How I learnt not to hate swimming

I was checking out my Strava stats yesterday evening, and I noticed something. In the past 8-10 weeks, I have swum more than I did for the entirety of 2018. That might sound impressive, but I only did 3 hours of swimming in 2018, so it wasn’t an insurmountable challenge! Why did I swim so little last year? Easy! I hated swimming.

Hated.

That’s not an exaggeration. The very act of going to the swimming pool used to get me super stressed, and as a result, I didn’t go. When I did go, I got bored almost instantly, which resulted in me bailing after about 20 mins and declaring the whole palaver a waste of time. Yet now, I actively go swimming twice a week, I am even considering a monthly swimming membership to my local pool! What’s more, I am contemplating upgrading my Garmin to a multi-sport version which includes swimming metrics. I don’t know who is more shocked in this turnaround, my family or me!

If you really want to like swimming, but haven’t quite got there, these are the five changes I made that helped to make swimming a far more enjoyable experience. I hope they help for you too!

Continue reading “How I learnt not to hate swimming”
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Come “Tri” with me!

Image by Russell Holden from Pixabay

Hi again!

First things first, I owe you an apology for how lax I have been with my blog posts. As a Marketing student/ tutor/ practitioner, I am well aware that the first rule of blogging is consistency, and that is a rule that I have not just broken over the past two years, I have obliterated it! My excuse, I have been busy studying for a MA, a task which has occupied every facet of my being since May 2016. But now it is done! I handed in my final assignment, a 7000-word behemoth of a dissertation and a 30-min presentation on the 5th April, and am now basking in the light of free-time.*

*For basking, read “walking around the house unsure of who I am, or what I used to do with my time before I started the course”.

Long story, short. I am back. I now have time to train, and have set my sights on new goal, an Olympic Distance Triathlon in July. Oh, and a Half Marathon in June, and a Marathon in October. As someone who is notorious for taking on too much and burning herself out with self-induced pressure, what could ever go wrong?!

Continue reading “Come “Tri” with me!”

1:58:50

Where do I even begin?

As you may, or may not, know. In January, Kelly Roberts of “Run.Selfie.Repeat” fame, tasked her followers (of which I am one), to name their challenge for 2018. For my “make the impossible, possible”, I chose to focus on my long-held goal to break 2-hours in the Half Marathon. This decision coincided with my club starting a “sub-2-hour” training group, with the view to all of us achieving our goals at the Coventry Half Marathon in March.

Continue reading “1:58:50”

Keeping the Pace: Warwick Half Marathon

I did something recently that I have never done before.  I paced the 2:30 group at the Warwick Half Marathon. I had never planned to run the Warwick Half Marathon as I was due to run the Coventry Half Marathon two weeks later. However, on the 20th February, the British Heart Foundation contacted the Striders asking for pacers, and for some inexplicable reason (I must have been feeling super confident),  I said yes. The way I saw it, I needed to do a 13-mile run that week anyway (as per my plan) and if I was pacing other people, I would be forced to run slowly. After all, how hard can pacing be?

Answer: VERY!

Continue reading “Keeping the Pace: Warwick Half Marathon”

Stratford Half Marathon Summary: FAIL

On the 14th May, I ran the Stratford Half Marathon with the aim of finally breaking 2-hours. As you can probably guess from the post title, it didn’t quite go to plan.

If I am being entirely honest, I didn’t expect to break two-hours as I had spent the week beforehand dosing up every over-the-counter cold and flu medication known to man; to try and rid myself of the lurg which had set in on Wednesday. On Saturday 13th May, it was debatable if I was going to make the start line at all. However, by Saturday evening, I was at least starting to feel human.

Continue reading “Stratford Half Marathon Summary: FAIL”

The road to sub-2 starts again (AKA #StupidSnow)

Hi again!

After my last entry, it has taken me a few days to be mentally ready to write this post. I had hoped to be regaling you all with the story of how I finally managed to beat my long-held Half Marathon PB, but unfortunately (after 12 long weeks of training) the Coventry Half Marathon was cancelled.

#STUPIDSNOW

Continue reading “The road to sub-2 starts again (AKA #StupidSnow)”

My sub-2 challenge

Hi everyone, and sorry for the extended hiatus on my blog. 2017 was not an easy year for me for many reasons (new house, new job, family bereavements) and as a result, my running really suffered. Also, on top of that, I started studying for a Masters part-time and as a result, I have barely had time to think, let alone write. I’ll put the tiny violin aside for now, because things are starting to calm down and I have a new challenge I wanted to share with you.

