Tough Mudder and Scoliosis

Running Tough Mudder with scoliosis

I’m always looking for ways to challenge myself following my scoliosis surgery, and this weekend was no exception.

Yesterday, I completed my first Tough Mudder – a 10 mile mud run with 20 obstacles that you have to see to believe! The obstacles are extreme and include electrocution, being plunged into ice-cold water, swimming/wading through freezing cold lakes, crawling through the mud under barbed wire, climbing (or being pulled!) over huge 12 foot walls – the list goes on!

With having scoliosis and a fused spine, this event was a huge challenge for me – but I don’t do things by halves.

In the lead up to the event, I felt really nervous. I wasn’t too concerned about the running side of it, as I knew that it would be very stop start with the amount of obstacles and also quite difficult to run some parts due to all the mud!

I was more concerned about the obstacles themselves and whether I could do them, as I have a distinct lack of upper body strength.  I have done Pretty Muddy before but that is much tamer in comparison and doesn’t really require any upper body strength. I was also worried about how my back would cope with all the bending, twisting, crawling and clambering! Also, I was worried about getting badly injured – falling off something and breaking my leg for example…

I do quite a lot of running anyway, I usually do Park Run on a Saturday and I run with my run club every week but I didn’t really do any specific training for this event. I was a bit concerned about this, as I had planned to follow a training plan and work on my upper body strength leading up to the event, but this fell by the wayside after I was in quite a bad (non-running related) accident a few months ago, which put my training on hold. I decided to go ahead and attempt the event despite this and I’m so glad I did.

It was tough, and very challenging. Some of the obstacles were fun, some were terrifying and some were definitely outside of my comfort zone. But sometimes you have to push yourself to grow and I’d rather look back and say – I can’t believe I did that, than I wish I did that.

Tough Mudder Obstacle
Tough Mudder Obstacle

With having had scoliosis surgery, there were a few obstacles that I couldn’t do. For example, there were a couple of electrocution ones that said not to attempt if you have excess metal in your body – so unfortunately they were a no, no for me! To be honest, I was a bit gutted as I wanted to attempt all of the obstacles – I don’t like being told I can’t do things…

There was also one bit where you had to give people piggy backs, and I just do not have the strength in my back at the moment, so I received a piggy back rather than giving one!

All of the obstacles requiring upper body strength, to be honest I struggled with and had to be pulled up by others. But after completing the event, that’s what I’ve realised. Tough Mudder is about teamwork more than anything and most of the obstacles you cannot complete without the help of others – either your own teammates or complete strangers. This is the case whether you have scoliosis (or any condition) or not. The atmosphere is fantastic – everyone works together to get your across/over the obstacles, which is amazing.

Tough Mudder Pyramid Scheme Obstacle
Tough Mudder Pyramid Scheme Obstacle

I’m glad I gave Tough Mudder a go and it is definitely one of my highlights of this year so far. It has made me more determined to work on my upper body strength at the gym and try again next year. What’s amazing is that my back coped fine and did not hurt at all, all the way through. My legs felt heavy and tired after about 8/9 miles but my back was completely fine.

Even today (the day after the event), yes I’m sore, in pain and I’m covered in cuts and bruises, but the pain is muscle pain and no different to what anyone else who completed Tough Mudder will be feeling today.

There’s no reason why having scoliosis should stop me from doing ANY of the obstacles (apart from the electro ones). A lot of it is mind over matter and yes, upper body strength definitely helps!

Next year I want to get stronger, go back fighting, try the ones I struggled with again and smash them! 😀

Tough Mudder Selfie
Tough Mudder Selfie

A bit of advice if you are doing a Tough Mudder (or similar event) for the first time…

  • Do it as a team! It is best to do an event like this as part of a team, and it helps it someone in your team is strong and can help lift you up/over things! This was a LIFESAVER in my case!!
  • Don’t panic like I did! It is supposed to be fun. Everyone is really friendly, there is a team spirit atmosphere, and everyone looks out for each other. Plus if there are obstacles you cannot do you can skip them.
  • Wear leggings that cover your knees
  • Take a change of clothes and a towel as they have showers and changing areas on site
  • Wear trail running trainers – if you wear normal gym trainers they will be ruined. Plus, you will be slipping and sliding everywhere.
  • Give things a go – put yourself outside of your comfort zone and try things that make you scared/nervous. You will feel amazing after you’ve done it trust me.

 


Have you ever taken part in an event like this? Would you ever? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Pin it for later!

Running Tough Mudder with Scoliosis

Half marathon

My first half marathon: Great Manchester Run

A couple of weeks ago (Sunday 20th May), I took part in a massive personal challenge – my first half marathon (The Great Manchester Run). I wanted to share this on my blog just to show that with hard work, anything is possible.


My first half marathon – training

I love to push myself and completing a half marathon was one of my goals for this year. So back in January, I signed up to the Manchester half marathon, which gave me 5 months to train. I’m the sort of person that when I set a goal, nothing stops me from achieving it. So I downloaded a half marathon training app (I used Asics, thought it was really good) and started my training. To be honest, I was already doing quite a lot of running anyway. In January I joined a run club, so I was running a couple of times a week with them and doing quite a few 10k races and Park Run to keep my fitness up. Over the next few months I was running several times a week, as well as mixing in some strength training and classes at the gym.

When it got towards April, I started trying to build the distance up a bit. I’m fine with running 6-7 miles but I’m not really used to doing any further than this. Hence why this half marathon was such a challenge for me. Over the couple of months leading up the race I used my Sunday’s as a practice for longer runs. I started with 8 miles and built up to a 10 mile run a few weeks before the race. To be honest, I really, really struggled with the 10 mile run I did in training. I felt ok in terms of my fitness, but it was my legs. They just hurt so much and I struggled to physically keep running. I now know that this was due to me not fuelling properly during the run or taking any water with me (schoolgirl error!). I’m not used to long runs so I didn’t realise I’d need some sweets or energy gels during the run.

The longer training runs knocked my confidence a bit. I had to slow right down to keep going for 10 miles and I really struggled. I also ran out of time leading up to the race so only managed to do one 10 mile run before race day – I would have liked to fit a few more in to be honest or get a bit closer to the half marathon distance. Basically, I did not feel ready for it! But I read somewhere that if you can run 8 miles, you should be able to safely complete a half marathon. So this reassured me a bit.


My first half marathon – preparing for race day

The days before the race I tried to prepare as best I could. It was going to be a hot day (typical!) for the race, so I made sure I drank lots of water in the days leading up to it and avoided alcohol. I also made sure I ate as much as I could, especially carbs like pasta.  I also toned down the running and exercise about 4 days before so that I wouldn’t be tired and have sore legs on the day of the race. The night before, I got all my kit ready and packed my back pack that I was taking. I made sure I took plenty of water, some sweets (jelly babies and Haribo) to have while I was running, some spare clothes, suncream as it was a hot day and some post race snacks. I then got an early night as I had to get up at about 5am for the journey to Manchester! But could I sleep? No way!

On the morning of the race I kept hydrated on the journey to Manchester. I was so nervous I felt sick. I have done plenty of 10k races before but I was worrying that I wouldn’t be able to finish the 13.1 mile distance, as it’s something I’d never done. I was also worrying about when to eat my sweets during the run to keep my energy up, and about how hot it was as I’m not used to running in the heat.

Luckily we arrived in Manchester with plenty of time to spare and I had time to go to the toilet (twice) as I had drank so much water! I have taken part in this event before – last year I did the 10k – and I just love it. It’s so well organised and the atmosphere is amazing. So as soon as I saw all the crowds and headed to the start area I started to feel more excited than nervous and like I could actually, maybe, do this.


During the race…

My strategy for this race was just to complete it, without stopping. I didn’t care what time I got. I just wanted to complete it, as it was my first one, to prove I could do it.  As I normally run around 9 – 9.30 min miles during races, I thought I’d be best going slower (for me) and aiming for 10 minute miles, which is what I did during training. The last thing I wanted to do was start off too fast and then burn out. I also decided I would have some sweets after about 40 minutes of running and then after about 60 minutes and so on, to avoid what happened in my training where I felt like I couldn’t physically go on after 10 miles. I had worked out that I would probably finish in around 2hr 20 mins if I went steady and this factored in possibly having to stop and/or walk a bit.

I started steady and luckily, as I was in the group that were expected to finish in over 2 hours, everyone was running at a similar, steady pace to me. This helped as I felt I was in the right group and  it meant I didn’t get caught up trying to run too fast.

My first half marathon 2

In all honesty, because I was running slower than I usually would for a shorter race – I found it quite enjoyable mostly. I just took it steady, had my sweets for energy and took all the water that was offered. It was very hot though with limited shade and I found that side of it pretty tough. I kept going and felt fine until I got to mile 10 – yep, the milestone! After mile 10 I really started to struggle, my legs hurt so much and it was a struggle to keep going. I didn’t stop though and pushed through the pain.

By mile 11/12 so many people had started to walk and some had actually collapsed at the side of the road and were receiving medical attention, which shows just how tough going it is really. I carried on pushing through the pain and when I got to mile 12 and realised I only had 1 mile left, I think adrenaline or something must have taken over! My legs were still hurting but I started to speed up again and did the final mile almost a minute quicker than the previous 2. As soon as I saw the finish line I went for it – I really don’t know how I had the energy but I just sprinted as fast as I could towards the finish line! Once over it though I could hardly walk and sort of hobbled towards where they were handing out the medals and finishers packs.


After the race…

As I was hobbling towards the meeting point I checked my watch and I just couldn’t quite believe it. I’d completed the half marathon in 2 hours 8 minutes, which I was over the moon at. I had been expecting about 2 hours 20 minutes as I thought I’d have to walk at some point. If I had been able to hold my pace between miles 10-12 then I would have probably finished around 2 hours 5 minutes. Plus if it was cooler maybe even quicker. I’m so pleased with myself it’s unbelievable. I still cannot believe that I’ve been able to train and run a half marathon, after having scoliosis surgery. It took me about a week to recover from it – my legs hurt pretty bad for at least 4 days  – but I’m so proud of myself. In fact, I have even signed up to another one at the end of the year 🙂

My first half marathon

 

 

Half marathon training – 3 weeks to go

So, at the start of this year I (stupidly) signed up to run a half marathon in May – The Great Manchester Run. I wanted to push myself and see how far I could take my running, and after running several 10k races, a half marathon seemed the next logical step. I must admit, I didn’t expect May to roll around quite so fast!

It seemed ages away when I first signed up back in December. I thought I’d have ages to train and build up my distance, but the reality is I haven’t done nearly as many longer runs as I’d like to have done by this stage and I’m starting to panic that I won’t be able to do it.

I thought I’d do a quick post to show what training I have been doing, using this last week as an example. I have been loosely following an Asics training plan for the past 12 weeks, but I must admit that I haven’t managed to do every run due to life getting in the way.

The plan generally consists of 4 runs a week, including a longer run on a Sunday. I have adapted it slightly by mixing in some intervals as well as strength training in between runs such as body pump, yoga or some weights in the gym.


Half Marathon Training – 4 weeks to go

Saturday – Park Run (3.1 miles fast)

Sunday  – 9 miles  (steady pace)

Monday – BODY PUMP (strength training)

Tuesday – REST DAY

Wednesday – Intervals (Treadmill – 3.7 miles) + strength training

Thursday – Run Club Run (5 miles – steady pace)

Friday – Gym – Strength training


Half Marathon Training – 3 weeks to go

So the plan for next week is as follows..

