My first ever parkrun.

I know, I know.  I am late to the party.

I have to admit, I have never previously been to a parkrun anywhere due to quite often working on a Saturday morning, or travelling back very late on Friday nights.  For any of my nearby parkruns I would need to run there and back as parking around them is a nightmare from what people have said – so I would need to be up quite early to get to my nearest. (I don’t run well when I am half asleep but am trying to improve that so I can get out of the door quicker!).

However, one of the other Milton Keynes Marathon Ambassadors had suggested that we try and meet up to run parkrun and promote the Marathon weekend together, and I thought it would be rude to refuse, but also it would give me the opportunity to run somewhere different as I continue with my runstreak.

(For those who haven’t heard of parkrun (where have you been?), it is a free event held every Saturday for people to go and run (or walk) 5km.  There are no prizes, but you do get a timed result texted or e-mailed to you later on and you can see where you rank amongst other people both totally and in your age group.  To find out more, check out http://www.parkrun.org.uk.)

So that explained why I got up at 5:45am to drive down to Milton Keynes yesterday morning!

It rained more and more the closer I got to Milton Keynes, but as it approached 9am the rain lightened and then stopped.  One of my friends had been extremely kind and offered to run with me, and had also taken the time and trouble to laminate my barcode that I would need at the end. Thank you very much Sarah 😀

We headed over to the start, there were then some brief announcements and then we were off!  It was a lovely route, running alongside the canal before passing the Peace Pagoda, and “Milton Keynes Stonehenge” before heading along the edge of Willen Lake to the finish point.  I also got treated to learning about the Peace Pagoda, which I wish to look into further, as well as other local knowledge.  It was great to catch up with my friend and I may use further parkrun Saturdays to catch up with other friends in different locations!

There were a number of runners there from Redway Runners who were graduating from a Couch to 5k plan and in total there were 642 people who completed the parkrun.  I am more used to running on my own these days so it made a lovely change to have someone to run with and actually finish somewhere in the middle instead of near to last!

Hopefully we have managed to convince some people to sign up for the Milton Keynes Marathon weekend (www.mkmarathon.com) – whether the full marathon, half marathon or relay event – as a way to continue their progression after successfully completing their first 5km – or at the very least to consider coming and cheering for us on the day itself! Volunteering may be something you would like if you don’t want to run? We appreciate all of those tireless people who give up their time freely to help us achieve our goals!

What are your parkrun experiences?  Share them here!

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

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Starting my running journey.

I’ve always been involved with sports and fitness, ever since school.  I played many team sports and was always running around playing football or rounders and climbing trees when not at school.

Then I left education after finishing a degree in Sports Science and got a job.  Although that job was quite a physical one, I didn’t manage to do much in the way of fresh air and exercise for quite a while.  I’ve often suffered with bouts of depression, and without realising I was suddenly in the middle of a visit from the Black Dog.

It was suggested by my dad that I go with him to the gym, to have something to do when I wasn’t at work.  I like cardiovascular stuff, so did mini-circuits using the rower, cross-trainer and exercise bike.  I was only using the treadmill for some warm-up walking as I didn’t really do much running except for sprints when I was playing team sports.  Gradually I got bored of just doing my mini circuit and had noticed that some people would be on the treadmill for half an hour or more.  I wondered how on earth they could stay on there for that long!

At some point, I decided that I would try running on the treadmill – and managed about 30 seconds.  After I had walked a little bit, I was ready to try again.  This persisted for a couple of months, by which time I had managed to run 5 minutes then 10 minutes consecutively.  Suddenly I could manage 20, then 30 minutes.  Over time, I was regularly managing about an hour.  I was still on the treadmill but had read in magazines that if you wanted to replicate being outdoors, the best way was to have the treadmill on an incline of 1%, so I started to work through some of the programmes on the machine.

