Why I run

CapJanuary 2018 saw me make the decision to take up running again. Spending two weeks at home for Christmas and New Year festivities with my family drew my attention towards the fact that I was not happy. Don’t get me wrong, things were great with the relationships I had with other people; my other half and I were celebrating our sixth Christmas together, and our four children were being delightful…well, most of the time. Where the problem lay was with me; and more specifically the relationship I had with myself.

Physically I was not in bad shape for a 38 year old. My friends would get annoyed when I moaned about my clothes feeling tighter, after all I was still squeezing into a size 8-10;  but I was carrying a few extra pounds than the year before… and certainly feeling the effects of all that extra booze and sugar. Whilst my friends thought I looked fine I was not happy with how my body looked and felt.Running therapy word cloud

Mentally I was probably in worse shape. My other half works a physically and mentally demanding job that often means he is working away from home, or as was the case then, working night shifts. The result of this is that it would fall to me to be the primary care-giver for the children as well as completing my own full time job. The balancing act of getting children to and from the right activity at the right time, be it school or activity club; whilst also getting myself to and from work is never easy. What didn’t help was the fact that once we were all home it would fall to me to do the night shift too. Our youngest had just turned 3 in October and was finding both settling for bed and sleeping through the night impossible; so my evenings often consisted of creeping down the stairs when he had finally settled to sleep at 9pm, washing up, tidying up and getting everything ready for the next morning…before crawling into bed myself.

The days and nights felt like they rolled into one long conveyor belt of demands, and there was a voice in my head growing ever louder that had its own demand….what are you doing for you? The answer to this was nothing. Everyone else came first, and I could see no way of ending the cycle we were in.run 4

Having that two week break at Christmas made me realise that something needed to change. Breaking down in tears on my other half’s’ Mum on Christmas Day made me realise that I was not the person I should be; and that the only way to change this was for me to make a change.

Back in 2011 I was going through a very stressful time in my life, dealing with the breakdown of my first marriage. During this I used running to help me escape the pressures of the family home; perhaps this would be the way to go? I spoke to my other half and we worked out that I could fit in two early morning runs a week so long as I left when he got home at 6am. So that was what I did.

Anyone that knows me will tell you that determination and drive are two qualities that I possess in the bucket load. These are also accompanied by a huge competitive streak and a passion for organisation. It is therefore no surprise that I drew up a basic training plan that I could use to tick my sessions off, and I also registered for ParkRun…although I wouldn’t have the guts to show up until March (something I will write about in a future post).

I won’t lie, to start with it was not enjoyable. The first run I did showed that it had been 5 years and one hard pregnancy since I’d done any running, or proper exercise at all. I couldn’t even make it a mile long; 12 minutes of running and 0.84 miles is what I managed to complete. Could I really do this?run cap

But I stuck with it and it wasn’t long before I was running for over half an hour at a time and also realising that whilst I was running I felt not only free in a physical sense, but a mental one too. I had half an hour where I was focusing just on me and what I needed. There was no one to call “Mum” or interrupt me from achieving my task. The benefits were felt not only during my run, but after it too. I felt less resentful when my other half made his way to bed for the day, and I had more patience for the children . Moreover I felt that I had reclaimed my identity as Claire again. I had that thing that I do back again “oh that’s Claire, she runs”.

Physically it didn’t take long for those pounds to shift, and my confidence grew again knowing that I both looked and felt better. I was able to run further and faster with each week that passed.

Buying myself a Garmin Forerunner watch to track my time and mile splits made me realise that I had made the shift from running for fun, to someone that had well and truly fallen in love with running again and the way it made me look and feel.

We have now entered August 2018 and I am still running. Still feeling the benefits from it, and have very clear goals set. There are races entered; and I am waiting to hear back from my ballot entry for the London Marathon next April… and if I don’t get a place in that I have already made a plan B in the form of the Southampton Marathon. PB wine

I have Personal bests over the 5K, 10K and Half Marathon; and whilst my pace is certainly not world class I certainly feel like I’ve won a gold medal each time I make an improvement on these. I’ve made sure that I give myself a reward when this happens which could be anything from taking an extra long soak in a bubble bath, to a nice big glass of red!

