Running through April

Excuse the pun. I do feel as though I literally ran through April in the sense that it’s another month that has just disappeared in a blink of the eye.

In training terms April has been a good month. I don’t want to write ‘May’ because as we enter May tomorrow that means I have just 12 days before I am driving down to London ready for the London Revolution cycle! 

My focus for London Revolution this month was to keep increasing the long Sunday ride along with slightly shorter rides on Saturdays, to ensure I was conditioning my muscles really for consecutive days cycling. My longest ride was 129km and I finished this ride feeling strong and felt as though there were still some miles left in me. This helped boost my confidence for London slightly but still feel anxious (and slightly nauseous) when I think about it.

I started to focus some attention on my running training plan to, it’s crazy to think that I have signed up to Gloucester Marathon in August. The cycling has taken most of my attention and focus and balancing the two is difficult. Gloucester doesn’t feel real yet.

Who watched the London Marathon? One of the biggest events in the running world. Who watched the marathon and thought “actually I could do that”? I hold my hand up. So many people from all different backgrounds crossed that start line, and finish line. 

My heart and attention was particularly with those running for the charity ‘Heads Together’ for the programme Mind Over Marathon. The programme resonates with me deeply and I have personally experienced the benefits of running and mental health. I liked how they focused on showing mental health as part of someone’s life, not all encompassing and not in a way that negative stigma is attached. Many people experience mental health struggles be it depression, anxiety, OCD or many others but it doesn’t and shouldn’t define you and you can function and live a normal life. You can carry on with family life, work hard at your career and personal commitments, it’s just a whole lot harder.

Running can help on so many levels from giving structure and routine, the need to fuel your body properly and look after yourself to get the most of your running. It offers a distraction, a place to find space in your mind and feel free. It floods your body with endorphins, that ‘runners high’ that can make you feel better about yourself. It also allows you to do something that you can achieve great things in, whether that is your first 5km, half marathon or full marathon. You can see yourself improving and it gives you worth.

I’m doing Gloucester Marathon in August, initially I thought about doing it for charity. Not only is raining money for charity an amazing thing to do but it also adds some responsibilities to the run. People have sponsored you so you have to go out there and finish. A marathon is a long long way, one that I don’t know if I can do and so the added motivation that people have sponsored me would have been a big help. But when I stopped and thought about exactly why I want to run a marathon (and was completely honest with myself) the reasons are exactly the same as all of those people on Mind Over Marathon (and probably thousands of others who ran London). I want to run Gloucester Marathon for me. I want to show myself that I can do it, that I am strong enough and that my anxiety and confidence issues that I often face about many situations is not going to stop me from getting to the start line. It will be 14 weeks of ‘lessons to learn’, ups and downs of training and battling negative thoughts that tell me I can’t do it, but the only thing that will stand between me and my finishers medal is injury, a genuine reason.

So back to cycling. May will be knocking at the door tomorrow and the countdown will begin. The next week will be a hard training week and then it will ease off slightly until the big day. Next time I write my monthly review it will be done and hopefully I will have an amazing story to tell.

That’s all for now.

M x

Running through April

Where did March go?

Well, March you showed up and disappeared pretty quickly! I’ll be honest and say I don’t feel that my training has overly progressed this month for one reason or another. I know I am writing this looking at the calendar and seeing that the end of April is fast approaching, time is flying, but better late than never! Sometimes things do get in the way and with a few months to spare it felt ok. Now with 4 weeks to go until the cycle there is no room for the downs of training. Time to focus and push forwards. 

I admit to having less time in the saddle at the start of the March as I was getting ready for Warwick Half Marathon so more running and less cycling. The following week after the half resulted in less cycling than I would have liked. However Warwick was amazing, I loved it and got that PB! Knocked 24 minutes off my last and 6 off my first. What I loved most about this half marathon was that I was running with friends from Run Like A Girl. It made all the difference running and chatting and before I knew it I was 10 miles in. I didn’t set out a certain time I wanted and I wasn’t aiming for a PB, I didn’t even look at my Garmin until the 10 mile mark. Taking that pressure off actually improved my performance and I enjoyed it much more!

Back to cycling then, I’ve been on some great longer runs in March and have got the mileage up to 54 miles with consecutive days in the saddle to try and get used to this kind of ride. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the longer rides and they have taken me to some beautiful places. 


I also got my amazing new bike which I absolutely love and wouldn’t change for the world. She has definitely made long distance rides more comfortable and I can’t wait to take her to the London Revolution.

Another exciting cycling related happening this month. Guess who is now a Brand Ambassador for Stolen Goat? Yes that’s right me! I never thought I’d be an ambassador for anything and can’t wait to get stuck in to this. Stolen Goat for those who don’t know are a great cycling brand for both men and women. I couldn’t be more happy with my kit, which I will post about later.

Take a look at their kit here 

stolengoat.com

So April is here and training has stepped up once again. I have my plan and I will be sticking to it religiously this month. All I want is to approach the London Revolution feeling as prepared as possible and ready. 

Before writing this blog I was thinking that March hadn’t been a great month but on reflection it’s not been so bad!

Now we are mid-way through April and I’m happy to say that training is going well.

Until next time,

M x 

Where did March go?

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

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.