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 

Looking back over January

Can you believe January is already over and February is underway? 

If I’m honest I usually dislike Jan, it’s a strange month after the Christmas period, everything goes back to normal but feels incredibly slow. It’s cold, it’s grey and everyone lacks motivation. Most years my January is faced with New Years resolutions that I know I won’t keep, resolutions that will make my family happy and stop them worrying. Resolutions that promise 100% focus on recovery and a promise that everything is in hand and will be ok. 

This year was different, without me even thinking about it recovery was no longer the focus because it really was in hand. When January 1st came around I didn’t really need to think about ‘recovery’ in that sense because of how far I have come. This year I was able to focus my resolutions on making me better and stronger rather than survival. 

I’ve already posted on my NYR’s so I won’t go on!

So how did January go?



January was a month to focus my training for the London Revolution ride, to begin preparing myself for 185 miles in the saddle. Training went well, I focused on interval and strength sessions in the week on the turbo and started getting out on longer rides at the weekend. 

I must say my key achievement was probably using my new clip ins and having the confidence to just do it (after putting it off for way to long!). On the first ride it was a big success, on the next not so much! However only a minor fall, no cars were involved and only a few bruises to tell the tale! I got straight back up and it was mostly fine.

I must admit I spent hours trawling Google looking for a plan to get from amateur to 185 miles in 5 months but there were so many conflicting plans and none that seemed to exceed the 100 mile mark that I gave up and did my own thing (as I like to do anyway!). I was very happy when the London Revolution plan landed in my inbox to give me some indication whether I am on track or not. Pleased to say I think I am. 

Weekly mileage in the saddle for Jan ended on 90km. (Well it’s a start!)

How am I feeling?

I still don’t think I can comprehend the distance, it doesn’t feel real. A slight reality check when I looked at the calendar and realised it is less than 4 months away and I know the weeks are going to fly by! I’m a little more confident in using clip ins and generally being out on the road, something I was extremely nervous of. Especially when told to just ‘pretend you are a car’! Now that is enough to fill anyone with dread. Maybe I should get pink flashing indicators…back to Google 😉 

Plan for February:

My plan for Feb is half dictated by the cycle plan and half by my experiences in Jan.
Feb is all about building a solid base with steady rides, some intervals and strength sessions. I’m going to increase overall weekly mileage with particular attention to consecutive days in the saddle.
On a personal level I need to focus on nutrition on long rides and listen to what my body needs. 
This is the plan (although I will be extending the long rides at the weekend and fitting my running and strength training around it)

So that’s the London Ride. Although marathon training for Gloucester City marathon is not in full swing as it’s in August I wanted to still focus on this and build a stronger running base. With that in mind and maybe getting slightly jealous that lots of RLAG were entering I signed up to Warwick Half as a guide, it will show me where I am at and what I need to focus on. 

I haven’t really been following a plan but have aimed for at least two shorter week day runs and a long run on Saturdays getting progressively longer. It’s been going really well and I’m certain all of my cycle training is making me a stronger runner. 

Piriformis tends to join me on most long runs and likes to make me pay afterwards, but I just need to focus on the exercises given and if that doesn’t work keep everything crossed that it will go away!

I’m not going to lie, it has been and will continue to be a challenge training for a big cycle and running events at the same time, but I like a challenge and have never been one to choose the easy option!

So that’s my month, a good start but with a long way to go, hard training ahead and many lessons to learn.

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 
So that’s my January, I’m off for a ride!!

M x 

Looking back over January

Let the training begin…

So on Christmas Day I unwrapped a beautiful black box with a gorgeous pair of Fizik cycling shoes inside. I loved them, I was so excited to be the proud owner of these beautiful shoes… and then they went back in the box. 
A few days later it hit me that I actually had to start using them on my road rides if I were to have any chance of completing the London Revolution cycle ride this year.
I was scared. Absolutely terrified. The longer I put it off the bigger the fear became.