Beyond the physical and mental joys I have also started to form an additional social circle. This week I have joined a local running club and am looking forward to meeting up with other members for training runs. There is also a great running  community on social media that I am starting to interact with on a regular basis. I love sharing my progress with them and hearing how they are doing against their own goals.

So, to anyone feeling stuck in a rut, feeling stressed or just down on life I would urge them to give running a go. It’s not about how far or how fast you move. It’s all about how it makes you feel; and if its half as good as it does me you will feel on top of the world!!

Claire – running up the miles and smiles!

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Healthy flapjacks

These healthy flapjacks are made with minimal fat and sugar, and are a tasty treat to enjoy either pre or post run!

IngredientsIngredients:

  • 75g – Low sugar granola
  • 75g – Oats
  • 2 ripe Bananas
  • 150ml Coconut milk
  • Handful of sultanas (optional)

 

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 175 C or GranolaGas mark 4
  • Mash the 2 bananas in a bowl
  • Tip in the granola, oats, milk and sultanas
  • Give a good stir
  • Greese a shallow baking tray
  • Pour in the mix and level with a fork
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until brown
  • Use a knife to loosen edges, and cut into shape before they cool

Variations:

  • Remove the sultanas to decrease the sweetness; or add 2 teaspoons of honey to increase it.
  • Add one sachet or portion of protein powder to make this an even better recovery snack!

Baked

I hope you enjoy making and eating these as much as I do!

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Claire – clocking up the miles and smiles!

 

Oofos Sliders – Review

Up until May I didn’t even know recovery shoes or sandals existed. Having begun the year running for fun, and then deciding that I would set the goal of running a marathon in April 2019 (London or Southampton); it took me until May to decide I really should visit a specialist trainer store for a gait analysis and new pair of shoes.

It was there that I discovered the slight niggle I had been feeling in my left calf was nothing to do with the muscle, and everything to do with an over pronating foot. Cue corrective footwear and some very specific advice to stop wearing flip flops.havsPaying the most I have ever paid for a pair of trainers in my life; in fact I think I spent more that I have spent on every other trainer put together, I could stomach. What filled me with dread was a summer without my havaianas.  Conversation turned to recovery sandals, and I was shown the Oofos range that they had started to carry in store. Whilst they didn’t look as sleek as what I had been wearing at home I was sensible enough to understand that if I wanted to stay injury free between now and April I would have to fore-go fashion for function.

There were two reasons that I didn’t make a purchase that day. The first was the realisation that whilst I could hide one shoe box from my other half two would be stretching it. These flip-flops were VERY pricey for flip-flops!! The other was more practical, they only carried them in size 4 up….way too big for my fairy feet that are an official size 2 and a half!Oofos logo

Having left the store I did a small amount of research myself into other brands, and I came to the conclusion that there was no other sandal out there that started in a size small enough for me. I decided to send an e-mail to Oofos directly and ask if there was any chance of getting an order custom made. The response came back within 2 working days and whilst they couldn’t do that they recommend that I take a look at the Ooahh Sliders, as these started in a size 3. They would come with a money back guarantee so if they didn’t fit I could simply return them and had 30 days to do so.

Now i’ll be honest… the sliders didn’t sell themselves to me in looks at all. They were only available in the black colour and looked even clumpier than the classic flip flop style. However the fact was it would be them or nothing; so I waited till pay day and then ordered a pair.

Oofos
Me in my Ooahh Sliders…ahhhhh

The first thing that impressed me, besides the easy navigation of their website for purchasing, was how quickly they arrived. I chose standard postage and they were with me within 2 working days! They came well packaged and with clear instructions of how I could return them if they were not right for me.

