December Struggles and Future Plans

Why is it so difficult in December to maintain a healthy approach to life?

Over the course of 2017, on average, I don’t really drink that much alcohol anymore – well not like I used to anyway. Those of you who have only got to know me more recently, won’t really be surprised by that statement, but those who have known me a long time, will probably be quite shocked, but it is true. I might have a bottle of beer on a Friday night and a couple of glasses of wine with Sunday lunch, but on the whole, I don’t really drink that much alcohol. I think that this coupled with all the running has definitely has made it easier to maintain the weight I originally lost when I originally decided to change my life in January 2016.

However, as much as I don’t really drink alcohol when I’m at home now, I definitely DO drink if I go out. But I don’t go out that much generally over the course of the year (sad but true). However, in December, I am out, (“Out Out”, if you’re a Mickey Flanagan fan) most of the month. I dread to think how many bottles of prosecco I have consumed since the 1st December. Actually, I don’t dread to think…I love it. All the dancing, eating, giggling, eating and drinking is lots of fun and although it’s a bit of a cliché, I love spending time with friends and family at this time of year.

However, all the calories add up and although for the rest of the year the running keeps everything in check, in December it requires a more focussed approach and so I elected to run more and often as well as do a couple of Joe Wicks HIITS (minus the mountain climbers). My running has been a bit hap hazard since the Bristol half marathon and although I have run at least once, usually (but not always) twice a week, this seemed like a good opportunity to re-discover my running “mojo” as well as mix my routine up a bit.

I have signed up for a Sprint triathlon in May next year (400m swim, 24k cycle and a 5k run) and so I need to incorporate some swimming and cycling into my training. I’ve been running now for nearly 2 years and as regular readers will know, I have a complicated relationship with it. I love and loathe it in equal measure and after training for the Bristol half marathon and undertaking a weekly “long” run, I did feel as though I was in danger of becoming bored with it. This was part of my rationale with signing up for a triathlon – it would give me different things to focus on in addition to the running. I’ve also been assured by Merida over a glass or 3 of prosecco, that cycling and swimming will help build general overall fitness and these sports are the natural companions to running. They will also help with the running and make me a better runner? Time will tell.

Not many people know this, but I LOVE swimming and also in a surprising twist to the story, I’m NOT terrible at it. I find it peaceful and I am quite at home in the water. I can swim 400m breaststroke in just under 13 minutes and although I have been assured that this would be a respectable time for the triathlon (and importantly I won’t embarrass myself), it also won’t surprise you to learn that I’m going to learn how to front crawl as it will apparently save my legs, according to Swim Dad. Why take the easy road when there is always a more complicated one to explore as is my motto?! But ultimately, as always, I want to do the best I can and so swimming front crawl is necessary.

2 days before Christmas Eve, I took my daughters to the local swimming baths in an effort to burn off some pre-Christmas excitement. I went with the expectation that I would swim lengths and my girls would “play”, but I was wrong. My daughters spent 30 minutes coaching me and my haphazard front crawl. They sat either end of the swimming pool and explained what I should do in order to achieve good front crawl technique and I practiced swimming between them. They also swam and showed me too. The lifeguard seemed a bit confused and came over to ask what was going on and when I explained, he told me they were doing a good job as my “shark fin” had improved – er ok then?! I felt very proud of my girls and grateful. I managed 250m of front crawl (needing short breathers in between each length) and I was delighted. I’ll be adding this to my list of things to work on for 2018.

Swimming Photo with Lois and Rachel

But back to the running. I’ve run much more in December than I did in October or November as I have battled to still be able to fit into my Christmas Party dress.

These have included a very enjoyable Harbour Loop with Curly Sue and the LA Blond before we had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant (I’d never eaten in a vegetarian restaurant before – big thumbs up from me) and a This Mum Runs Christmas extravaganza that was planned as a usual Wednesday night run, running down the Bath Road in the rain and freezing cold that saw me hurdle a rat as it ran across the path in front of me (I didn’t know that I could jump that high!) that ended in the pub. I think more people might give running a try if there was a pub at the end of each effort. It would have definitely helped me in the early stages of couch to 5k! I can just hear the woman on the app saying, “well done on completing week 3, now get to the pub and drink a pint of lager…you’ve earnt it”.

However, the highlight of December running calendar (especially in the This Mum Runs annual calendar) is the Weston Super Mare Christmas Cracker. This is a 10k that takes place largely on the beach in Weston. It also happens in fancy dress…..now as a general rule, I am not a fan of fancy dress. In truth I despise it and yet I was doing a good impression of someone who was excited at the prospect of running 6 miles in the sand, dressed as a mouse. (TMR had entered the Group Fancy dress competition under the theme of “Cinderella the Panto” with Merida running as Cinderella, our Captain running as an Ugly Sister and Hattie and I running as mice which would become footmen. We won first prize which was exciting as I don’t usually come first at anything when I run in a race!) It was a very tough run as the sand was unforgiving and it was also very cold, but we giggled and sang carols on the way round. Hattie and I were accompanied by another lady on the run and we were privileged to run with her on her first ever 10k. She did brilliantly and I am sure that she will do more and I also know that she has signed up for the Bristol half marathon next year. She is a runner (even though she doesn’t believe me when I tell her that she is).

Today I ran my last 10k and got my final medal of the year at Westonbirt House. Husband was also competing and I ran with Curly Sue, who is back in full “coach mode” having agreed to train Hattie and I as we work towards the London Landmarks half marathon at the end of March. We survived the Bristol Half but now we want to improve.  The Westonbirt 10k was excellent. I’ve been struggling with a sore throat and chesty cough. I lost my voice for a couple of days this week and my asthma has been tricky so I knew that I wouldn’t get the time I wanted, but did work hard and enjoyed it, well I mostly enjoyed it, as with most runs. My final kilometre was the second fastest of the whole run and very fast for me, which shows me that I can push myself. Curly Sue is going to help me work on this over the next couple of months.

