I’m back! Running mojo rediscovered!

My lack of blogging has directly related to my lack of running.  And the longer I didn’t feel I was back to my running routine, the harder it became to write about it.  Deep down I was struggling- I wanted to run- at a visionary level, I mean it makes me feel good both physically & emotionally but my burnt out lack of interest could not motivate me enough to get my running shoes on & just doddle around the block.  Even a week staying in my most favorite place to run (by the sea in Cornwall) could not get me running despite packing enough changes of clothes for three or four runs!*

And the longer I didn’t run, the more my confidence waned:

  • It will be even more difficult
  • I’ve lost all my marathon fitness
  • It’s too hot
  • I need to re-energise
  • too much else to do….

After a three week running break (physical & mental rehab after the marathon) I have managed to run at least once a week with my running friends – lovely gentle runs around the countryside – no pressure.  No races, no intervals, pure fresh air & green fields (& a few hills).  We were also going to a weekly bootcamp, concentrating on strength and fitness, so still exercising.  But yesterday was the first time I managed to motivate myself to run by myself.  I started to feel those extra pounds (the 40s are so unkind!) & it was enough to get out there.  And it was good!  I took a local circuit that had some down, some flat then almost a mile of uphill for a 3.5 mile return to running.  It worked.  I’m back on green again, I ran all the hill without any excuses to walk.  It was slow, steady  & hot.

Nike Free

While I was running it made me think about how I would write about it.  My ‘victorious return’.  And I thought, it’s got to be about the clothes, I mean was I wearing anything new?  Anything colourful that I had made?  Well I wore my newish favorite Nike Free for the first time for running ….& bearing in mind I usually wear a heavily built up Brooks Adrenaline shoe this was a new running experience.  I have been wearing them for exercise & walking around & about as they are *so* comfortable.  And they were so light to run in, loved it!  The colour is maybe not my first choice, but that was why they were 20% off – but very ‘summer’!

snakey legs

But clothing?  I didn’t chose my recently made snakeskin lycra leggings (ok they would have been too hot).  However, it was interesting that at a time of lower running & body self confidence I chose a baggy Bath Half finishers’ tshirt over some reasonably anonymous (but at least made by me) grey running shorts.  Interesting.  I look forward to being inspired to running back in my brights again – that will mean I am really back.

I have seen this scaling up/ down of clothes to exercise in according to how you feel about your physical self- how fit you feel.  And they do say that the longer you are a runner ,the shorter your leggings become.  What do you think?

* By the way, remind me next time (yes, i do have another marathon that I had booked in to as far back as January I think) not to think I have the fitness to run a half marathon two weeks after a marathon.  That so knocked me out for six & really set back my recovery.  Oh well!  Live & learn!  I am not as young as I think I am 🙂

My London Marathon experience

It was the best it could have been.  Truly!  I will write more about why it came together so well in another post, as I don’t want to forget!  But for now, I am still elated.


It all went to plan- we ran all the way.  We ran together all the way.  I was prepared in every conceivable way possible that helped me get through the tough bits much more easily.  But when people tell you that the experience of the London Marathon is just *incredible* they are right.

From the moment that I watched my home town disappear from the coach the day before, I felt that I was going to be doing something momentous.  At last!  The gravity of the challenge had started to sink in.  I think it had something to do with the music that I was listening to (some music I listen to when running) – it seemed to set a scene of unbridled excitement.  The butterflies started, my heart went all funny, sinking onto my butterflies.

You had to go to the Excel to register and pick up your number and timing chip and it was really well organised.  There is a massive “Expo” with loads on offer to tempt runners to part with their cash,  the runners’ fare on offer was really interesting- if heaving with people & overwhelming to catch everything.  I certainly didn’t want to tire myself out too much, so stayed for about an hour, and managed to listen to some of the expert talks that helped me with some last minute “cramming” – getting my mind in the right place.

Getting to Blackheath for the start on the Sunday morning was in itself thrilling – early morning tubes & trains, that became more & more full of other marathon runners, carrying water to sip & the ubiquitous red VMLM kitbags to load onto the baggage lorries with essentials for after the race.  The weather was damp – low cloud hung over the Shard and some of the other taller buildings.  I hoped that my support crew would not get too wet or cold in the crowds.

I kept getting texts & tweets wishing me luck.  It was unbelievable how many people were interested in my marathon.  I cannot tell you how much it buoyed me up even before the race- no space for any negativity with so many well wishes.  Butterflies crept in, but no blubbing, promise.

I met my  friend, the marvellous Jodie, at the pub before Blackheath itself & we waited for the start together.  Waiting on Blackheath was cold – bin bag central.  But we knew that once moving we would warm up – I kept to my plan to wear my “rainbow badger” kit – I could not wait!

So, no more blow by blow account of the race itself.  That would be a long piece of writing.  (It’s already long enough!) But I’ll pick out my highlights – the things I’ve been re-living- the memories that make me smile & sometimes bring a bit of a choke too.   Remember I was running for the experience, not the time?  This was the experience I had trained for.

The  route – winds itself through parts of London I have never visited, and parts of London I see on the TV, & then other parts that I have visited- it is a real proper expedition of sights.  It is multisensory to be fair, as the crowds & the music roar  non stop along every 50,000 step of the way.  (I think that’s how many steps I took in the 26.2 miles, or thereabouts).   There were some drums that were booming under a bridge intersection early in Greenwich & the way they resonated to hit you deep in your chest, another heartbeat.  It was emotional.  How can drums be emotional? but these were.

Running around the Cutty Sark was incredible- this was real, we were actually running around one of the icons in the London Marathon!  I made sure to look up as well as around me.  I was also prepared for the joy that running over Tower Bridge would bring – & it did!  We were nearly half way !  It was there that my hips started to complain, but everything else was feeling OK.  My strategy to keep slow filled me with confidence that I could manage the physical pain as long as I kept the effort levels manageable.

The crowds – all the way around were amazing.  On the Isle of Dogs in parts they were crazy!  Thick with loud cheering supporters, pubs with music cranked up to give runners and supporters street party vibes.  I loved it when we were running with tough cookies amongst us wearing full body Rhino suits (Save the Rhino) – crowds would always shout “rhino rhino rhino” in chorus.  I remember passing a firestation that was open & blasting out music- the song we caught?  YMCA.  Everyone running joined in, synchronised participation during the chorus, arms high & making shapes.  I could not stop laughing!

People in the crowds catching sight of the person they were there to support roused others around them to cheer along as a swell of sound.  People shouting out for random strangers with their names on their t-shirts.  How could I not smile & wave everytime I heard a “Go Badger”?  I even met another ‘Badger’ running who caught up with me & introduced herself.  (She is a very dark haired badger named for her mischievous night time activity!  I like it!)  My spirits were kept lifted even when my body was getting ever stiffer.  My legs could not stride out any faster, but I knew I could keep going as long as I kept to my pace.  Confidence that you can finish is key.


Spotted ‘Team Badger’ at Mile 21


Loved ones– I knew there were friends and family in the crowds who had made the journey to London to shout us on.  Our running friends were positioned just before Tower Bridge and were the first familiar faces we saw – & how amazing to see them & for them to scream at us too!  It took a while before I saw my family, ‘team Badger’, so when they did see me at mile 21 I veered off to give them a big sweaty hug to silently assure them that ‘all ok, I will finish this whole’.

I'm OK!!  I've only 5 miles to go!
I’m OK!! I’ve only 5 miles to go!

So many things made the race itself go incredibly quickly- I remember saying to Jodie, ‘We’ve run for 3 hours!’ – both of us surprised that we had been running nearly as long as our longest training run.  I think the mile markers – more like mile balloon bridges- each with water stops at every mile- helped to generate a real sense of progress, with so much to see & hear in between each mile.

Running up the Embankment felt slightly surreal – were we really *that* close to the end?  I didn’t know what to expect, except I kept warning Jodie that I was not/ could not end with a sprint finish!  Jodie, the star, had more in her legs & could easily have shaved a faster time, but she chose to stick with me, as I silently internalised the mental effort to remain steadfast,  Jodie told me jokes!  Along Birdcage Walk the emotional reality that the finish was imminent  had a strange effect on my breathing – I really did almost choke!  Or hyperventilate or something.  We were about to see Buckingham Palace & I was prepared for the Mall being an endless stretch of red road with a distant finish line.  But it wasn’t!  We ran, holding hands, smiling over the finish line.

In shock afterwards!
In shock afterwards!

My London Marathon really was a lifetime achievement, but how funny that I never knew I wanted to do it until last year.  Will I do it again?  I am very clear that no I don’t want to – this was so special – how could I think that I would better it?  If I think about it, it makes me feel guilty at how easily I got my place when so many others don’t get through the ballot year after year, but next year, I shall be one less person in that ballot so maybe it’s your turn to get lucky.  Go for it!!

Thanks again to every single person who cheered, who sent me messages of support and who ran with me in training runs over the winter- the long runs and the recovery runs.  We did it ! xx

London 2015: how to stand out without fancy dress? My marathon outfit

So the London marathon is on Sunday.   What a weird week!  I feel in feeder-limbo.  I started a fundraising page with just 6 days to go & am so touched by everyone’s support & generosity.  I’ve planned to add it to my armory of devices for helping me through tough times (working out how much I fundraise per mile & trying to keep my brain active with mental arithmetic- if it is still functioning at that level!)



As I said in my other blog, apologies for blatant repeating, this is going to be the experience and pinnacle of my running adventures and I am going out there to soak it all up.  It’s about enjoying as many of the 26.2 miles as possible, not about a time.  I may have to walk, that’s OK.  I might take 4 and a half hours, I am more likely to take five or more.  That is OK too.  My goal is only to enjoy the amazing experience that is the London marathon.  The sights, the crowds, the other participants…..I mean it’s the biggest….& I am incredibly lucky to have some awesome support.  My family and friends are coming to London to cheer me on!  And my parents will be watching all the coverage on the off chance that they can catch a glimpse of me.  So I want to make it easy to spot me in the sea of runners.  I know I will need to feel their love, it’s helped me – the only other time I completed a marathon– at critical times.

Everyone says the crowds get you around.  I will be feeding off the cheering, the catcalls & the encouragement.  My friends and family are coming to cheer me on too.  Wow, coming to London just to support me.  I am bowled over & want to give them reason for making the effort.  If they are making the journey to London as my support crew, I need to make it as easy as possible for them to spot me, don’t I?

I am going to see if my Garmin 220 ‘Livetrack’ works with that volume of other runners & drain on satellites.  I hope it does because it will allow my support crew to track me, know where I am & when to look out for me.  I am also going to try the social media link to Facebook….haven’t done that before.  I will report back.

But I can’t rely on technology.  Here is my marathon outfit.  I made it myself (more notes on that on my other blog, here– you’ll see I’m recycling the same photos).



It was with this in mind, that I chose the fabric, colour & pattern to make myself as visible as possible.  And then I got a bit into my rainbow theme – spot the ribbons on my shoes.

My friend did my nails- boy, surely my nails will be the things they see first!!!

marathon nails


I have practised some poses to make it easier to spot me …Buoyant (hopefully a lot of time I will be like this!)


And times of need….give me encouragement, motivation, pain killers, Red Bull……mojitos….

But this is the image I need to cling on to – how I want to be passing the finish line …


If you are in the crowds please shout for me!!  And if you are also running, may it be an incredible experience and may you fulfil your training goals xx


One week to go! What I’m reading to prepare

neither being a seasoned marathon runner, nor a natural athlete, I need to supplement my marathon training plan with other critical information to calm my nerves by looking after some of the other worries that plague me in the lead up to the London marathon.

There is a really informative magazine sent to all entrants that contains all the practical information that you need to know, from travel, registration, race starts, race nutrition, route, athletic inspiration, as well as invaluable information for supporters, which I am going to photocopy and hand out to friends and family who are making the trip to London to holler along for me ( I feel so lucky, I mustn’t dwell on it or I’ll blub).  So in theory, training plan and race information covers everything you need to know – what running I should be doing in the last week and what happens on race weekend. 


To supplement this, I have two books that I’ve turned to: Go Faster Food by Kate Percy and Running Blind by Simon Webb.

I’ll start with Go Faster Food.  I’ve had this book for years now, and I pull it out in the lead up to half marathons as my way to prepare for meal planning in the three days or sometimes even the week before.  Not being a meat eater I wanted to make sure I got my running nutrition right once I’d started to take on longer distances, and I found the information in this book really useful and interesting- from knowing very little about how food works as fuel, this book explains it in not too scientific terms, and helped demystify the whole glycogen process with just enough detail for me.  The kinds of food that are helpful pre workout, and as recovery are also discussed- very helpful to a newbie distance runner with little scientific education!.  This is a recipe book for exercise, however, and it contains heaps of recipes, with nutritional information, and suggestions for whether it is suitable as pre workout or post workout meal.  But did I mention how tasty the recipes are? And easy to cook? And how they are not made up of crazy inaccessible ingredients, but use things that are readily available ? And there is a section on cakes and flapjacks?!!  This book actually deserves me to use it more frequently than just as my prep for a big race, as the meals are wholesome and tasty for any day of the week.  There are no pictures within this book, which could be a downside if that’s what you look for in a cookery book, but I’d say this is less a ‘cookery book’ and more a practical nutritional recipe book.  Go to the Go Faster Food website and there are recipes and photos aplenty.

As you would expect there are whole sections devoted to pasta, rice and grains, some great juices, soups….cakes too.  I have made a lot from this book, and they are always a success.  I pick out the non- meat recipes, and have recently made an open lasagne ( sounds posh, like something on masterchef! But really involved cooking the lasagne sheets and layering on your plate with a variety of frozen veg, and a quick creme fraiche sauce).  It was so easy, tasty and ideal for scaling down to make a single portion.  

What I find super helpful to make sure I look after my diet in the week before, is a suggested meal plan.  Now, I never cook everything, but the sheer exercise of looking at it, and picking a few things to be inspired by and to make, means that at least I am eating well in advance of a big one.

It also gives advice on how to eat on the day of the race, and of course, recovery afterwards ( The big gap though- no well deserved pint of lager and pizza mentioned !!)


I never eat this much, but it forces me to be organised with my meals, which is a sound part of how I prepare.

A truly inspired Christmas present I received this year was the perfect book, for a London marathon Virgin, called ‘Running Blind’ by Simon Webb.  Not being a Londoner, only having watched the marathon on TV, I know so little about the route ( when we saw the poppies at the Tower of London last year, my friend said that I’d be seeing it again as I ran the marathon- I was so totally ignorant of that fact!)   This book is written by a sight impaired athlete who is way faster than I could ever dream of being, and he runs with a guide.  He has run the London marathon himself. This book discusses what it is like to ‘ run blind’ as the title suggests, and this is fascinating and awe inspiring in itself, and he’s Written a webpage  here however, the bulk of the book looks at the London marathon, its background, but interestingly its route, describing in great detail the history, folklore and anecdote surrounding the landmarks you see and those that you might miss as you run the 26miles through London.  

I don’t know how much I will remember as I shuffle along next weekend, but it’s an effective way to prepare myself mentally for the HUGENESS of a marathon.  It is such a crazy long way.  But, not knowing London, and so unaware of the route itself, this book is rectifying that, and I think it will really add to my experience on the day.  And for me, that is what running the London marathon is about for me- the experience. 

Are there any books that you always turn to to prepare for the event you have trained for? 

Next time I shall be posting pics of what I will be wearing so that if anyone is out there in the crowd and sees me, give me a shout out!! 

Marathon thoughts

Gosh, I logged back in to this blog and was thrilled to find so many motivating & heart warming comments waiting for me – for some reason the email notification hadn’t worked, so it was an exciting surprise!  I am *even more* inspired to write about running.    This one today is going to be about the marathon, because, actually, I am more than a bit preoccupied with it.

What I wore on this morning's run
What I wore on this morning’s run

With less than three weeks until the London marathon I have to confess that a good proportion of my waking thoughts are about *the marathon*.   I might be sitting in a meeting at work looking attentive, but scratch the surface & it is not work that haunts & thrills me in equal measure.

