Running Blog

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©️Marc With a C

🏃🏻‍♂️Holme Pierrepont RC

🗺 Running to see the world

🏆 5K- 20:20 10K- 43:46 HM- 01:40.43 M- 03:56.07

Instagram for running stories, places and motivation @ordinary_marc

“I never ran for the bus, now I run to see the world. Lace up your shoes and enjoy the journey with me as I write about training, challenges and growth”.

2021


Grub Run #2 – DOUGHNOTTS

This month’s Grub Run begins at DOUGHNOTTS store on Kings Street in Nottingham city centre. The route is 4 miles taking you to The Sky Mirror, through The Park Tunnel and along the flat canal path past the historic British Waterways buildings. You will also visit two statues; Robin Hood and Brian Clough. Check the DOUGHNOTTS website for opening times before planning your run! Enjoy this month’s free running guide here.

Sunrise Mind

https://youtu.be/6rORv32Q28o

A movement challenge from ASICS FrontRunner that has been a welcomed start to a new year, and a new lockdown. 

Designed by @ASICS, this challenge promoted a positive state a mind through movement and photography. Together, we would spread positivity by moving at sunrise to capture scenes of hope and share with others using #SunriseMind. 

For every post shared, ASICS made a donation to a mental health charity Mind.

If this is the first you’re hearing of this movement or you’ve seen the posts but wondered what it means, the good news is that the challenge is ongoing through February. Make sure your profile is public so that the posts you make are included in the donations to Mind.

The start of the year saw the start of another lockdown in the U.K.

Running clubs and events are still cancelled, travel is restricted and exercise limited to meeting one other person. I welcomed this challenge as an opportunity to see my local trails at a different time of day. A breath of fresh air to the same daily routes!

My work pattern changed with the lockdown, working on a rota that saw me teaching 5 days in school and 5 days at home. In the weeks working from home, and teaching Reception children online, this challenge became an active start to my day. A reason to get up, get active and prepare for a day at my desk at home.

The challenge became more than personal reflection and exercise though. The #SunriseMind hashtag connected me to more runners across the U.K. and beyond. I followed this hashtag and benefitted from a continuous feed of inspirational images of hope shared around the clock.

Running is missing a social scene right now so connecting with others online has been an important part of this challenge. 

Everyone taking part has been moving in the same direction, no matter where they are. 

Everyone has been moving east. 

Everyone looking at the same sun.

REDJanuary

Last year my aim was to complete at least 100 miles each month. With two lockdowns, weeks spent working from home and very little travel, my year ended on a total of 1365 miles. So the start of January and the idea to take part in RED January felt like a lot. Running every day made me adjust my expectation of what running meant to me. I had to rethink daily routines and know that this challenge isn’t about distance or pace. It was more about freedom, enjoying the journey and being active each day.

My long runs on Sunday stayed but weekdays included short runs and steady runs. And this became very important when the UK entered a third lockdown. My normal teaching timetable switched to 5 days in school teaching and 5 days at home teaching. Those days when I worked from home, RED January acted as punctuation for my day. I would have days at home sat still with my mind full. At the end of the day I would get outdoors to switch my mind off and let my body move. It was the transition I needed between the working day and an evening at home.

What I’ve learned is that I don’t need it to be January to balance my mind and body. Movement should punctuate the day when routines are imbalanced. So it isn’t too late to join in with a challenge like RED January. You can take time for your mental health any day of the year by relaxing your mind and energising your body.

Check out my Instagram for a series of a stories on winter running, Blue Monday and RED January.

January – Maggie’s Run 50 Miles plan

It’s amazing when a charity sets a challenge that goes viral. In the lead up to the new year my social feeds are filled with the 50 mile running challenge by Maggie’s. If you don’t know Maggie’s, it’s a wonderful organisation which is built on the vision that cancer care and conversations shouldn’t be within clinical settings only. Maggie’s has walk-in centres, well cafes, across the U.K. and they are mostly positioned by hospitals who provide cancer treatment and clinical trials. These spaces are free to all to sit, chat, eat, drink and even attend classes or talk to specialists.

