Wednesday, 27 July 2016

I am.

I am back in Leeds packing up my flat once and for all as I’ve officially moved back to the North East. This is a time of mixed emotions as I love Leeds but I’m glad to be home.
On Saturday, my boyfriend Tone and I did Temple Newsam Parkrun with 2 of my friends from my old job in Leeds. We then went for breakfast after and it was a lovely morning. I made a conscious decision before I left the flat on Saturday morning that I was going to enjoy the run. I don’t know when I will next get the opportunity to do a Parkrun in Leeds so I wanted to make the most of it. This conscious thinking begun on Friday when I ensured that I was drinking plenty water all day long. I usually only have a banana before a Parkrun but I didn’t have any in my flat on Saturday morning so I opted for a bowl of cereal instead. I usually feel hungry on my way around but on Saturday I didn’t so I think I need to start eating a better breakfast! Tone and I really enjoyed the Parkrun and I liked being back at Temple Newsam sharing in Tony’s first experience of this route.
Me, Tony, Maria and Laura before it began!

Tone and me

Cooling off with an ice lolly before breakfast number 2!
My running has been a bit inconsistent of late and I am determined to get more training in for the Great North Run (and indeed for South Shields 10 miles next month!) On Monday morning I text Tony to ask if he fancied doing York 10 miles in October and when he said yes I went ahead and booked 2 places – I’m not sure what’s happened to me but I am making the most of my renewed enthusiasm for running. We’ve also just booked a trip to Amsterdam and are planning to take our trainers as it’s only 3 weeks before the Great North Run!

I decided to go for a run yesterday morning. I wasn’t sure how far I would go but I knew I needed to get out and get some miles in my legs. My Facebook memories told me that 2 years ago yesterday I ran 8 miles in 1 hour 44 minutes. While I was out running yesterday I was actually quite enjoying it and decided I would try and match this (distance or time, whichever I got to first). At 1 hour 44 I was at 7.2 miles and wasn’t too far from home so decided this would be long enough. I did 7.6 miles altogether and I was incredibly proud of myself. I took time to enjoy my surroundings and really appreciate that I was running in Leeds. Sometimes, in fact, most of the time, I don’t enjoy running solo. But sometimes if I have the right mind set I get a lot from it. My aim yesterday was to enjoy it and I knew it was one run closer to the Great North Run.
Yesterday’s run is proof that running is as much in the mind as it is in the legs. Whenever I felt tired or had a niggling pain I tried to find something pretty to focus my attention on. This ranged from looking at the clouds, to spotting 2 magpies (2 for joy!), or seeing an aeroplane overhead. These are all such simple things that are around us each and every day but sometimes I appreciate them so much more when I’m running. I walked a few times, sometimes to stretch out my legs and sometimes to take a photo. It’s so easy for me to beat myself up about walking or going too slow but yesterday I chose to look for the good. It wasn’t bad that I was walking, it was good that I wasn’t still in bed. I had my trainers on and I was out in the fresh air. It’s so easy to be defined by the self-talk we do and that’s why I chose to try and make it as positive as possible. I’d be lying if I said it was an easy run or that I enjoyed every second, but I made the most of the experience and looked for as many positives as I could find.

I am going to focus on positive thoughts and being less critical of myself when I run in all my future runs. I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself again recently and that’s when I stop enjoying it. Running has had such a massive positive impact on my life, physically, emotionally and socially, and I don’t want to fall out of love with it completely.
I believe a lot in the thoughts we have influencing what we become. Recently I’ve told myself I didn’t like running and therefore as a consequence each run was getting tougher. I’ve been doing lots of stretches and trying to tell myself that I like running, and I am actually looking forward the GNR!
When I was running yesterday I thought a lot about my thoughts. One of my favourite quotes is from Henry Ford: If you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right. I totally agree with this. From now on I am focusing on what I can do and who I am. I am a runner. This means I run. It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow. I run. Lots of things make me who I am and running is only one part of the puzzle. But it’s a very important piece, not least because of the people it has brought into my life. I am a runner. I am going to enjoy my training. I am going to enjoy the Great North Run!
(I am also going to raise lots of much needed funds for the North Easy Trust for Aphasia. If you can help in any way please do so here. I am truly grateful for all the support!)

The Big 5-0!

I think my running mojo has returned and I am really looking forward to continuing my training for the Great North Run.
A few Saturdays ago saw me reach my 50th Parkrun and I had a lovely morning running and celebrating. My dad and two of my friends, Rachael and Katie, came to cheer me on and celebrate after. My sister Joanne also completed the Parkrun with my nephew and niece (their first time!).
Before we began!
I was excited before the run, especially because Joanne and Katie had made cake (at my not so subtle hint/request!) I ran with Tone and once we crossed the finish line we turned back and went to run/walk the rest of the route with Joanne, Darius and Toni. I was so proud to reach 50 Parkrun’s and of Darius and Toni completing their first ever!
Running with Darius to the finish!

After we finished running we got the cake from the cars and Katie tried lighting the 50 candle. It was quite windy so no sooner had we lit it the flame blew out. We decided to take the cakes inside and have a cuppa and I thoroughly enjoyed eating more calories than I’d ran off, with some of the most important people in my life.
Celebration Cake!
The following Monday I went for a run after work with Tone and we covered more than 7 and a half miles. We stopped for me to stretch my calves a few times as they are still niggling. I enjoyed running and then walking when I felt like I needed to (and stopping to eat the jellies Tone had thoughtfully packed in his arm band).
I always love it when our runs incorporate a view of the sea and we started on the prom in Newbiggin. There were moments I found difficult but with Tone’s company and encouragement it was largely an enjoyable run. My focus was to enjoy being out in the fresh air and not on distance (though we did have a distance in mind before we set off).
The following Thursday I went to Ashington Hirst Running Club beginner’s session and completed 5k. I complained most of the way round as it was so hot and my legs felt heavy and tight. Towards the end of the run I settled into it a bit more and my legs were feeling better so instead of running straight back to my house Tone and I decided to run round the lake at the QE2, taking the total distance up to more than 7 miles. The Great North Run is definitely feeling achievable now and I am looking forward to increasing my distance even further!
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

No more excuses...

My training feels slow at the moment and I am beginning to wonder why I thought training for a half marathon again was a good idea…
Last week saw my return to the North East and the start of my new job. It still feels a bit surreal that I am actually back living and working in the North East and I wasted no time in joining Ashington Hirst Running Club last Tuesday. I decided to go to the effort session as I was feeling guilty that I’d not done much running in my final weeks in Leeds. I really enjoyed the session (400m relays) but I think I found it difficult and struggled with the gentle run back at the end of the session due to overdoing it in the efforts themselves. Everyone was so friendly and I am excited to have a joined a club! Looking forward to future sessions!
On Saturday I ran my 49th parkrun at South Shields. It’s been a while since I ran here and decided it would be nice to do it again before I hit the big 5-0! (number of Parkruns completed…not my age!!) I love running near the sea, there’s something about breathing in the sea air that makes me feel truly alive.
South Shields
I love the route at South Shields but it’s not the easiest, with a hill near the beginning and undulating the rest of the way round. There was also a head wind on the final stretch which added an extra element of difficulty. The sun was shining and I had good company so I was determined to keep going until the end. My calves have begun to feel tight again and I could feel them getting heavier as the run progressed. When the finish line was almost in sight, my brother in law came and joined us for the final bit which was just the final push I needed to get across the finish line. After the run, Craig, Tone and I went for a cup of tea and I enjoyed taking in the view of the sea from the window. I missed the coast so much when I was in Leeds and I appreciate it so much more now I’m home J As we finished our cuppa we saw Tony the Fridge outside the window and I shouted well done as we were leaving. He had just completed day 29 of his 100 Great North Runs in 100 day – what an inspiration!!
Tone, me, Craig before we ran
Sunday saw the arrival of the Great North 10K once again and having not ran much recently I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. The music at the start of the route made me feel excited and I was determined to enjoy the day with great company. As the run progressed my legs felt heavy and tight and my feet began to tingle – it’s been a while since I experienced this and I think I need to re-lace my new trainers. We stopped a few times on route so I could stretch my calves and make my legs a little more comfortable. It was pretty warm on Sunday too… I always find running in the heat extremely uncomfortable and my struggle on Sunday was no different. Tone really tried to keep me motivated throughout and I couldn’t have kept going without him. At points I was close to tears, with the tightness in my calves and the heat. I loved running into the stadium, partly as I knew how close the finish line was, but also because the music and cheering really increased my motivation! Tone and I often have a bit of ‘finish line competition’ which is often my favourite part of our runs but I knew my legs couldn’t carry me any faster than they were already so we kept a steady (possibly ever-so-slightly-faster) pace.
Tone and me at GN10K
Receiving my medal and (tech!) t-shirt made the run worthwhile and I was glad I had done it. I’m also glad because it reminded me that I need to start training properly again and remember to do all the other parts of my training in between running that have just completely slipped due to how busy I have been over recent weeks and months. I have no one to blame other than myself but I know I need to stop making excuses and just get on with it. I’ve been resting, stretching, foam rolling and using ice over the last few days and I missed running club last night in an effort to get my niggles sorted.
I think I’ll do a gentle run tomorrow as they are feeling much better now. I am looking forward to my 50th Parkrun on Saturday at Druridge Bay Parkrun (it would be lovely to see you there!). I still can’t believe I’ve made it to 50 as I used to say I didn’t have time to Parkrun at all…funny how priorities change and what you can achieve when I stop making excuses and just get on and do it…
Now that I’ve had a few days to recover I am feeling more positive about the Great North Run again though I still think I underestimated how much time I need to find for training (even though I’ve done it before). But I’m determined that there’s going to be no more excuses…
If you would like to help me on my fundraising journey you can sponsor me here. Any support is greatly appreciated and will mean a lot to the members of the North East Trust for Aphasia.