One day, I was on the treadmill, keeping a steady pace, and every time I was getting ready to get off and do something else, someone would get onto the treadmill next to me and we would start chatting, so I would keep going.  They would get off and be replaced by someone else.  When I finally got off, I had done somewhere between 10 and 11 miles in just over 2hrs!

One of the Personal Trainers had noticed I’d been on a while, and suggested that I challenge myself and run in a 10km race.  I thought to myself, “I’ve just run 10 miles.  I might as well go for a marathon!”

(I didn’t know there were half-marathons back then….)

That was in 2002, and back then the only marathon I knew of was the London Marathon.  You had to go to a sports shop and pick up a copy of Marathon News that had a copy of the entry form in it.  It had to be filled out in black pen and accompanied by a cheque that would be cashed if you were lucky enough to get a place (although then, as now, you could bequeath your money to the London Marathon Charity if you wish).

I was informed a few months later that I was unsuccessful in my application for the 2003 event, but 12 months later (newly qualified as a Personal Trainer and Sports Massage Therapist) that I got a different magazine through the door, giving me entry into the 2004 Flora London Marathon….

(To be continued……)

 

Have a great day,

Vixx 😀

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London Marathon Rejection Week

Have you been rejected by Laura?  Got home to find her looking forlornly up at you from the mat?

Join the other (approximately) 300,000 people who will not be running the London Marathon in 2018.  Even Jason, the guy on the ‘Success’ version of the London Marathon magazine got home to find he had received a rejection from Laura!

BUT….

There is no need to be despondent!

London is only one of many many marathons that take place in the UK every year.  Many big cities now have a marathon that you can sign up and take part in, so why wait?

I’d love it if you wanted to come and join me in Milton Keynes for their Festival of Running on 6th and 7th May 2018.

You can see what’s on here: http://www.mkmarathon.com

There’s the Rocket 5km on the 6th – a short distance event for people who may not feel up to doing a Half or Full marathon, but you’ll get all the fun and atmosphere of a Full marathon, without the extra mileage!

On the 7th, there is the Half marathon, Full marathon and relay race for those who want the distance or the team elements as well as the Superhero run, which for runners or walkers of all abilities, and everyone gets the stadium finish where you can start to celebrate your achievements!

It’s going to be such a great day, and everyone can get involved, whether taking part in one of the events, or cheering on people you know.

Early bird entry prices are available if you enter now, so if London doesn’t want you this year, we would love to see you come and join us for a great weekend of running!

Enter here: http://www.mkmarathon.com

(I’ll be near the back if there are any other slow runners who would like company!)

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

 

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5 MORE tips to give your running some variety.

(Find the first 5 here: https://kineticlifestylecom.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/5-tips-to-give-your-running-some-variety/)

  1. New gear.

One way to resume running enthusiasm (that many people mentioned after the last blog post) was to buy some new running gear!

New shoes? New top? New winter running jacket? New sports watch?

It might be one of those or it might be all of them – but it often serves to inspire someone back out onto the roads or the trails as soon as the new gear arrives, where previously nothing else had managed to have the same inspirational qualities…

 

  1. Cross-training.

Has your running hit a plateau?  Not hitting your training targets?  Try some cross-training.

Cross-training is an ideal way to do something a little different, that will help to develop your fitness in a slightly different way and give you some additional benefits for when you get back out running.

Some examples:

Pilates – great for developing strength and core stability.

Yoga – brilliant for flexibility and balance.

Circuit training/plyometrics – develops all-round cardiovascular fitness with short bursts of hard work.

Weights – for running, this does not have to be to build muscle bulk.  It can be used sensibly to develop leg and arm strength, which can then help improve your running skills and technique.

Other sports – football, netball, rugby and other activities can all help you develop running skills as they all ask for different things during a session: stop-start, jogging to sprinting, directional changes and stamina development amongst other things.

 

  1. Fartleks.

(Most people laugh when they read that word – did you?)

‘Fartlek’ is a Swedish word that means ‘Speed Play’.  You work to combine a longish distance run at a steady pace with some speedy intervals within the steady pace.  For example, you might run 150m and then sprint for 50m, before slowing back down to your steady pace for 150m and then another 50m sprint.  Many people start by building one or two into their shorter runs and then build up the number of sprints that they do.  You might do this and then build up to sprinting 100m at a time, or you might see how may 50m sprints you can do within 1 mile.  The beauty of this is that you can work as many sprints into your run as you wish.

When running on the road, some people use lamp posts as their markers for sprinting to save having to calculate distance.  Find out what works best for you.

 

  1. Hill work.

Hill work is a good stamina builder.  It works the muscles differently compared to continually running on flatter surfaces.  I either plan a route out with lots of different gradient hills, or I find a decent hill and run up it as fast as I can, and use the run back down as my recovery.

Sometimes I reverse it and run down the hill as fast as I can and run back up the hill as my recovery.  It allows me to get used to ‘running with gravity’ so that I am not using my knees as brakes.

Either way – after a few good hill sessions you might find that, whilst your legs won’t thank you at first – your running will!

 

  1. Running Partners.

Many people prefer to go and run to their own rhythm, but occasionally going out with someone else for a run can freshen things up!  Some people (myself included) like to go for a run with a friend we haven’t seen for a while as we can get our exercise in and have a good chat and catch up at the same time.

Some people choose to go out with someone slightly faster, in order to give themselves a bit of a challenge.  I’ll often go out with people slower than me if they would like to build up their confidence with running, or want some company when the nights get darker – safety in numbers after all!

You don’t have to run with company all the time – but sometimes it can brighten up your day to do so!

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

******************************

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©2017 Kinetic Lifestyle/Vixx Thompson.  All rights reserved.

What I have seen whilst out running. Part 2.

As my running streak gets closer and closer to 700 days (currently at 664), and as the weather starts to turn, I thought I would share some more photos from places I have run in, and things that I have seen as I go along.

Here are my favourite photos from May:

From top – Edinburgh canal around Morningside.
Canal towpath (Bridgwater Way) running around the back of the Trafford Centre, Manchester.
Interesting tree I found on one of the lesser-used routes around the Clent Hills.
Afternoon sun further up the Clent Hills.
Selfie taken at Sale Water Park, Manchester.
Public Service Announcement – there should be more of these as the amount of owners who do not pick up after their dog seems to be increasing……

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What do you see when you are out and about (you don’t have to be running!)?

Have a great day 🙂

Vixx 😀

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Running a marathon. If I can do it – YOU can do it.

I get asked why I run marathons.  The general answer is “Because I can.”

Then, the questioner usually responds with one of the following:

“I can’t run for a bus!”
“I could never do what you do.”
“How do you find the time?”
“How do you keep going?”

But very occasionally, I hear:

“I wish I could do that.”

YOU CAN!

Over the next few blogs I will share how I got started with running and marathons.  At the time of writing I have completed 2 x 30 mile races, 25 marathons, 26 half marathons, numerous 10km and 5km races as well as 4 Thunder Run events as part of a team of 5.

I could only run for 30 seconds at a time when I started too!

Running has allowed me to meet some amazing people and see some beautiful places. Don’t miss out if this is something you have been wanting to try, but have been nervous about.  You CAN complete a marathon.  If I can do it, let me show you how you can get started.

I will be running the MK Marathon in Milton Keynes next May.  YOU can be there too if you want to come and achieve the goal of a lifetime with me.  Don’t forget, less than 2% of the population have ever completed a marathon – so come and be part of that figure!

Entries are open here: http://www.mkmarathon.com

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

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The Great North (Training) Run.

So, Sunday was the Great North Run.  I’ve been training with marathons in mind, and the choices were that I could either a) see what sort of time I was capable of over the shorter distance, or b) stay with the wife and use it as a “time on feet” exercise.

