Old dog. New Tricks

In 50 days, I turn 40.

HAHAHAHAHA!

I’m kind of torn about it. Slightly reluctant because…40? That’s old.  At least, it’s officially Not Young. And it feels weird. But also excited because I’m a girl who loves birthdays, I love being the centre of attention (I know it’s not polite to say so, I’m just being honest). I love having a fuss made of me.

All the cakes!

All the cakes!

I’m also strangely excited about reaching this milestone. I will move into another age-group for races and I WONDER if I might even win my age-group one day? If the hot 40-year-olds stay home with arthritis or something? But even outside of racing, it’s a new chapter in my life and that is always something to look forward to.

And it is indeed a new chapter. Because as of January 22nd, I’ll be going back to school. I’m going to retrain as a pre-school teacher!

Squeeeeeeee…..

I never saw this coming. I didn’t know I liked children until I had one. I was always the girl who preferred the company of animals to other people’s babies.  I have thought about becoming a teacher since I was 16 but I was lured by the glamour of corporate life (ahem) and then I didn’t want to tie myself down to holidays/vacations in line with school holidays. But now I’m firmly locked into the school system  via the Dude and so the time feels right. I’m honestly beside myself about this new opportunity. Like ‘can’t sit still’ excited.

Basically THIS excited!

Basically THIS excited!

I am very VERY grateful to the Husband for supporting me doing this. It’ll change our daily lives quite dramatically whilst I study but he’s totally on board and I am really grateful.

I’ll be taking 3 courses (9 credits) in the first semester and then I’m planning finishing off over the summer so hopefully, come the Autumn, I’ll be qualified. It will be interesting to see how running fits round this big workload – it may need to take a back seat? – but I’m going to try and make it work as best I can.

And then, later in the year, I can start teaching!!

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Kaiser Half Training: Week Six

What a rubbish week’s running! So much frustration here!!

I had a great plan. Some running at the start of the week, two days tapering and then Saturday’s trail half-marathon, Summit Rock. And it was all going so well.

Training

Monday: Rest Day

After the past weekend’s tempo run and long run, my legs were tired. I’d planned to go to my new gym (I even visited it and officially registered) but in the end, I did nothing. I needed that rest day.

Tuesday: Hill Repeats

After the morning’s encouraging visit to the cardiologist, I celebrated with hill repeats. Seal Point was deliciously green after the recent rains. I ran just over a mile as warm up and then 10 repeats up the hill, which was roughly 0.1 mile up and the same down. I then ran a cool-down to make it to 4 miles. I’ll be honest, the hill repeats were tough. I’ve not run hills for a long time. The weekend’s race (up a giant hill) would be fun. 4 miles at 10.04 pace.

Wednesday: Cruise Interval Run

A new workout from 80/20. Ten minutes warm up and then 4 repeats of (8 mins tempo pace, 3 mins recovery) and then jog home. I actually really enjoyed this run. I’m not sure of my pace but when I glanced down, each tempo pace seemed to be about 8.30, more or less. 6 miles at 9.14 pace. 

Thursday: Rest

If you didn’t hear about it, a massive storm hit the Bay Area. High winds and deluges of rain. Here on the peninsula, we were pretty lucky – there was a lot of rain and some localised flooding, but nothing crazy. SF had massive blackouts, dramatic tree-uprooting and widespread blackouts. Further north, wine country had severe flooding. It gained the hashtag #hellastorm and I was grateful for a roof over my head and for a well-timed rest day. Some sobering photos here.

Friday:  My second ever Zumba Class.

WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENED HERE, DON’T WE!

Saturday: Summit Rock Half Marathon

Sob. Instead I met the grinning, muddy, happy girls at BT’s and joined in the brunch as if I’d run the whole thing myself as well. My ankle was still sore but not painful, if that makes sense.

