Spring in my step


I see so many photo worthy things when I am out running but as I have this stupid rule of not allowing myself to stop (I am the idiot bouncing up and down at traffic lights), I never manage to capture them. Hence the pictures I use on my posts are usually from the communal garden behind our flat or from the street before/after my run. But here is a picture to prove that London is trying to shrug off winter! Saturday and Sunday were (relatively) warm and sunny and oh, how good did that feel! Everybody is high on vitamin D.

As lovely as the sunny and dry weather is, unfortunately it is rarely good news as far as my running goes. I seem to struggle the most when the weather is at it’s best and have done my most amazing runs in either downpours or snow storms. So when I woke up on Saturday morning to the rarely seen fireball in the sky my first reaction was “oh no”. After the two less than perfect runs over the week I really felt like I needed a good one to get my confidence back up. I ate my corn flakes (I know, I know – not the best pre-run food but it works for me), did my push ups and used the toilet. As I went out the door I shouted to my husband not to expect me to be gone for too long, this wasn’t going to be a long run. 

I started running and oh, how I hated the first 4 or so kilometers. It takes me ages to warm up (again I am a bad runner – I run myself warm rather than do something to actually warm up first) and get my lungs going. But I did my long loop which winds around North West London towards the park. I got to the park – 6km. “Ok, I think I can do a lap” I thought and went for it. By the time I got to my first exit towards home I thought I will do a bit longer to extend the distance and ran past it – 10km. And I just ran past exits until it was easier to just do another lap around the park. I got back to the first exit – 14.5km – and started running towards home. “Oh, I feel pretty good so I might as well do a bit of extra” I thought and rather than run home I turned towards Kilburn again, running on Hamilton terrace past some of the grandest houses in the area. I went all the way to Kilburn High Road and turned back and by the time got back to the flat I had done 20.12km (in 1:58:34)!  It was only that morning that I had been mourning my horrible runs and my inability to get any decent distance since the operation. And here I was, running in the sunshine no less, doing 20km!! I know it is not much to you hardcore marathoners but after the horrible time I have had in the past two weeks of running I was (still am) on cloud 9! 

I am sure I would make it a lot easier for myself if I actually learnt to hydrate myself while I run. So far I have done all my runs “dry” – I don’t bring any water with me so I only drink once I get back home. By the time I hit 20km I am already pretty dehydrated, especially when it is warm. I just can’t decide what is the best way to bring the water with me. I HATE the idea of running with a bottle in my hand; I am convinced it will make the arm in question achey and also – I need to blow my nose every 3 minutes so am already carrying a tissue and need to be able to use it. Water belts seemed originally like a good idea but I checked one out at a sportshop recently and it just seems so bulky and heavy. And I am convinced it will give me an uneven gait even if I have small bottles sitting on both hips. Ok – so what about a bladder. Doesn’t that give you a sweaty back and is a pain to clean? HELP folks – have you solved this for yourselves? How? 

Also – I need to get over my fear of gels etc. My plan is to try and start building up my distance up to a marathon. Not that I want to run one – I just want to know I could. I cannot do this if I don’t have something on me (so I have been told) on the road. I do like the idea of jelly beans.

I also have a small confession to make… I have been trying very hard to resist turning into a runner who is all about the gadgets but I succumbed to a heart rate sensor. On a bit of a whim I went and bought Polar H7 on Friday. I can use this with the RunMeter iPhone app that I run with – they connect via bluetooth. I just need to learn how to use this data. I know I need to work out my maximum heart rate but this would involve hitting the track and torturing myself with intervals… I know I need to do this sooner or later anyway but frankly I would rather eat dry psyllium husk powder than do that right now. I do know that my average heart hate was 171 bpm on that long run on Saturday, average pace being 5:02 / km (fastest was 5:02). I am slow as a turtle but that’s ok. 

Unfortunately what goes up, must come down and when I did my recovery run on Sunday (just a 30 minute, 6.3km jog) I struggled so badly. I was trying to go slow but still my lungs were ragged, I was panting worse than a Saint Bernard (dog) on the beach and my legs had suddenly turned to led. Luckily my head was still high after the other run so I didn’t mind too much. 

