I love numbers (The Story of the Bedford 20).

I’ll do the numbers first:

Yesterday’s 20 mile race took me over 200 miles for the year, and over 2000 miles for my runstreak.  I burned off 2299 calories, and when I weighed myself post race I had lost just over 2lbs in weight.  I weigh myself to ensure that whatever I have lost goes back on, as it is usually dehydration that causes it for me because I sweat a lot!

I went to Bedford to run Dirt Running’s inaugural Bedford 20 (http://bedford20.com/).  It sold out a few weeks ago, so I was glad that I entered when I did, having never done a 20 mile race before.  As I build back up to marathon distance, the 20 miler is the distance I hate doing alone, and have usually put it off as long as I can.  I have known of 20 mile races in previous years, but most have been too far away.  This one was within driving distance, so off I pootled down the motorway, trying to find my lost hour of sleep as I went.

I got there nice and early so sat in the car until nearer the civilised start time of 10am.  The only little niggle (which I have already been told will be rectified for next year) was that there weren’t enough portaloos at the start.  As ever, I was in the loo as the race started!  Of 1000 places, there were nearly 900 starters, which is great news for a first time running of this event!

It was a beautiful day to celebrate the start of British Summer Time, and the course easily matched it – part trail, part path, with the marina and other waterways surrounding us, with loads of friendly and supportive marshalls manning the water stations and the course.  Thank you to them for giving their time!

My plan was to run the first 10 and power walk the second 10 after some advice from a friend.  After 6 miles I started to feel giddy and faint again, as I did during my last race.  At 10 miles my stomach was rumbling.  I’ve been testing jelly babies as race fuel, and whilst they work, I have to be taking them in quicker than I would with gels to allow for the fact that they take longer to get into my system.  I will probably go back to gels IF I can find a flavour I like.  However, I feel that this issue could be being caused by dehydration.  After 5 miles, my shirt was completely soaked with sweat.  I do take fluids with me to drink, but it’s possible I am not drinking enough.  Somewhere around 13 miles it was all I could do to just put one foot in front of the other and eat jelly babies to get sugar into me (I did it on the move, not wanting to waste any time).  I did meet a chap who seemed to be suffering worse than I was, and we both agreed that this was the time to have a bad day, rather than at our planned ‘A’ race.  He did say that he might join us at Milton Keynes in the Half, so hopefully I’ll get to catch up then and hear how his ‘A’ race went.

The race was a lapped event, but worked very well as you got to see other runners on lots of different parts of the course, and even though I was in the last few finishers, I never once felt lonely, which can often happen as the field thins out during the race.  I’m just sorry that I didn’t get any photos of the course this time!

Overall, a great way to get a 20 mile training run done, with a generous time limit of 5hrs, and great support throughout.  I would highly recommend this race if training for a Spring marathon in future.

29063715_10160107958310153_3395889947954953486_o

There’s still time to join me at the Milton Keynes Marathon (or Half-Marathon) on May 7th, but spaces are now filling fast, so don’t miss out if you are considering coming along – although we’d love some more volunteers for marshalling spots and other important areas that allow us to take part in these events!  http://www.mkmarathon.co.uk for more info.

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

Follow me:
Twitter: @KineticL
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle
Instagram: KineticVixx
http://www.kinetic-lifestyle.com

Advertisements

The One With All The Mud

After my track adventures at Oulton Park, I wanted to do something else to keep my long distance efforts up and a friend had mentioned the Thames Meander Half-Marathon, organised by Hermes Running (www.hermesrunning.com).  I have friends who have previously done the full Marathon there, but was not aware until that point that there was a Half-Marathon going on at the same time.

After so long not doing marathons, I really feel that I need to build back up to this distance in the proper manner, so thought that adding another race into the plan may well help me prepare better, as well as testing out nutritional strategies ready for when I do get back to Full Marathon distance.  I don’t like driving around London and so managed to get train tickets at a reasonable price – but meaning a 4:45am crawl out of bed to be on a train out of Birmingham New Street by 6:30am.

I got to Clapham Junction to change for Kingston and was messaging my friend who was going to run with me – and we realised we were on the same train!  Soon, we were heading down to the YMCA where the Start/Finish was and I was wishing two things – one, that I had eaten more on the way down (I can never eat much on the day of a race but this might have been a new low for me), and two, that I had drunk more coffee!

The race was due to start at the very civilised time of 10:30am.  However, I was in the loo (as usual) when the race started a few minutes early!  My Garmin says I started at 10:29am – and everyone else had disappeared off into the distance as the Race Director was hurriedly telling me what the course was as I ran past him, across the mud and towards my friend who thought that she’d missed me leaving the loo (no, I just take THAT LONG!) but I caught up with her before stopping to take a picture of the locks 🙂
(“You’re stopping to take a picture?  But we haven’t even been going 5 minutes!”)

