Inner Visual

Saturday @9:00 a.m 24 June 2017


Ten weeks from WVM (God it sounds like some type of war doesn't it!) and I'm still on track. The Long Runs (they deserve capital letters) are getting LONGER and the short runs are becoming more frequent and I seem to be living in Lycra these days.

Since I last blogged I have seriously upped my game training-wise and had the lovely experience of the 5 mile Bunny Run last Easter Sunday, which started and finished at the RSC. Oooh, the next run that will finish there is the marathon. Gulp.

Bunny Hopping

Firstly, I'd like to offer a massive congratulations to Jason King and Trevor Swift and all involved in the Bunny Run. It was a pleasure to run the 5 mile course dressed as a bunny, with the sun shining and everyone smiling all for a great cause – Waterford Hospice. I managed an easy 42 minutes with a comfortable pace of about 8.20 minute miles. Grr I still need to push just that teeny bit harder and afterwards I wondered if I did, maybe I'd have run a sub 40 minute 5 mile. Anyway, there's plenty of time left to do that and get to Trevor Swift and Brian Swaby standards (1st and 2nd) but it was a fantastically orchestrated event which brought runners, walkers and the families waiting around the RSC together. From burgers to bouncy castles, biscuits, Shrek and Donald Duck – the Bunny Run had it all. I even got my bunny ears on (though I got them, and the bow and tail from the hen section of Partyworld – what I didn't see that day SHOCK!!)

I'm into a new training plan thanks to Waterford AC's Brian Swaby, where, as I said, the Long Runs are really upping in mileage and I'm now out running 4 times a week rather than the 3 I had just about managed since January. Okay, it's hard. It's really bloody hard. But it will be worth it and it's only for the next ten weeks and I know I'll be so pleased that I stuck with it.

The long evenings and good weather make running such a pleasure especially on the heavy miles. From my memory of the other day, here's how my 16 mile Long Run generally fared out:

Mile 0

Aghhh just do this Karen. Hmm maybe tomorrow. But it's so sunny. Right. Gear on. Lace up runners. Tunes. Water on board – I'd recommend a water belt or Camelbak pouch for anything longer than 10 miles at this point. Energy gel – WVM are using High 5 brand this year. Tunes – music can really help through the tough miles, though don't rely on it too much, you won't be using it on Marathon Day. I probably shouldn't say this but I'm rubbish at warm-ups and should spend alot more time doing it. A few stretches and I'm out the door. I tend to focus more on warming down.

Mile 1

Off I go. I always feel a bit stupid for the first mile or two, like everyone is looking at me. Did you ever feel wobbly and it takes a good few strides to get into your groove? I've worked out my route but have stopped using MapMyRun as much especially on longer runs. I find that I'm checking it every five minutes in the hope that my mileage has doubled when of course it hasn't. It can be soo disheartening and distracting. I'm not overtly focused on minute miles, especially on longer runs, but obviously even the cheapest of sports watches will do to time yourself start to finish.

Mile 2

In a good stride, this is where I seem to run at my fastest, around the 8 minute mile which generally slows down by mile 4. Again, still debating in my head if I'm ok for a long run. It's 12.30pm, breakfast was at 10am – porridge after the Breakfast Show. I've been taking a good bit of water on since yesterday so not dehydrated, all good. Legs feel good, stomach is playing ball and my head is getting focused.

Mile 3

Ah here I'm only 2 miles in and I have 14 to go. 14 to go. 14 to go. Ughhh. Keep running.

Mile 4

Right, I'll just do a six miler today and I'll do the actual long run tomorrow. I'm tired. I think I'm hungry. I've been up since 5am for work and I'm a low thyroid person. Just keep plodding along.

Mile 5

Getting onto The Ring Road and decide to keep to my 16 mile route, as planned. Sometimes the Ring Road in Waterford is as bleak and dreary as they come, but handy for mileage and safe with the wide footpaths. You can't beat a good run on the back roads though. I treat myself to a bit of music. I've just downloaded some new tunes and INSTANTLY - boom I feel great. King by Years & Years is belting out in my headphones, I'm smiling, singing out loud and can feel the pace upping. Woo hoo I'm finally in my run. Was that a little wall I just smashed through?

Mile 6-9

I'm treading along quite nicely. I take on a few sips of water around mile 8 which is divine. Not too much, I have a tendency to stitch very easily - something that really got me on my last marathon race. My legs are feeeling quite strong, the hill work has helped massively as you'll know those killer hills on the ring road are visually so depressing and unending. I'm at a slow enough but very comfortable and steady pace. I switch off the music around 8 miles too as I know I'll need that little support again later.

