Sedate lady running 05-11 November 2018 #amrunning #running


A good solid week in which I did all the things I try to do per week (win) but I have to admit I had 10 hours’ sleep between Saturday and Sunday and am still slightly creaky! Oh well …

Monday – Because I’d run long on Saturday, I was able to run with lovely Claire on Monday (a day she’s not at work). She’s always brilliant for a different and off-road route and this was no exception, with some beautiful canals and then a nifty short-cut through Hazelwell Park and a cut-through onto half-way up Cartland Road that makes that hill a lot better.

We sat on the bridge by the lock-keeper’s cottage for a bit to enjoy the lovely view and all the trees, and said hello to a man with a dog who was skittering up the steep bridge. Lovely. I was pleased with my pace because there were a good few hills and slippery canal bridges among the flat running and it was a lovely morning out.

6.7 miles, 11:55 mins per mile

Tuesday – It’s always a big ask for me to go out two days in a row but a couple of friends were going to club run who hadn’t been for ages, and I wanted to support Jenny trying to go a bit longer, and in the dark. We started off near the back and then Tracie tripped (and in going to save her, I managed to hit her back and nearly push her over – great work!) and was a bit sore so we took a shorter route and popped back home. It was good to stretch the legs out and I still got 3.5 miles in. Tracie seems to be OK now – phew!

Here’s a shot providing evidence of my ability to multi-task: stretching, drying my hair AND reading. All good as the glutes and hams are feeling much less tight.

3.5 miles, 12:40 mins per mile (middle section walk-run)

Wednesday – Jenny wanted to go to Dave yoga but could only make the early (hard) class so we went for it – she’s not a massive ashtanga fan so I wanted to be there for her. Phewee, it was hard work – I was sweating during and after. BUT I managed a shoulder stand for 6 breaths, and that’s the longest I’ve held a shoulder stand since the 1990s! I think it must be the Paul Circuits and their shoulder and core strengthening that has helped with that – another reason to keep up with them.

Thursday – Supporting the club’s 5k and beyond group again, taking Caroline’s slot as she was unavoidably busy: this was their first continuous running attempt so a big ask for them. I ran with a lovely lady who I’d run with in my previous volunteering session: she was a bit nervous but we took it steadily and did it! She was so happy and amazed, and I reminded her how they started out one minute running, one walking, and how she wouldn’t have imagined she could have run that far then. I really love helping this group as it’s wonderful to see their confidence grow. I tried to set a good example by going head-torch and one of my Lidl lights front and back (they have a loop and clip that will work around thin clothing. Mary Ellen saw my red light from ages back following me up to club, and when I did some extra at the end to make my miles up, first with Trudie, then on my own, Trudie and Dave could spot me from way off, too.

0.7 mi, 11:19 mins per mile / 1.59 mi, 14:24 mins per mile / 2 mi, 12:11 mins per mile

Friday – Realised I hadn’t done my Paul circuits and was seeing him for a coached session on Saturday, so had the bright idea of a) hoovering the stairs and landing and downstairs and bathroom and cleaning kitchen and bathroom b) doing Paul circuits, c) going to Claire yoga (second, easier session). Phew! I managed to do more in the circuits than last time, except the planks, where my shoulders were still sore from Wednesday. Claire yoga was very v e r y slow which was incredibly hard, but I did get through it just about!

Saturday – I was looking after Beginners in the park again for club – I’d swapped with Grace, meaning she could take my session in December when I’m officiating at cross-country in the afternoon. I had arranged to have a running form session with Paul so basically tried to get more miles in around those two points at 9.50 and 11.00.

I first ran three lovely miles with Trudie – it was so bright and sunny and blue. And we saw a PEACOCK!

We’d just run past it and Trudie said, “Um, that was a peacock topiary” and so it was. Instagrammable moment! But the lady from the house came out which was pretty awkward, though not to tell us off or anything!

Highbury Park was particularly lovely in the sun.

Then I took the beginners – one person turned up, but that was a lovely lady who had run with me last week. This week we did 1 min running, 1 min walking for 25 minutes and she did brilliantly.  I then ran a few loops to make up the time until I met Paul for my coaching session.

I met Paul at 11 and we went down the bottom of the park and went through my running form. First I ran a loop the way I would without thinking – and I was tired and sore so this was ideal as I wanted to work on my form when I was tired. He videoed me, yay. Then we worked on arms, and not crossing them in front, bringing them back, etc., with some exercises and demonstrations. Then it was legs, picking up my knees more and running with a little cone to bring my foot over – more videos and photos so I can compare. This was brilliant, if rainy, and I then ran home the long way round, trying to put all the instructions into place!

3 mi, 12:29 mins per mile / 1.8 mi, 13:57 mins per mile / 1.2 mi, 11:27 mins per mile / 2.5 mi, 11:35 mins per mile

So I got in 4 runs, two yoga sessions and a circuit session – done!

Kit update

I keep forgetting to share my new trainers! I was very upset when I got hold of the last two pairs of Saucony Guide 9s in my size, and I really didn’t like the Guide 10s (toes too narrow; went up a half-size; felt like I was running in clown shoes). So I had to bite the bullet and go to choose a new brand. Except I didn’t have to – after trying some Hoka OneOnes (too squishy, though many love them) and Brookes GTS (OK in a pinch and good to know they’re an option) I settled on Saucony Hurricanes hooray! Also the lovely folk at Up and Running give us a discount for being in a running club, which helps.

I also needed some trail shoes for training and then doing the trail ultra. I couldn’t face two sets of shoe shopping that day but Up and Running kindly put a pair of Saucony Peregrines aside for me, IN THEIR SALE and I went and tried them on Saturday afternoon. Loved them, very comfy (and I already knew several club friends like them) so bought those.

Aaand as my walking boots have developed a crack and leak, I treated myself to some updates in the sale. Except these are the same model, just a few years on, and don’t seem so tough and heavy. Must be a trend, as I popped in an outdoor shop on Saturday and could find nothing heavy and leathery. So I’m going to mend the crack with duct tape and use those for the bad conditions, and these for other conditions.

Other women might have millions of pairs of heels; I have a trainer and walking boot problem. There are worse addictions, right?

Miles this week: 23

Progress towards 1,000 miles in the year:  908 (916 is my end of November mini-goal)

Weekly wrapI take part in the Weekly Wrap run by two wonderful running women and joined by lots of other inspirational women. Wendy’s weekly wrap is here and Holly’s is here.

Book review – Mary Webb – “Gone to Earth” #amreading


Well, although I’m not up to books actually unpacked or received on Christmas Day, I am up to 08 December when the BookCrossing Birmingham group had our Christmas do and Not So Secret Santa. The lovely Lorraine drew me and bought me two fine older books from my wishlist, this one and “The Nesbit Tradition”, which I’m currently reading. See a pic of all my Christmas acquisitions here – I have read a few of them already during 20 Books of Summer and All Virago All August, so not too many to get through before this Christmas …

Mary Webb – “Gone to Earth”

(8 December 2017 – from Lorraine)

This novel, with its classic Webb themes of the goodness of nature, its destruction by industry and the ownership of women by men, is unfortunately a bit of a distressing read. We meet Hazel, child of nature, Shropshire of accent, and her fox cub, Foxy, and alarm bells of course begin to ring … as well as (very anti-) foxhunting scenes (we don’t see anything happen in detail but Hazel’s vivid imagination is enough) there’s a wholesale slaughter of songbirds but a man who has seemed a sort of ally but has twisted virginity and love of the land into something very wrong. There’s a love triangle and one man who pushes his nature down and shouldn’t do (reading that Hazel would have loved him if she’d thought him likely to strike her / he was willing to basically pretty well rape her) and one man who lets his nature run free and shouldn’t do (and does both these things though does feel a bit bad about them). There are some lovely scenes but it’s all full of foreboding (yes, Stella Gibbons fans, it’s a bit something-in-the-woodsheddy) and where I have loved her other books for their imagery and beauty, this one was A Bit Much. Mysticism and real-life oppression make this a heady melodrama that is never going to end happily.

I will continue on to read the last one of hers, but this one is not for the fainthearted!

As I mentioned, currently reading “The Nesbit Tradition” though I will be starting my next Iris Murdoch tomorrow. The book on children’s books 1945-75 is a glorious procession through both well-known British and less well-known non-British writers and is wonderful.

Book review – Krissy Moehl – “Running Your First Ultra” #running #amreading


Photo thanks to Bernice

Well I had to include this pic of me and Bernice with our matching books, right? There’s nobody in the world doesn’t know we’re planning to run an ultramarathon next summer is there? Being sensible us, we’ve read race reports on people’s blogs, checked it all out, had a planning meeting AND bought books. I had a poke around looking at the millions of how-to books here and this was written by a woman and praised by some of the ultrarunners I admire, so I went for it.

Oh and this won’t be one I take to the next book swap at running club. This one’s with me for the foreseeable!

Krissy Moehl – “Running Your First Ultra”

(01 October 2018)

Moehl has been running ultras for over a decade, and shares interesting stories about starting out running with the guys, with kit that was barely adapted for women, and the changes she’s seen in the sport over the years. I really loved this personal aspect in what is very definitely a how-to book with multiple training plans (as opposed to one of the many ultrarunning autobiographies I seem to have filled my running reading with).

She’s also risk-averse, sensible, cheerful but not over-the-top and calmly convinced that (with a bit of help from her) we can do it. She’s all about the mental as well as the physical aspects and there’s a wealth of exceptionally practical information. She even explains how ultramarathon training is different from marathon training: for a start, you’re not expected to run 70-80% of your distance in training as you do in marathon running (typically I will get to 23 miles before a marathon; we are planning to slot in a marathon before this race, but that will be a one-off rather than several goes around that distance). There are little lists throughout about what, for example, she always takes with her on a longer training run, as well as formal packing and support team lists at the end.

The training plans are packed full of information, inspiration and tips and hints – something to read and concentrate on every week and lots to learn from. At the back are lots of details about your support crew (we won’t need this this time, but the plans go up to 100 miles), with a big emphasis on smiling when you see them and being appreciative and grateful, something Moehl is big on the whole way through (she also advocates volunteering at races and working on trail maintenance as well as respecting what we call the Countryside Code here in the UK. All good stuff.) There’s a great section on how you actually do the run, including race etiquette, choosing whether to run with music, etc. and a great early section on thoughts that can work against you (what if I feel I can’t finish?) and what you can do about them (including a sensible attitude towards injury).

There’s a chapter on recovery which I will read this time (well, I have read it, but I will remind myself after the race). Somewhat famously, I didn’t research how to recover after a marathon when I did my first one, as I wasn’t entirely convinced I was going to do the thing until I was actually on the start line, and went racing about almost doing myself a mischief until I finally slowed down!

I only have one small criticism and that is that somewhere in the production process of the copy I have, some fairly awful typos slipped in. I couldn’t see anything that affected the actual running content, but it’s hard not to be disconcerted when you find so many errors (and I’m not THAT editor, it really has to be bad to have me mentioning it). Maybe the proof text slipped through to the finished product. As a fairly experienced runner, I could see it doesn’t affect the content and practical information, but I’d hate the great content to be undermined by someone worrying that uncaught writing errors could reflect errors in the advice.

This is a great and inspiring book which, although the training schedules look tough and I can promise everyone now I will not be running five to six times a week, ever, has plenty of relatable and doable information which I have no doubt will make our path to our ultra a lot clearer and more copable with.

I’ve moved on to a VERY doomy Mary Webb which I know isn’t going to end well (OK there’s a pet animal, so I looked). “Gone to Earth” is luminous and wild and weird and a good read nonetheless. What’s the best how-to book you’ve read to help with a hobby?

Book review – Hal Higdon – “Run Fast” #amreading #running


I am so lucky to have my friend Cari to swap books with – once it was just travel narratives and other interesting non-fiction; now it tends towards the running books! I didn’t find an amazing amount of new information but, a few annoying assumptions aside, it is a good manual explaining various types of running speed work people might like to try. Oh, and I note I am exactly one calendar year behind myself with this one (see when it arrived). Oops! One book confession below, too …

Hal Higdon – “Run Fast”

(04 November 2017 – BookCrossing)

Hal Higdon has a wealth of running and editorial experience and he pulls together loads of research in this updated version of his book. It’s still a little out of date in that he celebrates being able to print off your running records from your computer, where everyone keeps them on Strava or some such now, don’t they? But the principles are still sound.

So, the assumptions. As is often the case in running how-to books, and especially older ones when, to be fair, the field of running was less broad, running at 10-minute mile pace is seen as being the slowest thing in the world. Now I can run at 10-minute mile pace … for a mile. Just about. With a tail wind. It’s OK, because we all know there are a lot of fast people out there, but it feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth, even for someone who has run races at all distances up to marathons and has come to peace with her pace. There’s a kind of assumption that only beginners run that slowly and it’s something to progress away from.

The standard, non-named runner is always a he, as far as I noticed, although to be fair women at both the sharp and beginner ends are mentioned and celebrated when individuals are being discussed. There are some slightly odd comments about how women are more intimidated by running on running tracks than men are (I’m personally seen equal numbers worrying about this!) and venturing into the gyms now, managing to cope with the testosterone-laden and muscly atmosphere (I’ve been happily gym-going from before this book’s publication in 2000 and haven’t found this) and apparently “the guys have become accustomed to having a gal pumping iron at the next bench”. Hm. And there’s one awful sentence explaining that women can benefit more from strength-training than men … “as long as the extra strength does not equal extra weight, or what some beauty-conscious women might consider ‘ugly muscle'” (p. 188). I’m sorry?? It’s such a shame, as he finishes that paragraph pointing out that strength training can help prevent osteoporosis, a good point undermined.

But apart from that, this is a good, practical guide to building speedwork sessions into your running training. It goes through the different kinds and explains how to do the sessions and what they help with, all quoting research on the topic. Fartlek, surges, tempo runs, they’re all in here, explained and discussed, with plenty of examples from Higdon’s own running career.

As well as the speed sessions, he covers good running form (hard without images, though) and some weight-training exercises (these are quite complicated and again, are not illustrated: I wouldn’t actually want to try the barbell lifts he describes without visual aids!). Very importantly, he stresses the importance of introducing all of these new things carefully and slowly, conservatively, even, which is very good news.

So a good book in general, but a little outdated in a few aspects.

Book Confession: how could I not order this lovely (direct from the publisher? “Once Upon a Time in Birmingham: Women who Dared to Dream” is a collection describing a crowd-sourced selection of Birmingham women through the ages who have excelled, achieved and changed people’s lives. From Dame Elizabeth Cadbury to less-well-known names, it’s written by a friend of a friend, and features as one of the women, Imandeep Kaur, who I know through the running community. Published by local independent publisher Emma Press, you can find a direct link to the book here. Buy it for anyone from a young teen upwards, and especially to share our lovely city at home and further afield.


Sedate lady running 29 October – 04 November 2018 #amrunning #running


A bit of an upsey-downsey week this week, but lots of supporting other runners made the harder times worthwhile and I did have a super running morning on Saturday and I did manage to do my strength and flexibility training, too. Here’s how it went.

All lights needed!

Tuesday – I was tail runner at club run on Tuesday night. We didn’t have access to the school playground where we meet as it’s half-term, and although I’d meant to do a bit extra beforehand, I didn’t have time and dashed up there. I recorded three separate runs as wanted to make sure I had the distance ran for whoever I was with at the back. I had two of the chaps from club running with me as it’s a bit dark and lonely round some of the local streets and I’m hyper-vigilant about safety, especially around Bonfire Night.

I ran most of the way with a returning runner who recently graduated from Birmingham University (making me feel elderly, as I graduated in 1992, presumably well before she was born!) and we had a good strong run. Lee who was one of the chaps accompanying me ran with me on my first run with club. I wore my head torch and one of my clip lights and ran back most of the way with my friend Ruth, who’d finished just ahead – it was good to have company running back, too!