28959174_10160039213200153_3522933305202704384_n29026043_10160039213380153_8353988957276471296_n

I won’t lie – this was a tough one mentally for me.  I’d checked with a few friends about which shoes to wear for the event as the Thames Path can be any or all sorts of surfaces, and they had all said that road shoes would be suitable.  However, none of us had accounted for the sheer volume of mud that layered a good chunk of the route out towards Kew, where the route would turn around and head back toward Kingston for a loop before heading to the Finish Line.  It was all I could do to stay upright (I have the balance of a Weeble), but Helen kept me going.  I wanted to run a fair bit more of it than I managed, but the mud was beginning to give my knees and ankles all kinds of grief.  At one point I did wonder whether I should have bought flippers.  For the road I wear Hoka Vanquish, but I cannot wear these on surfaces that are too uneven due to the cushioning – my feet do not respond as quickly to the uneven ground as they do when wearing trail shoes.  I’ll know for next time!

29025471_10160039213745153_5852105490141544448_n

We got to half-way in a reasonable time (for me), took some water at the aid stations (all exceedingly well manned – thank you!) and turned around.  My right knee was really beginning to ache at the uneven parts of the path so I had to resort to walking a bit more than I was running and this was really mentally tough as I had wanted to do this well.  I was hungry (I will be doing a separate nutrition blog at some point), and was really beginning to feel that early start.  However, I thought I had passed somewhere that sold coffee on the way out to Kew, and as we returned through Twickenham, there it was….

29025396_10156223847223436_4014989643672977408_o

(photo: Helen C).

CAFFEINE!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (Why yes, that is also my Lucozade Energy bottle on the chair…..)

We got going again.  Mentally knowing that we were heading back was helping me and we pushed on.  This was a tough day out for me and one that I knew I had to buckle down and get a grip on – I had not come all this way to go home empty handed – and the medal is really nice!  There were many many times that I told Helen to go on ahead as I felt I was holding her up and spoiling her day, but she stayed with me the whole way, for which I am very grateful – THANK YOU!!!!  It’s the mental toughness that I need to build back up as well, and so this race was perfect for that!  We had to do a little loop around just after was passed the finish line as there was still a short distance to do – but isn’t it always the way that the very last mile takes us what is seemingly F O R E V E R? Still – we got it done:


The scenery is lovely along that route, and I do highly recommend that people have a look at this race (it’s run 3 times a year – Spring, Summer and Autumn) if they would like a nice well run event in South London.  I might consider the Summer one….

I am still preparing for the MK Marathon in Milton Keynes on May 7th (www.mkmarathon.com) .  There are still places in the Half and Full Marathons if anyone wishes to join me?  If you fancy something shorter, there is the Rocket 5km the day before, which I may also be taking part in.

Next race in the build up is the (now SOLD OUT) Bedford 20.  Hopefully I will be better prepared nutritionally!

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

Follow me:
Twitter: @KineticL
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle
Instagram: KineticVixx

Recovery.

I often get people asking me about post-race recovery, especially if they are just getting ready for their first Half or Full Marathon.  Training sessions and actually doing the event can be two different things as we often push much harder on the day of the event – even if we do spend the previous weeks building up the mileage, testing out energy drinks and foods, wearing clothes that test all weathers and deciding whether to use Vaseline or Body Glide!

Most people don’t really think about after the race at all unless it’s to think about what food or drink they will be consuming (don’t you tell me that you haven’t thought about that first post-race beverage, icy cold as it hits the back of your throat, or those hot salty chips that just taste so good!)

It’s only later that evening, when you go to get up out of bed and suddenly realise that your legs aren’t functioning the way that they used to, or a few choice words pop into your head as your feet cramp up – and you suddenly wonder what happened in those hours in-between being a finely honed athlete and now…..

Well, here are my tips (built up over 27 marathons) to help you avoid as much of this situation as possible – give it a read, especially if you are planning for a Spring Half or Full marathon, or if you wish to join me at the Milton Keynes Marathon Weekend (www.mkmarathon.com):

1. Don’t stop at the Finish line.
We may hate having to keep moving to get medals and water and our baggage, but it is actually helping us to cool down properly by doing it gradually rather than instantly, allowing our circulation and heart rate to go back to a normal level steadily.  It allows for the muscles to cool down at a steady pace too.  I often walk a steady mile or 2 (for steady read slooooooow) post-race to allow a good cool down.  I keep a spare pair of shoes in my kit bag (it tricks your feet into feeling fresher than they are), and a jumper/tracksuit bottoms to help keep my body temperature stable and not get too cold, too quickly.
I also intersperse it with:

2. Gentle stretching.
Not deep stretching, or prolonged stretching, but some gentle muscle stretches to keep the legs, lower back and neck/shoulders as loose as possible.  Between the end of the race and bed time I will have done at least 5 sets of gentle stretches.  The reason deeper stretching is not undertaken is to allow for any micro-tears in muscles that may have occurred during the race.  Deeper stretching at this point can potentially cause a small niggle to become much worse.

3. Fluids.
I personally do not drink alcohol (don’t like it), but there have been research studies done showing that the hops and ingredients used to make Real Ale can actually help aid recovery as they are quality carbohydrate.  Many people find that it’s a cheap date to have a beer post race, but one or two interspersed with water is OK.

Personally I have a 500ml milkshake ready (or a mocha) for post-race consumption, for the calcium, protein and carbohydrate.  Food at this point is too heavy for me so I avoid until later.

Over the few hours until bed time I aim to drink the following:
– A small amount (150-200mls) of cherry juice (good for muscle recovery). Beetroot juice works too!
– 1 litre minimum of water with electrolytes.
– 500ml Coca-Cola (to get calories in whilst I am waiting for my stomach to get back online) – you can pick any kind of calorific drink you wish here if you have similar issues.  I burn off approximately 4000 calories during a marathon (being a larger runner) and I know I will not get all of those calories back through food.

4. A nice warm bath!
Ease those aches and pains out (in-between gentle stretching) with a nice warm bath to soak in.  Not too hot, but comfortable to ease the muscles.  If there is anything aching after the bath I tend to get an ice pack onto it for 10-20 minutes and see how it goes.

5.  A good meal.
The meal after a Half- or Full Marathon is often the best tasting!  You have earned the right to have a little of something you really enjoy – you’ve earned it after all!  My post-race meal is usually a decent balance of protein and good fats with some carbohydrate in for energy and muscle recovery – think steak and chips, curry and rice, pizza and pasta (although I rarely want pasta as I have that the night before as I prepare for the race).

6. Rest, relaxation and reflection.
Enjoy your achievement, stick the medal photos on Facebook and rest.  You did it!

Do you agree with these or do you have a different method? Please comment!

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

Follow me:

Twitter: KineticL
Instagram: KineticVixx
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle.

Getting back to it. A half (marathon) of two halves…..

As part of my training for the Milton Keynes Marathon in May, I decided that maybe I needed to add a few races into my calendar, and an e-mail about the Oulton Park Half Marathon popped into my inbox the other week, offering me a reduced price entry as I am doing another race with that company soon.  It’s not far from home, easy to get to and the weather forecast for the day was deemed to be great for running (yes, I did check before I entered!) so off I went, armed with jelly babies, warm clothing and my #1 supporter (Her Ladyship).

The Oulton Park racetrack is a lovely place to run if I am honest.  I am not a fan of laps at all, preferring either 1 big lap, or point to point races.  However, my training has not been going particularly well and I figured that this would be a way of jump-starting me into action.  I’d either sink or swim, but at the end of it I would know more about where I was in terms of fitness.

This was a 6 lap race, and the weather did not disappoint – gloriously sunny, with a slight wind that added to the coolness of the 4°C temperature that saw me starting off with gloves, hat and long sleeved shirt.28378795_10159978639645153_3846287476986032303_n

Each lap was 2.18 miles, with the finishing straight down in the pit lane, and a water station just after the lap counter.  It was challenging in terms of three different inclines – one long and slow, one short and very steep, and one baby hill just as you came to the end of the lap.  The race started bang on time (a nice late start of 12:30pm as this event also has a 10km race earlier in the morning – another plus as I didn’t need to be up at the crack of dawn!) and my race strategy was to run how I felt, the main aim being to target 12 minute miles.

I haven’t run a half-marathon by myself since I got married as Her Ladyship quite likes a Half, so we have tended to do them together, and I run to her pace, so I was interested to see what I could do.  The first lap went by remarkably quickly (literally, as it was quicker than planned), but suddenly 4°C felt like 20!  I was roasting hot, so off came the gloves and hat and I tried to stuff them in my pockets.  I have a tendency to walk up hills and run the downs and the flats, so that was what I was doing, and it was helping manage my heart rate quite well.

At the second hill (the short, sharp shock) I could see Her Ladyship waiting by the trackside, so I stopped, gave her the gloves and hat, handed her the free gels I’d been given that I decided I didn’t want (will try later, so Thank You to the organisers) and took off the long sleeve shirt (I had a t-shirt on over the top) and promised the ladies standing by that there would be no stripping on the next lap!

Suddenly I realise that I am through 5 miles in 53:38.  Hmmm… that’s not 12 minute miling….  At 8 miles I stopped at one of the only 2 portaloos on course – and had to wait a couple of mins, so I had a quick stretch whilst waiting.  Funnily enough, the chap waiting as I left the portaloo had on the same t-shirt as I did – the Cool Cow Milton Keynes Marathon shirt!  How cool!

Got back on track (literally and figuratively!), stopped for some jelly babies and Coca-Cola from #1 supporter (who by this point was on her own as they’d removed everyone from trackside to behind the fencing) – and the next thing I know I’m through 10 miles! (1:57:08 – also not 12 minute miles….)

And that my friends, is where the wheels fell off the bus.

My total mileage for the race was 13.23 miles – and the last 3.23 took nearly as long as it took me to do the first 5 miles!  Mentally I think I started to wonder how I was going to keep up the previous pace, and although I was eating and drinking regularly, just after 10.3 miles I started to feel really sick and faint.  I know nutrition is an area I need to work on, and I am trying as many different strategies as possible, but most involve liquids as my stomach doesn’t really like food once I have started running.  Still, you live and learn…..

Then my tummy decided it wasn’t happy either.  “Tough,” I mentally told it – “we’re sticking this out.”  And we did.  I kept putting one foot in front of the other and it kept telling me to do it slowly or it would throw up some obstacles.  Or throw them out – I wasn’t sure.  I didn’t want to test it too much just in case.

The thing with lapped events is that you get company for the vast majority of the race.  At the start of the final lap I felt very much alone – and I was.  There were two people I could see in front of me, with a threesome further along.  When I got further around the course there were also 2 people behind me, so it was a case of grinding it out – each footstep bringing me home.  My knee started aching too with about a mile to go – and not the knee I have spent 2 years rehabbing either! (I do the rehab exercises on both knees to ensure that one does not get stronger than the other too.)  However, I did manage to run down the finishing straight and into the pits to get my medal, so that was OK!

I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed that race.  It was an extremely well-organised and well-run event (Thank You to the organisers and the Cadets that manned the water station!), but there had been something that was bothering me about it that I just couldn’t put my finger on until this morning.  Initially I thought it was the small number of participants, but until the last lap that wasn’t particularly an issue (and I am used to being in the latter part of the field anyway).

It was the silence.

No sound hardly around the course.  Very few people chatting to other runners – many had headphones in, which was allowed, due to it being a closed circuit – but very little in the way of spectators too.  There would be two or three people in various corners of the race track, but no cheering or noise that you would expect with nearly 1000 runners.  I guess each to their own, but if I do go back, I’ll take music!

I’m happy enough with completing the race – that’s usually my only aim.  I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t meet my 12 min/mile target in the end, but these things happen (and I am glad that vomity things didn’t!)

28167794_10159978639820153_8842337185685188121_n

Next race is at the end of March at the Bedford 20.

There are still places for the various races at the Milton Keynes Marathon Weekend if you want to join in – and anyone who wishes to volunteer for marshalling would also be gratefully appreciated!  Check out http://www.mkmarathon.com to find out more!

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

Follow me:
Twitter: @KineticL
Instagram: KineticVixx
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle

Why do YOU run?

I’m training now for my Spring marathons, the main target being the Milton Keynes Marathon in May.  My runstreak is still going strong, and I am slowly upping the mileage to allow my body to get used to the increase without putting myself at risk of injury.

Occasionally though, everyone’s motivation gets a bit low, so I wondered what gets YOU out the door for a run?

I’ve been reading various running blogs and books to help me.  Some are about events I doubt I’ll ever consider trying, such as running across America, (which can be read about in a few books, but I am currently reading Marshall Ulrich’s “Running on Empty”).  Don’t get me wrong – I would LOVE to run across that continent with a camera, but not all at once.

I spent last week keeping tabs on The Montane Spine race (https://thespinerace.com/route-description/) in awe at the performances that were being put in as people followed the 268 mile Pennine Way National Trail from Derbyshire into Scotland in some of the worst weather conditions you would want to run in.  At one point the race leaders were waist deep in snow!

When I get out to run, I like to find things to take pictures of, and I like to run in new places.  Last week I did get to run a couple of new routes – and I felt motivated and refreshed after running them, although I do need to remember to take water sometimes, as one route was cut short due to feeling quite dehydrated (don’t make that mistake if you can help it!), and ideally I wanted to extend the route out a bit further.

These are a few photos that I have taken in the last couple of weeks as I have run in different locations.

I like to run in different places, and I love to run in snowy conditions – although I am not sure I would want to run in waist deep snow….

So what motivates YOU to get out the door and go for a run?

Tell me below…..

Have a great day!

Vixx 😀

Follow me:
Twitter: @KineticL
Instagram: KineticVixx
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle

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 😀

Follow me:

Twitter: @KineticL
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle
Instagram: KineticVixx

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 😀

Follow me:
Twitter: @KineticL
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KineticLifestyle
Instagram: KineticVixx