Truth be told I had been putting off buying these for approximately a year because to me they were a disaster waiting to happen. (Especially for someone as accident prone as me!) I couldn’t get my head around being attached to the pedal and not being able to move and every time I thought about them I pictured myself toppling over. The falling over wasn’t the big deal but I was worried of falling over in front of a car or causing an accident.
So with the ride 18 weeks away I decided to just do it. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

The verdict



I did it! Not only did I do it but I LOVED them. Being connected to the pedal felt strangely safer and satisfying. There were no accidents and no issues. Now I understand that this is only the first time i’m using them but I finished the ride feeling more confident in myself and that is what this whole journey is about.
So step one done, time to get the mileage up!
Lesson of the day: Feel the fear and do it anyway. The thoughts are often scarier than what you are worried about.

M x 

Let the training begin…

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!

I Only Went And Did It!

This time last year I was going into an inpatient unit to begin a recovery programme. I was weak, had little energy and just walking up the stairs gave me palpitations and left me breathless. Last weekend I ran my first half marathon. Needless to say I am extremely proud at how far I have come!

When I was in the depths of anorexia I was addicted to exercise, I would sit on an exercise bike in the gym for hours. I could never run because I didn’t have the energy for such physical exercise and I could sustain a bike for much longer. This in itself shows me I was exercising for the wrong reasons. I wanted to exercise in any way that burnt the most calories, I didn’t care what exercise I was doing and I didn’t really enjoy the gym because I was exhausted but I felt compelled to go. If I didn’t then I was failing, I wasn’t burning calories and to me my mind told me I would put on weight and get fat.

Through the recovery programme and stopping exercise altogether I was able to see that I didn’t NEED exercise. I got my body back to healthy and then slowly reintroduced exercise in a controlled way.

It turns out that I did really enjoy running and because I was fuelling my body I had the energy to do it. When I was discharged from hospital I wanted to keep running but I didn’t have the confidence to do it alone so I found a running group and joined them once a week. Attending this first session took me out of my comfort zone because I was nervous around people, I knew that I would be the ‘new girl’ and that made me very anxious. However I knew that I needed to be challenging these fears and so I went along. This is one of the best things I have EVER done, they were lovely, welcoming and supportive. 

From here I fell in love with running, I loved that my body was getting stronger with every run and I was achieving things I never thought I could. The eating disorder was so consuming that I was never able to look to the future. I decided to sign up to a half marathon as something to work towards. All of my life I told myself that I wish I could run a half marathon and it never felt achieveable.
The run took a lot of preparation and a lot of fuel to keep me training strong. Learning to listen to what my body needs as opposed to restricting what it can have has taken a while to achieve but I’m proud that I have recovered enough to be able to do this.

When I go for runs I don’t think about how many calories I’m burning or weight I am loosing, I focus on how strong my body is getting and what I am achieving.

On Sunday I ran Coventry half marathon and I’m so proud that my body is fit and healthy enough to do it. The buzz from finishing was incredible! Nothing and no one can ruin my mood this week!

Now I focus on what my body can do not what it can’t. I focus on nourishment instead of restriction and I now train to be strong not skinny.

Your body is an amazing thing, you just have to treat it right.

Mx

I Only Went And Did It!

What are you going to START for Lent? 

What are you going to START for Lent? 
I can’t believe it’s that time of year again. Pancake day is just around the corner and so that means Lent will soon begin! Thousands of people will be giving something up on Wednesday 10th February. Some may be doing it for fun, others to prove a point and many for religion.

I’ve done the giving up chocolate for Lent every year since I don’t know when. I did it for the wrong reasons, as a way to deprive myself and lose weight. So this year as part of recovery rather than depriving myself or restricting myself of something I have put a spin on the typical idea of Lent. This year instead of giving something up I wanted to take something on. 

I am going to start finding one positive thing in every day. Sometimes I feel that life is so busy, with work and jobs that need to be done that we don’t have time to reflect. We are quick to notice and complain about everything that hasn’t gone well in the day that we fail to see everything that was right. This links in to mindfulness and the work I have started doing on this. 

Every day I will be finding the positives in my day. 

I will also do doing some form of writing each day throughout Lent, whether this be a blog post or working on my book

What are you going to START for lent?

M x

  

What are you going to START for Lent?