But I would like to hear from you regarding tips on hydration (for beginners) as well as on-the-run boosters. What, how, when and how often. I think it is time I stopped making things harder for myself that necessary. 







11 thoughts on “Spring in my step

  1. You and I are in the same boat….stomach issues keep me from taking anything other than water during a run and I absolutely hate the thought of carrying something. The only thing I’ve found to solve the hydration problem is to plan my route to pass places where I can duck into for a quick drink. Not the best solution, but all I have for now.


    1. A fellow sufferer! It’s a crappy problem to have, isn’t it? I have also heard of people leaving bottles for themselves along their route but that doesn’t really work for me (big city and all). Ducking into somewhere etc would still require stopping along the way and I can’t get myself to do that (not sure I would be able to start running again after that). I think I need a miracle. 🙂


  2. Water belts are tricky. I find that during the winter they fit comfortably, because the padding from my layers make them fit snugly. But in the summer when I’m just wearing a light tank top, I can’t get the water belt to fit right, and it flops all over the place. Drives me nuts, but is necessary. I live in Portland, Ore, and we’re not used to the strange fireball in the sky, either. When that thing comes out, it throws all my running juju. Water is a necessity, and like Grammadog, I plan my routes around bubblers and water fountains as much as I can.


    1. You guys are way more organised than I am… Have you ever tried systems that you carry on your back (with bladders)? I googled a few today and found one that seems very lightweight (and only holds 1 litre so it does seem a bit futile) but I hate the idea of a sweaty back. Well, sweatier than usual. 🙂


  3. Hi, I think it’s welcome to everyone’s water dilemma!
    I’ve done various things over time…..
    1) running with a rucksack has never really worked for me – hated the sloshing around.
    2) Making sure there are shops on my route has been ok.
    3) Running through parks with water fountains has worked well this year. You’re in London guessing from your post. There are fountains all over Hampstead Heath, in Regents Park, one in Finsbury and in Clissold Park – in fact you can link regents-hampstead-via Highgate-Finsbury-Clissold – would only need to find water in the Highgate area!!
    4) Loops past the house so you can pick up the bottle I’ve hidden/getting friends to hide bottles too!
    my favorite has been
    5) http://www.sportsdirect.com/karrimor-bottle-belt-764831 it’s a belt with a bottle that sits in the small of your back – I was running along a canal, so no shops etc, thought I’d hate it, but a friend leant me one and it was fab! Not sure this one is exactly the same, his had a handy loop that went over the mouth piece so that the bottle couldn’t bounce out!


    1. Hi Emma and thanks for your detailed reply! I was so hoping someone would have the Holy Grail solution to this problem but it seems tricky. 🙂 I heard that with the bladders in rucksacks you can avoid the sloshing if you make sure you get rid of all the air in it first. Then it just compresses into a vacuum as you drink the water. Not sure that really works though. That belt looks like a possible solution and cheap enough to try, even if it turns out not to work. Thanks so much!


  4. Separate to the water, I’ve finally found something energy giving that I can stomach!
    These, they’re like little squares of jelly, but not very sweet, I’ve found that having one every couple of miles has been perfect for me. You’re meant to have them with a mouthful of water, so I just chew one on my way to my water stop and it’s great!

    I have a friend who swore by jelly beans, I’ve never tried them

    But, as ever, it’s a case of see what works for you!


      1. You’re more than welcome for the ideas, it’s so tricky when there are so many options! I was really suprised by the belt. And the bloks have been great – let me know how you get on x


  5. I would love to give you advice, but of all the bad runners I am the worst! Each month I study all of my running magazines and learn all of the tricks, and then I put on the same old shoes and run my same old (slow, slow, SLOW) run. As long as it makes me feel good, I’m going to just keep on imagining that I’m a better runner than I really am – though I do hope that by living vicariously through your much better training habits, and by reading enough magazines, maybe one day it will have an effect and I’ll break the slowpoke barrier.


    1. Hi Anna! I am also very very slow. Especially for the first 4 km, after which somehow I tend to miraculously get a bit faster. But it as about the same thing for me as for you – the enjoyment of running. This is partly why I don’t want to run in a race – I don’t want to have to make my running “official” or see how 99% of the runners are faster or better than me. 🙂 When I run by myself I can pretend I am an amazing runner when the truth is far from it. 🙂


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