My family and I spent many days in Maggie’s Manchester during my mum’s clinical trial for melanoma. It even became a place to nap when we were tired from long drives, early mornings and multiple appointments.

I’m sponsoring friends who are setting out on this challenge for January and I’ve come up with 2 plans that might help you if you’re attempting to run all 50 miles. I have no sports experience other than being a runner for 5 years from ‘couch to 5km’ to marathoner. I write these based on what worked for me as I increased my distances and from what I’ve learned by making mistakes and pushing too hard!

So, instead of dividing 50 miles by 15 run days in the month and averaging 3.3 miles per run, why not try and push your distance each run and take this as an opportunity to level up your running instead?

This plan might help you take your running up a level and beyond 5km. If you’re already running 5km at least 3 times a week then try this to move from a 36-38 mile month to a 50 mile month. You’ve got the strength to move up to 50 for January if you take rest days seriously and try out some knee exercises like lunges or squats every other rest day:

You might be someone who wants to hit 10k and already run 5km, 4 times a week. This could help. It peaks the total distance in week 3 and starts to taper off so you’re rested for a 10k at the end of the month, but there are 2 speed sessions just under 5k. As long as your run these a little quicker than your average 5k then that is speed work!

Grub Run #1 – Chocolate Utopia

With pubs closed for the latest lockdown it’s not going to be possible to write and share pub runs in Nottinghamshire. But with takeout options and local businesses needing support, this year I’m excited to write and share Grub Runs! Each month will be a short run starting at an iconic place to eat in Nottinghamshire. You’ll get to enjoy a treat after your run but the journey is just as sweet too. Route planning is my passion and always my motivation to lace up and go outside. The journeys that I’m planning this year will show you the best of the city or surrounding areas. Each route will be between 3 and 5 miles, either flat or with as many downhills as there are up. Enjoy them for yourself, at your pace. Walk or run, complete as intervals, and enjoy seeing something familiar from a new perspective or something new from a familiar perspective in running shoes!

January’s Grub Run begins at Chocolate Utopia on Friar Lane in Nottingham city centre. Download the guide here.

2020


Winter – A New Challenge: Trail Running

Those of you who have followed my running blog and Instagram account over the years will know that my motivation to run comes from seeing the world. You’d think this year I wouldn’t have discovered much of the world whilst running but it’s been quite the opposite. Yes I managed to get away to Crete in August but this post is all about starting trail running as a new challenge.

Despite the social and competitive distance put on us by government restrictions, we have been allowed to meet one other person to exercise outdoors. So to see the world I picked up a pair of ASICS Gel-FujiTrabuco 7 trail shoes and downloaded the free ViewRanger app to discover trails in my region.

Over the winter months I’ve mostly ventured to the Peak District with my friend Siobhan. Trails are new to both of us but we hike often. We are both using water back packs with 1L pouches and our routes have been between 6 and 10 miles. It’s good to wear these for the first time at home on a road route to adjust the straps and get the fit right. I quickly learned that wearing mine too tight is hard on breathing but even a little bit too loose makes the pack bounce on my back.

It’s a different style of running to what I’m used to on the roads or countryside paths. There is something more technical about it that makes my brain work faster. I feel like I am paying more attention to the ground beneath my feet and making rapid decisions about footing. But it’s also more civilised. I don’t feel like I am running with the clock, this is about effort and endurance not pace or distance. The rules are different! We stop for photographs, to admire the views and sometimes to simple walk the toughest points if one of us need the break.

If you’re familiar with hiking in these landscapes you will know that weather changes occur quickly so we make sure we pack layers and gloves too. You can always take them off if you’re too hot but you can’t put them on if you’re cold and didn’t bring any!

The last trail I ran was in The Malverns and this was the hardest run I had taken on this year. With snow, 0 degrees and plenty of hills this pushed my legs to the limit on a 10 mile run. I actually set out with the plan of 15 miles here but with a parking and other time restrictions, 10 miles was more accommodating.