Saturday – Park Run (3.1 miles fast pace) – DONE!

Sunday – 9/10 mile run (steady pace)

Monday –  Body Pump / strength training

Tuesday – REST DAY

Wednesday –  3 mile jog (slow pace)

Thursday – Run club (7.5 miles – steady pace)

Friday – GYM – Strength training

Saturday – Park Run (3.1 miles – fast pace)

Sunday – 11 mile run


So that’s what I’ve been doing pretty much over the last 12 weeks, although I’ve only just started to up the distance from a couple of weeks ago.

I just hope I can do this!! If I do manage to complete this half marathon, it will be a huge achievement for me. I never thought anything like this would be possible after my scoliosis surgery. I’m so nervous about it right now.

Oh and just in case you are interested, when I do strength training at the gym this includes the below. I tend to do this in between running days or if I can’t get onto body pump. Currently aiming for twice a week.


Half Marathon Training – Strength Training

Chest Press – 3 x sets of 12

Leg Press – 3 x sets of 12

Lat Pull Down – 3 x sets of 12

Shoulder Press – 3 x sets of 12

Low Row Pulley – 3 x sets of 12

Squat Thrusts – 3 x sets of 12

Squats – 3 x sets of 12

Plank – 3 x 1 minute


I’ll update how I get on after the event.. eeeek!!! Never give up on your dreams! 🙂

Louise X

Pin it!

 

Half Marathon Training Plan

Running and mental health

Running and Mental Health

Running and Mental Health


It’s Mental Health Awareness week 14th – 20th May 2018, so to raise awareness I thought I’d write a post on the effect running has had on my own mental health. It’s well documented that running can be good for mental health, and everyone has reasons why they run.

For some it’s to lose weight, keep fit or socialise. For others, it’s escapism from a stressful job or the strains of everyday life. Personally, I run for a mix of reasons, yes I do it to keep fit but also because I enjoy it, running makes me happy and when I’m running I forget about everything else.


How I discovered running…

I have suffered with anxiety, depression and low self esteem over the years, as a direct result of having scoliosis. I first discovered running about 3 years ago, 5 years after my scoliosis surgery, which I had to fuse my spine straighter in 2010.

My friend was taking part in a Race for Life 10k event and asked me to join her. At the time, I was a bit dubious as I had never done any running before and the event was only 5 weeks away. However, me being me, I agreed to take part to support her and started training.

In the past, I had always avoided running. With having scoliosis, I knew that it probably wasn’t the best for me due the impact on the joints and spine. I didn’t want to let my back stop me though! After training for just 5 weeks, I completed my first ever 10k in 1 hour 17 minutes, which I was incredibly proud of at the time.

After this, I was addicted. I guess I couldn’t believe what my body had achieved, despite my scoliosis.

Since then, I have completed many 10k races in under an hour and I have a wall full of medals. I regularly take part in Park Run, I’m a member of a running club and I’m training for a half marathon in May.

Running has helped me to overcome so many obstacles and has gotten me through some incredibly tough times.

Running and mental health
Night Trail Running!

 


How running saved me…

Last year, I had a particularly tough time following the break down of my 13 year relationship. At the time, I was feeling so alone and pretty depressed. I hit rock bottom, started binge drinking and I was hardly eating. I would say that running helped to save me from a downward spiral and possible break down.

Luckily, in December, I started pulling myself together and signed up to Run up to Christmas, which I spotted by chance on Instagram. This is a virtual running event where you had to run a certain amount of kms between 1st – 25th December. I chose 50km. The cost of entering went towards supporting Mind, the charity for mental health, and you got a cool medal if you completed it.

For me, this was brilliant as it kept me distracted during a difficult festive period and forced me out in the cold and snow. I suddenly had something to aim for again. There was also an online community, which made me feel less alone and I started connecting and chatting with others taking part. It also motivated me to attend my local Park Run on Christmas Day to get those final kms in,  instead of moping around feeling depressed.

Run up to Christmas
Run up to Christmas medal

A Fresh Start…

In January this year, I also forced myself to join a run club and have met lots of other like-minded people.

I was terrified the first time I went, but it has helped my well-being immensely. I now feel part of a community and less alone. When I attend races and Park Run I actually recognise people and people say hi to me, rather than just going and running on my own like I used to. This has all worked wonders for my mental health and I’m in a much better place than I was last year as a result.

Running and mental health
Air Products 10K with my run club

I now run about four times a week, a couple of times a week with the run club. Running gives me something to focus on and seeing myself improve over time makes me feel so good about myself. It also reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought possible, despite my scoliosis and anything going on in my personal life.

If I’m feeling anxious, low or having a bad day, I’ll go for a run. It’s my way of managing stress and anxiety and it works for me. After going out for a run or completing a race, I feel on a high all day and those endorphins are highly addictive.

Running and mental health
Running and mental health – Tatton Park 10K

 


Miles for Mind

To raise awareness of mental health and to give myself something to aim for in May, I have signed up to Miles for Mind. This is another virtual running event and I’ll be aiming to run at least 75 miles throughout May. With 50% of profits going to Mind, who provide advice and support to those with mental health problems, it’s definitely a worthy cause.


Follow my blog on Bloglovin’

Follow

Pin for later

Running and Mental Health

Chester 10K medal

Chester 10K

So, this year I have set my sights on completing at least 10 10K races/running events as part of my 2018 goals and Chester 10K was race number four. So far the others include Tatton Park 10K  (which I’ve done twice this year) and a night trail run at Lyme Park.

I was nervous but excited to take part in the Chester 10k, mainly because it was quite a big event and it’s also the first one they’ve held in Chester.


