New Year, New Goals

With only a few days remaining for 2016 it is time to refocus and look forward to the year ahead.

From the 1st of January, my 15 week training plan for the London Marathon kicks in along with a big change to my diet in order to help me cope with the increase in training.

Although the Marathon is my core focus for the first part of 2017, there are plenty of other events I have signed up to to keep me busy.

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London Winter Run – 5th February – My sole aim for this race is improve on last years performance. With an illness developing that I was not aware of at the time, I struggled with every step. This Winter, so far, I think I have done a better job of looking after myself and listening to my body. Therefore, if I continue to train and look after myself right, this time round I should improve.

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Hampton Court Half Marathon – 19th February – My first time running this route. Originally booked to give myself an idea as to where my running progress is for the London Marathon, my goal is to get round and see what time I can get. With the course being a “flat, fast route” I think this will give me a good indication on timing and progress in the next few months.

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North London Half Marathon – 12th March – I have been told by others that this will be a hard race. Starting from Wembley Stadium this route is rather testing with the hills of North London. I will not be worried about time for this one. This is simply to help with the stamina and endurance. Being a North London girl at heart, this route will see me running some of the areas I grew up in.

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London Marathon – 23rd April – The big one! The one I am petrified of. And the one that takes all my focus from now until the big day. Running for the Willow Foundation means I also have a £2,000 fundraising target. Lately, the smaller runs have been tough – so trying to get myself in the mindset to run 13.1 miles more than I have ever run before is rather hard. But with the training plan due to kick in any day now, i’m hopeful that some of my fears will dissipate in the coming months.

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Hackney Half Marathon – 30th April – Just a week after the London Marathon I have planned to sign up for Run Hackney for the second year running. I should be in the best place to run this for the second time. My hope is to improve on 2016’s performance. I’m keeping my fingers crossed with this one – with the date being moved forward I hope we will avoid the unexpected heat wave we saw this year.

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Rat Race Dirty Weekend – 6th May – This I am excited about. After running London Rat Race in 2016, friends recommended the Rat Race Dirty weekend. A weekend camping, with a 20 mile obstacle race, followed by an after party in the evening. With a group of friends going, this is set to be a little adventure.

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Nuclear Rush – 13th May –  After lots of fun running Nuclear Fallout in 2015, I return to Nuclear races in 2017. This time running the early summer event instead of the colder event in November. A 12k obstacle race I am looking forward to. Nuclear are the best for OCR races so this should be lots of fun. And as it is the last race before I take a nice two week holiday I shall be very cautious to ensure I don’t get an array of OCR kisses.

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Great Newham Run – 2nd July – New entry for 2017. I saw lots of friends running this in 2016 and had race envy. One lap round the Olympic park, this one finishes in the Stadium and has a very snazzy medal. Lets hope I can still run at this point of the year.

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Born Survivor – 9th September – Another new entry for 2017 sees me travelling further afield to the Lake District. Hearing good reviews and jumping at the chance of a cheeky weekend getaway I was very quick to sign up for the early bird prices several months ago.

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Commando Series – 11th November – Not yet booked, but definitely on the schedule for 2017. I am looking forward to returning to Commando Series at Hever Castle. By far the best OCR race I completed in 2016 I am hoping that I will be able to complete the water obstacles I bypassed this year due to health reasons.

So that’s it. My 2017 line up. Returning to runs I have previously participated in and including new races in the mix will definitely keep me going, give me new goals and focus for 2017.

I hope to keep the adventures coming throughout the year. So please keep reading and following my journey.

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2016 Round Up

As the year is drawing to a close I can’t help but look back on the obstacles I have overcome this year. If you asked me how I thought 2016 would go this time last year I’m pretty sure that I would be a lot different to how it turned out.

For starters I never dreamed that I would suffer from a bout of Pneumonia, with it taking the best part of a year to recover from.

I also didn’t dream that I would have taken part in so many events. But the thrill of a finish (and a medal) can draw you in and as a result signing up for more races becomes extremely addictive.

Here I look back at some of those races:

London Winter Run – the first of many 10k races I took part in, was one of the hardest. Little did I know under the surface I was developing an illness which was the cause of my bad performance. That said, it was a great route with an amazing atmosphere. I shall be running this one again in February 2017 – hoping this will be more enjoyable and that I will train enough to get a sub 60 minute time.

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British Heart Foundation Olympic Park 10k – One that I will not be running again. This was 2 loops round the Olympic Park on one of the coldest days I have ever encountered. The cold from this run was the nail on the coffin for me. A week later I was in A&E and eventually after being misdiagnosed twice, hooked up to IV antibiotics, under house arrest for two weeks with nurses visiting three times a day. It’s not a race I look back at fondly. In addition it was a shambles. Thinking I had knocked 10 minutes of my PB I quickly discovered that the race was not measured out correctly….So it was actually less than 10k.