As I write this, the UK has been placed in to another national lockdown but I am excited that I now have the kit and the confidence to run trails. It’s my way to see more of the world that is on my doorstep and it’s energising!

Autumn – Solo Marathon

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There aren’t many advantages to a pandemic and it could be assumed that national lockdowns, working from home and staying home has a negative impact on exercise and well-being. I did not let the restrictions defeat my goal of running a sub-4 marathon though. Despite the rescheduling of the Yorkshire Marathon, I continued to train through the summer months and working from home gave me the freedom to train harder and longer hours. This year I was able to run more 20 mile distances than ever before and the sharing of this activity on social media inspired peers on my education networks to lace up their trainers and start 5K routines themselves. Through remote services like FaceTime they would join me on their Couch to 5K runs as I hit the pavements for 20 mile distances. It was great to chat and motivate each other on these calls!

My running club organised a virtual marathon weekend at the same time as the London Virtual Marathon. I ran my solo marathon on the Saturday so that I could cheer on team mates from my club who raced for London on the Sunday. To keep me motivated on a solo 26.2 miles, I planned a route through my region that passed significant landmarks in my life. My route began at the lake of my running club, Holme Pierrepont, and continued through Nottingham passing schools, colleges, universities, my couch to 5k route, parkrun locations and finishing on the doorstep of my childhood home.

For anyone who can’t join running clubs or attend parkruns and struggling with motivation I suggest you plan routes around significant places too. I know my friend in Madrid, Gerard, is using this strategy to work towards his half marathon and will sight see in his city this January. Those of you who read my blog or follow my instagram will know that my motivator for running is seeing the world. To run routes that mean something and tell a story is a great way to engage with whatever distance you are running. The memories of the landmarks break up the challenge.

For the third year running I ran for The Christie Hospital and my total raised hit £2865. This hospital is where my mum would travel to receive trial treatment for her cancer back in 2018 and what inspired me to run this distance. For her to see me finish a marathon for the first time motivated me to break the sub-4 time and I was joined my brother for the last 6 miles.

As I write this now, at the start of 2021, I remember my mum who passed away on December 5th. She will always be the reason I run marathons after her 10 year marathon fighting cancer with positivity, happiness and an open mind. Love you mum xx

Summer – Virtual Movement challenges

This is a post I am very proud of. After seeing so many virtual running events online, I decided to create my own for the educator community on Twitter. For the first time I felt like my enthusiasm to run inspired others. As everyone is living in a world of remote work, I used my education network online to organise virtual movement challenges for teachers.

The challenge was to run, walk, swim, cycle or workout in a wheelchair for 25 minutes and record the distance travelled. Open to educators across the world, over 400 teachers joined these virtual challenges and went the distance for their regional team: EMEIA, APAC or AMERICAS.

Tracking came together with the use of Numbers, a free spreadsheet software designed by Apple using their iCloud infrastructure. Runners would sign in with their Apple ID, select their region team and preferred sport. On the same day, we would all move together and record our distance. Which region would travel the furthest? The buzz over on Twitter was amazing. Check out #ADEsOnTheMove on Twitter!

World Day Of Running

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With travel plans being disrupted as the peak of summer nears, another trip to America got cancelled. The ADE Global Institute will no longer take place face-to-face in California which means the annual ADEs On The Move running challenge is cancelled too!

As I enjoy running with with my educator peers, I found a virtual replacement for some of my friends. Entering a team with The Fix Events for this World Day of Running team, we were a truly global group of runners.

Jason kicked off our day in a wintery Sydney, scoring a 5KM PB after training for 6 weeks. I entered my shift running in to strong winds by the River Trent in Nottingham. Katie rounded off our team in North Carolina, battling through the humidity.

These virtual events are free to enter and there is the option to purchase medals too.

COVID-19 Relay Challenge.

Screenshot 2021-01-15 at 17.36.20

This month, at the start of our national lockdown, my running club has organised a virtual relay. Each day a runner is picked at random from a name generator and set the task of running for 19 minutes that day, with a baton of their choice.

This is a great idea to try with your friends too. Enter your names in to a spinning wheel like this one and see how far you can move in 19 minutes as a team!

My baton of choice was a hairbrush as I’m already desperate for a cut.

Spring – Wollaton 10k

I write this post in an unbelievable time of a national lockdown and pandemic. I cannot believe it was only a month ago that I took my brother to his first ever race. Ben raced 10K with me at Wollaton Park in an incredible time of 1 hour and I placed 10th with a PB of 43 minutes. The course was amazing as it was two laps so we had regular passing points to cheer each other on. I was so proud watching him finish. We had so many plans to enter more races together this year after he got a buzz from this event. I hope we can run together again soon.

If you’re finding yourself in a position where you are working from home or stuck indoors, this is your time to put on some runners and go explore your local tracks and trails. Take a walk, jog, run somewhere you’ve never been or love visiting. Smile at people as you safely pass by.  You’ll feel so much better and realise you are not alone.

Scroll back through my running blog to 2015 to find out how to get started with a couch to 5k app or how to motivate yourself to run again using data and digital badges. There’s so much you can achieve with technology on your workouts!

2019


Winter – Ljubljana and The Lake Handicap

The Ljubljana Marathon was a huge success for me. It’s been 1 year and 2 weeks since my first marathon and in that time I’ve been able to take 20 minutes off of my marathon time. I finished at 4 hours 9 minutes with blue skies in 22 degrees. I reached 20 miles at 2 hours 50 minutes leaving me 1 hour 10 minutes to run the final 6.2 miles. I thought I was going to make a sub-4 marathon.

That’s when I learned an important lesson about pace.

As the miles counted from 20 to 26 the cramps got worse, the heat increased and I ran out of water. I had ran far too quickly in the first half and now I was paying for it. I didn’t stick to the plan I had for myself. My aim was to reach half way in 2 hours and 20 miles in 3 hours. This would have let me roll through the 6 miles at a 10 minute mile pace. Next year, I know to stick to what I plan to do and not let the adrenaline of the event push my boundaries too far.

However, I am thrilled because the time I completed it in is a huge achievement compared to the year before and shows how impactful a running club can be. In terms of training, the only real difference that I made this year was joining a running club and regularly running at a faster pace with others.

In the final 5k I also met a runner from Serbia who I finished with. We were both feeling the heat but pulled each other to the end. It’s great that we are still in contact on Instagram and Strava too, supporting each others running online.

My reflection on improving through the running club also reached a high when I won our Lake Handicap competition. 3 handicap races throughout the summer around our 3 mile rowing lake and I came first place across the event. My first award!

This year I’ve learned that running isn’t a solo sport. Being part of a community of runners motivate and energise me. So if you’re looking for a way to get started or be part of something bigger, take a look at your local running clubs or parkruns. You won’t regret it.

Autumn – Marathon training

The summer racing season turned out to fill most of my marathon training for the Ljubljana marathon. Those of you who know me or follow my running journey know that my motivation to run comes from seeing the world. I am excited to run marathons in places away from home, it’s why I started running the first place. I love the thrill of seeing the world in a pair of running shoes. So my next marathon is in Ljubljana this October where I will also spend the week seeing the city and visiting Lake Bled. Check my Instagram for photographs!

This time my plan for marathon training was different. I took on a static running plan from Runners World and mapped the speed sessions to the races I was running at the Notts AAA Summer League and Grand Prix. Parkrun became a place to work on short distance speed too so all I need to focus on was long runs.

Last year, my long runs increased by 0.5 miles each week but this plan increases by 2 miles each week. The climb to 20 mile runs is much steeper in a shorter amount of time. I’m still training with water and solid food energy bars, gels aren’t working for me. They leave my stomach unsettled after a long run. I think maybe I started using them too late in to my training and my body is rejecting them.

Spring and Summer –  Pacing, PBs, Summer Leagues and The Grand Prix

My return to running came at the end of the winter months. It took 8 weeks to recover from my ligament damage after not resting properly from my first marathon. I learned the hard way that rest and recovery is as important as training and preparation. Through the early spring months I built my strength back by running shorter distances at a slower pace each week with my running club. The positive was getting to run with another group of people and making more friends at the club that I am still new at.

Now that the summer months are here and I am back to full fitness I am looking back at these photographs with joy. I am completely different runner now that I am part of a running club and this is something I never thought I would gain. When I signed up to my club I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing or that I was making it up as I went along. I suppose I still am but I am now doing that as part of something bigger than me. I now have people around who cheer me on and that gives me the confidence to cheer on others.

I volunteered as a pacer at a local parkrun when my club took over the responsibilities for the week and paced 4 regular runners to their personal best on the 5k route. I also earned a PB of my own at the Derby Half Marathon. In the final 2 miles a friend from my club caught me as I started hit the wall but he pulled me over the finish line. I wouldn’t have done that without a familiar face from my team!

The summer was packed with races that my club enter and these helped me learn something new about running. I had never raced before and didn’t know what to expect. I intentionally positioned myself at the back of the 500 runners in my first race but when a whistle blew, the crowd turned around and I was accidentally at the front. I did wonder why the fastest senior men of my team were also stood at the back with me! It all meant that I had to run fast or fall hard, so I finished my first 5 mile race in 36 minutes which must be a PB for me.

The racing season continued and included The Grand Prix; a series of 4 race locations and distances. This was open to the public so bringing friends along to my club’s open event was a fun way to inspire others to join a club.

2018


December 2018 – Injury

Ok maybe it didn’t quite work out. After 5 weeks of joining HPRC and also hiking Helvellyn ridges I discovered that I am not a superhero.

I haven’t recovered properly from the marathon and I ignored my body after the first few weeks at running club. I wanted to keep running 8 miles in the 1 hour group and being active at the weekends too. My knees were hurting and I thought I could push through.

I’ve learned how important recovery is. This seems to be a ligament injury from my left hip to left knee. The advice is to rest for at least 6 weeks. On my last 8 mile run I struggled to walk to my car afterwards. From reading articles about this kind of injury there are conflicting reports on what to do to help recover. Some say to use a foam roller to help stretch it out before and after any physical exercise. Others say that rolling doesn’t work for ligaments and only for muscles. So for now, I am going to stay rested.

It doesn’t mean the end of the running club for me though. I’ve already realised that this club is more than running distances with people around me. There is a real community here and this month there is a race for veteran man against all women so I’ll be there to marshal and attend the awards reception afterwards. It will be good to catch up with new friends before Christmas!

Winter 2018 – Holme Pierrepont Running Club

Joining HPRC

Last year I wrote about moving home and finding new routes for running. The winter months are dark here and the footpaths are limited. The routes are out and back along one lit road or running in circles around the neighbourhood. Day after day pounding these pavements was hard work last year.

With the marathon behind me as my greatest achievement I knew that I needed to keep up my distances and my fitness but the upcoming winter months would be the biggest barrier.

A friend told me to look up for a running club. It seemed like a big step to take, I looked at running club members are athletes and professionals. I didn’t know what I was doing, I just made it up as I went along!

I found Holme Pierrepont Running Club close to home. The website was informative and provided examples of routes that different pace groups would run on training nights. The club is a large with over 400 members meaning there was lots of choice for me. Training nights had multiple groups of varying paces and distances but also each week gives the option of road, track, hill sessions and speed work.

The club offered free visits to try out the training nights before joining but I’m the kind of the person who has to sign up and get on with it. I need commitment from the start!

Arriving at my first training night I was nervous, anxious but excited and energised. It felt something like walking in to an exam at college. This all went away once we set off on an 8 mile run.

This was the solution I needed for winter. People around me, running the streets and changing the scenery. This would keep my distance up, fitness strong and remain motivated!

Autumn 2018 – The Amsterdam Marathon

The day of the marathon finally came and it was everything that I had expected it to be.

Preparing for the day itself was as much about the vision as it was about the training.

