Dulux London Revolution

What.A.Weekend

Waking up at 4am on Saturday morning, nerves and excitement set in, trying to force down overnight oats while triple checking that we had everything we needed. We hit the road by 4:30am, I’ve never seen the London roads so quiet.

The whole experience was new to me having never taken part in a cycle event of any kind, so I was in amazement when we pulled in to the field to park the car watching what looked like professional cyclists everywhere getting their bikes ready, pumping up tyres, fitting inner tubes and attaching their numbers to their bikes. As we registered it suddenly felt real. I’d been waiting for that feeling all week, even travelling down to London still didn’t feel real. 187 miles was a distance that I couldn’t quite appreciate or get my head around. Receiving the registration pack was when it suddenly hit me. As I was looking around taking in the atmosphere I couldn’t help but notice that I was yet to see any women cyclists, automatically I started to worry that all the men around me looked particularly hard core and ready for what lies ahead.

My bike was ready, my luggage was gone and my water bottles were filled. I was at the start line listening to the safety talk and then before I really knew what was going on my wave were clipping in and we were off. I don’t think I’ll forget that initial feeling, the first time in my life that I was cycling in a group with other people. I felt like I was learning to ride for the first time and I actually felt wobbly. It was just nerves and within a mile I found my feet but I couldn’t help but notice that these roads were not closed, they were very much open and extremely busy. 

Riding in London itself was an experience, every traffic light turned red as we approached and I got lots of practice at clipping out. When we started the ride we were given a sticker to go on the bike setting out the main climbs and pit stops. Being the girl who thought the route was flat was a little confused but accepted that there would be a few ‘hills’. Everywhere has a few hills. What this ride has taught me is that in cycling there is actually a difference between a hill and a climb. 

The ride started in North London, through Shoreditch and Stoke Newingham, crossing the iconic Tower Bridge was a highlight all the way to the first climb up to Crystal Palace, I knew then that this ride was going to be a test. 

Reaching the first pit stop at mile 34 felt good, I’d settled in to the ride and had got used to riding in a group of people, learning the etiquette and enjoying myself. The first stop was great, a chance to stretch the legs and refuel. Refuelling. This is something that I hadn’t quite mastered while training and I did feel a little nervous that I didn’t have a nutrition plan. It was then that I discovered Perkier, a great brand that makes breakfast and snacks out of whole foods. I had never tried the snack bars before but they quickly became my favourite. A sprouted oaty cranberry bar and banana along with more water was just what I needed to get me through the next 34 miles. Off we went making our way to the next pit stop, strong winds, pretty views and steep climbs but 34 miles later we stopped for lunch (and I must admit another perkier bar!).

Mile 64 and I was feeling positive still, I had some self doubt but could see the end in sight. A big error I made on this ride was about to unveil as I took on the final part of the ride. Dehydration. I definitely didn’t drink enough while out riding and this is something I struggled with throughout training but when I got to mile 87 I started to really struggle. My legs had nothing left, I felt dehydrated and light headed. But I kept spinning the legs and pushing forwards. The finish line was in sight and it felt amazing to cross it. The atmosphere at Windsor racecourse was fab! 

That night I met the Dulux dog and then chilled out in the chill out area before retiring to ‘bed’ for the night. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not made for camping, especially after cycling 102 miles, all I wanted was a nice comfy hotel room but I was here to finish a race not a night of luxury. Needless to say it was a sleepless night, having spent 3 hours chugging water to try and ease the dehydration I also had to get up every hour and find my way to the portaloo and then find my way back again… not so easy when all the tents look the same!  

5am Saturday morning and the rain was pouring down, sore legs, head cold on its way I had to reason with myself. Mr cycling buddy next door also woke up feeling poorly and extremely sore and for a few minutes I did wonder how the day would end. We were proud of cycling 100 miles, an achievement that neither of us had achieved before. But that wasn’t enough. We looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking. We are finishing this race.

We turned up at the start line and perhaps that was the hardest step, the motivation and energy around us was enough to make us forget the uncomfortable feelings we had. Sitting back on the bike and pedalling was painful and my bum was hurting from the offset, something to do with my piriformis injury I expect but every bump sent stabbing pains through me. It was going to be a long day.

I settled in and tried to get comfortable but there was nothing comfortable about it, the climbs were relentless and started early, we were exploring the chilterns filled with painful long climbs, beautiful views and fast descents. The descents made me nervous as almost each one ended with another climb. Pit stop one was most welcome and I was doubting myself, I was in pain and completely blind to what was to come. Texts from my mum telling me I could do it and positive messages from my sister along with so much support from friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. That is what got me through, so many people were watching and so many people where willing me on and to finish there was no way that I could stop now. I had people following my journey and waiting for me to get the finish. I was going to finish. 

The next part of the ride was the hilliest and hardest of all, I think it was the most challenging 2 hours of my life, one hill made me sick, one made me cry but I was determined to get to the top of each. My family have been through some challenging times and thinking about these gave me to strength and determination when I needed it most. 

I know my family must have thought I was crazy when I told them I was cycling 187 miles (you can’t even ride on the road yet) and I know they may have secretly doubted me during training but they supported me none the less. Every pedal of the way and that’s what got me through.

When things got really tough I played mind games with myself, I thought about problems that needed to be solved and I learnt a lot about myself.

I wasn’t a cyclist before I started, I wouldn’t ride my bike outside as I was scared of roundabouts and junctions. I was resistant to clip in cycling shoes in case I couldn’t clip out fast enough. The training has been tough and there have been challenges along the way, rides early on a Sunday morning over winter in the freezing cold, heavy winds, self doubts, hitting 50 miles and questioning whether I can go any further, missed workouts due to illness, endless anxiety and several times considering not doing it and exhaustion. There have also been beautiful Sunday morning rides in the sunshine, discovering new coffee shops, cycling over to my parents house, achieving new goals and personal bests, smilies, laughs, proud moments, bringing my new bike in to my life and pushing my body further than it has ever been before. It’s been a journey of highs and lows, and I’d do it all again for those 60 seconds of feeling amazing crossing the finish line. 

The Dulux London Revolution is an amazing event. The organisation, support and atmosphere are second to none.

Thank you to Stolen Goat for my cycling kit, I felt like a proper cyclist stood at the start line with my kit.

Thank you to Perkier Foods for introducing me to the best energy snacks I have ever had. A new food that will become part of my everyday training! Also to High 5 for the electrolyte drinks, they too made all the difference. 

Let’s not forget the reason I did this event, after being lucky enough to win entry I decided to raise money for The Shakespeare Hospice a charity we are working closely with at work. Thank you to everyone who helped me raise £605 for such a great cause.

I hope that I can show that you really can do anything you put your mind to. I wasn’t a cyclist before I started and I doubted  myself throughout but if you want to achieve something then you are your only barrier. More is in you.

A weekend I will never ever forget.

The ultimate question, would I ever do it again? 

What do you think 😉


M x 
https://stolengoat.com/
http://perkier.co.uk/
http://www.london-revolution.com/
http://www.giant-leamington.co.uk/en-GB/
https://www.theshakespearehospice.org.uk/
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Michelle-Mumford3

Dulux London Revolution

To Bib, or not to Bib that is the question?

I am no professional, I actually consider myself an amateur, a newbie, a novice. But one lesson I learnt pretty swiftly is that whatever your level, if you are planning on spending a decent time in the saddle never underestimate the importance of bib shorts… lovely padded bib shorts.

When I first started riding, or should I say when I first thought about riding I bought a pair of bib shorts, I didn’t research them but they were in the sale and I thought I might need them, so I bought them. I wore them once and that was that. They didn’t feel much different to wearing my running tights if I am completely honest. Then when I was lucky enough to win entry into the London Revolution I realised that;

a) I was going to have to start taking my training seriously 

b) I was actually going to have to get on my road bike, on the road (no more hiding on the turbo in the comfort of my home) 

c) It was winter, it was cold and I was going to need appropriate bib tights. 

