I Run, Therefore I Am A Runner

As I make my slow return to running, I’ve been thinking a lot about the term ‘runner’. You see, as I’ve been away from running since the start of April, and have to very carefully ease myself back in on my still-healing ankle, I’ve been feeling like a bit of a bad runner.

And then it hit me.

If I go out and run, that makes me a runner. It doesn’t matter if I go out every day, or once a week, or even less often than that, taking part in the activity of running makes me a runner. It doesn’t matter if I run for 1 minute and then walk for 1 minute. It doesn’t matter if I run for 1 mile or 10 miles. I have never been a fast runner, even at my peak, but d’you know what? A 15 minute mile is just as far as a 7 minute mile.

I’ve never taken running overly seriously. I’ve always written my own training plans, changed things up on the fly, and if I’m being perfectly honest, last year I didn’t really train for any of the half marathons that I ran. I guess I’ve always been lucky to be able to get away with it, but things are different now. I’m finding it hard being so set back from where I was before, and feeling the pressure of my upcoming marathon, but it is just that, a setback. Setbacks are made to be overcome.

But despite all this, I’m still a runner. I don’t have to run a 10K every day to call myself a runner, I don’t have to have a precise training and nutrition plan to call myself a runner, and I don’t have to be a fast runner to call myself a runner. Anyone who gets out and runs is a runner, and that’s what counts.

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Starting Over With Fitness

During my physio session on Monday, I finally started my ‘return to running’ programme, yay! This isn’t an instant all clear for me to hit the pavement again, but its the biggest step in the right direction I’ve made since breaking my ankle back in April.

I’m excited, and also super nervous. I have less than 6 months until my first marathon, and now instead of building up from already being able to comfortably complete a half marathon, I’m now almost back to square one in that I haven’t really don’t any running since before my accident. The exception to that is a 5K fun run I did back in June (which my physio do not know about), and that was a huge shock to my little legs, so the thought of doing that 8 and a bit times over continuously is somewhat terrifying.

On top of returning to running, my fitness game has been somewhat weak of late. I’ve been having to adapt so many of my favourite workouts to not put too much pressure on my ankle, and quite honestly its just not been the same. Throw in stress eating from moving house, and the fact that now I don’t even have a gym to go to, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight recently, so its not even just getting back to my routine, I also need to shift the extra weight and get my fitness levels back to where they were.

So its time to get my butt back into gear, and first on the agenda is just getting active again. I want to start off with low impact workouts, and avoid going straight back into the sort of weights I’m used to using in the gym, so I’m going to start off with some of my favourite home workouts from YouTube – Tone It Up, Blogilates etc – as well as using Pinterest for inspiration, just to get my body back moving. I’d also love to get some swimming and cycling in for low impact cardio. Matthew and I are planning on turning our garage into a gym eventually, but as its currently jammed full of boxes and rubbish, it’ll be a bit of time before we’re able to do that, but once they’ll be no excuses to not go to ‘the gym’ in the morning!

Once I’ve got the all clear from physio, I’ve got a marathon training plan all ready to be put into action, although I’ve had to tweak it somewhat to account for the fact that I’m not able to knock out a quick 5K or 10K without much thought as I could at the start of the year. My physiotherapist will be starting me off on the anti-gravity treadmill (not quite as cool as it sounds, but a really useful bit of equipment) so I’ll get a little bit of a head start before I actually hit the roads myself.

It feels like I need to make so much progress in the next 5 and a bit months, but I’m ready to get started and push myself!

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My RunDisney Medal Collection

So I know I have been totally AWOL for the last two weeks, but moving house is insane y’all! I honestly thought I’d only be away from blogging for a few days to maybe a week but I have had NO TIME lately with sorting the house out.

But I’m back! And as today is registration day for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my existing RunDisney medal collection! I managed to get registered on Tuesday in the DVC early registration window, which I’m so happy about, and I wish everyone registering today the best of luck!

Walt Disney World races

2016 – If you’ve been following me for that long, you’ll know that I started doing RunDisney events in 2016, and every single race has been an amazing experience for me. My dad and I started off in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend , taking part in the 5K and the half marathon, which was actually our first half marathon. Back then, 5K medals were 2016 rubber ones (you get a proper metal one now), so Pluto here was our first RunDisney medal. The half marathon was one of the hardest races I have ever done because a few days before I developed a chest infection and I honestly felt like I was going to die before we’d even hit mile 4, but we did it and it was so worth it.

2017 – Running solo for the first time, I started off the year with the Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February. By this point I had the bug for challenges, so I did the Glass Slipper Challenge (10K and half marathon). The races were all Beauty and the Beast themed that year, which I was so happy about as I had already planned to run as Chip before the medal designs had been released, although the challenge medal was still glass slipper themed.

Disneyland races

2016 – The week after doing the marathon weekend in 2016, we left Florida and flew across to California to take part in the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend, and this was where we completed our first race challenge, Rebel Challenge, which was completing the 10K on the Saturday and the half marathon the next morning on the Sunday. By this point my chest infection had cleared up, and I actually set my half marathon PB on this course.

2017 – In May I did the Pixie Dust Challenge at the Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend. I saw a lot of hate on social media over these races but I had a total blast. The Disneyland 10K course is my all time favourite RunDisney course (RIP California races) and I think my favourite medal was from the 10K, although they are all so stinkin’ cute!

Coast to Coast

Both in 2016 and 2017 I earned a Coast to Coast medal for completing a half marathon* in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in the same calendar year, but in 2017 I got a bonus of the ‘pink’ Coast to Coast, which was for doing the Princess and Tinkerbell weekend in the same year. The medal was essentially the same as the normal Coast to Coast, just in a pinky colour palette instead! 2017 was also the 10 year anniversary of the Coast to Coast challenge, so the blue medal was extra special!

*to earn a Coast to Coast medal, a minimum distance of half marathon must be done in each park!

Disneyland Paris races

In 2016 I took part in both the inaugural 5K and half marathon in Disneyland Paris (there was no 10K in the first year), and then in 2017 I did the 10K and half marathon, earning the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Challenge medal! Both years I also got an additional challenge medal, the Castle to Chateau Challenge, for completing races in the US as well as Paris – the medal was the same for both years, just with a different ribbon.

Virtual Running Shorts

I only did the virtual shorts in 2016, which was the first year RunDisney did virtual races, mainly because its quite expensive to do considering you don’t get an actual event, but I loved the medals I got because they were huge!

This year has been totally RunDisney-less for me, which has been really sad, but I’m also quite happy as I’ve had so many injuries to deal with! I’m also still a little heartbroken that the California races have been cancelled until further notice, but I’m just praying they’ll return soon and I’m so excited to get back into training for the marathon next year!

Have you ever done a RunDisney event?

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Things You Need To Know About Tough Mudder

Its crazy to think that its been over two years since I took part in my first (and only, to date!) Tough Mudder event, and to say it was an experience is an absolute understatement!

I took part in a small team made up of a few people I knew from work and their friends, plus my dad, and had the craziest 12.5 miles of my entire life as I ran, waded, climbed and threw myself up, down and over the infamous obstacles that put the tough in Tough Mudder.

Its no easy feat, but its absolutely doable by anyone with determination and a bit of preparation, and if whether you’re already training, or thinking about taking on the course one day, here are a few words of wisdom for you..

Your team is much bigger than you think it is

Most people participate in the events in small groups and teams, but in reality, everyone on the course is on your side too. Total strangers will come to your aid if you need a leg up, hand over or just some moral support for anything that comes your way.

Label everything

If you want to run with a Go Pro, or a fitness tracker (only do this if its waterproof), or anything that could potentially fall off, label it. A friend of mine who regularly volunteers at the events says that after each race they scoop at least 10 Go Pros and more watches and sunglasses than you know what to do with out of the obstacles, and they do try and return them all, but that’s not easy if you can’t tell who’s from who’s.

You won’t be able to do it all alone, and that’s ok

I’m not being funny, but unless you can jump vertically 12ft in the air to get over some of the enormous obstacles in your path, you’re gonna need help every now and then, and people will be more than happy, as I’ve just said! Plus, its totally ok to fall/jump off everything!

You cannot prepare for Arctic Enema

Plunging into a container of ice water is like nothing I can describe. Its not like skinny-dipping in the English Channel on New Years Day, it will literally knock the breath from your lungs! Whenever I go out for a run in the rain, or complain about the cold I just think that I will never ever be as cold as I was in those moments.. But don’t worry, you warm up again pretty quick!

Cry Baby is not as bad as you think it will be

Crawling through an enclosure filled with what’s marketed as ‘tear gas’ is enough to fill anyone with a bit of dread – hell, I was so worried about doing this – but truth is, its actually laughing gas, and its not that far to crawl either!

But Electroshock Therapy really is

Probably the most infamous of all the torturous obstacles, and they love to save the best for last, running to the finish line through a structure with dangling electrical cables that are hooked up to car batteries is certainly an experience. Not all the cables will shock you, but when they do, oh my word.

You don’t have to do everything

All of the obstables can be bypassed, and there’s absolutely no pressure to participate, and no shame in saying no. I was prepared to skip quite a few, but I actually only missed one (which actually appeared in the course twice, so technically I did it once anyway!) which I was pretty impressed by.

It takes time

I did my event during the peak of my half marathon training, and I figured that 12.5 miles of obstacles wouldn’t take me much longer than just running the distance. Well it took us over 4 hours..

Bring a tonne of wet wipes and a big towel

After you’ve mudded up, you can wash off in a makeshift shower area, but this is outside (so unless you’re a bit of an exhibitionist, no stripping off), and the water is freezing (but warmer than Arctic Enema) and has no pressure. I showered fully dressed to get the mud off of as much as possible, then ducked into the women’s changing tent to put on as many warm clothes as I could, despite still being fairly muddy and wet, but all the veterans in there had wet wipes which seemed like a much easier way of doing things.

Enjoy the photos

I know that in many of the photos I look ridiculous, but seeing them makes me so damn proud of what I achieved. Never in a million years did I think I’d make it through that course, yet here I am, a Mud Legionnaire.

If you’re unsure about taking part, all I can say is just do it. You’ll amaze yourself.

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5 Reasons I’m Excited to Start Marathon Training

A few weeks ago I announced that in January 2019 I will be running my first ever full marathon. This announcement should have been the start of my training, but the universe had other ideas for me and I was struck with a knee injury that’s had me out ever since.

Fortunately, I gave myself over a year to train, so this little set back doesn’t bother me too much, and instead of starting now I’m just gonna rest, recover and prepare myself for taking the bull by the horns come January, and I’m actually starting to look forward to it more than I am dreading it! Here’s a few of the reasons why:

Carb loading

For the most part, I will be concentrating on eating as well as I can come the new year, but while I’m a firm believer in eating what you want and not having to justify food choices to anyone, I’m pretty excited for big bowls of pasta with the excuse of needing to carb-load.

Getting to be ‘that’ person

Marathon runners are kinda like vegans, pilots and people who do Crossfit* in that they tell as many people as they possibly can that they’re training for a marathon as if you’re the first person in the world to ever do one. I don’t care, its a huge deal for me so you’re damn right I’m gonna spread it like Love Island gossip. (this is already the second post I’ve talked about running a marathon in the space of a month, so there’s the proof)

*Dear vegans, pilots and people who Crossfit, please know that I’m making a joke and I have the utmost respect for all of you!

Running regularly again

Sometimes I feel like the most pathetic excuse for a runner because in the past year I have been the furthest thing from consistent. Sure, I’ve completed 3 half marathons and 3 10K races, but I’ll be the first to admit that I did those with practically no training and only a few intermittent 5K ParkRuns and the odd short distance run, and part of the reason for this is because I knew I could get away with not training. Well that’s not gonna be the case for this.. I’m gonna spend the next few weeks putting together a proper training schedule (which I thoroughly enjoy making) and sticking to it like an octopus on your face.

All the fun runs

I currently have no actual races planned for 2018, so I’m on the hunt for as many shorter distance races and fun runs that I can do to keep myself motivated through the coming year. A few on my list are Race for Life, Run or Dye and the Great South Run, and if you’ve got any recommendations please drop me a comment!

The satisfaction of a good run

When Dad and I started training for our first ever half marathon, there was nothing like the feeling of completing the next milestone both figuratively and literally. Back then it was 8 miles, or 10 miles or 12 miles, but now I’m looking forward to the feeling of doing my first ever 15, 20 and 25 milers.

I’m sure there’ll be a million and one reasons that I start dreading training too, but for now I’m concentrating on the positives! Wish me luck!

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26.2

Guys, I’ve got an announcement to make.

Now I’m back from WDW (waa!), its time for me to get my butt back into running, not just because I’m back from holiday but because something big is coming.

I am going to run a marathon.

Yep, yikes. I have six half marathons under my belt now from the last two years, and I set myself the goal a few years back that I would like to run a marathon before I turn 25, which will be in October 2019, so although dates have not been set and registration isn’t open yet, I will be entering the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2019.

I’m terrified. This last year I have been very relaxed with my running, and hardly trained for any of the races I’ve done, but this is double the distance and therefore a million times harder, which is why I’m giving myself over a year to train.

The distance is one thing, I mean, I’m halfway there I guess, but its the mental aspect of the marathon that’s going to take real work. Its knowing that when my GPS clocks in at the 13.1 miles that I’m used to, I then have to do the whole thing all over again. Its pushing on for hours and knowing there are still a few more hours to go.

Then comes the potential for injury. In half marathon training I faced knee problems, shin splints, and even ran a race with a stress fracture, plus all the little aches and pains that come and go. I will have to be so careful in knowing my limits and knowing when I can and can’t push further.

Basically, I’m going to be about 13.1 miles outside my comfort zone. I’ve been winging it for the last two years and have been lucky to get away with it, but now I have to be serious, do my research and be ready to push myself. Of course I’ll be documenting the good the bad and the ugly, so everyone else can get some entertainment out of me torturing myself!

Can I do it?

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RunDisney Paris 2017: Day 1

Yes it’s only been a week but once again I’m coming to you from another trip as I’m in Disneyland Paris for the RunDisney weekend!

We had an early start to get the first flight out of Southampton to Paris, which was lucky as due to strike action CDG was crazy busy and we had to wait quite some time to get through passport control! Once we were through and eventually managed to find our hire car company, we were on the road to DLP, and headed straight Hotel Cheyenne where we waited for my sister to arrive before walking into Disney Village. First stop was lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, then we went to the Health and Fitness Expo to pick up our race kit.

I had mixed feelings about the expo. I thought it flowed better this year in how it was set up, but it felt very very empty and I was really surprised at how few exhibitors they had. It just felt a little scarce, although much better for my bank balance! Dad and I picked up our challenge bibs and tshirts, and Mum and Hannah got their 10K ones, then we walked into Disney Village for a bit of window shopping before getting the bus back to the hotel so we could finally unload all our stuff into the room before heading back to the parks.

Somewhat controversially, we actually went into the Walt Disney Studios Park first of all, as it was closing early due to the 5K in the evening. Amazingly, we managed to do the Ratatouille ride with less than a half an hour wait, and also RC Racer and even Crush’s Coaster in a fraction of what I would consider the normal wait time to be. After Crush’s Coaster, the park was past its official closing time so we were guided towards the exit, so we headed over to the Disneyland Park.

Once in the park, my family stopped for ice cream while I walked around the castle hub taking photos of the 25th anniversary decs, then we went into Adventureland to do Pirates of the Caribbean, via a quick detour through Aladdin’s Enchanted Passage. I don’t think I’ve ever queued that long for Pirates, although it was probably only about 20-25mins, but after the refurb I didn’t want to miss out. We then walked the loop through Fantasyland and into Discoveryland for Buzz’s Space Ranger Spin.

Once we’d saved the universe, we took up spots for Illuminations. I had hoped that the audience would remain seated but unfortunately everyone started to stand so on our feet it was.. Honestly, I don’t think it blew me away, and I don’t think it was any better than it’s predecessor Dreams. It was an early park close of 8.30pm, so we headed towards Disney Village but as the 5K was still ongoing it was total carnage. We battled our way through the crowds to the wondrous place that is Earl of Sandwich, grabbed sandwiches and headed back to the hotel on foot.

In the morning we’ll be doing the 10K, stay tuned!