Training: Week Ten

Miles told me my weekly training updates are getting a bit ‘samey’. He described them as “Tara runs a lot. Repeat.” Sadly I KNOW THIS. What do you think it’s like for me? Ha.

I’m now, at week ten, up to the maximum training duration. From now, it’s just KEEP REPEATING that every week until mid September pretty much.

So, rather than just spout out what runs/training I have done, I’ll tell you some random facts about me and running that you may or may not know. (I’m not going to say interesting facts as I’m not sure they are…)

(However – if there is anyone interested, I just did some hills runs on Cleeve and Leckhampton mostly by myself, as well as a big bike ride with Sam this week. Around 63km running and 40km biking weekly total. See the weekly roundup video for details)

  • I hated running at school, and rejoiced when I fell in a ditch one time and cut my leg as it meant I could stop running and limp back to school (ended up with an impressive scar on my left thigh from that).
  • I only started running on April 6th 2011 when I decided I wanted to be a bit fitter (didn’t really do much exercise) and running was cheap and easy to do from home (I hate the gym).
  • That first run I ran 0.91 miles and thought I was going to die. It took me 9 mins 24 seconds and I was running at an average 10:17 mins/mile.
  • I mainly run commando (based on personal [non-intentional] research <chafing> and articles like this).
  • Titanium by Sia is my go to running song if I want to run a bit longer but my feet/legs say no – I first listened to that on the streets of Lincoln trying to get up to 8/9 miles and had to really push myself, and again at mile 12 of the Robin Hood Half Marathon when I was flagging.
  • This: 635933512416832143958127510_HowILookWhenIRun_1000x1000.png I avoid looking at myself in car/shop/house windows. But I also don’t give a fuck.
  • I once face planted the ground when running in the morning and grazed my knee/leg/arm. I then had to run home (was still 3 miles away) and sit in an all day training session with one trouser leg pulled up because my knee was oozing gooey stuff and my elbow in the air to stop it sticking to the desk (it was also oozing).
  • I once had to go take a dump behind a rock in India while on a run and hope that the leaves I found weren’t poisonous.
  • Last year I ran around London as part of a Rubiks cube taking random pictures like this: 13147835_10154059363901341_6213061818656056336_o.jpg
  • I used to use Runkeeper to track my runs but I’m now a Strava convert (on there as Tara Papworth).
  • I have ran more times hungover than I can count. And sometimes still drunk.
  • Running can count as a date. As I found out [afterwards] with The Marine. Our first runs were dates apparently.
  • I love running but still find it hard to get myself motivated sometimes.
  • I’ve never run a marathon, and don’t really have any desire to.
  • My PB for a 10km is 48:20 and for a 5km it’s 23:05.






Wadi Rum Ultra: Kit List

All of my kit I got some time before the race and made sure I tested it out multiple times on long runs and all-day events to make sure I knew how it would perform. I wouldn’t recommend leaving it until the last minute as you run the risk of having issues during your race.

You can spend as much or as little as you like – I certainly wasn’t decked out in the most advanced gear compared to other people (although I still felt like I spent a fortune!), but it worked well, I was comfortable and it all did the job. Not necessarily the most stylish or co-ordinated but I wasn’t entering a bloody fashion contest.


If you’d like to know more about any of the kit I used, feel free to contact me.


I started off with the 2016 model of Salomon S Lab Adv Skin3 12Set (link is to 2017 model) but ended up with the 2017 model as both zips to the bottom pockets ended up breaking. It can hold 12 litres of stuff in many different pockets and compartments, including 3 litres of water. One litre of which is in two squashy collapsible bottles on the front which feel nice to squidge but also make you look like you are squidging your boobs, FYI.

It’s mega lightweight and REALLY comfortable, and had handy pockets for things like snacks, keys, phone, more snacks, lip balm, more snacks. It also has a whistle which is handy given that one of the mandatory kit list items. I’ve not tried this out in anger though as I didn’t go anywhere remote enough that it wouldn’t scare small children or dogs, and I never needed to use it in the desert.



I’ve fallen in love with these Ron Hill Women’s Stride twin shorts. I bought a pair from Up and Running in Cheltenham and have been wearing them for running ever since (in between washes, obviously). I’ve found them so comfy and easy to run in. No need for extra underwear with these either, commando is the way to go. I took 3 pairs with me for the 5 day race, a bit of a luxury but as we didn’t need to carry all our things I decided it would be quite nice to have a clean(ish) pair for most of the race.

The under layer shorts are long enough to cover the bits of my thighs that touch (yep, no thigh gap here and proud of it), meaning no chafage, and the top layer of shorts look cool (in my opinion) and also feel nice to touch, although be careful of running around stroking your own bottom in public.  rh-002262_224_wmns_stride_twin_short.jpgSports Bra

I’ve always had Shock Absorber sports bras in the past, but I’m running in Brooks Juno at the moment which I’m pretty impressed with. I’ve got big knockers (running in size 32E right now) so sports bras are probably THE most important piece of kit. Trust me, big boobs + running isn’t pleasant so it’s important to get them locked down.

The Juno has got thick straps which are mega comfy and don’t dig in, and they’re adjustable velcro which means you can get a really good fit. The straps adjust from the front, so you can do this while wearing it, which is a BIG bonus. Anyone who’s had a sports bra knows the pain of adjusting straps when off, trying on, not quite right, take off, adjust again, put back on, try it again…and repeat until you are hot, flustered and fed up.

It’s a bit of a weird design in that there are clasps at the back but the whole thing has to be put on/taken off over your head, and given it’s fairly tight does mean it feels a bit like a challenge trying not to dislocate your own shoulders, however after a few times of using you get used to it and once it’s on it’s one of the most comfortable I’ve worn.

I have had boob rash since using it, but I’ve also been running in warm conditions for long periods of time. I suspect this would happen in any bra (glam side of running). By the time I did the race I knew which parts would rub (the underside of my boobs and the back under the clasp where my backpack would push on it) so I used zinc oxide tape to tape up those areas before starting and also vaseline.



I chose a couple of different t-shirts by Ron Hill; the Everyday and the Momentum. Both were equally as good but really, you can run in anything you like, just try a few out to make sure they are comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Some people wore compression tops etc – totally personal choice. Again, I took the liberty of having clean kit to put on and so also took a couple of old running t-shirts (Nike and New Balance) which were equally as comfortable.



I bought two different pairs of road trainers from Up and Running in Cheltenham to see which performed best to then buy a final pair to use in the race. I used road trainers because of the extra cushioning and the fact I can’t run in neutral trainers so always go and get my gait analysed.


Brooks Ravenna 8

These are brilliant. Trainers that you put on and they feel instantly moulded to your feet. They’ve not got loads of cushioning (well, not as much as my other pair) and so I’m using these for shorter, off road runs that don’t need my trail trainers. <shallow> I also love the retro colours too (I have the purple, black and blue ones) <shallow>

Saucony Guide 10

These are more cushioned than the Brooks and so I’m using these on my longer runs that are on harder ground. Seem OK so far. Had a bit of numb foot the first couple of times I wore them, but also have been playing around with how they’re laced up so could have been that. I’ve had Saucony’s before which have suited me well.

I ended up taking the Saucony’s – mainly because they had so much more cushioning than the Brooks. I found with the Brooks I could only run for about 2 hours maximum before my feet started to get a bit achy and sore – not so good for a multi-day ultramarathon! They performed brilliantly – I got a size bigger to allow for hot expanding feet, and the velcro for my gaiters was stitched on (by Cobblers Corner in Cheltenham) with no problems at all. In fact I’d go so far as to say they were beautifully comfortable.


I (and a lot of the other competitors) went for RaidLight desert mini gaiters, bought from the Raidlight website. Did what they said on the tin, no complaints at all. The most important thing it getting the velcro stitched onto your trainers by someone who knows what they are doing – much better than gluing as it can often come off.




I ended up using the Ladies X-Socks Marathon Socks and they were pretty great, although I’m no expert in running socks because I usually just run in what I’ve been able to get cheap as I baulk at paying £15+ for one pair of bloody socks. For this ultramarathon though I’ve figured this is one area I can’t afford to be lackadaisical.


I used one pair for each day – no blisters, no rubbing and they were extremely comfortable. I also got some Injinji liner toe socks (just in case of rubbing I could wear these as well as the X-Socks to reduce the friction so I always carried a pair with me each day in the backpack) and also some Hilly Twin Skin socks just to have a different type of sock if I needed it – but I never needed to use either.

Blister Powder

I used 2Toms Blistershield powder in my socks – I’d not heard of or used this product before the ultramarathon so I can’t actually say whether I’d have got blisters without it but I used it every day and didn’t get any blisters at all…so I’m going with the fact it’s got to have helped.



One of the mandatory items was the legionnaires hat which is a cap with the flappy thing to cover your neck. I went for the RaidLight Saharienne from the RaidLight website – the white was my preferred colour but it was out of stock so I ended up with the blue one. Not the best colour as it pretty much clashes with every colour of sports kit you can have but as I wasn’t entering a sports fashion contest I didn’t give two shits, as long as it stopped me from getting heatstroke. The flappy bit is detachable so it can also be worn as just a normal cap, which, given I didn’t have a running cap, is a bonus.



