First of the Marathon blogs…

So yesterday I filled out the form to make my place for the 2018 London Marathon official. That’s right, this year I’m getting organised. I’ve got my preparation half marathons booked in, the Brighton half in February, the Bath half marathon in March and (haven’t booked it in yet) hopefully the Merthyr half marathon along the taff trail towards the end of March just before I begin tapering. Me and the London Marathon have some unfinished business. My place has actually been rolled over from last year. Last year I freaked myself out-

  • Would I be too slow?
  • Would I make it round?
  • What if I was last?

That last one was the worst one, I freaked myself out so much, nightmares of reaching the Mall and there being no one there – “sorry you’re too late”. I allowed this nightmare to scare me out of training runs, so much so that I became so behind on my training that I wouldn’t be able to complete the marathon. I’m aware this will probably be my only chance to do the London Marathon, so if I’m going to do it, I want to do it right.

My first fear, ‘would I be too slow?’ well, as long as I finish within 8 hours I won’t be too slow because I’ll still finish. A wonderful woman, an inspiration of mine and fellow member of the Too Fat to Run? Clubhouse finished within the final 10 minutes of the 8 hour cut off. She’s still a marathon runner! She’s still in the 1%. One of my fellow Run Wales bloggers finished in around the 2:45 mark, he is also amazing and I am in awe of his constant race wins but is one of these more of a marathon runner than the other? To me? No, they both crossed the start and finish lines, just in different times. I think it has taken knowing these two athletes for me to see that I can do this marathon and whatever time I get, I’ll still be a marathon runner and a London Marathon finisher.

Of course, this time round I’ll still get these thoughts, I’ll still get scared and worry but this year I won’t let take over my dreams. I won’t let anxiety win and I won’t let myself use epilepsy as an excuse.

I’ll still get that voice at the back of my head “How dare you think you can do this? You’re so fat and disgusting, you’re not a runner!” but you know what i AM a runner, no matter my size, I tie up my laces just the same as every other runner and I run, sometimes with walking breaks but I AM still a runner.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is if you want to do something, do it! Don’t let your brain tell you that you can’t do something when your heart’s telling you “yes you bloody can!”. So listen to your heart, listen to the encouraging people around you. Look out for those around you that you might be inspiring, maybe to not do a run but to just to start, to go for a walk, to take that first step, which, let’s be honest, is the hardest.

Stay tuned for more on my journey.

Peace

JJ xx

Catch Up – Royal Parks Half

Well this was quite a while ago now but I thought i’d update a little on what’s been going on. So on Sunday 9th of October I did my first ever half marathon. I’m not a fast runner and have never claimed to be so set myself a target of 3:30 and came in just a few seconds under! It was one of the best experiences of my life and is a truly beautiful race. The atmosphere was great with people staying to line the route right until the end. It’s definitely a half I would recommend to anyone.

One thing I wasn’t quite prepared for was the amount of emotions I would experience throughout the race. It was great to be there with some of the Too Fat To Run? ladies and to meet up before and see each other along the course. I also had a great cheer squad along the route including my mum, dad, hubby and friend. Every time I saw them I just burst into tears, mostly because I couldn’t believe that I was actually there and doing it. It was especially poignant for me as I was running for Epilepsy Action who have helped me so much over the years.

What I really learnt from my first half was that:

  • I really need to hydrate more during long races. Although I felt fine during the race I’ve had real problems with dried out hands and feet afterwards.
  • I’m capable of a lot more than I think I am and that I should challenge myself more.
  • I really love the atmosphere of big races and taking it all in instead of running with headphones.

So that was my first half marathon experience! Exciting, scary, exhilarating and terrifying all at once. I had a great week in London after as my sister came from France to visit my parents so we had some great family time. On the coach back to Cardiff after a long week and while still riding the half marathon wave I saw on the TFTR? Clubhouse page that we’d been given 5 spaces for the VLM 2017 from the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund. So I put my name in the ring and now have a place! That’s a whole other blog but expect a lot more half marathons in the future as part of my training and throughout 2017 as a whole!

