I’ve got my mojo back!

26 Apr

 

I’ve got my mojo back! The chiro has been fantastic and I am feeling much stronger already. The core work she gave me to do has really help and I have been given a really great programme at my gym to start focusing me on strengthening my glutes, hamstrings and core. I am also working more on my upper body as this is often neglected by runners but still just as important. For me it is also partly a vanity thing, I have never liked my arms so the exercises I have been doing will hopefully start making a difference.

Running really is a science, and I don’t think I have really appreciated how much before my Chiro started to give me exercises to improve my posture and core. I can honestly say i have already felt the difference with my running, especially hill running.

You might not think runners are the most likely athletes to be in the gym hitting the weights, many top Olympian runners strength train on a regular basis as part of their training. In conjunction with building strength through weights, building your core has endless benefits to your form. A strong core allows you to relax your legs and balance with ease. If you’re looking to increase speed, a strong core is important.A strong core also improves balance and coordination on unlevelled terrain.
Here are some recommended strength training and core exercises you can try:
1. Step-ups
Step-ups work the legs in a manner similar to running, making them a good strength exercise for runners. 
Stand in front of a weight bench, box or other stable platform. Step one foot on to the top of the platform and then use that leg to quickly lift the rest of your body up. Step back down to the ground and then repeat for six to eight reps. Do two to three sets on each leg.
2. The Bridge Exercise
This exercise strengthens your core and helps add stability to your pelvis so that it can maintain holding a level position.
Lie flat on the floor head facing the ceiling and fix your eyes on one spot on the ceiling. Now lift your bottom and back and hold yourself up with your legs. Try and hold the position for 10-30 seconds and try 2/3 times.
3. The Leg lift
Try this using a ball or a chair (a ball will give the opportunity to also work on your balance, finding your core and maintaining balance through your core.) By practicing this exercise, you will strengthen your lower abs and core, which will support the leveling of your pelvis during all levels of your running.

So start by sitting square with fit shoulder width apart and lift your leg straight out and hold for 30 seconds, try this twice on each leg.
You can also try lifting your leg with your knee bent.
 

 

I’m Broken

5 Apr

It’s been a while! …I have been running, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. I ran for sport relief and have done some long runs most weekends but I have been suffering since I upped my mileage this year. I have ignored the pain but it has become worse. My friends have been telling me to go and see a professional but i have just shrugged it off with the theory, the pains not killing me.

It was actually my horse, (Looby Lou) who I had the fall on last year, who prompted me to go and seek a professional to help with the pain. I have increased my riding a lot this year, and have really taken a positive step forward with Looby since I have been much stronger from my fall. However she has been showing signs of pain and discomfort in her one side. I therefore immediately called out my equine Chiropractor. Looby has since been much happier and forward going. So perhaps it was time I sorted myself out too.

I have seen so many Physio’s and chiro’s and any other therapist that could have helped, but thought I’d ask around for a reccomendation. My very close running pal recommend the Chiro that i went to see and she was fanatastic. She demonstrated passion for what she was doing, expertise and she managed to give me a real confidence that she could really help me. She said I should’t just accept my pain as the norm.

Our bodies are so important to us, and I have completely neglected mine. My legs take me so far everyday, and I am feeling so guilty for not looking after it properly and seeking a professional before now. Luckily no irreparable damage has been done, but lesson has been learnt.

So appointment was just a few days ago, and i am currently feeling like I have been hit by a lorry. I was told to rest for a few days which has not been easy in the slightest. I admistteldy went to a spinning class this mroning, which was fantastic and a great work out but painful, very very painful. I just feel sore.

The chiro has also alluded me to my core, which she did say was very strong. I am so shocked at how dissapointing working the core actually is! No fireworks there.

Looking forward to next weeks appitment and being on the mend and getting some real mielage in and starting to achieve my run for 2012 challenge. I am so behind.

I have entered a Half Marathon in June and been deliberating one for April (we are already in April!!) targets to work towards anyway.

285,77 miles run to date (very behind my target… a lot of miles to make up)

1,726 miles left to run.