Having put them on I quickly realised why the marketing surrounding Oofos is focused on the concept of walking on air. That’s exactly how their Oofoam technology makes you feel. The science behind it is that it is absorbing 37% more impact than performance footwear and slowing the rebound. The feeling is like floating.

Whilst I am still in the early stages of building my long runs; current max distance sits at just under 14 miles, I have definitely seen an improvement from wearing them. My feet are better supported. The niggle in my calf has disappeared totally, and I actually feel quite smug for putting practicality and comfort ahead of aesthetics.. like a proper athlete would!

The real rewards will be felt when I slip them on after pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles next year; or after a few of the high mileage training sessions. In fact, if truth be told, I’m not sure I will be wearing them after the marathon at all, as I have my eyes on the Oomg High Shoes…after all it will be April and too cold for sliders (any excuse!)Life-is-short-Take-the-trip-Buy-the-shoes-Eat-the-300x300

So, to summarise, yes they cost more than standard flip-flops..way more; but they are also way above them in standard, support and comfort. They don’t look pretty, but you know what you can learn to live with that, and it actually makes you feel better that you have. Finally Oofos have a great returns policy, this shows the faith they have in their product, but also should give you the courage to give them a go; there is no risk, if you don’t love them send them back.

“Life is short, take the trip, buy the shoes, eat the cake” – A very wise person!

Claire -clocking up the miles and smiles…

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Cap

 

Run report – Interval training

This morning started the same way Tuesday mornings have started throughout 2018. A 6am alarm so that I could get out and pound the pavement before work… I try to ignore the fact that the running is probably actually harder work than the day job that follows it!Tues

Todays session was interval training over a 5 mile distance. Whilst there are many ways to split the distance I find that an easy 2 miles followed by an easy mile sandwich (mile 3 interval, mile 4 easy, mile 5 interval) works best for me. I find nothing pleasant about running flat out – there is most definitely a reason why I favour distance running over sprints… the sandwich approach means I get that longer recovery that I need to ensure I complete the course.

The miles that I run at high intensity are 2 minutes at maximum pace with 30 seconds of recovery. During my recovery I try not to walk, but do drop to a gentle jog to ensure I grab those vital moments of recharge and oxygen… all whilst trying to ignore the fact my heart feels like it is going to burst out of my chest and sprint away faster than I can catch it!

You may have guessed… I don’t enjoy interval training one bit; however I am a firm believer of the phrase “if you change nothing, nothing changes”.

For the first 3-4 months of the year I was noticing very real improvements in my pace. However during late April I hit a plateau, no matter how much effort I was putting in the times were still the same, or slower!!! Cue hitting the search engines for ideas and me finding the penance that is interval training.

By varying speed I would not only be working different muscle twitch fibres; I would also be forcing my body to get rid of lactic acid faster and making those muscles more efficient. The results if which would kick start performance improvements again.

The long and short of it is that I have managed to get PB’s over both the 5K and 10K distance in July (the 10K was ran at 11am in 32degree heat!)… so that’s why for the time being I will continue to set that 6am alarm on a Tuesday to put myself through the least enjoyable run of my week!

—- Thanks for reading, Claire… “clocking up the miles and the smiles!”

Take a look at Instagram.com/clairesrunningriot for instant updates on how and where I’m running riot!

Fasten your laces…lets go!

Thanks for joining me!

run 2
Fasten your laces.. lets go!

After re-igniting my passion for running in January, following what could be described as a 5 year taper!; I’ve decided this is now more than just a new years resolution that’s been stuck to…. It’s official… I have caught the running bug again.

So, I’ve decided to launch this blog as a means of tracking my progress as I build towards running my first ever marathon in April 2019.

It’d be great to have you come along for the journey, so that I can benefit from your knowledge and share your path with you too.

Here’s to clocking up the miles and the smiles!!!

Claire – Running Riot!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton