Free tennis

Sunday morning was a laid-back, easy morning.  It was nice waking up at a regular time and the weather being cool enough to allow me to get my run in over lunchtime.  10k was my ‘long’ run on Sunday to top off a nice easy 20 mile week following the ultra the weekend before.

I ran the first three miles easy, in heart rate Zone 2.  Stepped it up to heart rate Zone 3 for the next three and then had a little sprint finish at sub 8mm pace for the nubbin at the end before jogging a cool down and returning home feeling good!

After grabbing a quick shower and some lunch, Dan and I headed to our friend Vicki’s house where we met her and her husband Alex to go play some tennis.  I spotted a little while back that over the Summer there are several free tennis sessions going on across the region.  Vicki and Alex did join us for a little while at Peterborough parkruns in the build up to their wedding in April, but tennis is much more their thing, so we collected rackets and made our way over to the courts.

Vicki, Alex, Dan and I at tennisWe thought it best that the tennis stopped after each couple had won a set, rather than let it get too competitive and we all decided that more tennis needed to be played this Summer.

Juneathon – turns out I’m rubbish at blogging every day.  I just don’t have the time, but I did anticipate that.  My 10,000 steps a day goal equates to 70,000 steps a week.

June stepsI missed out on my target ever so slightly last week by 1,000 steps across the week which was rather annoying!  But, I did cut back on my running last week following the ultra and then obviously just didn’t pick up as much walking as I should have done to balance it out again.  I smashed my target the week before.

A short post today, just checking in, but I shall be posting a couple of longer ones this week with my training plan for the Grim Reaper 70 and how I might need to change my nutrition strategies following a trip to the dentist yesterday… :S

Have you ever played much tennis?
What active days out do you plan with friends?

Pub run, 3 observations and a parkrun tourist

So, in the order of my title…

Pub run.
On Thursday night I had planned to run out for 6-7 miles with the club but after a phone call asking for yet more details about our house for the sale (details we have already specified at least three times!), and a traffic jam meaning that Dan had been driving in the hot weather for well over two hours, he wasn’t feeling too jolly, so I cheered him up by suggesting a run to the new pub that has recently opened in the next village to us.  We got our running gear on, packed a £10 note int0 our pockets and took an easy 5k jaunt off-road until we reached the beer garden where we sat back and enjoyed our well-earned pints!  Having not yet had any tea we decided it was probably best to walk the return journey.  I’m not sure a 5k run in the heat, followed by a sit down in the sun and filling my belly with alcohol was the best recipe for a return run home!

Three observations.
The week before half term HMI were in school to observe how the school was getting on.  One of my lessons was observed, although only through the panel in the door looking into the room (bizarrely?!)  Then, the first week back after half term as part of a departmental review I was observed once more.  This time teaching a year 8 lesson where I was graded as ‘good with outstanding features’.  The lesson had gone really well so I was happy with the result.  I hadn’t made any special arrangements for the lesson, it was purely what I would have taught to that class anyway so I feel happy that a good with outstanding is what I am capable of delivering day to day.
On Monday just gone I was observed for a third time.  This time it was my appraisal observation.  Once more I was graded as good with outstanding features.  This obviously called for a celebration.  Some people may celebrate with cake, or wine.  I celebrated by booking in to the Grim Reaper 70m.  Yep, that’s right, – I’m back for take two this July.  Watch this space!!!

Grim Reaper 70 entry

A parkrun tourist.
This morning Dan and I headed over to test out the Corby parkrun route.  All parkruns are about 30 minutes away from where we live, but as the other runners from my club tend to head to Northampton, that has been where we have headed in the past.  This morning Dan and I fancied a change.  Northampton is great – a fast, flat course, but insanely busy and often with more than 300 runners showing up.  Time for a change.

I’d heard good things about Corby parkrun.  Primarily that it was offroad and a little hilly.  My favourite combination!Corby parkrun touristThe weather was a little wet, but still warm.  Somehow the rain was very cold though, so when we arrived super early at the start, Dan and I sheltered under the pavillion until it was time to head to the start line.  We were given a good run down of the course in the briefing.  The run began in the middle of the park and the parkrun was to be two and a half laps before finishing just 200m from the start line.  Runners didn’t seem to be closing in at the start and so I wished Dan luck and pushed forward to nearer the front of the queue of runners.  There were less than 100 runners there in total (91).

I shot off when the run started, gaining a few places immediately.  Unlike Northampton I didn’t have to fight for a place on the path.  I ran single file the entire way (unless I was overtaking).  My heart rate jumped straight up and was in the 190s.  I had aimed to run a steady 165-170bpm race, not knowing the course or quite what to expect.  I knocked my pace back a bit and let a few runners overtake me until it settled into a rhythm again.

Mile 1: 8:33

Once we reached the top of the field we circled to the left and ran along a path which had several roots growing through with tarmac broken in several places.  Some runners ran on the grass, but the grass was wet and freshly cut so I decided to stick to the paths where possible throughout the course – especially during the turns.  As we reached the bottom of the park I can remember thinking ‘fairly easy, just two more laps to go!’  We were directed to the right of some trees and into an open field.  I passed a couple of runners here and as we reached the end, looked up to see a sharp climb onto the pavement above us.  ‘Ah, so that’s why it’s classed as hilly!’  I used my arms to power me up.  Then we turned into some woods and climbed another, only slightly less hilly, climb before heading back out onto the grass.  Those hills were well concealed from the start!  Then through another section of trees and along a lovely short downhill where I let my legs pick up the speed and carry me both times I came through.  Back past the top end of the course and along the broken pavement once more.

Mile 2: 9:14

As I reached the bottom of the field for the second time I heard the front runner coming up behind me, turning off through the middle of the park just before he reached me.  I shouted out ‘Well done’ from the sidelines as I continued on my last lap.

There was a young child infront of me.  About 7-8 years old.  He ran a great race, pushing on as we reached the bottom of the field once more to collect some water before finding his place in the pack again.  I overtook him before ploughing up the steep hill for the second time and didn’t see him again until I cheered him on through the finish.

Mile 3: 9:02

My watch beeped at three miles with what looked like a fair way still to go but I decided to push it from the beep, other than the tight turn on the wet grass to head towards the finish.  I was breathing hard, but still feeling comfortable.  I think I’m getting the hang of this pacing malarkey now!  As soon as I finished, I grabbed my token before ducking out of the funnel to head back and cheer Dan through the finish.

Nubbin (0.19m): 7:44 pace

Dan was actually not long after me and he put in a fabulous sprint finish to cross the line in 29:33.  I’d finished not long before in 28:17.  Position: 56/91.  Gender position: 7/29.  Category position: 1/4.  First in my age category!  :)

As we got our barcodes scanned we could collect a funsized chocolate.  I went for the mars bar.

Mars bar at parkrunAfter parkrun, Dan and I both showered and changed before heading out to the cinema for Jurassic World.  I’m rubbish at reviewing films  without giving anything away, but I thought it was very good.  Definitely worth a watch.  Loved that there were several references made to the original film as well.

Now, I sit binge-watching Orange is the New Black with Dan and madly refreshing the South Downs Way 100 tracker page, as two of our guys from club are running.

How are you spending your Saturday evening?
Have you been a parkrun tourist before?

5 reasons I hate running in the heat

Tonight was an incredibly tough run.  I headed out with Group 4 at club with the aim of a nice easy out and back seven mile trail run.  Beforehand I’d spoken to Laura, whose turn it was to take the group and she had confirmed that we would be doing a mile run down to the river, then twenty minutes out at our own pace, turn and twenty minutes back along the river before regrouping and returning to our cars.  Running at our own speed sounded good to me with the ultra coming up this Sunday.

The heat tonight was very unexpected though.  I was sweating whilst stood inside the relatively cool building waiting for the run to begin so I didn’t hold out high hopes for an ‘easy’ run after that!

I hate running when it’s hot because…

…#1…I sweat like a pig.Post trail run fluffy hair

My t-shirt was absolutely dripping after tonight’s run and I’m prone to losing a lot of salt in my sweat – always a worry.  I’ve posted the picture of my blue-turned-white-through-sweat shorts on here numerous times to highlight how disgustingly sweaty I can get!  😛  The worst is when sweat starts dripping into your eyes and they begin to sting.  You know you’re working hard so will be reaping the benefits later, but covered in sweat and with blood-shot eyes you do have to question your sanity a little!

…#2…I no longer fancy food.  You know that feeling when it is super hot and you really are not feeling chocolate because all it does is stick to the roof of your mouth in the heat and you can’t swallow it down?  Well, imagine that with ALL the foods.  Not fun, especially when most of the training I do during the summer is long runs, where I need to be taking food on board all the way round a course.

Shires and Spires eating Calippos!(Despite the heat helping me to not fancy food, there is always room for an ice lolly at mile 20 of an ultra!)

…#3…I get the weirdest tan lines.

Burnt legsThis particular stripe came after Milton Keynes Marathon in 2013.  It was ridiculously hot that year and I hadn’t applied sun cream to the back of my legs.  You can vaguely see the line halfway down my calves where I had already worn 3/4 lengths a couple of times that season, and a few weeks later I wore some shorter shorts, adding an extra stripe to my already-zebrafied legs!

…#4…You pass lots of people sat outside enjoying a pint and a tasty meal in a beer garden.
Why can’t that be me?…!  There’s something satisfying about ordering a nice cold cider after a run, but it never feels as satisfying when you are sat there drinking it as when you’re feeling slobby and are dressed up to enjoy an evening at the pub.  I tend to stick to my post-run Malteser Krushems instead!

KFC Malteser Krushem

…#5…The flies are everywhere!
I can just about cope with them making their way into my mouth.  (I never realised I ran with my mouth open quite so much of the time though?!)  It’s when they start heading for my eyes that it stresses me out.  The majority of tonight’s run was fly-free, despite our run taking place alongside the river, but we did hit one patch which contained large swarms of flies.  I’ve taken to squinting my eyes now and hoping they don’t make their way in.  As a contact-wearer, a fly-in-the-eye ends up as a huge drama for me when the fly manages to work it’s way underneath my contact.  Seriously, how does this even happen?!  I once ran the 40 minutes it took to get home with a large black object blocking most of the view from my right eye!

I am looking forward to spending some of my non-running time out in the sun this Summer, but when I want to run I’d like the weather to be just a little cooler pretty please?…

Are you a sun-lover or a I’d-just-like-it-a-little-cooler-please person like me?

A 10,000 step target and Strava woes

I’m aiming to participate in Juneathon again this year.Juneathon participant logoWhat is Juneathon?  The aim is to run every day (or take part in some other form of exercise), blog about it every day (or tweet about it) and last it out for the full thirty days (one less day than is required for Janathon!).

The exercising every day is the easy part, but having a chance to blog about it isn’t, so that will be my downfall.  I’d like to think I can get a few more blog posts up each week than I have been lately though but things are still busy at work, and hopefully will also  soon be busy with our housemove.

I won’t be running every day throughout June.  Probably five times a week and then using the other two days to either concentrate on some strength work or head out on a walk.  I would like to ensure I cover 10,000 steps a day, every day, for the rest of June though.

When I got my Garmin Vivofit last October, it was fun watching the number of target steps increase daily.  (The device works out a target for you based on the number of steps you completed the previous day; increasing the amount if you reached your target for the previous day)  Whenever I schedule in a rest day though, the 25,000 steps that would suddenly have become my target would be absolutely impossible!  Therefore, I’ve fixed my target steps to 10,000 – the number of steps the average person in the UK is encouraged to take each day by their doctor to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Working in a fairly sedentary job, with long working hours, on non-run days I really do need to make an effort to hit this target.

Yesterday, for my Juneathon effort I grabbed Dan and we headed out on an easy 5k trail run just outside of town.  We were literally fighting the wind the whole way round though.  Why does the wind always seem to follow you on a run?!
Today I went out on my own – planning on an easy 5 mile trail run.  I received a call part-way through the run which lasted for 25 minutes.  I had been really enjoying my run before the call!  The weather had cooled off a lot and I hadn’t run on my own in a long while.  I’m not a fan of running on my own all of the time, but I do like to head out alone at least once a week for some ‘me-time’.

Unfortunately, my Strava hasn’t been recording my runs correctly for a while.  Often it cuts runs short – sometimes by several miles!  My mile splits end up all out of sync as well.  For example, these are my splits as recorded by Strava from tonight’s five mile run…5 mile run split on Strava

I don’t remember running a 3:58 mile tonight…!  Unfortunately, often Strava seems to get confused when I walk or negotiate obstacles such as gates whilst out on a run.  This then results in my messed up stats – either making me look super speedy, or like I barely run any miles at all.  I decided to email Strava and suss out what was going on…


Hi there,
I run with a Garmin Fenix and have been uploading my runs to Garmin Connect for several years. Towards the end of 2014 several of my friends recommended Strava to me so I signed up and set up my Strava account to automatically pull data from Garmin Connect.
It is transferring the data directly across from Garmin Connect so I am unsure how the data can be so different. Please can you explain what I need to do to correct this!
(I have attached an image to illustrate the differences. The image is from a recent coastal trail marathon which I most definitely did not run at 9:32mm.  As shown in the top of the image, Garmin recorded it as being 14:51mm pace.  Bit of a difference!)
Many thanks,

The differences between garmin and strava


Hi Mary,

Sorry for the confusion. It looks like your device is sampling GPS data at very large intervals, which is not going to allow our algorithms to work very well when analyzing your data. Can you change the sampling rate to 1 point each second? Right now your datapoints are almost a minute apart…and a lot can happen in a minute.

Let me know if that improves the data you see.

Strava Support Team


I haven’t changed the sampling rate.  Because my watch battery is supposed to be able to last for long periods of time – up to 15 hours (it doesn’t), and I often run long runs or races, I worry that if I changed the sampling rate on my watch, my Garmin would not survive for the whole run.  It appears to record data more accurately on the Garmin Connect website so, for now, I have decided to continue letting my watch upload to Strava, but have been including a link back to my Garmin stats, just so I don’t receive any false congratulations on my 3 minute miles!  😛

How often do you head out for a run on your own?
Have you ever had any issues with your watch recording your run?