You got to master the fundamentals

From a running perspective it is a much quoted piece of wisdom that the fundamental pieces of equipment are a good pair of shoes and a properly fitting supportive bra. Well maybe the boys don’t need the bra, but for us ladies it is essential. We’ll put to one side the twin skin socks you find you want to avoid getting blisters, the lycra shorts (of various lengths) to prevent thigh chafing, the technical top to prevent underarm chafing and to wick away sweat (excuse me? us ladies don’t sweat, we merely glow), the headgear of choice, the electronic gadgets and any other running paraphernalia you can think of. When it comes down to it, a good pair of shoes and a bra are top of the shopping list.

Having done this running lark before, I have all the gear. I have shoes (currently 2 usable pairs and one still pristine and in their box), Hilly twin skin socks (an abundance, in various shades of muddy grey), Lycra shorts (capri and long – nothing above the knee in my house) technical tops (all shades and sizes), hats, wristbands & my trusty Garmin. What I am currently short of is bras. Well that’s not entirely true. I have several of these items, most fetchingly of the Shock Absorber variety – was ever a bra less erotically named? What I don’t have is any that will fit. Since I stopped running I’ve put on some weight. Like several stone. And gone up a couple of dress sizes. And a handful of cup sizes in the bra department. Not being a small girl to start with, there is enough mass there to set up some considerable momentum. A bra hanging on the line does look like I ought to put some plants in it and use it as a hanging basket. Not changed back size, so I can get the bra to do up, it’s just that it no longer contains all that’s there. If I’m honest it looks like I’ve got 4 boobs, either that or I’ve smuggled a litter of puppies down my top. Neither comfortable nor practical for running, methinks. Thus far I’ve been using a slightly Heath Robinson approach to the underpinnings, by wearing an older underwired bra (to lift & separate) while wearing over that a old sports bra (to hold it all down). On their own neither would be up to the task, but between them they seem to have been working reasonably well. The down side of two bras that should probably both be consigned to the bin is that there has been some chafing, most noticeably under the band at the front and on my right shoulder blade. And once it starts to chafe, you just rub the scab off next time out and it gets worse. I’ve got a substantial gash on my right shoulder as a result. Getting into the shower I really know about that.

So tonight I had a bit of a rummage in the sporty clothing drawer and found, shoved to the back, a bra that I seem to remember I bought online. I vaguely remember it was the wrong size in the box, or some other mix up, thus it never got worn and this was the reason it got shoved to the back of the drawer. Ah ha! thinks I, that might fit!! Well I got into it, that much is true, and boldly headed out the door (wearing more than a bra, of course).

Blimey, how wrong can you be?! It didn’t fit. It didn’t give anything like the support it should. Felt I was bouncing around all over the place. If you’ve never experienced the sensation, then you are lucky – it is not  sensation one would want to experience more than once. It also messed with my head. I became very self conscious and convinced that everyone passing could see how much I was moving – when usually I couldn’t give a stuff what people think about me and what I look like while running. I run for me, not for anyone else and if the sight of my lardy arse in lycra upsets their aesthetic sensibilities well they really need to get over themselves. The things about boob bounce is that you’re always tempted to try and use your hands or arms to minimise the movement. Arms underneath and the down stroke is minimised. Hands holding them down and the upstroke is restricted. Thing is, I pay a bra to do that job, I don’t expect to have to do it myself. Which ever option you go for  you feel like an idiot. It also feels really unnatural to be restrained like that. I usually run with some (probably excessive) shoulder roll and arm movement;trying to hang onto the boobage means that freedom to move is inhibited, which makes the entire act of running feel less comfortable.

So, bearing all that in mind, a shortened outing of just a smidge over 30 minutes is really admirable. I didn’t make it to the usual turn around point, but after 4 running segments and 15 minutes out I had simply had enough of that and turned round to go home. I did at least run the right pattern all the way, but that has to be one of the least enjoyable outings I’ve had. Which is a shame as it was such a nice afternoon that I’m sure I could have wittered on for ages about blue skies and fluffy white clouds. But it does inform what I’m up to at the weekend, I will mostly be putting my fundamentals in order with some bra shopping. Wish me luck…

Every triangle has three sides

And this post has three runs. This week started on a high after the performance at Silverstone. Still buzzing about it, and there will be a follow-up post with pictures and additional superfluous detail. Proudly displayed my medal to anyone who showed even a flicker of interest, and even those who didn’t.

But back to this week and the running. Monday I actually went out for a short pootle. I could feel the after effects of Sunday’s exertions, lightly in both thighs, but quite noticeably somewhere deep in the bottom of my bum. Several times found myself absent-mindedly massaging that area while stood talking to someone. oops. Work pattens this week meant I didn’t think I’d manage to get out Tuesday, so Monday it was. Just the standard 3.5 mile loop with Janet. The legs got going OK, with not too many complaints – the bum being the most vocal part. As we got back towards work, she did ask if I was going to continue, but the calves had said that enough was enough. Before an early night I did spend quite some time stretching out all the aches, and felt better for it.

