Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Runstreak Day #396 - New Year's Eve - lethal pavement run

Today's run for day 396 was an unmitigated pile of cack.  Steaming, ugly, smelly, repulsive cack.  The pavements have acquired a whole new level of lethal as they're basically sheet ice which means I get to do my patented octopus wearing rollerskates impression whilst running.  Plus, every so often I had to stop to cough up a lung as the cold air aggravated my chest infection.

It really wasn't pleasant.  I ended up having to run in the road a fair bit, which is mildly scary on New Year's Eve when drivers aren't at their most reliable as they're off to parties etc.  My choice was either run in the road and risk being run over... or run on the pavement and risk slipping into the road... and being run over.  Of the two, just getting run over without the added falling on the ice seemed, in my warped logic, to be the better bet.  So that's what I did.  Can't say I enjoyed it!!  Please, please, please melt overnight!!!  I want tomorrow's run to be a fun one to start the new year!

Anyway, the thing that struck me as I was running home was that with this being New Year's Eve, I've managed to run every single day of 2014.  That's not bad going, is it!  I've run when the weather's been nice.  When it's been foul.  I've run when I've felt well.  I've run when I've felt pretty awful.  I've run when I should have been running.  And when I shouldn't. *whistles innocently*  I've done my first ever race and my first ever parkrun... and I've run 3 half marathons.  I've made a bucketload of brilliant running friends.  I've had months of physio and yet never injured myself running (oh the frustrating irony!).  I've run over 1300 miles and always been glad I ran, even if each mile wasn't necessarily easy.

And I've loved being part of this community. Thank you for a year of inspiration, motivation, knicker and cockwomble discussions, giggles, support, achievement and being all round bloody brilliant.  2014... you have been run.  Bring it on 2015... I'm ready for ya!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Runstreak Day #394 - not the most sensible thing...

Well, a run in the daylight is sensible.  A run in the daylight when the frost hasn't cleared all day and you're on the verge of the lurgy.  That's probably not that sensible.  And when later in the evening you're *still* shivering uncontrollably and everyone else is going 'I told you so' and 'you shouldn't have run'.  Which isn't that helpful because at the time I went for a run, I really didn't feel that bad.

The problem with not feeling 100% was that despite being in a lovely part of the country I couldn't go for a very long run or particularly enjoy it.  I ran part of the way to the nearest town, then back into the village, down into a frosty icy hamlet and back to the village.  I wish I'd been more able to enjoy it, but when you're visiting family, trying to squeeze in a run doesn't exactly go down well.

I know people think I'm obsessed with running, but I just enjoy it.  I really do.  I love the way it makes me feel.  I love the quiet of it.  I love the freedom of it.  It makes me feel happy.  Even when it's shorter than I'd like and I'm not feeling as well as I'd like... I still feel happier afterwards than I did before I went.

So why wouldn't I want to do that each day?  Now that I *get* running, I wish more people could get it too!

Runstreak Day #393 - fitting it in...

Some days are harder to fit in a run than others.  Some days you just can't picture where you'll find the slot to get that run in.  Like today.  The day started scarily early as I had to get down to Gloucestershire to do a sponsored 10 mile walk at 10am.  I couldn't be late, so we had to get ourselves sorted and out of the house by 7am.  No mean feat with two children to get going!

Plus, I was going to be occupied most of the day by the charity walk.  And then a visit to my mother.  And very little chance to escape for a run.  So... I decided to go for a 'walk' in the evening. A running kinda walk.  And it was FREEZING!  And dark.  It's very hard running along country roads which aren't lit when all you've got is a heavy torch to help light the way.  And as you run, the torch light is wibbling and wobbling all over the path.  And the lights from oncoming cars is blinding you.  And none of it is easy.  At all!

Which is why my run was only just over 2 miles.  My hands were absolutely frozen by the time I finished.  Carrying a torch is hard work!  And not much fun.

My first properly dark torch-lit run.  Remind me to buy a head torch!  I'm not hand holding a torch ever again!!

Runstreak Day #392 - *that* look

If you've ever fancied having lots of people give you *that* look, I have just the recipe for you...

1 runner
1 pair of candy striped socks
2 bright green trail shoes
A handful of thermal running clothes
1 woolly hat stolen from husband
Several streets full of snow, slush and ice

Apply clothing to runner
Open front door and release runner
Gingerly run round the streets in an attempt to get running but not fall over
Run past people who are walking like they've pooped themselves
Witness *that* look
Run past people who are driving like they need to poop themselves
Witness *that* look
Wait at traffic lights
Get *that* look from every car that passes

Ta daaaaaaa!

Simple!  You are guaranteed to get *that* look from everyone.  Mainly because the pavements are flippin' lethal at the moment.  We had a couple or so inches of snow overnight and the combination of that and freezing temperatures / morning sun = slushy, frozen, icy, snowy crazy conditions.  Thank goodness for trail shoes and a pig headed level of stupidity which means I'll run in any weather!

A very slow 5k this morning.  I didn't fall over.  I made a point of grinning like a fool at everyone I passed.  And although running in snow is knackering... I did it!  YAY!!

And my cuppa cha tastes mighty fine after that.

PS  If anyone else would like to give me *that* look... form an orderly queue...  :D

Runstreak Day #390 - Christmas Day run!

Happy Christmas beautiful people!!!

It's Advent Streak Day 25 (a big fat yay for everyone who's just completed it - you're all amazing!)... and it's Day 390 for me today.  And I've done my Christmas Day run, complete with massive food baby on board.

I don't recommend the latter bit though.  It's like shoving a huge Christmas pudding down your running tights and then attempting to be graceful as you lump it up and down the streets.  It ain't pretty.  Especially not when your stomach then growls and grumbles with just about every step.

You know what though?  I didn't give a monkeys.  I enjoyed my run.  Properly enjoyed it.  The streets were almost as empty as they are in the evening... but I was getting to run in daylight.  Hardly any traffic... anyone I saw smiled and said hello / Merry Christmas (although I did get a couple of 'you are insane' looks!)... and I ran with a massive stupid grin on my face, rocking my candy striped socks as I went.

Running is magic.  If you switch off caring about pace, distance and all of that stuff, and concentrate on enjoying yourself, it's ace.  All boingy, happy, pittery-pattery freedom.  It's the best Christmas present you can give yourself, I reckon.

Even if you are running about with a ginormous roast dinner bouncing in your tummy while the Christmas brown turtle of doom threatens to say hello...  ;)

Merry Christmas all - I hope you got all the running goodies you wanted!!

Runstreak Day #395 - chest infection, icy = stupid

Didn't manage to run this morning - despite having arranged to meet up with an old school friend - as I've gone and got the lurgy.  Gah.  I'd arranged to meet him at 8 and at 6 o'clock in the morning, despite running a temperature and coughing up a lung, I was still really hoping I could manage it.  I know, I know... ridiculous.  By half past six it was apparent that I wasn't going anywhere.  So, I cancelled.  Chest infection vs frosty early morning run = chest infection wins.

And with it, my runstreak finished.

The rest of the day I felt dreadful.  We travelled back from Gloucestershire where we'd been staying with family, and I managed more wheezing, coughing and generally moping about.

Fortunately, or unfortunately(!), my in-laws have been staying with us for the past few months having moved back to the UK from Australia... and because we've still got a fair bit of snow in Nottingham they didn't dare brave going out while we were away.  So, we needed some basics like milk etc.  Because my back had seized up from being in the car and not moving very much during the day, I volunteered to amble wheezily down to the shops, dosed up with cold and flu tablets.

What's a girl to do when the pavements are lethal but to put on her trail shoes so she doesn't fall over?  And obviously she's already wearing her leggings because it's been a cold day... and with a thermal running top popped over the ordinary bra and jumper... well... a little voice whispers 'why not try to run it?  A bit...'

And the runstreak was resurrected and limped on through day 395.  A VERY slow, icy, wheezy, stupid run.  2 mile minimum in full effect!  And this time, I didn't attempt to run carrying the milk!!

Geeky stats stuff

Friday, 26 December 2014

Runstreak Day #391 - snowy slowy runny

Things to do on Boxing Day?  Oh, I don't know.  How about... running in snow?  You know, big fat flakes of snow.  Flakes as big as the palm of your hand, you say?  Well, don't mind if I do!

Well, I did mind a bit... but mainly when massive flakes of snow did one of three things:

1.  Land in my eye
2.  Land in the teeniest gap between my top and my neck and melt into my bra
3.  Some how manage to land directly on top of my trainers and end up shivering their way into my socks

Of the above, snow in the eye is the worst.  It bloomin' hurts!  It stings, it's cold and your eye ends up watering - which obviously makes contact with the freezing air temperature and hurts your face even more.  And then when you try to wipe it off, you can't because your gloves are soaking wet!