Peace

JJ xx

 

Well someone’s been busy…

Yes like crazy busy! Run club’s been going well but not as well as I’d like but I guess that’s partially my fault for starting it up right in the middle of the summer holidays. There’s some super crazy fun stuff happening over the next few months so I guess I’ll do a bit of a timeline and catch up! (Proof of just how busy below!)

img_0959So I guess we start with what’s already happened. So a couple of weekends ago I did my first obstacle run. It was Pretty Muddy  for Cancer Research and was absolutely hilarious. If you’re thinking of doing it, do it! If you’ve never thought about doing it, still do it! I found that it was a great ‘toe in the water’ for obstacle runs and that I’m now in love with them. We had over 70 women on our team and it was insane! Insane but amazing! Believe me (and our poor car) you definitely get pretty muddy! Just see the before and after pictures!

So what was next after that muddy excursion? Well, honestly I wanted a challenge so I did something really quite stupid. I applied to be an ambassador for Cancer Research UK’s new series of trail runs called Tough 10 and then didn’t really think much of it for a while until I was told I’d got it! Well as you may remember my one and only previous trail run was only in August and this is going to be completely different conditions. We’ve got a team from the Too Fat to Run? Clubhouse, the online running club I’m a member off, doing the London event in October and some clubhouse ladies and some run club ladies doing the South Wales one in November (see what I mean about different conditions!).

There are loads of different location over the UK and lots of different abilities. For some of the ladies I’m doing it with it’ll be their first 10k and some their first trail, it’ll certainly be my first winter trail over such difficult terrain! So if you fancy a challenge, and who doesn’t let’s be honest? Sign up here today! So you can look forward to views like these: img_0946I mean it’s gonna be pretty stunning! So I’ll keep you updated on how training’s going and feel free to contact if you want to get involved!

So what’s around the corner? Well this weekend I have the Women’s Running 10k in Finsbury Park which is part of the same race series as the one I did earlier in the year in Cardiff. Again, we’ll be having a clubhouse meet up which I’m really looking forward to. Apparently there are also some mega hills! which I’m not so much looking forward to!

However, it’s all great training for the race I have after that which is my first half marathon! That’s right I’m finally biting the bullet and doing it and what a half I’ve chosen. The Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon is probably one of the most beautiful city half marathons there is and I get to do it for my favourite charity Epilepsy Action! I’m not going to lie and say my training’s been going amazing because when does it ever? But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’m gong to get round that course! Plus I’m still fundraising so any pennies would be much appreciated here! I’m so close to target and would hate to fall at the final hurdle.

So I think that’s about it for now! There’s loads more to come because of all the crazy races I’ve been entering lately (currently in the process of getting a team together for a 24 hour race next summer!) and will definitely keep you all updated on Tough 10!

Peace,

JJ xx

Let The Run Club Begin!

A while ago I undertook the British Athletics ‘Leadership in Running Fitness’ (LiRF) course with the mind to starting a run club in Newport that would be for women but all inclusive for all shapes, sizes and abilities. Well, this week after creating a Facebook and Twitter account for some shameless advertising we had our first two sessions!

To say I was nervous before the first one on Thursday is an understatement. What if no one turned up? What if they thought I was a joke? What if they all ran 10ks three times a week already? Well I didn’t need to worry. On Thursday evening I had 7 eager women arrive at the meeting place in one of our local parks. We had a quick chat, followed by a warm up. We then proceeded to do 1 minute on/1 minute off intervals with the women working to their own abilities. We then met back up again for a cool down and post session chat. I asked the women what their goals were and even floated the idea of entering a group into the Cardiff Half Marathon next year (which was actually quite well received). I was so proud of the women who attended, they created their own friendly atmosphere from the beginning and it was definitely inclusive which was my main objective.

imageWe had ladies who had never run before, ladies who regularly attend the gym and ladies who want to improve aspects of their running. For a first session of a new group I would definitely call it a success!

Then, yesterday we had our Sunday session. The general idea is during the midweek session we concentrate on technique and drills to improve the groups running whereas on the Sunday we would do a 5k route, implementing what had been learnt on the Thursday. After a night of no sleep due to the athletics being on I dragged myself out of bed to meet ladies for the session. Two ladies arrived. At first I was slightly disappointed but then I realised it just meant I could concentrate on these two ladies. After a warm up we set off on a 5 minute walk followed by 1 minute on/1 minute off. One of the ladies had never run before and managed to keep the pace! Here’s the proof!

imageSo where from here? Well I hope to expand the group and continue to build on the ladies skills and abilities within running while at the same time building their self confidence. In September I’ll be doing a coaching day with Julie Creffield from The Fat Girl’s Guide To Running/Too Fat to Run? of which I am part of the online running club called ‘The Clubhouse’. After this the name of the club will change and I’ll be able to run ‘5 Weeks to 5k’ programmes as well as ‘Go Slow’ groups. So come September/October it’ll all be change again!

But right now, I am so proud, of myself, of the ladies and so thankful to the clubhouse ladies who have supported me so much. So watch out Newport, the girls are coming!

Where to find us:

Twitter handle: JJ Running

Facebook group: JJ Running

Or contact via jjrunning@icloud.com

Enjoy the Olympics!

Peace out

JJ x

 

One Very Hot Frolic!

Way back in May after completing my first 10km race my friend Tim’s (who’d done the race hungover and finished half an hour before me, not jealous at all!) Dad, Paul, messaged us both on Facebook about a trail run happening in August. The Elenden Farm Frolic, due to the word ‘frolic’ I went along with it because how can anything with the word ‘frolic’ in it ever be bad? Plus I was riding that 10k high.

Well, August rolled around and it was like “oh yeah we’re doing that run”, I was actually really looking forward to it because i’ve got a few half marathons coming up and still hadn’t managed to go over the 10k mark in training so thought i’d be able to push myself. The way the run was set up was that when you register you sign up for either 3 or 6 hours and see how many loops of the (frankly stunning) course you can do within that time. Myself and Tim signed up for the 3 hours having never done trail running before and Paul signed up for the 6 hours as he’s pretty much super human and does crazy ultra marathons and 24 hour runs. At the time I joked with Tim that he had the advantage because it was obviously in his genes. Little did I know!

So the night before I did my usual running rituals of a hydration drink, laying out my gear in a ‘flat Joey’. I then continued to freak out for about two hours about whether to wear shorts for the first time or not. In the end I realised it was due to be so hot the following day it’d be stupid not to.

The morning of the run we set off at 7:30 after having our oats and made our way into the English countryside, Tim in his welsh football top and me in my TFTR? top. I don’t think these trail runners knew what was coming. We turned up at Elenden Farm and were one of the first groups there. One thing I have to say is this was certainly one of the friendliest runs i’ve ever taken part in. So we went and registered, got our numbers, shoe chips and free Cotswold Running bit of kit, me a tech vest, Tim a tech t-shirt and we awaited the arrival of Tim’s parents while struggling with attaching shoe chips for the first time. Tim’s parents arrived and I started to get really excited, I’ve always looked up to Paul as a runner so was looking forward to taking part in the same run as him. Obviously we took the obligatory ‘before run’ shots.

You may notice all our race numbers are pretty low. That’s because there was only 36 people running! Seeing as the smallest run i’ve ever done is Parkrun and our local one regularly hits over 400 people I was in for a bit of a shock.

We made our way up to the start where family and friends were setting up deck chairs, gazebos and picnic blankets – believe me it was an amazing atmosphere. We had our safety briefing off one of the friendliest guys in the world and like that we were off.

Had I mentioned I’d never previously tried trail running? Well a piece of advice, if you’re going to do a 3 hour trail run, try running across a field first at least. I managed to run the flat and downhill parts of the first lap and came across the checkpoint in a respectable (for me) 45 minutes(ish), during the second lap I was walking more and more. It was getting really hot. Another major difference in this run was that it started at 11 so by the time I was on my second lap the midday sun was beating down on my soon to be burnt shoulders. I’d been smart though and had laden my hubby with a cool bag of water bottles and jelly babies to grab as I crossed the checkpoint. My aim was 3 times round but in my head I really wanted 4. During my 3rd lap I really struggled, I was slightly light headed and couldn’t concentrate on the uneven terrain.

