A Solitary 26.2

On Sunday, I ran my first Marathon. Alone.img_0010-1

It began Saturday night; while cleaning out my hydration
pack for a planned 13.1 miles, I had a mad idea. (As my ideas tend to be!)I was due to run ny 26.2 next weekend – take it slower this Sunday, build up to it. But I was feeling strong. Confident. Annoyed at washing out the hydration pack to *only* run 13.1.

So the next morning I got ready to run a Marathon. Fancy new visor, annoyingly odd socks. I tucked my grizzling boys back in bed, waited for my watch to find GPS, double checked my route, picked out my audiobook… and set off.

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Training for Strength

I recently started cross training more. I have always been a big fan of HIIT training, cardio, body weight and all that horrible sounding stuff. With my dodgy hip/knee, I need strengthening exercises so I can keep running without any more instances of Runners Knee (the dreaded words!) or hip pain. On my last Long Run of 13.1 miles a very kind cyclist veered into me, meaning I had a quick leap into a ditch – meaning I twisted my leg and my knee went. Luckily the pain hasn’t lasted – but it reminded me that I need strong muscles if I’m going to manage 100km of trail running.

  

Gunshow!


 I decided to give the Focus T25 workouts a go. Not cheap and not easy – but I’m 3 days in and I can honestly see why.

The workouts are intense 25 minute bursts that send your heart rate up and down; mixing cardio, body weight and ‘focus’ – intense movements that require muscle control and balance. It’s actually great fun, incredibly sweary (the sign of a good workout!) and the modifier is wonderful when it comes to push-ups!

Burpees squats and jumping do feature, but for the short amount of time you do expect to be leaping around like a madman or where are the results coming from?? You also get a calander to mark off exercises and how you think you did, and track your measurements (not your weight – finally a progress tracker that makes sense!).

My first workout was great, although I did step on my son’s toy dinosaur, which I’ve now taken as my mascot. A few days in and I’m still enjoying it, my glutes are definitely feeling it and I’m hoping for success. 

  
Stay strong!

Amy x

A Single Step

I watched a video today that someone shared, and it made me pretty emotional. It showed a man who has lost 300lb through doing Yoga at home. Here’s the link:

Jared Mollenkopf – 300lb Weight Loss

The reason I think this got to me wasn’t because of the weight loss itself – which is completely incredible. It was what he said. He said that something changed in his mindset – something clicked that made him want to change, to make a difference. He named the reasons he had to lose weight, but said he couldn’t pinpoint ‘why’ exactly it just changed in his mind.

I get that.

The first time I went for a run, I felt a bit crazy. I was wearing £8 trainers from Tesco, dressed in my OH’s t-shirt and my materinty joggers. I couldn’t tell you why I went.

I also can’t explain to you how hard it was – how much it hurt, how uncomfortable I was, how sad I was to find I couldn’t actually run for more than one minute at a time. I really can’t explain why I went, and I really can’t explain why I carried on. I just know that I wasn’t happy, I was tired of not being happy, and I knew my health and fitness  were making me unhappy.

It wasn’t my clothes size that made me sad. It wasn’t my measurements or the number on the scale. It was that I didn’t fit into myself – I was bigger than I was happy with, I wasn’t comfortable. I’d had health problems so I needed to be in good health and I really, really wasn’t.

I don’t think I looked awful! You have to bear in mind, even on the cruelest day I wasn’t going to get anyone stare at me as I passed in the street – I was a size 16, which is a perfectly okay size that many people are very healthy being. I wasn’t. My weight didn’t fit my frame, or my build – none of it was muscle, none of it was natural for me. I wasn’t healthy. That’s the most important thing to note – I wasn’t healthy. Forget skinny or slim or even fit. Healthy is the word.

And I lost the weight and I’m fine now and whatever. That’s not the point. The point is – when I started, I don’t know why I did. I can’t pinpoint what happened. And this video got to me because I SO wish I knew – I wish I could bottle it and give it away and show people what happened, because being happy with yourself is so precious and important. Again – there is no ‘right size’ to be, there is no ‘correct weight’. The goal is, always should be, being fit and healthy enough to do the things you want to do. If your size is holding you back (as mine was), that’s the time to change.

