April 2015

What an exciting title to lure you in eh?!

This month has been a gradual build up for my running. I have been away from home every weekend so fitting in the runs has been tricky.

Firstly I was off to Aviemore with Ross and his family for his Aunties 60th. This was a fabulous weekend however due to FAR too much champagne in the evenings the running was put to the side. My injury was bothering me after the 2 and a bit hour car journey however on the whole it was much better than it had been in previous weeks.

Walk around Loch an Eilein near Aviemore.

Walk around Loch an Eilein near Aviemore.

Sunset from our lodge in Aviemore.

Sunset from our lodge in Aviemore.

When we returned from Aviemore I went on a evening run with dad and it was the best I had felt in weeks, if not months. Running felt easy, there was no pain, and the pace was GOOD. That week I did a couple more runs and I am delighted to report that the pain was slowly easing back. It was taking longer for the pain to start and it seemed to be fading quicker after my runs 🙂

That weekend I had a hen party down in Newcastle so as you can imagine running was not the top priority. We did an obstacle course on the Saturday though and that included a 2 mile run so it was better than nothing 🙂 The course was like a home made tough mudder and was SO much fun!!

IMG_5819

Post Obstacle Course

IMG_5823

Crawling under electric wires

IMG_5824

Rope Swing

The most recent week has been more like my usual running habits. I managed 2 5mile runs one night after the other and was over the moon that neither of these had much pain and there were no ill effects after. I then did my first speed session since injury 6x1000m. Unfortunately I didn’t make the rep session so had to do these on my own however it made me just push harder. I enjoyed the session and am looking forward to my next interval session this week!

This weekend Ross and I took a trip to the West Coast but I managed to squeeze in a small run while ross sat out in the sun with a beer. The views were stunning and I felt so happy to be back running with no pain!! WOOO.

Run along Loch Linnhe

Run along Loch Linnhe

IMG_5901

Views on the Run

IMG_7020 IMG_7044

Next weekend will see me take part in my first race of 2015 – almost 2 months later than I was due to start racing. It is the Balmoral 10k so it will be a tough race. I did this race in something like 51.30 last year and I HATED it. (I moaned about it here Hills Hills Hills)  However I vowed to come back and do at least sub 50 and conquer that hill with a far better attitude! It is also the day of my dad’s 60th birthday and he is running too so hopefully we can both enjoy it as much as possible knowing a glass of fizz will be waiting for us at the finish 😉

THEE best brownies around.

So to make up for my lack of running posts I thought I would post a recipe for a change! This is one of the best post run treats every – they are super naughty but oh so worth it!

photo 1

You will need:

  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 85g best dark chocolate
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder (I sometimes use Cadbury drinking chocolate powder)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g golden caster sugar
  • milk/white/dark chocolate

How to make ’em:

  1. Cut the butter into small cubes and put into a medium bowl. Break the milk and dark chocolate (185g) into small pieces and add with the butter. Cover the bowl loosely with cling film and put in the microwave for 2 minutes on High. Give it a stir and set to the side to cool to room temperature.
  2. Turn on your oven on to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4  Using a shallow 20cm square tin, cut out a square of non-stick baking parchment to line the base – or even better is to use a silicone tray! Mix the plain flour and cocoa powder in a sieve held over a bowl, and shake the sieve so they mix together with no lumps.
  3. Crack 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in 275g golden caster sugar. Use an electric mixer on maximum speed and whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy. It takes a wee while but keep going until it is a pale colour and roughly double the original volume.
  4. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggs and sugar and gently fold together. I find that slowly mixing in a figure of 8 seems to work the best but make sure you move around the bowl to get all of the mix. You need to be very gentle at this stage so as you don’t knock the air out. The mix should look a nice chocolatey brown by the time you have finished mixing.
  5. Mix in the flour and cocoa powder slowly.  It will look dusty and lumpy to start with but in no time at all you will be left with something that looks like brownie batter! Mix in your chocolate chip chunks once it looks like a batter. You can also use oreos, mini eggs, whatever you fancy!!
  6. Pour the mixture into your tin and level it out. Put in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes. After 25 mins if the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so put it back in for a little longer. I find 25 gives you a REALLY gooey middle, 30mins is quite gooey, and anything over 30 is starting to get firmer – everyone likes their brownies a different way!
  7. Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold then get stuck in!!

