Monday, 24 February 2014

The Slog

Beach reps with a 1 year old
I am slogging it out in training and life at the moment. Everything is tiring, everything is taking such an effort to get done, standards are slipping, the hoover is being pushed around with less and less frequency and shares are being taken out in Pampers wet wipes as I use these for every household chore from snot wiping to basin cleaning. This is the hardest part of training. You are in the middle of a big block of work, you are still a few weeks from your goal, you still have some big sessions to do. The focus on the race or goal is starting to eat into more and more of your conscious, but the race doesnt seem to be getting any closer. Sessions are hard work, its cold, its dark, my only constant companion for training is the sound of my foot fall and hard breathing.

I expect with the more training I do the fitter I become, but without the rest and recovery you can train all you like you wont get any faster or stronger. You must rest, you must eat and put your feet up. But how and when can I do this and still maintain everything else going on in my life? I have made a real effort to sit down at some points in the day, to try and eat (constantly) and really well. There are some days when I am woken at 5.30am and I literally cannot let my self admit how tired I feel or else I wont get out of bed let alone start the big day I have ahead. Always, always though with a cup of tea in hand and hobble downstairs I feel better and I do find the energy for the day ahead and training.

The last few weeks has definitely been the hardest I have worked post kids. As well as training like a monster Ive been flat out busy building up my client base for coaching and personal training whilst still teaching and looking after the kids. The week before half term saw both husband and I flat out busy, so much so that when he went abroad for work I wasn't entirely sure where he had gone or how long for (he has now come home, so that was a relief!). The kids have been so good, being dragged around various fields, hills, gyms, living off sandwiches and blueberries. They think nothing of watching people running up and down for hours on end and are very good at entertaining themselves which I think is a very important life skill to learn!

The Dream Team and me!
This weekend I did my first back to back really long runs. I have been building into this really since I started ultra training post baby. Slowly increasing the length of the second long run till I can comfortably run 20 plus miles one day and then 10-15 the next day without too much pain. So this weekend, I took it to a whole new level with just under 3hrs of chasing boys over the first half of the South Downs Way. I was a bit shattered already having had a week of solo childcare, driving back and forth from Wales, plus fitting in some seriously hard hill sessions and it was hard work. On the flat and descents no problem trotting along nicely, but BAM, slight incline and I was out the back door. Legs and breathing all over the place, no power, no strength and frankly just no energy to do anything but grind. Watching the boys lollop up every hill whilst I struggled was hard. I felt horrible, I wanted to lie down and cry a little bit and just give up. This is all too hard I just cant manage all this and still try to pull hard sessions out the bag. My mental strength is shot as well as my physical strength. But that's not me. Ive been here before. Ive chased boys up mountains on my bike, been dropped like a sack of spuds, but every single step, every single grind, makes you stronger. You have to do these sessions to get better, you have to test yourself to your limits in training, if come race day you want to lollop like the Brittons and Naveseys over the Downs. The Sunday run was a slightly slower affair, but running for 3hrs plus in ankle deep mud is hard going and it was still an old slog though with lovely company of a very experienced ultra runner who I never fail to learn from, with his positivity and pure love of running.

So happy to be home after huge weekend
Social media and Facebook makes training all look so glossy and rosy, people are all too quick to post about their amazing race results, run splits, weekly mileage and how fantastic they are feeling. No one ever posts that they feel like crap, ran like a donkey and finding training and life balance hard hard work. So here it is, this is bloody hard work, I am tired, I am having to focus totally on my family and training to the detriment of other areas in my life. But there is just this little chink of light at the end of the tunnel. Mornings and evenings are getting lighter. The winter hard miles are nearly done. I only have 3 more weeks of hard training for SDW 50. And I am managing, I am getting through the training and life. And you know what? For moaning pretty much constantly in my head about how tired I am- I still absolutely love it. I love the grind and the hard graft. Its what makes me feel alive. I love the time I am getting out on the Downs with such inspirational running pals and I am loving coming home to the best family a girl could ask for.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Why do you do it?

'Miss?'  Said a girl at school yesterday. 'Is it true you can run 30 miles?' 'Yes I said, I can.' 'Why?' She said. 'Ummmmmm', I answered in that inspirational and awe inspiring way. 'Well because really its the only thing I am good at;  running a long way in a straight line, its takes a certain sort of person...' I then launched into my full athletic history, which by then she had lost interest and wondered off to talk to boys.

So why am I doing this? I know during races, funnily enough normally during the early phases I question why am I doing this? I don't enjoy this, its too hard, its too cold, I am already tired and I am so hungry I cant possibly run another mile let alone another 40. But the moment passes, like all moments and 5, 6, 7 miles will go past where I am in my element, outside, running hard, gel, snot flying and I wouldn't be anyway else.

 Why do I this, how can I answer that question both to those who ask, but also in my head?

My second home
I recently wrote out my rough plan leading into my next big race South Downs Way 50. Looking at all the running I had to do made me feel slightly sick. The effort it is going to take to get out the door, the energy of then coming back and looking after the kids, plus the house all the cooking, cleaning, washing and working made me question, just for a second whether I can really do this. Of course, its the training and training harder than you are ever going to race that makes the races easy (well sort of), but for me its managing that fine balance of very nearly training as much as a professional athlete whilst holding down a job and a young family.

No one is making me do this, I could stop running tomorrow and no one would die. But a part of me would. Running is a part of  me and it is what enables me to do what I do, to the best I can be. Running inspires me to be a better person, to push my boundaries both physically and mentally and it inspires others around to question their boundaries too. Maybe to get up off the sofa and see what they can do with a pair of trainers and a strong dose of Eddie motivation.

So this is why I run, not for prize or glory or money or kit (well that's nice). I run for those around me who inspire me, who have come into my life through running and who I have inspired to take up running. No names mentioned, but...

My family who think nothing of their mum going out running everyday and to my dearest 3 year old who now can run a mile home with me after a session. To my husband who never gets a chance to go running himself, apart from during his lunch hour. To one of my lovely marathoner to be, who this week ran 18 miles at the same pace she used to run 5kms at and then messages me straight after with her delight. To the 'Friday ladies,' who after just a few weeks are out sprinting and out planking each other, having found a new lease of life in running quicker. To all those at my local running club who have smashed PBs in the last 6 months and turn out week in week out to run in the dark and rain and never question the crazy lady with the head torch. To the kids I have taught, those I took from non runners to national title holders, those who I encouraged to keep doing sport when they left school and still send me messages of their athletic feats. And most of all for a few friends who have had a tough time in life, but who still encourage me, message me with luck and congratulations, this next 8 week block of hard core training is for you. If you can do what you are doing, I can put on trainers and go for a jog. Check out this very special lady (

So that is the answer for the school girl, who quickly lost interest in her dull PE teacher, I run to inspire others, I run because I feel it is what I am good at and I believe if you have a talent you should use it, not just for your own personal gain, but to help others achieve their dreams. I am never going to make a living out of running, I am never going to achieve world peace, but I hope by just inspiring a handful of people to run, their lives might too be improved like mine and that is all I can ever ask.