Other than that, it was pretty good fun.  Hardly anyone about, but those who were either gave me *that* look, beeped their horns at me or heckled in disbelief.  Although there was about an inch of snow on the ground, it really wasn't slippy (new snow never is) and I took it steady, plodding my way round my normal short route to stretch my legs and get my run done before the snow got any deeper.  It's also kinda nice to make new tracks in the snow.  You get to feel like a child, happily scrunching along, softly pattering through the snow where no-one else has been.  Snow is also an incentive not to stop - the moment you do, inevitably you get snow down your neck.  Again!

By the time I got home, I was toasty warm, thoroughly soaked and relieved that I hadn't fallen over!!

Happy Boxing Day all!  A snowmungous Day 391... done!

Geeky stats stuff

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Runstreak Day #389 - Christmas Eve kiddie running

Christmas Eve, aka Day 389.  A time for chaos in the shops.  Ridiculous levels of kiddie excitement at home.  That feeling that there's something you haven't done.

But... IT'S NEARLY CHRISTMAS!!!!!  Which is a big exciting yay as far as I'm concerned!!!!

Plus, I got to go for a run late this afternoon with my daughter, which was fab.

Well, apart from the bit before the run.  I asked her if she'd like to come with me.  She said she would.  But she was tired.  I said 'don't worry then'.  She started crying.  So I said, 'well, come then... we can stop whenever you need to'.  She said she hadn't got any trainers.  Then she wouldn't wear anything sensible to run in.  And cried again, wailing that she wasn't good at running anyway.  'No, look, it's okay', I say, 'come another time when you're feeling a bit more positive.  If you're tired, you won't enjoy it.  It's fine... another time will be fine'.  She cries more.  But seems to accept it.  I go to leave.  She comes soggily round the corner, weeping that she won't get any other chance to run before Christmas.  And then all of a sudden is ready and up for coming running!!!

11 year olds are VERY strange.

Our run together was good.  We ran holding hands and playing the Christmas light game - where you pick a colour and then get points for every house you see with that colour light.  To be honest, it didn't really matter who won - distracting a semi-grumpy child so they'll just enjoy their run is the main trick!  And it worked.  She did 2.5 miles.  One stop at the nearby supermarket for a pee break for her.  A run via the shop which has turtles in the window to say Happy Christmas to them.  And home.

Christmas tomorrow!  CHRISTMAS!!!!  Yay!!

Happy Christmas my gorgeous RMRs!  May the Christmas fairies bring you all the running goodies your hearts desire.  And your next run be a thing of happiness.  And no weeping!!

Geeky stats stuff

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Runstreak Day #388 - festive fun

If you're just starting with couch to 5k you cannot imagine ever being able to run for fun.  Well, not even running for fun, but the run itself being fun.  Well, tonight's run was that!  And when it's like that, you definitely feel like one lucky little sausage for having gone through the awful bit of starting to learn to run in the first place!!

We had a city Christmas Jumper run planned for tonight and we ended up running through the shopping centre like naughty children... then up through the main shopping streets in Nottingham, to the big Market Square, with the Christmas tree behind us and all the crazy German market-style stalls on the other side.  And took selfies at the various Nottingham landmarks.  It was very funny and loads of fun.  I love that when I run with other people I get to run at a really relaxed pace, that there's chatting and laughing and it properly feels sociable.  It's the payback for all those hours of work you put into your running when you realise how fortunate you are to be part of a strong and fabulous running community.  And that it's more about the social than about the struggle to run.  Hooray!

By the time we got back to where we'd parked, it hardly felt like we'd run at all, even though we'd nearly done 5k together.  And then I laughed my head off at Zoe Blackburn spraying air freshener all over herself... and then all over me in order to de-stink ourselves before heading into the pub after our run.  And still, while we were sat in the pub, the only fly still active in Nottingham came to buzz around our sweaty bodies.  Classy.  :D

Ooooh, there appears to be a cuppa that needs drinking... I may be some time...

Geeky stats stuff

Monday, 22 December 2014

Runstreak Day #387 - back to running

So... physio today... and...

I CAN RUN!!!!!!  YAY!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so carefully and not going mad... but since he's now trying to build my core strength to help with the whole prolapsed disc thing, he says that running will help with that!!!!  WOOOOO HOOO!  Well, that and the various exercises he's given me to do.  But, hooray!  No more secret naughty runs!!!  And it's not like I actually stopped running anyway... but now it's legit again.  YES!!!!

Will gradually work on building my mileage back up (very gradually) and carry on being super dooper careful as I don't want it to happen again.  Plus, my back is really hurting now after generally being poked and prodded again today... as well as my shoulder which is *still* flippin' sore!

Anyway, all of the above meant that I got to have an 'I'm going for a run' run, rather than a fake walk.  Which doesn't make it always easy to head out of the door for a run, what with the chaos of family life to contend with.  And tonight, that all meant it was past 9pm before I had chance to escape.

The run itself was alright.  Bits were great.  Bits were hard work.  But that's because I'm sore and tired.  But I got out there and gave it a bash!  And didn't have to fib about it or anything.

If I weren't so achy I'd be happy dancing right about now.  I'll just have to make do with drinking tea instead!  Day 387 / Day 22 of Advent Mk II... done!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Runstreak Day #386 - ordinary ordinariness

Today's run really was nothing special.  It was quite a lot later than normal, but that's because I'm tired, the weather's windy... and I just couldn't face going out earlier!  I think when people hear that I run every day, they imagine that every day is easy.  That I always fancy a run.  Y'know what?  I don't!  I know I'll regret it if I don't go, as it's always a feeling of achievement to finish any run... but some days, you just aren't feeling it.  And while most people might go 'yeah, I'm not bothering', instead I find a way to get myself out of the door and running.

After all, once you're out there, you're already part of the way to completing that day's run.  Which is a whole lot more progress than if you'd stayed mooching around the house!!

So, today was a short one.  Just enough, not too much... but it did the job.  After a terrible night's sleep (again!), it took me ages to get my energy levels going today.  But, a bit of fresh and free outside, and that definitely helped.  The thing that surprises me is how much I like running at night.  Okay, so I miss running in the day (but today is the shortest day so it all gets better from here!), but there's something about that cocoon of dark and quiet that's a bit special.  You see the world in a whole different way.  The pavements are quiet.  There's barely any traffic.  There's little hustle or bustle and when I'm motoring along, I feel far safer than if I were walking on my own at night.

Obviously, however, I have a physio appointment tomorrow, so none of the above happened.  I didn't run.  I didn't get trapped in my long running top when I forgot to take my Garmin off my sleeve.  My hair didn't look like a spring mattress factory explosion when I finished.  And I definitely, definitely didn't discover how good The Rolling Stones 'You can't always get what you want' is for running up hill.

Nope, none of that.  I was resting.  ;o)

Geeky stats stuff

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Runstreak Day #385 - return to parkrun

After 3 months... I've gone back to parkrun!!  Hooray!

It's not like I haven't wanted to do it, but I still can't drive so can't easily get there... and my only way of getting there is to run to parkrun, then run it, then run home... and with various injuries, I haven't been up to that distance.

But, today was a Christmas themed run.  Christmas, people!!  Christmas!!!!   I had to go and get my jingle on, didn't I?  So, I did.

I also learned some stuff today too - some of which is related to parkrun, some of which isn't.  Stuff which isn't?  Our washing machine broke.  Damn it!  You know what my first thought was?  How will I wash my running kit?!?!?!  I haven't got enough spare kit to last not having a washing machine!!!!!  I fear that's the sign of the truly addicted.  The thought that we can't really afford to replace it and the reality of loads of domestic washing backing up didn't cross my mind until later.  I was just worried about my sports bra getting stinky without being washed!*

Other things I learned?  If you haven't been to parkrun in a while, you forget how early you have to get your act together to get there on time!  Because I was running the 3 miles there, I had to be earlier than normal leaving the house.  So why, at 8:10, I'm not even dressed.  And at 20 past haven't actually had any brekkie.  Or why, at 25 past am shoving a piece of toast in my mouth before legging it for a mile to meet a running friend who I'd agreed to meet at half past...  I don't really know!

I also learned that if you're running late, that what you thought would be a nice gentle run at your friend's pace, turns into you having to go a fair bit quicker... and nearly killing said running friend in the process!  And that's before we even got to parkrun.  Whoops again!

