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Saturday, 5 November 2011

Oh mojo, oh mojo where for art thou mojo?

Let's start with a quote, a particularly inspiring one I think:

"It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste." - Henry Ford

Keeping this quote in mind when trying to get back into running isn't a bad idea.

It can strike at any time, when you least expect it or when something specific has had a negative running effect. You've lost your running mojo and you need to get it back - fast!

The Long Slow Road Ahead
For many people reneging on their regular commitment to run or simply no longer finding enjoyment in running happens at some point during their running lifetime. Whether due to an out of kilter work- life balance, a pregnancy perhaps, maybe the cold winter months drove you back indoors or perhaps you suffered an injury - whatever the reason it absolutely is possible to get back into the running saddle if you want to.

For me, two things occurred that made me fall slightly out of love with running:-

1) I achieved my ten year ambition of running a marathon, and
2) I underachieved in a race I loved

There certainly is an argument to say that people can lose their direction, in any situation in life, once a significant goal or milestone is achieved. 
"Where do I go from here?" 
   "I've spent years preparing for this and now I've gone and done it, well done me, now what?"
In this circumstance, the only sensible thing to do it to set yourself another goal - a realistic one. Many people find it hard to get back into running after the rigorous training regime that a marathon demands and all that the actual race takes out of you. After all, what else can match the euphoria felt when you cross that first ever marathon finishing line? I know I struggled to find another goal. But the key here is to think laterally and logically. Set yourself a different kind of goal - perhaps try more new sports, try shorter faster races or aim to improve on your time for your next marathon.

Suffering a set-back in a race is also another common reason for your mojo to go walkabout. No-one likes to do badly and in my case I hit a rather nasty wall in my favourite annual race that really dented my confidence. So much so that I convinced myself that I would almost certainly have to walk in the next race, despite before my setback never having walked in any race, not even the marathon.

Again, the best thing to do here is simply to get back on it. Start small - this way you will be able to achieve and build your confidence back up again.  Enter little races or just aim to run around the block twice before work for example. Set that alarm, step into your trainers and off you go - don't think about it, just do it.  This way as soon as you reach a goal, no matter how small, you will feel positive about yourself rather than negative. And that's all it takes.  Once you're back in the regular running routine and achieving goals, even little ones, your mojo, inspiration and drive will return. The negative feeling that comes with not running and not even trying far outweighs the feeling of perhaps falling a little short of a particular target, at least by taking part you've given it a go.

My top ten tips for getting back into running:-
  1. Visualise success, your mojo is glass half full kind of thing
  2. Do whatever it takes to motivate you, this might be buying some new running gear, getting new trainers, rewarding yourself with a treat (a healthy one of course) when you reach a goal
  3. Set small achievable goals that will boost your confidence. e.g., run 2 miles before work
  4. Erase any previous personal bests from your memory (and your running watch) - this is really important as you are now a different you and you may well supercede previous goals
  5. Chuck out the rubbish food in your house - healthy eating makes you feel better, fact. You need to be nourished to run well, wrong fuel in your body is not going to inspire your mojo
  6. Get a running partner or join a local club, this way your will be less likely to talk yourself out of a run
  7. Post on your Facebook and Twitter pages that you are off for a run (bearing safety and security in mind of course), making a public commitment means you are more likely to stick to your plan
  8. Choose a running location that inspires and motivates you - you're much less likely to go out and run if you don't like where you are running
  9. Don't dwell on it - just know that you are going running and get out there
  10. ENJOY IT!
Take a look at these other resources for getting back into running:-

Monday, 14 March 2011

Ironbridge Half Marathon 2011 Race Report

I survived!

It's probably not a surprise to you that I survived this race but believe me it is a surprise to me! 

Last year I ran a marathon. The marathon I ran was easier than this race. Honestly.

Still in one piece at the finish line

As a World Heritage Site, Ironbridge Gorge takes my breath away at the best of times with it's stunning beauty. Both times I have run this race I have been lucky enough to be bathed in sunshine which makes the valley all the more gorgeous to run through. However, in their wisdom, race organisers Telford Harriers, had reversed the course this year.

This change in direction made for a few surprised runners, despite the warning about the 'short, sharp hill at mile 8' delivered a few moments before the starting gun.  Naturally the race details were featured on the race website prior to the race - I wonder how many other others, like myself, didn't look at this because they thought they knew the course.

