In Cannon Hill Park during the 2017 Birmingham International Marathon (photo courtesy of Alison Hope)

Don’t worry, regular book review readers, I haven’t turned this into a running blog! this is my personal blog and I’ve found I’d like to record my running a bit more fully. I also thought it might be interesting for people to read about an ordinary, sedate, fairly experienced runner who’s not racing madly or doing particularly exciting things, but keeping on running for her mental and physical health. I might be wrong, of course, and I’d love feedback. If you’re not interested in these posts, there will be one a week, on a Sunday (ish) and you can feel free to ignore them and wait for the next book review. Running readers who aren’t so keen on book reviews, do keep an eye out as I read lots of running books! This is a work in progress, and do feed back if you love / hate this new strand!

A tiny bit about me: I’ve been running for about 20 years, starting off for the sake of my health and doing the London Flora Women’s 5k runs. Got more serious about it when I moved to Birmingham and did a few 10k runs then the first five Birmingham Half-Marathons. I joined Kings Heath Running Club and with their encouragement did some more halves and then ramped up to do three marathons (so far) – Reykjavik in 2016, Birmingham in 2017 and my own DIY one with lovely friends when I missed out on Manchester due to illness in early 2018. Having said that, I need to point out that my marathon times have been 6:01:15, 5:52:00 and 6:15:00. So I’m definitely a sedate lady but fit and committed and I need my running to keep me sane.

My biggest achievements in running apart from my maras have been volunteering for parkrun 115 times and counting, gaining my Leadership in Running Fitness qualification in 2016, qualifying as an Endurance Official Level 1 this year (working towards Level 2) and becoming an England Athletics Mental Health Champion in 2017, and helping grow the Cannon Hill Run and Talk programme as part of that.

So running’s a big part of my life, but speed and racing, not so much. I’m going to share my running once a week as part of Wendy and Holly‘s Weekly Wrap.

Finally (phew) what have I been up to this week?

Tuesday I did our weekly 4-mile club run backwards with a friend. Why on Earth, if the run starts and finishes in the same place at the same elevation, should running the route in the reverse direction be so much harder? Those hills! I’ve been trying to work on my stamina and resilience after dropping off slightly after my DIY marathon, so it’s good for that, right? 4.4 miles covered including there and back and modifying the route. Elevation on the main run 208 feet.

Wednesday I did Dave’s yoga class (the second class, which is a hatha option and less taxing than the first class of the day, which I will move back to one day). I managed to get my knee off the floor in a version of twisting side angle pose, which means my balance and leg strength is improving, though my right glute and hamstring are still tight.

Thursday I took myself off for a solo run. I have had some shockingly bad ones in this slot, including sitting down outside a park and crying and walking home very slowly (I had a bad reaction to re-starting a blood pressure medication which seems to have settled down now). I decided to practise my hill technique (down and up) and add some surges in (like a mini-fartlek, running as fast as I can for 10 paces then dropping it down for 50) and managed these through Mile 3 onwards, showing as little upticks on my Strava. I was really pleased with how it went – 5.7 miles in total, the first three all downhill and the last 2.7 all uphill so no negative splits or other fanciness, but 11:20 minutes per mile on average, which is pretty speedy for me, and I beat 2015 Me on a couple of segments (2015 Me is fastest me since I’ve had a Garmin watch). Leg turnover (cadence) was slightly faster than my irritatingly standard 164 steps per minute, something I’ve been trying to work on. Elevation 234 feet.

Friday I did Claire’s yoga class and managed the twisting side angle knee off the floor bit again, but fell asleep in the guided meditation. A friend came to the class as a guest (I go to a gym class) and we had a hot choc afterwards.

Sunday was long slow run time as for so many runners. I went out with four friends, two wanted to check they were on track for the Leamington Half in two weeks’ time, the others just wanted some distance, as did I. We did my good old 10-mile route (I need some new routes, actually!) and I added on some getting to our meeting point and back. I have been supporting Ruth, who is trying to do a half-marathon (official or not) every month to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society, in memory of her dad, in a few longer runs recently, which is lovely, as we trained together for the Birmingham Half a few years ago. She’s taken to the Jeffing technique (Jeff Galloway’s run-walk programme) very well and it’s helped with a few issues, and is worth looking at if you’re getting exhausted but want to go long still, as that’s how it’s helped her. 11.56 miles for me (recorded 11.4 but my watch was off after a crossing for 0.16 arghhh) for me at an average pace of 12:25 – very happy with that as there were some big hills. Elevation 550 feet. My right glute and ham are a bit sore so will continue with my stretches. Edited to add: I forgot to include the bit where I spotted an Icelandic flag on a pub, and shouted “Afram Islands” and also “HU” with my arms in the air for the HU. Never been disowned so quickly!

And I’ll have more photos next week.

So a good week with a variety of runs at different paces. Next week is a bit odd as I’m run-walking with a friend who’s getting back into it, going to a track session with a club coach and supporting a club beginners’ session, so not sure what I’ll do around those.

Progress towards 1,000 miles in the year: 474 miles (on track)

Wendy’s weekly wrap is here and Holly’s is here. How exciting to be joining them for the first time!