Mile 10

I've decided to follow a gel strategy and play around with the best time to take energy on board. For a 26 mile marathon, I expect to take a gel at mile 10 and thereafter and a caffeine gel for the final push. The next few weeks will be spent experimenting with this on my long runs to get the timing of the gels right. They give a good 3 miles of energy boost, after which there's a fast fade.  Once you start taking them, be prepared to continue the top up (like an epidural!!) or you may crash and burn. Some gels really band at the lining of your stomach, so be sure to try out the one that works for you. as I said, they will be distributed on Marathon day but this may not be the brand for you, so you may need to bring your own. While there will also be portaloos en route on June 27th, there aren't any during training (that I know of) and not to sound like I'm addressing my 4 year old but make sure you've, ahem, emptied matter, before you set off. It can RUIN a long run and wreck your weekly training programme all because of not timing 'toileting' correctly. As a rule of thumb, I always carry some tissues on me, should I need to .......oh I'm not telling you the rest.

Mile 10-15

I didn't take another gel on this run. My knees, particularly my right knee, feels quite tight at this point, as does my right hip. To be honest, I'm really stiff and not able to lift my ankles knees too high. A plodding pace, I'm sipping water a good bit, not exhausted in the lungs but my legs are heavy. Very heavy.

Mile 16

One mile left and it's the usual route home. There's even a downward hill to look forward to. I crank up the skanger tunes again and Basshunter, Swedish House Mafia et al guide me home. Knowing there's just a mile to go, I feel safe to push hard, up my pace (a nano-second) and work on lifting my legs and hips to kill this stiffness. It seems to be working. No big sprint, no big finale, I reach the gate. I'm home. Sha-mone, I've just done 16 miles. Okay so it took around 2hrs 42mins but it's done. It's a great way to break the fear by just doing this run. My longest to date. Whoop

So I have alot more of these to do, and I'm still working on time and increasing my speed but I'm happy and comfortable and hope you might take a few pointers from my training plan. Also, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment at the start line of the Bunny Run. All of the really fast, proper running people have one thing in common. they all look the same. Well, obviously they're different, but their physique is so lithe and athletic and wispy and just........skinny. So I've been googling the difference losing a few pounds makes to your running and it's amazing. I'm 9stone 4 most days when I get up on the scales (though this does change) - wow, I was 9 stone 11 when I started this in January, I've just realised.

Anyway, I'm a big strong aul girl and have a few pounds to play with to lose that might stop that feeling that I'm pulling a big truck behind me. Oooh to be light and nimble like Keira Knightly off for a jog. Okay, so far since I had this lightbulb moment, I've lost ZERO pounds but I am considering it. Ahem. I might do a full on Paleo week (though I need the carbs for energy) and kick start the whole thing. If anyone reading this has good nutritional advice please drop me a line on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I hope I haven't turned into a 'runner bore' but I genuinely am in a happy running place and feeling excited for June. Here's a few extra little things I've learned in the last few weeks.

There should be a rule for dog walkers. Not just about poop and scooping, but about lead control. How many times have you seen a dog and its owner out walking, taking up the whole footpath with the lead draped right across the path. I'm not into hurdles MRS, reign Rover in.

I've been under a LOT of stress with extra work lately and have turned into a snarly bi***h for the last few days - shocking I know. I can honestly say that this time last year, you'd find me out in the garden on the patio at 6pm glugging a glass of wine after a hectic day, whether it was Monday, Tuesday, any old day atall. Now, I still grumble at my poor husband and nark at the kids, but I put on the runners and just RUN. Forty minutes later, I'm back in the door like a Disney Princess, all sweetness and light and singing to the mice and the birds.

I noticed by accident that my legs and thighs are looking toned. My stomach is absolutely not (must plank more) but it's the first time I can confidently say 'My name is Karen and I have big muscley thighs'. The joy.

I'm having more blood tests for my Underactive Thyroid on Thursday. I don't mean to be a medical moan, but it is so bloody hard having this horribly exhaustive condition on top of training. I hate the idea of having to take medication every day, but I'm taking 75mcg of Levothyroxine a day until I can try to nail this thing. I'm also on Vivioptal and iron and long for the day when my brain fog lifts, when I don't feel tired, when my hair stops thinning (a horrible side effect) and where my ultimate fantasty is NOT about my bed and an electric blanket.

Finally, I've learned that motivation is an amazing quality we all have, buut somtimes need to know how to tap into. I'm utterly in awe and humbled by Enda O Doherty who will be heading off on multiple marahons from Belfast to waterford with a washing machine on his back for Pieta House. I mean, what am I moaning about??? He's inspirational, a genuinely brilliant character with the heart and bravery of a lion and the thighs of a Gladiator. It's been lovely having Enda on The Big Breakfast Blaa to spread the motivation and the word of this epic journey he is undertaking.

Here’s Brian’s Plan for me for April/ May »

On that note, goodnight and happy running. 

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