Parkrun itself was good.  Loads of festive runners, Santa hats, some elves, plenty of kitsch jumpers and generally happy bunnies.  There were a few 'serious' runners there - dressed in their normal serious t-shirts, serious shorts with serious runner's knees poking out and serious trainers on their serious feet.  Looking serious.  But actually because everyone else was dressed up, they looked kinda daft!

Although my pace was a lot slower than before the accident, at least I managed to run it and got what I'm now calling a post-accident personal best (PAPB)... and to be honest, I'm quite happy with my PAPB and being 8th female finisher.  Specially cuz it was seriously windy in parts and the legendary mud of the country park was back in full effect - causing a guy just in front of me to cartwheel spectacularly onto his bum... which he then turned into an 'I meant to do that' roll and sprang back onto his feet in an attempt to look cool.

What a load of waffle!  Anyway... I returned to parkrun.  I have a feeling it's day 385 today... and day 20 of the current Advent Streak, so only a handful more days, lovely streakers, until it's done (and we discover who's addicted and out there running on Boxing Day!!).

Oh, and today's my wedding anniversary.  So, we celebrated by buying a new washing machine.

And now my husband's made me another cuppa.  That's love, that is.  <3

* I hand-washed my running kit today.  I know, I know... I'm addicted... what can I say?!  :o)

Friday, 19 December 2014

Runstreak Day #384 - attack of the bag

Today's run got cut short.  It was still over the 2 mile minimum I have... but it was shorter.  The reason?  Don't attempt to run while carrying 2 pints of milk in a backpack which is swinging around wildly in an attempt to knock the wind out of you.

Y'see, this whole 'secret sneaky runs' thing is kind of a complete pain in the arse.  I was all set to go for my 'walk' and then he says 'I've got a letter that needs posting, can you post it while you're on your walk?'... 'yup, no problem'.  Which it wasn't.  After all, it's only a letter and the post box is only about a quarter of a mile away which isn't much carrying of stuff at all.  '... and can you buy some milk?'... 'oh... okay... just a pint?'... 'no, make it two, might as well'.  *heart sinks*

So, I think to myself, it's okay, I'll take my backpack and shove it in there.  Except that running with a non-running backpack turns out to be a complete pain in the arse.  You can't get the straps tight enough.  It wibbles about annoyingly.  And you end up running all lopsided in an attempt to avoid being hit by flapping straps and baggy nonsense.  I managed a couple of miles, then went to Tesco. Bought the milk and hoped that it would weigh the bag down enough that it stopped bloody attacking me.

Only it didn't.  The milk hated me as much as the bag.  And an angry 2-pinter clipping you in the elbow every other step hurts!

I gave up after a quarter of a mile.

I think I may be ready to stop lying about whether or not I'm going for a run.  It's been 4 weeks since I hurt my back.  It's definitely loads better.  And if I have to run errands one more flippin' time because I'm 'walking' not running, I will scream and scream until I'm sick.

So there.  :D

PS  Any recommendations for running backpacks?  Santa owes me one!

Geeky stats stuff

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Runstreak Day #383 - Chariots of Fire run

Some days I bloody love running.

Actually, every day I bloody love running.  But some days I REALLY bloody love running.  And I mentally play the theme tune to Chariots of Fire as I boing along.  Because it feels flippin' epic.

You know those runs?  Where all those ploddy crappy runs disappear from your brain and all of a sudden you know how to run?  Suddenly you feel light on your feet, you can feel your knees lifting, your arms pumping, your breathing is rhythmic and if you're listening to music whatever track you're listening to is the *right* one.

Which is why it's best to keep those runs short so that you don't jinx it and turn fab to flop!

Anyway, it had to be a short run today as I was kinda tired and didn't get out until gone 9pm.  But when I did it was brilliant.  The roads were quiet.  The pavements were mine.  It was windy, but not unbearable.  I had my hair down and had made the mistake of brushing it... so I looked like a sweaty Crystal Tipps by the end of my run, but felt awesome while I was running.  And I remembered why I was glad I persevered with running at night because while I know it scares a lot of people, it is amazing in so many ways if you know some safe, well-lit routes.  There's a freedom to it that you only find then or at the opposite end of the day when it's crazy early in the morning.

It's bliss.  It's space.  It's movement.  It's a little slice of wonderful.

I bloody love running!

Geeky stats stuff

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Runstreak Day #382 - Christmas crazy running

Blimey, fitting in today's run was a rushed old business!  At least it wasn't a naughty secret run for day ermmmm... think it's about 382?!  Anyway, it was a Sweatshop run with my littlest, so it was more 'jog' than 'run', but it still counts.  :D

This time of year is just relentlessly dark, isn't it?  It doesn't exactly inspire you to go out.  But, an 8 year old who's decided that he LOVES running club, does help you with a little shove out of the door.  He even managed to get himself ready super dooper quickly once we'd got back from the school Christmas play.  I've never seen him move so fast!

Yet... when we get to SRC, he goes all monosyllabic and shy!  And then, when we run, he's going 'I've got a stitch, I want to stop' within about two seconds.  Once he'd got past that though, he was fine.  It was a Christmas jumper run this evening, so he had a festive meerkat, while I was sporting my Santa Baby jumper and candy striped socks.  Because we're the slowest, however, the others go on ahead (which is absolutely fine)... and it meant that while a group of them looked like there was a festive theme going on, we ended up wa-a-a-a-ay behind, looking like a pair of Christmas crazies running around in Chrimbo knitwear.

I also discovered how to get my littlest moving once the run was done and we had our 'cool down' jog to get home.  You just pretend to fire a laser at said small boy and then run off yelling 'you can't get me!'.  He then takes the bait and it becomes a game of space shooter mayhem, with him chasing and blasting and me doing pretty much the same back.  In fact, the last bit of our run was probably the most fun run I've had in a while.  Complete with me running, then jumping to 'dodge' the laser beams he was firing at me, pretending to be hit, then hiding behind a tree to ambush him...

It might have been rainy, cold and dark... but who needs sunshine and sparkles to rediscover your inner child?  :)

Geeky stats stuff

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Runstreak Day #381 - a little bit further

I'm sorry Mr Physio
I'm on your naughty list
I haven't been that good you see
You'll have to slap my wrist

That time you asked if I had run
I shook my head, said 'no'.
That might not quite have been the truth
I ran... and not that slow.

That time you said that I should rest
Ease up, and spare my back?
I listened just a little bit
Then ran a great new track.

That time you said 'just twice a week'
Is hell, no kind of heaven
I thought about it lots you see
On runs five, six and seven.

I heard what you were saying
When you pointed out the risk
Of causing further problems
To my stupid prolapsed disc

But really Mr Physio
You should know by now
I'll run and run and run some more
Long as my legs allow

My husband hid my trainers
But he didn't find my spares
My husband rolls his eyes at me
I pretend I'm unaware
My husband he has tutted
And grumbled that I'm dumb
On rainy, dark December nights
I still vanish for a run.

The thing is, Mr Physio,
The thing that we'll agree
Is when I say 'I didn't run'
There's just no stopping me.

I'm sorry, Mr Physio
I'm a dirty, lying bum
I'll definitely stop tomorrow
'Cause... tomorrow never comes!

Day 381... bosh!  Done.  Nearly 4 miles of 'not' running.  *coughs guiltily*

Cuppa anyone?

Geeky stats stuff

Monday, 15 December 2014

Runstreak Day #380 - the cornflour caper

Right.  That's it.  I'm bored of doing short runs.  Tomorrow, I'm going to start building back up the distance again.  Much though I love running up the big hill and down the big hill (actually, I do love running up that hill*), I am going to have to start doing something different before my trainers get bored!

To be honest, I did do something different tonight.  Just over half-way through my run, I diverted to Tesco and bought some cornflour (it's the detail that's important in my waffle, right?)... and then discovered that running down a hill carrying a box of cornflour while wearing gloves is actually REALLY hard.  There's no real grip, the thing is just slightly too big, and the cornflour inside refuses to arrange itself in any way that would make carrying it just a bit easier, flollopping around uselessly while the box slips gradually out of your hand.

I even tried shoving it down my running tights.  Yeah... that was as stupid an idea as it sounds.  I looked like I was about to give birth to an ugly boxy-looking baby and ended up running as if I were mid-crapping myself.  I lasted about 30 seconds before the box came back out and I resumed switching hands with it in a desperate attempt to find some way to carry the damn thing.

My pace is gradually starting to pick up again.  Doing the whole 'strides' thing at the end of my run is fun generally but also seems to be convincing my legs that they can move at a faster 6 minute-something pace.  The fact that I have to run them up a hill makes them a smidge harder, but I reckon it's worth it.