Here are some I made for easter 🙂 I added in crème eggs with 8 minutes to go!

photo 2

Brownies and wine - what could be better?!

Brownies and wine – what could be better?!

ENJOY!

Jx

Update on the injury!

Since my last post there has been little to report on the running front. After 4 appointments with the physio and no improvement I was starting to get a little worried about how long I would be stuck with this injury. I told the physio I was seeing that I felt like the pain was getting worse when I ran, not better. The response I got to this was another A4 sheet of exercises…this definitely sent out warning signals to me.  Surely it would make more sense to strip back the exercises and go back to basics rather than giving me even more to do!?

So, I decided to look for a second opinion. What I got was a complete re-diagnosis. I am not an expert in physio talk but basically the problem has been stemming from my pelvis NOT my piriformis. The piriformis stretches I had been given previously had been making things worse, as I thought. I had several manipulations which involved a lot of cracking and some pain and that was me. I was told to get running! The pain has now moved from my bum round to the front of my hip and into my lower back. Apparently this is normal and it should just ease off in the next few weeks.

2a0a7d441ac64a85fd24380a7f146caf

I have managed to get out around 3x a week and the runs have been at an easy pace but I am happy with the progress. I still feel pain in my back & hip but it is nothing like what I have before. I am one week in since my physio appointment so hopefully in a few more weeks the pain will have gone! WOO.

After a month and a bit of very easy running I am dying to get back to the interval sessions and do some racing. I know my speed won’t come back overnight but I have a few weeks until my first race at Balmoral. It was hell on earth last year however I know I am capable of doing so much better 2nd time round. Here’s hoping I can cut at least 4 minutes off the time!

I will keep you posted!!

Jx

That pain in my ass…

Well turns out that it was a bigger problem than just a niggle.

I ended up going to the physio for a totally different issue altogether – I had a really painful foot after one of my runs. It was sore to walk on and was worrying me as at this point I was under 2 weeks away from the half marathon. The physio told me I had an inflamed joint and advised a week off running and I wore padding around the joint to cushion it. Whilst there I thought I would mention my hip as it didn’t seem to be getting much better. She seemed to instantly know what it was and it is Piriformis Syndrome. Basically the pain is caused by compression or entrapment of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle as the nerve passes through my bum. I was sent away with stretches and strengthening exercises and told to come back in a week.

The week passed and I was frantic to run, this was not the taper I had in mind before my race. I kept up my fitness by pretty much gluing myself to the exercise bike! I tried swimming but BOY it was tough so I stuck to the bike – it was tough but I could forget the pain with music and tv 🙂
When I arrived at the physio I was glad to report that I had no pain in my foot however my hip was still bothering me. My physio gave me the green light to run the half however warned me that it would more than likely hurt…a lot.

e272206d9c3e9d63ab43b1889002003e

I spent the week thinking about pretty much nothing but the race. Could I face 13.1 miles of pain in the hip and finish within my goal time? (sub 1.44) After a couple of short runs that week it became clear to me that although I could start and finish the half I would not be able to keep the pace I had originally aimed for. I called friends, I spoke to family, I cried, I stressed out and basically had a meltdown. You would have thought I was making a life changing decision…drama queen. After several months of training I didn’t want to just throw it all away so it wasn’t a decision I was going to make lightly. The night before the race I decided to pull out, I knew within my heart of hearts that I wasn’t mentally strong enough to pull myself round a course if I was in pain. I want to really enjoy my first half so I decided to wait until my hip was back to full strength before venturing out.

So that was that, a non event. I visited the physio this morning and she said that I definitely made the right decision and we are now working on getting my hips strengthened and flexible. It won’t happen over night but I am determined to get rid of this pain and crack a half as soon as! I have to cut down the distance of my runs for the next few weeks and take another week off any speed work but I CAN run which is the main thing.

f4af73b64bb3413bc225945c801ed641

I have a 10k at the end of the month up in Elgin and I want to be fit enough to give it a good bash. Last year I ran it in 49 something, this year I want sub 45 at least! So it is time to get working on this hip so I am race ready!!

A mixed bag

Since my last post things have not been overly wonderful for my running. I have unfortunately been battling with several niggles in my legs – the first of which has been on going for the past month or two however seemed to hit a peak on my run last weekend. I was out for 10.5 miler and the last 3 miles were purgatory. It is a pain that goes right through the middle of my upper leg from the back of my knee round to my hip and bum. It has been slowly getting worse on long runs and it has got me a little anxious. I decided to have a sports massage on Wednesday and although this seemed to help my calves (forever tight) it didn’t really seem to help my hip/bum/upper leg at all. It is a pain in the ass (literally) as it has just made some of my runs really uncomfortable. I am going to try a run with dad tonight and if the pain still persists I think a trip to the physio is on the cards.  I know I could run a half marathon with the pain it would be very uncomfortable and I know it would impact my pace…bad times. Enough of the negative though, the positives from the past few weeks are that I have finally ventured back to the Tuesday session of metro runs. I struggled a bit with pace however I felt good when I finished and a lovely lady called Tara kept me going so I was really grateful to her. The snow and ice has also kept away so this has meant some milder runs and even some sunny ones too J My run on Friday was beautiful, just a shame my leg wasn’t up to it. I ran 7.5miles and this is my longest solo run to date (woo!).

IMG_5294

Beautiful sunny railway line

IMG_5300

WOO HOO it is sunny again.

IMG_5295 There were also had a few celebrity guests at the local parkrun this week. It was the Gathimba Edwards Foundation dinner on Saturday and several of the key speakers, along with Gideon Gathimba himself, came along to run/spectate the hazlehead parkrun. Some of the amazing runners there were: Gideon Gathimba – Current International athlete & co-founder of the charity with Myles Edwards, Dave Moorcroft – Commonwealth Gold medallist and former 5K World Record holder,Becky Lyne – European 800m Bronze medallist, and Fraser Clyne – Local running legend and multiple marathon winner (the 2.11 man!!) Gideon set a course record and it was great to see a world class athlete in action around our local woods. I started running the parkrun however my cousin pulled up with a hamstring injury a km in so I stopped with her and we made our way back to the finish to watch the speedy guys coming in 10mins later. It was a shame not to have finished the run however my hip really wasn’t up to a fast time so it was probably better for the ego to just watch. I got some great snaps too!

Gideon finishing the run

Gideon finishing the run

It was a great chance to see lots of other runners I hadn’t seen in a while such as all my jog Scotland buddies.

JogScotland Buddies

JogScotland Buddies

All the runners at Hazlehead :)

All the runners at Hazlehead 🙂

The first few minutes of the run before I stopped.

The first few minutes of the run before I stopped.

That evening we all made our way to the Gathimba Edwards Foundation charity dinner. It was a brilliant night, there was speeches from Dave Moorcroft, Becky Lynn and Jamie Andrew.  It was  a really inspiring evening and it really does put a lot of things into perspective. The kids helped by the charity are so happy and you can’t help but fall in love with them. For more information about the charity have a look here: http://gathimbaedwardsfoundation.org/

These are the gorgeous bracelets that are made over in Kenya and we got these as we arrived.

These are the gorgeous bracelets that are made over in Kenya and we got these as we arrived.

I had a lot of fun at the dinner and we certainly put the motto ‘train hard, party harder’ into good use!!  It is also really nice to get a chance to speak to other runners in a social setting rather than before or after a race/training session.

Myself, Alison and Emma

Myself, Alison and Emma

IMG_5339 I am hoping my leg decides to wise up this week and hopefully I can resume training as normal. It is 2 weeks until my debut half marathon and to say I am scared is an understatement. I have done some solid training but there is still the worry, has it been enough?! Only one way to find out now…!

Chocolate milk has never tasted so good…

The past couple of weeks have been pretty good running wise. I am loving running right now and can’t believe it has been 2 years since I started. I was reminded of this when a timehop of an old facebook status came up:js

I remember being so nervous that night but I really enjoyed it. I haven’t been to jogscotland in a while but I have such fond memories and it really helped me so much in the early days!

Flashforward to 2015 and I have been getting stuck into the rep sessions and I love them (in a love/hate sort of way). They are so hard but the buzz I get when I am finished is great.The rep sessions I have been doing are: 12x500m, 6x900m, 3×2000 + 1x1000m. I did the 500m session with Metro at the track and I really enjoyed it. I managed to keep with a group of 3 others and we kept pushing each other throughout the session. The reps were all fairly consistent pace wise and I was knackered by the end of it.  The 900m & 2000m session were due to be with the club however conditions were icy so both of these took place on the treadmill. Both of these were challenging but I felt good about them. I am looking forward to doing more of these sessions over the coming months and hopefully I will manage to chip away at my times. I certainly feel myself finding the longer runs a bit easier as they are at a slower pace – must be a good thing?!

I finally got my club kit for Metro too J I bought some training kit as well as the club vest and buff. I will probably sport the vest in my 10k at the end of march and just wear the club kit for my half marathon. I am excited to show off my club colours in a race and be a part of club Metro!

Poser or fit?!

Poser or fit?!

This week saw me complete my longest ever run *drum roll please* 13.1 miles. It was my practice half a month before the big event. I wanted to see how on track my training was and how I felt for actually running the full 13.1 miles. I will admit I was terrified before I set off but I knew it had to be done.fdb6bf41ace6004aef23b7c67553d766

Overall it went pretty well. I felt a little sluggish to start with but I can hopefully prevent that by doing a proper warm up before the race. Once I got into the swing of it the miles passed fairly quickly. I kept the pace steady and I was joined by dad from miles 3-10 which was nice. I was dreading the last 3 as I knew I would be on my own for the toughest part of the run. To my great surprise it flew by and I felt brilliant – to say I felt light as air is an exaggeration but I definitely felt like I had a new burst of energy. I managed to push the pace on and the only time I really felt I was struggling was in the final few hundred meters.

This must have been what kept my legs going so quickly!

This must have been what kept my legs going so quickly!

I think the race environment along with proper preparation in the run up will really help me on the day. I didn’t take any gels or any water on this run and I didn’t feel any worse for it. I find water tends to give me stitches so only take it on REALLY hot days to wash my mouth out. I am new to gels but I didn’t really feel I would have benefitted from them so I think I will just stick to running without them for now. After my run I was pretty stiff but I did some stretches, foam rolling and felt much better.

I also had the best post-run food ever – thank you Ross!  recovery Poached egg, hollandaise sauce and chocolate milk….YUMMERS! I then followed this with a trip to Maggie’s Grill in the evening (I earned it right!?) If you are from Aberdeen and haven’t been – go now!! It is unreal. I recommend the southern fried chicken…oh boy it is good!

Anyway, enough of my food rambles. The runs I have been doing recently have given me a lot of confidence and I am looking forward to working hard over the next month to see what I can push myself to achieve on the 8th March.

Treadmills, Head torches and feeling like a Hobbit!

Don’t you just love those weeks where every run just feels great?!

The week didn’t start particularly well running wise – metro (and just about every other running group in Aberdeen) was cancelled on Tuesday and I forgot my kit at work so couldn’t hit the treadmill for my first planned run. I was out for dinner on Wednesday night so just went to the gym at lunch and decided to cycle rather than run because I just couldn’t face the dreadmill.

Thursday was reps day and the planned session was 6x1200m reps. Unfortunately the session was cancelled due to ice on the track so this was slightly problematic. Fortunately I had met Metro coach Jackie in the gym the previous day and he told me about an interval setting on the treadmill. After work on thurs I decided to head to the gym to try my first interval session on a treadmill. I was really dreading it but I ended up LOVING it. I did 7 x 1km reps at an average of 6.40/mile pace. I liked the fact the treadmill kept me at a consistent pace and I couldn’t slow down even if I wanted to. For my last two reps I decided to up the pace a bit and really push myself. I then did a final 500m on top of the 7 reps at 5.38/mile pace and that was me – wiped out. I went to the weights room and did a long stretch and foam roll and I was knackered. I got such a buzz from the session though and will definitely be hitting the treadmill again for some hard reps.