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Despite that I was actually really enjoying it and as I came up to the checkpoint I could smell the BBQ (told you it was a good event!) and just smiled to myself. I’d gone over 10k and therefore gone further than i’d ever gone before. On trail. In ridiculous heat. But I still wanted another lap. My body said no but my stubborn head said yes so I set off again, just one more lap I told myself. After rounding the first corner that i’d run the previous three times and not being able to on the fourth my head caught up with my body. I’d started new medication that week, I was dizzy and running further away from the checkpoint. There are sometimes when you’ve got to be brave enough to carry on and there’s sometimes you’ve got to be brave enough to realise you’re being too stubborn so I turned around and made my way back up the hill, collapsing into a camp chair. I’d reached my goal. 3 laps. Next year i’m aiming for 5.

After some full fat coke and sips of water one of the lovely race organisers came over and snipped off my shoe chip and gave me my medal. About 10 minutes later Tim came in after 5 laps and a while after that Paul joined us after 7 or 8.

All in all I really enjoyed my first trail run, i’d gone over what i’d ever done before and knew I’d really pushed myself to my own personal limit. It’s really funny actually because the night before I couldn’t sleep so I finished reading Chrissie Wellington’s book and this quote is at the top of one of the last chapters. Little did I know how many times it would run through my head the following day.

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So what next? Well all road races! Half marathons and full on training for the Paris marathon in April and in between that i’ve set up my own Run Club in Newport to get more women running (but that’s a whole other blog). I really hope to do more trail running and especially more against the clock stuff as I found that side of it really fun. The medal was really cool too!

How ironic that I had to leave Wales to get a sheep medal?!

Peace out

JJ xx

Plan B

This weekend has definitely been a learning curve. I think (if possible) I’ve actually grown up a bit this weekend. I’ve realised there’s certain people who are not a fixture in my life but just kind of simmering away in the background who just need to not be there anymore. Old habits may die hard but it really is time for these to go.

More importantly I’ve learnt a major lesson about control. Anyone who knows me and knows me well will tell you what a control freak I am. I write lists for practically everything and if the slightest thing goes wrong it’s like the world has come to an end, bring on the stress, anxiety and just chuck in an IBS flare up for good measure.

Well this weekend definitely did not go to plan. I was meant to be running the Great Newham 10k. I’d been looking forward to it since signing up. I love the Great Run series and this was in my home city starting and finishing in the Olympic park. It was going to be amazing. So ironically I chose to vlog the weekend on my Instagram page (JJSGETTINGFIT). It was all going ok until Saturday and it was boiling. My food and drink choices for fuelling weren’t on point but after Saturday dinner I was feeling pretty good. We’d worked out the travel plan and I was just about to go and sort out my kit when I felt a scratching in my eye. At first I thought I had something in it but after two inspections by the mother and husband there was nothing so I was tucked up into bed with the promise that the husband would wake me up early enough in the morning to do my kit. I wasn’t happy but I was exhausted so I fell asleep.

In the morning I awoke to the alarm and attempted to open my eye. That wasn’t happening. The pain had got worse. Now, I’ve had problems with my eyes since the age of 3 so I know by now when it’s something you can just wash out and when you need A&E. Well guess where I ended up?imageThat’s right, good old Kings A&E with a scratched eyeball and a rather gloopy ointment to apply four times a day for seven days. I just sat in those crappy hospital chairs thinking “I’d be meeting the girls right about now” then a little later “we’d be lining up to set off now”. I was so angry at myself. By the time I got back to my parents house I just wanted to chuck everything in the car and get home to Wales. I was knackered and had missed what was meant to be my highlight 10k of the year.

I slept most of the way back to Wales and then continued to sleep for the majority of the afternoon and evening. When I woke up my husband was in the garden attempting to tackle our ridiculously long grass. Who was I actually angry with? Myself? I hadn’t purposefully hurt myself, I hadn’t used my eye as an excuse to get out of the run. It was out of my control. So I started to look at the week ahead. I have Wednesday off due to a hospital appointment so I decided if I couldn’t do Great Newham I’d at least do a 10k so I’ll be doing six laps around the park on Wednesday. That I can control. My choice to get up this morning and despite the pain, go into work, that I can control. The initial injury. I cannot control and that’s what I need to learn to accept, not just in running but in life.

When I did my LiRF training last weekend they spoke a lot about having a ‘plan B’ so now I always will. I guess in someways it’s me still having the control but in others it’s me knowing it’s ok for plans to change. There’s always a plan B.