What to Wear

9 Feb

If you haven’t already noticed, its pretty cold outside… and it doesn’t look as if things are set to change anytime soon, with temperatures not reaching much over a few degrees. So the current temperature does not make outside activities very enjoyable or enticing, but I refuse to run on a treadmill for much longer than 10 minutes, as that was never why I started to enjoy running, it was the opportunity of being outside in the fresh air and seeing new places. So in order to get me out of that door I need to know I am going to be warm and comfortable.

But after trailing so many different clothes and sometimes being warm, sometimes becoming too warm and sometimes being uncomfortable for all the layers, I thought some much needed advice would help us all try and get it right. I find I have to tailor my clothing according to the length of run I am going to do too, so its important to know how long you are going to be outside for and what sort of exertion you are going for; is it a long slow run, or is it a fast quick run?

For some, this weather may seem as if running outdoors is completely off-limits, but if you wear the right clothing there is no reason running outdoors can’t still be fun.
Here are tips on what I have learnt along the way and what I chose to wear on my short 4.5 mile run last night as part of my 2012 miles for 2012.

Head and Neck

When its cold we can lose up to 40% of our body heat from our heads, which is why you will never see me running in Winter without a headband usually fleece or wool. Last night I wore a Fat Face Cable Head Band in Grey Marl £12.99. I also wear this in the day, it’s a good headband as its wide, and gives your head a good covering.

Most opt for hats in winter but a thick wool/ fleecy headband is much easier and manageable for those with a long pony tail like mine! A fleece or wool band/ hat is perfect for keeping your head warm during winter runs, and you can easily tuck it into your bottoms/ pocket if you feel like you’re starting to overheat, feels unlikely in this weather, but you would be surprised. I find its also a good way of keeping my ears warm too.

 

 

Chapstick/VaselineProtect your lips from chapping with some Chapstick or Vaseline. You can also use the Vaseline on your nose and cheeks (or anywhere else on your face) to prevent windburn and chapping. I apply this before I go out.

Upper Body

The key to winter running dressing, especially with your upper body, is layering. Not only do layers trap body heat, they also allow sweat to move through the layers of your clothing. The moisture is wicked away from your first layer to your outer layers, and then evaporates.

Here’s how you can layer your upper body:

Wicking Base LayerThe layer closest to your body should be made from a synthetic wicking material, such as DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, polypropolene, or silk. This will wick the sweat away from your body, keeping you dry and warm. There is nothing worse than cotton for this layer because once it gets wet, you’ll stay wet. When it’s above 40 degrees F, you can usually wear just a long-sleeve base layer.

I chose to opt for my my Sweaty BettyBurn Up Thermal L/S Top £65.00

 

This is a long-sleeved thermal running top in insulating brushed-back fabric with breathable under arm mesh panels, ergonomic cuffs with thumb holes and innovative reflective seams to keep you seen on the move. High neck with contrast half zip. This is a fantastic top which guarantees to keep you warm in the winter, and it takes me through to early spring worn on its own. It also benefits thumb holes if you didn’t want to wear gloves, or if you wanted to ensure your arms were fully covered.

Insulating Layer: Your second or middle layer, which is needed for very cold weather (below 10 degrees F), should be an insulating material, such as fleece. This layer must continue wicking moisture away from the skin. It should have the perfect balance of trapping some air to keep your warm, yet release enough vapor or heat to avoid overheating. Some fabrics suggested for your second layer: Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece and Thermax.

 

So for my insulating/ middle layer I chose to wear my Sweaty Betty Protector Gilet £55.00

It’s a very lightweight, shower resistant gilet that stows away in its back pocket. Reflective detail at the neckline, elastic binding at hem and shoulder cuffs. Ideal for transitional weather and so light you should take it on all runs. This isn’t fleece, but is an extra layer  and traps the warmth of my body. This is another great design by Sweaty Betty who always guarantee to make your running clothing fun and quirky, keeping you looking stylish whilst pounding the pavements. This is another great edition to my running wardrobe as it will easily take me through to spring and some cooler summer evening runs. I think this is a reasonable price too for the amount of wear you could get out of this gilet.