Starting from Town Park in Telford, with parents standing on the side lines ready to cheer me on and pick me up at the end, I was excited about the race. It had been by far my favourite race of the season in 2010 so I was looking forward to it very much. A 10:30am start is good for me - time for my porridge and honey to settle and for my brain to get in gear for the challenge ahead.  Not in gear enough it seemed.

I knew that the previous year I was 'marathon fit' so was expecting a bit more of a challenge as general training hadn't been as intense in the run up to this half marathon. However, I wasn't expecting to have to resort to WALKING in the race. WALKING! My worst fear - never had this been known previously in the Ashwell race repertoire. I have a few half marathons under my belt, a handful of 10Ks, even a 5K or two and a marathon. In none of these had I ever walked.

Disaster struck at mile 8 when faced with the 'short sharp hill', I may as well have been faced with a 50ft wall. I had to walk up it as my legs simply wouldn't run. Gutted. It was hard work even to walk up it as my legs were feeling quite tired by this stage. To make matters worse I wasn't sure if this was the hill that was referred to - as I hadn't seen a single mile marker. So there could be worse ahead!

There wasn't, luckily, however there were several smaller challenges ahead that seemed a lot harder than normal as the burn in my quads still hadn't dissipated from 'the hill'. I used to run the coastal path all the time and used to sprint up hills like a gazelle - more work required in this area evidently. Moreover, I was wearing newish trainers and the burn was starting to set in, there was no telling the state of my blisters. Eddie Izzard, Eddie Izzard became my mantra.

The rest of the course was tough but retrospectively enjoyable. At times I wanted to hide under one of the bushes in the park and cry. Not an option. The worst part for me was the shock of the hill and the mental disappointment of being forced to walk up it and then the not knowing how many miles were left to go. The only mile marker I saw was at mile 11 - which was a great relief I might add.

The last mini killer hill at 400 metres was a tester, but I pushed through this (it is on our regular running route with Wrekin Road Runners) knowing my family and friends were just around the corner and then we could go for a well deserved Sunday Roast. At this point I didn't even have the energy to look at my watch so the timing slip I received at the end advising me I was only 13 minutes slower than the previous year was somewhat of a surprise. All things considered.

Well done to everyone who finished and thanks to everyone who sponsored me for Hope House Children's Hospices.

Would I run it again? You betcha :-)

Do I still have blisters? Big ones :-(

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Hope House Half Marathon March 13th 2011

It's been almost a year since I last donned my trainers for charity and this time I am raising money for Hope House Children's Hospices by running 13.1 miles in the Ironbridge Half Marathon.  I have read in the past in Runner's World magazine that the Ironbridge half is one of the UK's hardest halfs :-)  Having run it last year when I was 'marathon fit' was one thing, having drastically cut back on the training since then all I can say is that I am dreading all of those hills and that I am really quite scared!

Hope House is a wonderful charity, based near to my office, that cares for over 320 terminally children and also supports their families in preparing for and dealing with the loss of a child.  Something that many of us cannot even begin to comprehend.

As a company we are aiming to raise as much money as possible for the charity by doing things like the following:-

It costs £4 million per annum to run Hope House, almost all of which comes from donations, therefore if you are able to help in any way whatsoever this would be fantastic.

Please visit my sponsorship page if you are able to help.

Thank you


Sunday, 25 April 2010

Once in a lifetime marathon experience?

On several occasions since crossing the much longed for finish line at the end of the Stratford Marathon I have overheard myself desperately bleating ‘never again’ to various congratulatory comments coming my way.

I’m not sure whether this is a firm decision as yet or just a plea to my well wishers to remind me next time I consider entering a marathon of the aftermath that ensued (not to mention the 2 months of tee-totalism beforehand!).

Running a marathon for the first time genuinely is a full-on assault to the body and mind. Fact.  If you are like me and have in your head the whole way round ‘must not walk, must not walk, must not walk’, it is even worse for the following 3 days as your legs constantly remind you that stairs, seats (particularly toilet seats!) and car seats are a huge no-no.  Certainly things dropped on the floor accidentally will need to stay there for a while or be cunningly lassoed with some implement.  Not to mention the disruption that the onslaught of a marathon does to your digestive system. After days of odd eating habits, nerves and various concoctions of pills it is no wonder that my poor tummy had trouble dealing with a nice sea bass with fennel, pak choi and crushed potatoes at the post marathon spa hotel in Stratford I’d booked to attempt to recover. It’s a serious first for me not to be in a position to even consider the sweet menu let alone have a go at one.

The Shakespeare Marathon is a very decent course. Obviously Stratford upon Avon town is stunning and it isn’t long before you are plodding around the greenery of the surrounding countryside. On this particular day it was very hot and sunny which possibly caught a few people out, especially on the 6 mile straight of the dusty Straford Greenway. Pretty soul destroying on the second lap when many of the spectators have disappeared for a coffee and a cake to ease the pain of their clapping hands.

The organisation of the race was good, with loads of friendly marshalls and pretty good water stations including sponges which on this hot day was soooo appreciated.  As were the kiddies in the street getting us with Super Soakers! The offer of Jelly Babies en route from local residents was also a soul lifter and saved me from running out of my stash of M&S Percy Pigs J

The hill in the middle was a bit of a killer for some, but as long as you’ve included some hill training in your regime then it’s really nothing to panic about, just enjoy the downward run if your knees will allow.

Take some relatives and friends along to surprise you en-route which spurs you on (or nearly makes you fall over in my case), and to pick you up at the end if you feel like collapsing, which my parents told me many runners did.

The medal upon completion of the 26.2 miles is a good one and will have pride of place amongst my other medals for as long as it takes me to forget the 4 months training regime required beforehand and the 3 days of pain afterwards.

Very pleased with 4hr 26mins for my first ever marathon – just wish I hadn’t had to queue for a porta loo at mile 3 then it may even have been a little quicker.

Only complaint…the 4.30am start to get there.

Congratulations to all runners who completed the Stratford Half and Full Marathons and also the Virgin London Marathon which was also on the same day J

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Mighty Marathon Miles are upon Me

Well here it is, the night I have been dreading for 4 whole months...the night before my very first marathon. I feel more tired and thirsty than I've ever felt and haven't even got to the start line yet.

My Virgin Money Giving Macmillan sponsorship target has been reached thanks so many wonderful and generous friends and family. Thank you all for having enough faith in me to do this, your support will be foremost in my mind tomorrow morning when I'm finally taking part.

A marathon seems like such a daunting feat to most people but I'm hoping that it is one of those things that I will be able to do again. I've wanted to complete a marathon for almost 10 years now so I'm definitely going to make the most of tomorrow and enjoy it as much as I can. Whatever the outcome.

I'm expecting pain and exhaustion of course but I can only imagine what it must feel like to cross the finishing line of a marathon! Hopefully this time tomorrow I will know :-)

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeea Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Marathon training becoming marathon reality


I’ve done 5Ks, 10Ks, 7 milers, 9 milers, half marathons, 20 milers plus a boot camp weekend. I’ve run with water without water, with carbohydrates and electrolytes, with Percy Pigs without Jelly babies, with a water bottle and with a Fuel Belt instead. Run in three different pairs of trainers and umpteen combinations of outfits. Tried myriad pre, during and post training foodstuffs. I’ve run with little sleep and lots of sleep the night before, with paracetamol, ibuprofen and Immodium. I’ve run in sunshine, rain, snow, frost, wind and hail.

All of this I am hoping has given me enough Marathon Mentality (in more ways than one) to complete my very first marathon this coming Sunday 25th April, the Shakespeare Marathon.

The next big challenge is going to be getting myself to the start line for 09:30, some 60 miles away from home, and fitting all of my pre-raceday knowledge into a different time frame. As I’ve mentioned before I’m really not a very good morning runner as my body hasn’t had chance to absorb enough nutrients or  liquids. I’m nervous about not having my own loo on hand. Plus the number of competitors is a lot more than I have experienced to date.

I’m running for Macmillan and so far my fundraising is going well but I am still yet to meet my target, fingers crossed I make it.

In addition, and old ankle/ foot injury has come back to haunt me and I have a niggly cough just one week shy of the marathon, nooooooo!

All of this let alone the logistics of getting two sets of parents to the venue as well!

Remind me again whose idea this was…

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Virgin Balloon Flights Charity Auction

If you’ve ever fancied your chances as an airborne adventurer hot air balloon stylee then now is your chance.

Virgin Balloon Flights have generously donated a pair of their 7 Day Anytime Plus hot air balloon flight tickets for auction on eBay to support my charity marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support.

These tickets are valid for a year, can be booked to fly from over 100 launch sites throughout the UK and can be used weekday, weekend, sunrise or sunset so you can pick the best time and place to fly for you or your gift recipient.

Normally these tickets would sell for £396 so get your skates on, or should I say trainers, and get bidding to grab yourself a bargain for a really worthwhile cause.

All of the proceeds go to the charity and you will be helping me reach my £1,000 goal that I’ve pledged to try to raise for Macmillan.

Happy bidding!