Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Marathon Training – Week 5

Another week down, and as I sit here this morning it’s actually my triceps that hurt more than my legs! This period from New Year to Easter and my first marathon run, is also my first attempt at writing and following a training plan for an ambitious target, and this week has been as much learning about myself, my limits and listening to my body as it has about cranking the miles out.


After J & I’s monster windy session last Sunday, I had Monday off and then headed out to Run England on Tuesday night. In myself I felt fine, pretty neutral, not ready to go zooming off the starting blocks but not dragging myself out the door either. My legs had other ideas; knees twingy and pace very slow for me for this session. With group 2 I’m usually near the front and manage 5 miles in the hour without too much hassle. This week, I really wondered if I was going to hit 3 I was that slow. It was only an hour out the door, but I found the session very humbling – I was obviously asking my body to do a little too much but bless its cotton socks it was still plodding along carrying me around to the finish again with every little bit of drive it could master.

I decided as I plodded along at the back of the group that I definitely needed a re-think for this week. I’d missed a full fortnight of gym sessions (all of them basically since I got my program set up) and that certainly wouldn’t be helping as I continued to push the distance up every weekend. There’s an important balance in any running venture between endurance and strength building, and I was doing a lot of one and very little of the other – which is a sure recipe for injury. I scrapped Wednesday’s training session. If I was struggling to potter about the roads then a hill session was just going to push me to exhaustion, and I did a home workout instead working through my core training sequence, an extra leg strengthening one and my normal weights one for my arms and legs. All low impact for my joints and I definitely felt better for doing it.

I kept Thursday as a rest day and hit the gym after work on Friday. It took me 1.5hrs to get through everything, and I’m really happy with what the nice lady has set out for me. There’s a really good mix of cross-training cardio and various weights, and this time it’s not my threshold weight that’s listed so I can actually achieve at least one full set!


A couple of things to do differently next time – I’ll be taking regular earbuds instead of my bone-conducting ones, all I could hear was the treadmills! I shouldn’t assume there will be water in the drinks vending machine incase I end up with cola. I should remember to put the ball shaker or the mesh thingie in my shaker bottle. Either would be fine. Neither is a little lumpy.

As well as my workout, I did enjoy the fact they didn’t have Jeremy Kyle on the TVs (not the ones I was watching anyway!) so I learned many things about food and caterpillars/butterflies (not on the same program fortunately), not all gym sessions are this educational. 😉

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Gym Session and Vest Dilemmas


Another day of getting home from work starving for some reason, and there’s still quarter of a cake left…but it’s ok as I made an enormous portion of dinner and ate that instead 🙂 Day 2 done for no junk food. P’s away for a man-date weekend with a friend from uni and I always find it harder to motivate myself to cook anything when it’s just me. It’s easy to grab whatever’s handy and shove that in my face.

Tonight was a no running night as I’m hoping to have a run filled weekend and prefer not to do four consecutive days running, so tonight was a gym session I’m still working on three circuits with the 2.5kg weights, but I added a section of ‘own weight’ leg exercises to the end of each circuit which I could really feel – I normally only do this the once at the end of a full workout rather than three times in total. Hopefully I’ve not overdone it and my legs will be energised rather than wiped out and jellyesque tomorrow!

J bought me a high intensity workout book a few weeks ago, which doesn’t use equipment so suits my gym set up just fine as I only use a few small bits of kit, no big weights or machines. I haven’t had more than a flick through of it so far, but I might start perusing it to try and split my gym sessions – one weights session and one higher intensity jump around a week or something. Or as a back-up for when I inevitably get bored of my current one!