Chester 10K: Before the race

The race started at 9.30am and the weather was actually terrible. It was so, so cold with a biting wind and torrential rain/sleet. I did think about pulling out at one point but I’m the type of person that, once I’ve committed to something, I’ll stick to it. So I wasn’t going to let a bit of rain put me off!

Chester 10K bib
Chester 10K bib

The starting point was at Northgate Arena in the centre of Chester. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, warm up, go to the loo, take a selfie (obviously) and head to the start line for 9.30am. When I arrived I was shocked at how many people were there and the nerves hit me again! Luckily we were able to wait inside before the race because it was pretty cold!

Chester 10K - pre race selfie
Chester 10K – Pre race selfie!

 

I didn’t have a particular time in mind for this race. I’ve (unfortunately? stupidly?) signed up to a half marathon in May and so I thought I’d just use this race as part of my training and take it easy. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of course difficulty and hills etc so thought I’d just go with the flow. 🙂

Chester 10K at the start
Chester 10K: at the start

Overall though, despite tough conditions, I really enjoyed the race. There were a few, short, sharp hills but it was mostly flat with some amazing downhill parts (they are always the best!) It started at Northgate Arena and we then ran out of the city down some country lanes and it finished back in the city centre near the town hall.

I seriously did not set out to run quicker than normal but I was surprised to see my pace was much quicker than usual as I checked my watch throughout.

I found it (relatively!) easy to keep a quicker pace and I do think it’s because I have done Tatton 10K twice this year now in horrific weather and for me this is a much harder course with longer, gradual inclines.

Chester 10k also had the amazing crowd support, which always keeps you going when you want to stop!

The final mile did feel tough though and I was so glad when I saw the finish line. I was soaked through from the freezing rain and my hands were so numb even though I was wearing gloves. As I approached the finish, I gave it everything I could, sprinting over the line even though I felt sick.

I was so shocked that I managed to get a final time of 55.44!!! This is my quickest EVER 10k time, the fastest before this that I’d done was around 57-58 minutes. I really did surprise myself and it just goes to show what you can do if you work hard enough.

Chester 10K finishing time
Chester 10K finishing time

I didn’t set out for a PB but I’ve been training hard over the last few months in my new running club, despite the horrible weather. Over the last few months I’ve forced myself out in the dark, rain, snow and wind to do interval training and took part in several 10K races which all help to improve speed and stamina. Sometimes though, I find when I don’t put too much pressure on myself to get a “good time” and just go with the flow and enjoy the run I end up performing better. I really enjoyed taking part and the medal and finishers pack were awesome too!

Chester 10K finishers pack

Chester 10K me with medal


What’s next?

I now need to step up the distance for my half marathon at the end of May. I’ll be sharing some posts on my training soon but this will involve longer runs and also strength training.

When I ran my first 10K race a few years ago I completed it in 1hr 17 minutes. I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve managed to achieve in the last few months with my running and in the years following scoliosis surgery. I never, ever thought I would get this far with my running/fitness and I’m so excited to see how much further I can go. 😀

I wanted to share my results from the Chester 10K to show that anything is possible if you work hard enough.

Never give up on your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.

Louise X

Follow my blog on Bloglovin’

Follow

Reasons to try Virtual Running

If you’re struggling to stay motivated with exercise this January you might want to try virtual running / walking events.

My first experience of a virtual running event was when I signed up to Run up to Christmas in December. I haven’t divulged much on this blog, but to be honest I have had a pretty rough time in my personal life since I got back from China in October. I injured my shoulder in China which meant I couldn’t run, and I had some other major stuff going on too – as my long term boyfriend left me and I had to find somewhere else to live quite quickly. You may have noticed the lack of posts recently, well this is why. But I’m slowly getting back on top of things 🙂

By December, my shoulder was feeling better and with everything going on I really needed a distraction from Christmas itself. So I decided to sign up to Run up to Christmas – I figured it would give me the motivation to get back into running when it was cold and dark outside and it would also keep me busy and so I didn’t have to think about Christmas.

 


What is virtual running?

The gist of it was that I had to run at least 50km between the 1st and 25th December. It cost £12 but this went towards Mind charity, plus if you completed the challenge you got a really cool medal at the end, not to mention a sense of achievement. 🙂

With it being December and having a lot going on (I moved on 22nd December), as well as some pretty bad snow half way through the month I was pretty chuffed with myself when I managed to complete the challenge. I did do a few treadmill runs when it was bad weather but these count too! I also did Park Run on Christmas day!

I really enjoyed taking part in this virtual event and what I loved about it was the sense of community and encouragement from others taking part. There was a group on Strava and a hashtag on Instagram which meant it was easy to find and chat to others taking part in the challenge. Virtual running is also good because you choose when and where you run and you can fit it around your life and commitments. You basically run/walk/cycle and record your activities on an activity tracker such as Strava or Garmin. When you’ve completed your challenge you upload your evidence and receive your well earned medal in the post.

What I have since realised is that there are LOADS of these virtual challenges. For 2018, I have signed up to one called Your Mile Challenge and my target is to run 1,000km by the end of the year. I also signed up to a virtual 10km race in January and got a cool medal for that too! Many of these virtual running challenges will also give part of the entry fee to charity so there’s a feel good factor as well 🙂

Winter 10K medal
My January 10k medal

As part of the Your Mile Challenge, you can also sign up for monthly challenges and do a certain amount of miles or km for the month. If you meet your target you get a medal. There’s also a Facebook group where people taking part share their achievements too. You can also invite your friends to join you too which makes it more competitive and keeps you going 😀

I find these virtual running challenges really help to keep me motivated and give me a reason to get out there and run – especially when it’s cold and wet. If you’re not into running you can also walk, cycle or swim to get the miles in – it doesn’t have to be running.