The Gauntlet Games – The first race post Pneumonia. Great to get me back into the racing world but utterly boring and quite frankly disappointing. Built for those new to OCR racing rather than seasoned racers. Not one that I would personally run again but would recommend to those who want to have an introduction to the OCR world.

WAR Adrenaline Race – Second time racing this one. In a new location for 2016, I found this quite difficult to get into. In vast private grounds, the opportunities for spectators to cheer you on were few and far between. Obstacles were limited and often repeated – lots of inverted walls. Probably not one I would run again – but one that has always involved a big group of Regiment Fitness members, so has the potential to be fun.

Hackney Half Marathon – The hottest day of the year. No training could prepare us for this day. The fact that I ran this (or ran/walked this) so soon after my recovery was an achievement itself – especially when so many said I shouldn’t. 2 hours 46 minutes – 26 minutes over my half marathon PB is pretty good going with gammy lungs and on the hottest day of the year. This is planned in the diary for 2017, a week after the London Marathon, in the hope to prove to myself I can do better when I am fit and well.

Hatfield Broad Oak 10k – An old faithful, local event. A race that brings a nice group together to run, followed by drinks and lunch nearby. Sadly, due to holidays booked, I wont be running this one in 2017. But it is definitely one I will run again in the future.

Hatfield Forest 10k – This 10k was set in the stunning Hatfield Forest. It was a race that made me realise that my health and strength was coming back to me. Running through the forest was simply amazing. I intend to get back up to the Forest for some training runs in the coming months.

Mission 24 – A 24 hour boot camp run by Regiment Fitness. The second year I have taken part and something that only those that have the strongest mind would be able to complete. I was personally over the moon to complete this the second time around, managing 18 out of 24 sessions, an epic acheivement. Though, not an event I am looking to complete again. Improving on my previous years performance is enough for me.

The British 10k London – This route was amazing. The crowds were inspiring. This is definitely a race I have my eye on for summer 2017. After a year catching up on the fitness I lost, I managed to get my best time of the year for a 10k race. Mainly flat, running amongst the amazing sites of London, it is one I would thoroughly recommend to all – new and seasoned runners. Plus they give an amazing medal and t-shirt upon completion.

London Rat Race – Mixed reviews on this one. It is very costly for what it is. If you enjoy water you will love this one. Throwing ourselves in and out of the Thames it was a good laugh. My only issue – running laps. There were three laps in total. When I run an obstacle race I want that – obstacles – the more the better. It was still a fun race to complete as a group. Next year I will be running Rat Race Dirty Weekend – a 20 mile obstacle race weekend run by the same company.

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Bear Grylls Survival Race – Sorry Bear Grylls, but this was the biggest disappointment in my running calendar. Over priced, minimal obstacles, lots of running. Here you are just paying for the name. Bear Grylls was no where to be seen and obstacles were actually closed. We did recieve an invitation to run again, after complaining, but to be honest I have other events I would prefer to try out.

GR8 10k – Another local run around the farm lands of Bishops Stortford. Raining, hilly and generally quite slow. A dissapointing performance for me. However, the day prior to this event I had completed the same route tabbing – so it is no surprise that I just was not feeling this one. Two years running this race in a row (no medal), I will be skipping this in 2017.

Commando Series – An epic end to the year. The best OCR race I have completed in 2016. Amazing organisation, friendly staff and stunning backdrop. This was a great way to end my racing year. I will definitely be returning to Commando Series at Hever Castle and I would recommend this one whole heartedly to others.

So that’s it. Six 10k runs, five OCR races, one 24-hour Boot Camp, one Half Marathon and a partridge in a pear tree!

The year has proved to be a rollercoaster of events and emotions – with me appreciating my health and strength more than ever before. Having fun with exisiting friends and making new ones.

With nine events already scheduled for 2017 – I am hoping the next 12 months to be bigger, better and stronger.

 

Winter is coming.

Winter is most definitely on the way. The temperature is dropping and dark nights are here to stay for now. I always find Winter months the hardest for training and this year is no exception.

For the last few weeks stress and exhaustion from the Christmas build up is playing havoc on my running – especially when running solo. Yesterday as I realised the eight mile run I planned was going to be solo my first thought was “I will just have a lie in.” Giving myself a stern talking to, after all I am going to have to run 26.2 miles solo, I got myself up and out. The run was painful, it was boring and I just could not drive myself to keep going – ending at 4.5 miles. I have been so spoilt with having a running buddy over the last month or so, that running alone seemed such a painful process. But it is something I am going to have to get over quickly. Come New Year, the runs will become longer, harder and most likely at times alone.

So in order to get myself into a good mindset and to keep myself motivated I have listed some key points to help me get through the winter.

Make a plan and stick to it.

