When your running Mojo goes missing in action

Layout 1Dude, Where’s my Mojo?

The fear of any runner is that of the missing Mojo. Put bluntly, it’s when you seriously can’t be arsed to get your runners on and get out there to pound the pavements. The errant Mojo is even more worrying when it decides to up and leave, slap bang in the middle of Marathon training.

That was me, at the start of this month, three quarters of the way into a training plan for the TCS Amsterdam Marathon. So close to quitting, I had to really dig deep to get those miles in and slowly the Mojo returned…

I thought I’d share a few tips in case your running Mojo has decided to hibernate along with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s…

Mojo Motivator 1: Ditch the plan (well temporarily at least).

If you have been slave to a training plan for a forth coming event and are simply not feeling it anymore, then have a little plan break.

If the plan says hills, but you don’t fancy running hill sprints? Then don’t do it. Take yourself off for a gentle run with no gadgets – just run for running’s sake. Try a new route and take the pressure off yourself by not timing your pace or distance. You’ll feel free and less stressed about your running performance.

windsor2Run with friends. Take Selfies!

Mojo Motivator 2: Safety in numbers.

Over the summer holidays it was really hard to co-ordinate diaries with friends to be able to buddy up for a run. This left me feeling really down as motivating myself four times a week to run solo felt like a massive chore. Forward wind a few weeks, the kids now back in school, I was able to pick up again with running friends so we could motivate each other and push ourselves much harder than we had been doing on solo runs.

Luckily I work from home, so I am able to be flexible with my running times, but if not, perhaps start a social lunchtime running group or after work session with colleagues. Or get online – Twitter is a great place to chat to other like-minded runners. Try #UKRUNCHAT – a brilliant support group for runners of all abilities. Follow me on Twitter @mumonrunz

FullSizeRenderRunners are like magpies – we like a bit of bling. Ooh shiny!

Mojo Motivator 3: Race.

On my training plan for Amsterdam, there was a huge absence of ‘racing’ factored in, as my running leader feels strongly that this can compromise performance at the main event. The theory being that you can over-work yourself and not give yourself enough time to rest between interim races (and even Park Runs – free times 5k events) and therefore you will not be as fresh at the event you are ultimately training for, (plus youalso risk injuries from over racing). I get the logic, but it’s not really that much fun to deny yourself a Park Run or little bit of mid-training ‘bling’.

I found not doing Park Run and running events as often really anti-social, plus I also believe it made me feel much more mojo-less about my running. Training over the summer in hot temperatures had me doubting my fitness levels (as my pace seemed much slower), so I decided to enter the Maidenhead Half Marathon at the start of September and it really gave me a boost. It was the first event I had done for a few months and I loved it.

On the day it wasn’t a PB for me, but I was really happy with 2:08 as I felt that my pace was really consistent throughout the 13.1 miles – and there was even enough left in the tank for a sprint finish. Most importantly I got that buzz again – plus the desire to run and challenge myself returned. Seeing others out there on the course who were slower, faster, older and younger really motivated me and I felt part of the running community that I had been missing through my solo efforts.

So if your training has taken a blip, pop along to Park Run or enter an event and get that feel good factor again. Just don’t over-do it and remember to focus on the fun-factor and the ultimate ‘goal’ event you entered in the first place, and not attempt to PB at every event.

Mojo Motivator 4: Buy new kit.

Ok so this is a bit of a daft one. There is actually no scientific reason why buying new kit increases Mojo-powers. But it works for me! New, shiny running tops and trainers seem to scream ‘take me for a run now’ as soon as I leave the shop. I’m always itching to try it out and give new running togs an outing. Call it a novelty, but a new piece of kit always has me planning a training route!

 Amsterdam-Marathon-2010-005_0.jpgThis will be a sight for sore eyes – and legs! The FINISH LINE!!!

Mojo Motivator 5: Remember why you are doing this.

You might be a seasoned runner after a PB or a novice running for a charity – we all have our own reasons for embarking on a training plan. Just remember we will all have days when we want to give up and throw our trainers in the wheelie bin! However, these are the days to look back on how far you have come as a runner and give yourself a high-five for the effort you have already put in. Fortunately, my running Mojo reappeared in the nick of time and I have been able to put in some solid training before the marathon taper period (which I am just starting).

Who knows what will happen out in Amsterdam. I might not get the PB I want, but I will be really proud of myself for getting as far as I have this time around. I’ll be proud of all the early mornings I have dragged myself out of bed on weekends for gruesome 20 milers, all the glasses of wine I have turned down and the aches and pains I have endured in the name of running. I really underestimated the difference of marathon training over the Summer compared to Winter training and have felt it much more of a slog.

I keep saying this is my last full marathon, (it’s my third in total, but second this year), but who knows…. Hopefully my Mojo is here to stay!

Happy running.