I thought I’d share on my blog because I didn’t realise these virtual events and communities existed until recently but they really can be excellent for motivation if you are struggling!

I’m hoping with my target of 10 10km races and a half marathon this year, that I’ll meet my 1,000km target for the year. I’m using Strava to record my progress, if you’d like to follow me you can do so here.

Why not give it a go this winter? Alternatively, you can sign up for monthly challenges, or do what I’ve done and sign up for a yearly target.

Happy virtual running / walking!

Louise 🙂 xxx

I’d be interested to know if any of my readers have tried virtual running / walking / cycling and which ones they have tried? Let me know in the comments below! P.s. These are some of my favourites so far… 

Run up to Christmas

Your Mile Challenge 

Virtual Run Challenge

Follow my blog on Bloglovin’

Follow

Pin for later

Reasons to try Virtual Running

Tatton Park 10k

Tatton Park 10K: 1st 10K of the year…

So this year I have set myself the challenge of completing at least 10 10K races (and a half marathon… eeek!).

I feel like I really need a new challenge after The Great Wall of China and this is kind of part of that. I’m also planning some other big events later this year because I love to keep pushing myself (watch this space!)

So a couple of weeks ago (Sunday, 14th January) I completed my first 10K of the year at Tatton Park in Cheshire.

It was a good way to start the year and kick start my running again. I had a few months off from running after China as I injured my shoulder. To get back into it again, I took part in a virtual running event called Run up to Christmas in December, where I committed to run 50km between 1st – 25 December.

I also started up Park Run again later in December and even went on Christmas Day!

In all honesty, I was a bit nervous about doing this 10k so soon after Christmas. Despite the running I had done in December, I hadn’t done a 10k race since July last year.

I also hadn’t been doing more than 5k-6k in my recent runs and so wasn’t sure how I’d cope with the 10k distance. To be honest, I was planning on running this 10k at a comfortable pace and using it as more of a training run for my half marathon training.

On the day, it was an early start for a Sunday with the race starting at 9am. We arrived at about 8.20am and had time to collect our bibs and visit the toilet before the start. Tatton Park is a lovely setting with a beautiful lake and we even spotted some deer on the way round!

Overall, I found it pretty tough. It was mostly a flat course too but had a couple of sneaky, gradual, evil hills!! I was surprised at myself as I managed to maintain my Park Run pace (and in some instances go a bit quicker) for the whole 10K, when usually after Park Run I feel like there’s no way I could carry on!

It’s amazing how much more you can push yourself in a race environment. I find I always run quicker during races than I do if I’m just running by myself.

In the end I managed to complete the race in 57mins 56 seconds! This is amazing for me and pretty close to my best ever 10k time. I was really proud of myself especially as I didn’t do any specific training.

Tatton Park 10k finish

So, what’s next? I really want to improve my running further. I have signed up to a few more 10K races and a half marathon and so will need to focus on training for this over the coming months. I have also joined a running club and been a few times – I’m enjoying it so far as it’s so nice to run with others and meet like minded people.

I’m planning on documenting my half marathon training on here, so if anyone has any tips – let me know in the comments below. I’m pretty nervous about it!!

Until next time!

Louise X

 

British 10K London Fundraising for Scoliosis Race Recap

British 10K London: Fundraising for Scoliosis

So, yesterday I achieved one of my objectives for the year and ran the British 10K for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund. How was it? Much tougher than I expected!

Those of you who follow my blog may know that I have done several 10K races this year and ALOT of training to prepare for this event. I have been training since January, as back then I could barely run 5K!

But I was determined to build my distance and take part in this event to help raise money for a charity so close to my heart.


British 10K London: Race recap

I travelled down to London with my boyfriend on Saturday, a day before the race, as I’m based up north and the race started early Sunday morning. When we arrived in London the first thing I noticed was how hot it was compared to up north (!) and I was really hoping it would cool down for the race as I’m not great with running in the heat.

I did my very best to prepare for the race on the Saturday, I refrained from alcohol, drank lots of water and ate a lot of pasta! The refraining from alcohol bit was tough because everyone around me was drinking, as it was such a gorgeous sunny day!

We did some chilling on the Southbank, went for a meal and then had an early night (boring but I really wanted to do well!)


The day of the race

British 10K
British 10K

Even though we were staying in central London, we had to get up pretty early and get the tube across to the start (9.30am).

When we arrived at the bag drop area it was crazy busy (there were over 10,000 participants!) and I started to get nervous. I didn’t sleep well the night before as I was worrying about the race. This was my second race of this scale (I did the Great Manchester Run in May) so I’m still getting used to running these type of events.

We arrived in plenty of time though, so I had time to queue for the toilet and then head over to my start pen (E). I have to say at this point, that considering the scale of this event, I thought it was EXTREMELY well organised. I have taken part in smaller running events which have been utter chaos and so I was very impressed! There were plenty of signs telling us where to go which took a bit of my anxiety away.

To get to our start pens we had to walk down Pall Mall, which, lined with Union Jack flags set us up for the race nicely!

British 10K - walk to the start
British 10K – walk to the start

It was about a 10 minute walk to get to my start pen, which was a good warm up and a chance to take some pics. At this point it was already getting HOT, so I was starting to get concerned about running in it (I’m a northerner so I’m not used to the sun…!)

British 10K - Pall Mall
British 10K – Pall Mall

Once I reached my start pen, they did some warm ups and eventually we made our way to the start. Everyone was put in groups (A-H) depending on their speed, so the fast groups went first and we all gradually filtered round. I was in group E which was pretty much in the middle.