On Friday I joined my friend Alison for an easy run. We had planned a head torch run in the forest up and hazelehead. I have never been on a head torch run so was slightly nervous about this – I do not have a good track record in the dark evenings (Slips, Trips and Falls). As we met in the car park and put our head torches on I was feeling a little anxious but was up for a good laugh.

IMG_4949

Here we were, spending our Friday night going off into the dark woods on our own for a run…NUTTERS. As we came into the forest I had never noticed just how quiet it was, very eerie. I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and tried to avoid ice. We both were laughing at how crazy we were and how scary the wood was but we plodded on….for 300m., then we turned back. What a bunch of wooses! HA. To be fair, there was a dodgy man that walked into the park just before we set off and this definitely creeped us out – WHO GOES TO THE PARK, IN THE DARK, ON THEIR OWN, ON A FRIDAY NIGHT!? WIERDO. (Clearly going for a run in the dark is a totally sane thing to do though). So anyway, we decided to turn back onto the streets and just did a very easy 4.5miles. I say easy, it was actually pretty tough going at points because the footpath conditions were treacherous. But the pace was conversational and we were not pushing hard. It was lovely to be back out running with Alison again. She is doing super doper training right now so it is hard to sync our runs but hopefully we can get some more scheduled in 🙂

IMG_4951

On Sunday I had my long run of the week scheduled – 12 miles. This would be my longest run to date so far. I ran with Catherine (my super speedy cousin) for the whole run and dad joined us for the first 3 miles. (he is just doing 1 run a week at the moment so he stuck with a 6m loop).IMG_4962
The route we chose was really good and it was nicely broken up into 3m sections. We ran out past Culter into the country and it was lovely. This is one of my favourite routes to go in Aberdeen, it is slightly undulating and the views are stunning. We went out along the main road until Culter where we went on the country roads and we turned and came back along the Deeside railway line. The line was still pretty icy when we got to Milltimber so we decided to just go back on the main road for the last 3 miles so we could keep our pace and not risk breaking our necks! The run was pretty steady and we talked most of the way. As we reached 10miles I felt a little scared at what was to come. For anyone who is a lord of the rings geek like me, I felt like Sam leaving the shire…

This was the furthest I would have ever run and it was a little daunting. We managed though! Mile 10-11 was pretty tough going, my bum was aching, I was feeling hot and I just wanted to be home. (anyone else get a really sore bum on long runs!?) We persevered and Catherine picked up the pace so I clung on for dear life. It was probably the best thing she could have done for me as there was no way I was letting a big gap develop between us. As we reached mile 11 I was ready to finish but Catherine pushed on even more. As the watch hit 12.01 miles I was delighted, I had survived running +10 miles. We walked up the little path back to the house and had a stretch in the garden. I was really happy with how the run had gone and I think my training is going well. The run wasn’t particularly fast however I know on a race day with no talking and a crowd around I will be able to pick it up a bit more.

IMG_4964

That is a bit of an insight to my running week – hopefully I enjoy this weeks runs just as much!

Jx

Back to the grind.

This past week has been my first full week back at work since Christmas and it has been the first full week of normal exercise.

The original plan was:

Mon –Netball Training

Tues – 5M (Metro) + Netball Game

Wed – 4M with Dad + Body Conditioning

Thurs – Metro Reps

Fri – 3M

Sat – Rest

Sun – 9M

My actual week looked more like this:

Mon – Netball Training

Tues – Netball Game (full game in centre)

Wed – Yoga

Thurs – Metro Reps

Fri – Rest

Sat – 3M + Yoga

Sun – 7.5M

I was disappointed to miss Tuesdays run but our Netball game was moved forward to 715 which is right in the middle of metro training. We only have a squad of 7 at the minute so I couldn’t even turn up half way through the game. On the plus side I had a full game in centre so I was pretty much constantly moving for the full 60 mins of the game. I tired a little in the 3rd quarter but managed to push myself back to normal in the final quarter. It was our toughest game of the season and unfortunately we lost by 4 (or maybe 6..I forget). I was still really happy with how we played and think we have a lot more to give for the rest of the season.