0.7 miles, 10:53 mins per mile / 4 miles, 12:51 mins per mile / 0.8 miles, 10:57 mins per mile

Wednesday – The start of two not-amazing days. I should probably not have tried to fit in my first Circuits for 28 days (oops) on a day I had lots of work and my work invoicing to do. But I got myself to do them before lunch and oh, it was so hard, so HARD, and I have lost so much progress. I managed shorter or fewer of everything, except one more sit-up (how?) and was too tired to do the free weights at the end. How disheartening. I am trying to convince myself that it IS worth persisting and getting back into it, as it will make me stronger and fitter. And, oh, I was tired after, and ached. Wah!

Thursday – I’d planned to do a 6-mile solo daytime run. I had to wait in for my husband’s Instant Oats to arrive (which was fine: I work from home) and have to have a good gap between eating and running, so ended up going out towards dusk. I got very panicky beforehand (there was a potentially violent incident on our road on Monday which freaked me out, and I get nervous running alone in the dark) but forced myself out, and felt panicky (OK, had an anxiety attack) the whole.way.round. I did not stop gasping for breath, being on the edge of tears and being incredibly fearful, even though I picked safe, busy, well-lit and well-known roads to run along. I had to stop once to sit down and try to calm myself. Nothing doing. I realised early on it would be bad and cut the amount of time I was going to be out (hence the lower mileage this week). I did prove that you can with anxiety and you won’t collapse etc. but it was pretty horrible and I still don’t know if I was right to push on or not. Weirdly, I actually ran pretty well and consistently.

4.6 miles / 11:31 min per mile

A mat, a buff, some shoes

Friday – I went to yoga and ran into my friend Jenny there which was lovely. A great class, pretty chilled. I was a bit worried I’d panic again but having Jenny there helped (I’d have felt awful if I’d disrupted her yoga if I’d needed her but I didn’t, so all good). I tried to emulate her beatific yoga face, to little effect, and almost fell asleep after a lovely breathing practice at the start. It was a lovely stretch out and calm day and also I noticed my hamstrings were a little more flexible after I’d been making that effort to stretch them out every day while drying my hair.

Saturday – Having intended to do parkrun as part of a long run this morning as it was our club’s volunteering takeover (but they had enough volunteers), I suddenly discovered that I was rotaed to take our beginners’ session on Friday night. So I readjusted things and had some lovely running. I wanted to get 6 miles in before I had to be at the park at 9.50 to meet the attendees. Then I started out a bit late for various reasons, but I didn’t let it worry me. I took off on a five-mile route I’m very accustomed to doing, knowing I could then get to the park between 5 and 6 miles in good time to be able to make it to the meet point at the right time.

Kings Heath Park

The park was looking prettier than this suggests – it was a grey day and quite cold. I was so pleased, I was running easily without too much effort and the first mile WAS downhill but I managed 6 miles by the allotted time after all (in 69 minutes, which is good for me).

I then had one returner who’s been keeping on keeping on and her friend, a complete beginner. I love a complete beginner and took her round a run one minute / walk one and a half minutes routine for 22:30 – she did really well and enjoyed herself, we did some good stretches at the end and hopefully we have a new runner!

Pretty leaves!

I then had 2.5 miles to do to get up to 10 miles for the morning and 20 for the week but I felt happy and strong and able to continue (OK, I’d had a caffeine gel beforehand, a raspberry ripple one after 50 minutes and was on half-and-half water and Lucozade Sport, but fine) and actually managed to do 3.6 miles of looping around to bring the total up to 11 miles. No panics, lovely and easy, and I was very happy with my pace.