Five runner girls, a grinning child and two slightly reluctant spouses

Five runner girls, a grinning child and two slightly reluctant spouses

Edited to add: Please also note the tortoise on BT’s hand (to my left) :)

SundayRest

If this was a weekday, I would have gone to the gym and done a spin class but in the end, I decided to give my ankle another day to heal.

Musings

I’m pretty disappointed with my 10 sad miles this week and quite frustrated with this set-back in training. I’m not freaking out. I know from experience that I can run quite easily again after an ankle twist, but I am annoyed at the lack of long run in particular.

I still cannot fathom how I can PR come February, looking at my paces but I shall keep training. I’m actually really enjoying training – I love the focus it’s giving me, the motivation to get out the door a few times a week at 6am. I’m loving running at the moment and that’s probably more important anyway!

One fun thing that happened this week was that 2015’s running-themed calendar arrived. ‘Exciting?’, you ask. Why yes…because I made it myself!  This is either extreme narcissism or just a lovely way to celebrate some amazing places I’ve run  to encourage me to run further in 2015. You decide :)

My best-ever cool down, in Hawaii last year

My best-ever cool down, in Hawaii last year

As I write this, on Sunday evening, my ankle is still a little sore but I’m going to strap it up and try running on it tomorrow. I think it will be okay. Let’s hope my Birthday PR campaign gets back on track this week!

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The evils of cross-training

You’re so lucky…three posts from me this week so far! Clearly I have too much free time.

One of the things 80/20 calls for is cross-training, and frankly every runner should do cross-training. THIS runner very VERY rarely does cross-training, so, as I mentioned before, I joined a gym last week. I visited it for the first time on Monday and today, Friday, I went to my first class. I could choose between spin and Zumba. Because I have a trail half-marathon tomorrow, I chose Zumba as it would be easier on my legs.

This was only my second ever Zumba class. This was my first one, waaay back in 2012. I gathered in the room with lots of older ladies and a couple of chicks and then the teacher came in. Latin American, all flying black hair, flashing eyes and a smokin’ body. I know it’s a cliché but it’s totally the truth. Instant girl-crush. The music came on, the class started and I just loved it.

zumba

I was kind of embarrassed about how much I was loving Zumba. I have NO groove so I was this awkward, middle-aged, middle-class, white stay-at-home mum trying desperately to shake her stuff. It was like Baby when Johnny tries to teach her to dance . (Go on, click on it, watch it. Is any movie scene better than that one?) Basically, I was out of sync on all the moves, my hips did lie and I deeply regretted my lack of bosom to wiggle at the appropriate moment. But I was grinning and loving it. It wasn’t too intense – the cardio side of it barely had me out of breath. Perfect, fun, low-intensity cross-training. I started throwing myself into it, not worrying how awkward I looked in the giant wall of mirrors opposite me!

And then suddenly I’m on the floor, clutching my ankle in agony and breathing through the pain!

The last time I twisted my left ankle

The last time I twisted my left ankle

What kind of badass trail runner twists her ankle in a ZUMBA CLASS?? 

This one apparently. It was immediately obvious that I won’t be joining my lovely girls sloshing through 13.1 miles of mud in Saratoga’s redwoods tomorrow. That would be very foolish. So I’m sat on the sofa with the cat; icing, resting, elevating and planning to compress.

It’s my own fault, I have done no ankle strengthening for a long time and I realise now that I need to do this consistently. Because if I can’t even do a Zumba class, that’s just pathetic. Two posts about what exercises to do for stronger ankles HERE and HERE.

So good luck to all my runner girls tomorrow (and Erin doing her first 50k on Sunday). Watch your ankles. I’ll be watching Dirty Dancing.

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How I’m gauging my heart-rate zones without a heart-rate monitor

We are currently hunkered down, sheltering from #hellastorm! Where we live, it’s just been some rain and some wind, although we had a giant front come through a few minutes ago which was actually quite impressive. I think San Francisco and other areas of the Bay Area have had it much worse. The Dude’s school has closed so we’re sat in bed with the iPad for a bit. And what else to do during a massive storm than blog??? 