I opted for b).

In all reality that was probably not a bad idea.  We were both positioned in Pen J (I’ve steadily gone backwards each year), and we decided to stay in a hotel close to the start, and just go out later and head straight for the very very back of the Start area.  Which looks like this:

It’s approximately 1km from the back of the start line to actually starting the race, and it took 52 minutes!  People starting from here really need some good mental strength as it was all I could do not to lose the will to live!  If you count the walk to this point, then you have already done over a mile by the time you start.  There is nowhere really to rest and relax as the crowd are moving, albeit really slowly – and this was why I wanted to look more at time on feet.  Mentally you need to be strong to stay focused on the goals you are setting for yourself.  Look at why you are doing this, and what it has taken to get to this point – or in my case, looking at what I am training for in the long term.

The Great North Run course is deceptive.  Although it ends at sea level (the net downhill means that this course cannot be considered to be a World Record course), there are a lot of slow uphill slopes that can catch people out.  For me, these would be ideal as I prefer undulating courses.  There was room to run this time and we ran the first 2 miles and then the wife wanted to adopt a run-walk strategy (she’s been open-water swimming more than running this year).

I also wanted to use this race to try some strategies for future races.  My nutrition is what I would call a continuing work in progress (i.e. I haven’t yet found anything that works).  I usually do my long-ish runs on nothing more than coffee and a bottle of squash, but on race-day I prefer to at least try and fuel up.  However, I always seem to end up hungry!

I had a porridge pot this time as opposed to my usual flapjacks, which did go down easier (I find eating on race morning quite difficult), but before we’d even started I was hungry again.  I am beginning to find gels too much – I start to feel nauseous after 3 – so I opted for glucose tablets this year.  I am glad I had them as well as my bottle of Lucozade that I always carry.  I did have small amounts of gel as the wife was carrying some and I shared.  I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t like them, and so other options need to be explored.

It has been suggested that I look at not eating on the day of these events as I don’t eat before long runs, and just take fuel on board as I would in a run (usually just strong squash and the occasional jelly baby), but I am not certain that would work for longer distances over 20 miles and am concerned that I’d be going into the tail end of a marathon with insufficient fueling.

One thing I did notice during this race was that I didn’t drink enough – and that was a key issue that could have become more of a problem if I had not realised.  I always stop drinking about an hour before the race start time so that I am not continually needing the toilet beforehand.  However, it then took nearly another hour to start, and by the time I realised I needed a drink it had been 3hrs and I was feeling quite lethargic and a little bit fuzzy-headed.

A basic lesson.  I know it, and warn others of it.  My hatred of the fact that this race never has enough toilets before the start line (it has plenty on the approach but very few by the start pens – once you are in them you cannot get back out, and this year they made sure of that!) caused me to go too far the other way.  I’d used the ones just after the Start Line and was too dehydrated to need to go again – that is a bad sign, and this is what can cause problems for runners later in the race with regards to causing confusion, delirium and potentially collapsing.  Drinking too much can also cause issues – so for me, finding a balance is important.

The total mileage over the day was 17.55 miles with over 5hrs on my feet (pre- and post-race walking adds up!), and I did regular stretching after the race to prevent aching and stiffness the next day.  My post-race nutrition is the one thing I have actually got pretty well in hand.  I either have a chocolate milk or a mocha (this time was a nice hot Hazelnut Mocha), then over the rest of the evening I drink water with electrolytes and a small bottle of Coke.  I have a meal with plenty of protein and some carbohydrate, and a bath with some Epsom salts in.

The best part of the day was seeing Drag Elvis doing a live number between miles 11 and 12:
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Also, it was lucky for us all that the heavy rain that had been forecast did not happen until well after I had been given this:

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There’s still some work to do before this year’s goal race, but overall I am happy with how things went at this point.  Also, it was the 650th day of my Runstreak!

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