The ones I decided on (after limited research) were OK, but being a newbie I wasn’t 100% sure how I was meant to feel after a long ride, my bum still hurt after getting off the saddle and the longer the rides became the more I felt as though I was becoming part of the saddle, or the saddle was becoming part of me, either way it was a painful experience! Not to mention the ‘slight’ pain of consecutive days riding. To me this was normal. Then something that I can only describe as a complete game-changer happened. I discovered Stolen Goat. Yes I’m a Brand Ambassador however I write this blog completely impartial because the simple fact that I am an ambassador does not take away that on discovering Stolen Goat I discovered the key to a comfortable ride. 

With summer months approaching but still a little chilly I opted to buy some new bib shorts, I decided on the Women’s Orkaan waterproof shorts.

I love them.

Now as an amateur I’m not going to go in to too much technical detail because I’m still learning myself. 

But here is what makes Stolen Goat Orkaan Waterproof Bib Shorts so great: 

Waterproof fabric – the waterproofing is manufactured into the material and so no amount of washing will affect its performance.

Wind resistant – considered more wind resistant than other bib shorts.

Proprietary Pad – using dimple technology to increase airflow these bib shorts have been developed in Belgium alongside top level pro riders and so quality is guaranteed.

Premium fit – what I like about these compared to the first shorts I owned is that the legs are held in place by elasticated bands so that they hold in place throughout the ride instead of using silicon grippers which can be uncomfortable as well as irritating!

With London Revolution approaching I have been focusing on consecutive days in the saddle and these Stolen Goat shorts have made that possible. Not only are they comfortable and fit well but I love the SG logo and by choosing black I can pair with any cycling jersey (and yes I have just ordered another jersey from SG!)

These shorts are also waterproof. I have been lucky enough to avoid the rain but with our lovely British weather I’m sure it will only be a matter of weeks before they really are put to the test! 

If you are looking for some great performance bib shorts I would highly recommend Stolen Goat. 

Whether you are a beginner just setting out on your cycling journey and starting your cycling wardrobe, or you have more cycling kit than normal clothes. Whether you are going out on a leisurely Sunday ride or competing in a sportive, maybe you are clocking up the miles on a turbo or hitting the roads on a spring morning. Whatever your ride these are just the perfect kit.

An absolute essential for your cycling wardrobe.

Don’t just take my word for it, I am an amateur after all.
stolengoat.com

M x 

I am cycling the London Revolution 185 miles to raise pennies and awareness for the Shakespeare Hospice, a charity who do amazing things.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Michelle-Mumford3

To Bib, or not to Bib that is the question?

Positive motivation is everything.

Would you run a half marathon, on your own, in the pouring rain, with no encouragement and no one to motivate you? Maybe you would but it is hard work. 

Would you run a half marathon, with 40 running friends, in the pouring rain, with motivation, encouragement, support and the most amazing positive energy you can imagine? (Filled with smiles, laughs and selfies) Yes you would. I know which I would prefer.

As someone who has run a half marathon alone with no one around for encouragement I can tell you that ok so it may be possible, but it is in no way fun and it’s a tough mental battle from the start line. I am also lucky enough to have been in the 2nd scenario just yesterday.

The reason for my post isn’t to talk about any specific marathon or even running as a topic but what became evident to me yesterday as I crossed the finish line of Warwick Half Marathon is just how amazing and powerful it is to be part of a group of like minded people. People who pass on advice, discuss what to wear before a race, get excited together, meet at the start line, push each other through their mental barriers and then regroup at the finish line and share each other’s achievements and pride. That just sums up Run Like A Girl Leamington.