I am a little nervous writing this because it makes it all very real and I am generally terrified I am going to fail. Here goes. I have been running for over 11 years, and in that time, I have ticked off so many accomplishments. I have run nine marathons, completed numerous half-marathons, run sub 55mins in a 10km, learnt to swim and completed 5 triathlons, yet one long-held goal has so far eluded me; a sub-2hr half marathon.

This goal has haunted me for over a decade, a feeling made worse by the achievements of both my twin sister and my husband; both of whom managed to break the 2-hour barrier on their first try (and who both got into running because of me). I know how stupid it sounds to say that I am hung up on a time goal and that running a half marathon over 2 hours does not diminish my achievements, but turning up to a race in a club vest and then being outperformed by the majority of the field has left me with a serious case of imposter syndrome. I am the first person to espouse the benefits of joining a running club, however, I do have to add that sometimes being the slow one in the club does come with some drawbacks, and I do spend a large amount of my time feeling like a fraud.

My current Half Marathon PB stands at 2:09:59 set at the Great North Run in 2015, and I, along with 17 other club mates been in training hard since December with the hope to finally break 2hours at Coventry on the 18th of March. The goal is set, the date is set and the training is going well, I just pray that I can overcome the self-doubt in my heart and finally achieve it.

stokeshlive.co.uk

I’ll keep you updated.

 

Helen

 

 

My Lenten Challenge

Greetings one and all, I’m back! Firstly, an apology for the significant hiatus between my last post and this one. The last few months have not been happy ones and as a result, my running, blogging and everything other than general existence seems to have taken a back seat.

In order to re-gain some semblance of equilibrium in tempestuous times, I decided I needed a challenge. Something to spur me into action and off the sofa. So, welcome to my Lenten Challenge.

Every year for Lent, I always give something up, last year was sugar, the year before was meat and a few years ago, I gave up wheat and dairy. This year, I was unsure what to ditch, so I have decided to take something up instead. This year, I am challenging myself to ditch procrastination, and am aiming to do some form of exercise everyday. 

I will be posting a weekly update on here throughout the challenge, so keep checking back to keep up with my progress. Here’s to a healthier 2017 from here on in, and on that note, I’m off to do some Yoga before I go to bed!

Speak soon and happy running

Helen xx

Race Review: Sphinx 5 miles

This was a race of firsts. First ever 5-mile race, first ever WRRL race, first evening race, and my first true Striders club race.

I was a little daunted at the thought of this race. My running club (Spa Striders) held their race of the WRRL season a couple of weeks earlier, and I chickened out running it, offering instead to help marshal the race.

Why was I a little concerned? I am a club runner, but I do not run at a pace you would normally associate with a club runner. In a general race, I seem to be resolutely mid-pack, no matter how much I try to progress!

Therefore there was a very real fear that I would come last. I have come last in many races before, in fact, in my first (and only) Olympic distance triathlon, I was so far behind the leaders, I arrived at the finish line to find the entire transition area packed up with only my bike and box left in the middle of a field. I don’t necessarily mind coming last, but I did not want to be the last over the line in such a heavily strider dominated field!

Race Information

Where: War Memorial Park, Coventry
When: Wednesday 8th June 2016
Distance: 5 miles
Weather: Hot & humid

About the race

A five-mile race in the evening in Coventry? What is this Witchcraft?

No, I haven’t gone loopy, the race, was really on a Wednesday afternoon. The Sphinx 5 miles race was the third race in the 2016 Warwickshire Road Racing League (WRRL) calendar. Organised by the Sphinx Running Club in Coventry, it is a popular race in the calendar and has been run in and around War Memorial Park for the last six years. Visit the Sphinx RC website to find out more.

This may have been my first evening race, but as a fully signed up member of a WRRL affiliated club, it will not be my last! In fact, come August, I will be running a 5-milerace around War Memorial Park again in the Godiva Autumnal 5.

Swag

Cake,water and a nice shiny medal. What more could you possibly want?

A few of my club mates had mentioned that cakes available after the race. What they didn’t tell me, was that the cakes were homemade and awesome. Unfortunately all the amazing looking cupcakes had gone by the time I got there, but that is just an incentive to run faster next year. The lemon traybake that I did have, was divine!

Support/ Marshalling

Given that the race was on a Wednesday evening, the support around the course was fantastic. But I suppose that is the benefit of running a club race!

Scenery

The war memorial park in Coventry is a lovely place to run. Wide, tree lined tarmac paths, and completely traffic free; the ideal location for a run! With the exception of one 1/2 mile section (which you run twice), the whole race takes place within the confines of the park.

Course

Fast and flat(ish). The course comprises of two laps of a 2.5-mile route. The majority of the course is within the park itself, but there is around 1/2 a mile which leaves the park and runs along the road outside the park before cutting back in. I used to live in Earlsdon, and my general weekday run included part of the race course, so I knew the area well.

Organisation

This is a VERY popular race that regularly sells out, so I was happy that I got a place. The race is limited to 350 people, and when it is full, it’s full. The organisation, was fantastic. All the numbers were picked up on the night and there were very enthusiastic marshals at every corner cheering on all the runners as they made their way around the course.

There was no water on the course, which normally wouldn’t have bothered me, but as summer decided to start this week, and knowing that i don’t work well in the heat, I took a small bottle with me. As it was, I didn’t need it, but it was nice having that safety blanket there, just in case!

Getting there and getting back!

The War Memorial Park in Coventry is probably one of the easiest places to get to in Coventry. With a large car park, there was no problem with parking and we got in and out with no hassle at all. If only all races were that easy!

Verdict

fivestars

It was my first five-mile race, and I had no idea what to aim for time wise, or pace wise. So in an attempt not to overcook it in the first mile, I opted to run to an HR target, rather than a pace target. I knew from my fast finish runs and speed work that I could hit a sub 9 min mile with an HR of over 170, so that’s what I aimed for.

In the end, my average heart rate was 173, so I managed to keep up the effort all the way through (despite some horrendous indigestion between 2 miles and half way. Note to self, toast within an hour of the start time was not a good idea). But my pace was not where it needed to be. I was hoping I could hit an average of 9 min per mile, but in the humidity, it wasn’t to be, and I averaged 9:16, but that just gives me something to aim for in August!

I feel like racing tonight, racing tonight!

Firstly, I am very sorry about how long it has taken me to get another post up. When I logged on this morning, it said that my last post was published two months ago! How is that even possible? I know they say that life speeds up as you get older, but this is ridiculous!

So what have I been up to?

Life has been phenomenally busy since my last post as the summer racing season is in full swing. In fact, since the Tewkesbury Half Marathon, I have raced four times and the calendar does not let up anytime soon!

Why so much racing?

‘Tis the season! As I mentioned many blog posts ago, I am now a fully-fledged member of the Spa Striders Running Club, and as such I am eligible to take part in all the league races that are put on around the county.

As a Warwickshire club, Spa Striders are a member of the Warwickshire Road Racing League (WRRL).  The League consists of a series of 12 races across a variety of distances where all the Warwickshire clubs compete against each other for running glory. As an added bonus, many of the races are also included in our intra-club summer series where we compete against each other for running glory.

As a relatively slow runner compared to my clubmates (which includes a super speedy woman who qualified for the London Marathon championship race this year, as well as  the current female GB 100km champion), I am not going to be able to win any points with my finishing times. So my only hope in getting any sort of decent position in the internal club competition is by racing lots. My hope is lots of mediocre performances might beat a stellar performance, hence the racing overload.

How’s it going?

So far, my results have been mixed. I have set a new PB over the 5-mile and 5km distance, although as it was the first time I have ever raced these distances I’m not sure it counts! The Northbrook 10km didn’t quite go to plan and I was an annoying 54 seconds slower than I had hoped (01:00:54 is not a nice time to see against your name) and the Arden 9 I entered and then had to pull out from as I had forgotten it was the same day as my little cousin’s christening (oops).

I am in the process of writing up a race report for each of these races, so watch this space!

What’s next?

My next races are the Stratford 6 miles (not 10km, 6 miles) and the Summer Shakespeare 10km where I hope to crush my 10km PB from last year! Sub 55 mins, here I come!

In summary, I am really sorry for the 2-month break, but I am back up and running now, so expect to be overrun with posts from here on in! Oh, and before I forget, I’m planning another marathon in November (it doesn’t do to be idle).

Hope you are all well. Until next time, happy running!

Helen xx