Wednesday I was later home than anticipated – I’d had a call from my local running shop (LRS) that my new bra was in. It’s a Shock Absorber Run bra – could they have though of a less attractive name?! They are the most difficult items of clothing to get into – it’s quite some contortion required. But, once in, they hold on to all the bits that might bounce. They’re certainly effective – and I imagine if my car’s shock absorbers ever fail I could simply replace it with one of these! That makes just about the complete kit set for the marathon, and I’ll be wearing it for long runs, just to make sure it’s all comfortable. Being later home meant I only had about an hour’s light, so I switched the week about and did the 5 mile tempo on Wednesday. That went well. Headed out at a good pace, but at the change of pace went too fast – turned round having run over a mile a 9:30 pace! Wow!! That’s pretty fast for me, and proved to be unsustainable. Slowed on the return leg, but still managed sub 10 pace for the 3 miles.

That meant Thursday was midweek long run. 11 miles on the plan, my longest midweek run. Set off and kept below 12:00 for almost the entire run, including the slightly boggy bits round the lake. Ended up having to double back for the very last section in order to find the extra 0.5 mile, otherwise I’d have got to the end of the road, and my usual finish point, too early. Pleased with that, as it felt quite relaxed the whole way. It was getting dark as I got back, by which time I was quite pleased I’d headed out with a long sleeve top, once the sun went down, the temperature dropped and the wind got up.

Facts & Figures: (Mon/Wed/Thurs)
Distance – 3.57/5.4/11.1 miles
Time – 40:58/56:57/ 2:09:36
Average pace – 11:29/10:33/ 11:40

If all goes to plan, there’s just the small matter of a 20 mile race between me and my first 40 mile week. Plan will be to go out for the first 5 easy and then pick up to MP for the remainder. It’s all about practising the race day routine, pacing with that many people around, fueling and taking on water in a race scenario – even if it’s not really an out-and-out race. Guaranteed PB , which will be another one to add to the collection!

So, to finish the week, I’ve had a lovely relaxing Saturday morning, food shopping, hair cut and a cup of coffee with a slice of cake. My hair looks great, sharp at the ends, well finished and lovely. And with a 20 mile race tomorrow guess how long that’s going to last?!

Dull, dull, dullity, dull

And that would be my opinion of running on a treadmill – I entirely see why the vernacular has them as dreadmills.

What with weather and being a bit of a wuss, I decided not to try and run outside. Club run Tuesday was cancelled due to ice, and I wimped out on Wednesday’s run for similar reasons. The roads are clear enough, but the pavements are still treacherous – and knowing my luck I’d go arse over tit & break something vital.

So Thursday morning, before work, I headed to the gym and put in an hour on the treadie. Physically it was Ok, if a bit warmer than running outside! But it isn’t the same – the side bars are quite restrictive and the sensation under your feet is different too. Not sure how, but it is. Visually it’s not much fun either. There were TV screens, but I found it quite hard to look in one direction the whole time – leading me to believe that I run gazing about the countryside!

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 5.12
Time – 1:00:04
Average pace – 11:43 min/miles

Result, 5 miles more done than would otherwise be the case and one brain that turned slowly to cream cheese! I hope I don’t have to do that again, but fear I may well be back if the weather continues thus.

If the shoe fits

Beautiful, pristine shoes (on the kitchen worktop)

It wasn’t until I was browsing some photos looking for something to head this blog with that I realised quite how old my current shoes are. Mizuno wave riders for the interested. They certainly don’t look like this any more!

There’s a general rule of thumb that you should change shoes after ~ 500 miles. Obviously, this is only a guideline, but it’s as well to keep a rough track of the miles done in a pair.

Showing some wear and tear and relegated to the doormat.

Having realised that my current shoes are no longer pristine (understatement) I wondered if that might be a contributing factor in my recent ankle issues. These lovely purple trimmed ones, with mega-long purple laces, are nearly a year old. Taking my usual weekly mileage as 15 to 20 miles, this means these must have at least  700 miles in them. hmm. Well that is obviously a reason to go shopping. Only slight issue is the way the shoe manufacturers seem intent on introducing a new shoe each season. Not content with just changing the colour, they seem to want to tweak the shoes’ design, shape or construction. It’s always presented as an improvement, but when you’ve found a pair that you like, you want the same again, not some version of them. So it is with a little trepidation that I set off for a new pair of shoes.

Startlingly white shoes!

But, after running on a treadmill for the first time EVER and having my feet videoed and my gait analysed (courtesy of TriSportplus in Huntingdon) I’m now the proud owner of a shiny new pair. Wave Riders again, on the “if it ain’t broke…” principle. 14s this time. They’re incredibly white and bright and I’m tempted to find a muddy puddle to dunk them in, just to tone them down a bit! They feel incredibly cushioned, which only goes to show quite how worn the previous ones were. Might need to find some pink laces for them though…