Category Archives: Inspiration

To run or not to run?

My Dad has always told me, ‘pain is just a weakness leaving the body.’

As a runner, this statement is both encouraging and confusing. I understand that to see improvements, one must push through the difficult times. However, if you’re injured, surely you need to take some time off?

I currently have a bruised big toe. It went from being tender, to agony, now tender again. I can run when it is tender, but I know that running on ‘agony’ is never a smart move as this will delay the recovery process and make matters worse. 

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For the records, my Dad also told me: ‘You can’t come second in a war.’ I now know to take everything that he tells me with a pinch of salt. However, you can only imagine my distressing childhood – thrilled with my six-year-old self for coming second in the Egg & Spoon race, only to soon be told that coming second is basically being the first loser.

But, I’m not ruined. My Mum has enough sympathy to go around every man and his dog – so between the two of them, I had a good balance. Also, Dad’s attitude to life taught me to have a sense of humour from a young age – thinking about it, his influence is a brilliant combination of hard work ethic and determination, but also, not taking yourself too seriously. You see, deep down he is joking. (But deep, deep down, he is deadly serious. Dig a bit deeper and life is a joke again. But not really. Because you must win). Confused? Welcome to my life.

Back to my big toe. It is currently tender, but not hardcore pain, therefore, I am able to train. There is no manual or guidebook as to when you should rest, and when you should lace up your shoes. The trick is, to listen to your body.

Yesterday, my body said yes. Boy, am I glad it did. By saying ‘yes’ to running, meant that I got the chance to run with Deena Kastor! Deena is America’s best woman marathoner. She is a successful Olympian and holds the American women’s record for the marathon in an inspirational time of 2:19:36.

Here is the breakdown of the session that she took me on. (In Mammoth Lakes, California. Altitude: 8,000ft)

 

1.5mile warm up

400m hill, maximum effort x5 (recovery is jog down)

1.5mile cool down

Stretching with foam rollers

Drinks and pretzels and chats!

 

I am going to join the Mammoth Track Club so that I can run with Deena and others again. My next session with her will be on Tuesday at 7am!

Hope y’all have a good week. Now to bathe my toe in warm water and Epsom salts!

Please check out and follow my main site, for all the latest travel adventures: https://livwithadventure.com 

Run to get faster, run to get fitter, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

Yorkshire lass goes stateside

I’m now in California for 3 months. The mountains were calling and I have now arrived in Mammoth Lakes, California (8,000ft above sea level).

If you have ever experienced high altitude before, you’ll know that all physical activity is more demanding when you’re closer to the clouds. Even walking up the stairs, I’m wheezing, feeling like an asthmatic 90-year-old.

In terms of running: I have been advised to cut back my mileage by at least 25% for the first week and should expect to be at least 15% slower. One of my goals is to join the Mammoth Track Club. The Mission of the Mammoth Track Club is to support athletic and academic achievement, develop professional athleticism and promote lifelong health and fitness through running in a high altitude environment.

I’m looking forward to joining the Track Club and I’ll let you know what kind of sessions they do and I will share with you the things that I learn.

I visited here last summer. It is, hands down, my favourite place in the world. The appeal is a combination of breath-taking scenery, challenging running routes and the community’s support of athletic endeavors. It’s also a place where snow-capped mountains, peaceful forests and bald eagles are often the runner’s only companion. I remember getting the plane home and thinking, ‘I’ll be back. I don’t know when, but I know that I’ll be back.’ I certainly didn’t expect it could be so soon!

If you’re intrigued to find out more, please check out my travel blog:

https://livwithadventure.com

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Run to get faster, run to get fitter, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

Back in Blighty!

No, I didn’t die.
No, I’m not in prison.
No, I haven’t married into an Amish family, therefore no longer have a computer.

SO WHY HAVE I NOT POSTED ON HERE SINCE JANUARY?

I actually turned my attention to my travelling page for the last 5 months. If you’re intrigued to find out more, please check it out: https://livwithadventure.wordpress.com

But today we’re not on Koh Tao island in the 36 degree heat, thinking, “sod the sweat, sod the humidity, I’m going for a run” – but then failing miserably because you get chased by aggressive, wild dogs. https://livwithadventure.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/fire-dancing-dog-attack-and-intense-emotions/ Today, we’re in Dishforth village, North Yorkshire. It’s 16 degrees. Although I’m really feeling the cold (wearing a jumper and wouldn’t dream of going out without a jacket on…) it is perfect RUNNING weather.

