Happy new year and welcome to 2019 everyone! I’ve so enjoyed taking part in Holly and Wendy’s weekly wrap and have “met” so many lovely women runners via their blogs, so I’m really pleased to be continuing with the link-up this year.

This January I’m doing RED January, which is a Mind (UK mental health charity) initiative to get people exercising and feeling well. RED stands for Run Every Day but I thought, as a Mental Health Champion in our running club, I’d try to model moderation and looking after oneself – actually all of us are doing that really well in our little group. It does mean I’ve done something every day, but my runs have not been epic due to my having this cold still, so not toooooo much to wade through, I hope.

Tuesday – I travelled to Brueton parkrun with Claire from up the road (she of the off-roading), her sister, and Mary Ellen from round the corner. But I was going to meet up with a lovely lady called Joan who I met through her cakes and two of her friends. Much nervousness (especially as Joan’s little Facebook group is called Tag a Pair of Trainers, to stop competitiveness or angst over appearance or kit, so we had to hastily share pictures of ourselves and our outfits!) but we met up OK and set off with a walk-run technique (jeffing) which was new to the others, but appreciated. Neither Tracy nor Ermine had run parkrun before, and Ermine had a cold, too, so we took it gently and I was SO proud of them for getting round and enjoying themselves – there were some damp eyes at the end!

Liz Tracey Ermine Joan

What a superb way to start the running year – I was honoured to accompany these ladies on their parkrun journey. I also liked the Brueton route, nice and flat and with out and backs and laps so you can cheer people on. Lovely volunteers, of course.

3.18 miles, 14:00 mins per mile

Wednesday – I incorporated a set of static and dynamic stretches into my morning routine, e.g. doing heel drops on the step in the hall just before you reach the bathroom, calf raises while brushing my teeth, hamstring stretches and squats while drying my hair. Ten different activities with at least 20 repeats of each or 30 seconds holding.

Running down that hill (thank you Sara for the photo)

Thursday – Met Jenny at my house and we ran up to Kings Heath Park where we met Sara and Caroline – Caroline had to go home but we continued looping the park with Sara then ran back to mine. A few bits of walking on uphill sections and still coughing (I promise it has NOT gone to my chest and I’m being careful). It was really chilly today so I wrapped up warm – a long-sleeved thin top under a long-sleeved fuzzy-inside top, winter leggings, a buff round my neck and a hat! Today I also studied the first module in the Learning I have to do for my Level 2 licence, on Judging and Recording, and wrote down the answers to the questions at the end. Two more of those two do, one mandatory and one optional.

4 miles / 12:32 mins per mile

Friday – I did a set of 20 x situps (I will admit not all of these were with my arms folded across my chest), 20 x squats and 20 x heel drops / calf raises on the step, three times at various points during the day, making a total of 30 minutes and 60 of each exercise. I would not have done this without the RED January so it was good to get this kind of training in (I’m still coughing too much when lying down to do yoga – bah!)

Saturday – Exercise of a different kind. My friend Dave picked me up early and we drove to Daventry, where he ran parkrun and I found a toilet then sat in his car with my book (I didn’t want to do parkrun and he could do it quickly enough to get round and finish in time for the next bit). We then drove to Newbold Revel Prison Training College to officiate at the County Cross-Country Championships (Warwickshire and Worcestershire). My running club were competing in the seniors matches but there were four juniors to look after first, so we arrived at 10 for the briefing. I was doing timekeeping, a role I’ve not taken on before. I was a bit apprehensive but as usual had a great team leader and team around me who taught me what to do (two roles taken on in pairs, starting the watch and calling out times as runners crossed the line / writing down times and also spot checks of numbers next to times – it’s all quite labour-intensive and analogue). We swapped between who was doing which role and working with whom, and it all went pretty smoothly, although high concentration and fast writing down was required!

Club and officials’ tents on the left, funnel on the right (I’m standing near the finish)

I was pleased one of my clubmates got a photo of me in action, waiting for Graham to fire the gun to send a load of runners off, at which point I had to simultaneously start my stopwatch.

Liz timing, weather writer with recording sheet tucked under one arm (thank you Claire/Mark for the photo)

As you can see, I was well wrapped up: it’s cold business, standing concentrating. I wore woolly tights, warm running socks, thermal footless tights, fuzzy inside tracksuit bottoms and waterproof overtrousers with walking boots on my bottom half, long-sleeved running top, long-sleeved fuzzy inside running top, running fleece that’s two warm to run in, and a coat, a buff and a scarf and a woolly hat, and leather gloves with fleece-lined wool mitts over them (just seen clutched in my left hand). A good day and number 4 out of my 6 experiences needed to gain my Level 2 Endurance Official licence.

By the way, only I, with my twin running and reading obsessions, would manage to acquire a book while officiating at a cross-country championships. Kate from running club (to whom I passed “Run Like Duck” at Awards Night) had offered Chrissie Wellington’s “A Life Without Limits” and I’d heard very good things about it, so I asked if I could have it. After missing each other at Christmas Day parkrun etc., she worked out that I’d be officiating and she’d be running today, so she caught me as I waited between gun time and first senior man appearing after running 10k and passed it over to me!

I walked 2.2 miles in total and was out in the fresh air from 10.00-15.30 so that counted for my RED January.

Sunday – I wasn’t sure how I would be today and considered bailing when I was woken by the alarm at 6:00! But I womanned up and got my breakfast and a read in, then met Mary Ellen, Claire and Trudie at the corner of the road. We took a fairly rural route, a bit of canal and some foresty trails (including the notorious half-mile with that plastic matrix stuff on the ground to stop it getting slippy that I like to trip over). It was a lovely day and Trudie kindly kept me company as I had to take it gently.

Path through the woods (The Dingle)

We went through the Shire County Park for some of the run, and I loved this signpost – very Tolkien-y, as it is indeed his Shire!

Here we are ready for our close-up and I’m concentrating hard …

Mary Ellen, Liz, Trudie, Claire

Trudie’s in her RED January top as she was organised to sign up before the last day of December (mine’s in the post). And not only is she organised, she’s worked out how to do a timer selfie and wedged her phone in a small tree so we could capture ourselves in the woods, full-length!

Mary Ellen, Liz, Claire, Trudie (thanks Trudie for the photo)

Such pretty places to run in urban Birmingham. And I thought this would please my American readers (Mary Ellen had never seen one of these; she’s from Chicago. Do you have fords in the US?) – an actual ford, with a car going through it. These are designated stream / small river crossings: they do have warnings if the river is in flood or particularly high and cars do get stuck.

A ford!

Trudie and I separated from the others here and ran home, they got their 10 miles in. I managed 6.5 in total which I was surprised and pleased by given how unwell I’ve been. There was walking on hills and that is fine.

6.5 miles / 13.01 mins per mile

Miles this week: 13.7

Miles this year: 13.7

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.