After existing on a diet of cheese and pringles over the last week or so, (what can you do? It’s Christmas after all!) I have elected to really sort my diet out over the next couple of months. If I am to improve as a runner, which I want to do, then I know I will need to try and lose some weight. This means I will need to pay more attention to what I eat. I’m not dieting and you know my feelings on them (they suck) but I’m going to try to eat better in order to build muscle and hopefully shed some fat.  Running is hard, but if you’re heavy, it’s harder and tougher on your joints, so I’m going to try and weigh less. The challenge with this is that long runs make me very hungry indeed so planning will be key. I am sure I will talk about this more as the weeks progress.

Next Wednesday it will be 2 years since I went on my first ever run. So much has changed in my life and so much if this is because I am now a runner. This word no longer scares me. I am a runner.

Next year, I have 1 half marathon in the diary already and I know Hattie and I will do another in the Autumn (we can’t quite decide which one yet) and there will be 10ks, probably quite a few. But also next year there will be a sprint triathlon, swimming (lots of swimming) as well as cycling. This will bring brand new challenges and although these challenges scare me enormously, I am also very excited about them. Being scared is no reason not to give things a go. Imagine if the fear had stopped me downloading that app 2 years ago – where would I be now? What would I look like? What state would my heart be in? But most importantly, I would never have met all my wonderful running friends and let me tell you, running friends are the BEST. If you’re already a runner, keep going – you are doing an awesome job. If you’re not……..come and join our gang. You won’t regret it I promise. I haven’t.

Christmas Party Dress

Happy New Year to you.

Chunky Runner 41….Volume 2

After I completed the Bristol Half Marathon in September 2017, I stated that I wouldn’t be writing this blog anymore and so it would be wrapped up. So as you are now reading my new blog post, I am sure you are asking yourself, “Why? What’s changed?”

Well….a couple of things.

When I started running in January 2016, it was because I wanted to lose weight and set my daughters a better example. I wanted to do it and knew I needed to do it, but I didn’t know HOW to do it or what to do. In fact I felt pretty hopeless. My sister gave me the confidence to try and gave me the tools to do it whilst supporting me.  This same sister was diagnosed with skin cancer last Summer and has undergone a fairly unpleasant second half to the year whilst she has been prodded and examined by many different doctors and nurses and undergone surgery to remove the cancer. The Macmillan Nurses in particular have been nothing short of spectacular as my sister has wrestled with all manner of things thrown at her.

Sadly I don’t know anyone who had not have their life rocked by cancer by one way or another. This horrifying disease has taken my Grandfather, my Aunt, my favourite Uncle, it’s threatened my cousin, my friend, my Mother in Law and now has my sister in its’ vicious grips. It sucks.

You will notice that the blog that you have read previously has disappeared. I’ve taken it down.

Chunky Runner 41 has been made into a book and will shortly be available to buy. Now I know this seems like a bonkers idea (I promise you, I have wrestled with this much over the past 6 weeks), but there have been nearly 1000 regular readers of this blog over the past 2 years (this has constantly surprised me) and so even if 5% of you decide you would like to buy the book in order to enjoy again and again my efforts as I tried and learned to run, this will raise some money. ALL profits from the book will be donated to MacMillan. This is not to fund my Superhero running leggings habit or gin collection, it is only to raise money so other people can be as well looked after as my sister has been and continues to be.

I have set up a facebook page called “Chunky Runner 41 – Claire Tiley”. If you would like to read my blog in future and/or buy the book, please can you find this page and “like” it as this will be the ONLY way that I will share my blog going forward and as soon as the books arrive from the printers, I will let you know (via the facebook page) when you will be able to buy them.        http://www.facebook.com/chunkyrunner41

It’s a gamble admittedly and I might end with a pile of books that nobody wants, but if the past 2 years of running have taught me anything, it’s that you’ve got to give these things a try. It would make a wonderful Christmas gift for someone who is perhaps thinking about giving running a go in the New Year, or it could be used as a  manual for someone who is training to break the “world’s slowest runner” record.

As well as this, there are a couple of other reasons why I have decided to continue writing:

  • Quite a few people have asked me to carry on (which is lovely)
  • I’ve missed writing it as I find it quite cathartic
  • In 2018, I will be :
    • running at last one (possibly two) more half marathons. The first one (London Landmarks is in March 2018)
    • Participating in a 54 mile bike ride (September 2018)
    • Taking part in a Sprint Triathlon. (May 2018). The triathlon is a 400 metre swim (16 lengths), a 24k bike ride (15 miles) and a 5k run at the end (3 miles).

I am very excited indeed about the triathlon, although slightly anxious about the outfits and extremely worried about the possibility of “doing a Brownlee” over the finish line – with me being the Brownlee about to pass out whilst being dragged over the line, rather than the strong one doing the dragging….

So as you can see, plenty there for me to get stuck into and talk about. I’m quite excited about my planned events for 2018.

But what about the rest of 2017? Well, I’m currently training for a 10k on the 17th December called the “Christmas Cracker” in Weston-Super-Mare and I’m doing it in fancy dress. I won’t say what the theme is as I’m entering as part of the “This Mum Runs” team and there is fancy dress competition which everyone is taking VERY seriously.  What I can say is that I am going to be running 10k, dressed as a mouse. Here is my outfit.

Mouse Suit

I don’t know how fast I can run 10k dressed as a mouse (that looks suspiciously like Bungle from Rainbow) but we’ll find out. Sometimes running is a serious business and sometimes it isn’t. Life has felt pretty serious over the past 6 months and so some light relief will be welcome. I’ll let you know how I get on.