Before I joined a running group I couldn’t understand the appeal, but one session with the group and the love and support became apparent. You don’t just become a member of a running group you become a part of something much bigger. Without sounding soppy or cliched you do gain a family, a running family and the best of friends. I have made friends who I feel I have known for years, friendships that will last for years to come.

Before the run I had doubts, I worried that my injury wouldn’t hold out, that my legs were too tired before I started, that I’d have to stop, that I just wouldn’t do it. Being sat on the groups Facebook page the night before with everyone sharing their worries and others giving advice and showing support my nerves were eased and I just had a knowledge that it was going to be ok. The positivity of RLAG would be enough to get me round. Then on the morning of the race when the rain was lashing down and it was a truly miserable morning my annoyance at the weather didn’t last long when I met up with the ladies before the run. We were all frustrated with the rain but we were able to see the funny side and we were facing it together. During the run I didn’t have time to really doubt myself because I was running with and talking to the RLAG ladies and the time flew by. I won’t say it was easy because we all had our struggles and moments of weaknesses with challenges to face but the power of the group seemed to make that process easier. When you run on your own it is easy to let your mind take over and as humans we can be very critical of ourselves. Go for the same run with a few friends and you stop criticising yourself so much and focus on the positives and begin to enjoy it.

Even families get involved with one of the Running Leaders little girls making lots of little bags of sweets with motivational messages to hand out to the group as we ran round. Is that not amazing?

The route was filled with supporters but what made it even more motivating to get round was that those RLAG ladies who were not racing that day still came out, in the rain to support us and encourage us from the side lines. The support a running group can give you is endless. I don’t like calling it a group because to me these ladies are more than that they are friends. 

Now this isn’t a plug to get more members for RLAG and I’m not saying you need to go and join a group to be a successful runner because that’s not necessarily true. What I am saying is it is truly amazing what you can achieve when surrounded by the right people. Never underestimate the power of a group of women, never underestimate the power of a group of women wearing running shoes and definitely do not underestimate the power of the RLAG army.

Ladies you really are amazing and it’s an absolute pleasure to be a Running Leader for you.

M x 

Positive motivation is everything.

Looking back over February 

It feels like I have only just reviewed January, how fast is this year going?!

The answer… too fast. May and the London Revolution are fast approaching and I feel completely unprepared for what is to come!

My plan for February was to continue to build a solid cycling base with increasing mileage on the long ride day. Did I achieve this? Yes. Do I feel any more prepared? No.

I managed to get my weekly mileage to 130 miles which is a step in the right direction but still lots of work to do. 

My training took me to the Peak District this month which was fab. It would have been amazing had I not contracted man flu before we went and felt horrific. For someone who struggles to take rest days, all I really wanted (and needed) to do was cuddle up in bed and sleep. I didn’t even visit the FREE spa in the hotel so I knew I must have been ill! But the weekend was booked and it was too good an opportunity to not train so I did. 

The Peak District has some beautiful places and I was lucky enough to run around Ladybower reservoir, after the first kilometre I was surprised at how flat our route seemed considering where we were and became quietly comfortable… and then we took it off road. I never run trails. I never run on grass. In fact I never run anywhere that isn’t considered ‘road running’ but I was taken out of my comfort zone and facing some very hilly, muddy, spiralling and challenging trails. But I LOVED it. It was refreshing to go out and run without having one eye on the Garmin looking at distance and pace. It’s the first run in a while that wasn’t ‘on the plan’ and it felt good. Granted it would have been better had I been able to breathe!

The following day I was feeling worse, the little energy I did have had been zapped, my head hurt and I felt rubbish. The thought of a long road ride (after seeing the massive hills that we had to drive over to get to the hotel) wasn’t appealing at all. I didn’t feel confident enough in my ability to use clip ins when it was so hilly and while feeling like I did, the last thing I wanted was to fall off. So we decided to get the mountain bikes and head out off road. 