Earlier this week, I had an email from a lady who is also doing 80/20 training. She asked me how I gauged my different heart rate zones, bearing in mind that I don’t use a heart-rate monitor. As I was writing back, I realised this might be an interesting subject for a post, so I thought I’d talk through it here. Many of you are much cleverer and more science-y than I am, so I’d welcome your thoughts.

This was the gist of what I wrote.

The caveats

  • I am not an expert. I’m not very scientific. Some of the science sections of the book had me bewildered. I could translate it into two different languages but I didn’t understand bits of it.
  • I think Matt Fitzgerald would have a fit if he looked at my training and heard me claim to be using 80/20. I’m not sticking exactly to his plan for a couple of reasons.
This is Matt Fitzgerald running as far away from my 80/20 claims as possible

This is Matt Fitzgerald running as far away from my 80/20 claims as possible

How I’ve tried to incorporate the principles of  80/20 into my running.

  • I’ve used the 3rd plan for the half-marathon – the ‘advanced’ one.
  • As you know, I’ve had a crazy couple of months and so I’ve not yet started doing doubles or any cross-training that are called for in that plan. I’m hoping to start doing both very soon.
  • I’ve upped my running days to 5/week instead of 3 or 4/week. This has resulted in about a 10% increase in my mileage. More would be better, I know, but life is busy and I don’t have time to add more. I think the additional mileage/running days has been good for me.
  • I’ve had at least two rest days/week. That 3rd plan calls for just one rest day/fortnight but I know my legs and my spirit wouldn’t handle that very well.
  •  I’ve plotted my mileage carefully and done my best to keep an 80/20 balance of slower/faster miles. Sometimes I’m slightly over, sometimes slightly under but I aim to get as close as possible.
  • However, I have never worn a heart-rate monitor. Ever.

How have I determined my different heart-rate zones?

I would be the first to admit it’s been guesswork. However, there has been some method in my madness. In my head, it’s a bit like driving a car – different gears, if that makes sense. I feel like, for every heart rate zone, I ramp up a gear.

Z1 – I had three weeks where I ran super slowly. My legs were very tired and I let them run as slowly as they wanted. However, I’d start slowly and then realise that I was still ‘making an effort’ so I ran slower still until it was genuinely very easy. That turned out to be about 11.25 pace, which was humbling. I rarely run that slowly now, but that would be Zone 1 for me.

Z2 -  I’ve been running slowly for two months now and that easy pace is now about 10.30. Whilst I’m running, I imagine that my friends are running with me. Can I chat to them? Could I hold a conversation and run at this speed comfortably? When I stop at red lights, am I (at all) breathless? That’s kind of been my gauge for the slower paces.

In the Zone (Z2)

In the Zone (Z2)

Z3 – For me, zone 3 has been where I pick the pace up but am not pushing it and could still chat fairly comfortably. That has turned out to be about 9.20 – 9.40 pace for me.

Z4 – Zone 4 has been where I’m running pretty fast. Because of my heart, I rarely sprint – zone 5 – so I try to run as fast as I can at a sustainable pace. This would be tempo pace or 10k race pace, that kind of thing. That’s turned out to be anything from 8.15 – 8.40.

Z5 ? – When I do intervals, I sometimes look down on the fast sections and see 7.50 pace sometimes (which is very exciting for me) but that’s for a very short period of time and I don’t do that very often as I want to train wisely as regards  my heart.

For me, the big thing about gauging easy pace was literally imagining my friends running next to me and thinking about whether I could hold a proper conversation with them as we ran along. And also the red light thing was important – am I at all out of breath or not? Those questions have been my  constant guide.

I definitely think a heart-rate monitor would have been wise. It’s prescribed in the book after all, and it would definitely keep my training more true and honest. In the future, I may well get a Mio and sense-check my zones, but I’m fairly happy with the mental zoning I’ve described above.

We will see, come February, how well it’s worked.

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Update on my heart

It always feels a little odd, sharing my medical news with random strangers on the internet. However I started this blog with the desire to share my particular story as a runner with a heart condition and maybe to encourage people with heart conditions that it was possible to run and be active. CLEARLY I am not a doctor and I am not an expert and I would NEVER recommend disobeying your cardiologist if he tells you not to run. But for those of us who are healthy and strong, yet have this underlying condition, running is not necessarily a bad thing if managed carefully.

For a brief overview of my own heart condition, click here. Last year’s update is here.

Last week I had my annual echocardiogram and today I went to see my cardiologist to get the results. I couldn’t decide whether to get an interval session in early that morning, in case he told me never to run fast again, or to wait till afterwards and maybe celebrate with a run. I chose the latter, but I rocked up at the hospital in my running gear :)

The news overall is good. My heart has not got any bigger – which is his overall indication of whether or not I’d need valve replacement surgery, something that will inevitably happen with time. My regurgitation hasn’t worsened and is still above the desirable level for people with perfectly healthy hearts. The aortic root hasn’t increased particularly. He had a very slight concern that, during my echo, my heart threw a couple of extra beats in there, so I was told to come back if I had any ‘flutters’. I have flutters VERY rarely but not frequently enough to worry either of us.

I was very honest with him about my running. The amount I do, my average speeds, my speedwork speeds, hills, that kind of thing. I love my cardiologist because he doesn’t just suck in his breath, shake his head and tell me not to run. He nods along and doesn’t look overly concerned, so if ever he does tell me not to run, I’d have confidence that he means it for a reason rather than just as a default setting! I’m insured with Kaiser so I mentioned I was training for the Kaiser Half and he may be running it too, which would reassure my Mum!

So overall, he told me to keep going and to keep myself as strong, healthy and fit as possible. I came away really grateful and positive and happy…and celebrated with hill repeats! As you do.

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Kaiser Half Training: Week Five

This week, our guests went home. We LOVE having our family to stay but after six weeks of visitors and house-moving, it’s kind of nice to be settling into our new flat!

This week’s training went well.

Training

Monday: Fast Finish Run

My first 6am run of the week. Ran the first four miles at easy pace and then blitzed the final two miles. Somehow ran them at 8.15 and 8.16 respectively. I was knackered but chuffed to bits at the end. Is this a result of stellar training, a few days at altitude or magic shoes? Or, as Layla suggested, the result of eating leftover Macaroni Cheese for breakfast the previous day! 6 miles at 9.27 pace.

Tuesday: Intervals

My first rainy run of the week. 1/2 mile warm up, then 13 x (1 min fast, 1 min recovery) and then 1/2 mile cool down. Slightly slower than last time’s. Must eat more macaroni cheese. 4 miles at 9.03 pace. 

Wednesday: Easy Run 

A hilarious run. 6am, pitch black and chucking it down with rain. I was drenched within a mile and stepped in several puddles deeper than my shoes so I squelched those miles out. It wasn’t cold at all so it was actually kind of fun! I also loved the hot shower afterwards.    6 miles at 10.00 pace. 

Thursday: Rest Day

We took the in-laws to the airport. Our crazy November is over. Whilst we’re always sad to see family go home, it was nice to have our house back again. We can start unpacking now!

Friday: Rest

I meant to run today but didn’t/couldn’t get out of bed in the morning…and never got round to running during the day. Instead, we got our Christmas tree up!

Saturday: Tempo Run

6.30 am on a Saturday and I’m out running. This six miler had three consecutive tempo miles in it – they turned out to be 8.33, 8.28 and 8.42. That final mile includes an overpass with two zig-zag bends and a steep incline so I wasn’t too concerned. Pretty happy with this run. 6 miles at 9.30 pace.

An old photo...but it was this dark

An old photo…but it was this dark

 Sunday: Long Run

My legs felt tired for today’s long run, after yesterday’s effort. I ran 12 pretty comfortable miles with Mile 10 as a ‘faster’ mile. I slogged out a 9.25 and was pretty knackered after that. I’m continuing to be a bit disappointed/depressed by my long runs. I know they’re supposed to be slow but they’re not getting any easier or any faster. I despair a little of ever PRing again on these runs. (Oh so dramatic). I did run on new paths today around Redwood Shores and they were a flipping delight! 12 miles at 10.05 pace.

Musings

I am generally pretty pleased with this week’s running. I finally made it over that elusive 30 mile marker (34 in total) and the miles were pretty decent quality as well!

One of the things that 80/20 Running encourages is cross-training, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while as well. However I knew that I’d be lucky to get my running training in over the past few weeks without trying to fit in anything else. Over Thanksgiving I got an email from a local gym with an offer I couldn’t resist so I have Joined A Gym. I haven’t actually BEEN to this gym yet but in the next week, I fully intend to do so and to do a class or two too!

I currently have some mixed feelings on the Hokas. I ADORE them whilst I’m running. All the aches and pains and niggles that I often have just disappear, they are a joy to run in. However afterwards, I definitely have aching knees so I’ve been not wearing them for any more than 6 miles. However my last run in them didn’t result in aching knees so maybe I’m settling in.

Next weekend, I’m running Summit Rock Half Marathon with Jen, Jess, KP and BT. It’s a tough course with BIG hills and I suddenly realized this week that I’ve not run any hills for weeks. Kaiser is flat so I’ve been training on flat. It could be painful next weekend. If this rain continues, it could also be messy!! I’m excited.

Last week, I also signed up to join KP, Jess and Jen as a relay team at the Oakland Marathon in March. We’ll each run about 6.5 miles. Our team is called Crazy Cat Ladies, as we are all smitten with our mogs. I am pretty excited about this!

Bonus extra photo because he's gorgeous!

Bonus extra photo because he’s gorgeous!

And that, people, is me over and out.

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RaceRaves.com

A few weeks ago, Jen asked me if I’d be interested in helping test a new website that some friends of hers were setting up. ‘Race Races’ would allow runners to review and rate races they’d done. Kind of like ‘Yelp’ but for races. I loved the idea so immediately said yes!  For the past month or so, a number of us have been writing race reviews, testing the site and making suggestions on how it could be improved.

Race Raves launched today and I’d wholeheartedly recommend that you check it out, sign up and start adding reviews of races you’ve done. There are international races on there if you’re not US-based and if your race isn’t on the site, you can easily get it listed and then review it.

It’s a great resource, I think honestly it’s brilliant and the more people who review races, the better the site will be! One of the best things about running is the community of runners, and this is a great way to give back!

Go...rave!!

(Totally unpaid for this, I volunteered my time and wholeheartedly recommend the website). 

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Kaiser Half Training: Week Four

AKA…the Thanksgiving edition :)

Crazy November continued with the arrival of my lovely Brother in Law, taking our guest tally to four….and a trip up to Tahoe for Thanksgiving.

Tahoe

We got here late on Wednesday night. Thursday (Thanksgiving) was a little challenging, with some of us struggling with altitude, others with germs and others with too much Wii time (eh, Dude?). Sometimes, we expect big events like Thanksgiving and Christmas to naturally be magical and heartwarming, but frankly, being thankful is most important on the difficult days. This year, I was grateful for a LOT of things. My boys, my family, my friends, my health, my safety…and also for running and for you lovely people who read this blog and have become friends, either in real life or still online.

Amidst all the stuff, I managed to pack some decent running in this week.

Training:

Monday: Long Run

14 MILES!! 14 MILES!!! I think this was my longest run since I ran the London Marathon 10 years ago. I know 14 miles isn’t that long for all you marathon runners but for me, with my 13.1 race limit, it was a LONG way! It actually turned out to be pretty straight forward. The weather was gorgeous (vest/tank top and shorts), the route was dead flat and I worked through two Trail Runner Nation podcasts and started the Serial Podcasts. Oh Serial…how hooked I am on you! I risked my new Hokas for this run and they did me proud. My legs struggled a little between 7 – 10 miles but the final four miles were pretty good and I finished pretty strong. 14 miles at 10.25 pace. Happy me.

Tuesday: Rest

My legs and knees ached a LOT today. I can’t decide if I went somewhat overboard on running 14 miles in new shoes – were the aching limbs due to using different muscles (Hokas have a slightly lower heel/toe drop than my usual shoes) or due to the flu-like symptoms that sent me to bed in the afternoon to sleep for three hours?

Wednesday: Fast Finish Run

I felt much better today, so once we were all packed up and ready for Tahoe and were just waiting for the Dude to finish school, I slipped out for six miles. Four at easy pace (and in just a sports bra, it was so warm) and the final two at tempo. They turned out to be 8:25 and 8.36 which, given how I felt yesterday, I was happy with. 6 miles at 9.26 pace.

Thursday: Easy Run

In the absence of a Turkey Trot in Tahoe, I ran three very lackluster miles  along the North Shore. The altitude got to me, my legs felt like lead and this ‘easy’ run was probably much more of a moderate effort. My heart wasn’t really in this run, got to be honest. But sometimes you just do what needs to be done. 3 miles at 10.20 pace.

The view from today's trotting

The view from today’s trotting

Friday: Rest

Spent the day driving round the lake with everyone.

Saturday: Hill ‘Repeats’

We woke up to snow! And with the snow came bear prints round the cabin.

tahoe bear

So I changed my planned hill repeats further up the road, which was quite isolated and forested, and ran a 0.4 mile loop around the cabins. It had a nice little kicker of a hill at the end of each loop. Add in the altitude and I think it worked out. 4 miles at 11.34 pace.

Me Snow Winter Tahoe

Please note the GIANT bear prints my brother in law faked in the snow to freak out the boys

 

Later that day, I had half an hour of ice-skating. Does that count as cross training?

skating tahoe dude husband me

Super-proud of our whizzy little skater-boy!

Sunday: Rest

I’d planned 6 recovery miles but due to travelling back from Tahoe in the afternoon, it never happened.

Musings

Given the challenges of the week (busyness, guests, Thanksgiving, altitude) I’m fairly happy with how I ran this week! I regret the missed run on Sunday which meant that once again I didn’t get over 30 miles. But this is a very busy period and I’m not going to beat myself up, even if, come February, I miss a PR. Sometimes, that’s just life.

Having said that, I finished November with 120 miles. I ran 88 in October and 109 in September so, whilst I would have liked a few more miles, I have definitely increased volume substantially month on month. .

The Husband and I signed up for a race this week. We’re running the Red Rock Canyon Half Marathon, just outside Las Vegas, in March to celebrate my lovely friend Nicola’s Big Important Birthday! Now to persuade our friends to look after the Dude for TWO nights! Vegas, baby!

This coming week should be a little quieter – our visitors go home on Thursday and life should get a little more back to normal. I’m off to make the most of our remaining time with them.

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Kaiser Half Training: Week Three

Somehow this week, my little man turned five. I hate to be that mum who moans about how big her baby is getting…but FLIPPING HENRY, MY BABY IS SO BIG!

Opening his enormous pile of presents on birthday morning

Opening his enormous pile of presents on birthday morning

Birthday Boys need Birthday Parties. And that happened too. In the rain. Outside.

We are Hardy Brits

We are still Hardy Brits

And then three of my in-laws arrived from the UK! Six of us in a two-bedroom flat. Snuggly. And then the cat kept wandering off back to the old place, and he totally freaked out. So I’ve been comforting him all week too.

In between ALL of that, I somehow managed to rack up 29 miles of decent training!

Training

Monday: Rest Day.  And I did actually rest this week.

Tuesday: 12 mile long run.

I snuck this week’s long run in before scooting off to the airport to pick up the family, I thought it might be my only opportunity this week. I was a little dismayed by this run. I maintained an easy pace throughout with one tempo mile at  M4 but my legs were SO tired at the end. I thought easy paces were supposed to mean not feeling knackered. I ran 12 miles  three minutes slower than I ran 13 miles a few weeks ago on burned-out legs. Starting to be a little nervous about this slow training. 12 miles at 10.26 pace

Wednesday: 6 mile easy run

These 5.30am wake up calls are definitely getting easier  and I actually relish those 6am dark runs! I didn’t expect that to happen. It’s not cold though, we are so lucky with the temperatures. 6 miles at 10.16 pace.

Thursday: Rest Day.   Spent the day celebrating my favourite little boy turning a whole hand old.

Friday: Intervals

I was supposed to do hill-reps today but driving to a hill and back wasn’t going to happen due to family responsibilities, so I switched to intervals. They went well! After warming up, I ran 13 intervals of 1 min fast/1 min recovery and then cooled down. My overall pace was 8.52 which was a great improvement over last week’s intervals! Felt good. This was also my inaugural run in new shoes…more on that below. 4 miles at 8.52 pace

Saturday: Rest Day

It was a very busy morning, organizing a party for 80 in the rain with a bouncy castle but it went better than I’d dared hope. I came home, drank hot chocolate and went to sleep for two hours. I’d intended to run today, but instead I slept! It was bliss.

Sunday: Easy run with 2 miles at tempo

Another 6am dark run. 5 miles at comfy pace (around 10 min miles) and the last two miles at tempo. I bust a gut and somehow churned them out at 8.16 and 8.12. Can’t remember the last time I saw those speeds so I was utterly delighted. Loving the new shoes. 7.3 miles at 9.33 pace.

I meant to run again tonight and make it a doubles day but we rejigged our plans for next week, which means I’ll be doing my long run tomorrow, so I opted out and we’re going to see Hungry Games tonight instead. I kind of wish I’d pushed over the 30 mile mark, but I’m not stressed.

Musings

This week has been a roller coaster as regards my views on 80/20 training.

My long run at the start of the week really made me question this training method. I felt like I was slower and slower, and long runs were getting harder and harder. I was a little dejected about it But the interval training gave me hope and Sunday morning’s tempo session utterly delighted me. I have no idea how I’ll handle a half-marathon at those paces, it feels impossible, but last week just one mile at those paces felt impossible so I shall not panic quite yet!

This week was exciting in that I bought my first pair of Hokas. I have eyed these strange beasts with both curiosity and skepticism for a LONG time and it was kind of inevitable that I’d try them eventually, being a big fan of cushioning. I heard that the Cliftons were much less extreme in terms of cushioning than others in their brand. In addition, the reviews were spectacular and I kept spotting Various  Local  Running  Bloggers wearing them so I thought, what the heck! They arrived on Thursday and I greeted their arrival with the same measured and realistic hopefulness with which America greeted Obama’s first election. MAGIC SHOES! TOTALLY GOING TO PR! I MIGHT EVEN FLY!

So clean! Before our first outing when I got dog-poo on my shiny new shoes

So clean! Before our first outing when I got dog-poo on my shiny new shoes

I’m two runs in and so far, I like them very much although I have yet to actually fly. My knees have felt a little ‘pounded’ in recent weeks and they definitely ache less after a Hoka run. It’s still early days. I do think they’re pretty though, and not totally weird looking like other Hokas!

Not too weird?

Not too weird? Asics Nimbus v Hoka Clifton

This week, our Crazy November continues with the arrival of one final UK Ramsden, a four-day trip to Tahoe and Thanksgiving! I’m off to buy some hair-dye to cover those grays!

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A Girl’s Guide to Running Magazines, Part Four: UK Trail Running Magazine

You may remember that last summer, I spent a few weeks reviewing some of the different running magazines out there in an effort to vary my running reading from the ubiquitous Runner’s World! (NB: I have nothing against RW at all, I just fancied a change). I reviewed – Running Times, Trailrunner Magazine and Women’s Running. AKA: the fast, the bearded and the fluffy!

Today, I’m doing a one-off review of a UK-based magazine – Trailrunning Magazine. Quite a few of my readers are Brits and actually, I really like this magazine so some US runners might fancy getting an online subscription, so it’s relevant for everyone.

Trailrunning Magazine

UK Trailrunning magazine

 

General Info:

  • In the UK, available in big newsagents. Here’s a list of current stockists.
  • Available for US distribution as printed materials or via an online subscription, which is what I have.
  • Cover Price: 4.50 GBP ($7-ish)
  • Issues reviewed here: June/July, August/September, October/November
  • Pagination – 114 in all issues
  • Advertising pagination  – J/J – 20 (18%), A/S – 17 (15%), O/N – 15 (13%). Compare that to the 50% advertising content of US Trail Runner Magazine!
  • Annual subscription price – UK 12 GBP ($15ish), US printed copy – 36 GBP ($50ish), Digital subscription – 15 GBP ($22ish)

What did I like about it?

  • Plenty! From what I can make out, trail running is growing quickly in the UK. The country has a rich history of fell running (basically running up mountains with no trails and through bogs) but trail running’s popularity is fairly new. As such, this magazine caters very much to new trail runners. Whereas the US’s version is SUPER hard-core, focussing on those legendary 100-milers and their superhero winners, the UK version is much less elitist.
  • My favourite thing is a 12-page section each edition with suggested trail runs across the country. They range from an easy 10k in flat Lincolnshire to two or three-day mountain stage-runs in Snowdonia National Park. Each run comes with a proper Ordnance Survey map and advice about the best views and the best tea shops. I find myself poring over these pages here in California, wishing I was in the UK to run!
UK Trailrunning magazine

Trail running ideas across the country

uk trailrunning magazine

A two day run mapped out for you

 

  • There’s plenty of reader interaction via FB and Twitter and plenty of opportunities to get your photo in the magazine, which is kind of fun. It gives the sense of a friendly, open, thriving community, and who doesn’t love to get their photos in a magazine? Clearly I do!
Just in case you were particularly keen to see where I feature on the whole spread :)

The time I pretended to be a Bay Area Maria von Trapp

  •  There are plenty of really readable, usable articles about how to train. Hills, fueling, strengthening ankles to avoid sprains (!), how to go from one race distance to the next.
  • As I mentioned above, the advertising % is less than 20%. This is GREAT – I’m not paying for pretty adverts! There is a good amount of content in this magazine.
  • The gear reviews are excellent. Comprehensive, fair and varied.
Skirts v skorts

Skirts v skorts

What was I not so keen on?

  • The downside of being non-elitist is that sometimes the magazine comes across as fluffy. Sometimes the language is a little ‘girly’ or clunky.  I suspect that the grizzled fell-runners of old would wipe their bottoms on this new publication. But they’re not the target market anyway.
  • Also, as it seems to cater more for the mid-pack runner or the newer trail runner, it probably isn’t great for those people running 100-milers on a regular basis. The US Trail Running Magazine seems to fit that niche better.
trailrunning magazine

Pretty Autumn UK running

 

Overall thoughts

  • Of all the trail magazines I own, these are the ones I find myself coming back to on the loo. (TMI?). The US magazine inspires me but also intimidates me. I’m never going to be an ultra runner, I’m never going to do Hardrock or take off in a Winnebago for the winter. The UK magazine is much more realistic and approachable and is also suitable for my particular level of trail running expertise (or lack of).
  • I have had no technical issues with my digital subscription but I don’t like it, I will be renewing with a paper subscription even at the increased cost. This is no reflection on this particular publication, just a note about how I like to consume media generally, I guess.
  • If you live in the UK and like running off-road at all, I’d definitely recommend this magazine.
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