 

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For fun on the doorstep, think local.

Race report: Prestwood 10K 

 

Local races often get over looked. They can be smaller, with less impressive bling than some of the big ticket events – and with less participants, there is always the worry that you could come last, (well for me anyway – I still worry about being dead last!)

For the past 13 years Prestwood village (in the Chilterns) has been host to the Chiltern MS Society Prestwood 10K which brings together a community of club runners, beginners and most recently, children’s races. The route is pretty easy – taking in country lanes and residential roads with a couple of inclines in the first half. It’s a route tried and tested by me as I often use it in training. Over the past seven years since we moved here, I’ve probably done the event a handful of times and always enjoy seeing local friends and neighbours along the route and cheering outside their houses. This year I also met up with new running friends Steve and Pete from UKRUNCHAT who live locally too!

Yesterday, I joined the start line with a bit of a sore head!  Not the best plan. We’d had friends up for the weekend, so the inevitable BBQ and sunshine drinks ensued. For morale support (and to stop me from wimping out) my friend Chaz decided to run with me, (I think he was suffering too and wasn’t in the mood to try a PB). I set out to run it under an hour and be back in time to see my son race with the 10 year olds. It was quite tempting half way to just pop home – since we passed my house!

It was great having my own personal pacer – as if I naturally slowed down, Chaz was always there to remind me to pick my knees up or ‘man up’! As I was feeling under-par, I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself at all. So with a bit of encouragement from Chaz (who barely broke a sweat), we got home in 58:39 (official Gun time). Quite possibly a ‘course recor for me – as I seem to remember previous attempts at this 10K just scraping in under an hour with a few seconds to spare. However, yesterday was not about the PB or the medal, I was just pleased to be participating in something so local, as well as encourage familiar faces and congratulating friends.

Local races need the support just as much as larger races. Often there is a running club or local charity organising the event, making it more pressing to raise funds or improve facilities. It’s a great way of making new friends too, or find running buddies.

A village or town event also sets a great example to children to watch their mums, dads, aunties or teachers running in a local event. Three years ago, the organisers of the Prestwood 10K decided to introduce children’s races for age five and upwards, which were popular yesterday with many local school children taking part – although perhaps not as many as there could have been.

Two of my sons ran – one only aged three, but insisting he wanted to ‘run like Mummy’ – and made us very proud wearing their race bibs and collecting their fun run medals at the end.  I hope that I have passed on the attitude of ‘it’s good to try’ through my own running journey. I’ll never be an amazing runner, but that’s not the point of it. Having a go and enjoying yourself is just as important, if not more so, than winning. It’s all about just getting out there and having a go whether it takes 30 odd minutes to do a 10K or 2 hours – having something so motivating on the doorstep is a great opportunity to try running events. And yes, you may come last. In all my worry I never have – and even if you do – who actually cares!? They always get the biggest cheer anyway 🙂

Have a look on Runners World for your local events – you might meet new people and discover new running routes! Or if you know of any good smaller events please comment below.

Happy Running!

Marathon Number 1 – The ‘Big’One

Race report: Virgin London Marathon 2015

So this time last year I was literally in knots. I was so incredibly nervous as I was about to embark on my first EVER marathon – the big one – the Virgin London Marathon 2015. I’d had a lot of positive encouragement from family and friends and the brilliant people on @ukrunchat, but I also had a few ‘Negative Nora’s’ around me. With questions like: “What if you don’t finish?”, “You might Hit the Wall” “Your knees will never be the same“.  Great just what I needed, more seeds of doubt.

iphone pics feb 307.JPG
Winter training at its best!

 

Training had gone well -I had reached a target of 22 miles in my final long run, averaging 10.30 minute miles – which I hoped would be enough to bring me in around 4hrs 30 minutes. I hadn’t picked up any injuries, had loaded up on the carbs and felt in good shape as I made my way to Greenwich Park on Sunday 26 April 2015.

What they don’t tell you is the walk to the start is a warm up in itself – approximately 30 minutes walk from the train station, through the town and up a hill to the park. However when we got to start area the excitement was audible with the big screen showing the elites already in action, pacing through the course.

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Ready for the off with a couple of training buddies.

The Virgin London Marathon is a very slick operation. Bag drops, loos and starting pens are all well organised and effortless. I was able to meet with some friends for a quick photo, before we headed into our starting pens. As I was running for Tommy’s, I had quite a few chats with fellow ‘team mates’ in the starting area and ended up running with a girl called Laurel for three-quarters of the run, which was great as it calmed both of our nerves.

So how was it? The London Marathon is everything you could expect from the most famous marathon in the world. The route was busy, colourful and full of support all the way around. The charity runners in costumes really made the event – from a running Mona Lisa painting to Superman. There certainly were a lot of people with imagination and guts taking part. It made me wonder what I was worrying about in my tried and tested, moisture-wicking, kit! Must have been a doddle by comparison.