So, anyhoo... tomorrow I will go for a longer run.  I won't do any shopping part way round.  I won't attempt to carry slippery cardboard boxes.  And I won't be shoving anything down my running tights **

Day 380, you were an odd little fish.  At least there was tea.  :)

* cue Kate Bush song
** cue Carry On smut moment

Geeky stats stuff

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Runstreak Day #379 - the Santa run

Sometimes things sound like a great idea.  They look like a great idea too.  What's not to like about a few hundred crazy people dressed as Santa, running around the Lincolnshire countryside?  11 days before Christmas, so properly seasonal and everything.

Until you factor in running with an 11 year old.  Who wanted to do it.  I mean, REALLY wanted to do it when I was dithering about going, she wanted to go.  And was all happy and excited in her Santa suit - which fitted as well as it was ever going to.  Mine, on the other hand, was absolutely ginormous.  I knew it was going to be big, but it made me look like Little Miss Tiny.  I could have fitted a whole sack-load of pressies into the trousers with me and still had room to fit at least a handful of reindeer in there as well.  And the jacket?  Well, one jacket would have been ample for me AND my daughter... and husband and son.  All of this was fine, all in the spirit of a Santa run... and so we were duly attired as Santas and joined the other Santas at the start.

And... we were off.  Doing the 5k route, dodging small children, prams, dogs dressed like elves and abandoned Santa hats.  And then... the whinging started.  'Can't we stop?  Can't we just do a mile?  I wish we were doing a mile.  I've got a stitch.  I want to walk.  Do we have to run?  This isn't fun.  I don't like this.  I want to go home.  Why aren't we doing a mile?  HOW much further is it?  I can't do it.  I want to stop.  I'm too hot.  I can't run up that hill.  Why aren't we at the end yet?'... and so on.  And on.  And on.

We managed to get round by run-walking it together.  She complained her way up a hill... then skipped down the other side, revitalised by the power of gravity.  While my Santa jacket flapped open and fell off my shoulders and I inhaled bits of Santa beard with every sweaty breath.  We were a picture of athletic prowess!

By the end, I managed to persuade her into running the very last bit.  'Look!', I say, enthusiasm zinging through my vocal chords in her direction, 'I can see all the Santas.  Everyone's clapping and cheering!  Let's run this last bit and we're done!  We can do this!!'.  'I don't want them clapping', she grumps, 'Why are they looking anyway?'.  


We finished.  There were enthusiastic marshalls handing out medals and clapping.  Mince pies, water, chocolate bars and a sea of Santas of varying ages.  My Santa suit trousers were muddily glued to my trainers.  My hands were grey with cold.  My Santa belt was disintegrating.  And I was carrying chocolate and mince pies that I wouldn't be eating anyway!

But hey... there was a medal in it!  WOOO HOOOOO!!!!

And my daughter wants to do it again next year.  Obviously.  

Pre-teens are very very odd.  :o)

Geeky stats stuff

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Runstreak Day #378 - sneaky again...

Icy pavements are SO dangerous... but... at the same time, when you run at night and they're all sparkly and pretty, it's like your own little running disco.  Which is massively distracting when you're trying not to fall over!  But hey ho, that and the Christmas lights are a perk of evening running at this time of year I think.

Yet again I'd left sneaking out for my secret naughty run until the evening.  There wasn't really time earlier in the day, but it's also harder to go for a 'walk' on my own when the kids are up.  I cannot wait until my back's better and I can get back to openly running!  Okay, so I'm still running when I should probably (yes, I know it's not actually 'probably', I *should*) be resting - and I probably should just confess that I am running instead of walking, but I can't be bothered with having to argue to go for a run!  So in my head, there's some kind of weird logic to the sneaky crazy runs.  But I am bored of it!

On the upside, my inner competitive side was happy that a couple of Strava  segment course records were mine tonight!  It's ridiculous the things that get you going 'yay' when you're running.  Even if it's completely trivial!  There were also bits of my run where I felt all epic, hair flying behind me and bounding along the pavement... while the Saturday night pub-goers thought I looked crazy.  :D

So, another naughty run, done.  And tomorrow, I get to run without feeling guilty as it's a Santa run in Melton Mowbray for my daughter and me.  All legit and not secret or nuffink!!  HOORAY!!!

Geeky stats stuff

Friday, 12 December 2014

Runstreak Day #377 - post-physio painful one

So... that's Day 377 done... aka Day 12 of the current Advent Streak and almost half way through another Advent of running!

Today's run is dedicated to my long-suffering physio who now plays 'spot whether Sarah's lying about how much running she's been doing' while laughing in resignation at me.  Including him spotting plasters on my heels and asking me whether they were from more running than I'd said.  'No', I say, 'it was from walking a lot while wearing inappropriate boots with an inappropriate skirt'... which was true, and happy I didn't have to lie, I continued, 'so, what you're saying is that I'm better off in trainers and should stick to running?'.  Apparently, that wasn't what he was saying at all.  Go figure!

Anyway, my physio has been brilliant with helping to sort out my stupid prolapsed disc as well as the whole whiplash / ankle injury stuff.  And he really has tried his hardest to keep me running, even if I'm *ahem* not entirely listening to his advice at the moment, I am being as sensible as my crazy runner brain will allow.

Today's run involved running to the bottom of a big ol' hill, then up the mile long hill, doing a quick loop at the top, then running the mile back down again... and up again to home.  At the moment, I'm doing the last bit of my run as strides as a) they're meant to be good for you and b) they're fun when you can't run very fast at any other time.  A short blast of fast is nice after a slab of sensible.

Oh, and when - after you'd made me yelp while manipulating my back / doing that weird traction thing - you asked me what I was doing this evening, Mr Physio, and I said in a jokey way 'going for a run'... and you laughed at my 'brilliant' sense of humour.  I wasn't entirely joking.

*whistles innocently*

Geeky stats stuff

Runstreak Day #376 - gah!

For every decent run, a pants one or two will follow.  Today's run was a bit pants.  I hate running in windy weather at the best of times and then today it was crazy windy.  But that wasn't the problem, not really.  Well, a bit.  But my legs were just very tired today.  Weirdly so.  And then the horrible fainting feeling hit me, which I had a few weeks ago.  Fortunately, I had a lightbulb moment about what was the problem.  So, I know what the cause is this time - a medication change is behind it - so no mystery, just annoying.  It's frustrating to feel like my pace was starting to return and then land up back into sludge mode again.

The thought goes through my head, 'When will I ever be able to run decent distances again?!?!?!'  I'm fed up of doing short runs and while I know that I should appreciate just being able to get out there, it does get a bit tedious when your body isn't quite playing ball.  Normally on a Thursday I try to do a hilly run with a few others, but I know that I haven't got it in me today, so am slacking off that effort too.  Gah!!

Honestly, sometimes I am such a grumpy teenager about everything!

Let me think of the good things about today's run.  I got my run in before it started to rain.  I ran in the daylight.  I ran a little further than yesterday, even if it felt harder.  Plus, I snuck my run in before my husband came back from work so I won't have to pretend to be just going for a walk later on!!

And tomorrow is 'lie to the physio about how much running I've done' day.

*slurps tea while rehearsing saying 'yes, I have been resting' without doing a guilty face*

Geeky stats stuff

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Runstreak Day #375 - SRC run with my littlest

I really like the fact that my youngest has decided that he wants to come to SRC with me.  He got himself ready in plenty of time, wearing his new running top and jacket... and anyone who owns their own 8 year old will know that getting them to get ready for anything on time is a miracle.  And then he gets ready all on his own and is giving me a running commentary about how he's doing just that.  Bless!

We ran together (obviously), so it wasn't particularly quick, but he is getting better at running.  And his pace is more even... although why it is that little boys need to intersperse running with jumping, climbing on walls and pretending to be a ninja, I'm not sure.

I was glad we weren't going too quickly, to be honest.  My left knee is feeling a bit dodgy at the moment, and I think it's because of my back injury making me run a bit strangely.  If it's not one thing it's another!  After a while, it felt a bit better, but at first, it wasn't terribly comfortable.  Ideally, I'd stick to short, flat runs for a bit - but because I can't drive, I can't do that... so it's hills or nothing.  I just have to find myself the least steep ones I can manage and go with that.

By the end of our run, my son had decided to speed up.  They have a biccie / sweet tin at SRC that they say whoever's back first gets first choice.  Well, he decided that would be him.  Because, apart from anything, he said 'it would be wrong for grown ups to take sweets from a child'!!!!  He spotted a couple of runners coming up behind him and would NOT let them beat him... and at the end, running into a headwind, he was managing an 8 minute-something mile pace!  Good lad!

