Challenge 2016

Wishing a Happy New Year to all my readers. 2015 was a quiet year for me on here. I’d love to say it was because I was so busy living it up, but I wasn’t. I just got side tracked with other things!

Well 2016 is going to be a busy one for me which I want to start writing about. It’s going to be a tough one as I’ve committed to two main challenges and I have several others in the pipeline as well as a house move in May!

The first challenge is to be part of PACT2016 with some wonderful people on Facebook. The challenge is to exercise every day and to log all the miles you do. If you miss a day, you pay £1 (up to £10 a month) and the aim is to make 500,000 miles in the year. The money all goes to Birmingham Children’s Hospital and their research and treatment of Child Brain Tumours. The cause is one that I have supported before and I’m excited to be helping, albeit only a little bit, again in 2016 (

The second challenge is one that will help with the first! And that’s to run my first ever marathon. This isn’t the first one I’ve signed up for as some of you may remember, but it will be the first one I ever do. And possibly the last.

Previously I have trained for a marathon but haven’t taken part on doctors orders, but this time, I am eating right, sleeping right and have been training for the training plan!

I will be running the London Marathon for two charities. I couldn’t make a decision between the two that I have most wanted to support so it’s a 50/50 split.

The first is the ‘Fishermen’s Mission’. They do a wonderful job supporting our Fishermen (those who work tirelessly to provide you with fresh fish every day!) and their families. They do a stunning job and this charity supports them through times of injury, illness and helps their families in times of bereavement.

I have become more and more fascinated by the effort put in by those at sea, ever since I got to know a few of the people of Brixham, in Devon. My visits there, coupled with watching programmes such as ‘The Catch’ brought home to me the troubles they face and I want to help in any way I can. Brixham itself has such a wonderful spirit and they put on two of my favourite events of the year – BrixFest and FishStock – where they celebrate the town and it’s Fishing Heritage. Worth a visit if you want to experience a working seaside town with some fabulous characters and a great community feel.

The second charity is much more personal to me. EDS Support UK help suffers of a little known condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It’s an inherited condition which causes a lot of pain and discomfort to those who have it. I have seen the pain it causes, as my sister has the condition. I was tested for it a few years ago and I was given the all clear. Ever since, I have wanted to help raise money and awareness for the condition.

So tomorrow, 4th January, I start my training plan. You know the biggest problem I’m going to have? Not snacking on things that are just going to make me feel lethargic and not revved up for my training!

The killers for me are chocolate and crisps. Both of which are still in my house and willing me to eat them. I did attempt to do some good cooking today, but that didn’t work too well as my Venison pie was a bit of a let down… Needs more practice some may say. I think I might just admit defeat and stick to what I’m good at… Stir fry, steamed fish/chicken and curry!

Anyway, here’s the begging bit… If you can spare some money, even 50p, then I would be very grateful. I know that it’s hard for many to part with any money these days, but it will help me get round that course and it will make a different to both of these charities

Imagery is key

I decided to purchase a new pair of trainers the other week. After my decision to not take part in the Warwick half marathon and hitting my 5 mile barrier I realised that the shoes I was currently sporting needed to be retired. After 4 faithful years which included two trips in the River Great Ouse (one boat capsize and one slide down the bank), numerous times left out in the rain while training on the river and a year of attempting to run, I felt they deserved a break.

While waiting for the trainers to arrive I used my ‘day to day’ trainers for a run. Slightly bigger and very strange to wear, I found myself completing a PB of 6 miles. Although the nausea I experienced afterwards was a lot worse than anything I ever felt when I used to row. Even the Vets HORR didn’t leave me feeling that bad!

When the new trainers arrived, I took to them instantly. Breaking them in and posting a comfortable (in many ways!) 6 mile run.

Now, the area I run usually is very hilly. It’s the edge of the Chilterns and the scenery is amazing. But it’s also offered me the chance to create my biggest asset. The imagery I require to keep myself motivated.

Running, like everything in my life is at risk when I get bored. I like a bit of spice, variety, anything to keep my mind (and body) on its toes. But when it comes to running, I have been struggling. My mind occupied with every muscle twinge and footfall.

During that 6 miler though, I suddenly thought back to PT session I had a few weeks ago. I was struggling, tired and losing focus. My PT started counting down the last 4 in the set and it clicked. I imagined I was in a boat and completing the last 250m of a regatta. I realised if I was ever going to make my goal of completing a marathon this year a reality, I had to draw on the best experience I have of pushing myself to the limit.

So it started. On the flat I would ‘push for 10’. Imaging I was in my single, on a warm Thursday evening, rowing down the Ouse at St Neots. With a fellow rower alongside me and every now and then ‘leap frogging’ to make sure we did some work.

Uphill was the start of a head race. Pushing off the footplate (pavement), getting into a rhythm and feeling my legs start to work.

Downhill, the recovery of the slide. A chance to catch my breath. Ok, you get longer to recover running downhill than you do at R32, but you get the idea.

The main thing is that I imagine I am in a crew when I start to struggle. I hear and see those I used to push through that pain barrier with. I know how far I can push myself. The winter Ergo sessions taught me that and I’ve not gone anywhere near that yet.

Although it may sound crazy, it’s working. The best bit? Employing this tactic, changing my diet (and in-training snacks) have turned my training around. I posted a PB of 8 miles today. Yes, my legs and feet ache, but I finished feeling good. Not exhausted, bright red and breathless, which has been the result of so many training sessions until now.

I don’t know how long this will work for me, but for now, in my head, each run will be a rowing outing. Just without the possibility of ending up in a river. Unless I lose my footing and am extremely unlucky.


I am little over 4 weeks away from taking part in one of the hardest challenges I have ever attempted.  The Warwick Half Marathon in aid of the British Heart Foundation ( It seemed like a good goal to have and has helped me really move on with my running, but I have hit a wall in my training. I have yet to run further than 5 miles and I am struggling to move past that.

I have been working with a PT ( who has been brilliant at not only focusing me on my training, but also helping me remain positive and even managing to make me laugh when I feel like I want to die! The most impressive thing is that I actually listen to him. Those who know me well, know I don’t take kindly to ‘advice’. Certainly not straight away. Unless those people have come recommended from a friend or I have seen what they can do, I ignore them. Yeh, I know… I’m working on changing that.

Anyway, my hope is that the sessions will help not only my running and general fitness but also pull my body out of the slump it’s been in since my virus two years ago. Despite the fact that I haven’t been going to regular sessions, it seems my body is happy with even a little bit of advice and my running feels easier. I have also noticed I no longer have the pain in my legs, which used to stop me running and render me useless for a day or two.

So what is the problem?

Well there are two. Firstly, my chest is still recovering from flu over Christmas/New Year, leaving me with a nasty cough and a bit of reliability on my inhaler. Getting into a rhythm with my breathing is taking a lot longer and I’m not breaking through my initial wall until well past mile 1.

The second? I’m getting bored. This is the most difficult one to fix. Music isn’t helping and even the information from Runkeeper about how I’m doing, annoys me.

I’m not sure if this isn’t just down to the fact that I am used to team sports. In particular, I’m used to being in a boat with at least 3 other people and all of us helping to keep the other going. The best bit? We were all stuck in the same place so one person couldn’t go off and leave the rest behind even if they wanted to! Well, not without getting wet.

A few people have suggested joining a running club, but this isn’t what I want. I don’t want to be running with other people where I realise just how slow I am and how much work I have to do! At this point, I will acknowledge that yes, most runners are supportive and would help me… blah blah blah… but I’m not into that kind of help. I’m a competitive person. I need to feel I’m competitive, not that I’m there for everyone to pour pity on. I know that getting help from a club works for a lot of people, but I’m just not that person.

Taking part in the running events this year is about raising money and awareness of my chosen charities not how fast I can complete them. I just want to get round the course (before they close it) and prove to myself and the doubters, that I can come back from that virus and be fit again.