I have the Suunto Ambit 3 Sport. Disclaimer: I bought this second hand off a friend who was selling his, and this is the first sports watch I’ve owned so I have nothing to compare it to.

I’m not going to get techy, as I don’t really know about all the features yet, but I can state I absolutely love it. It’s really easy to use (once you’ve read the menu and had a play) and the heart rate strap is fab as I’m training in heart rate zones and can easily track it on runs. I like being able to see at a glance a) the time b) my heart rate c) the distance d) pace without having to get my phone out and look at an app.

Plus, you can create fun little movies of where you’ve ran and see the route, hills and distance. Bit of a quirky bonus (not sure I’d base a watch purchase just on that).

To be honest, I think any watch with a heart rate strap would do the basics of what I need, it just comes down to how much you spend, and I didn’t have loads of cash to splash.

Anti-chafe stuff

I used Bodyglide For Her anti-chafe stick. Apparently there are some slightly different ingredients in the women’s (pink) one – not sure exactly what but maybe it’s like chamois cream and more gentle if you want to put it on your delicate womanly areas. Not sure why they have to necessarily use the colour pink but hey, it still did the job.

Quite a handy size and shape to carry around as I did need to reapply on the go with all that sun, heat and sweat; there’s nothing more glamorous than standing at a checkpoint with your hand down your pants rubbing anti-chafe stuff in your bumcrack. Stopped those cheeks rubbing together and chafing though! #winning

You soon get to know in training which parts of your body chafe and rub, that’s why it’s important to train in your kit that you will use.



Note: I have bought all my own kit and haven’t been given anything, so all choices and reviews are personal choice/not influenced in any way


Training: Week Nine

Monday. Sometimes the hardest day of the week, and never more so than when a busy weekend has been had. I got up on Monday morning feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. If you’ve ever done a big physical event then you’ll know the feeling I’m on about. Devoid of energy, the body just feels like it’s trailing behind everything, and brain power feels like it’s on low power mode. Daily tasks become complicated problems to solve, and don’t ask anyone in this state to make any kind of decision. I feel this is when people end up making impulse purchases from shopping channels (why wouldn’t you want that hedgehog shaped toilet seat air freshener made from wicker and designed to sit on the toilet seat?) or poor life choices which you can’t get out of (of course it’s a good idea to commit to helping Joan at work with her village school tombola and raffle ticket selling and organising*).

So, dragging my weary ass out for a run on Monday (which is normally a rest day) because I didn’t run yesterday was pretty tough. I went in the evening after work and had to do it in stages. Eat. Get dressed. Charge watch enough to record my heart rate. Tidy up a bit. Load up rucksack. Drink some water. Go to the toilet. Drink more water. Check watch. Look at the internet. Put clothes away. Check time to see if it’s too late to go for run. Put on trainers. Eat. Put rucksack on. Put keys in pocket. Drink water. Go to the toilet. Check keys in pocket. Re-tie shoelaces. Find sunglasses. Look at the internet. Dig out headphones. Choose playlist. Look at internet. Fill water bottles. Look at time. Mentally chastise self. Step out of front door. Start watch. Run.

Tuesday brought more running, this time a cheeky 10km at lunch up and around the racecourse and back. Pretty slow and pretty ploddy this one, could definitely feel it.

Wednesday was another £2 training plan morning run of 8.5km with Elena and Dave, a beaut of a morning run and nice to have the company, especially at that time in the morning. starting to feel the legs ready for a rest day.

Only this week I didn’t get a rest day. Thursday went straight into heading up to Scotland to compete in the UK Challenge event with some work mates (well, I say workmates, I’d not actually met any of them before, so complete strangers is more of an accurate description) and it all started straight after dinner on the Thursday night. Running around Stirling like Anneka Rice in a non-lycra outfit solving puzzles and creating scrabble words. The whole weekend was a massive fitness fest with mind bending puzzles and no Mr Google to help. I’ll blog separately about it but basically it maybe wasn’t the normal training I’ve been doing (long slow runs) but it all counts as time on feet and active stuff. I’m not going to lie, it was bloody hard work.

But I met a great bunch of new people, and had an absolute blast. Gotta remember it’s all about the fun as well as the hard work. And we won an award. Not that we’re competitive but YAY. Novice team (ones who hadn’t done it before) winners.


*fictional examples only, I have never organised a tombola or raffle so don’t even ask me to

Training: Week Eight

This week’s been a blur of squeezing in runs in between packing and moving boxes. So much so that I have to look at photos to remember what I’ve actually done this week.

I had new kit to wear so that was pretty exciting. Yes, I am a kit wanker this week. Shiny new trainers, shorts, Suunto sports watch and a sports bra. Lady runners will understand the excitement of a new sports bra. When the old ones start to fall apart, it all gets a bit bouncy. The clips start to pull off and the elastic is stretched, making every run have that added level of uncertainty that any moment a boob might make a mad dash for freedom and punch you in the face.

New Ron Hill shorts which are little lycra shorts underneath a baggier top short layer. Double shorting but not according to Sue’s rules as they are both part of the same item of clothing meaning if they fall down they’re both coming down. Hopefully there will be no incidents during my runs where my shorts might end up round my ankles.

New trainers too. Two pairs. Such an indulgence! And a necessity, given all the miles I’ll be doing. Bought a pair of Brooks and a pair of Saucony, plan being that whichever seemed to be the best will be the pair I’ll buy another of to wear for the race.

Four people came and joined me on a gentle little jogette on Wednesday morning before work. Well, actually three as James fell asleep in his car waiting for us all to turn up. He did come and join us for a little bit after stalking us in his car.

Friday saw James and I head to the Malvern Hills to play. They looked fabulous on the drive up there, but sadly by the time we got to the top there were no views. Just cloud and rain. Still, not being fair weather runners we got stuck right in and had a lovely pootle about and a good old chit chat. I learnt all about an unfortunate electric fence incident, and we debated whether filling the calorie deficit from running with crap food is a good idea. After such a stressful week it was just what I needed to get outside in the fresh air and stretch my legs. The boxes could wait, the hills could not.

Saturday and Sunday took a different turn, and I swapped the running trainers for bare feet and solid ground for the river. I spent two days on the River Severn with SUP Gloucester paddle boarding, camping, river swimming, campfire cooking and more paddle boarding. A tonic that the [fictional] doctor ordered. You don’t really have much choice apart from to slow down and chill out when a) you’re powering yourself so it’s not in your best interests to go all guns blazing and b) the sun is shining, the river is lapping and the birds are singing. Hell, why would you want to speed that up?

A perfect end to the week. Splendid.

I’m raising money for NMO-UK – you can read more about why and how to get involved here, and donate here.


Wadi Rum – who I’m fundraising for

Neuromyelitis Optica. Ever heard of it? No, most people haven’t. I hadn’t, until a few years ago.

The year was 2009.

I’d just left my job at Lincolnshire Police but was looking forward to meeting up with my old team again to go to an awards ceremony in London as we’d been shortlisted for a Personnel Today award. It was for the work I’d been doing with our HR system over the year or so prior and the other main driver/advocate/pioneer alongside me was my boss Lily (known back then as Liz). We were both excited that nearly 4 years worth of stubbornness, change and hard work was finally being recognised nationally, and also outside the Police circles. Truth really be told we were probably more excited about the chance to get dressed up in frocks and heels and party on Park Lane.

About a week before the do I heard Lily had been taken unwell. No one quite knew what happened but the basics were that she’d had a bit of a turn and was in hospital. We didn’t really think too much of this, just that it was probably a virus or exhaustion (Lily was notorious for being a bit of a workaholic and had been doing A LOT at work in the months up to this) and we all thought she’d be out in a few days and able to come to the awards.

A week went by and she was still in hospital, so we had to accept that she wouldn’t be getting her frock out and joining us. We took her along in the form of a picture and proceeded to get photos in as many places as we could to be able to turn it into a photo book for her to look at later, still thinking that she’d be up and about in no time.


However, after I had got back and before the photo book was created, I got a phone call from one of my old colleagues saying I should go visit, and I should go that day if I could. Why that day, I asked?

Because she might not make it.

Holy crap, that shit just got serious. Lily was only mid-thirties. What the hell?

I went to see her in hospital, not knowing what to expect. Probably not what I got. She was perky as hell, although I suspect she was also pumped full of a lot of drugs at that point. She was talking about work (and coming back to work, the crazy workaholic) despite also telling me she couldn’t feel any of her body from below her chest. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to say, what to do or what was going on. And at that point, neither really did the doctors.

It was scary as hell for us, so I can’t even imagine what it was like for her:

There was a slow build up to me having my first NMO attack. It’s fair to say I was a workaholic and I’d gone through a very stressful time, however there were plans in place for a fresh new start, moving home and job – going home to Wales. NMO seemed to have other plans…

Months before my attack, I had severe vomiting. For no reason. I thought it was a migraine. NMO was having fun with my brain stem.

Then I had a tight chest. On and off for about six weeks. I thought it was a chest infection. NMO was having fun with my spinal chord.

Then I had dizziness. The GP thought it was labrynthitis. Yep. NMO was having fun at my expense.

Then, my journey with NMO took a dramatic turn. I had chest pains. Again. Tight chest pains. The paramedics thought it was a heart attack. NMO was playing havoc.

NMO is an autoimmune condition. So ironic. I was doing this to myself. Attacking myself. My brain stem. My spinal cord. In true workaholic style. I don’t do things by half.

What followed was a roller coaster ride from hell and six months all inclusive courtesy of the NHS. I can remember every single minute of every hour of every day in detail. The paralysis sweeping up from my toes to my chest; the sheer stubbornness as I thought I’d be ‘fine to go to my leaving do on Friday’. Nope. Move down to Cardiff on Sunday? Nope. Start my new job on Monday? Nope. ‘You can expect a weeks recovery for every day you’re paralysed. At least.’ Said one consultant. Nope, I’d be fine. I’d be back in my high heels in no time…

I had many diagnoses in the early few days and weeks. It’s stress. It’s a virus. It’s ADEM. It’s MS. It’s TM. The acronyms were endless. It’s Guillain Barr. It’s Devics. With every diagnosis (so I learnt after) my family was Googling like mad. I’m so glad I didn’t read the results. Especially for Devics. The prognosis for Devics was not good. It was very rare. It could lead to death usually within 5 years. It was nasty. ‘Devics?’ Said one friend. ‘Trust you to get a Designer Disease not flu like the rest of us…’

Anyway. It was Devics. Or as it was to become known as, NMO. Neuromyelitis Optica. It took over six weeks to diagnose which I now know is quick compared to others who have been misdiagnosed, often with MS.

NMO. There’s no cure. Yet. They don’t know what causes it. Yet. They don’t know what triggers a relapse. Yet. But it’s nasty. It is nasty. And without going into the Science Bit, it is weird knowing there’s little antibodies hurtling around ready to attack, when they fancy.

Anyway. I did make it to Cardiff. Albeit in the back of an ambulance. This journey, without a shadow of a doubt, saved my life. It took me into the hands of a neurologist who knew about NMO.

That was nearly eight years ago. I’ve spent more time than I care to count in and out of hospital; I’ve relapsed and become a thorn in the side of my lovely NMO team. All credit to the NHS. I’ve had my moneys worth.

I’ve learnt to walk again. Not very far or for very long. And with crutches. It’s a wheelchair job otherwise. I suffer from extreme fatigue. Not tiredness. Fatigue. Mental, physical and emotional. I have nerve pain, muscle pain, bone pain, pain pain and more pain on top for good measure. There’s lots more but I won’t bore you. Suffice to say day to day life is challenging; there are good days and bad – like everyone has. And I’m here, eight years on and still driving everyone nuts with my stubbornness. I’m grateful. Maybe not all the time. Most of the time. I’ve realised what’s important in life. And I couldn’t have got through this without the support of my inner circle; you know who you are. Thank you for all your love and care and patience over the years.

My goals? I had four goals when I was in hospital – to walk, to drive, to go back to work and to wear high heels. I’ve achieved them all…well, the last one is achieved in part. They are my ‘Sitting Shoes’.

So very little is known about this condition.

The science bit: Neuromyelitis Optica is a serious disabling condition affecting the nervous system particularly the optic nerves and the spinal cord . The most seriously affected persons can be paralysed in all four limbs and may lose sight in both eyes. Thankfully it still remains a relatively rare condition compared to Multiple Sclerosis but the distinction is important as it is a much more severe illness and its treatment is markedly different. A wrong diagnosis treatment can lead to serious consequences.

New treatments are on the horizon and older treatments and treatment strategies are being redefined.   But we desperately need to raise awareness of this devastating disease, better diagnostic tests and treatments during an attack and effective treatments that would prevent further episodes and hopefully a cure.

I am so glad that Lily made it through that day at the hospital. The woman who introduced me into the world of HR and let me do my own thing but always had my back if I needed some weight for an argument. Who, unknowingly to her, also taught me not to take work too seriously, and to make sure of a work life balance.

But I am so sad that on a daily basis she faces such pain. I am sad that there is no cure yet. I am sad that there are many others like her, for whom we have no idea of what they go through.

But, I also have a chance to help change this. To help fund scientific research which is shaping the way Neuromyelitis Optica is diagnosed and treated worldwide, to help provide support to sufferers or family members by raising money and awareness for the charity NMO-UK Research Foundation.

Every time I run, I am reminded that I am lucky to be able to do so. Every time I see Lily, she is still teaching me – these days on positivity, gratitude, friendship and how to bake good cakes. And that is why I am raising money for this charity by running the Wadi Rum Ultra in October.


You can donate here, and read about my training and the £2 training plan here. Get involved!



Training: Week Seven

I’ve bloody enjoyed training this week. Maybe it was the great locations I’ve ran in. Or the people I’ve ran with. Or the weather. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been as busy as shit, so the time out to do training has been a welcome respite and time to clear the head. Yep, that’s probably it. It’s been blissful.

So now, training on a weekly basis looks like this:

  • Mon – REST DAY (hallelujah!!) – maybe a swim and/or walk
  • Tues -Run for 45-60 minutes at 141-151 heart rate
  • Weds – Run for 45-90 minutes at <141 heart rate
  • Thurs – REST DAY (more hallelujah!!) – maybe a swim and/or walk or BMF
  • Fri – Run for 60-120 minutes at 141-151 heart rate & yoga
  • Sat – Bike (ENJOY!) for 2-6 hours or a long walk/hike
  • Sun – Run for 60-180 minutes at <141 heart rate

The above is the baseline. I still want to do one BMF session a week, some swimming and perhaps some hill reps (more for the variety and change in scenery than anything else). The times are to be increased at my own levels but trying not to increase more than 10% week on week, and also listening to how I’m feeling (I took this to mean if I’m fucking knackered, I can give myself permission to have a slightly easier week rather than ragging myself). Also interspersing long hikes and walks and anything that a) is fun and enjoyable and b) is time on my feet.

So a little different but more focused around heart rate after my session at Sportstest last week. Luckily I’ve also just scored a new sports watch (Suunto Ambit 3 Sport) from Beno who had his eye caught by the new Fenix 5. This is Top News for me in keeping costs down but ending up with a little computer I can chuck on my wrist which will tell me everything I need to know. I’ve only used it once so far but I am SOLD SOLD SOLD. I can see exactly what my heart rate is (which is bloody handy with this new regime) from the heart rate strap you have to wear around your chest. For those not in the know, it’s a stretchy fabric strap with a couple of electrode thingys that you have to wet and then stick around your rib cage. It has to be fairly tight to stay in the right place and accurately pick up your heart rate. First thoughts are that next (and EVERY) time I should anti-chafe stick my chest to avoid painful rubbing on a long run (yes, ouch). This is not the first time I have uttered the words “whoever said running is glamorous was lying”. Although to be honest, I’m not sure anyone has ever said that. Maybe people who don’t run. Today I  picked at a blister that I generally always seem to have on one of my toes (never hurts) to realise it was many layers deep (maybe not a blister then). Either way it was quite satisfying and is probably the start of long distance runners feet battering syndrome. Yes, so glamorous eh? Let’s hope Mike doesn’t read this blog, haha. What a lucky man.

I have realised to keep my heart rate in that 141-151 zone means I have to run at quite a slow pace, which is tricky to get back to (not saying that I was mega fast, but just that my ‘pootling’ run pace was generally faster), but quite welcomed. I walked up the hills and just generally pootled about and enjoyed the running and the scenery without feeling like I’m going to die. Which, believe me, anyone that has ever run has felt like that at least once. If they haven’t, they are LYING and should start running properly immediately.

Tuesday this week saw a forced rest day after I woke up on Monday with a bit of a twinge in my left hip. Walking across the car park at work pulled on it a bit so I figured it probably wasn’t a great idea to go running. Gave me back my evening instead which I spent flapping around at how much I have to do (in the middle of moving house) rather than actually getting on and doing anything productive.

Wednesday saw a 5.40am alarm call for a morning run with Dave D, at a pace I shall now rename ‘chit chat pace’.

Friday morning saw a few miles on the bike helping get my friend Shelley back out on a bike (she’s not been on one for years) and a 15km run up Leckhampton Hill. Refulled like a boss with a Tribe cocoa recovery shake immediately followed by smashed avo and poached eggs on toast later.

Friday evening I headed to BMF run club and we headed up Harp Hill to do various repeats and intervals and dancing around backwards. Mark has the canny ability to make us do horrible things that seem impossible but actually we’re all more than capable, we smash it and end up feeling pretty damn awesome. All the while he’s encouraging without being a shouty dick (most of the time) – a brilliant attribute. He does however have questionable taste in weekend games.

Saturday was a killer form session at BMF. I got the ‘Carl Huxley’ shakes and my legs were pretty much jelly. It’s been a while since that happened. To ease them out me and Nige did a gentle 7.5km walk on Cleeve Hill in the sunshine.

Not surprising then that on Sunday I had the DOMS from hell. Delayed onset muscle soreness. That feeling of stiff pain rendering the affected limbs useless and, in the legs, can lead to a severe case of walking-like-you’ve-shat-yourself-itis. How fun then, that I spent the whole day lugging furniture and boxes around and up and down flights of stairs. Stairs are especially fun with leg DOMS. Luckily my helper Steve also had DOMS from running the Cotswold Way relay on Saturday so we both looked equally twatty walking round B&Q. I had to bail on any kind of running and hope that the stuff I did on Friday & Saturday instead helps towards the training. 

Training: Week Six

What a week. Almost seems to have lasted more than a week for some reason. Maybe because I was away last weekend in Wales, then straight to London for 3 days and then the rest of the week is just a blur of hardly being at home. Out and about pretty much the entire time. Not complaining but it does mean life admin goes to pot, which in turn is one of the few things that stresses me out. Gah.

I did manage to kind of stick to the training plan and did 43km running and 40km cycling which isn’t too shabby. Running in London was pretty nice as I ran with my work buddy Alex twice along the water, and we felt smugger than smug that we ran while everyone was piling into the free drinks reception on the first night (let’s ignore the effects of the free bar we both piled into on the second).

On Friday I had a a fitness assessment by Dr Garry Palmer at Sportstest up in Staffordshire. I’ll write a full blog post about it shortly, but basically it measured my body fat, VO2 max, heart rate etc. and he helped create a tailored training plan based on my lifestyle, preferences, heart rate, fitness etc. I luckily got this through work – supporting running the Wadi Rum Ultra for charity. Well worth doing and now I’ve done it I’d probably spend the cash myself if doing a big event or had a specific goal (e.g. turn me into a proper athlete/make me run as fast as Usain Bolt).

It’s changed my training plan a bit by adding more longer runs at specific heart rates (will still look at splitting these as well as running all in one go) and also has added cycling in to keep the effort on the legs but to reduce the strain on my knees and hips. And keep in swimming and yoga. Garry quite quickly worked out that I do things for fun, not competing, and so was keen to keep stuff that wasn’t running for me (he also realised that I get bored quickly so need variety).

Friday and Saturday saw me and Sam go walking on Leckhampton Hill, biking in the Cotswolds, eating lollies and having a beer. Sam’s rehabbing after his hip op so it was win-win for both of us. Although I do need to be knocking the drinking on the head with my training. But beer gardens and hot weather and friends just call for a beer or two.

Sunday was a long run day, and started with a £2 training plan run with Jenna where we accidentally got caught up in the start of the Cheltenham Challenge – at one point we were leading. OK, albeit as a result of taking a slightly different route…but still. It was bloody hot and hard work, so we stopped after 10km and had a rest with the BMF guys after their session, then I did the last 9.5km on my own pootling around town. Even hotter as it had moved into the hottest part of the day, although some could argue it was good training. I spent a lot of it drinking water (and trying to figure out how much water I should be drinking) and wishing I could get out the heat, and wondering whether peeling your own skin off would mean you’d be cooler.

I’m moving house in a couple of weeks which is taking up a fair amount of my time with packing, sorting shit out and just taking up brain space. Once I’ve moved I’m hoping to be more on it with the £2 training plans and a bit more organised. It’s so ironic that an ex-Project Manager to be so scatty. Although maybe not that much of a surprise for my old boss.

Training: Week Five

Hoop-la. Lalalalalala. La-la-la. Lololola. That’s how my brain is feeling right now. Merrily singing little tunes to block everything else out.

This is not because of the training, oh no. That bit is [kind of] the easy bit. Well, apart from it taking up time, that’s all. This week I’ve just ended up with rather too much to do in the time I have available. This then results in me getting a bit overwhelmed and float around like a headless chicken not knowing what to do first and end up doing nothing.

Top tip: Don’t try and do a million things at once. Sometimes though, it’s just how things work out but CATEGORISE and PRIORITISE Paps. <sigh>

This week should have been:

  • Rest Day x 2
  • BMF x 2
  • Run 60 mins x 1
  • Run 90 mins x 1
  • 4 x 20 min pickups

The pickups are a bit of a new thing for me. I’ve done them at BMF running club but not on my own as I’m not so good at pacing or pushing myself and if left to my own devices I tend to just pootle round on a jolly little jog. However, Sian and Pie came to join me and Pie and his special watch took charge of being the pace setter. I joked that the whole reason I was inviting people to come join in my training was to do some of the work for me.

I WASN’T JOKING. I need a bit of help organising and figuring stuff out.

It’s been so good to have people join me. This ultramarathon isn’t really about me. It will be about all the people that will have helped me along the way. I can’t do this alone.

I tried to get all my running done this week before the weekend as we had our annual BMF Weekender, this year in the Brecon Beacons. I didn’t quite manage it but I got most of it done (and boy, does it feel like it’s ramping up now) but the weekender also had a hike up Pen Y Fan (with some extra ‘adventure’ miles) and some canyoning so I still got time out and about doing stuff.

Training: Week Four

Week Four. That’s a month. A MONTH HAS GONE BY. Crappity crap crap crap. Still don’t feel like I’m doing much proper ‘training’ (still sometimes less than what I used to do) and this week I’ve not been very well so I’ve not managed to do everything in the right order that I should have done. Feeling like a month has gone by and I’m not sure I feel any further forward. Apparently this is OK though (so says Mark, who I have total blind faith in).

This week should have been:

  • Rest Day x 2
  • BMF x 3
  • Run 60 mins x 1
  • Run 45 mins AM & run 45 mins PM

I got to Wednesday without actually having done anything apart from drive home from Lincolnshire, drive to and from work and feel sorry for myself being ill. Nothing active. But, I’m also sensible and figured pushing myself to go out when I’m feeling shit actually would be counter productive.

So, I ate loads of vegetables and tried to get loads of sleep, and then on Thursday I went for a walk up the hill at lunch to get some fresh air, found it made me feel better, so went to BMF that evening and did the session (or, more accurately, ‘minced about’, according to Mark).

Still feeling no better, but not feeling worse, I hit the weekend (don’t forget, Friday is part of my weekend) all guns a-blazing, with running, running and more running. And a cheeky little bike ride. So not quite all the right types of sessions according to the plan, but the same amount. I’m coining this the ‘normal person training’ – hopefully showing that anyone can give these things a go and life sometimes gets in the way.

Fave run this week: Saturday with Rachel on the trails right on her [beautiful Costwold stone cottage] doorstep in Slad. Rach is one of my oldest friends (back from secondary school, way too many years ago now) and is the person who tempted me to come live in Cheltenham (for that I will be forever grateful, as I love it so much here). Why the fave run?

  1. We get to catch up and gossip
  2. Rachel made it into a £2 training plan run and gave me £2. She was disappointed I didn’t have my tutu on though
  3. We always mainly run on trails and hills. As much as I moan about them, I am getting used to running up hills now
  4. It’s BEAUTIFUL around there
  5. We laugh
  6. It was just FUN
  7. It reminds me of being a kid, just running around in the countryside getting muddy, stung by nettles and avoiding cows
  8. I got to try out my new Salomon running backpack which is what I’ll be running the Wadi Rum Ultra in (it’s the S-Lab Adv Skin 12 litre) – impressed so far
  9. There is no way in hell we would have gone running as teenagers – so the fact we both got into it as adults and now love it and mainly spend time together running in beaut countryside makes me very happy ❤

Saturday night I decided to tackle the foam roller again after our run. I’m a bit scared of it but my sports massage person (what ARE they actually called?!) said I should be doing it at least every other day, and given I’ve becoming a super athlete (you know, I’ve started yoga and everything) I thought I need to Man the Fuck Up and get on it. Literally.

And I mean, what better way to spend a Saturday summer night? All those people posting pictures of beer & BBQs on social media; give me my prawn stir fry, glass of water and foam roller any day. Sigh. The sacrifices.*

Sunday morning saw me wake up achy at 6.30am and unable to get back to sleep (FML). I had to do 45 mins so I forced half a Tribe bar down before 7am in the hope it would give me a bit of energy. I’ve subscribed to their endurance packs (like Graze but for sports people) to have a few ready-made go to bars and recovery shakes. I’ll mainly be using them when I’m doing the longer runs but it was handy this morning when I couldn’t really face any food that early.

The run was actually pretty good, and I followed it with a big bike ride with the BMF crew. But, I just couldn’t eat enough food after my run to replace the calories lost on a run and fuel a bike ride. My legs just didn’t want to go, and I struggled with the few miles just before we stopped for lunch. Much better for the last bit after I’d eaten. I’ve cancelled my last run of the week that I was going to do tonight, I just feel a bit too shattered and am going to be sensible about it. The training plan didn’t account for a 58km bike ride in between runs so I don’t feel too guilty. Lesson learnt about food though. Must eat more.

Week four roundup video:

*Shhhh, don’t tell anyone but I’m actually quite enjoying the sacrifices and feeling healthy at the moment.