And another day bites the dust!!

Geeky stats stuff

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Runstreak Day #374 - the radio interview!

Cooer, today was a funny old day!  A year ago, I was just over a week into the Advent Streak, Day 9 and hardly believing that I'd managed to run for 9 days in a row without a break.  Today, I ran for my 374th day in a row.  And didn't even really think about whether or not I would run, I just ran.

After all those days of running though - you can still learn something new.  My latest thing is running without putting my hair up.  At first as I ran down the hill, it felt amazing.  All whooshy and swishy.  Then... the wind blasted me sideways and I ended up running through the bush that is my hair.  I looked like a curly-haired Cousin It, attempting to navigate the streets of Nottingham.  So, my new thing?  If it's windy, forsake the swoosh-factor and PUT YOUR HAIR UP.  Unless you really like the taste of hair.  And enjoy having it in your eyes and up your nose!  Whaddya mean, is that all you learned?  I didn't say it was anything deep and philosophical that you could learn!!  I am a shallow wotsit sometimes.  :D

In fact, today's run was pretty short, but it didn't matter.  It's keeping me from going mad by *not* running, and not aggravating my back too much (okay, a bit, but not terribly).  I had yet another awful night and a tricky morning too - the wind and crazy weather at least woke me up and made me feel alive today.  Which was much needed.

Oh, and my other bit of my 'funny old day', was being on BBC Radio Nottingham talking about my running streak.  I'm sure everyone who listened probably thought I was a bit crazy... but I did give a big ol' shout out to the groups who've inspired me.  Life is very hard work at the moment dealing with PTSD - it feels almost miraculous that running's given me something so positive to talk about and focus on, even if it's only for a few minutes each day.

I have earned a cuppa.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Runstreak Day #373 - the sneaky secret runs...


I get home from my secret sneaky run this evening and am busy trying to act nonchalant and not sweat all over the place.  Or do that post-cold weather run weird dry cough thing (is that just me?!).  Anyway... there I am, acting 'normal', and he says something like... '... blah, blah, blah, after your secret run, blah, blah'... wasn't really listening to the first bit.  But then mentally going 'shit!  He's found me out!!!' as I twigged that he knew I'd been running... so the last bit, I was busy going 'ermmm... what?  Ermmmm... only a little one...' and trying to decide whether to blatantly lie or confess.  And then how many secret runs to confess?

I went with confessing a bit of tonight's run.  I ran a couple of miles and then - because obviously I'd said I was just going for a walk - he'd asked me to go to the shop to buy a couple of bits for the children's lunches tomorrow.  Because getting stuff from the shop when you're just out for a walk is the kind of thing you *can* do... which, if I were running, I wouldn't be able to do.  But of course, I was *ahem* just going for a walk round the block.  And not being naughty and running.  So, I ran my little loop, then went to Tesco.  And accidentally stopped my watch while I was in there.

Whoops!  I restarted it and ran the half mile home, bag of shopping swinging and bashing me on the legs as I ran up the hill.  Things learned tonight?  Don't run with a bag of shopping... it hurts.

Also, don't attempt to lie completely that you haven't been running when you have.  Lie a little bit - it's much more convincing!  I said that I'd just run back up the hill from the shop and hadn't gone very fast because I'd been carrying the shopping.  Which was also a smidge of a lie because my Grade Adjusted Pace was 7:33 minutes per mile up the hill.

Anyway, I earned the right to run today.  I had my normal blubathon of counselling this morning... and then more blubbing to my doctor later on (am not sure whether PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Pitiful Teary Snivelling Disaster!!)... and needed head space.  Plus, I did my physio exercises like a good girl.

So... what's a few teensy fibs between friends?!  After all, I have only done one secret run... *winks*

Geeky stats stuff

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Runstreak Day #372 - the Christmas lights game

So, what was that?  Day 372?  Day 7 of Advent Streak Mk II.  And my weekly mileage is wa-a-a-a-a-a-ay down at the moment.  This whole back problem thing is driving me a bit mad!  I just can't get out there and get properly running so am having to stick to short runs in the main.  Gah!

So, when you're feeling fed up and bored of the same short, slow routes, it's time to invent a new game to make running a bit more interesting. Today's game was the Random Christmas Light Route Generator game.  It goes like this... as soon as you see a turn coming towards you, you have a look for any Christmas tree lights on the houses nearby.  If the last house closest to the turn has blue lights, you turn right (if you can)... if it has white lights, you turn left... if it has any other colour lights, you go straight on.  Ta daaaaa!  Random route created!

The only flaw in my genius game was that it meant I had to run up a massive hill, do a weird loop at the top, run down a hill that was stupidly steep, then up an unlit lane, down another too steep road and finally up a path which was lit... until it wasn't, and I had to stop to try to see where I was as it got too dark!  Whoops!  Ah well, at least it made it a bit more interesting!  And going up a big long hill always clears my head (because there's no room for any thought other than 'I think I might die in a minute'!!).

Oh, and I ran with my hair down again.  Got home, and my daughter went 'your hair... it's all... it's all... out... and big...'.  And then stared.  A lot.  :o)

Geeky stats stuff

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Runstreak Day #371 - hair commercial running...

Cooer, it was a struggle to kick myself out of the door today.  I can always tell when it's going to be one of those days when it gets later and later and later... and theoretically I could have run at any point, but just haven't.

Okay, so today had to be a sneaky 'I'm not running, I'm just going for a walk around the block' run, but even so, I could have been a sneaky sneak much earlier in the day rather than leaving it until nearly 9pm.  I don't know if those of you who are doing the Advent Streak have found this yet, but there will be runs where you just don't think you have it in you.  You delay, you find other stuff to do, little opportunities drift away, you make another cup of tea... and the day disappears slowly but surely, and still your trainers haven't magicked themselves onto your feet.

Things that should have motivated me?  Firstly, my Leader in Running Fitness card came - which is super dooper exciting and means we can register our Notts Women Runners group as an official Run England group.  The second was that my new Garmin came, which should have had me shooting out of the door the moment it charged.  It was a pity I had a really REALLY bad night and had problems with my energy the rest of the day... and was sore from doing my physio exercises - all of which added to run reluctance!

So, a short run.  Out the door, down the hill (I always run down the hill first when I don't feel like a run as a) it's easier, and b) it makes me pootle around at the bottom of the hill a bit before heading back up, just to delay the uphill bit!), and a 2.5 mile loop just to stretch my legs!

Oh!  I remember!  I did do one thing differently today.  I didn't put my hair up (yeah, I know - anti-climax, right?!).  I just used my Buff as a hairband instead.  It was weirdly liberating!  I felt like a shampoo commercial, boinging along with my hair flowing behind me.  When I got home I looked like a mad woman with exploding hair.  But it felt SOOOOOO good when I was running!

6th day of Advent... 371 days run.  Cuppa to my right.  Nice.  

Friday, 5 December 2014

Runstreak Day #370 - short 'un s'all

I was a good runner today.  Well, almost.  Okay, so I'm not supposed to have run today at all... but I didn't go far and I didn't go that fast.  So, that's almost good, isn't that right?  And I did confess a couple of runs to my physio who dutifully laughed, nagged ever so slightly and rolled his eyes at me in acceptance of the fact that I am a lost cause.  Especially when I confessed that one of those runs amounted to 11 miles.  And he said 'when I said two runs, I didn't quite imagine you doing that'... well... the devil's in the detail, right?  And if he didn't explicitly say that, then... *whistles and ignores the other five runs this last week*

He also tried to explain to me why my back would be more sore after the exercises he'd given me.  He was trying to liken it to the aching legs you get after a run.  'But, I don't get aching legs' I said.  'Not at all?' he asked.  'Nope... otherwise how would I run every day... I mean... how would I normally run every day', I reply, almost giving away the fact that I've kept on running every day.  Whoopsie!  :o)

It was bloomin' cold out today for a run, not inspiring at all.  And when all you can do is lollop fairly slowly around, that's not especially fun either.  My back and hip are complaining a bit though, so sensible and slow seem to be the only options for a bit longer.  My mobility in my back is still rubbish and the inflammation hasn't completely gone yet, so, that's probably what's making me run a bit lopsided and aggravating my left hip and knee in the process.  Damn mechanics!  Just get better back!  Just get better!!

Still, at least running a bit earlier today meant that I didn't have to do an exhausted post-physio run.  I'm always shattered after having acupuncture (plus, we have to drive home in the dark which triggers flashbacks and general anxiety which is also very tiring) - and sore too.  Which means that this evening I'm resting... which makes me virtuous in the extreme.  And all ready to run again tomorrow!


Geeky stats stuff

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Runstreak Day #369 - I didn't do one run today

Well... today my lovely readers... I didn't do a single run.


Not one single run.

Aren't I good?

I did two instead!!  GO ME!!!!

Stick with me, there's logic in this one.  The first run happened because I needed to go into town to drop off some money.  Now, since I had to drop money off at the local running shop, the idea came into my head that rather than walk the 3 miles into town and 3 miles home (which I normally do as I still can't drive and I find I get too anxious on the bus, but which is pretty boring), I would be quicker running.  And, after all, a running shop wouldn't mind you turning up a tad sweaty and gross, right?  So, I ran.  It was fine.  Up the hill, down the hill and into town.  Up the hill, down the hill and home.  Only someone made the hill a LOT steeper on the way home.  Which was rather unnecessary.

The second run happened because it was pre-arranged and because I was leading it, I couldn't *not* then show up.  So, I decided to think about my two runs as a long run, split into two halves.  Which suddenly made lots of sense and in fact made the bit in the middle a tremendously sensible rest period.  The second run was just over 5 miles of 'very hilly', because Thursday is our local hilly run day.  And it wasn't even a sneaky secret run because of all the other secret sneaky runs, I argued that it was my 2nd proper run of the week and the physio had said I could do 2 runs a week.

All of which makes me massively sensible and massively honest about how much I'm running at the moment...

... and massively going to lie my head off to my physio tomorrow about it all.

Repeat after me 'no, no, Mr Physio, I promise you Sarah only did two short, slow runs this week and rested sensibly at all other times'.  Excellent.  :o)


Geeky stats stuff

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Runstreak Day #365 - the full year!!!

So... that's it.  I have run every single day since 1st December 2013.  Would you like the nerdy stats bit?!

Here goes...

I have run for 365 days without a rest day
Altogether I have run over 1335 miles.
I have climbed nearly 50,000 ft
Most of my runs have taken place between 7 and 9 in the evening
Since March, I have always run over 100 miles per month
I clock up most miles on a Sunday
My weight is only 6lbs less than it was on 1st December last year
My 5k time has improved from 30 mins+ to 23 mins
I have run 16 parkruns, 3 half marathons, 2 10Ks and 2 virtual races
I have run a half marathon in 1:46, the furthest distance I'd run before my runstreak was 4.5 miles
I have spent 194 hours running, the equivalent of 8 days non-stop

And I have ALWAYS been glad that I went for a run.

This morning, I had the absolute privilege of running with this beautiful group of runners *points at picture* - who joined me in running on my 365th day.  I was so, so touched that they all came to share in my run today and for me it's one of the biggest changes in my life in the last 12 months.  I started my runstreak with no running friends.  I'd never run with anyone else before in my life.  I was frightened that I would be outed as 'not a proper runner'.  That I wouldn't be able to keep up.  That I couldn't really do it.  I'd been running for less than a year and after a lifetime as a non-runner, was still working through the various issues that come with learning to run.  Only 12 months before my runstreak, I'd never run a step as an adult and was obese.  Not just overweight.  But obese.  I lost 6 stones, sorted out my health, my fitness and was working towards making the changes in my life stick.  And then the Advent Streak happened (thanks to the online community Run Mummy Run (RMR)).

A year on from starting that runstreak and even when times have been very tough, running has still made sense.  I have a host of amazing running friends - who have supported me in so many different ways.  Whether that's been through building my confidence with my running or being there to understand when I've been dealing with PTSD.  Or just running, chatting and laughing with me.  I am so proud that we're on the way to creating our Notts Women Runners club.  That we have a positive and beautiful community in our local area.  I am so proud to be a part of the RMR community and being fortunate enough to attend the retreat back in July is something I would never have done without the love of running unleashed by my runstreak.

Highs and lows?  Well, lows include all those damnable flies I swallowed over the summer!  And the occasional battle with the brown turtle of doom *blushes*.  The runs immediately after the car accident where I cried with pain and anxiety, repeating to myself "I will not let you beat me" as I slogged my way through each step.  The days where I just couldn't manage to keep running, stopping to feel faint and ill and physically adrift from my normal self.  Trying to fit in a run after a 15 hour day at work when all I wanted to do was to sleep.  The disappointment of my first race where I nearly bottled out at the last minute.

Highs?  Well, they include the secret half marathon - where I didn't tell anyone that I was going to do it and only confessed to my husband via a text message on my way home!  I have never smiled so much when running before.  I loved running the Tissington Trail Half - the views and gentle running camaraderie were fantastic.  I have run in the torrential rain while laughing my head off with others (even those who normally hate running in the rain!!).  I have gone running with my children - my littlest has just started going to the Sweatshop runs and my daughter has done parkrun too - and both say they want to be runners as they grow up!  I have loved the daily inspiration and support from my beautiful RMRs.  I loved following other people's progress, I love hearing about everything from first steps with C25K to ultras and amazing feats of endurance and epic stamina.  I've done the Leadership in Running Fitness course and will be starting to run beginners groups in January with another running friend.  My life is better for running - and I want to help others to discover that too.

And I have been lucky enough to enjoy sparkling golden sunrises, mistily soft evenings, seen full moons and night skies inkily broken up by the light of stars and felt absolutely alive as I've run down hills.  And every day I've run; regardless of the weather, regardless of how well I've felt, how much I've wanted to run or not.  And little by little running has wormed its way into my soul so that I can't imagine my life without it.

Today, so many people with me (thank you for the virtual running organisational genius that is Virtual Runner!) and I am absolutely blown away that they did.  We raised over £200 for Cerebra who have provided brilliant support for my niece and her family.  We ran together, even if we've never met - it's testament to Leanne Davies, that her RMR community is capable of such wonderful acts of togetherness.

Thank you all.

Anyway, I really must stop waffling.  Day 365.  I ran.  I ran with friends.  I felt nervous this morning ahead of today's run, but the day shone for us and as ever, I'm glad I got out there.

Now... who is in charge of putting the kettle on?

PS  I may just have bought myself a new Garmin to celebrate...  ;o)

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:6.72 mi
Avg Pace:10:12 min/mi
Elevation Gain:162 ft

Runstreak Day #364 - shorter, faster, happier

... and all that remains is to haul my backside out for tomorrow's run... and a year of running every single day is complete!!!  In fact, exactly a year ago today was the last run I did which had a rest day following it.  My pace was 9:59 minutes / mile.  Tonight, was just a short run, but my pace was 7:50 minutes / mile.  It's been a tough few months since the car accident and I haven't run at anything like a decent pace for a while... so tonight, for the heck of it, I decided to see if my legs still could manage 7 minute-something miles.

The fact that I'm still here would suggest I can.  But my back is REALLY protesting now (I am stupid because it was bad beforehand and I had a terrible night's sleep again, so why I thought today was the day to go for a quicker run, I don't know!!).  It seems that while my legs can manage it, the rest of my body is objecting and it's back to taking it steady again.  Ho hum!  Girl's gotta test this stuff out once in a while though, right?  

The truth is that I love the feeling of running fast.  I love the cold air on my cheeks as I whoosh along.  I love the blur of the pavement.  I love the feeling of lightness in my mind and strength in my legs.  I love the rhythm of it.  That feeling that you're on the edge of okay... right at the edge of what you can manage... yet you can push a little harder and go just a bit faster.  It's fantastic.  There's truly nothing like it.  While I know that plodding sensibly is what's kept me going for the past month or so, I wanted a taste of the buzz of running again.

And then I got home and chomped down some co-codamol with a cuppa cha chaser!!

So... that's almost a full year of running every day.  I am grateful to so many people that I dare not name names in case I forget anyone.  You are kind, inspiring, funny, generous, naughty, wonderful, amazing, brave, strong, supportive women.  You prove over and over again how fantastic women can be every single day.  And I am so, so fortunate to be part of this community.

And tomorrow, I get to run with you.  Aren't I a lucky old me!!

Day 364, you have been run!!

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:2.11 mi
Avg Pace:7:50 min/mi
Elevation Gain:102 ft

Runstreak Day #363 - post-physio painful plod

So, today I 'fess up to my physio that I have run with my back injury... cue lecture on said back injury, complete with pointing out bits on the scary skeleton in the corner.  The gist of what he said was 'blah blah blah running blah blah back blah blah bulging disc blah blah blah running blah blah'.  Which roughly translates in my head as 'it's your body, take the risks you feel like taking, run... run like the wind!!!!'.

Which I'm pretty sure isn't what he meant at all.  But there you go.  :o)

Anyway, back pain post-physio was pretty darned, well, painful.  So, although I did run (no, no I didn't Mr Physio, I just mean I kept mobile like we agreed was a good thing...), I didn't go very far and it was all at a pretty darned steady pace.  Did another new route, just to see where I ended up, knowing that it would be approximately a 2.5 mile loop if it headed where I thought it might be heading.  Wasn't bad at all.  A bit hillier than I intended, but always interesting to run a street or two that you haven't run before.  If nothing else, being confined to my home area with my running right now is making me explore a lot more, just to escape the route-boredom factor which might otherwise put me off.

So, my lovelies, that is Day 363 all run.  Tomorrow is the penultimate day before the year of running every day is done.  I can feel an Oscar speech brewing about how fabulous the support of all my running friends has been throughout... but let's take it as read that if they were all here right now, my living room would a) be VERY crowded and b) I would be over-emotionally hugging them all while crying and telling them how much I loved them in the style of your drunken best friend at a hen do.

It's funny how I managed to hear the 'don't lift anything heavy' bit of what the physio said when it means I can't lift the laundry basket... but I somehow don't hear where he says I need to take at least three days rest in between any run I do at the moment... or something like that, I wasn't really listening to that bit.  ;o)

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:2.32 mi
Avg Pace:8:49 min/mi
Elevation Gain:218 ft

Runstreak Day #362 - a hilly Thursday run with friends

Hills are definitely easier with friends.  Not least because I run them more slowly!  And that's a good thing.

Today's run wasn't that easy though.  For the first time ever I got struck (and if you're squeamish, then now is the time to skip to the end of this post) by the brown turtle of doom in a way which wasn't going to end well.  If you know what I mean!!  I had to divert via the local leisure centre so I could use the loos there!  Oh, the shame.  Plus, I was running with others so as the pain in my stomach got worse and worse, realised I was in a bit of a tricky situation.  What made it worse was I was leading the run... so in the end, I took the route towards the nearest look venue and went 'I need to use the loo, you guys can run up the hill and back and I'll meet you outside'... and then dashed in.  How embarrassing!!!  *head in hands*

Just shows, after a year of daily running, there are still new and excruciating runner's lows to discover!!

Other than that, it was good to have company on today's run.  It's our regular Notts Women Runners hilly run on a Thursday which we haven't done for a few weeks while I've felt particularly poorly.  This week, I've been slowly trying to build back up my running (bad back permitting), and thought I'd give it a go again.  And survived in one piece.  Lighter than when I set out *blushes*, but definitely survived.  Up, down, up, down, up, up, more up, down... and everyone gave it a brilliant go.  Hooray!

For me, running is still providing a welcome respite from the nightmares, flashbacks and suffocating anxiety of PTSD... and even though I'm wrecked after my run with others (where I feel obliged to try to be more like the old me than the current sad-bag version and then collapse at the end!), I'm glad I have running in my life.

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:5.11 mi
Avg Pace:9:42 min/mi
Elevation Gain:432 ft

Runstreak Day #368 - snatching the moment

Some days it's easy to find time for a run.  Some days, it can seem like there's no space at all for it.  Some day, you think you've got a plan for when you're going to run.

And then it all goes belly up.

And then you plan to go again.  And that doesn't work out either.

And then you see another little slot where you could run.  But... ah... something else ends up there too. And so it goes on.  Until you're left with the teensiest sliver of an opportunity and you charge at it like a mad thing, determined not to get away.

That was today.  I was going to go this morning.  My in-laws are living with us at the moment but generally go out during the day.  Since I'm supposed to be resting (yes, I know I *should* be resting), if I go for a run when they're around then I'll get ratted out to my husband!  So, I thought I'd squeeze in a run when they were out of the house, my husband was at work and the kids at school.  A sneaky little cheeky little run.

Only then, only my father-in-law went out.  And my mother-in-law didn't.  And then my father-in-law came back and declared it too cold to go out for the rest of the day.  So they stayed put.  And that opportunity for a run disappeared.  Then, when I thought I could sneak out for a quick run while they were busy, my husband came back early from work.  Damn it!!!  And then, when he went off to pick up the kids from school, I ended up with no time to slot in a 'no-one will know I've been for a run' run!!  Gah!

That left one last opportunity.  I could go for an up-front 'I am going for a run' run, if I went with my littlest to Sweatshop.  He really wanted to go and my plan had been to go for a proper run myself in the day and then take him along to Sweatshop.  Because obviously then that would be okay by everyone because it wasn't a 'proper' run, as I'd basically be looking after him.  Ta daaaaa!  Everyone's a winner!  In the end, I was VERY late leaving the house - a quarter of an hour after they meet for the run - whoops!  We charged out of the house, my littlest was still pulling on his shoes as my husband took us in the car and barely made it.  We arrived just as everyone else was leaving!  But at least we got there!!  He managed 2.5 miles AND managed a 9 minute-something pace, which was brilliant for him!

And it meant I got to run!!

A whole day of failing to run.  Until that one little opportunity appeared.  Hooray!

Day 368... or Day 3 of the new Advent Streak.  In the bag!!

Geeky stats stuff

Runstreak Day #361 - cold, grey, hilly, achy

... who cares what the weather's doing though?  Got my trainers on.  Got myself out there.  Mainly because I knew that there wasn't going to be an opportunity for a run later on.

Last night I was looking back over my very first runs in the runstreak from December last year.  The very first one I wrote 'Do you count yourself as a runner only when you don't finish a run and think 'blimey, I'm not dead!'??? I don't think I'm there yet'.  I definitely didn't think of myself as being a runner.  Now, I do.  Now, I know that when I think about the day ahead, I think about the stuff that's going to happen, and know that somewhere in that day, there will be a place for a run.  I know that even if my run is hard work, it doesn't matter.  I was still out there, giving it a go.  I know that there will be good runs and bad runs.  I know that sometimes it'll flow.  And other times it'll be a complete struggle.  I can happily chat about running with other runners.  I have opinions on running socks and sports bras.  I can wince with sympathy when someone mentions chafing.  I love running in the summer... but if you remind me of the days I spent inhaling flies or trying to wipe the sting of sweat from my eyes as I overheated... I'll twitch slightly.

Does that make me a runner?

Not really.  I am a runner because I run.  I know what running does for my health.  For my head.  For my heart.  And even if it didn't do all of that stuff, I'd still slap my trainers on because maybe, just maybe, I'll score one of those runs that winds back the clock 30 years and makes me feel like a 10-year old screeching down a hill at top speed.  Landing up in that place, exactly halfway between fear and exhilaration, where nothing else matters except for feeling free.

And today, after a really REALLY terrible night's sleep (two panic attacks as well as nightmares - go me!) I made up a route because I fancied making up a route.  And part way through discovered a new, even more stupidly steep hill and felt like I was cacking myself as I went down it, running in the road and praying that no cars came along as I did it.  And properly felt alive.

Being a runner isn't about finishing a run and not feeling almost dead.  Being a runner is about feeling completely alive while you're doing it.

Running is frickin' brilliant.

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.05 mi
Avg Pace:8:48 min/mi
Elevation Gain:197 ft

Runstreak Day #360 - daytime explorer

360!  Done!  Longest run in a little while too.  Not a massively long run, but longer than I've been able to do and pretty darned hilly as well.  By the end my back was complaining loudly, but most of it felt fairly flowing.  And cold.  It is SO cold out at the moment.  My toes are feeling it most of all and I've gone and acquired myself a chilblain on one of them.  Gah!

It's the first time that I've been for a run during the daytime for a while too.  I've - weirdly - felt safer running at night when it's quiet and dark and there's no-one much about.  But today, I braved the daylight streets when there's more traffic / people around.  Big brave girl pants in full effect!  I also hadn't planned a route, just ran for as long as I felt like running, making up a route as I went... even going up a path that was so steep (it's an 18% gradient for elevation nerds everywhere) I really couldn't run it and just had to walk that part.  

Sometimes it's good not to know where you're going.  I guess that's something else I've learned through this crazy runstreak - having confidence just to go where you fancy rather than running set routes / set distances all the time.  And not being afraid to tackle the hills - I've definitely learned that one!!  I guess above all, it's important not to care that much about anything other than the pleasure of getting out there and getting running.

A shade under 5 miles today.  I thought about going on and doing a 10k, but then just didn't feel like it.  Which is okay too.  Tomorrow, I may just do another bit of exploring... it's good for the soul. 

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:4.85 mi
Avg Pace:8:46 min/mi
Elevation Gain:350 ft

Runstreak Day #359 - appreciating the short runs

This time next week, my lovelies... it'll be the start of the Advent Streak again!!

Which means... I'll have done my complete year of running every day.  Which I never set out to do, but seem to be on the verge of doing anyway.  Today was another short one.  It's all about just keeping moving at the mo.  2.5 hilly miles were a bit painful and a bit hard work... but I'm dosed up on painkillers and have had physio again today (more acupuncture - lucky me) to help my back recover.  Obviously I'm still not running at the moment ... I'm walking quickly in a jogging kinda style. *coughs and winks*

Okay, okay... I ran.  But very carefully.  If I'm as light as I can be on my feet - mid to forefoot striking with short, quick steps and staying as upright as possible, that seems to be the thing which jars my back the least.  In fact, it hurts less when I'm doing that than when I'm walking / sitting and it seizes up. I also didn't run very far from home, just zig-zagged up and down some of the neighbourhood streets in a fairly aimless way.  I figure that as it's hilly it's still doing my legs some good, but it's not pushing anything too much so I'm not ending up as a sweaty exhausted blob at the end of it.

Also had counselling today - which is draining in the extreme, especially when all I seem to do is to blub my way through each session.  However, my counsellor did say that I'm not very kind to myself (true) and I unleash my inner critic very easily (also true).  So... my short run is not going to be described as 'only a short run'.  What I did was to give myself a kick up the pants after an exhausting day.  I got myself out there.  I did something for me.  I felt the cold night air rushing past my face as I ran down the hills.  I listened to the rhythm of my steps as I pattered my way back up the other side.  And I did it.

Acknowledging that you have achieved something is much more important than focussing on all the things you might have done.  Every time you lace up your trainers and get out there, you've got a reason to feel proud of yourself.

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:2.47 mi
Avg Pace:8:42 min/mi
Elevation Gain:143 ft

Runstreak Day #358 - one week left...

... and yet another very sensible run today because my back is still bad and keeps on seizing up if I stay put for too long.  Ouch!

And exactly the same route as yesterday and the day before.  It's the flattest couple of miles I can manage from my house and not get too far from home in case my back gives completely.  It might be boring, but sometimes it's quite nice to just switch off.  There was one moment where an over-powered car went by too loud, too fast and too close which triggered an accident flashback... but other than that, my mind just drifted.

I think that's something that's happened since starting this running streak almost a year ago.  I have had great runs.  I've had atrocious ones.  But actually, I'm okay with being in my own head when I'm running these days.  I don't need music.  I know my routes.  I can switch off.  It's been so important for me in the last couple of months to have that.  When I started the runstreak, I wasn't in that place with my running.  I was more interested in increasing my pace.  Going further.  Doing more.  Now, I don't really care.  I just love running for the sake of running.  I'm curious as to what else I could do, but it doesn't drive me.

Above all, doing a long runstreak has taught me to value the next day's run as much as today's.  I don't jeopardise tomorrow's run by taking risks I can't manage today.  So, yes, my back is painful... and I've still got problems with my energy, with my ankle, with my neck and shoulders... but I am running really gently right now, and that's physically manageable... and the benefits running gives me when dealing with PTSD are immeasurable.

Short, sensible, free.  I still have something that's me.  I'm glad I started my runstreak to make running such a normal part of my life that it's able to give something back to me when I've needed it.

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:2.13 mi
Avg Pace:8:27 min/mi
Elevation Gain:83 ft

Runstreak Day #357 - jogging not running

After almost a year of running each day one area of expertise I've developed is in collecting catcalls.  They range from the gentle old blokes saying stuff like 'I'll catch you up in a bit, duck' and 'you run this one for me' to the unoriginal bods who'll yell 'run Forrest run' and 'run, run, run' in my direction.  Then there are the 'I'm going to comment on your body' brigade.  They generally vary from the odious to the sleazy - cheesy wolf whistles or comments about specific body parts (mainly arse and legs if you're interested!).  

Well, tonight on a VERY short run, I managed a good selection of those.  What is it with Saturday nights and heckling?!  I bagged myself one wolf whistle.  One 'run, RUN!!!'.  A 'great legs' from someone who was young enough to have me as his mother (urgh!).  And a 'mumble, mumble, letchy bloke, mumble, please' out of a car window from a slimy guy who decided his best bet was to wind his window down, slow up and be incoherent in my general direction.  

The joy of running, huh?  It's so pure and free... right?!  

Oh, and I didn't run tonight if anyone asks.  I had to ask my husband to help me put on my trainers as I can't bend over to do it because of my wrecked back... and he said I wasn't to run.  So I said I wouldn't.  

Instead, I went for a short jog round the block.  

It's totally different.  ;o)

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:2.13 mi
Avg Pace:8:22 min/mi
Elevation Gain:99 ft

Runstreak Day #356 - and then I did my back in

I am bloody well jinxed!!

You know they say you never remember the last time you do something with your children?  The last time you rock them to sleep in your arms.  The last time they fall asleep on your chest.  The last time you hold their hands as they jump into the swimming pool etc.  Well... I am ALWAYS going to remember the last time I gave my daughter a piggyback.  Because that day was today.

And what has this got to do with running?  It very nearly saw me unable to run today at all because I managed to do my back in.  Technically 'something disc-y' as my physio helpfully said today (a bulged disc, I think).  I gave my daughter a piggyback up the stairs at home - I know, idiot me - and felt my back complaining.  Then, about half an hour later as I walked back from the kids' school and went to cut through the nearby woodland, I slipped on a tree root and my foot landed awkwardly.  And the pain seared from my lower back and downwards.  I stood there thinking 'oh, shit'.  I couldn't move.  Not up.  Not down.  In the end, I managed to shuffle my way home very very slowly.  A walk that normally takes 25 minutes max took me an hour and a half.

My plan to go for a run that morning went out of the window and all I managed to do was to get in the house, get painkillers and get to bed.

Fortunately, today I have my usual appointment with the physio for sorting post-accident stuff.  It was obvious that my back was terrible and he worked on that instead of my ankle / shoulder.  Gawd bless the physio!  And acupuncture.  And ice packs.  And co-codamol.  Hooray for all of those things!!

By the time it got to 7:30 this evening, I was sure I wasn't going to be able to run.  But the physio did say I needed to keep mobile, and dosed up on painkillers I thought I'd see if I could manage a walk around the block.  It was pouring with rain so I thought I'd just put on my thermal running top and leggings as they'd be better at keeping me warm than heavy, soaking wet jeans.  As I stepped out of the door I thought 'I wonder if I could manage to run'.  And I did.  Slowly.  But I did it!  Just a couple of soggy, clompy miles.  That's enough though.

Oh, and back pain sure does wonders for your posture!  I had no choice other than to run tall and keep my pelvis stable - anything else was excruciating!!

So, this is a long-winded way of saying a) don't give your 11 year old a piggyback, b) if you do, make sure you have a good physio because you're gonna need it! and c) next time I say that I've only got a few days left until a year of running every day, remind me not to jinx myself!!


Geeky stats stuff

Distance:2.13 mi
Avg Pace:8:49 min/mi
Elevation Gain:100 ft

Runstreak Day #355 - sensible hilly sensibleness

Ten days left until a full year of running every single day!  A couple of handfuls, that's all.  I can do that, right?  My current plan is 'do sensible runs', so while my mileage is wa-a-a-a-a-a-ay down this month, I'm getting my runs in and not breaking myself.  My sensible runs also involve never being more than a mile from home (due to still not feeling too well), so I end up running a loop around where I live... which, sadly, happens to be on a hill.  So all my 'sensible' runs are short but involve at least a couple of hundred feet of climbing.

Sensible isn't always that sensible when hills are involved!

To be honest, I don't really mind doing the hill - there's always a sense of achievement when you've run a mile up it, plus the fact that I was freezing when I set out was remedied after a spot of hill huffing.  It's weird though, the warmth from the rest of my body never manages to make its way to my feet.  In particular, my middle toe on my right foot.  What *is* wrong with that toe?!!

In the end, after I'd done most of my run, I was feeling on the verge of icky, so my sensible run became even more sensible when I cut it short.  Well, apart from having to take a shortcut through weed-smokers' alley at dusk... that wasn't massively sensible... but it did cut half a mile off my run and get me home just that bit quicker!

Two miles a day minimum for the next 10 runs.  Game on.

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:2.17 mi
Avg Pace:8:37 min/mi
Elevation Gain:168 ft