This is extra significant as I’ve just realised a 3 hour time trial I’ve been training for is the 1st weekend of August, not the 3rd as I’d been planning for but I’ve decided to stick to my training plan and be happy with my plan B goal of 15k instead of the 20k I was originally aiming for.

Plan B isn’t just working for my running life but also my personal, however that’s a whole other entry. For now, well done all of you who have managed to run in the recent heat.

Peace

(a very chilled) JJ xx

Fat Girl Learning!

Life has nearly retreated back to normal after the madness that was Euro 2016 for Wales, don’t worry we’ll be back for the World Cup!

So back to running life. Well, it’s gone a little crazy recently. I’ve got the Great Newham Run next weekend (10k) and then following that at the start of August I’m doing a three hour trail run in which you have to do as many 5k laps as possible (I’m aiming for 20k as if you’ve started the lap within the 3rd hour you can finish it). Following this I’m going to do some shorter distances as from the first weekend in September I have a half marathon once a month for three months and then it’s full on marathon training for Paris!

So that’s a little catch up on my race life at the moment but what this post is really meant to be about is what I did yesterday. I took part in a ‘Leadership in Running Fitness’ (LiRF) course ran by english athletics which means I can now run meets and a running club if I wanted to. To be honest I was terrified about doing the course. I signed up for it and put it to the back of my mind. Then on Monday it sprung back into the forefront of my mind and the usual things started to cross my crazy stupid brain. What if I’m the fattest/ slowest/ most unfit one there? What if they all already know what they’re doing? What if they don’t take me seriously or laugh at me? I posted on the Too Fat To Run? Clubhouse  on Facebook and was given a lot of support. So on Friday once we’d finished work me and the hubby packed our bags and drove across the border to a pub b’n’b just outside Bristol. It was a nervous sleep with an unplanned early morning wake up. I decided to pull myself together and represent Too Fat to Run? the only way I knew how, by strapping on my TFTR? armour and a massive grin. image

I had my beans on toast breakfast and the hubby dropped me off at Yate Outdoor Sport Complex and while he went to visit a friend I was met by a friendly English Athletics uniformed woman and given directions into the 8 hour course. I had been partly right. They were all thinner than me (apart from one man who’s run several marathons) but apart from that during the drills the only thing different was that I wasn’t as quick. I was surprised I could do the same hill intervals as them all. While we were walking out across the athletics track (which I have never run on before) everyone took off their jumpers to reveal their club shirts (it really was quite a Clark Kent/Superman moment) and I won’t lie. I was a little intimidated. Then I remembered I had my own club shirt on and mine was orange. From that moment my confidence grew, I talked to others, exchanged ideas, swapped race stories and huddled together for lunch on flip down seats overlooking the athletics track chatting about why we were doing the course. For the first time ever I felt like I fitted in this world. I was holding my own.

The course itself was amazing and well worth the money. The two women running it were inspiring both on the practicals and the course discussions. I wasn’t treated any different due to my size and there was even a part of the course dedicated to how to make running clubs inclusive for everyone. It really made me feel proud to be part of such a forward thinking sport. At the end of the course we were all packing up and saying bye to the coaches. I went and thanked the two coaches when one asked me something I really hadn’t expected.

“So you’re going to do further coaching courses right? It won’t make you rich but it’ll make you damn happy and you’ve got the right stuff for it”.

Out of all those runners in there it was me that she’d pulled to the side to encourage. She was talking about me doing this as some sort of a career. This is a whole new thing to get my head around but I know I will be forever grateful to Rachel for giving me more confidence I’ve had in a long time.

Anyone who is thinking of becoming a leader I would encourage you to. Don’t think you can’t because of your size, your fitness level, your running experience. If you have the will to do it you’ll be great and if you’re like me, you might even enjoy it. image

It seems like all I’ve done this year is stretch my boundaries, constantly pushing myself  out of my comfort zone mostly because of Julie Creffield and all the women in Too Fat To Run? and you know what? That’s not a bad thing. I don’t want to feel comfortable anymore. I want to constantly be pushing to be the best me I can be and with the help of my personal trainer, the TFTR? girls and the support I continuously get from my amazing family and friends, especially my husband. I’m getting there, to the right level of discomfort.

Peace out

JJ xx