6 WEEK UPDATE

THE JOYS OF THE KNEE

The lovely knee is still hurting at times but NOT when I’m training, only at random times which is probably more annoying than if it was an actual injury. I’ve only been running 2-3 miles a few times a week to make sure that I don’t cause any more damage (if there is any already). Going to try and see a physiotherapist this coming week and if that fails and there is still some pain I will go to the doctors. Still taking anti-inflammatories and icing when it’s hurting.

NEXT 6 WEEK PLAN

The plan is to slowly build the miles up and run on alternative days to give a break between sessions. From next week I’m going to try and add a longer run each week between 4 to 5 miles. I will keep with this plan until December. Once the amazing month of December arrives (CHISTMASSSS), I’m going to increase the amount of days I’m running while slowly increasing the amount of miles I’m running. I’ll do 3 to 4 miles most days with a 6 to 7 mile run for the first 2 weeks then a 8 to 9 mile run the last 2 weeks of December. I will see how everything goes at this point and re-assess my training plan from there.

2020 RACE PLAN SO FAR

Although my knee hasn’t been in the best condition, it hasn’t stopped me from signed up to some new races for next year (oops). Other than the 3 ultra-marathons I’ve already signed up to, I’ve added some 10K races to the mix. After my 100 miles I’m going to do smaller races like the 5K and 10K to ease off a little bit.

BRECON TO CARDIFF – 44 MILES – 9TH FEBRUARY

VALE ULTRA MARATHON – 32 MILES – 28TH MARCH

CARDIFF BAY 10K – 29TH MARCH

NEWPORT 10K – 19TH APRIL

DRAGON 100 – 100 MILES – 2 & 3RD MAY

PORTHCAWL 10K – 5TH JULY

BARRY ISLAND 10K – 2ND AUGUST

NEXT UPDATE WILL BE UP ON 22ND DECEMBER!

CARDIFF HALF MARATHON REVIEW

ABOUT THE CARDIFF HALF

The Cardiff Half Marathon is one of Cardiff’s biggest races of the year. It’s been running for 16 years and has hosted the world and commonwealth half marathon. The flat route follows Cardiff’s most iconic landmarks including Cardiff Castle, the Principality Stadium, Civic Centre and stunning Cardiff Bay.

MY EXPERIENCE

Before the race I met up with the amazing club which is the ‘Llantwit Major Milers’ running club of Llantwit Major. We got our pre-race photo shoot done and made our way to the start line. For once I actually ate well and hydrated enough that I didn’t feel dehydrated as I waited the 30 minutes for the race to start (first time for everything!). I had a few of the club members starting in my pen with me, which again is a rare occurrence, so more snaps taken and motivational words spoken to each other.

The start was incredible as always male voice choirs, fires burning and a great atmosphere from the 27,000 other runners. I kept telling myself that as great as it is, and as pumped as I am, I need to keep the pace steady. Which really was the plan. This was supposed to be a training run rather than a race. I think we can all guess how it went.

My first mile was steady as it always is due to the crowds, you just tend to go with the flow for the first mile and try and get ahead of those who are slower than you until the crowds separate. I then got into the second mile and the plan of going steady went out the window. I was averaging 7:30 to 8:00 minutes per mile. Oops. I felt great at this pace and surprisingly didn’t feel too out of breath with no part of my body was struggling. I should have known it was too good to be true.

It started with a slight stinging, turned into burning and then turned into stabbing pains. My knee was in agony and this pain then went into my hip because I was running with a slight limp. I managed to run slowly through mile 4 and then my knee could not hack it anymore. I decided to walk for a little but even that was hurting. My thoughts at this point were heading towards a DNF (Did Not Finish – for those non-runners).

 I’m used to being in this position now so it would have been the easy option for me. As I thought about it I realised I would have to walk to equivalent distance to the finish anyway, so why would I DNF when I’ll get to the finish in the same amount of time? Also my mind went to all the amazing people who were walking the half marathon anyway. Those people who did not care that they weren’t running it and were just enjoying the experience. I couldn’t give up now.

I pushed on and walked for the majority of the race. I jogged when my knee felt to some extent ‘OK’ but this was in 30 second spurts. I decided on 4 minutes of walking then 30 seconds of running for 9 miles. It was hard. More mentally than physically. The crowds were amazing but as they spurred me on and told me to keep running, the more it got to me that I couldn’t fulfil this. However, I stayed strong and stuck with the plan to only run when I felt I could, and to not let peer pressure get to me. I needed to at least not cause any more damage than I felt there was already.

Once I reached the last mile of the race, I could feel myself welling up. I’d made it. I hadn’t given up. The crowds got louder and more enthusiastic, so I ran it home (by ran, I mean a jog that felt fast considering my race pace). I crossed that line proud but for completely different reasons to what I would usually be proud of. I actually think I gained more from this experience than any race I’ve done before

I’m obviously very upset over a poorly knee which means a break from my 100 mile training plan BUT I won’t let it stop me. I’m going to look after it, rest, rehab and recover and get myself in a good position to train again. I’m still staying strong, not pushing through anything I shouldn’t and work with what I can each week.

SUMMARY

HIGHLIGHT: Breaking the DNF mindset. I’ve DNF so many races within the past 2 years and it becomes easier just to give up with every race. During this race I managed to put my pride aside and finish a not so perfect race and be proud of what I did achieve.

LOWLIGHT: Being injured (Booo). I now have to deal with a poorly knee and put my 100 mile ultra marathon training plan on hold for a while.

STAYING MOTIVATED.

I would be lying if I said I was motivated 100% of the time. There are things I need to do in order to keep myself on track day-to-day with my training, especially where running is concerned. Below are my top 5 tips to keeping yourself motivated and on track.

#1 HAVE A PLAN

If I’m going to stay on track I need a plan to follow. If I don’t have a plan or direction I find it’s easy to fall off the wagon with training, especially with my running. I will always follow some form of plan whether that be on a monthly plan basis or if it’s for a specific event, I will always find a plan to fit the distance and time scale. If you’re a beginner then plans such as the ‘Couch 2 5k‘ are great, even if you have a good level of fitness already. It gives you a clear plan to work to each week.

A good way to get a plan is to sign up to an event, whether it be your first 5K or an ultra-marathon. Signing up can keep you focused towards a goal and makes creating a plan a lot easier.

#2 JOIN A RUNNING GROUP

It can be difficult some days to get out and run. The best thing I did was to join a running club and also joined a Crossfit with such an amazing team. Joining a club means meeting people with the same goals as you and means you’re out socialising at the same time! Every town will have a least one social club and cities will have many to choose from. Go along to a few and see which one you feel most comfortable with.

My advice is to not be scared. The majority of local running clubs or gyms have very mixed abilities, from complete beginners to your seasoned runners. They have all been in your position at some point in their life! Just go for it! You’ll learn so much about running from those people around you. I also find being in a club distracts you from the run. One minute you’re starting off, the next you’ve finished?! Time flies when you go for a social run.

#3 MIX IT UP

If running isn’t your thing or you find it gets boring at times mix it up with other sports or activities. Whether it be some yoga, going to the gym or a different sport completely, add it into your weekly training. My passion is Crossfit, and I do this for strength training on my days off running or on days I’m only doing a short run. You’ll notice that many running plans will have strength training or cross training integrated in the plan, so use that as a day to do something different towards your health and fitness. It keeps everything interesting. Fitness should not be boring! Do what feels good to you on that day.

#4 DO IT FOR A GOOD CAUSE

If you need a bit of extra motivation pick a challenge to raise money for a good cause. This means your doing your bit in raising money for a good cause but also have something to motivate you and give you a reason why your training! For me taking on such a big challenge as the 100 mile ultra, i felt like i needed to dedicate it to a good cause which is why i chose the ‘Alzheimer’s Society‘. See my story here, if you haven’y already!

#5 BE ACCOUNTABLE

Unless you are a very motivated person flying solo, I find having a person or a team to be accountable to helps massively. This ties into joining a running club or a gym. I’m extremely lucky I have such a great support system who make me accountable for the training that I do, and make sure I’m ready for the events I’m training towards.

Another great way to be accountable is through social media. Social media can be seen in a very negative light if you let it take over your life or let it rule over your self-esteem, but it can also be a positive thing if used the right way. I use it to follow those people who motivate me to stick to working towards my goals, everyday people doing amazing things. Not using it to follow ‘influencers’ which unattainable standards. I also use it to update everyone on my training. Firstly because it means those who’ve donated towards my cause see I am working hard for it. Secondly, it keeps me accountable in the sense that I need to show people I’m sticking to my plan. I really hope it may motivate even one person to do something they never thought in a millions years they would do.

I really hope these tips have been helpful and hope that it helps someone get motivated or even start something new! Comment below if you have your own tips to keep you or other people motivated!

ABOUT ME & THIS EXTREMELY NORMAL RUN

Welcome to my blog. My name is Ellie Johnson and this blog is dedicated to my training journey in attempting my first 100 mile ultra marathon.

My interest in running was sparked at the age of 16 where I started running distances between 5K and 10K. I was a little thing back then, the wind would blow and push me along meaning I was well suited to the sport and felt I did well. Through the years I completed various 5K, 10K, half marathons, and then eventually completed my first marathon. So far it seems I was made for running and you’d assume that this training is going to be a walk in the park.

 

However, after many ankle injuries and having time off training, my attention was taken by Crossfit after watching some kick-ass women throwing large amounts weight about. I signed up to a local crossfit gym where I quickly forgot about long distance running. Fast forward 5 years, 3 stone heavier, and suddenly I decide I need a new challenge, because, why not?

 

I had already completed a marathon, so I had to decide on a bigger challenge because it isn’t really a challenge if you’ve done it all before. I toyed with the idea of doing a 50 mile or 60 mile challenge, but decided that if I was going to do that distance I may as well go the whole way to 100 miles. A logical thought, right?

Once I had decided that 100 miles was the sensible challenge to take on, I knew right away I wanted to do this to raise money for charity. It didn’t take me long to make a decision on the charity that I wanted to donate to, The Alzheimer’s Society.

The Alzheimer’s Society firstly fund research into finding a cure or treatments for Alzheimer’s disease (I will do a post surrounding this soon). Secondly, the charity use donations to help support individuals who are living with dementia and also supports their family and friends. Much of the support that these individuals can access needs to be privately funded, and therefore many do not get the support that they need without the Alzheimer’s Society.

This blog will expand on my training, the races I complete along the way and all about the amazing work the Alzheimer’s Society do for so many individuals. In the meantime please feel free to get in touch and donate by clicking HERE.