British 10K - at the start
British 10K – at the start

During the race

I have to say I really struggled with this race. I have done several 10K’s this year and I found this one the hardest by far. It was mainly to do with the heat, for me it was just too hot to comfortably run in. It was around 26/27 degrees and very humid and there were no clouds at all so the sun was burning down on us.

I have done a few training runs in hot weather but as we don’t get many really hot days up north I’m used to running in much cooler temperatures. As it was so hot, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I felt like I couldn’t really take in the amazing sights because I was struggling so much to keep myself going!

There were soooo many times where I was tempted to stop but I didn’t. I just keep thinking of the scoliosis charity and all those amazing people who had sponsored me and I didn’t want to let them, or myself down.

So I didn’t stop once, I kept going and all the way round I was just thinking – when will this end?! It was pure torture!! Most of the runners running near me were visibly struggling and there were so many who had to stop and walk.

Despite this though, the route itself was a great route, past all the main sights and there were lots of cheering crowds to keep us going! The highlight was probably running over Westminster bridge, as not only were the views awesome, I knew we were near the end!!

I definitely ran slower than I could have done in parts due to the heat. When I approached the finish line I had literally no energy to sprint like I usually do and just kept at my steady pace.


After the race

I collapsed in a heap!

Not quite… I found a place to sit down and catch my breath and wipe myself down (yuk!) After I recovered, I checked my Strava and it appeared my average pace was similar to that of the Manchester run, so despite the heat I wasn’t going as slowly as I thought!

British 10K at the end
British 10K – with my medal

In the end, I managed to complete it in exactly 1 hour, which is slightly slower than my previous 10K races (PB is 57.27) but not bad considering how I felt.

I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping to get a new PB given all the training I’ve done but I guess the elements were against me.

At the end of the day, I know I can do 10K faster but it’s not about speed. I’m just proud that I finished it, I didn’t stop and that I raised money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund, which is what I set out to do. When it comes to it, this is all that matters.

I even managed to meet up briefly with some of the other scoliosis runners who are all amazing and inspirational! It was great to meet others with scoliosis as I had actually never met anyone else in “real life” with scoliosis before.

British 10K - Team Scoliosis Campaign Fund
British 10K – Team Scoliosis Campaign Fund

Overall, I had a great day even though the run was tough. Plus, the medal and finishers pack is awesome (yes, that is a tin of baked beans..!)

British 10K - Finishers Pack
British 10K – Finishers Pack

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far, it means so much to me!

My sponsor page will be accepting donations until November, as my next challenge for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund will be trekking the Great Wall of China in October (post coming soon).

If you have scoliosis or know someone with scoliosis please consider sponsoring me to help the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

The Scoliosis Campaign Fund raises money to support people with scoliosis and their families, and fund research into finding the causes of scoliosis and treatments to improve quality of life for patients. They are only a small charity so every penny really does mean everything.
Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Thanks for reading 🙂

Louise X

British 10K Training Diary 7 days to go!!

London British 10K: 7 Days to go!

London British 10K: 7 Days to go!

Oh my gosh, it’s really getting real now!

This time next week I will have completed the Virgin Sport British 10K in London. Back in January, I set myself the challenge of completing this iconic 10K for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund. I could barely run 5K in January but wanted a fitness challenge for the new year, as well as giving something back to the Scoliosis Campaign Fund / Scoliosis Association. This week, my bib arrived which means it must really be happening!

British 10K Bib
My Bib arrived this week!

I was lucky enough to be given a charity place by the Scoliosis Campaign Fund earlier this year. After I got the place, I focused all my efforts on training for this event and have been doing so over the past 6 months.

Over these past 6 months, I have achieved quite a lot with my running. I have completed many 5K Park Runs and improved my 5K time gradually from 33 minutes to under 28 minutes. I have also completed 3 10K races and have gone from completing this distance in 1hr 19 minutes (which I did 2 years ago) to well under an hour!

I am really proud of hour far I have come. It just proves what you can achieve through hard work, dedication and training.

With just 1 week to go until the British 10K, I thought I’d share my training diary on my blog for the past week.

If any of my amazing and lovely readers would like to sponsor me, I have a sponsorship page here. 🙂

All money raised will go directly to the Scoliosis Campaign Fund. The Scoliosis Campaign Fund support people with scoliosis and fund research into finding causes and treatments. 


British 10K: Training Diary w/c 26th June

Tuesday 27th June: 4.4km Run

4.4km Run

After the Colshaw Hall 10K on the Sunday 25th, I was a bit sore and my back was feeling it a bit. So I thought it would be best to have Monday as a rest day. On Tuesday, I headed out after work to do a short 4.4km run, which took me 26 minutes 37 seconds. I wasn’t trying to be fast, it was more of a recovery run although I did struggle a bit to be honest. I probably could have used a few more rest days after the 10K race on the Sunday!

Run Selfie

 

Wednesday 28th June: Body Attack class

All I can say about this class is oh my god! I decided to mix up the running a bit this week to give my back a bit of a break. So I went to a class at my gym called Body Attack. Well, the name sums up the class to be honest… It’s a high impact, high energy fitness class with lots of running, jumping, squats, lunges, core work etc for ONE HOUR straight.

It was pretty difficult but the music and the instructor made it fun. It’s a great way to get cardio in without running though and the strength building parts are a good complement to running.

 

Thursday 29th June: Intervals and Body Pump

Tonight I went to Body Pump at my gym after work. I had an hour to kill before the class so decided to do some interval work on the treadmill as an attempt to try and increase my running speed. I did struggle a bit tonight as I had major DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after the Body Attack class, especially in my calves. But I did some stretches and carried on!

I wasn’t too sure what I was doing with the intervals as I’m not used to doing them, but basically I tried doing 1 minute fast (slightly faster than my usual running pace) and then 1 minute walking and repeated this about 6/7 times. This was really hard and I felt more knackered doing this than just running for 20-30 minutes at the same pace!

I think intervals are best done with a heart rate monitor as you can monitor your heart rate and how far to push yourself. I aimed to get my heart rate up to 85% on the fast intervals and bring it down to around 70% in the slow intervals. I’m lucky because I have a heart rate monitor (I use a MyZone MZ3), which is linked to my phone and screens at the gym which helps me when it comes to getting this right.

I think I’m going to start mixing intervals into my usual weekly running and see how I get on. I’ve read that intervals are the best way to increase speed and it is good to mix up the training to keep it interesting.

 

Saturday 1st July: Color Run Manchester (5k)

Color Run Manchester Start Line

So today I did the Color Run in Manchester – the happiest 5k on the planet! I wanted to do this because a couple of years ago I did Run or Dye and absolutely loved it. It’s more of a fun run though and is not timed, so it’s not really an event to be chasing a PB!

Color Run Manchester

Most people were walking and it was difficult to run around people which was slightly frustrating at times. I think to avoid this they should have set people off in waves e.g. runners, joggers, walkers like they do at Race for Life events…but hey ho!

Overall it was a fun event and somehow, despite all the people walking and having to stop several times, I managed to get a 5K PB and completed it in 26.58!

Although according to Strava, it wasn’t quite 5km, it was 4.6km… hmmm.

Color Run Manchester Strava

Sunday 2nd July: 10.4Km Run

I was going to leave the running until Tuesday, but with the weather being so nice I decided to head out for a run this evening. I didn’t have any distance in mind, I just thought I’d go with the flow and see how far I could go. Luckily I didn’t feel too bad and I kept the pace slow-ish so I didn’t injure myself. Due to this I managed to do 10.4km which I was pretty pleased with. This will probably be my last long run now until the big day next weekend. I might sneak in a couple of short runs next week depending on how I feel.

10K Run


If you’d like to sponsor me for The British 10K and help me to raise money for those affected by scoliosis, I have set up a Virgin Money Giving page below:

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Through Virgin Money Giving, donations will be quickly processed and passed to the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

Virgin Money Giving is a not for profit organisation and will claim gift aid on a charity’s behalf where the donor is eligible for this.

I really appreciate all your support and thank you in advance for any donations.

 

Louise X

British 10K- Training Diary

London British 10K: 14 Days to go!

On Sunday 9th July, I will be running 10K for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund in the iconic London British 10k! This will involve a flat, fast 10K through London’s most famed sites.

I have also signed up for another challenge for scoliosis after this. In October, I will be taking on a trek of the Great Wall of China. This will involve 9 days of hiking on challenging and uphill terrain (a post on this is coming soon!)

Through these activities, I want to raise money and much needed awareness of scoliosis. But not only that, I want to inspire others who are suffering with the condition and show that having scoliosis doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your dreams.

The Scoliosis Campaign Fund raises money to support people with scoliosis and their families, and fund research into finding the causes of scoliosis and treatments to improve quality of life for patients.

So, with just 14 days to go until my first scoliosis challenge, I thought I’d write a post to share my training over the last few weeks!

Luckily, I have Strava to help keep a record of everything I do so I can remember… 🙂


Sunday 28th May: Great Manchester Run (10K)

Great Manchester Run

I have already written a blog post on the Great Manchester Run so I won’t repeat myself too much! I spent months training for this event, which I wanted to use as a kind of practice for the London British 10K in July. This was my first ever timed 10K race and I had an amazing time. It was tough as it was quite a humid day but the atmosphere was incredible. I managed to finish under 60 minutes too which was a huge achievement for me (and a PB!)

Thursday 1st June: BODYPUMP

BodyPump

After the Great Manchester Run, I had seriously bad DOMs (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) in my legs and the running also took its toll on my back and shoulders! For this reason, I had a few days off from training.

On the Thursday after, I started feeling ok again and headed to the gym for BodyPump. I love BodyPump and have written a few posts on it before.

For me, BodyPump is a great complement to running as it helps to strengthen all the muscles in the body, which is crucial to prevent injuries,

 

Saturday 3rd June: 7.7Km run

7.7km Run

 

This was the first training run that I did after the Great Manchester Run, almost a week after the event. I was surprised how much this event took it out of me!

I managed a steady 7.7km which took me 45 minutes – even if I did get a bit wet in the rain!

Theatening Clouds on my run

 

Sunday 4th June: 9.2km walk up and down hills

Instead of running again today, I decided on a walk with a friend as it’s important to mix things up.

We walked a part of the Sandstone Trail in Cheshire – Bickerton Hill. I’ve done this walk a few times so it wasn’t too challenging, although there were a few steep climbs and steps. The views across Cheshire are amazing though, so it’s worth it 🙂

Bickerton Hill

 

Tuesday 6th June: 7.3km run

Windy Run

I had Monday as a rest day, then on the Tuesday I went for a run after work. It was a really windy day so I struggled quite a bit and my pace was a bit slower than usual.

 

Thursday 8th June: 7.4km run

7.4k run

Wednesday was a rest day, so I headed out for another run on Thursday evening after work. I managed 7.4km which I was pretty pleased with!

 

Sunday 11th June: Tatton Park 10K

 

My friend asked me to do the Tatton Park 10K with her and, in a moment of madness after the Manchester 10K, I booked it! To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it as the Manchester 10K really took it out of me. But I thought it would be good as a longer training run for the British 10K. It was a horrifically early start for a Sunday too – I had to get up at 6.30am for an 8.30am race start!

Tatton Park 10K

It was a really nice course though through pretty grounds and mostly flat. Tatton Park is a historic estate with 1,000 acres of lavish gardens and a deer park, so the views were lovely, although I was disappointed that I didn’t spot any deer!

I ran the race with my friend, she is much faster than me but wanted to take it easy so ran at my pace. Although I think running with her must have sped me up as I managed to complete this 10K even quicker than the Manchester one. My time was 57.22 – a new PB. Either that or early morning running could be my new thing (I normally run in the evening).

Considering the first 10K I ever did took me 1hr 20 minutes, I was pretty chuffed with this improvement in my time! Actually, scratch that, I was in total shock!

Overall, I was really impressed with this event. It was really well organised and the grounds were awesome, not to mention the friendly marshalls. They have another 10K here in November which I might sign up for when it’s closer.

Tatton Park

Thursday 15th June: 7km Run

After the Tatton Park 10K, I had a few days off from training to let my body recover and headed out for an evening run on the Thursday after the Tatton Park event.

Run 7Km

 

Saturday 17th June: Mount Snowdon!

Mount Snowdon

Now, this was a challenge! I was on holiday in Wales this weekend (glamping!) and we were staying right by Mount Snowdon (the highest mountain in Wales!) So we (stupidly?) decided to trek up (and down!) it while we were there. The weather was a challenge, as it was a hot day, but other than that conditions were pretty good. Clear blue skies = amazing views!

I have actually walked up Snowdon before when I was only 1 year, 8 months post my scoliosis surgery so I kind of knew what to expect. Although on reflection, the first time was much harder because the weather was poor (rainy and misty with it being March) and I was much weaker than I am now, so I struggled much more the first time.

This time, I still struggled with the steep climbs despite all the running I do. However, I found the “scrambling” parts much easier. I think the months of body pump squats and lunges have made me much stronger!

It was about 6 hours of walking overall (3 hours up, 3 hours down) and it gave me a bit of an insight into what the Great Wall of China might be like. It also made me realise that I’m not as fit as I like to think as I am, as I did struggle with some of the steepest parts. I think it’s great training for China though and I might try and fit another training hike up Snowdon in before my China trip.

 

Monday 19th June: 6.4km Run

Evening Run

Anyone that lives in the UK will know we had a bit of a heatwave this week, well a heatwave by UK standards anyway!  So it was still around 28 degrees Celsius when I went out for my evening run, which was a bit hot for me to run in as I’m not used to running in the heat. I still gave it a good go though as I didn’t want to let my training slip!

I managed to do 6.4km, although the heat did affect me and I did struggle to run at my usual pace.

 

 

Wednesday 21st June: 5.5km Run

Sweaty Run

This was another scorcher of a day for the UK and it was another hot evening run, I think it was about 28/29 degrees Celsius when I went out after work. I didn’t really feel like going out tonight as I was too hot and bothered and feeling sluggish from work.

To be honest, I really had to force myself but I still went out as I wanted to keep on top of my training for the British 10K. I struggled in the heat though and kept my pace fairly steady. I was a right sweaty mess after this one I can tell you!

 

Friday 23rd June: BODYPUMP

Body Pump

I decided to take a break from running tonight and go to a BodyPump class at my gym. I try to go to BodyPump once or twice a week usually but have struggled to fit it in over the past few weeks. It felt great to get back to BodyPump tonight as it’s one of my favourite classes.

I love the feeling of getting my body stronger and I really do think that going to BodyPump classes over the past year has contributed to the improvement in my running.

 

Sunday 25th June: Colshaw Hall 10K

So, this morning I was kind of regretting the Friday night Body Pump as I had seriously bad DOMS/muscle pain in my legs from all the squats!  I could hardly walk let alone run 😉

Despite this though,  this morning I took part in the Colshaw Hall 10K in Knustford (my third chip timed race this year and ever). Unlike the Tatton Park 10K, I’ve had this one booked for a fair while and wanted to use it as part of my training for the British 10K.

Overall, I really enjoyed it! It was fairly flat (apart from a killer hill at the 7km mark which I was pre-warned about!!). It took us through some rather plush areas of Cheshire, down the leafy country lanes – we ran past some rather nice big houses and also Jodrell Bank, which was pretty cool.

I decided not to push myself with this one, as I didn’t want to injure myself before the British 10K.

I wasn’t trying for a PB or anything, I just wanted to complete it!  So I took a steady pace and in the end I finished 59.05, which was similar to the Great Manchester Run (59.09) but not as quick as the Tatton Park 10K (57.22). Still, I’m really pleased that I managed to get under an hour and that it didn’t actually feel too bad at all! I have definitely come a long way with my running. Plus, my legs were ok once I got going, tomorrow may be a different story though…!

I was also glad that the mini heatwave we were having in the UK last week finished in time for this event. It was actually perfect running temperature for me, about 15C and cloudy!

Colshaw Hall 10K

The only downside was that I had to run with a full bladder because the queues for the toilets at the start were mahoosive! Note to self: leave earlier next time…

It was worth it for the huge medal though!

Colshaw Hall 10K medal


Please help me to support the Scoliosis Campaign Fund! 🙂

Phew! It’s only writing it all down that I’ve realised how much I’ve actually been doing. No wonder I’m always hungry..

Seriously though, this is pretty much a standard month for me. When I’m not training for a specific event I usually have more of a mix of different gym classes thrown in too. This month though, I’ve been focusing on running and running events in preparation for the British 10K.

After the British 10K, I will most likely tone down the running and focus more on hikes and trekking to prepare for my Great Wall of China challenge in October.


If you’d like to sponsor me for these events and raise money for those affected by scoliosis, I have set up a Virgin Money Giving page for both events below:

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

 

Through Virgin Money Giving, donations will be quickly processed and passed to the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

Virgin Money Giving is a not for profit organisation and will claim gift aid on a charity’s behalf where the donor is eligible for this.

I really appreciate all your support and thank you in advance for any donations.

 

Louise X