I have an important decision to make by tomorrow morning: I got some iron-on letter transfers from Mind when I was running Liverpool for them, but I kept them for putting on my Bounders vest rather than the Mind one as I wear that one more often. I always feel slightly like an imposter wearing a charity shirt when I’m not actively fundraising for them, I guess it does still increase awareness and is essentially free advertising for them, but I still feel people assume I’m raising money and currently I’m not. It was the same with my Great Run series t-shirt last year – I hardly wore it because I know how big the Great North Run is around here and that many people wearing it would be training for it and possibly assume I was. I did a few of the Great Run series last year – the Great Women’s in Glasgow and the Great North 5k and 10k, so I was definitely entitled to wear it but I still felt like a cheat…

Anyway, back to those letters! I need to decide whether I want them on the bottom of the front, bottom of the back or top of the back. They don’t fit on the top of the front without overlapping the gold (which looks silly) or overlapping the collar.


Comments welcomed but I suspect as it’s now 10pm and I’ll be ironing them on EARLY tomorrow morning (race starts at 10am and I still need to get my race number etc. before then), I’ll probably just be picking one myself!

Fingers crossed for a cool morning tomorrow 🙂

Campervan cash: ÂŁ4

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From Bruges With Love


I know, I know; “Where have you been woman?! You’re supposed to be half marathon training, not disappearing for weeks at a time!” No, this time I have not been on an exercise mope. A couple of rough days at work followed by a VERY welcome holiday break to Belgium, where I think I gained three stone just walking around the streets! Every 3rd shop was either a cafĂŠ or a chocolatier, and they all smelt amazing. And I know why you only seem to find UK strawberries in the UK in strawberry season – all the European ones have been shipped to Bruges to be dipped in chocolate or adorn waffles! Delicious they are too 😉


I thought about taking my running stuff, I really did, but realistically with us getting the overnight ferry there and back, there was only really one morning that it would have been an option – so I didn’t bother 🙂 It was good to have a few days recharge and do some walking and face-filling. My exercise involved lots of street-bimbling, and we climbed the Belfort – the tower in the first picture, which is if memory serves is 300+ steps high.

Last time I tried to climb a tower of this scale at York Minster, I thought I’d pass out before reaching the top – this was before I started running last year. Knowing this, I was a little nervous about how I would hold up with this one; it would be my ultimate proof of improved fitness – or lack thereof, and it was definitely warmer in Belgium in August than in York in February! I actually made it to the top in better shape than P, just concentrated on keeping my breathing even and I’d deliberately worn lightweight trousers and a vest top for maximum coolness, and overall I was fine! No stiff legs or collapsing in an elegant heat 2/3’s of the way up for me! Having a bit more brain to concentrate on the world around rather than just drowning in cramping muscles and lack of oxygen this time, I think I’ve worked out one of the reasons I found York so tough – there’s like zero air movement in those towers so the air’s warm and slightly stale – not great when exercising! The ultimate fitness prover will be to return to York…one day, one day…

I am back in the UK now and was looking forward to hitting the ground running for a long one today as I’d taken it off work to recharge and square up before going back to work, but that’s going to have to wait for Run England tomorrow. I don’t know what happened but I’ve eaten or drank something that left me feeling rather rotten from yesterday morning and through most of today so running was O.U.T., I have however managed an hour’s workout this evening and am looking forward to getting ye olde trainers on tomorrow 🙂 Rosie was a great help, rubbing her face on me and kneading my stomach when I’m trying to do floor work and stretch off. Having one’s belly kneaded when one has just got back from a cake and ice-cream filled break does not do wonders for one’s self-esteem! Might help me hit the gym and track a bit more though…

The Gateshead Trail 10k is on Saturday and I need to be up and ready to go! I was looking forward to trying to beat my time for this one, and it only occurred to me today that I haven’t actually run it yet either – I run-walked last time so I’m looking forward to also being able to feel I’ve run it by the time I’ve finished – because I will! (Watch me sprain my ankle now 😛 )

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Workout – 12-07-15


It’s been a fortnight since my last ‘exercise session’ – excluding Ireland. Last week, between packing for Dublin, ridiculous heat, and a lot of travelling, I got nothing in after my cycle session with the guys on the Monday. Ireland definitely counts as exertion! We walked many miles with heavy bags on in a heatwave. I only had my watch tracking on the actual trail legs – S’s phone tracker included all the faffing about Dublin and general area exploring, and if I remember correctly had us capped at about 50 miles in three days which is most respectable. I got back on the Monday night after a relatively low exertion day around Dublin – we stayed in the hotel as late as possible and then hopped onto a tour bus for two hours before heading to the airport for my flight. I was wrecked when I got back – straight to bed when I got home, and not a huge amount better for work on Tuesday – I was completely useless, couldn’t tell my ass from my elbow! Fortunately it was a quiet day, I slept like a log that night and have been vaguely functional but still feeling too tired to push myself to do much for the whole of last week.

Now however, the weekend has been – P has been working day shifts and I deliberately had him take the car yesterday, for one thing it meant I didn’t have to get up at 6am to drop him off when I desperately wanted to have something vaguely resembling a lie-in (that’s 08:30 for me!) and it also meant I was housebound or confined to the locality within walking distance so couldn’t feel pressured into flinging around doing the shopping or spending the few pennies I have left after Ireland on more frivolous things. I’ve read 2 books and pootled about the house doing the minimum housework to keep things chugging over and I feel so much better for it.

I still haven’t done a run, I’m saving that for tomorrow – this morning was a 04:30 wake-up with P, who had woken up ridiculously early and got straight into the shower so I thought it was time to go and dashed about as I needed the car today (no food in the house!) before realising what a ridiculous time it was. I did however, do a work-out for the first time in 2 months. Putting my trainers on after so long felt like coming back to old friends, so while tired I don’t feel like I’m in the rut I was about 2 months ago. I went back to my old faithful strength conditioning circuit in Women’s Running from November or something and worked through it three times with the 2kg weights. I’ve definitely lost something, the tricep curls and leg-dip things were harder than I remember, but I managed the full reps on all three circuits without having to drop the weight down. If I can keep doing it at least once a week I’ll be back on the 2.5kg and eyeing up the 3kg weights in no time 🙂

P’s on night shift Monday and Tuesday night, so my intention is to go and do a pootle by the river after dropping him off, but I’m waiting until tomorrow to see how far and how fast I feel like going 🙂 Time to get back into this 🙂

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Scooby’s Session – Level 1, Take 2


I took this session really really slow – so slow in fact that I set up the blog page between sets… I did my first attempt at the walk-the-plank chin-ups on Saturday, and really knew about it by the time Monday and Tuesday had swung round! Not my because of my shoulders or arms – my abs were killing me! If I keep this up I’ll just need to do some oblique sit-ups to work on the side and lower abs, the chin-ups are taking care of the top and central muscles! They really made their presence known every time I laughed or coughed. I’ve read on weight-lifting sites and in books that if you’re shifting heavy weights (and I guess shifting me counts as that!), then the muscle build and metabolism gain last about 48 hours – so you’re best to do a work-out every other day to have sufficient recovery and growth time, so ideally I should have been hanging off my bar on Monday or Tuesday, but my abs just couldn’t face it on Monday, and I opted for going out with Run England on Tuesday instead as I haven’t been out with them for ages.

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Write-up Catch-up!


Sometimes I do two blog posts in a day, today is going to be two days in a blog post, and only because I suspect I shall be out again tomorrow and I think three days is too much to catch up, because I would much rather be heading to bed right now!

Yesterday morning was spent panicking only slightly (ok, a lot), about an event I’m signed up for next month of a sort that I haven’t really done before – the Gelt Gladiator near Carlisle, which I’d signed P & I up for earlier in the year when I went on a mad event booking spree! We’re signed up for the 5k, and they’ve just released the course map and the obstacle breakdown – 23 very muddle obstacles over 6km instead of the original 5km – so as well as an insane number of obstacles, they’ve thrown an extra km in too! There’s some rather unpleasant things in there, like the ice plunge pool and the electric shock dash of doom, which will be horrible, but I’m actually more concerned about the large walls and clamber things. My legs are strengthening up nicely with all the running and jumping about I make them do, but upper body strength is something in which I am sorely lacking and the prospect of atttempting to heave myself up extremely muddy ramps after doing 5.5km through the cold and mud is looking extremely daunting right now.