I had watched race day videos, followed others on social media, visualised the route over and over again.

Whilst training, I kept a print out of the route and after each new long distance I would mark off where on the route I had got to. On the day, I knew every turn and where I’d been on my training day.

It felt so right coming to Amsterdam to run my first marathon. I started running 3 years ago because of a trip to Amsterdam with friends. Sunrise jogs to nearby attractions inspired me to take up running as a hobby. I got to see the city without the crowds and it was motivating. From then on I wanted to see the world in a pair of running shoes.

To return to this city to take on 26.2 miles felt like coming home.

Summer 2018 – Running With Giants

The training with Nike Running Club has been positive. The baseline runs adjust the challenge each week and I’m surprised to find that most weeks I perform better than expected, which means the distances increase!

I’ve got a trip to Texas coming up soon though, so I expect that the plan will adapt downwards in July and August!

Yesterday though, the story was different. I set out for a 15 mile long run. It isn’t the furtherest distance I’ve achieved on the plan and I think I went out feeling like a superhero.

I forgot everything that I’ve learned about training for this marathon. I raced, I didn’t drink enough water and I ignored what my body was telling me early on in the run.

At 12 miles I crashed. I couldn’t go any further and called for lift home. I felt dreadful, deflated and demotivated. How would I ever get to 20 miles if I can’t run 12? I thought about the half marathons that I’ve already raced. I wasn’t going any faster than those. What’s wrong with me?

It takes a lot of will power to overcome a run that doesn’t go to plan. I talked to a friend who have ran marathons and learned this message.

Remember you best runs as giants and see them grow tall around you then you’ll see the bad runs as grains of sand. Then they won’t cast shadows over you.

Running in Austin, Texas

One of the highlights of attending the ADE Global Institutes will be the sunrise move challenges. This year in Texas it was amazing to see so many educators up before dawn, and the humidity, to run and walk a 5k riverside trail.

I’ve always been inspired by running to see the world and explore new places but I’m starting to learn that running isn’t a solo sport. Surrounding myself with others who enjoy this sport is energising and builds community.

Spring 2018 – Amsterdam Marathon: a new challenge

Seeing my mum travel 100 miles to The Christie Hospital in Manchester every 2 weeks for specialist cancer treatment has inspired me to take my running to another level.

The distances she goes to win her fight is exhausting but the rewards are great; more time, longer life, better health. 

The thought of training for marathon has always been my mental block. The day of the marathon is a snapshot of the months before. But the time my mum is giving up to travel for treatment is hopefully a snapshot of the time she will gain in a healthy, lasting life.

So today the journey to 26.2 miles begins. My goal is complete the distance within 5 hours but more importantly it is to enjoy the challenge. I’m prepared to drop my pace expectations of a half marathon to complete my first marathon comfortably and in style!

I’ve searched the internet for training plans but for a first time marathon, these plans feel too static for me. I’ve opted for a personalised approach using the Nike Running Club app. It’s free and each run recorded in the training plan adapts the following week. There are speed trials, baseline runs and long runs. The long runs add on 0.5 miles each week. 

This summer I am taking a long trip to America for the ADE Global Institute and further trips around Europe, so a plan that adapts with my efforts and experiences suits what will need to be a flexible approach to training.

2017


New Home: where to run?

Apple Watch activity awards

Apple Watch activity sharing

Colour Run

City Running: London

Perfect Month – Apple Watch award

2016


An 8 Mile Run

Work, Well-Being and Winter

Second Social Run – Wollaton 10K

Running Dubrovnik

A New Goal: Robin Hood Half Marathon

2015


I Never Ran For The Bus

Podcast: Couch to 5k

Bluetooth Headphones – huge improvement!

Finding a Challenge

Bad Knees

First 8 minute run

Afraid of the next challenge

Apple Watch Activity: handling data

Apple Watch Playlists: my own music

Running with a friend – Disaster!

Running Amsterdam

Yosemite National Park: Hiking Half Dome

Back to work, back to routine and the challenges of Winter