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!

WINTER RUNNING

The clocks have gone back, winter is closing in, and the days are getting shorter. It’s now getting dark much earlier than most of us would like. This never stops us runners from doing what we love, but we need to all keep safe during the winter months. In this post I’ve put together a few tips and ideas for keeping safe through the dark and cold evenings.

STAYING SEEN

This is so, so important. It is important whether you’re running off road or whether you are running in well-lit areas nearby roads. If you are wearing dark clothing (which I see runners do constantly in the dark) people cannot see you! It is not worth the risk, you may think you’re safe but you aren’t. You are not visible to people in cars and if you injure yourself people are unable to find you easily.

HEAD TORCHES: The brightest piece of equipment to make you seen. It also helps you to see where you are going to avoid trips and falls. I wear my headtorch even when I am running along well-lit streets as it makes me feel safer knowing that everyone can see me coming. The headtorch I own is from amazon, click here to have a look. It isn’t the cheapest you can get but it comes with a case to keep it in when not in use and it’s held it’s charge for around 2 months of everyday use, before it runs out. This one also charges by USB, so if you are going for a run lasting 4 hours+ you can charge it up by portable charger and not worry about trying to get batteries in. Wearing a head torch does take some getting used to with wearing it on your head but after a few runs I don’t even notice it. Another way if you don’t get along with the head torches is to buy a beanie hat which has a light fixed into the front which you can view here.

BODY LIGHTS: Another option if you don’t want to wear a head torch, are body lights. Again I have some off amazon, click here to view them. These lights go on top of your running clothing and flash bright white light at the front and then red lighting from the back, so you are seen from front and behind which it more than the head torches. Again these just ensure that you are seen by traffic and by other people if you are in need of help.

HIGH VISABILITY CLOTHING: This one is pretty simple and doesn’t have to cost you anything. The easy option is to wear as bright clothes as possible when running in the dark. I have been past so many runners who are still wearing dark clothes and I don’t see them until I run past them. It isn’t safe. Even when in a lit area you might feel like you can be seen but I’d never risk it. Just find the brightest sports gear you own and chuck it on! If you are willing to spend a few pounds you can easily buy a high visibility vest from Ebay or amazon. If you want to spend a little bit more most running retailers sell high visibility running jackets, leggings or accessories.

WARM WINTER CLOTHING

As well as being seen in the dark, the temperature has dropped so much in the past few weeks and will continue to drop. It is important to keep warm during our runs, as even though we will feel warm when we’re running, our body can still cool down without us realising it.

LAYERS: At the moment as November begins I’m starting to wear full length leggings with a long sleeve under top, and a high visibility light weight, waterproof jacket. As the winter goes on I will more than likely add to this with another layer on top of a long sleeved base layer and a thicker high vis jacket. I usually wear trainer socks but as it gets nearer the freezing temperatures long socks over my leggings are a must have!

ASSESSORIES: As it gets colder adding winter accessories is a great idea. So get your woolly hats and gloves out ready if you haven’t already! I tend to prefer non-woolly gloves when running as I feel the wool rubs my skin and makes my skin irritated with the sweat mixed in, but I’m pretty sure most other people aren’t as fussy!! Ear buffs are also good if you don’t like your head getting too warm but need to cover your ears!

ICE

I’m adding this one to the list as my running club have upped their game, and it really is important all year round not just in the winter. ICE stands for ‘In Case of Emergency’. This can be anything from making a note as a screen saver, or having a piece of paper in your pocket or sock. It is just a little note with your basic details and the details of your emergency contact. I myself have been in situation where I have fallen and people have come to help me and I haven’t had details on me. Luckily I’ve been conscious and able to contact them myself, but I’ve been lucky!

I hope this post has been helpful, the main point of it all is just to make sure you all keep safe over winter. All of us runners need to keep each other safe and pass on any tips you come across! Any questions feel free to comment below or contact me directly!

Happy Winter Running!

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.

TRAINING UPDATE

As most of you will be aware the main goal is to run my first 100 mile ultra-marathon at the beginning of May 2020. I’m doing this in aid of the ‘Alzheimer’s Society’ (click here to donate!).

My training has been doing pretty well for the past 6 weeks. I’ve gotten back on the trail running to start getting used to that again. Trail running is a completely different style of running to road running and I find that if I don’t put it into my training I struggle to get used to it come race day. My pace in general has gotten quicker without me realising it. It’s been all on the up.

However last week I managed to hurt my knee, without even doing anything. I had severe pain and swelling in my knee even from just sitting with it in a bent position. It may have been overtraining but I’m leaning more towards the drop in temperature. I have a history of joints hurting when the autumn hits. So all of the above positives have now started to decline (booo!).

Luckily after a week of no running or leg training, the pain has pretty much gone. I managed a half mile run over the weekend with no pain during or after. I still get the odd ache but I’m always in pain in some form or another so I’m not too worried about that. I’m nervous to start back on the plan to some extent as I know i’ll have lost some speed and stamina, even though it’s only been a week. Prayer to the running Gods for as little impairment as possible!

The plan going forward is to now carry on from where I left off with my training plan. Going to take it slightly easier this week to ease my knee back in and try not to over train. I have a race on Sunday so want to be in the best position I possibly can.

My next race is the Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday 6th. The plan is to just take it at whatever pace feels comfortable on the day. No pushing harder than I need to make sure I don’t cause any more damage to the knee (if there is some there). I’ll be happy with a 2:00 – 2:10 half.

See you in 6 weeks for another update!

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!

CARDIFF 10K: A Review

A little bit about the race….

The Cardiff 10K is a running event organised by the Kidney Wales charity who support patients and families who are living with renal conditions, and promote excellence in renal research.

The 10K course is a flat all road and tarmac route, which goes through the main city centre passing Cardiff Castle and the Principality Stadium (The Millennium Stadium to us true South Walians). It then passes through two beautiful parks: Llandaff Fields and Pontcanna Fields, with a finish passing Cardiff Castle.

This race is suited to all abilities whether you are aiming for a 10K personal best or doing you’re first ever 10K and just want to survive the run! As said above it’s a flat on road course so an easy one for beginners and a quick route for more advanced runners.

The end goodies were a lovely 10K T-shirt, which is actually one of my favourite race shirts I have ever had from the race. Alongside this I got a nice shiny medal, a packet of crisps and a bottle of water. I used to find many races used to give a goodie bag with loads of different goodies/leaflets, but I used to end up throwing half the stuff away. It’s actually nice to get less, more useful items with less waste!

IMG_3633

My experience…

My own experience of the Cardiff 10K was an extremely positive one. I arrived at the race village two hours early to get my morning coffee down me, and to have a look around the stalls for some bargains. I then found some members of my running club for a few photos and a natter before heading over to the start line. I was at the start line around 10 minutes early, which is always the killer waiting for it to start. I always need a wee and get hungry when waiting for a race to start!

The first half of the race was great I was running at an 8 minute/mile pace for the first 2.5 miles. Coming up to the half way water station I knew I couldn’t keep up the pace, so slowed it down to 8.5minute/mile pace and walked for a minute when I got the water in my hand (I have no idea how people can run and drink water at the same time?!). The last 3 miles I felt comfortable in a steady pace, nothing too quick as I knew I wasn’t getting a 10K personal best. I did my usual stop for a walk with 0.5 miles to go. I have no idea why I do it but I do it in every race, it’s as if I need to get a walk in every time whether I’m tired or not.

Regardless of the walk, I managed to get a personal best for the Cardiff 10K with a time of 53:32, which I couldn’t be more happy with. Maybe next year I can at least level my 10K personal best. At the finish we were given our goodies and then the long wait at the bag drop! The worst part of any large race, having to queue for half an hour+ for my bag! It’s no fault of the organisers as there isn’t really a way around it. However, at the end of a race you just want to grab your bags and get to the grub! My advice is if you can manage without taking a bag or have supporters then don’t bother leaving anything in a bag drop.

IMG_3413

Highlights: The atmosphere on the streets of Cardiff City Centre. That’s one thing you can’t experience with many ultra-marathons! Can’t beat the crowds cheering everyone on.

Lowlights: My usual 0.5 mile towards the end walk. Not really race associated but more personal, I need to learn how to keep it going at the point!

Cardiff 10K 2020 places are now open if you do fancy giving this one a go!

LLANTWIT MAJOR 10K – A REVIEW

Little bit about the race….

The Llantwit Major 5K & 10K is a mainly off road run along the Welsh Coastal Path. The race was created in 2015 to honour the memory of David Synan from Llantwit Major, who had a big passion for running. The course is a trail run along the welsh coastal path with a few different trail terrains (grass, rocky, muddy), with the final 1.5 mile being on the road through llantwit major, for those who like people cheering you on during a race! There are two big hills involved, one steep short hill at the beginning of the race and one around 2 miles in which a longer less steep incline. Both the 5K and 10K started together so the atmosphere was brilliant. I will say however, if you are running this race for a personal best, start right at the front and try and run the road to the coast at a faster pace. This is to avoid being stuck behind someone slower on the cliffs, as a lot of it was single file running.

Bonus; At the end everyone got a medal, a llantwit 10K buff and a free session at llantwit major leisure centre. I was quite happy not to get a tech t-shirt for once (I have so many from over the years!), it was nice to have something different for my running stash.

I would say this race is for eveyone from the skilled trail runner, to the first timer to trail running! Remember there is also a 5K option for those not quite ready to tackle a 10K off road race just yet.

My Experience…

For me it did not go great. The first 5K I was on track for a personal best on the course. However during the last 5k the sun hit me hard. It was an extremely hot day and I had not hydrated during the days leading up to the race. I felt dizzy and sick, which meant I found it hard to keep running, so i lot of walking done during the last stage. I ended up running across the line in tears, feeling like I was going to throw up and extremely dizzy. I sat at the end of the course for a while trying to get myself back to normal. I finished 3 minutes slower than last year which was gutting but at the same time I could not have pushed harder.

Highlight: The views of the coast from the run were beautiful, especially on such a sunny day. Being able to run in my home town is also a plus as there isn’t many shorter distance races that are ran through Llantwit Major.

Lowlight: The heatstroke. I have never felt so ill during and after a run. It was my own fault for not preparing better for the day but it did take the pleasure out of the run.

 

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.