The biggest highlight for me was running over Tower Bridge. This marks the half way mark of the race and is such a breath-taking sight seeing thousands of runners bobbing along. It’s also one of the most iconic landmarks on the route and a welcome sight after passing through many unfamiliar London towns like Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.

 

I received a real hero’s cheer from the Tommy’s cheer squad just after the bridge. Their support throughout had been phenomenal. I was very proud to have run for them and  raised in excess of £3,000 through donations and little events in the lead up to the marathon.

By mile 17 I had lost Laurel, her knee had given up, so we said our good lucks and good byes and I headed off running for the first time ‘by myself’. I saw my Mum and Dad shortly after, which was amazing. Although I could see my Dad was really confused and was looking in the wrong direction (senior moment), so was not convinced he had seen me at all! I next saw one of my best friends and seasoned marathon runner, Kirstie (PB 3.15 ish) who gave me such an almighty cheer that I leapt out of my skin!

The rest of the run was a blur of the Embankment – where the crowd was literally roaring – up to Birdcage Walk and finally the sight of Buckingham Palace in full view. The Union Jacks flying and the finish line now in sight. I knew my husband and boys were in the VIP finish area cheering me on, (the charity had been really kind and offered me these tickets as a thank you). It was simply amazing seeing their proud faces smiling and shouting ‘Go Mummy’ as I crossed the line.

I had done it! I had finished  my first marathon in a time of 4hrs 46mins. All that hard work had paid off. However, as I collected my medal I couldn’t help but feel a bit flat – not the rush of euphoria that I had expected. It was all over, but I had ‘failed’ in my eyes to get the time I had wanted.  Talk about ridiculous.

I’ve since made peace with my time and actually for someone who had never run a marathon before and juggled childcare, fund raising, work and training I am actually pretty bloody happy. My body held out, I didn’t walk, I didn’t hit the wall and  I had ticked off a big ambition from my bucket list – something I am now very proud of.

The race in a nutshell: Flat, congested, colourful and amazing views of London’s iconic landmarks. Fantastic Expo, well organised event and an opportunity for celebrity spotting- I came in just ahead of Radio DJ and TV  Presenter, Chris Evans.

Race Tips: Ensure you have liaised with your cheer team/supporters before hand so you know where to spot them. Otherwise you spend half the race searching for your family in the very busy crowds. Get a charity place if you are new to marathon running – you get excellent support, advice and a fab after-party and massage just after the event. Watch out for the empty water bottles on the ground – these are everywhere and very hazardous.

Would I recommend it? 110% Yes. For any Marathon Newbies this is the one to do!

Good luck to anyone taking on the Virgin London Marathon this weekend!

 

 

Let the training begin…

Luxury Landmark Health Club
I could get used to this

Now that I’ve got all the kit and kaboodle and  have Googled ‘how to run a marathon’ several times, I feel ready as I’ll ever be to start my training in earnest. This weekend took on some ‘posh’ marathon training as I was fortunate enough to have a lovely spa day booked in at London’s Landmark Hotel, Marylebone.

Aside from the gossiping with friends, a 45 minute ‘essential’ jacuzzi session, a pool-side salad and various other pampering activities, I did actually hit the treadmill and clocked up some decent training mileage. That’s determination in my book, as the temptation of the tranquil quiet zone calling me with its couches and herbal teas, was akin to breaking out a box of Krispy Cremes at a Weight Watchers meeting. The cocktail menu didn’t look too shabby either!

Rocking the Mo'
Rocking the Mo’

Needless to say I found the treadmill seriously boring. I’m a ‘road runner’ usually and used to taking in some scenery along the way, so running in a gym was pretty dull by comparison. Road running is quite relaxing as I find I zone out listening to the repetitive beats of my ipod whilst breathing in the fresh air of the Chiltern countryside. The treadmill had me fidgeting with the gradient, speedometer and checking the clock every few minutes – those kms seemed to take forever. The air con, or lack of, made me so hot and bothered that I felt like doing a Freddie Mercury impression – as in ‘I want to break free’ , not growing a Mo for Movember).

I feel very much a newbie to Marathon training and find myself still a bit overwhelmed that I’m actually planning this. I’ve been really lucky to have some great support so far with friends and family matching my enthusiasm for the challenge. If I’m honest I’m probably more nervous at the moment of hitting the £2k pledge amount for my chosen charity – Tommy’s.

Thank you to all my early supporters and those that have agreed to help me fund raise for the event. If you would like to support me through my London Marathon challenge visit www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/clairegermain . My first charity deadline is £1k by the end of this year – not long to go at all. Together with help, sweat and probably a few tears along the way I’m sure I can do it! Either that, or I’ll hope that Santa adds a little extra to my stocking this year.