Mince Pies and Christmas marathons

December arrived and Christmas is nearly here.

Here are some December stats:

  • Number of Mince Pies consumed: somewhere in between 18 and 26 ( I love Mince Pies)
  • Number of Gingerbread Lattes slurped: at least 9
  • Number of Advent Calendar chocolates eaten: 36 (I have a calendar at home and a supplier sent us one to work also).
  • Number of real donkeys spotted at Carol Services : 1
  • Number of minutes spent observing Danny Mac’s Samba at the Strictly final : 77
  • Number of gin and tonics, glasses of champagne, glasses of wine I have drunk: I gave up counting after the first week. Let’s just say that if my Doctor asks it will definitely be less than 22 (!) but the reality is probably at least double that and we haven’t even reached Christmas Day yet.
  • Number of meals eaten “out” up until today : 11 (this includes both work related and social events)
  • Number of times I have heard Maria Carey sing about Christmas : 390,001
  • Number of times I have mentally hit Maria Carey on the nose with a snowball: 390,000

It’s been much, MUCH tougher than I thought it would be. At the beginning of the month I had genuine plans to lose 4 pounds which would bring my annual weight loss to 4 stone, but by the end of the first week it became quickly apparent that if I made it to the end of the month still being able to fit into my “work suit” this would be an achievement all by itself.

I am someone who likes to socialise. Seeing as December and socialising pretty much go hand in hand, I have done a fairly convincing impression of Edina from Ab Fab staggering from one social gathering to the next since the month started.


Of course this year, I was better prepared and so quickly resolved to run as often as I possibly could, even if it was only a short run. Therefore the other important stat is that since the 1st December I have run 38.8 kilometres (24.1 miles). I’m heading off to Park Run at Ashton Court on Saturday morning and so this means that by the time Christmas Day rolls around, I will have run a marathon. It’s been tough to squeeze them in as work has also been very busy, but it’s definitely helped.

Many of these runs have been short (as in 2.5-3k) but I’ve also run a 10k (just on my own on a Sunday morning) and a couple of 7ks. My mantra has been – as often as possible to counterbalance the December Calories.

On the whole it’s been successful. I am wearing my work suit today and I can (just about) breathe in it. I have also enjoyed the hap-hazard nature of chucking my trainers on and getting out for 25 minutes if that’s all I could do. It’s not something that I would like to do in the long term but it’s been an interesting experiment. I have run back to back 3 days in a row, and then not been out again for another 5 days. This is not something I have done before either as I have always been scared that I would “lose” my fitness by spacing things out too much, or injure myself by not having enough rest days, but it turns out that this is not the case and I am still standing to tell the tale.

I have persevered with my “slower running group” and I am pleased to report that this has been successful and we call ourselves the “Thursday Thrill Seekers”. We are trundlers and proud. One lady who came the first week could only just run 30 minutes but later in the month managed 36 minutes. She was really chuffed and I was delighted to be able to help. I have met another running lady whom I like very much (we’ll call her the EarMuff Extraordinaire) who is a stretching guru and so being properly stretched after this run means that I always sleep well on these nights. We don’t operate a “looping” system (where the fastest runners run around the back to loop the slowest so they are not always at the back) we simply all run together at the slowest person’s pace. I try and make sure that I am the last person. It’s not fast but I don’t care. It means we can all get out for a run and a chat. Although I can run and chat at the same time now, it’s much easier if the pace is slower and often the chat is as important as the run. We will definitely keep this up in the New Year.

I also managed to get out on two “This Mum Runs” social runs. As you know I haven’t ventured out on one of these for a few months now due to work (I often seem to be in London or Birmingham on a Wednesday for some reason) and also worrying about being able to keep up, but they were both very enjoyable and although I was at the back, on both occasions I felt comfortable. Also interestingly, there were ladies who were glad to have someone to trundle with at the back. Last Sunday we did a 4 mile run and I could keep up. The pace was probably more “social” than usual, and I was running faster than I would if I was on my own, but it’s good to challenge yourself and so I am going to try and join the Sunday runs a bit more often in 2017.

Curly Sue is still very much around and I ran with her this week. With yet another night out on the horizon and work (finally) calming down a bit, I decided to bunk off Tuesday morning for an hour and we went for a 5k Harbour Loop. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and it was glorious. It was one of those very rare runs when everything seemed to work and I felt that I could actually do a convincing impression of a runner – I need to bottle that feeling because in the main part when I run, I mentally say every swear word I have ever heard and question every single life choice I have made this year whilst it’s happening. The moment I finish I feel like a rock star but whilst I’m running, it’s still largely horrific and I hate it. After nearly a year, I have now decided that this is clearly what running is. I like the thinking space, the fresh air, the ability to listen to Rick Astley’s Greatest Hits in peace and have no-one judge me, not to mention the feeling of euphoria when I’ve finished as well  as a shrinking body and these all make the running worthwhile. But I realise that I don’t really like the run itself, however I’m also ok with that now.

Anyway, back to Curly Sue. She is training to be a proper athletics coach. She will be excellent of course, and is already a great coach and champion of the recreational runner, but a piece of paper will always help. She was telling me that one of the chaps on her course has picked a man to be his “athlete” (they all need a subject to work with in order to qualify) who is genuinely trying to get into the Team GB Athletics team. She has asked me to be her subject.  I’ll be honest, at first I thought she was joking, but when it turned out that she wasn’t, I took a few days to ponder and then decided emphatically that the answer was a big fat yes. Surely only an idiot would say no to such a wonderful opportunity? She is going to help me with technique (apparently there is more to it than “don’t fall on your face and try not to die”) and having signed up for the Bristol half marathon in September 2017, let’s face it, I’m going to need all the help I can get! The final reason is less about practicalities and more selfish – I have to run with her once a week (so she can assess any improvements and make suggestions and corrections). Now although I am worried that she is going to try and make me run interval sprints up Ashton Court Hill on a Saturday morning at Park Run, but as long as this isn’t every week, it will be brilliant. I have made lots of friends this year through running and running with your mates is now one of my favourite things to do. That is something that I never would have thought I would have ever said a year ago. There are so many things that are now normal for me but 12 months ago would have been a completely alien concept. It just shows that anything is possible if you really want to do it.


Thank you for reading my blog over the past year. I am going to keep writing it as I train for the Bristol Half Marathon but I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for your support and encouragement. It’s been amazing, very humbling and I have enjoyed sharing it with you.  I am on Instagram as @ladyclaireabell if you would like more regular running related updates.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas.