A run, not a race

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On Saturday 30th of September I actually felt good enough for a parkrun.

There was no Personal Best in sight.  I was happy to just be up and out in the glorious autumn morning without feeling ill for once.  It’s easy to get carried away with the idea of being fast, better or competitive.  I didn’t wish to risk any pain or not be able to finish so I kept a pace slower than usual with the knowledge that no one would mind.  There would still be runners at my speed.  There was no risk of getting left behind.

I met a runner indulging in some parkrun tourism and she noted a lot of people use parkrun/running to battle/manage their own conditions.

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The result was parkrun 13 was not a lucky fast PB.  It was in fact my slowest ever parkrun.  I have however reached my average yearly quota of four parkrun’s a year so any parkrun’s I complete after this for the rest of 2017 will be a bonus and contribute to my challenge of adding more parkrun’s to the schedule.

It’s ok to not be fast, and it’s ok to just do your best.

It’s a run, not a race.

Happy running,

Eleanor

xxx

Inspiration Required – Recycling Running Shoes

My first pair of running shoes that I bought in 2013 are, alas, on their last legs.  They’re uncomfortable for me to run in and give me ankle twinges.  I don’t want to get rid of them as they’re sentimental to me now but I’d rather not have a pair of shoes hanging about that someone else could get some joy from.

I’m researching some ways to get them recycled or donated.

Have you ever recycled or donated a pair of running shoes?  If so what would you recommend?  I’d love to hear from you and would be happy to include your thoughts on my next blog post after donating them.

Happy running,

Eleanor

xxx

 

Evaluating the Story

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“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.

In 2013, I was an 11 stone Call Centre worker, my mind a mess of charcoal gloom and my body a mass of health issues and I stepped on my road to running.  That road would take me to a brighter future.  Four years later I’m an 9 stone Graduate myth-waffler with a foot or two on the ladder of a Creative Writing and Marketing career.  I went from no exercise since my Secondary School days of hiding from P.E. to having 9 marathons under my belt.  Over the summer various interviewers would ask me where I saw myself in five years and I’d say, ‘I’m already there.  I saw myself with a degree, starting the career I’ve always wanted.’

I have spared a few moments thought to the reason I started running.  My inspiration was sparked by Kilian Jornet’s epic run up Mount Olympus and a desire to follow in his footsteps.  I wanted to one day run the Olympus Marathon combining my love of running and Classical Mythology together in a big peaked cake dusted with icing and the seat of Zeus on top (alas, no glacier cherries here).

If I stick to that 5 year plan idea I have 1 year left in which to achieve this goal.  It is highly unlikely that I’ll run the Olympus Marathon in 2018.  Due to a crop of different health issues (the saga of my well recorded Mystery Illness Book 1 The Slipped Disc and now a joyfully new Mystery Illness Book 2 As Yet Untitled)  It is more likely that I’ll actually get in to the London Marathon by ballot and we all know how hard that is, don’t we? I know, let us not hold our breath.

Instead I’ll set a more realistic goal of my fitness and health.  If finances allow I will hike up the Olympus Marathon for charity in the early autumn of next year.  Plans will be planned.  If you’ve done this thing do please get in touch and let me know your experiences.  In the meantime I’ll be trying to put my foot on the permanent bit of the Marketing ladder and try to make the freelancing side of things more profitable.

Happy Running,

Eleanor

xxx

Finding Your Limits

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Mo Farah is the living embodiment of go hard or go home but that Athletic pack at the Championships sure did give him a run for his money.  They were like gazelles out there on the track, feet barely touching the ground, brows not even breaking a noticeable sweat.  Mo Farah runs 135-200 mile weeks depending on the article you read and in which point in his training it’s written.

Championship week asks questions about your own limits in training.  Serious questions when some Athletes are throwing mileage figures like that.  Strava says my weekly mileage is up to 13.1 miles now which was my weekly New Years’ Resolution. Week before last I did 14.44 miles.

A combination of physiotherapy and this half marathon plan has seen an increase in miles.  It might not seem like much.  The last time I managed 14.44 miles for the week was the first week of August 2017.  This shows white how much my back giving out effected my running.  I couldn’t run even 10 miles for a year.

I now have renewed determination to fit in my weekly mile target.  Everyone has to evaluate their own limits of what go hard or go home means to them.  It’s a balance of keeping motivated whilst knowing your own body so that it’s a safe progression.

I’m looking forward to getting back to my old running ways of 30 mile weeks. Last week I did 20 miles including two 20 mile days of field work at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.  As part of my finding my limits I’ve made an internal agreement to walk sessions if I can’t run them so I’m still doing the miles.  When I can’t walk run.  When I can’t run walk. I’m now an Admin and Marketing Assistant for Bailey Balloons so getting used to a new part-time schedule along with the fun of juggling summer term break.

Happy running,

Eleanor

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Marathon Ten on the Horizon This Winter

I’ve been quite busy, honestly.  Despite the strange weather that is making it seem like April in near-August with it’s sunny spells and unannounced downpours playing havoc with hay fever.  Finding the right weather window has been tricky.

I got round to actually registering for the Bristol Half Marathon as I’d only popped it in the calendar before.  I did a long run of 10k on Tuesday.  I timed it awfully and gave myself only half an hour to get ready for a family trip to the Zoo so I need to remember to schedule better now its summer holiday.

I got round to renewing my membership at Southville Running Club.  Last Tuesday I went for a four miler with the club’s beginners group in the humid head.  Following it with a nice cold pint afterwards back at base felt truly wonderful.  I’m putting regular club appearances on the agenda along with last blogs promise of regular parkrun’s.  I can’t do every week but i’ll at least make an effort to give them more time.

Last on the to-do list of running I got round to signing up for the Portsmouth Marathon 2017.  Not having a marathon on my calendar was starting to make me feel uncomfortable.  I don’t want to break a currently four year streak by not doing a marathon.  Because Portsmouth is mid-December it gives me time to recover from the Half Marathon before I ramp the training back up in Autumn.  It’s UK based so should be sensible health wise relieving any out of the country travel stress.  After the two previous visits to the event I’m familiar with the course.  I’ll be aiming to beat my previous best time set on the course of 5 hours and 15 mins.

Additionally I’ll be trying to get the most rum, Mulled Wine and brandy out of the race entry that I can physically muster without feeling unwell … something has to make up for the fact that the Portsmouth Coast will be in my shoes for 26.2 winter coast miles ….

You can register here – http://www.fitprorob.biz/portsmouth-coastal-waterside-marathon-2015/

Happy running,

Eleanor

xxx

Training for the Bristol Half Marathon 2017

Recently I put the Bristol Half Marathon on my calendar.  It feels good to see it scheduled in there.  I couldn’t run it last year due to my slipped disc.  Since I’m now seeing specialist physiotherapy up at Southmead Hospital I feel confident I have the right help to do it safely.  They are aware of my  running habit.

My Personal Best currently sits at 2 hours 17 minutes and I’m aiming for 2 hours.  I dusted off a running book from Runner’s World with running plans in the back.  I chose an Intermediate plan to avoid going over my 10 miles a week too rapidly – I don’t want to over do it with excitement!  I started the plan a bit late as it should have required 10 weeks and I’m giving it 8 weeks. I won’t be able to stick to it even by about 80%.  The plan is useful to know what to do in the sessions I do do so that I make the most of them.

The first 3 weeks have been a case of slowly building up the distance of each run. Two mile runs in week one,  three mile runs in week two, four mile runs in week three.  I’m now under 9 stone which seems to be helping speed. I’m back to averaging 9.30 minute miles in shorter runs and 10-11 minute miles for longer ones.  Average weekly mileage is slowly starting to creep past the 10 miles a week as a result which is fantastic – I hope it continues.

I finished last week with volunteering a Eastville Park Junior parkrun event #17 as a Funnel Manager.  I’ve had to step away from being an RD  for a bit as I’m relocating back to Bristol for autumn  but will keep up with general volunteering.  It’s lovely seeing this group grow.

Happy running,

Eleanor.

Xxx

Bristol 10k 2017 – Remembering to Race

Back in May I ran the Bristol 10k – yeah, I know this blog is super late.  I did it in 58.34 mins which is 2.92Bristol10K2017A mins slower than last year, I feel this is an acceptable margin since I’ve not been able to train much past 10 miles a week yet.  I kept an even pace of (according to Strava) 9.22-40 throughout with a random 8.29 min mile at the start for good measure.

I had a good mix of music to run with and it was inspiring seeing so many running friends out on the course.  Southville group on the bridge cheering people on! I think one of the best signs was ‘run like winter is coming’.  Afterwards I went for a victory lunch with friends at a cafe on the harbor.

I reflected on those 2.92 minutes.  What could I have done differently?

  • Mileage.  Even though my weekly mileage may seem small there are plenty of articles out there that say training on 10 miles a week is doable.  It still keeps up fitness (I break it down into hill runs, faster runs, etc) and keeps off the odd pound.
  • Don’t run with a post-holiday hangover.  Ever.  Just don’t do it.  Sure, run with a hangover in your holiday.  You won’t be quite as travel worn.  You’ll still have the determination.  Once you’re home, though, that’s when tiredness starts to catch up.  I’d gotten home Saturday afternoon and raced Sunday morning.  I don’t think it was wise.
  • Sleep.  I hadn’t had much of it the week leading up to the race.  I was knackered come race day morning.  Waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed is much better than waking up thinking, ‘should I really be running this?’ I’ve run races with a hangover before but being travel tired is a different kind of exhaustion that you can’t fix with good hydration. 
  • Carbo-loading.  In Spain I ate mostly fresh fish and red meat.  Absolutely delicious food but mostly proteins and good fats.  Carbohydrate options were scarce past veg or fruit with meals and bread sides.  I did my best.  I took one for a team at breakfast times in the hotel.  Since there were tables upon tables of breads, fruits, and pastries here I used this as the daily Carbo-loading opportunity but it still didn’t feel like enough with all the tourist walking.  It was a newbie error, I admit. 
  • Race Day Magic.  It’s entirely circumstantial.  Don’t rely on it to get you through.

So, it looks like I skipped a few of the basic fundamentals we learn as newbie runners Eleanor Duvivier's photo.right at the start of our racing lives.  Each of those bullet points probably accounted for seconds of that 2.92 minute fail.  It’s important to remember these and get back into the habit of good racing practice. I hope to sign up for more races over the latter half of 2017.

The best thing this race did was remind me how fun it is to be out in the crowds again … adding a well-earned update to my medal hanger was rather satisfying!

Happy running,

Eleanor

 

 

 

 

Relocating – Resetting The Start Point

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Over the Easter weekend I took my leftover Easter Eggs and a room full of boxes to Reading.  I have established a new nest here.  Trying to balance the final months of my degree with finding a job in the Marketing industry.  It’s a bit of a stressful time but it does keep things interesting.

One good thing about this is that it means a whole new city of running20170415_111304 routes!  I’ve been keeping my agoraphobia in check by exploring bits at a time to reset my homing pigeon slowly.  This seems to be working.  Right behind my house there is a Cycle Track that goes as far as Newbury and even back to Bristol.  It is beautiful with an abundance of large willow trees over lapping the water.  The track itself is a bit small and only just big enough for one walking one way and one another so it makes it a bit of a challenge at rush commuting hours.  It’s the most natural place I’ve found so far in Reading that has considerably less central focused trees and parks than Bristol does.

Another good thing is that I had a run last week with 0 elevation.  I don’t remember ever seeing this in my running years to date.  I think Portsmouth had a bit that was below sea level along the coast.  A flat out 0 for 5k is just odd for me.  It means I can work more on speed work without being exhausted.  The hill nearest me only equates to 76 elevation when run up and down twice.  Friends tell me that Reading was built in a swamp which accounts for the lack of elevation.

I’m also close to a couple of local climbing wall so I’ve been doing more of that with friends.   It’s a nice way to get strength training in that isn’t just crunching kg’s at the gym.  Progress is measurable with the colour route systems and it makes you feel like you put your body properly through the mill the next day.  Victory caffeine afterwards is always a win.

Up Next?

I’m tapering off the running a bit as I’ve actually signed up for the Bristol 10k on Sunday 7th.  I hope I can beat last time’s PB of 55:42:0.  Although my training hasn’t been much at ten miles a week this year it has been regular and steadily improving in terms of distance and speed so I hope this puts me in good stead.

Happy Running,

xxx

Eleanor

 

 

Movement Is Freedom

I mentioned in my last post in March that I’d barely been scraping the barrel of my 10 mile a week goal due to my back problems.  I’ve now been told that my slipped disk won’t need surgery and should be fixable with specialist physiotherapy.  I’ve been advised to try Pilates as well and to keep on running.

Even before this terrific news I’d set myself free.  I made an internal intention to stop letting my health hold me back and to find more joy in the run.  It must have worked because I’ve started to see the return of the 9:30 minute mile in my short runs that haven’t really been seen since last spring.

The goal of ten miles a week hasn’t been restricting.  It’s set good running habits which I practically ignored before.  I increased the mileage by a mile a week until I hit ten mile20170404_130719s a week.  I then focused on making one run a mile longer each week and making up the remaining miles spread between shorter runs with the shorter runs being speed work or hill work.

I managed to do a 10k the week before last for the first time since last August.  It was a wonderfully sunny Saturday and I felt quite comfortable afterwards.  I got a bit of delayed ache a couple of days later but not more than I could manage.  This felt like a huge victory, getting back to 10k again – in my view a proper Long Distance Run length – with fairly even pacing.

It’s a good excuse to be getting into the kitchen a bit more for some tasty treats.  Things I made recently have been a delicious Hot Cross Bacon Bun afterwards followed by a Coffee and Walnut Cake which was more20170407_181739 of a Latte Cake as I didn’t put enough coffee in … whoops!

 

 

 

That Sunday I had my debut as a Run Director for Eastville junior pa
rkrun.  After all that training my turn was finally here!  The kids had a great time and because of the sunny conditions it was a perfect day for lots of PB’s all round.

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Happy Running,

Eleanor.  20170409_082423

 

 

Consideration of Self

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As my health is an ongoing work in progress and I haven’t had any official diagnosis yet – regardless of it being nearly a year since I began to get unwell – I have had to evaluate my training regularly. I can’t follow snazzy training plans because if I’m knackered that’s me not getting out of bed tomorrow. This gets even trickier because I’m allergic to over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines so I have to rely on Paracetamol which doesn’t really impact it. So my training has been barely scraping the 10 miles a week barrel I’d half-heartedly set on Jan 1st and is more just ad hoc – doing what I can when I can.  Consideration of self capabilities is super important.

What else have I been doing?

Honestly, studying has been taking up much of my time. I’m finishing the last module of an Open University degree so my nights are spent researching Greek and Roman myth until past midnight in hopes of achieving a predicted 2:2. This means a lot less time to spend in the gym or working out.

Improvisation is key. I’ve been doing yoga daily either in the morning before work meaning a six am rise (thank heaven for SAD lamp!) or in the evening after I’ve put my daughter Holly to bed. This time last year I was running – or trying to – and doing yoga probably once a week if I remembered. I’ve found yoga such a gre20170301_130759at way to stay mobile with my spinal back problems and I’m really relishing my time on the mat. It’s so awesome when you get to see measurable progress. Things like being able to put the entire foot on the floor during a Downward Dog or indeed keeping stable on left leg balancing exercises. The left leg is where I get the pain from my back issues causing
some entertainingly shaky Tree poses! Hats off to Yoga With Adriene! Her videos are legendary. Alongside that I’ve been dancing with friends and the occasional social bouldering session. Bit of an ad hoc mix as I say but it appears to be working at keeping me fit and keeping off any weight increase from doing less than I’d like.

Running wise I’ve been slowly building using the 10% effort increase method over mileage and speed. I’m able to get away with doing 2-3 miles two times a week. I want to get confident in 3-4 miles so I can start club running again in spring and enjoy the lighter days in summer.

20170226_090020My highlight of February has been on training for Run Director as part of a team of Run Director trainees banked for a new Junior parkrun event at Eastville Park in Bristol. As part of the training we ran Little Stoke Junior parkrun as a group and attended an arkrun ethos and event running protocols. Last weekend we hosted our trial event with 11 runners and plan to launch on March 5th. It’s beginning to feel real now!
Happy running,

Eleanor