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

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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.


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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

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