Wednesday evening was pretty horrid weather wise and dad was working late so I decided after a tough yoga session at lunch that I would just save my legs for Reps the next night. My body was pretty achy after the Netball game so Ross and I decided to have a night in watching rubbish tv!

I opted to do the 300m rep session rather than the 1000m reps. I think I need to work on speed so this allowed me to focus on getting my legs moving faster. We did 10x300M with jogback recovery. The whole session was around 4miles and it felt pretty good. Rep sessions are a real mental battle – I am still working out exactly the pacing’s I should be going at. I don’ t want to go out too hard then die later on but I also don’t want to go out too slow and finish with more to give. I think it will just take a while to gauge how I should be doing them. Next week is 20x200m reps so I am looking forward to that J

I did a 3M run with my cousin on Saturday morning – we were due to do 5M but the weather was horrendous so we opted for a shorter run. I didn’t feel great on this run so Catherine did a little more than me. I had pretty bad stomach cramps (which came back to haunt me later in the day) so 3M was a long enough distance for me. We then went to Yoga for Runners at the Yoga Spot in Aberdeen. This was organised by a lady who is also a member of Metro. It is a class for runners taken by a fellow runner which is really nice. In the other yoga class I go to I am usually the inflexible person that sticks out like a sore thumb but in a class of fellow runners I blend in pretty well. It is a great post run stretch but boy it is hard!! I would definitely recommend yoga to anyone looking to increase flexibility and strength.

Sunday was long run day. Dad and I had planned a nice 9M route leaving from my parents’ house. It was pretty flat for the first 4M then we had two killer hills in mile 4 and 5 – I managed to power through and dad had a wee walk when he needed. It was a really good run and I was feeling fab. Unfortunately we set out too late to complete the full 9M so had to head home with only 7.5 on the watch. I had an umpiring commitment on the other side of town so was cutting it pretty fine. We will know again in future to give ourselves more time. Although I was under my mileage I was really happy with how I felt on this run. It was a massive improvement on the week before and I am starting to see some progress.

This week I am looking to have a similar week to last but with no netball game and an extra run.

Oh how I have missed forest trails..

I am lucky enough that although I live in a city there is an abundance of green spaces that I can run in. The only problem is that when winter comes it means most of these routes are a no go as I work full time so by the time I finish work it is dark and I don’t fancy head torch running through the woods! This inevitably means lots of pavement pounding which can become rather tedious. I love variation so when I had a week and a half off for Christmas I made the most of having some daylight running time!

IMG_4718

On Boxing day it was Baltic however my dad and I decided to run up to the local park and meet a group of my old jogscotland friends for a run around the forest. There were icy patches however it was a glorious day for a run and I felt so much better for it! The cobwebs were brushed away and I felt great.

IMG_4721

My dad and I made another trip up there this weekend to for my long run of the week – I am up to 9miles now on my long runs and feeling pretty comfortable. The pavements leading up to the woods were like an ice rink so this did mean the pace wasn’t great (plus the fact it is all uphill for 4 miles) however once we were in the woods the ice cleared and it was lovely. I really enjoyed this run and was happy at how much easier I found the downward stretch on the way back – it was obviously the hill challenging me rather than complete lack of fitness.

IMG_4716
My base is gradually building and I am hoping to get back to Metro this week to get some speed in there too. Unfortunately my netball game has been moved forward on Tuesday so I will no longer manage the first rep session however I should make it to Thursdays – 2 sets of 1000m (2min recovery), 1200m (300m rec), 1500m (3mins rec). It is going to hurt!!
I know January will be a tough month but I can’t wait to get stuck in and see some progress being made!!

Why can’t I run on my own?!

So I left the house today full of beans ready for a nice winter run. It is a glorious day here and the conditions are perfect. So why is it that 10 minutes into my run I am hating life, walking and wishing I had never set foot out the door?!

I just can’t seem to run on my own. I always stop, always moan and just don’t enjoy it…! When I am with people I love being out on a run, chatting away, pushing each other and just having a nice time. I really need to get used to running solo as I will be doing many on my own for my half mara training…I am generally ok in a race as I am surrounded by other folk so am spurred on.

Any tips how to make solo runs more enjoyable?! Anyone else have this problem?!