So I feel as if I have turned a corner.  And isn’t that just what happens in micro time- during long runs, and then over a period of days as well?

My long run four weeks before the marathon was particularly tough, grueling & generally not fun & had left me anxious, worried that I hadn’t packed in enough mileage.  Then my knee decided to give me more cause for concern & worry escalated – if I am compeletely honest, it was a low few days.  Luckily I had already booked in with a sports therapist who got me back on track.  The next morning, my knee was already showing signs of recovery & with the instruction to rest for 48 hours that’s what I did.  In fact I laid off my plan that week, as it was the *longest of the long runs* the coming Sunday & I was staking my mental wellbeing & motivation on being able to knock off the 18 mile barrier.

My running mate had an even worse knee injury than me, & she had laid off the training for two whole weeks.  Lordy, she said it was such a fight in her head, wanting to train & not being able to.  So we both agreed that if we could do 18 miles, then we could rule the world.  The 18 miles are there in the sidebar for a limited time only, until other runs replace it*.  We did it!  Yes, it was Easter Sunday.  We had our awesome friend-not-running-this-marathon-but-one-in-October running the first section with us too.  And it was a glorious day.  The last two miles were incredibly tough, but we were elated to have hit the mileage we felt we needed to for our sanity.   Oh and the thought that we will be getting to the 18 and still have another 8 to do has not passed us by.  It sounds crazy doesn’t it?  BUT most marathon training plans take you up to just over 3 hours or 18-20 miles anyway.  We feel prepared, and that is so important.

I have *only* got a two hour long run this weekend & will take some pics as it’s going to be a scenic one.    Funny isn’t it?  Now that we are in the “taper” and our runs are shortening, that a two hour run, must seem crazy to the majority of non runners is less of a big deal.  And what I find equally crazy about it is that I know quite a few people who can run a half marathon in 90 minutes.  It’s not crazy to them though 😉

The photo at the top shows what spring does to me!  It cuts my head off & brings my legs out in their pale bruised glory.  Yikes.  That is my latest running skirt & it was great to get out there this morning for a 60 minute run along the flat.   I shall not be wearing this for the marathon, but I promise I will wear something eye catching & unique.  NO ONE else will be wearing what I will be wearing.  It’s a promise.  I will be publicising it on this (& my other) blog in advance of the marathon on the off chance that anyone spies me & can shout out encouragement.  Or whoops.  Anything!  I will need it.  And apologies in advance if it makes me teary!

Will you be there ?  Any wise words to offer in the last two weeks?  I have had some brilliant advice so far in previous comments, thank you, but it might be a case of positive reinforcement!!!


*But you can follow me on Strava if you have any interest in doing so! I am Winnielou

Why run like a girl?

I need to claim my blog on Bloglovin so here’s how I do that
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I have started to explain this in my little bio & my first blog post, but thought I some pics would not go amiss.

Manchester 10k 2014
Manchester 10k 2014

After all, I’m shouting out that running can make you feel pretty, even when you’ve no make up on, you’re flushed, you’re sweating, (gosh! you might even smell!) & if you feel like exerting yourself, you might not even sound very ladylike.  But wearing colour & pattern sure makes me feel good.  I’d rather be dressed in funky garb than the runners’ black lycra uniform that makes up so many running clothes for women – but that is a personal preference.  I know absolutely loads of people like black.

You need to understand that I am not a natural athlete.  I do not find running easy.  I have visions of running like a gazelle with grace & perfect running style.  Let me tell you, EVERY single time I look at the video Marathon photos so kindly takes of me, approaching the finishing line, even when I feel as if I am striding out, stretching, long legs, upright & *looking like a gazelle*  I cry bitterly to see a chicken crossing the finishing line dressed in my clothes.   Clothes look good.  It’s a funky chicken.

Top, leggings & even crop top (it’s also peacock) made by me

So I am not a runner with either form or speed, but I need to have a certain amount of confidence to stand out from the crowd, despite that.  I give you that.  But when I make my own (non running) clothes to wear during the day, I stand out from others for my unique outfits, why should running be any different?

