Whoop! Just achieved my fastest mile to date, 9:03 – not bad for a soggy and cold Tuesday evening en route home (5.5 miles in all).

Slowly, I’m getting a bit faster. Rather pleased and my splits look pretty even, so it wasn’t just a fluke while running down hill, or arenalin from escaping a rabid mutt in Acton.

Plus its worth noting there’s a fair amount of interruption, distraction and stalling on my route home from work. Here are the main offenders

Kids on Scooters (all ages)
From toddlers who can barely walk, to the older kids who careen from one side of the pavement to the other while yacking on their mobiles, none of them have any sense of how fast they are going or have any regard their immediate surroundings.

No one is safe, from elderly people innocently waiting for the bus to runners like myself (in high vis no less!) we’ve all had to veer out the way or risk being smashed into by two vicious small wheels and being sworn at by either the parents or the snotty preteen. Ban them.

People who don’t look where they are walking
Ok, we’ve all done it. We’ve been busy updating statuses, too involved in the ipod or distracted by some delinquent child smashing into a poor women at the bus stop on a scooter. Nevertheless, every single time I head out on a run I have to use some fancy footwork to avoid colliding with offenders who just step into the street without looking. Its the typical blinkered London commuter state of being. Shouting ‘excuse me’ or ‘careful’ only seems to illicit shocked glares and the occasional 118 joke. I am tempted to get a bell. Or a taser.

Firstly, the pavement is for pedestrians. End of. No negotiation. Secondly, if the light is red for you, but green for the pedestrians, at least slow down. But ideally, just stop. You have brakes and a helmet and runners are not protected by anything other than lycra. Be gracious

I’m hoping those of you who do cycle who read this would never commit these heinous crimes, and if you do, hang your head in shame and change your ways. Along with the bell/taser I may start carrying a small pin to let tyres down…

This coming from a woman who smoked for near on 15 years. Yes. I quit just over two and a half years ago and yes, every now and again I do really, really want a marlboro. But never when I am running. Running past crowds of people standing outside pubs or at bus stop practically billowing tar, ash and smoke past me, and sometimes for those extra special bastards, directed at me, makes me want to gag. Nasty habit. Aren’t I smug *reaches for nicorette*

So, I’m feeling pretty chuffed with my 9:03. Now I just need to find some decent anger management classes.

The Bad Run

We’ve all had them. This was a particularly spectacular in its badness. It goes a little something like this:

Woke up late. Couldn’t find the right kit. But that happens often enough, so I wasn’t totally put out at that point. Got Stella out the door without incident.

Two hundred metres down the road and the the sports bra unhooks. Stop run. Sort out unwieldy hook (while trying not to expose myself to all of Ladbroke Grove!). Start run. Stop run as Stella find something unsavoury to hunt. Get dog back. Start run.

Phew! Finally get the right pace and it looks like it’s all turning around. Hit Hyde Park at 4 miles and have to divert from the usual route due to horses with small children. Stella looked far to interested in the equestrian activities so I moved us along to avoid a Fenton incident. Stella still manages to cause a ruckus when she almost slams into a fellow runner with a huge stick she’s just found, which is about 3 times her size. Stop run, apologise. Start run.

Around 7kms my headphones start playing up. Right earphone conks out completely at one point. Stop run, check the wiring. Fix this temporarily. Start run. But even with the fixed headphone, my playlist is working against me. Skipping tracks every other song because nothing is really doing it. Should have had this on the playlist.

Hit 6miles and I’m feeling knackered, three to go and I’m thinking I may have to  call it day. But manage to push through. I remember at this point that I haven’t actually had any water to drink since about 8pm the night before. Ah. There’s the mistake right there. Stop run. Catch breathe, stop Stella harassing a small puppy. Start run.

Finally, the end is in sight and I can see the final goal. Just another quarter mile, over the road and I’ll be home. I’m so busy focusing on the distance, I’m not paying much attention to my immediate surroundings. And I miss running straight into Spencer by half an inch. Yes, that posh boy from Made In Chelsea. I had to swerve to avoid him and nearly came tacky on a lamp post.

Of course, I gave him a dirty look like he should have been watching where HE was going. And legged it in the opposite direction. Got to 9 miles a little quicker than expected, red faced and more than a little embarrassed. Sorry Spence.

Trainers off, dog bathed (so very very muddy today, why I am not surprised), and I’m logging the miles. Although it was a pretty horrendous couple of hours, I made the target mileage after all. I’m constantly surprised by what I can do, or overcome. A year ago, I would have given up after the bra incident! And its always good to see this result on the old HRM. Think that effort deserves some spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Whoop!


One month to go until the Brighton Half marathon, we survived Suicide Monday this week (proven to be the most depressing day of the year) but most of the new year’s resolutions have been broken!

The coffee cut back went out the window this morning when I practically mainlined three lattes to cope with the 8:30am meeting in my diary and then spent the rest of the day jittering between offices and not managing to concentrate for more than about 80 seconds. Relatively useful for multi-tasking, not so good when trying to work PowerPoint.

By 6pm I was actually looking forward to my 5.5mile run home. The combination of excess caffeine after a four week hiatus (ZING), back to back meetings and a very annoying snag in my brand new silk skirt (furious) meant I needed the run to burn off the adrenalin and extra madness. It really is cheaper than therapy as they say, without the couch and eye-brow raising analysis.

Plus the additional coffee kick meant I shaved 5 minutes off my usual time. Ah yes. Super speedy coffee fiend!

But it sure beats the ‘protein’ shakes that R is threatening to scare up – involving tuna and broccoli. Wrong on so many levels! Next Stella will be refusing her meaty dinner…. worrying.