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March Review & Workout


April is upon us! I have no idea where 2015 is going but it seems to be eluding my grasp and slipping away rather quickly! I thought with March being over I would do a quick review of last month. When I looked at my wall calendar, the one I childishly cover in star stickers whenever I exercise, it looked much less populated than February and I was sure that I was dropping workouts left, right and centre, but when I actually add it up the two months were almost exactly the same in quantity of workouts – the only thing that suffered with my late nights at work was the gym workouts.

Races Runs Workouts Fastest Pace min/km Longest Distance km Longest Duration mins
February ’15 3 7 7 06:31 11 85.4
March ’15 3 7 5 06:50 16.1 113.6

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ThinQ Fitness – Conditioning Session

I discovered ThinQ Fitness several years ago now when I was at uni and looking to get fitter – and I loved it; Lucy Cases’ beginner series was exactly my fitness level, and I loved how quickly I felt like I was progressing – the idea is you do each workout 5 time across a week before moving onto the next session, and I was doing them twice a day for maybe 4 days before moving onto the next one, I enjoyed them that much. They’re also what got me into choreographed step, and if there’s one thing that will give you a toned bottom it’s step workouts! It was also only ÂŁ5/month for unlimited access to the full video catalogue – a bargain for a student when it’s ÂŁ3/session to go to the gym – that can stack up over a month!

When I started work, I also moved to a completely new area – and unlike at uni where my bedroom was huge and I had a big floor space and my computer in the room, my flat had the computer in a single bedroom full of bookcases – no floor space, and trying to plug the PC into the TV on the other side of the building was a complete pain. I’d be in the mood for a workout, and the faffing around with the cables and going backwards and forwards would get me really frustrated until I just went ‘stuff it, I don’t want to do this any more’. I even tried with a Rasperry Pi plugged straight into the TV so I wouldn’t have to fuss with cables all over the house, but it wasn’t powerful enough to load the videos clearly.

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Workout – 15-03-15

P1000966 I’ve had a bit of a slump this week – 4 days since my last exercise session. No excuses really! I was intending to do a decent length run today – something between 10 and 12km similar to last weekend in prep for my 10 mile run next Sunday. J was wanting to try to do another 10km run this afternoon, so I was intending to go out with her, but she’s too busy preparing to have a social life so I’m blaming her for my failure to go out at all today! You hear that J? It’s all your fault! I just couldn’t get up the motivation to go out, too tired and cold to face it, so I made myself do a workout at home instead, and just to really make up for not having done anything all week, I upped the weight intensity too. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Bad Day to Be a Tricep(tatops) and Insole Mundanities


I’d noticed at Bamburgh that the balls of my feet were starting to rub – and blamed the running through the streams across the beaches giving me wet socks (I’d like to think I was skipping lightly across the water, hair flowing behind me in the breeze but I know it was more of a panting plod), then when I did a long run along the Derwent Walk last weekend I decided it was the distance – and how wonderfully sweaty my feet were getting – and blamed my socks being too thick. I normally wear moderately thick gym socks, I have no idea what they are made of but thought I’d try some different ones – so I bought some of these. They’re not here yet, hopefully some time this week 🙂

Then, J and I did a 5km on Sunday – and they still rubbed slightly on the inside of the ball of my feet – so it wasn’t the water, and it wasn’t the distance, and it probably wasn’t the socks as I’ve been wearing the same type (not the same pair I hasten to add) almost since I started running. So, it must be the shoes! I’ve seen the recommendations plastered across the internet about distance covered before changing shoes etc., and I’ve seen it poo-poo’ed by people training for marathons and ultras who would need new shoes every 6 weeks if they obeyed that (so much for running being a cheap hobby huh?!). I also knew my shoes were nowhere near this limit. I hadn’t bothered changing the default shoe life on mapmyrun’s gear tracker, and I’m not even halfway through it on my road running shoes.

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