No ordinary Tuesday

Running for the last two years has been ad hoc, fun and event free. Apart from an injury in spring this year, there was really nothing to write home about with regards to my running. Hence the blog silence.

No problem there then, well you’d think. But, I’m not one to plateau, I like the feeling of achieving more than I thought I could, improving technique or pace, generally bettering myself. I run regularly, weekly,with a group of like minded people through some stunning locations and have maintained a level of fitness. I think right there I have the answer to my running rut – the word maintained. I’ve definitely hit a crossroads in my running. Do I stay on the usual path or take myself on the road less travelled? Today has been the light bulb moment that I’ve been expecting for some time. Why today, who knows?

My love of running came from the initial challenges I set myself. From a post baby body where a mile was a hard slog, to my first 5K with two friends within my village, right through to my marathon and some awesome trail challenges that I’ve been on. All of these segments within my run history have been significant in that they challenged me. I had a training plan, I had a goal, I had a reason to get out there.

Today’s run was hard, I felt unfit and kept thinking “where did my fitness go”. My answer lies in the challenges I haven’t set myself, the events I haven’t trained for and the mundane maintenance I’ve let my body get used to. A very unexpected turn of events for what started out as a normal Tuesday!

I’m off now to get myself challenged…

Crossroads

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Make room for Silence

 

Ever since I morphed into a trail runner (from a road runner) I can safely say, hand on heart, that I have never come home without having benefited in some small way from making the surrounding countryside my playground.

I benefit greatly from making time for silence in what is fast becoming an ever connected world. I wrote a post entitled Solitude, which details what time alone offers me on my jaunts around the coast and countryside of North Cornwall.

Do you use running as a way of getting away from everyday noise?

Enjoy the silence x

Withering Heights and Wonderous Memories

My One & Only Grizzly…..

What is it about some of the toughest challenges in your life that keep you going back for more?

The Grizzly was an event I had been wanting to take part in for over a year now as I had to give up my place last year due to lack of training. This year, I was determined to get to that start line and understand what all the fuss was about.

Taking On The Grizzly

After my epic fail at preparing for my Lanhydrock half marathon two weeks ago I was giving my body a fighting chance at this one. For the week leading up to Grizzly, I was putting in the necessary amounts of nutrition and hydration needed, I was showing the race prep the respect is deserved. It was due to be a beautiful day, which only helped the positive vibes as I set out my race kit on the Saturday evening. My race vest and shorts were getting their first outing of the year and I felt ready for the day ahead.

The Grizzly start

It was an early start from Bude, being picked up at 7 am meant I needed to get some early morning nutrition inside me, taking some more to take during the morning. Many of the Caked In Mud crew had already experienced the Grizzly, I had ample exposure to what I was letting myself in for, somehow this never prepares you for the atmosphere once you are there.

Seaton, the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, is a beautiful seaside town in Devon which wholeheartedly gets behind its most famous of events. This year was the first where competitors needed to enter a ballot to get in, the popularity of the event is growing, I was lucky enough to get my place. The whole town gets behind & supports the runners, with many staying in the towns various hotels, B&B’s and discovering the beauty of this stretch of coastline and enjoying the Grizzly fest that happens throughout the weekend.

I have vowed to take the boys camping there this summer as I am ashamed to admit that this was my first trip there, living only an hour and a half away, I will be returning before next year for a more leisurely exploration of the area.

The route was marshalled by over 200 marvellous merry makers, with folk bands playing, drummers drumming on the beaches as well as hundreds and hundreds of supporters lining the route with flapjacks, cookies, jelly babies and other baked goods to help us on our way. The carnival atmosphere never waned throughout the entire 20 mile route.

The beach

My highlight? It would have to be the Valley of the Bogs, where I managed to acquire a new pair of compression socks! The bog managed to give my race outfit a whole new look. The squealing & choice use of the English language that I was witness to whilst slipping & sliding through this part of the route will stay with me for a while!!

The Grizzly is much more than a race, it is a life changing event, one which I hope to be a part of again and again!!!

Grizzly motivation Memory tree

When does running get easier?

Oh, that old chestnut!! How do you equate easier when it comes to running?

The result of “easy” changes as your running improves. While it gets easier, the more you tend to accomplish, your running will improve and you will start to make it harder for yourself!! When you write it like that, it seems we are a crazy bunch doesn’t it?!

What used to defeat me (that dreaded hill) now challenges me. I make it, I recover and then keep challenging myself. When I look back to those days when a run round the block tested me, I know it has got easier.

In answer to the initial question, running got easier once I got my mind set on a certain challenge, race or result. The mental challenge is a constant source of focus for me. It’s very much a head game at this point in my running. If I head out with the initial expectation of having a hard run, I tend to have already talked myself into walking that hill before I’ve given my body a chance to prove itself.

This is where running with others helps me achieve bigger & better things. Just being around others who are challenging themselves on their run, others who are encouraging you up that section of coast path or simply because I want to show myself I can do it, enables my brain to switch tactics and push itself when, if I was running solo, I may well have given up or given myself the opportunity to give up.

The mental game is a cunning one and, so far, the number of years running has not stopped this from playing it’s wicked games with my head. One day I’m feeling great after accomplishing a run, the next it beats you down with an “I told you so.” There are 3 words which our run leader keeps reiterating on our speedwork sessions. Don’t Cheat Yourself. This helps me. If I’m taking time out to improve my running, why then would I want to cheat myself of the results I want to see by just saying “Nah, ok, I’m hurting a little now, I’ll stop.” I’m not going to do that. This is where a consistent routine can help in order to avoid that, one week on it like a super sonic rocket kinda running ninja, followed by a ahhh I can’t be arsed to go out this week, I just don’t feel like it kinda sofa lover. Consistency, routine and patience play a big part in it all.

