[G] is for Goodie bags

G   To tell you the truth, I was undecided on ‘G’ for a while. Gym is logically the first thing that usually pops in people’s mind when it comes to exercise or running and I thought I will go for it as it is so logical – pros and cons of running on treadmill versus running outside etc. (I definitely prefer running outside but I like the control when running on a treadmill – I just thought I might as well mention it.)

However me being me, the first thing that popped into my head when I started thinking about these daily posts, notably ‘G’ was a goodie bag. I guess I am bit materialistic. I just love them. You never know what you get. There is always bottle of water and an energy bar – which is super useful after a race, and a clean and most importantly dry t-shirt. Yes, there are lot of flyers, leaflets and samples that may not necessary be of interest but I love the surprise! The best goodie bag I received was from the London marathon (in 2012) – not only we got one after the race, we got one before as well! And it had a can of ale in it. Enough said.

What I am annoyed about is that sometimes the products are very ‘manly’. I mean, I like the smell of 24 hour deep dive deodorant but not necessary on me. If you stick a male deodorant in the bag, give something to the ladies too….or keep it unisex. Women are more and more signing up and running races – I believe they form around 40% of the runners nowadays – and we deserve to be noticed.

 

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

[F] is for Fundraising

F   Many people run in order to raise money for their chosen charity and there are even races organized purely to find much needed monetary support (and raise awareness of course). I remember times when most of the fundraising was done by knocking on people’s door so the fundraising of the digital age is making things much easier (especially for introverts like me). Facebook, twitter, blogs, emails allow you to reach wider audience and if you throw a cake sale in the office to the mix, the fundraising is not as daunting as it may seem and can be actually fun! Common on – everybody loves cake!

And while we are on the topic of fundraising, I’m not sure if I mentioned that I’m running the London marathon this year. Well, I am – in less than three weeks on Sunday 26th April, and I will be wearing a pink vest showing my support to Action for Blind People. If you would like to help, this is my fundraising page.

Yeah, that wasn’t cheeky at all 🙂

 

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[E] is for Energy

E   I’ve touched down a little bit on this in my last post – you need fuel, energy to keep you going when you train. I try to get most of the energy from what I eat and from getting decent amount of sleep. I aim to get at least eight hours of sleep when I’m training; even 30 minutes longer sleep than usual makes a big difference.

When it comes to energy on the go, everyone is little different and is good to experiment and find out what suits you best. Generally, for a run up to an hour I don’t take anything else with me but water. For longer runs of around 90-120 minutes I will mix an electrolyte drink and for anything over two hours I’ll have gels and water. I have noticed that if I run in the morning, I am quite often hungry so I’ve started carrying energy bars or jelly beans with me. Personally, I much prefer running after work or at lunch time and my long ‘morning’ Sunday runs very rarely start before 11am, unless it’s a race. Surprisingly I have no problem with getting up early for that; I did a 28km race starting at 7am last year and loved it.

If you are training for a marathon or half-marathon, find what works for you when you are out and about as realising that some gels give you stomach cramps on the race day is not something I would wish you to experience.

 

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[D] is for Diet

D   If you are trying to shed few pounds, kilos, stones or whatever other unit you measure the weight in, exercising and running is a great way to achieve your goal. However if your goal is to run a marathon, don’t cut down on your food intake too drastically. You need food to fuel you. This is of course not a free out of the jail card for overeating.

The important thing is what food to eat and what food to avoid. Healthy and fresh will always beat sugary and fried whether you are aiming for one or the other.

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

 

[C] is for Cross-training

C   To become a better runner is not only about how often or how long you run. It is important to give the ‘running’ muscles and joints a rest by doing a different aerobic activity – walking, cycling and swimming are all good alternatives.

I walk to and from work every day and try to include a session on elliptical trainer or a bike once a week as well as a dip in the pool.  Swimming is my personal favourite, I just wish it was possible for me to swim outside rather than in a pool; I do feel like a wet hamster after a while. My front crawl is rapidly improving though 🙂

 

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[B] is for Blisters

B   Blisters. They are almost inevitable. When I started running they were just a mild inconvenience as I never ran long enough for them to be a problem but as the kilometres started piling up they can turn into a real unpleasant issue.

After my first marathon, I lost four toe nails. After my second, I didn’t even get a blister.

The difference was properly fitted trainers. If you thinking about running a marathon, get an assessment in the sport shop where they will recommend the right shoes for you. Trust me, it is worth it.

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

[A] is for Athletes

A   I wanted to be many things when I was younger; being an accomplished sportsperson was never one of them. I’m now approaching 35 so I guess I’ll never become one. I’ll never be the fastest or strongest runner.  On the other hand, it is never too late to embrace your inner athlete. I found mine during my late twenties (and I mean ‘two months before turning 29’ late twenties) and ran my first 5k race when I was 29.

Since then I ran several 5k and 10k races, seven half-marathons, two marathons and completed two 100k endurance walks. And I am not finished. I am planning to run three marathons this year and hope to turn 2016 into celebration of half-marathons by running a race each month, and eventually complete a marathon on each continent. That’s my ‘things to do before you turn 40’ plan.

