Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Let the Marathon Training Begin!

That time of year has sneaked up on us all again, no not the time where everyone runs around supermarkets like headless chickens panic buying food as the shops will be closed for one day, but the time when spring marathon training programmes begin. (Plus it's the time you poor people get inundated with my blog/therapy posts in your Facebook/Google+ feed - sorry!)

Today marks the official first run of the training.  It has begun (again!) only this year, I plan to make it through to the start line (...and hopefully over the finish line) no matter what. 

As you might know from my previous ramblings on here, I followed the Bupa training programme for the two half marathons I have completed and, as it seems like a sensible plan, I am also following their beginners marathon plan for this event. It is a total of 16 weeks including regular short runs and increasing long runs at weekends. To kick off, this week is a nice easy introduction with three 20 minute runs and a 40 minute long run at the weekend.  As the event is mid-April, this ties in nicely with Christmas week so its not too taxing and I still have a bit of room to enjoy myself yeehah :) 

Tonight is perfect conditions for my inaugural marathon training run, a little bit drizzly with a bit of a breeze - lets hope this is a sign of things to come  - after all, it is winter so I see wind and rain as good conditions as it's a hell of a lot better than snow! 

So I survived the first run, but there are plenty more to go and I think if i'm going to survive the rest i'll need a whole lot of motivation...

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Guess who's back?

Oh yes, it's me! You all thought I'd disappeared into the hills of Devon never to return didn't you?  I wouldn't do that, after all, I've got a marathon to train for.  

Ok, so admittedly everything has gone suspiciously quiet since April when I re-entered the 2015 Brighton Marathon after deferring my 2014 place.  In the meantime, I have sneaked in the Torbay Half Marathon (June 2014, see below for photographic evidence of this event - I was there....honest guv!) which I managed to to complete in EXACTLY the same time as the Folkestone Half marathon over a year ago, so despite all the training, I still go at roughly the speed of a snail on a gravel driveway in August but I go the distance - and beat a man in a duck costume by about 10 seconds - and that's still what matters the most! (Going the distance that is, not beating the duck man.)


....after (with shiny medal and snazzy t shirt - hurrah!)

Duck Man coming in behind me!
Since Torbay, I have been busy doing lots of walking and generally enjoying the gorgeous local countryside and beaches, (see www.instagram.com/carolinegower for lots of pictures) but now as balmy summer is quickly fading into gloomy autumn it's time to get out running again, even if it is in the dark - I have even invested in a sexy hi-vi and a headlight this year.  The next couple of months will be getting back into regular training ready for the onslaught of 16 weeks of marathon training which officially begins on 23rd December so watch this space for more thrilling updates! 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Fresh Start

Firstly, I would like to say a big well done to everyone who attempted and completed the Brighton Marathon last Sunday.  I must say I felt a little disappointed that I had given up my place this year but there's always next year and to be honest, running a full marathon after only 11 months experience of running was probably not the wisest decision in the first place!!

It's been almost 2 months since I last posted on here.  But, in those 2 months I have have upped sticks and moved to the other side of the country, started a new job, been doing many touristy things as well as getting back to cycling and most importantly, running.  

About a month ago, after a few weeks of inactivity on the running front (and gaining about a stone of weight in the process), I decided that I had to get some motivation back so looked for a local half marathon to train for.  I soon discovered the Torbay Half Marathon (www.torbayhalfmarathon.co.uk/), which is nice and local and at the end of June so that would give me a few months to get back into shape.  

Three weeks later, I finally got my act together and started going out for decent runs.  Anyone who doesn't know Devon may not realise just how hilly it is.  Basically, wherever you go in the towns or countryside, there are hills.  Big hills. So when planning a 5k route for example, it's pretty much impossible to avoid the buggers.  From the half-hearted runs I had already attempted, I can honestly say I was dreading the thought of trudging up steep inclines but tackling them head on has proved to be the making of me and has improved my fitness levels quickly.  Last night was a five miler with plenty of hills all the way through and I still managed a power sprint to finish off and this resulted in my first ever true 'runners high' as instead of feeling knackered and ready to drop onto the first available sofa, I felt energised and ecstatically happy and wanted to run another 5 miles!

Another thing that has changed is that I now have a running buddy (the boy) and have found that I can actually manage long distances after a day at work so don't really need to get up at ridiculous o'clock every morning just to go for a run.  It does help though that running at night in a small town in Devon doesn't quite attract the same level of verbal abuse and dodging of missiles as it does in Kent!

So, my new aims for the fresh start are to keep up the training and get through my second half marathon in under 2hrs 30 mins. Oh and finally be able to hang out on the beach in summer without the fear of being harpooned ;) 

A pic of me running on Dartmoor.*
*One day.......if I keep doing those hills!!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

A little explanation....

It's been a bit quiet on here lately so I think it's time to explain the silence. It pains me to say this but all the motivation, positive talk and 'taking one day at a time' in the world couldn't get me carry on with my marathon training this year so I have deferred my entry to 2015.  

This is not the end though, it is merely a blip, albeit a necessary blip, to get me to where I need to be. as I have learnt a valuable lesson that training for such a big race takes time and dedication and I just haven't had much of either so far this year!  It would have been foolish to carry on with half-arsed training as I would have been in the back of an ambulance by mile 14 and that is not good.

Very soon, I will be moving to a beautiful part of the UK where I plan to be out and about in the countryside/rivers/sea walking, running, cycling, kayak-ing and generally moving towards the happy fit person I was becoming last year rather than the tubby, embarrassing, drunken ijit I have unfortunately slipped back into!

Cycling on Dartmoor.  (If this isn't motivation - I don't know what is!)

First aim is to complete another half marathon in the early summer and maybe join a local running club as I probably need some motivation (and advice) from others to keep going.  

So, there's not much more to say now than watch this space because someday...there WILL be a photo of me crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Week four done - keep on keeping on.


Last night, I'm ashamed to say, I got 
very close to giving it all up. I seem to have so much to do at the moment what with 
moving, work, on-calls and completing a degree module but after a good chat with the boy I decided that I have to carry on as much as I can and keep on taking it one day at a time and even if I don't make the marathon, there is no harm in training!

This wobble followed what has been, as usual, a challenging week. It all started off waking up with a nasty 3am migraine on Monday morning, which was not the best start to the week.  Lucky that was a rest day then I had a 50 minute run on Tuesday morning.  This was one of the hardest runs I have ever done - it was the last thing I wanted to do after Monday but knew that I had to at least give it a go.  The first two miles were absolute hell but to my surprise things got better and I settled in to a nice pace and made it to 50 minutes in one piece! 

Wednesday was supposed to be a 30 minute run but I was just aching all over and felt like I was coming down with something so took the day off but promised myself I would have a good cross training session on Friday, which I'm glad to say I did.  

So, long run day is suppose to be Sunday, but as I am having what could turn in to a heavy night of partying tonight, I had to get it done today!  The time to reach this morning was 70 minutes. Got up at 6am, saw the usual dark, rainy, miserable January morning wanted to go back to bed blah blah blah - but still had no choice but to go for it! Last week I struggled a bit with the 60 minute long run but today I started off at a slightly slower pace so I had energy left for a strong finish and despite a 30 second stop half way for an energy gel I kept going at a nice steady pace all the way (including dropping 1min 30 secs off my pace for the last mile) and it turned out to be one of the nicest, enjoyable long runs so far!

Great end to a tough week so bring on week five....

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Week Three Done!

Finally made it to the end of week three.  I'm just about getting into the swing of training again - i.e back to going to bed stupidly early most nights because I have to get out of bed just before 5am to get my run in - but, it IS worth it though as my reward is a day of feeling tired but satisfied that I have done my bit! 

This has been the first week of marathon training without too many distractions from food and drink and the weather hasn't been too shabby either, considering we are in the depths of winter.

The scheduled run today was 60 minutes, which is the longest run I have completed since the half marathon. It had been a little frosty overnight so despite nearly stacking it on patches of black ice, it all went rather well. 

I had the usual struggling feeling for the first two miles until I found a nice pace but managed to incorporate a few long hills into the run to challenge myself a bit.  I also upped the pace a bit for the final 5 minutes as training my body to find that extra bit of energy at the end is what i'm going to need to get over the finish line of the marathon, so I reckon it's something I should start now! 

Next week is the fourth week of training - need some serious motivation for that.....

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year, New You!

Happy New Year! 

After last nights celebrations, it is a sure thing that a lot of people out there will be waking up with sore heads, and many regrets.  Not only that last glass of bubbly that tipped them over the edge, but the dawning reality that the new years resolution (i.e. going on a liquid diet for January in the hope of losing half your body weight by February) that everyone held a glass up to last night is not looking quite so achievable. 

As you can probably tell, after years of making such outlandish attempts at life changing weight loss, and failing miserably, I no longer believe in new years resolutions and have resolved to never make one again!  Looking back on 2013, I learned some important lessons about making life changes: Firstly, that you MUST enjoy what you are doing; and secondly you have to be completely selfish about it!

So if you want to lose weight in 2014, I would start by getting active. Try to concentrate on moving more but don't put yourself on a diet that makes you miserable and go mad at the gym all at once - that's a sure fire recipe for disaster. Just try to make small healthy choices instead, like switching to low fat yoghurt at breakfast or only drinking wine at weekends then look at nutrition once you are serious about your fitness.  You won't lose masses of weight quickly but if you make the right healthy choices combined with regular exercise you will steadily lose weight, tone up and feel a lot better for it!

If you want to get fit then for god's sake don't start off with a double spin class as it is never a good idea! If you join a gym, see if they have a 'pay as you go' scheme (so you don't end up with a £300 a year bill for something you never use) and aim to go once or twice a week at first to make sure its the right gym for you. Then look in to joining as you start to get fitter or start a fitness class that's fun that you can have a laugh with friends at.  You have got to enjoy it or you won't go back for more!!

On to the selfish part, the only way you will ever change anything about yourself is to do it for YOU and nobody else.  It's YOU who will have to go walking/running/gymming/swimming so it must be motivated by what YOU want!  Now, most people have pretty busy lives and it's so easy to use other people and their demands as an excuse to not exercise.  So if you have a million and one things to do, making time to get out running/gymming can be hard.  If you want to go out for a 30 minute run 3 times a week without worrying about what you could/should be doing instead then you have to talk to family/ friends and come to agreement that that time is YOUR time and arrange a slot that they can look after the kids/cook their own dinner/clean the car etc. so you can do it without feeling guilty.  

Anyhoo, i'm sure that's enough of me putting the world to rights so i'll leave it there by wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year and raise a glass of water (hang on.....it's not the weekend yet!) to being the best you that you can be :)