Red Wine Runner

A Scottish Running Blog

Month: July 2011 (page 1 of 2)

10 things no-one tells you about Marathon Training

Hi friends! I had a great 10 mile race this morning out at Ballater for the Deeside Runners Ballater 10, and finished in 1hr 38mins 15secs. Race report will follow tomorrow as usual, but whilst I’m recovering here’s a post about marathon training, with some things everyone who’s thinking about running a marathon needs to know.

Also – in case you haven’t noticed or are reading this in an RSS reader/email subscription; Redwinerunner is now on facebook! If you’re a fan of the blog you can ‘Like’ the blog by clicking on the Like box on the right over there to receive ad hoc updates, pictures and links from around the blogosphere. I was in two minds whether to do this or not as I was concerned it might seem a bit narcissistic, however I’ve met so many readers recently who’ve given me such kind and lovely feedback on my writing that I figured there’s an audience out there who might like it (hello!).

Anyway I do hope everyone’s had a great weekend of running – I’ll leave you some questions:

Who’s been racing? Any new PBs? How is everyone’s Loch Ness Marathon training going? Do you have any must-share marathon training tips? The grosser the better!


This post is the precursor to a count-down series of 8 posts marking the last eight weeks of my training programme for the Loch Ness Marathon. Beginning next week, I plan on posting a weekly review of my training and thoughts on a Sunday evening. For now however, here’s a list of lessons I’ve learned so far. There are a lot of training guides and blogs out there with opinions on how best to get oneself to the start of a marathon; but somehow none of them mention the grizzly parts of the training which no-one wants to talk about. I can only presume that in the end once the finish line has been crossed, memories of these little agonies are swept to the darkest parts of the mind by the euphoria of success;making you want to do it all again right away. Here’s my full disclosure guide to the early stages of marathon training…

1. Your feet are toast.

Runner’s feet are the stuff of legends. Ladies; once you start training for a marathon, you can kiss goodbye to well pedicured toenails because if you’re doing it right by the mid-way point you’ll likely be missing a couple. Having properly fitted shoes will help, but there’s really nothing you can do to avoid this. Repeated pounding to the toes will cause blisters to form underneath the nail, the nail will lift off the nail bed and cause large amounts of pain. After your run you’ll need to soak your feet in water to soften the skin and then relieve the pressure under the nail by draining the blister with a sterilised needle poked down the back of the nail. Once the blister has dried out, the nail can carefully be removed – in my opinion it is more comfortable to remove the nail than to have a semi-detached toenail moving about in my socks whilst I’m running. Sooner or later you’ll work out what’s best for you though – but watch out for black toenails caused by blood blisters under the nail, they’re pretty gnarly. Wear your nasty feet with pride! You’ve earned them!







The Badger refuses to have me put these near him unclothed 😉

2. Hunger

As your mileage builds you will be hungry like you’ve never felt hunger before. Get used to eating yourself out of house and home and always make sure you’ve got a fully stocked fridge for the days around your Long Run. Be smart though and eat sensibly; runners need carbs but not ridiculous amounts of them all the time – typically one mile ran = 100kcal burned, so adjust your food intake to replace what you’ve burned. Marathon training is not a free pass to eat whatever you like! The night before a long run have a carb heavy meal, afterwards fill your body with protein to aid muscle recovery.

3. Pain

Make friends with pain, and in your training you’ll never be alone. From the agony of the final miles of the long slow runs of the weekend to the exhaustion of your speed work – unfortunately the presence of pain won’t end there. Getting up in the morning, your muscles and joints will complain and your feet will be howling. Get used to what’s normal for you though and consult a professional if anything gets too bad. Most of this time you can stick with the no-pain, no-gain rule…and if it ever gets too much, think about crossing that finish line and clutching the medal you’ve hungered for for so long and suddenly it all seems worth it. At least for me anyway.

