Wednesday, 17 February 2016

It's A Hill - Get Over It!


I have been motivated to create this blog in order to encourage and hopefully inspire other "normal" people to have a go at running in our beautiful countryside.  

My running career has not just been unexpected but genuinely life-changing (sorry for the cheese - imagine x-factor sob story music at will).  From the new skills I have learned, the people I have met and the opportunities I have been given, I can honestly say signing up for the Manchester 10k was the best move I have ever made. Having two young children, running has, at times, been my salvation.

So, one prosecco-fuelled Friday evening in December 2013, feeling motivated by my obvious willpower - having got to my target weight (3.5 stones lighter), I decided I could do with another challenge.  Exercise seemed to make sense as I currently did nothing other than occasionally riding my elderly horse, and I wanted to try something new. So I tried running as far as I could without stopping! (1.9k) Cue STRAVA!
Join here

It was purely by chance I chose this particular app to log my runs - I decided it would make sense to take my phone with me running, so why not track my runs at the same time? This was to become a massive tool in my training, which I still rely on now - albeit with some new gadgetry! (follow me on Strava here).

I mentioned on Facebook that I had entered the Manchester 10K and my neighbour - Viv instantly messaged me to say she too had entered and would I like to train with her - my answer was a big yes!  

I ran the Manchester 10k for the BHF 

We started running together and following a 10k training plan, which we downloaded from Bupa.  During this time I realised a couple of things - firstly -  I had a dodgy knee, and secondly, I was quite good at running - particularly uphill. 

I visited a doctor with grim determination that the aforementioned knee was not going to stop me running, and fortunately he understood and encouraged me to go to a private physiotherapist - (the wait for NHS physio was too long), in the meantime I researched "Runners Knee" and purchased some orthotic insoles in the hope I could cure myself!  

The physio took one look at me and announced that I was an "over-pronator" which meant I turned slightly in on one foot, causing my knee to be slightly out of line.  This had a simple fix - orthotic insoles (hurrrah my research was correct) and/or new running shoes.  I was recommended to have gait analysis at a reputable running shop which I duly did, (at Running Bear in Alderley Edge) and purchased some Brooks road shoes.  

So started a new love affair with shoes - of the running variety! (I currently have 5 pairs - fell, trail, road... you name it!).  In the Brooks I never needed the insoles but in every other pair since I have had to use the inserts to balance out my knee.  So shoes are of the utmost importance for new runners - get your gait checked and buy some decent shoes - it will save a lot of time, ice and ibuprofen!
Helping at Whaley Bridge junior parkrun (WBjp)

Back to the training, and I completed my first event, a local parkrun - which I finished in 32:08 (see all my parkrun history here), I was hooked! parkrun is a fantastic, free, 5k weekly timed run with locations all over the country and now abroad too!  

I have recently been involved in the setup of a junior parkrun event in my local park and have really enjoyed the challenge of encouraging children from the local community to come and have a go.  My own 6 year old has done 10 runs and is completing 2k in 11 minutes!
Christmas spirit at WBjp

When May 2014 arrived and I experienced the 10k at Manchester, I found it nerve-wracking but I enjoyed the experience and came home in a respectable 57:43.  My biggest fear (this will resonate with many mothers) was weeing myself!  I managed to hold on until the end but the run through showers were nearly my downfall!  

I'm pleased to say that now (2 years down the line) my pelvic floor is good and I can run downhill without needing the loo!  But ladies - it takes a while so don't give up!  When I started fell running this turned out to be a non-worry - walls are your friends!
Striders at Langley 7 Road Race in 2015

After the 10k, a family friend Caz - an ultra runner, contacted me as she had noticed my progress on Facebook, and offered to take me fell running.  It was only after we ran up the steepest field I have ever seen that she announced that not many people can do that and I should enter our local carnival fell race.  Little did I know that I was going to become a fell runner.  

Most people think of lean and muscular men when they think of hill or fell running, and indeed the ratios of male/female are very heavily male biased.  In most races at least 80% of runners seem to be men.  The elite or semi - professional ladies are often as muscular, tall and as lean-looking as the men.  

I started to find pavement pounding and flat canal runs a chore, and soon after (following a particularly embarrassing slip on a grassy hill) I bought some Salomon Fellraiser shoes - shoes with grip! For the rest of 2014 I entered a few fell races and started running with my local running club - The Goyt Valley Striders (GVS).  

Through the club I joined the fast group on Tuesday evenings and started really upping my mileage.  I made loads of new and supportive running friends and learned about the clubs Championship races which happen every year - a new challenge for 2015.  
View from the top of the Old Man of Coniston

You know you've become a running addict when you take your entire running wardrobe on holiday!  I have run in various places including the Lake District, Wales, France, Devon and Cornwall and many other locations thanks to our family caravanning holidays.  That's the beauty of running - you can do it anywhere and it doesn't have to take loads of money, prep or time and you can learn far more about places if you really explore them.  

The Old Man of Coniston - well worth the run up!
Receiving my 3rd prize from GVS

So, in 2015 I challenged myself to completing the Goyt Valley Striders ladies championship, a task whereby you choose at least 8 races out of 16 which must incorporate all the different terrains (fell, trail and road) and all distances (short <5m, medium <10m and long >10m).  

I had slipped into a comfort zone of fast 5ks, and up to 10k fell runs, so participating in my first half marathon was another real challenge!  Over the year my results improved in general and I started to learn all about competing and different training tips and what worked and didn't work for my body.  I finished the season in 3rd place only 4 points behind the joint winners, an achievement I am very proud of.

Results of note to date  
  • Manchester 10k - 57:43
  • Eccles Pike Fell Race 5.3k - 35:39
  • Lantern Pike Fell Race 8.1k - 52:22
  • Terry's Race (GVS) 11k - 1:09:18
  • Buxton Carnival 4 - 1st Lady Goyt Valley Strider
  • Gravy Pud Fell Race 9.5k - 56:07
The river crossing at the Whaley Waltz 2015

Stile at the Lambs Longer Leg Jan 2015

  • Lambs Longer Leg 4.9k - 41:23 11th Lady
  • Stockport Trail Half Marathon - 1:51:06 9th Lady
  • Wolfs Pit Fell Race 8.7k - 1:07:00 34th Lady
  • Chicken Run 9.6k - 57:52 - 8th Lady
  • Round the Ressers 8k - 40:07
  • Lyme Park parkrun 5k - 25:08 2nd Lady
  • Whaley Waltz 9.1k - 57:55
  • Buxton Carnival 4 (4m) - 31:45 14th Lady
  • Gawsworth 10k - 52:27 23rd Lady
  • langley 7 (7m) - 57:25 
  • Gawsworth 10k Summer 2015
  • Famous Grouse (5.25m)- 50:48 9th lady 
Still smiling at The Famous Grouse Nov 2015

So there you have it, my journey from non-runner to fell runner extraordinaire! I hope I have inspired some of you to try running.  I recommend the couch to 5k plan to all new runners I meet.

Fell runs don't get cancelled
Having bored you to death with my history, my blog will now concentrate on 2016 and beyond - offering an average, real lady runners insight including reviews of races, updates on training for my first triathlon in July, the Summer Fell series with the Goyt Valley Striders, a 24 hour team race in September and my second half marathon in October. I am not going to win any prizes and I'm not doing it be an elite athlete, I'm doing it for fitness, fun and my own personal goals.

Extreme conditions for the Famous Grouse!
Wolfs Pit race Mar 2015
Don't worry, I intend to make the blogs short and informative and hopefully entertaining too!  Running really is a gift - if you don't do it - why not try it?

I am aware that some people think I am crazy going out running at night, or entering extreme races, but I am just a normal 30 something Mum who manages to train 3 - 4 times a week.  If I can do it anyone can!  Like I said in my title "It's a hill - get over it!"  

Personal Best aims for this year 
Sub 23 minute 5k
Sub 48 minute 10k
Sub 1 hour 45 minute half marathon

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