You can read more about the making of these on my other sewing blog:

Marathon training- the rational & the emotional

So you know, I am training for a marathon, the London Marathon, & like so many others, who will be filling the streets of London in 34 days time, I’m clocking up ever longer runs, with *the longest run* due, according to my plan, on Easter Sunday.  Surely that’s going to be the longest run for absolutely loads of London marathoners?  I will be stopping off at the shop afterwards, stocking up on half price easter eggs ….

This is only my second ever marathon & my swings from thrill to fear are starting to feel like it’s part of my being.

This time I am following the Women’s Running Improvers’ Marathon Training Plan & it is so different from the plan I followed last time, that it takes a real leap of faith to believe I am doing enough.   The WR plan is based on time, rather than distance & I chose Improvers because the Beginners’ Plan is for those who are maybe able to run 5k.  I’m slow but usually close to half marathon ready.  I couldn’t tell you what plan it was last time, but the “mid week medium” runs reached 8-10 miles. And my longest run came in at 21 miles. But then again I was maybe only running three times in the week.

Gotta run like a girl in floral leggings!
Gotta run like a girl in floral leggings & running bows!

This time, I am running four or five times a week, with lots of 30- 45 minute runs, with the odd 60 minute mid week run, but there are two significant differences. This time, (for the first time ever- I am such a lazy runner, no wonder I don’t get any faster!) I am actually doing the intervals & hill runs.  Do you know what?  I am a convert.  Do interval training!  That makes the mid week runs quality strength builders without taking over my life. Another difference is that this plan involves a Saturday run (of varying types- anything from a recovery run to hills, depending upon what part of the plan you are in). This therefore means that the long run on Sunday is run on not fully rested legs. Does it also mean that the weekend’s mileage can be regarded as cumulative?  But that is the way we should be thinking about the week’s runs – on total mileage, isn’t it?
This is what I believe- there has to be sense behind it. But my emotions kick in big time. I mean. My longest run is going to be only 3 hours, when my total marathon time could be a couple of hours longer. (Insert quizzical, followed by petrified emoticon).

Even though my Sunday afternoons are wiped out, horizontal either in the bath or on the sofa, in the classic long run recovery position, it doesn’t feel as if it is taking over my life.  Not quite.  Considering I am only up to 15.5 miles (& here I worry – should I have done 18 by now?) I am also not sick of the training yet.  And last Sunday’s long run was really tough because I did far more on Saturday than I should have (a 7 mile ParkRun sandwich, a far cry from my plan’s “30 minute recovery run”), but it almost feels as if it has to get seriously horrible for me to get fed up of it.  But then, there are still just over 4 weeks to go.  It might yet happen….

How do you feel at this stage of your marathon training?  Please don’t send me the heebie jeebies & tell me I’m doing it wrong.  Because we all know more than half the battle is having your head in the right place…

My first running blog post


I’m starting a blog for running.  I’ve been running off & on for about 5 years now, and have actually managed to maintain a run two or more times a week now for a couple of years.   I’m sort of hooked on half marathons but am not fast- you need to get that straight!  I am not a natural athlete.  No one else in my family runs or does any sport.  How on earth did I come into it?

GNRun 2013

Running can make me feel great and it can make me feel rubbish.

I love the feeling of a great run.  That’s when I love running.

I want more great runs than rubbish runs.  I know I am not alone there!

I’ve done lots of thinking & lots of talking with others about running & I have loads of tricks up my sleeve for dealing with my personal *running challenges* – mostly those in my head, but now I even have some practical experience of things that have helped me find it easier.

One of the things that helps me run & feel great is how I dress when I run, you see I make my own running clothes & that can be so much fun.   I have another blog over at scruffybadgertime  for all my crazy sewing adventures.  Dressing in girly running gear can be the thing that pushes me out of the door, encourages me to take those all important first steps when I am feeling lazy and unmotivated.  Once out the door, that’s half the battle ….

I hope you join me in celebrating running because you love it, because it makes you feel great, and you don’t have to be fast! This’ll be an outlet for all that thinking & talking that goes on with running, plus a showcase for some cute, funky running clothes.

As I am a new running blogger, I’d love to hear who you follow for great running info, running fun & motivation.  Could you leave me any recommendations in the comments?  That would be ace!  Thanks