Not everyone can win the Olympic medal but everyone can be an athlete.

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

A to Z challenge is coming soon!

So, last year’s A to Z was quite a thing.

a/ I had no idea what I signed up to

b/ I wasn’t exactly organised so my posts were scattered and most of the time I ended up working on them last minute and sometime I was so out of wits that I cheated a little (prime example is W)

c/ But I did kind of enjoy the madness of it 🙂

 

This year, after gathering some knowledge of this challenge, I have started few weeks in advance and I am using this wonderful functionality that wordpress is offering – scheduling the posts! It took me only a year or so to learn about it. I have been using it quite heavily recently. I try to sit down and prep lots of drafts and posts in one go at least once a week (although it is more a bi-weekly process at the moment). I find it works better for me, I have time to stay ‘in the zone’ for longer, to be more productive, let the ideas brew and grow. It also works much better with my running schedule.

This brings us to the topic or the theme (I have a theme for this year! Yay!) for the April challenge. It is…surprise, surprise…running. Well, not only running – that would be rather boring, but running related A to Z snippets. I will draw from my own experience and share my opinions. I will in no way try to persuade you that my way is the best or the only one correct though and I will not go in too much details or technicalities – there are qualified professionals who know way more than me. So I will keep the posts brief and personal as there is lot of other opinions and advice out there.

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If you would like to check out some of my A to Z creations from last year, I have set up a separate page so they are easily accessible. My personal favourites are:

D – just because that is soooo me + I actually love my attempt of poetry

F – because it was so true

H – because it was so much fun to play with alphabet within A to Z challenge

J + K – because it was my mom’s 60th birthday + day after 🙂

P – because playing with words is amazing

U – because I’ve been there, I’ve done that and I’m grateful

W – because I think it was actually quite a smart safe

Z – because it was a new start

Oh, and I’m really rubbish at shortlisting.

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Pics are from my January holiday on the very windy island of Fuerteventura 🙂

I am a Hero!

I jumped on the busy train to Brighton
Gatwick airport – finally got seat
Mildly lost my way to hostel
But not too lost to hurt my feet
The bunk bed squeaked with every turn  
Scared to move, just wished for sleep
My bed fellow’s and mine ears burned
Both nervous about  - BEEP BEEP BEEP
I was up at six, pretty ready if you ask
Changed into my running gear
Mind focussed to task
Made my porridge and my tea
The morning was frosty but sunny
And the Brighton beach serene
Crowds started to gather quickly
Soon the pens resembled sardines
Ten, nine, eight and so on till start
The elite sprinted - we not so much
Four minutes when we finally crossed the start
Off we went with James, our 2hours pacers lad
First mile, damn it’s crowded - 
kept following the purple flag
Mile two and the ascend started
And didn’t finish till 4 and half
Narrow routes and elbows fights
Everyone wanted to go downhill fast
I said good bye to the pacer group
found a gap and zigzagged past
I chose my pace and stuck to it
Mile five, the gel was out
Mile six – almost half way there
Seventh came and went
I chose my pace and stuck to it
Except when the cold wind bit
My wind jacket's bound too tight
Round my waist, had to stop to clear the mess
Mile eight I felt bit bored
Water station after ninth
Sipped and sucked another gel 
Blackcurrant! What was I thinking?
Mile ten, just three too go
Mile eleven, almost home
Mile twelve when I saw the purple flag
So I sped up
Mile thirteen and my lugs now hurt
I could see the finish line
Few more steps and I’ll have my medal
Here I go - my first sub 2 half!

__

Ok, I admit I lost the ballad-y feel pretty early on and I am very much distracted and happy about my first sub two hours half marathon – that was yesterday 1:58:42 in Brighton so please forgive me 🙂

This is happy me 🙂

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Training and company

So I am now officially training for the London marathon in April. It is going well so far, I did five runs this week including a 10 miler today. It went better than expected considering I had my friend hangover along for the run. But the Bowie tribute band and few shots of tequila were worth the mild discomfort this morning.

What was most surprising about the run today was that I was not alone. The Thames path turned into runner’s highway with Battersea park being the absolute popularity winner. I am not sure why I was not expecting the runners – it is a beautiful and sunny day, most of the London marathoners have embraced the necessity to train and the new year’s resolutions are still going strong too. (But hey, I have not expected snow in Iceland in January either.) It was a nice change to have company compared to my training for Toronto where I met runners on the same route very sporadically.

Although running is an individual sport, I find that running with someone or in a group keeps me motivated. Actually just seeing other runners motivates me. It is a boost for my determination as it is not alway easy to stick to the training plan. Now my mind is set on discipline, my body will eventually catch up to my pre-Toronto level of fitness, the only thing now remains is to stop snoozing and/or turning off the alarm on Saturdays and get up to join the park runs again.

Total milage for this week: 26 miles / 42 km

Parkrun UK