Wind- and Water-proof Outer Layer: This layer should protect you against wind and moisture (rain, sleet, snow), but at the same time allow both heat and moisture to escape to prevent both overheating and chilling. It’s a good idea to wear a jacket with a zipper for this layer, so that you can regulate your temperature by zipping it up and down. Suggested outer layers: ClimaFit, Gore-Tex, Microsuplex, nylon, Supplex, and Windstopper. If it’s between 10 and 40 degrees F, you can usually get away with a wicking base layer and an outer layer.
So as my outer layer I chose to wear my trusty Sweaty Betty Protector Jacket £65.00.

This jacket is one of my favourite jackets. I am prone to wearing black, which in the dark isn’t always safe and I can’t always be seen but this jacket has some great reflective feature fastenings whilst also allowing me to still wear my favourite colour… black! It’s very lightweight, and shower resistant, that stows away in its own back pocket. It boasts pleated detailing at the neck line and elastic binding at hem & sleeve cuffs so doesn’t let too much wind in. This jacket is so light you can take it on almost all runs. I don’t like to wear jackets that are too thick, and Sweaty betty do some fantastic light weight jackets like this Protector jacket and once again I think you’d agree its a reasonable price and wont break the bank for a funky, cool and comfortable running jacket, that you could also wear too and from the gym.

Gloves/Mittens: You can lose as much as 30% of your body heat through your extremities, so it’s important to cover your hands. On cold days, wear gloves that wick away moisture. When it’s extremely cold, mittens are a better choice because your fingers will share their body heat.

I adore my North Face running gloves, sad isn’t it! …but I have now had these for two whole winters. My husband bought them for me as a christmas present, and they have been one of the best pair of running gloves I have ever had.

You can still work your smart phone, MP3 player with warm fingers in these gloves. The stretch knit shell is ideal for three season wear. They can also be used for a number of other outdoor activities and I have also used mine for horse riding.

Below: The North Face Etip Glove – Large TNF Black, Running Gloves

Lower Body

Tights/Running Bottoms: Your legs generate a lot of heat so you don’t need as many layers on your lower body. You can usually wear just a pair of tights or running pants made of synthetic material such as Thermion, Thinsulate, Thermax, Coolmax, polypropolene, and/or silk. If it’s below 10 degrees F (temperature or wind chill), you may want to consider two layers on your lower body: a wicking layer of tights, and a wind-proof layer such as track pants.

I normally stick to longies in the winter, and look forward to spring when I can get my 3/4 bottoms back out. I reccomend these DoRunning bottoms £29.99, which kept me warm last night. The only problem I have found with them is that I am 5’9 and I find they are not that long on the leg, but this isn’t really a problem in winter as I always wear long socks, or compressions socks

Shoes: Your feet stay pretty warm whatever the weather, as long as you keep them moving and dry. Try to avoid puddles, slush, and snow. Look for a running shoe with as little mesh as possible, as that is where the water will seep through to your feet. Or, if you can’t avoid running in the snow, you may want to think about buying trail running shoes, which are ‘nearly’ water-proof and will give you a little more traction in the snow. You may also want to try YakTrax Ice Grippers or Ice Spikes, which slip right over your running shoes for added traction.

I am well overdue a new pair of trainers and trying to seize the opportunity to get fitted up at my local running shop RunAround Sports. I have run past the window a few times and seen some fantastic new styles on display just like these Adidas Supernova Glide 3  You wouldn’t be missed in these!

I over pronate so need something supportive, often restricting my choice of styles, but my running store is always on hand to try and find me something I like. I strongly recommend you have your gait analysed before purchasing a pair of trainers if you are thinking of putting in the miles. Most running stores offer this service for free.

Here is a useful article from Runner’s World who produced a Spring 2011 running shoes guide to find the best running shoe for you.

Socks: Never wear cotton socks (in cold or warm weather) when running because they won’t wick away the moisture, leaving your feet wet and prone to blisters. Instead, be sure to wear a good pair of wicking socks made of fabrics such as acrylic, CoolMax, or wool (in the winter). Or wear compression socks, which is what I wore last night as I have really been suffering lately from Lactic Acid which can at times be crippling.

Nike elite Compression socks £11.99

I was such a sceptic when my local running store, Runaround Sports introduced these socks to me, after complaining of lactic acid but I can not tell you what a difference these socks have made. I would now never run a half marathon or long distance run without them again.

So now you have no excuses and will be all set to brave the cold and get out there. I will be doing it all over again over the next few days and making sure I wrap up warm with all the essential gear, for maximum performance but more importantly maximum comfort. If you are prepared and have the right gear then theres no excuse!

Do you have any tips on what to wear in the cold?

To date I have run 126 miles (mainly in the cold!), 1,886 miles left to run. I’m behind on my target for 35 plus miles a week.

Never judge a book by its cover

23 Jan

Why do people run? … lose weight, a personal challenge, get fit, raise money for charity? …I started running to lose weight. I love food so much, too much in fact that I knew I had to do something about it or one day I would require a crane to lift me off the sofa. Seriously, food is always on my mind! … So running rescued me a few years ago and I have never looked back until last year when I had my horse riding accident and was not only unable to run, but exercise altogether. I felt so revolting and hated myself. I ran everyday in 2010 up until my wedding, I didn’t give myself a day off at all, I never allowed myself to make an excuse and just kept thinking about how i would feel on my wedding day. I haven’t managed to keep this commitment up though, I suppose life got in the way and I had a husband who didn’t really appreciate his wife running here there and everywhere at any available opportunity! I kept on running though and entered races to ensure I had goals, but last year I was unable to run the Great South and Great North amongst others because of my riding accident. I felt like such a failure last year for having to defer or pull out of all the races I had booked onto at the beginning of the year, and whilst trying to recover and rest I just felt lazy and restless and I really wondered quite how I ever lived without running and whether I would ever get back to where I was.

Running has brought more to my life than just weight loss though, it has given me confidence and a real sense of achievement. I don’t always feel like going for a run, I can’t say every day I am bouncing about and raring to go, but once I’m outside and running I realise ‘why I run.’ Running gives you such a sense of freedom and an opportunity to put the world to rights. I have some of my best ideas whilst running, I make plans, think about the next day or the day I have just had. It helps puts things into perspective.

It’s surprising how many people you see running… I always wonder whether because I run I notice them more and maybe wouldn’t have before, or is it more popular now? I think everyone should try it, so many people say to me ‘i am not a runner, I’m not built for it’ but how do you know unless you try. You would be so suprised at all the shapes and sizes at races, and one thing that running has taught me is to never judge a book by its cover.

93 miles run so far…1,919 left.

Sleeping

18 Jan

Oh dear!… haven’t posted for over a week, last week I spent the majority of my time in bed sleeping/ recovering! Exhausted doesn’t even justify quite how tired I felt, I even found myself googling ‘can’t stop sleeping, what is wrong with me’.

So, by day 8 I had completed 44 miles. Well on the way to meeting my target… however destroyed all that hard work by spending it sleeping last week. To date though I have completed 67.5 miles, 1,944.5 miles left.

I aim to get back on track now though, sometimes life gets in the way and some days are much tougher than other, but you just have to keep going/ just give yourself a day off and promise to go out again the next day. I think the trouble with this challenge I have set myself is, that I have calculated I have to do a minimum of 35 miles per week in order to complete the entire 2012 miles or face having to cram a high number of miles to do towards the end of the year.

Last sunday an old running buddy whom i nickname ‘sat nav’ as she is amazing at mapping out routes and always knowing where we are whether she’s been there before or not. I’ve been known to take my friends on accidental half marathon runs by taking too many wrong turns and running in completely opposite directions to where we had parked our cars.

Anyway, ‘Sat nav‘ is back after a long injury she has been suffering with her knee, finally diagnosed as ligament damage which she is facing key hole surgery for. She wants to try to keep up her fitness levels though before the surgery so she can recover guilt free and then get back to it without too much trouble afterwards. Was so good to have her back running alongside me on sunday. A 10 miles run felt like 1 mile, we just put the world to rights and manage to completely forget we are running.

We have another Sunday run planned, hopefully she can push it and we can go a bit further and i can get some extra miles in and make up for last weeks sleeping marathon!

Day of Rest

6 Jan

I won’t be running today, I have decided today will be a day of rest! Is that allowed? …Today my legs feel tired, and my injury starts to niggle when I don’t have a rest. Last night I took a friend to along to a local running club, not my official running club, sorry Droitwich Athletic Club! …it was merely a convenience thing, my friend is pretty new to running and I know we don’t run a beginner group on a Thursday anymore, which is a shame as that is just how I started – running twice a week; every Tuesday and Thursday in a beginner group. The club we went along to last night is more local to where we both live and its a big club, so I knew there would be a lot of options that we could chose in terms of speed and distance. However sometimes bigger isn’t always better… it was hard to know who was who, where to go and who was running where and at what pace. It wasn’t the most organised event I have attended.

Last night was a disappointment. We went out with a slowish steady group who said we would run for 3 to 3.5miles, (I planned to add on some at the end and run home.) The run was led by an oldish gentleman and the rest of the group were ladies…. but no one spoke, the occasional ‘car’ or ‘left’ was panted, but that was about it. A real shame, running is such a sociable sport, and I think it should be shared by others, among others and talked about with each other. There are some real benefits of group running, especially in the dark! And there aren’t many sports that you can partake in, and have a good old natter, putting the world to rights, talk about what you did at the weekend or just have a general off load on what a bad day you have had! I have met some really fascinating people during races, some who I have even met again and again at other races. I took my friend along last night to a club so she could experience and get an idea of what club running is like and get her into the whole ‘running’ spirit of things and so she could get that feeling of being a part of something with other, which I think a lot of what club running is all about…. But I’m really disappointed to say, I think it put her off running in a club! I was greeted outside by such a friendly gentleman, the club secretary and I thought to myself, how friendly and welcoming he had been (this was before she had arrived though!) and after that it was everyone huddling together shouting out distances and speeds. After that it was very confusing, everyone trying to find which group they would join. I can’t help but wonder how many might realise half way round that they are with the elite group running 7.5 minute miles on a 9 miler, who had planned to go out for a leisurely jog!

Anyway we chose our group, who took us on a route was through numerous cul-de-sacs and housing estates, very samey and very boring, very flat and not at all challenging. The run was over in exactly 33 minutes and we had only covered 2.5 miles an exact recording thanks to my Garmin 405CX … so that wasn’t really what I had in mind as an introduction for my friend and she was disappointed. So we stayed out and ran our own route. I incorporated a very cruel hill or two for her! But that also included some nice ‘downies’ to recover too! … we ran for a further 40 minutes, and we both felt like we had been running second time round.

Maybe I should set up my own club!

My friend offered me a lift home but I thought I’d run home, 4.5 miles later and 8.5 miles totalled. That’s now 34 miles in total. 1,978 miles left to do…. I reckon at this rate I’ll be done by the summer!

I found last night through Twitter there are others out there too!! … Running 2012 miles, recruiting people to join and raise money for charity. I tweeted back, waiting to hear back.

Planning a long one at the weekend and looking forward to it, just hope the wind and rain stay away.

British Winter

4 Jan

Day 4, and it was not an enjoyable run. Weather has never been a problem for me, I run whether it is snowing or scorching…tonight was most certainly a British winter evening to say the least, strong winds and rain… I put my earphones in though and send my mind somewhere else, I often pretend I’m running along in the summer or take myself to a time when i have been running on holiday. Tonight was difficult, I ate my supper before I ran tonight, I have never done that before and will never be doing that again. I had a terrible feeling I was going to be sick for the entire run, felt really heavy and had no energy (something that’s quite useful whilst running)

So Lesson 1. Do not eat before a run, or wait at least an hour before you do.

I also made a grave mistake in my music choice tonight. Music really affects the way in which I run and I know I’m not alone when I say this, if its fast I feel more energetic and seem to be able to run quicker, but if its slow I seem to lack motivation and my run is more of a steady jog.  I need to update my running tunes, and master my Itunes account, I have so many albums that I don’t listen to and so many I should be listening to! I find it motivates me too, I get excited to listen to new uploaded albums. So anyway, tonight my album choice was Annie Mac presents 2011. An AMAZING album, highly recommended, but not for an upbeat running tempo album. Her last album; Annie Mac presents 2010 is one of my favourite running albums… so expected the same for 2011 but it just doesn’t work when trying to increase speed.

So Lesson 2. Do not listen to Annie Mac presents 2011 whilst running.

Tonight was also one of the shortest runs I have done in a while, just 4 miles, but I live by the rule that something is better than nothing. 23.5 miles to date, 1988.5 miles to go. I wonder what I will do if I complete the 1988.5 miles before the end of 2012?!