6 miles, 11:35 mins per mile / 1.4 miles, 15:20 mins per mile / 3.6 miles, 11:45 mins per mile

Sunday – I had the privilege of helping out at the NICE 10k. The National Institute for Conductive Education is a brilliant organisation which helps people with movement disorders lead a more active life through specialised therapy. My friend Martin Foster organises a 10k every year to help fundraise for them, with people’s entry fees and sponsorship plus the bake sale earning money for the institute. I was marshalling on a tricky corner and ended up standing on the corner ushering people away from the slippery bit, but got to see everyone three times (and some once more) as they looped past us. I was particularly impressed that Dr Melanie Brown, the Chief Executive and Director of Services was out marshalling with me, very unassuming and helpful. How wonderful! And so many runners I knew – I could probably shout out the names of about a fifth of them – a real local favourite.

The runners didn’t quite go in this many directions!

I walked over to help Lee marshal a spot near us where the runners returned from the out-and-back to do one last push and encouraged the last runners before walking back up to the institute.

Then I met up with Bernice, who you might remember did the Canal Canter with me in the summer, and we went to the cafe for some ultra training planning.

A plan with a view

Bernice reckons this photo sums us both up – she’s VERY excited, I am happy with reservations. But I know we’ll do it. And I’ve decided to post about my ultra journey on Instagram – I’m LyzzyBee on there if anyone wants to follow me!

Bernice is very excited about running an ultra. Liz is too, but shows this more “subtly”. We have the same book!

So a good week in the end – lots of supporting other runner and a decent amount of running, stretching and strength and conditioning.

Miles this week: 21.2

Yoga: once

Circuits: once

Progress towards 1,000 miles in the year:  885 (only 125 to go to reach 1,000!)

Weekly wrapI take part in the Weekly Wrap run by two wonderful running women and joined by lots of other inspirational women. Wendy’s weekly wrap is here and Marcia’s (covering for Holly) is here.

State of the TBR November 2018 #amreading


Well, pleasingly, even though I’ve had a fair few book confessions in October, I did manage to read eleven books, most of them from the physical TBR as I took BookCrossing registered books on holiday at the start of the month. So the TBR is looking a little smaller than at the start of October.

You can see it’s shuffled around a bit, as I took books out of order and then read and released them in Cornwall. The front shelf finishes at the pink of Simon Armitage’s “Gig”.

I’m currently reading Hal Higdon’s “Run Fast” which is actually not as annoying to this slow runner as I’d feared, and is quite a sensible read about interval training, etc. I’m hoping to take it to do a running book swap at our running club’s Awards Night next month along with some more running stuff, if I get through it.

Next up will be project and review books, so the treat of Iris Murdoch’s “A Fairly Honourable Defeat” (a favourite of mine on all other readings) and then Joni Seager’s “The Women’s Atlas” for Shiny New Books and Mark Atkinson’s “Run Like Duck” kindly sent my way from the publisher by the lovely Lisa Jackson (thanks, Lisa!). I’ve also recently won on NetGalley “Jog On” by Bella Mackie (mental health and running) and “Let Her Fly” by Ziauddin Yousafzai (Malala’s father!) and Louise Carpenter, so hoping to get all these read and reviewed this month.

And then on the TBR, it’s Christmaaaas! OK, it’s Christmas last year but there we go: I’m not quite a month behind. I do like to get Christmas and birthday books read before the next Christmas, to make room for the inevitable (and wonderful) book flood. It’s a mixture of novels and books about books, really – Mary Webb’s “Gone to Earth” (which has crept out of the picture on the left), Karen Joy Fowler’s “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” (I’ll admit I’m not sure about this, as I already know the Massive Twist) and Fracis Spufford’s “Golden Hill” (historical, but a gift, so I’ll give it a go” and Stella Gibbon’s “Westwood” on the novel side and Marcus Crouch’s “The Nesbit Tradition”, “The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap” by Wendy Welch, Samantha Ellis’ “How to be a Heroine” and Christopher Fowler’s “The Book of Forgotten Authors” on the books about books side.

Have you read any of these? Which do you think I’ll enjoy? What’s on your reading calendar for November? I know a few people are doing Non-Fiction November, but I read quite a lot of non-fiction anyway and frankly I don’t really have time for special blog posts at the moment! But have fun, all who are sailing in that ship!

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