“Just a little ride to see some views and stretch the legs”

We had a route and a map and I’m sure it would have been a flat, easy ride had we not missed the turn and ended up having to come off the trail. What started as an easy flat route quickly became a hill training session and I came face to face with the biggest hill I’ve ever seen in my life. (No exaggeration). I did it, it hurt, I couldn’t breathe because of the flu which ultimately made me panic slightly but I did it…and there was nice food and coffee at the top! There was also a beautiful view which made it worthwhile. 

Joking aside, what this ride did teach me is that I seriously need to focus on nutrition and my normal attitude of ‘water is all I need while training’ is not going to get me anywhere now the mileage and intensity is increasing. Before we stopped for food my legs felt like jelly, I was lightheaded and felt exhausted and I know that was more than flu causing it. Nutrition is a big challenge for me but something I need to master over the next few months.

Needless to say that training through flu was a silly idea and I suffered for it after and forced to take a good few rest days. The dehydration was the worst and my first run back after my rest days was painful. From the start my calf muscles cramped and it physically hurt to run, this was demoralising and made me doubt the half marathon I will be doing this weekend. But putting the flu and bad runs to one side I’ve been training well for the Half Marathon (better than last years) I’ve done two 10 mile runs this month and so I am prepared. When you are having a bad week or something gets in the way of training it is so easy to forget the positives and focus on the negatives.

Plan for March:

My longest ride so far was completely last week 53 miles. March will be about continuing to increase this while doing long rides on consecutive days to get used to what I will be facing at the London Revolution. I also plan to focus on nutrition and try and make some progress here.

March also marks the start of full Marathon training, more about that another day.

Let’s not forget the reasons I am doing this:

I am riding the London Revolution Ride to raise money for the Shakespeare Hospice, a charity that works hard to provide support for children and adults with life limiting and serious illnesses. At Blue Skies we have pledged to raise a lot of money in 2017 and so I wanted to do this ride for them, to not only raise money but awareness to.

If you are reading this and would like to show your support please do donate. I’m not asking anyone to sponsor me for the ride, people do crazy challenges all the time but I am asking you to support a fab charity.

All you need to do is;

Text MICM89

With your amount be it £1 or £10 

To 70070
Or visit my just giving page

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Michelle-Mumford3 
M x 

Looking back over February 

New Year…Better Me

New Year, New Me… or rather ‘Better Me’
Resolutions are a funny thing. For me I’d always finish December and vow to be better, to fix everything and change my life. Part of my resolutions were just words to make my family happy and looking back I’m not sure how much they believed me anyway.

Life with an eating disorder was full of hope and promises come January. Hope that this year would be the year I cracked it. Promises that this time next year we would be looking back and it would all be behind us. In a way these were empty promises. Sometimes New Years resolutions are just not as shiny and motivating as they seem on the outside. The eating disorder couldn’t be overcome by a promise come the first of the month rather a promise and hope every single day that I could get better. 

I’m not a fan of resolutions that tell you to stop doing something, I think you are setting yourself up to fail by putting barriers in place before the year has even began. After leaving hospital and beginning to settle back in to normal life in 2015 this last year has been a great time to make some changes and steps in the right direction, it has helped me see areas that I still need to work on and things that I want to improve. I developed a love for running last year and completed my first and second half marathon. This showed me what my body can do but also made me want to push further. This year my New Years Resolutions are focused on making positive changes, setting challenges that mean I have to start doing certain things rather than focusing on stopping something. Focus on the positives not the negatives.




I have several things that I want to achieve this year on a physical and personal level.
So what do I want 2017 to hold for me?
Completing my first full marathon and my first (185mile) cycle ride. I know I’m not strong enough at the moment to do this but my goals for 2017 are to become fitter and stronger to ensure I succeed in these challenges.

On a personal level there are things that I want to change, or at least improve. 

Whatever your plans are for 2017, think about where you are now and where you would like to be and look at the positive changes you need to make to get there. 
For those who are suffering with an Eating Disorder remember that you can’t change everything in a year, you can’t ‘be cured’ or ‘recovered’ these are not realistic goals, but there are many things that you can do to start on that road to recovery. Recovery is a process, a road and a journey, it doesn’t start on the first of January and you don’t just decide to get better, there will be bumps in the path but there is no failure. 

2017 will be the year that I continue to get stronger. You can do it to. Whether that be summoning the courage to ask for help, continuing to fight a mental health condition or making your body stronger. 


Happy New Year 

M x

New Year…Better Me

Loneliness is a feeling.

Mental health can affect all areas of your life. I personally, suffered from anorexia. But an eating disorder or any mental illness is never an isolated problem. It feeds into so many areas of life and can be all consuming. Loneliness is something that I felt for such a long time. I think it began when I was at uni. All of my friends were going out together, socialising, meeting people. I began isolating myself more and more as the anorexia took over. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go out, I did, I wanted the normal uni life more than anything, I wanted to be accepted, but I couldn’t. The eating disorder had taken over my mind and convinced me I couldn’t do normal things. I was terrified of putting on weight and trying my hardest to continue to lose. Going out with friends always involved meals out or drinks and I was to scared. I started using work as an excuse, I didn’t have time as I had deadlines. I was studying a law degree so this was an acceptable excuse but the more I isolated myself the more lonely I felt and the harder it was to be around people. 
My confidence dropped so quickly.

 I would go out with my few closest friends to the shops but I very quickly felt awkward around everyone else. I felt like I was being judged as ‘boring’ as I never made the effort to go out. So I stayed away even more. Uni is meant to be the best years of your life but for me it was some of the worst. 
I made some friends that I love and will always have in my life but aside from them uni felt very lonely. 

Even 4 years on from uni, I ended up in hospital. The lead up to this was the darkest time in my life not to mention the most lonely. I was scared of any situation that involved people, I felt like an outsider and felt socially awkward around people.

  
Feeling lonely makes you feel hopeless, it makes you want to give up and stop fighting. I felt like this to but through medical intervention I found myself in hospital. Although I hated every second of it I’m grateful that I was able to begin building relationships again with like minded people who understood. I was forced to be around people and I made some amazing friends from this. When I was discharged I was nervous that I was leaving this safe place and coming back home to the life where I didn’t feel that I had many friends. I felt guilty that I pushed everyone away and kept myself in my safety bubble. But I knew that I wanted to get my life back, I had already worked so hard and come so far that I wanted to keep going. 

My confidence had started to grow. 

I told myself that I would start to re-build old friendships and also make new friends. 

I had introduced exercise back into my life in a healthy way and thought this might be a good opportunity to join a group. I’m not sure what initially gave me the push or where the strength came from but I saw a women’s running group near where I live and everybody on the group seemed so friendly. It wasn’t a group focused on ‘serious’ or competitive running but looked like a group of girls just going out there and having fun. I admit I was terrified of just walking up to the group as I felt that everyone would already know each other but I decided to step outside my comfort zone and just do it. I loved it!! This is one of the best things I have done and I have met some amazing people and made some great friends. If I had stayed hiding in my house I would never have some of the friends I do and my confidence wouldn’t have grown. I’m now proud to say I became a running leader for the group and get to meet so many people, forming friendships and growing my confidence.

Loneliness is a terrible feeling and at the time it feels like there is no way out. But I promise that there is. Be strong and remember that there are people surrounding you whether you have distanced yourself or not, they will be waiting and ready to come back into your life when you are ready which is what I found. I lost a lot of friends from being unwell but I’ve made so many more.

I think the advice I would give would be to realise loneliness is a feeling, and as with all feelings these can change. Start small by talking to a few people on a daily basis, when your comfortable with this arrange a meet up, maybe a coffee and a chat, pop to the shops or watch a film. As you start to interact with people you will see how good it feels. Most importantly, don’t put pressure on yourself to be accepted or try and be who you think everyone wants you to be. This can feel just as lonely.
I try and make sure that I talk to several friends each day and also arrange a coffee and catch up, the more you do it the stronger your relationships will be and the more able you will be to talk about things.

Loneliness is a sad place to be but there are ways out. 

I did it, so can you x

  

Loneliness is a feeling.

You CAN run a Half Marathon too!

Hands up who has watched one of the Great Runs on TV and thought ‘wow, I wish I could do that’?Every year I have watched the London Marathon and joked about how people can run so far, secretly wishing I could do it but knowing it would never happen. Last year after stumbling across Run Like A Girl and getting (gently) nudged shall we say by a friend to do the Blenheim 10km with her I started taking more interest in races on tv. 

After only just achieving 10km at Blenheim Palace I immediately fell in love with the feel of race day… Or crossing the finish line at least! When I was watching the Great South Run on TV while getting on with the ironing I was taken aback by the crowds, the support and all of people’s stories as to why they were running. Bowel Cancer Uk is a charity very close to my heart and I remember thinking to myself, ‘I wish I could run a big race to raise money for this charity’. As I watched more and more I began to question whether I could do it, and seeing the eldest man in the race cross the finish line triggered the idea in me that I was going to sign up to The Great North Run half marathon. I quickly picked up my phone and text my other half telling him my plan, he was in. He was so supportive and told me he would run it with me. That was when I knew I had the running bug! 

But September 2016 seemed so far away, I wanted to start training now, there and then (I’ve never been very patient) I put the iron away and got my running kit on, laced up and hit the road. While I was running it occurred to me that my friend who roped me in to Blenheim 10km had mentioned me doing a half marathon in Coventry. I calculated this being 5 months away and that planted the next seed in my mind. 

When I got home I started googling half marathon plans and it seemed that I only realistically needed 16-20 weeks to train, this was perfect! So I did it. I signed me and my boyfriend up that night to run Coventry Half. I think he was cautious as I had only been out of hospital a few months but he could see how much it meant to me and so he was very supportive. I proved that if you look after your body, give it what it needs and listen to it then anything is possible.

From that moment I started believing it was possible, I was going to run a half marathon. This was both exciting and terrifying in equal measure but however I felt, it was going to happen. I was doing this for me, to prove I can and using it as a benchmark to see where my body was at and as I had never covered that distance I wanted to see the pace I was running at and if my body could really sustain 13.1 miles. 

Training plan:

I followed a BUPA intermediate training plan incorporating speed work, hill runs and long runs at the weekend. I admit I didn’t follow the plan exactly, but I adapted it to make sure I was covering these three types of run.

Hill runs were designed to get my body used to running up hills and then to keep going and not stop. Although hard on the legs and bum these were my favourite training sessions ( in a torture kind of way 😉 ) 

Speed work was designed to help me with my pace. I would run intervals in the park mixing it up each week.

Sunday became ‘Long run day’ and at between 8 and 9am every Sunday my boyfriend and I would head out for our long run. I loved having someone to run with, you have someone to talk to, to support and encourage you during the difficult runs and someone to celebrate with when you finished the run (and someone to go out with and refuel with!)

As the weeks went by there were good and bad training weeks, ups and downs, amazing runs and runs where I felt like giving up after 3km but I didn’t, I kept going because I had a purpose, I had my eye on the prize and ultimately I kept thinking to my dream of running the Great North Run for Bowel Cancer Uk, running for my mum.

There are endless training plans on the internet which you can use exactly or adapt to fit your life. Below are some good ones to start your research with:

http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/the-beginners-guide-to-the-half-marathon_52399

http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2013/09/training-tips/couch-to-half-marathon-training-plan_15065

http://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/directory/r/running-programme-half-marathon

Nutrition:

I admit I was pretty clueless when it came to nutrition, I knew I had to eat more on long run days and had to eat the right foods after a run but for me that’s as far as it went. Despite not having the knowledge on correct nutrition I still made it through training however it has taught me that this is an area I need to really focus on when I start training for the GNR. There is lots of nutrition advice out there so find what works for you. Try not to get to obsessive or caught up in good and bad food, what you can and cannot eat. There are no limits but you will soon learn what works well for your runs. Fuelling is so important and can’t be ignored.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/506701-half-marathon-meal-plan/

http://www.runnersworld.com/fuel-school/how-to-fuel-for-a-half-marathon

Race Day:

Talk about nerves! It’s strange up until race day I didn’t feel nervous, I knew I was going to turn up, I knew it would hurt but at the same time I knew I would do it. 
Race day was a different story! 

Arriving at the race village I was flooded with nerves, questioning my training, wishing I had got proper nutrition advice, seeing everyone kitted up, looking professional! But I was distracted from these invasive thoughts by the atmosphere. It was amazing! There were people everywhere, charity stands with food and drink, loud music, families gathering to watch their loved ones, it was amazing! 

The actual race:

Queuing up to start was exciting yet nerve wracking! Making sure we were in the right pen, getting my music sorted and most importantly ensuring the Garmin had Gps! But we were off, I remember running straight past my boyfriends mum at the start and seeing her there supporting gave me that initial buzz. We were off! When the adrenaline kicks in anything feels achievable but I just hoped that was enough to get me around the full 13.1 miles. As the race went on I admit I was struggling with the early distances, up to 8 miles felt really difficult and I was constantly battling with my own mind. These barriers we talk about ‘I can’t do it’ ‘I haven’t trained enough’ ‘I can feel injuries’ ‘I won’t make it to the end’ ‘I’m not good enough’ I was hit with each one of these but every time one came I fought it. I told myself I had worked so hard for this day, picturing how disappointed I would be if I stopped, people had sponsored me £500 to do this I was not prepared to let them down or let myself down. I thought about how brave my mum and dad have been and if they can get through what they have I can push through the pain for a few hours running. Then I thought about RLAG, about all the amazing ladies who go out when they think they can’t do it. I knew I encouraged them to believe in themselves and not give up so now wasn’t the time for me to become a hypocrite! 

Mile 8 marker became visible and I finally found my feet, I was in a great rhythm, I was smiling and the crowds around me were amazing. It was buzzing!! I finally began to believe and I was experiencing the runners high that we all talk about, I was actually doing it! I will never forget crossing the finish line with Ian. It felt amazing to have trained together and finished together. To top it off as I crossed the finish line I looked up and my sister, brother in law and twin nephews were stood there cheering. I had no idea they would be there but it’s true, it’s not just your race, you share it with so many people. 

Truth:

It hurt, my legs were so sore I couldn’t walk up the stairs and I developed injuries I didn’t know existed!

Would I do it again. Of Course I would!! 

My Half Marathon tips:

– if your in two minds about doing one, just sign up! You come to believe you can once you start training and seeing your body adapt

– train with other people- even if it’s just one of your runs a week, motivate and encourage each other

– for your first half marathon, don’t focus on time, don’t put pressure or expectation on yourself just go out there and enjoy it.

– make sure you have comfortable trainers, if you need new ones, change them gradually and don’t change too near to race day

– personally I didn’t use any energy gels, but if you want to make sure you test them beforehand

– don’t do anything different on race day to a normal training day

– hydrate, hydrate, hydrate in the week leading up to the race and not relying on the morning of the race

– queue up early for the toilet! You don’t want to be stressed about getting to the start line. It’s amazing how many people need the toilet at the same time!

– my biggest and most important tip is to enjoy it, enjoy the preparation, enjoy the run and celebrate afterwards

– oh and equally as important… Smile when you see a camera, they are likely to be official photographers and those photos will be landing in your inbox after the race!

So, do you think you have what it takes to run a half marathon?

Too right you do! See you at the start line 😉

https://home.justgiving.com/?take=10 

You CAN run a Half Marathon too!