4. Weight Gain

Marathon training is not for weight loss. Despite doing more physical activity that you’ve probably ever done in your life before, chances are the numbers on the scales are going to creep up rather than down. You can’t train on a calorie deficit or you run the risk of burning out and getting an injury; besides, your growing muscles need fuel to support them. It’s probably a good idea to put the scales away if you’re sensitive to an increase in your numbers, and remember – scales don’t measure what’s inside; if you’re training for a marathon then you’re full of awesome (which weighs more than laziness :P)

5. GI issues

Do you know how many times a day you poop? Do you know how long it takes for you to poop in the morning after you get up? Do you find yourself looking for thick bushes as you go about your daily business? If so then congratulations; you’re training for a marathon. Running and digestion aren’t always the best of friends and chances are it will take you a few months to get in sync with yourself – probably most of what you learn will be through experiences such as the first time you eat something spicy the night before before a long run, the first time you don’t poop before a race, and the first time you eat bran flakes and wholemeal toast for breakfast before a run. Pro tips for pre-run pooping – coffee as soon as you get up gets the digestive system going, spicy food the night before or meal before a run is not a good idea, wholemeal/whole grain foods whilst great in theory need to be balanced with starchy white carbs pre-run/race to keep things…solid 😀 What?! I said there’d be full disclosure up above – if you’re already a distance runner you know you’re nodding and wistfully remembering the first time you made these mistakes. You need to get to know your body and how it functions – in ALL regards!

6. I have a husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend?!

Training for a long distance race will take up a lot of your time. I’m going to say this again; training for a long distance race will take up a lot of your time. A few months in, your life is going to consist of the following: sleep, work, run, eat, sleep. Maybe not in that order, but that’s about it. Chances are if you have a partner that’s not a runner, you’ll be spending a lot less time with them which is a shame, but hopefully they’ll support you in your endeavours and will be there for you every inch of the way. A supportive partner can be a huge benefit – training for a distance race for the first time is really hard. I’m finding it really hard. Badger’s not a runner but knowing he’s got my back and that he’s waiting for me at the end of every finish line means the world to me. He’s picked me up, dusted me off and put me back on my feet more times than I care to remember. Don’t neglect your partner or best mate no matter how much your training schedule takes over your life – make sure to schedule date nights/hang out time on your rest days and decompress with them. Try not to talk about the goddamned marathon; chances are you’re thinking about it approximately 23 hours a day anyway so do everyone a favour and talk about something else and give yourself a break.

7. You will want to sleep all the time

Right now, for me, any spare time is potential a) napping time b) eating time. You’re putting yourself through an exhaustive training schedule for the first time and your body is struggling to keep up. Now is not the time to try and be super-productive – try to indulge yourself if you can; if you find yourself lying on the couch falling asleep in front of the TV the day after your long run then just go with it and snooze. Hopefully any spare family members about will be sympathetic and leave you alone – if not, then you get a wild card strop opportunity and you can snarl at them and stomp off to bed. This may, or may not, have happened to me recently… Seriously though, get as much sleep as you can. P.S – after-race naps are the best.

8. Once upon a time, you had a social life…

Remember those days, not long ago, when you’d get a text mid-afternoon saying “Hey lady! How’s it going? Not seen you in ages! Going out with some of the old gang tonight after work for drinks – interested? XXX” and you’d be delighted to join your old friends for buckets of Chardonnay and jagerbombs until the early hours of the morning. Of course you know what’s coming – if this spontaneous plan occurs on a long or mid-length run day you won’t be able to go; you’ll agonise and try to rationalise it for a few minutes, but then you remember how guilty you’ll feel for missing a run, and how hungover you’ll feel the next day so you can’t even make it up tomorrow…and you turn them down. Again. The first couple of times you do this it will be hard, but the weird thing is after a while it becomes less of an issue. Perhaps a mix of your friends knowing that Thursday night happy hour is a no-go for you as it’s mid-length night, and your increasing dedication…at some point you’ll realise that your social life has changed. I went out for dinner last week with my friend Jo and when we were catching up I realised I hadn’t actually got new news to share – all I’d been doing was running, or recovering. There was a time when I would have lambasted myself for being so boring, but secretly I felt kind of proud that I was doing something few of my friends have ever dreamt of. On the other hand don’t get me wrong – they don’t call me the Red Wine Runner for nothing and I’ve become the master of running with a hangover, but at some point my wild lifestyle dialled itself down a notch without me even noticing.

9. Learn to do your own washing

How do you feel about laundry? Are you a secret slob who double runs in your running kit or do you insist on fresh shorts every time? Either way you’re going to need to choose between a) buying lots more washing powder and b) buying lots more kit. With four or more sweaty runs a week that adds up to a lot of sweaty shorts, tops, bras and socks. If you’re a bit manky you can re-use some of your kit, but obviously nothing feels better than a pair of shorts freshly scented with whichever ridonkulous fragrance Lenor is infusing their washing power with these days. Black diamond anyone? What the hell does a black diamond smell like anyway?! On the other hand marathon training is a damn good excuse to go and buy some shiny new kit – you WILL need it. Jen at This Runner’s Trials has an excellent post HERE on why ladies shouldn’t re-use their shorts… Oh, and do your own washing – your partner will love you for it.

10. You WILL find out what you are made of… and you might not like it

At some point, marathon training will lay you bare and expose weakness you didn’t know about. When you’re tackling something so tough, it’s inevitable that you will have to overcome some obstacles and in most cases with this, it is going to be mental. It’s at this point that all the advice in the world is not going to help you and if you really want it, you just need to harden the F up and get on with it. For the majority of your training the challenge of completing the marathon will be greater than you – it’s your job to prepare yourself as well you can and at some stage there will be a tipping point. If you put the work in, the distance will come within your reach and suddenly it will seem a whole lot less impossible. The journey you take to get there will be all your own however; for me, I’ve realised how pathetic I can become mid-race if things don’t go my way, I’ve learned the fragility of my mid-race mentality and how quickly I can turn it around away from my favour. You can only get over these humps by sheer bloody minded perseverance – you have to figure out where to believe in yourself from somewhere because no-one else can do it but you.

Now go put your shoes on and go for a run.





A Fetch Mile

I’m a bit behind in this week’s updates; the Badger was away all last week so since his return on Saturday we’ve been enjoying the limited time we have together after our respective busy working days. Before he got back however, I had the opportunity to participate in my first Fetch Mile!

So – Fetch. I’m trying to figure out how to describe it succinctly, but it’s a little tricky. First of all it’s a website; a UK running website, which is on the surface, a *little* like facebook for runners. When you sign up you have a profile you can complete which features a biography space, sections for your racing experience and personal bests, a picture gallery, a blog, and other running stats like your personal WAVA% and your running clubs, shoes and a training log. There is a huge forum to chat to other runners about everything under the sun, a race directory, a route map database, injury information, and plenty of articles to read. The owner also writes a newsletter every week with some serious statistical analysis based on the training that members input into the site. Such as – the typical effects on member’s 10k personal best times when they’ve been doing interval training.

Primarily of course, it’s a great resource to meet other runners local to you. Fetch Miles are when people in a certain area get together at a local track and race a timed mile and socialise. It’s a chance to meet newer members and put faces to usernames – and work on your Mile PB!


There were about 16 runners and various other partners/children/friends. Traditionally it would seem that everyone wears their Fetch gear – looks like I need to get me a Fetch vest! Wear one of those in any race across the UK and there’s a 99% chance you’ll either a) see another ‘Fetchie’ running or b) hear shouts of ‘Go Fetchieeeee!!!’ coming from the crowds. In bigger races of course, there is the Fetchpoint – as recently featured locally in the Stonehaven Half Marathon.

The morning kicked off at 10am at Aberdeen Sports Village – the big University/city run sports complex which luckily I have a free membership to due to my job at the University. It has a huge gym, full-size indoor football pitch, basketball courts, squash courts, indoor 100m track and indoor athletics facilities such as pole vault and long jump as well. In the next year construction will start on the huge aquatics centre as well, which will be the biggest swimming facility North of Stirling.

Anyway, we split ourselves in to three groups – 8 minute plus, 7 – 8minutes and sub-7minute miles. I correctly opted for the middle ground.


The 8 minute plus group headed out first. Each runner was assigned a timer person with a garmin who was responsible for tracking their time.


The speedster sub-7s went next. You can spot Mike second from left – he was the one who initially introduced me to the cult of Fetch.



So fast! The fastest run of the day was ran by The Duckinator (seen on the right above) in a time of 05m 41s.


Mike crossed the line in his predicted time of 5m51s.



Us middle of the road lot came last.



I had never run a mile before, and the last time I was anywhere near an athletic track was school sports day 11 years ago and the memories still make my stomach turn. You see, everyone had to run the 100m on sports day, and then had to pick a minimum of one track event out of the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m events. I have terrible memories of being amongst the slowest and being placed in the last heat on sports day, alongside girls who rather liked their pies too much and had other varying excuses and reasons for their lack of speed. I have a memory of trying so hard one year, that I tripped over myself and landed arse over tit in front of a stadium stand of parents. Ritual humiliation – at the heart of every British school education.


I was unsure of how to approach it – I figured if I tried to keep my speed under 8:00m/mile then that would be a good start, and then sprint all out on the last 200 meters. As it happened it was very windy – the 200 and 300m sections of the track were tough to run hard in to…but you got blown away across the finish line!


This is commencing the final lap – I was bringing up the rear of the pack – you can see the chap who won our heat to the right of my shoulder.



Wheeee! Flying over the finish line! I then thought I was going to throw up – I’m told this is a good sign when racing a mile! My official time? 7 minutes 40 seconds Open-mouthed smile I thought it might be something like that. I look forward to the next opportunity I have to beat my time!

I had so much fun; everyone from Fetch is so lovely and it’s great to talk about local running and know that you’ll recognise faces at each race. It’s such a friendly and inclusive site and I love how anywhere you go in the UK with a Fetch top on, there’ll be someone that knows what you’re about – it’s like a secret club Smile

After the mile I went to the gym and ran another 4 on the treadmill – my first treadmill run in months! I didn’t like it – treadmills are so boring, but it was more miles in the legs and that’s all that counts. The next day however I tackled my biggest run yet…17 miles! SEVENTEEN?!? I mapped out a ridiculous route around Aberdeen and I found that running on the pavements actually kept me entertained – I didn’t get bored and lonely at all, not like my last long slow run of 15 miles where I found my mojo flagging. I took a camelbak and two gels and experienced no leg or knee pain – I was so chuffed. My feet took a real battering however, and one of my nails is entirely lifted off my nail bed with a blister. Nice!

This weekend heralds another race – the Ballater 10 mile race, which is quite hilly. I’m looking forward to this distance – I think it will be perfect for me and am hoping for between 1hr 30m and 1hr 40m.

All photos used with thanks to Liam Hare (Mr Nywanda)

Dundee Half Marathon 2011 – RACE REPORT

17th July 2011 – Dundee Half Marathon


2hr 12min 50secs (new personal best)

406th out of 512 finishers. Gender 109th out of 160, Age group 48th/80.

I had originally signed up for this half marathon some time ago when I was planning my Marathon training in the first instance. I wanted to incorporate several half marathons so I could get used to racing in longer distances and build some mental racing endurance. In retrospect it wasn’t ideal to be racing another half only a fortnight after my first, but if anything it forced me to face up to any residing issues I still had in my head regarding the distance after my challenging first attempt at Stonehaven.


Racing in Dundee meant an early start – too early for Azul who was not impressed at all. I was up at 6am to eat some food and we left at 7am.


Overnight oats made with vanilla and mango yogurt, buttered Soreen and a pre-race banana, washed down with two double espressos. I ate the oats and took the rest  in the car.





Leaving Aberdeen it was a beautiful, calm and clear morning. I was a little worried that if it continued to be sunny as we travelled South then it would just get hotter and hotter…


Ah. Worry not. Plenty rain ahead. FYI this is Stonehaven, and those lovely ‘rolling’ hills in the background are what we climbed to the top of and down again in the half marathon…



Mmm rain rain rain. Much better.

We got to Camperdown Park in Dundee right on schedule at 8.30am and were directed onto some very wet grass for parking.


When we exited our vehicle we were immediately (and I mean immediately; the car doors hadn’t even closed!) accosted by a lady selling tablet for a Breast Cancer charity which was quite disconcerting. She must have made a fortune in this way. We bought some anyway although the way we were backed up against our own vehicle didn’t leave any other options.



Registration was in the Wildlife Centre building which had a small cafe open and two toilet cubicles. There were no other toilets at the start since the Dundee Council, who run the Manor House where the rest of the loos were, had decided not to open them early for the race as previously promised. The race organiser apologised profusely for this and encouraged everyone to write to the Council to ask why they had elected to not support this large event. I was so, so glad I had insisted on a pre-emptive toilet stop at Dundee Tesco’s just in case. You never know what you’ll be faced with at a race start line…never pass up the opportunity to use the facillities!



Despite this being a largish race (650 places) there was a fair lack of atmosphere at the start. No-one really seemed to know what was going on, there were no sign posts to the start line, no visible start line and nothing other than a big herd of skinny runners shivering in nylon vests waiting in the cold waiting to get started.



When we eventually found the starting line, it turned out that the generator which was supposed to blow up the starting line arch had failed, so they just had us all line up at a specific point. There was a reasonable amount of hanging around – I think the race started on time at 10am but it felt so much longer as I had no-one to talk to after Colin went to take pictures of the start, and as mentioned before, there was absolutely no atmosphere.



There were a lot of club runners representing clubs from all over Scotland, however it seemed about a 50/50 mix of club vs non club runners. I saw Martin Dickie from Brewdog and his missus who were both running, but other than that I didn’t recognise a single face in the crowd. The weather at this point seemed a bit changeable – it was warmish and humid, with thick cloud betraying the epic amounts of rain which had fallen in the past 24 hours.


I was a little nervous, and just really wanted to start. My race plan hadn’t changed – first 6 miles easy, ramp it up a little for 7-10 miles, then push harder still for the final 5k and hopefully finish strong like Stonehaven. Suddenly the crowd began a countdown and before I knew it we were off and I was running another half marathon.




Notice anything strange here? Look a little closer…where are all the women?! It was a very male dominated race – only 160 ladies racing out of 512 starters.








Disconcertingly, I had a repeat of the same panics which swept over me at the start at Stonehaven. I would describe it almost like hyperventilating; I just couldn’t catch my breath and my pulse was through the roof. I had to concentrate hard on breathing in slowly  through my nose and out through my mouth as calmly as I could – part of me seemed to be panicking about whether or not I’d be able to complete the distance and within my goal time (I was aiming for under 2hr 10mims, ideally 2hr 5minsish), and yet the other part was totally chilled out. Perhaps the added pressure of having a PB to beat triggered it? I’m not sure, I really hope it doesn’t become a feature of my distance races…perhaps once I’ve got a few more under my belt and am more comfortable with the distance it will stop.

The first mile was uphill on a muddy mountain bike trail which eventually evened out until two and a bit miles where we were spat out of the forest on to a closed road. I had sorted out my start-of-race freakout by now and was running comfortably. There was a water station at 3 miles where there were small cups of water – not ideal, but they did the job. The clouds had cleared and it was beginning to heat up now – without the humid canopy of the forests we were exposed to the sunlight. Please don’t have this turn into another Stonehaven scorcher I begged…

Miles three, four and five were almost entirely downhill and on pavements. I allowed myself to relax and let the momentum carry me without pushing too hard. There were quite considerable amounts of marshalls out on the course as the runners had to cross many roads and junctions. The police were out in force too – just as well as some Dundee drivers just can’t be trusted; one boy racer decided to bypass the queue of traffic stopped by some officers at a T junction, by driving along the pavement and attempted to sneak a left turn directly in to the path of the runners without being seen. It was greatly entertaining to see a constable stand right in front of his vehicle and another open his car door and pull him out of the vehicle like a scene from Grand Theft Auto. I hope he got cited for it.

At mile 5 the course went off the road and onto the Dundee Green Circular route which is a cycle path. It crossed the A90 on a footbridge at Fintry and then decended into a park were plenty of local wildlife (neds) were hanging around to cheer us (hassle us) on . There was also a lot of broken glass on the path through this park; a shame but not unexpected in Dundee on a Sunday morning. There was more water at mile 6 and I took my first gel at this point. I was beginning to feel hot and uncomfortable and I took two cups of water – given that they only had about 2 inches of fluid in them each I don’t think this was that out of order but the marshal looked at me like I had two heads when I took the second. I needed it though, it was after 11am and getting hotter and hotter.

So according to my race plan I should have felt that my legs were ready to pick up the pace a little at this point, however I was comfortable with what I was doing and decided to just stick with it. The path was full of random undulations; short sharp hills and descents, and it was tricky to find a rhythm and stick with it. As I approached 8 miles the sun was really beginning to have a hard negative effect on me and I was feeling sick and terribly thirsty, I took a 0.10m walking break and decided it was ok to allow myself another at each mile from then on if I needed it to save energy. I think it was this point when the first cracks of doubt started to creep in; I could tell my energy was waning, if this was how is was going to be at 8 miles how would I find the strength to push harder closer to the finish?

The mountain bike trail spat us back out on to pavement at about 9.0 miles and oddly we went from running on a peaceful riverside trail to running alongside a main road through a shopping park. As we passed a KFC I wailed inside for the fountains of cold drinks which were mere steps away…chilled refreshing sprite…sugary, caffeinated coca cola… it was torture. That and the ubiquitous ‘KFC smell’ which surrounds every one of their outlets of course. I wanted to vomit, a lot, but there were lots of spectators at this part so I sucked my tummy in and concentrated on pretending I was a glamourous, powerful athlete conquering miles one by one for the cheering crowd, rather than being the overweight, plodding, sweaty, puke-bomb waiting to explode at the back of the pack.

After we ran through the shopping park we ended up running along the side of the A92, a main road into Dundee. We also took a random 1/2 mile out-and-back loop into a partially built housing estate… I cast my mind back to the map and course profile I had studied online…no – this was definitely not on the published course. Looking ahead up the A92 going East I saw a long thin stream of runners plodding up the long slow incline for what seemed like miles ahead. Incline!? There’s no incline at this point!?!!

In retrospect, I think this is where I let myself down and my race ended for me here. With the unexpected change of course, my race plan was moot. There was no way I could push my pace in the last miles when at least 1.5 of them were going to be uphill. I was really struggling from lack of water and had stopped sweating, my head was going fuzzy and I couldn’t stop focusing on what to do – mentally I was somewhat crumbling. All I needed to do was put one foot in front of the other but I was obsessing over my time and I could see that it was possible, if I didn’t keep moving fast, that I would come in even slower than Stonehaven. I thought about how embarrassing that would be and how rubbish I was for failing at my goal. Then I realised what a weakling I was being for allowing myself to think negatively and that I’d already failed in my goal to be tougher and push through mental and physical weaknesses in this race and all I could think about was how the whole race was just a disaster to round off a week of crap running.

There’s really nothing to report on the last couple of miles. No blaze of glory, no strong finish; I ended up walk/running the final mile and stumbled over the line in 2hrs 12 minutes and 50 seconds (garmin time, the race wasn’t chipped).



I even got beaten by Wallace and Gromit!! I was near them for a lot of the course, they must have been so hot. They were a couple and when they took walking breaks they were holding hands, it was quite sweet. I wish Colin ran too…but then who would take the pictures?!



The finish was in Broughty Ferry down by the River Tay. Very beautiful place to finish a race.




Not very happy, and it shows.


I immediately grabbed some water and sat down with my head between my knees, feeling miserable. Colin came over and asked how I was and I just babbled nonsense at him about how awful my race had been and how thirsty I was.


I think I must have got through 2 litres of fluids in the half hour after the race. I slowly regained lucidity and ate some food and a protein shake. In the goody bag was a nice colourful medal, a water bottle, a gel, some snacks and a 15% off voucher for Run4It which will come in handy when it’s time for some new trainers at the end of the summer.


We thought about sticking around Dundee for some lunch, but we decided just to save ourselves the money and head straight back up the road. I spent the rest of the day on the couch eating and drinking until I fell asleep.

In case you haven’t guessed; I am really good at allowing negative thoughts to snowball. As soon as a crack appears if I’m in the wrong state of mind I can exploit that to have myself mentally beaten in to a bloody pulp within minutes. All this over a stupid training race that I didn’t care all that much about anyway?

When the results were released on Monday I saw I was 406 out of 512 finishers. In my head that just seems really lame…I have much higher expectations of myself and I’m beginning to wonder if they are even realistic. If I’d hit my goal time I’d have been in the top 250 which would have been much more satisfactory…but was that even possible?! I don’t know, the course was tougher than expected – you really couldn’t call it a road race; at least two thirds of it was on a trail, and the huge hill where there ought to have been a descent was a sneaky addition. The change of course messed with my head and my plan, and the weather really wasn’t ideal. But these are all weak excuses – I have to take responsibility for my own performance and at the end of the day it was rubbish.

All this fuss over a sodding half marathon. I just want to do the best I can and it frustrates me no end when I find myself falling short of what I think I can (or want to) achieve. Onwards and upwards – next race is the Ballater 10 miler on the 31st of July; another new distance to be raced.

This is not a rut

After Sunday’s both physically and mentally exhausting 15 miles, I was apprehensive about lacing up my shoes for my scheduled run on Tuesday – an easy 4 miles. I don’t know why I would feel nervous, it doesn’t really make sense, but I was worried in case it would feel just as rubbish to run 4 easy miles than 15…as if I’d broken my running mojo somehow…?

Yeah I know. Anyway, as it happened I ran four lovely miles and cruised along the Beach Esplanade listening to Mike Oldfield without a care in the world. I was happy to see that indeed, I had NOT left my running mojo 7 miles up the Formartine and Buchan Railway line on Sunday.

Yesterday was bright and sunny with a brisk breeze – I had 8 miles on the schedule and since it was low tide, I decided to run to Donmouth beach and run on the hard wet sand. I considered driving to the beach, but since it’s only two miles from my house I decided to skip the horrendous traffic on King St and run to it instead. This would have been a great idea had it not been for the umpteen stationary van and lorry loads of grunting neanderthals who saw fit to whistle and cat-call after me as I ran past. I hate, hate, HATE running on streets for this reason – the abuse female runners get from some male motorists or other male-occupied vehicles is appalling. Yes; I am a girl, running. Wearing shorts, and a vest. I have legs, breasts and a bottom. I also have a beating heart, a brain and two ears – just like your Mother, your wife, your sister and your daughter. Would you abuse any of them like that? Make them suffer in listening to such offensive words since they dare to run down a street alone? Goddamnit it makes me so angry to have to put up with this every time I leave the house.








ANYWAY. Donmouth is North of Aberdeen and the golden beach stretches for miles with ne’er a soul on it. Delectible solitude to take away the harsh punishment for my crime of being female and exercising outside without a man.
















Looking South and North.





























When I got a bit warm I ran through some of the shallower water to cool off. When I reached 4 miles I stopped for a breather and to take stock. I am so blessed to have beautiful places like this to run.









Nothing like jumping on a blogger band-wagon. Beach yoga anyone?









A hastily positioned Dancer’s Pose. Then I stopped faffing around with the self-timer and came home.

Sadly, in short the run sucked. Despite the beautiful surroundings and perfect weather, it didn’t matter in the end because I couldn’t keep a good pace and I had to keep taking walking breaks. I think I can atttribute some of this difficulty to running on sand, but I seemed to be displaying an alarming lack of stamina which I found very frustrating. I felt heavy and uncoordinated throughout and without any of my previously rediscovered joie de vivre. Running, why do you tease me so?! I am trying not to see this as a rut or a blip in my training, and just accept that some runs are good, some runs are bad. All that matters is more miles in the bank towards the marathon. 11 weeks on Sunday.

This Sunday, however, heralds my second attempt at the Half Marathon distance. After the challenges of Stonehaven two weeks ago, I am hoping that when I toe the startline in Dundee on Sunday I will be fully fuelled and hydrated, without food poisoning and hopefully under a grey and cloudy sky. The weather looks good (nice and rainy!) and I’m crossing everything that can be crossed that nothing that crosses my lips will disagree with me.

Race-wise, the plan is to just hang out nice and easy for the first 6 miles at around 9:30 to 10ish min per mile, and then change gears and speed it up a bit until Mile 11 when I’ll go into my “this is a 5k race” gear and hopefully finish strong. The course looks fairly flat, so I am confident of slicing a fair bit off my underwhelming 2hr 15 PB. I’ll be happy with 2hr 05m, but if the stars align I should be able to get it under 2. Maybe.

What I do need to be concious of is that this is a TRAINING RACE and not a GOAL race, and I should not be busting my guts (or my body) trying to do well. I had to take a few days off after Stonehaven as I was in pain and I can’t afford to be doing that after every race this summer. If I injure myself trying to get a good PB then I’ll be mad as hell so I need to remind myself of the bigger picture if I start hurting. It is All. About. The. Marathon.

Tonight I’m off to try and redeem myself again with 5 easy miles. Then I’m going to the pub. Beer is an excellent carb loading substance you see…



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