The key to success is careful planning. So far since signing up to the London Marathon I have kept to schedule, planned out routes and until recently it had been working. So for the remainder of 2016 and into the New Year I will continue to plan in my runs – short runs during the week and long runs at the weekend. Mixing this up with different classes will ensure I don’t get bored and it will mean I am not always out in the cold.

Don’t compare myself to others.

Until recently I had been constantly comparing myself to other members at Regiment Fitness. I was giving myself a hard time because I could not run as fast or do as much as the next person. Giving my membership up for the next few months has done me the world of good. I am no longer looking at others, questioning my ability and becoming frustrated in the process. I am enjoying my classes, knowing that I am doing something I can excel at.

Be prepared.

With the English weather being as it is, I need to ensure that I have gear for all weathers. Let’s face it, I am likely to encounter all kinds of weather conditions over the next few months so I need to be prepared in order to make sure I am comfortable during training. My current gear consists of one layer on my legs and three on top; vest, long-sleeved running top and a running gilet. In addition I make sure I now have running lights round my ankles for safety and my Camelbak which can carry my water, keys, phone and a small amount of cash – just in case.

Take one day at a time.

Although I need to be forward planning, I also need to make sure that I take this training one step at a time. It is not going to be easy, there will most likely be tears. There will be days, like yesterday, when I feel so demotivated. There will be bad runs. There will be good runs. I just have to accept each day as it comes, shake off the bad runs and look to be better next time.

Diet.

My diet of late has not been fantastic. Christmas treats constantly available round the office, parties and lunches are all taking their toll. My gluten-free diet has been hard to keep to at times, with my main weakness being mince pies. I am allowing myself to let this go for now. Once Christmas is over and the treats are few and far between, I will become more strict – ensuring I stick to plan, even keeping a food diary to assess each week.

Give myself a break.

One of the biggest factors I have to consider is health. I have not had the best year, I am still in recovery from pneumonia and I have to keep that in mind during training. Although I have been given the go ahead from my consultant to train and run the London Marathon I always have to be wary of the signs. Therefore If I am running and I feel the need to walk at times, I will do so. The same applies on the day itself. There is no point pushing myself to the point where I am either in danger of damaging my health further or (my biggest fear) not completing the race itself. I have to remember how far I have come to get back my strength and stop giving myself a hard time when runs do not go to plan. 

Rest Days.

The most important. Rest days will mean more in the lead up to the big day. As much as I hate being inactive I have to remember these days will help my muscles repair and enable me to keep running. I am getting better at embracing rest days than I used to, but this is still work in progress. Planning to encorporate sports massages and time using a hot tub in a near by hotel will become a regular part of rest days too.

Embrace the outdoors

Running indoors has never been something for me. The treadmill both bores and scares me – with fears that I will fly off. I have always much prefered running in the great outdoors, being blessed with some beautiful running routes this is not hard.Lately the long runs have meant early dark starts; but there is nothing like running during a winter sunrise. I hope to see more of these throughout the course of my training.

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So that’s it. Thats my plan to keep strong and motivated throughout the Winter months. I need to remain positive. I know I will have bad days, I will be frustrated at times. But I need to keep focused on that end goal…..

Imagining the finish line. Getting that medal.

 

Its a Funnell thing…..

Just over two years ago I recall a day at boot camp where I first met Richard Funnell. Clearly older than most and looking slightly terrified though undeterred he gave 100% into his first session – fully encouraged by myself and other members. Rather red and sweating by the end – I did not expect we would see him again. But low and behold, he returned the next day and the next day after that.

Richard quickly became friends with many of the existing members. His comradery and the ability to not take himself seriously made him an easy to love character – he simply fitted in. So much so that he soon became the boot camp “Dad” and took no offence to others even calling him “old Git.” He embraced every challenge and every session – encouraging every member no matter how long they had been at Regiment Fitness.

When I first set my eyes on Richard, I would never imagine he would have been able to achieve such amazing goals. Not only has he managed to improve his fitness, but he is running round with people half his age whilst completing numerous events.

I have lost count of the number of early mornings we have had travelling to sessions or races. This year alone we have completed the London Winter Run, Hackney Half Marathon, Mission 24,  Commando Series – to name a few. And it doesn’t stop at that – he even does the unthinkable, completing challenges alone. With several 100km solo walks under his belt his first challenge of 2017 is Fan Dance – a gruelling 24km non-navigational race over two sides of Pen-Y-Fan, a route that has been used by the SAS and SBS selction programme – something I said a “hell no” to.

Richard’s passion and determination to complete event after event is so inspiring to see. He refuses to see age as a barrier, fully embracing his inner Peter Pan he is happy to continue running around, playing in the mud and throwing himself at obstacles with the rest of us.

A true inspiration. He is not only a fellow member, but also an amazing friend; lending an ear, giving me a hug or a much needed kick up the arse.

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Therefore on his on this 59th birthday I wanted to dedicate my weekly post to him. Happy Birthday “Dad”!

Here’s to another year completing things we never dreamed we would be doing.