I wish I’d taken more ‘before’ photographs. I wish I’d written it down, I wish I’d made more of a record of where I was. I guess it’s OK to reflect on it from where I am now. And remember it, the next time I have a goal I don’t think I can achieve.

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The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

 

How do I run?

More often than not, what I do on a day to day basis is defined by my children. The things we do, where they are, what plans and appointments we make. Toddlers with both – or one at nursery and one with me , or play dates and play parks and what we’re doing that weekend.

So I guess it’s not surprising that I’ve been asked, more than once, how I ‘run’ with two toddlers. My partner works full time, and I don’t drive, so it’s not a simple ‘drop them off and go’ kind of thing. So how do I do it?

  

The answer is simple – I miss things. 

For starters, I miss them; on a weekend long run, I’ll sacrifice sleepy toddler cuddles and Thomas the Tank for wet leaves, hill climbs, and hoping my knee doesn’t give out. Sometimes I miss a ‘normal’ morning routine; getting up before everyone else to climb out of bed, get my run in, and shower while the house is still stirring. Or I’ll miss a quiet evening meal; lacing up my trainers the second the boys are in bed and getting out before the chill really sets in. I miss my family, I miss my sleep. I miss my book!

There’s things I don’t miss, though. I don’t miss the feeling of struggling to breathe climbing the stairs. I don’t miss my legs chafing on long walks. I don’t miss wearing maternity jeans long past the ‘acceptable’ stage because nothing else fits. I don’t miss sweating for no reason, I don’t miss dreading long walks, I don’t miss feeling self conscious.

And there’s things that I, quite literally, don’t miss. I don’t miss buses anymore; I run for them all. I don’t miss sunrises; I’m right there with them. I don’t miss the rain because I feel it on my skin (because I also don’t miss a run just because it’s wet out!).

So I miss my babies sometimes – but no more than any mum who does ‘something else’. And yes, I miss my bed – but so what? I gain my health, I gain my freedom, I gain a few more years at the end to spend with my family because I’m looking after myself. The things I lose are not really a loss, not when counted against the whole. 

And when my eldest son, with his beautiful grin full of mischief, sees me lacing up my trainers and asks “You runnin’ Mummy? Shall I run too?” – that’s worth it. That’s how I run. And, I suppose, that’s why.
  

How to be a Good Runner – Looking Back

So a year ago today, I was running the Eden Project Half Marathon. A wonderful, hilly, gorgeous, hilly, inspiring, hilly, 13.1 mile race through the gorgeous Cornish countryside. Did I mention the hills?

It was an odd one. I’d trained so much, I’d literally sweated my backside off, but things still went wrong. What did I expect? I was new, I wasn’t quite comfortable in my own skin, and I certainly wasn’t prepared. I got blisters from my thick cotton socks (I know). My joggers (yes, joggers!) chaffed, and made me uncomfortable. My fringe was probably sticking upright the entire time. I even slowed down at the finish line instead of going for a sprint! I was not prepared.

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Mum-Tum Shaming

I went to a walk in centre over the weekend, with stomach pain. (I’m fine)

During the exam, the Doctor who I was seeing told me she needed to check my abdomen. So I lay down, lifted my top slightly – and saw her eyebrows visibly raise. She asked me if I had lost a lot of weight because, as she put it , I have ‘A lot of loose skin’.
I was a bit shocked, but I managed to say (making my irritation fairly clear) – ‘I’ve had two babies!’

She continued her examination, saying again ‘There’s just a lot of skin though…’.

To which I replied, now feeling very awkward ‘Well I’ve lost over 100lb…’

Now she didn’t say ‘congratulations’ – which might have begun to make up for a completely unnecessary comment on my physical appearance. She didn’t move on, or say anything nice, or reassuring. At one point she mentioned that it was difficult to tell if there were any issues because there was ‘so much skin’ in the way. It was awful. It was embarrassing. It was upsetting.

Now here’s the thing. I have lost over 100lb. I have had two babies. I have stretch marks, and tiny scars. My body has been through a lot. But now I’m better. My skin doesn’t hang down, it doesn’t get in the way, it doesn’t cause me discomfort or any real problems. It isn’t a medical issue. I just have a stretch marked, soft, slightly wobbly ‘Mum Tum’.

Underneath that, my stomach is strong. I have worked very hard to make it strong. I eat well, I exercise a lot. The outside physical appearance is not disgusting or unpleasant. It’s just a little wrinkly. 

I don’t want to excuse your behaviour at all, Doctor, but I can understand a momentary surprise – I’m fairly slim now, and because my stomach is firm there’s no outward sign that I have a mum-tum. So I can forgive a momentary eyebrow raise, in surprise. But there is no need – no excuse, no reason – to comment. There’s no need to stare. You are a doctor, I am sure you’ve seen far more interesting and unique bodies and shapes and sizes than my normal, wobbly skin. 

So I want to end by saying that I am upset. Not because of my appearance, but because I allowed you to make me feel embarrassed by it. I wanted to apologise, almost, for how difficult my slightly loose skin made it for you to check my abdomen. That’s wrong, and it was wrong for you to make me feel like that. I am not apologising to anyone.

  
This is my stomach. If you don’t like it, I don’t care. This has carried two babies – it helps me sit and stand and run and laugh. This is a perfectly fine, functional, female stomach. This is my Mum-Tum. And I love it.
Thanks for reading!
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Fitness Day with 2 Toddlers? Yes she can!

Next week, on the 9th of September, we celebrate National Fitness Day – a day of getting out there, getting active, and having fun! (nationalfitnessday.com)

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National Fitness Day, 9th of September 2015, is the biggest and most visible annual celebration of physical activity of the year. It is the day to celebrate the role that physical activity plays across the UK. This year, our aim is to make National Fitness Day the most active day of the year. Thousands of clubs, parks and leisure centres are opening their doors to welcome you for free. We all know the benefits regular exercise deliver including a healthier heart and a better quality of life. But many of us find getting fit a challenge and it shouldn’t be.

— From The National Fitness Day Website


The reason personally I think this day is so important, is because of what Sport and Fitness teaches our children.

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How I trained for 13.1

A few people before now have asked me about my 0-13.1 ‘training plan’ – how I got started in reaching Half Marathon Pace. They usually follow by adding ‘..and are you sure you can do 100k?’

The only concern I had running 13.1 was that I would be too slow within the time allowed. Because of my funky lungs, it kind of hurts when I push too hard, so I’m not a quick runner. I am however a stubborn runner. So it wasn’t so much endurance, as hitting a 10-minute mile mark.

Elitist, I hear you cry, and scuttle away from your laptop or phone. Every runner is a runner! 10 minute miles aren’t for everyone! Well hang on – I didn’t disagree. Continue reading

Workout

So I’ve amped up my workout routine recently in preparation for the long run. I tend to mostly do workout videos, and some weight training – I prefer HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to full on cardio.

Got a damn fine vest from a company called Pumping Iron Muscle Development (thanks guys!), and it really makes me feel like I should lift.

I do not lift. However they are one of the few companies I’ve found who sell workout vest for women that are not uncomfortable lycra monstrosities, and for that I thank them. Continue reading

Running 100k

I have always been stubborn. It’s kind of my thing. And now I’ve gotten myself into a mess.

My first post has been my fitness journey so far – and I hope you found it interesting. I’d love someone to find it inspiring, even. But what I really hope (what will make me send you a virtual high-five!) is that someone is asking ‘What now?’

I found myself asking that too! Having signed up for a couple of races this year, a 10k I loved and a 14k that didn’t come through, I was feeling a little underwhelmed. As proud as I am to still be running, I didn’t feel like I was challenging myself. I felt like I was still training for something, something not defined yet. I’m still working on my fitness (read: I’m still a little wobbly) so a bigger challenge was all I could think about.

Wycombe 10k

Wycombe 10k

Five years ago I set off to walk the Ridgeway walk, going from Wendover to Avebury. I failed. That sounds blunt – I got to Wallingford, I made it a fair way. But I failed because I didn’t reach my goal. My wallet was stolen at a youth hostel, my bag split, my tent was too heavy. I was unprepared, I was young, I was a little foolish.

Well now I’m still young and foolish, but I’m stubborn. I don’t like leaving things undone, even 5 years after the fact. So – I’m going to run it.
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