Stella would not be amused

The Pack Run

Sunshine happy people even at 3 degrees in January!

I’m trying out a few different ways to incorporate running training into my routine, so commuting in my trainers is becoming a more frequent occurrence. This morning I tested out 5 miles with a backpack and I felt every single gram in the 3kg backpack I was hauling!

Thankfully I had some great company, a friend of mine, Pamela, has also caught the running bug so the two of us managed the 5 miles with a few breathers on the way.

Hoping the next time I run without the pack it will feel like I’m literally flying down the streets! But I do need to invest in some new kit to make it work, so any suggestions on a light weight, commuting backpack would be greatly appreciated!  Any excuse to go shopping really.

5 weeks to go to the Brighton half marathon!

(N)ice Sunday Session: 15km and Counting

Six weeks to go to the Brighton Half marathon and my training schedule is really kicking in. No more 5km short runs (short runs are now 9.5kms) or two day rest days. No more long warm up sessions. Just plain hardcore mileage, and in my case dreaming up new excuses not to get out the door, to avoid imagined pain, and possible death by running.

I knew it was coming, a week ahead I could see the 15km Run leering at me from my Nike+ training calendar. And it has hills, this route, hills and intervals and very few traffic lights (so no cheeky breaks) and generally was engineered to make me cry. I should know, I created it myself when feeling particularly fit and, in hindsight, was probably whacked out on endorphins and therefore, slightly crazed.

Having already moved the session from Saturday to Sunday, I really couldn’t find any more excuses to put it off any longer. Having not run this far since the Great Scottish Run last Sept, its no wonder I was feeling more than nervous about heading out. But I did, thanks to the new running play list. Particularly a bit of Vitalic – Poison Lips, which was just what I needed to get out of the fear and into the zone.

An hour and forty five minutes later I got home feeling exhilarated but exhausted and my legs felt like lead, and with another long week of training ahead, I can’t afford to be feeling broken!  I’ve heard about the benefits of ice baths from various magazines, blogs and sites, but I have never had the guts to try one out. This seemed like the best time, which feels very odd with it being 6 degrees outside! But sometimes the crazy stuff works the best.

And yes, it was very cold (and I didn’t include ice, the water in the pipes was freezing enough!). But, not has bad as I thought, as my core was still very warm from the run.  Proof will come in the morning when I’ll be able to see if I can actually get out of bed without fits of bad language and many many nurofen!

Now, to fill up on pasta with R’s homemade pesto (it’s legendary) and copious amounts of Yazoo (best recovery chocolate milk ever!)


Going Nowhere Fast

First day back at work and we are greeted with howling winds and pouring rain. Not drizzle  or classic London ‘tiny’ rain that just gets you damp, but howling sheets of the wet stuff. Like I said, the Apocalypse is right on time!

It cleared up for about half an hour but I wasn’t hardcore enough to chance running home and being lashed by winds and icy rain (yes I am a wimp), but I also couldn’t miss a training session seeing as the half marathon is next month (!!).

So I made for the safe and dry haven that is Gymbox and I hit the treadmill. This is no mean feat. I hate the treadmill. With a passion. It makes me feel like a tubby hamster, that sweats more than any of the other hamsters. Not pretty.

This is the thing about running in the gym, you’re not alone. At any point. Particularly in January, when all in sundry are out in force starting out new year’s resolutions, they should all be out by March thankfully.

But in losing my precious alone time, I do get to avoid slow walkers, nasty dogs snapping at my ankles from doorways, stall workers chucking out old veg, or kids on bikes swerving on the pavement.

The monotonous treadmill drudge also means its all about the playlist. And while I’m not dodging nefarious stains on the pavement, I’m unearthing a couple of new gems to add to my A/W 2012 playlist. I say new gems, but really it’s just new tracks I’m discovering from recent downloads that help me beat the boredom, and forget about the twinge in my calf or the cramp in my foot!

So far I’ve discovered these two tracks, which significantly helped my pace, and made me forget about the very skinny blonde next to me smashing the treadmill at twice my speed (although I did feel very smug when she only managed it for 10 mins. Too much speed, not enough stamina. Shame)

So that’s another week committed to the run, or so my Nike+ tells me. I need the practice, I’ve got 16kms in my training schedule on Saturday and I am praying for some sun, even if its cold. I don’t think I can take 1.5 hours on the treadmill calorie watching on the screen and praying the super fit body builders aren’t laughing at my gait. You don’t get that on the street!

Dirty as you like, London streets are more interesting than the inside of a gym, and there is nothing that beats that knackered-off-the-street feeling when you walk through the door in from the cold. Sorry treadmill trainers, unless it’s armageddon outside, I’m avoiding the fake pavement. And in fact I may just invest in some proper rain gear to make sure it really is only once in a blue moon I’m forced to use them!

2012 : Bring it!

January 1st 2012. YES! We made it through the festive period with minimal collateral damage and almost no casualties (save the cheesecake in the fridge – that got whipped). We even managed to keep to the training schedule, with 4 runs clocked in between Christmas day and today. Not bad. We won’t mention the pace or timings, but we got out there.

And they say start as you mean to go on, so we managed 5km today, which I am especially proud of as:

a) its New Year’s Day – so that’s a first
b) it was POURING down with rain (I had puddles in my shoes, squishing all the way home)
c) the Achilles is playing up
d) with all the festive feasting, and over indulgence, the NYD run was ‘heavy’ going

With the new year upon us, I’m also in dire need of refreshing the running play list so any recommendations greatly received. My track list  seems to be stuck in an indie electro time warp between 2005 and 2007. Anyone remember the Klaxons?!

Thought not.

Anyway, Happy New Year all, happy running, it’s good training for the upcoming Apocalypse