calendar planned and I thought I'd try and join in with a couple of the events where I could.

The first one was a Grand Prix where the rules were far too complicated to explain but as long as the members organising it could work out the results then I was happy with that!  The idea was that you ran in teams to checkpoints around Blackburn, found the answer to a clue to prove you'd visited that checkpoint and the winning team was the ones who ran their chosen amount of checkpoints in the shortest distance and the fastest time (I think... see what I mean?!).  Anyway, this was three days after the Southport Half Marathon and my legs wouldn't tackle the hills properly but my team mates propped me up and helped me out.  And we won "Best Team Name" with WE'VE GOT THE RUNS. In fact, I think our prize of a bottle of wine is still in the boot of Anna's car!

Team "WE'VE GOT THE RUNS" - BRR Grand Prix - July 2018

Even though I wasn't training for anything I did want to keep the miles in my legs just in case. There was a group going out for training runs on a Friday night so I tagged along with them for a few weeks and I gave off-roading a go - some short but challenging runs, totally working out the body in a different way to normal road running. I also started going to parkrun more regularly. I knew that I could run on my own just as well as I could run in a group and hitting a 5k personal best felt very much achievable, moreso because I was concentrating on course times and not an overall PB.

Then I lost my friend, Kate.  She didn't live close by but we spoke almost every day via message or social media. She had her personal ups and downs but always radiated positivity - or managed to put a humorous spin on a negative outcome.  She always asked how my run had gone and she was very supportive when I was pulling together my Fitbitches Movement project last year. I realised, there and then, that I needed to put more of an effort into something that I was enjoying.  I needed to be more positive and forward thinking with my approach to running.

I kept on turning up to parkrun, each week knocking seconds and then minutes off my course times.  The parkrun PB I had was from three years previous on a course with only one hill in it - breaking that had felt out of my reach but, on the 21st July I managed the impossible.  A course PB by 1m17s and an overall PB by 31 seconds!! This gave me the confidence I needed and I ventured out to new parkruns (one on my own and one with my running buddies) - and it was at a completely flat course, with perfect running conditions, I got another PB. My parkrun personal best now stands at 32m17s and this is nigh on impossible to beat on the 'undulating' courses around Blackburn but I'm nearer that much-coveted 30-minute 5k. 

Another club summer event was a 5k-Trail Relay.  On any other week I would have participated but I had another long run planned for later in the week so I offered to marshal and take photographs.  The relay teams were randomly picked from pools of "fast", "medium" and "slower" paced runners and a tough course was the order of the day.  It was good to give back to the club and be on the 'other side' for a change!


And then I decided to run home from work one Friday evening.  It's a shade over 10 miles door to door and I managed to talk fellow podcast host, Rowena, into accompanying me. I'd already decided to break the distance up by videoing a little update after each mile, and by mile 3 I knew that this was definitely going to work in my favour - it was only ever going to be another 12 minutes before I could take a break and use the filming as an excuse for a breather.  Plus, Rowena is one of the best people EVER to run with - she has story after story to tell about her time in the circus (yes, really) and doesn't mind being the one to chat whilst I concentrate on just breathing in and out. She was an absolute star from start to finish because she's a much faster runner than me but has the patience of a saint.

Anyway, here's all the mini-clips mashed together - usual advisory warning about the use of adult language (but if you've ever run with me, you'll know that this is completely the norm).  And the title of this video is a play on our podcast title too.

The final major event in the club calendar was the Club 5K Handicap which I had been looking forward to for a few weeks.  There's loads of science and maths behind this but every entrant had to submit their best 5k or 10k time and then runners would set off in a specific order, with the slowest runner going first and the fastest runner going last; the theory being that it should be a blanket finish for all runners. I was second to set off so I'll let you draw your own conclusion about that...

Now, I probably had a tiny bit of an advantage because my 5k/parkrun time has improved by around 5 minutes since the Spring but it was still everyone for themselves on the day. I set off a little bit too fast, panicked on the first hill, tried my best to recover on the downhill and then reminded myself not to slow down or to walk as it was "only 5k".  I managed to take the lead just over a mile into the race but knew it probably wouldn't last - and sure enough, I was overtaken towards the end of the second mile.  But I tried to keep my pace up, didn't look at my watch or over my shoulder and was convinced that my mate, Mel, was on my shoulder all the way round.  I turned into the park for the final stretch - which was a killer - with someone overtaking me in the final 50 meters or so.  But THIRD PLACE (and second place female) and yet another 5k personal best (31m52s) - I'm so OK with that!  And what was really nice was being able to cheer in our elite runners as they finished rather than them hanging around for me to finish at the back of the field.


And finally - the most recent race I've been involved in was the Ribble Way 10k Trail Run.  I thought I'd challenge myself to something completely different and this was a local race organised by one of our own club members. There was a half marathon trail race on the same day but I managed to talk myself out of that quite early on and I'm glad I did because the 10k was tough enough as it was.  We ran over actual fields, had to stop for sheep crossing, climbed over stiles and picked our way over uneven paths. I had very bad calf pain for the first mile and it was hard work to adapt to the different paces over the unusual terrain but I can definitely say that the off-road runs over the Summer really helped. And the lead photo on this blog post is my official photo from that race.  As an aside, this was a brilliantly organised race - not too busy, fantastically marshalled and a great medal and t-shirt for all finishers! 

Trail run pace looks totally different to regular run pace!

It's been a brilliant Summer for running. I reunited with my 'running wife', Lesley, on one of her training runs for the Great North Run, I had a "first in age category" at one parkrun (there was definitely more than one person in my age cat. but that's as far as that information needs to go) and tried to keep up with the 32-minute pacer at another. I attempted another "leaping" photo when our local paper covered a Club Run Taster Session and ended up on Page 3! Also, my two lads joined me at parkrun one week - it was their first visit ever, they finished in 22 minutes and within 30 seconds of each other!  

Me and my running wife, Lesley

I'll do anything for a "Flying Feet" photo


Yes, I made these two and I am of average height!

The nights are now drawing in and the high-viz bib is back on for evening club runs.  I haven't really got anything planned with regards to racing over the next couple of months even though there were two half marathons that I would liked to have had a shot at but training would not have fit in with a holiday we have planned (I'm still a definite maybe on one of them but ssshhh!).  I am looking forward to two 10k races in November that I always take part in and which are potential PB courses.

My Instagram account has almost become is a timeline of before/after weight loss comparison photos plus self-congratulatory post-run selfies. I've been micro-blogging each run on Instagram and I'm really enjoying my recent training and personal achievements. I wonder what the next few months are going to bring?

I need a new mid-run pose!