Consistency and routine makes running become part of what I do rather than what I feel I must do. If I run with others there is very often a specific time that suits us all, this becomes part of my day, which becomes part of my routine. That’s how I managed to incorporate running into family life and I’ve stuck with it.

What helps you achieve the challenges your running gives you? Any hints or tips would be greatly appreciated!

I’ve always loved this short film, it takes me on a journey that most runners will appreciate. It’s not always easy but wouldn’t life be boring if everything was easy? Happy running x

Soaked but stoked

This would have been the best run kit to have worn last night for my technical session with the Friday Nighter’s in Holsworthy.

Image

Another great group workout, wonderful encouragement for each other & best of all another 5.5 miles banked whilst getting stronger.

Hill repeats were on the menu last night. With my Grizzly run in a little over 6 weeks time, I have to know that I can take on the hills and recover faster from them. This thought and this thought alone accompanies me up Whimble Hill as I climb, in the pouring rain. Chasing the leaders, with my calf muscles burning, I would not let up. Grizzly, I’m coming for you!!

The double episode of Breaking Bad that I slumped in front of after having a lovely hot soak was even sweeter for having been out there and survived!

Happy weekend running x

Crew running

After reading an article on Twitter entitled The Urban Running Crew movement, I decided that I most certainly can class myself as part of a crew. Quite possibly a Rural Running Crew but a crew nonetheless. Charlie Dark from Run Dem Crew summed it up for me when he was quoted as saying “crew is about supporting and elevating everyone in it, particularly newcomers, beginners, and making everyone the best that they can be.”

That is it. That is why I run with this lovely lot. That’s why I feel included, a part of something, a sense of pride as well as feeling closer to a group of people who were strangers just a few months back.

Caked In Mud crew

Check out that cloud formation! The Iron Lady was watching over us!

Squelch Mud running

We embraced new Caked In Mud crew this morning. Runners who were already doing great things on pavements & roads, who fancied a change. The cake at the end was mentioned a couple of times, it has to be said, but let’s face it, you wouldn’t run 9 miles in the mud just for cake…would you?!

Running with the group enables me to push myself harder – there was certainly one hill I would have given up on if Jess had not cajoled me up there with her encouraging words. We were climbing for what seemed like forever to enjoy views like this

Views

More of the same next week? Oh, go on then. Oh, by the way, it was Carrot & Ginger Cake today with Chocolate & Pecan Brownies. Now, ask me again why I run!!

Going for goals.

Well, that’s Christmas wrapped up for another year. Hoping you all enjoyed a very merry one.

This time of year sees many of us taking stock of the year just about to leave us and the new year ahead of us. 2013 was a fairly slow year for me in terms of my running. I kept race entries down to a minimum as life got busy! This coming year I am rectifying that as I found myself missing the goals that racing gives me and felt I was plateauing instead of achieving.

Saying that I enjoyed the events I did take part in and had great fun along the way. The first being the Commando Challenge 17K endurance event in June 2013 where a group of us took on the sheep dip, the black bog and dark tunnels to come in as the 4th female team in 1:59. Great fun and plenty of bruises!! In September 2013 I was again part of a team in the Bude Sea Pool Channel Challenge. I swam a mile of this gorgeous tidal pool in order to make up a proportion of the 21 miles our team was due to swim to complete the challenge. I am lucky enough to live just 5 miles away from the pool and have used it to train for my triathlon in 2012 as well as taking my eldest to train there for his Surf Life Saving Club trial swim. To find out more about how we are trying to save the pool, please see Save Bude Sea Pool. Finally in November 2013 I participated in the Drogo 10, an off-road race around the grounds of the National Trusts Castle Drogo, taking in 10 miles of undulating trails. A tough one but enjoyable as I traveled down with many other runners from our local running club – Bude Rats.

It feels like a clean slate. I don’t do New Years resolutions but I do set some clear goals for myself with regards to my running. I like to look back on what I enjoyed throughout last year, what inspires me to do better, the people who help me get there & how I can challenge myself a little more. No-one knows what the future holds but with a little bit of luck & a very real spoonful of motivation I can get myself to the goals I want to.

My run goals so far are the Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service Half Marathon on 23rd February 2014 swiftly followed by the Grizzly, a 20 mile off-road race which tests each & every participant which I am due to take part in on 9th March 2014. With a new bike as a Christmas present I am also looking forward to getting bike fit again. I have entered a triathlon in June and enjoy the cross training this will involve as well as mixing up the training plan, it gives me a chance to get all over fit again.

I love reading on my twitter timeline how all the running tweeps I follow are setting themselves up for their challenges in 2014. Some taking on Ironman events for the first time, some running their first 5K after years of believing they were not a runner. These people inspire me to get up that hour earlier to get a turbo training session done, to get out when it’s blowing a hoolie or to rest when I know my body needs it.

Whatever goals you are setting yourselves this New Year, I’m hoping you achieve each & every one of them and most importantly enjoy the end results it brings.

Wishing you all a great, fun filled 2014 x

The Commando Challenge - Black Bog

Getting down and dirty – Commando Challenge

Commando Challenge FINISH

The Commando Challenge – DONE!