So let’s talk running. I’m excited to be training with my North Yorkshire running buddies. THIRSK & SOWERBY HARRIERS. http://www.thirskandsowerbyharriers.co.uk These guys are inspirational and I’m so proud to be a part of it all. They cater for all abilities. Whether you’re aiming to enter your first 5K, or maybe you’ve got a marathon in mind? T&S Harriers can and WILL help. Or perhaps races aren’t your scene? Maybe you just want to live a healthier and fitter lifestyle? Whatever the incentive, a bonus is that you will make lots of new friends too. For, me, running with Thirsk was a great way to do sessions whilst at home from University (2012 – 2015). They have a brilliant atmosphere where you can do as much or as little as you like. As Rob (Coach) says: ‘this is YOUR session.’

‘MY session.’ Being the sort of person that I am, that means ‘give it your all or you’re wasting your time.’ Unless, of course, I’m injured. But that’s another story… (see my shin splints advice here: https://livforrunning.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/shin-splints/ )

Thanks to Rob’s sessions and the super-duper, friendly atmosphere from other members, I managed to achieve sub 40mins for 10K.

Writing that makes me feel a little bit sick. Since my travels I have lost muscle, therefore lost quite a lot of speed and power. I’d be collapsed on the floor trying to keep up with my sub 40, 2015 self. But I must stay positive. I’ll get it back, I just have to give it time and ‘train smart.’ (I was about to post a link on ‘training smart’ then realised I don’t have one yet). So, my running friends, that will be the next post that I write.

My point for this post though, is JOIN A RUNNING CLUB, because a running club is for everybody. A couple of days ago at the Monday session, there was a group of girls going for a jog on the road. “Hi there! We’re about to do a group session. Come and join us!” we said.

Their reply: “No way! We’re not good enough!”

Incorrect.

The reason people assume they’re not up to scratch is because club runners have got a bad name for being tall, skinny beings, race-obesessed, all elbows out, snotty nosed, fighting to the death through mud, up hills. (Ha, it amuses me that apart from ‘tall’ this is definitely me). BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT. Clubs really are so inclusive, they help you achieve your goals and you’ll make friends for life.

You can usually go along to a few sessions for free to see if you like it. Just find your nearest club online, maybe pop them an email to show your interest / express any concerns? But if you can’t be bothered with all that, they honestly won’t mind. You’ll instantly be welcomed like a new family member.

To be an official member of Thirsk & Sowerby, it’s only £35 a year. WHAT A STEAL. That’s for all the amazing sessions, options to go to socials, race discounts…

If you’re already a Club member, why not help spread the word? Share the page on Facebook, tell your friends how great it is. Even better, bring a friend along to let them see if they like it. The running community is the best community.

Ah, I’m glad to be back.

Run to get faster, run to get fitter, run to feel healthier.

All the best,

Liv

 

The Paras 10

Known as the ‘ultimate 10 miles,’ The Paras 10 was something I just had to try. If someone was to describe a chocolate bar as ‘the ultimate chocolate bar’ – I would want to try it. If somebody described a holiday as ‘the ultimate vacation’ – I would want to go. ‘Ultimate’ suggests the best of the best. Or, in the case of a 10 mile off-road race…The toughest of the toughest?

My Dad used to be in the Parachute regiment. I remember going to watch the Paras 10 race when I was younger and when I had no interest whatsoever and thinking ‘wow, those people are silly.’

Guess I’m silly now (always have been really) – because on September 6th I entered the race.

There is the option to do the TAB race (with a pack weighing 35lb) or just the run. I have never trained / ran with a pack before, so just running suits me fine… (excuses, excuses – maybe next year!)

My Grandparents (who unfortunately, I rarely see) and my parents both came to watch and support me. It was beautiful day – the perfect running conditions – a crisp freshness to the air and a glowing sun that beams so confidently, few clouds are brave enough to show.

I felt really good the morning of the race. 2 hours before I had my usual big bowl of porridge with honey and cinnamon and a mug of green tea. Then, 1 hour before I had a banana and sipped on a drink with added electrolytes.

The course was all off-road, mainly uphill with some absolute stinkers of hills – very, very steep. I hate to admit it sometimes (because it sounds like I’m bragging) but I actually love hills. I love the feeling of strength and power that they bring when you tackle them. They make me feel invincible.

I hung onto to the group of women in the lead, kept pushing, and enjoyed the gorgeous Northern countryside – rolling avocado green hills stretching further than the eye can recall.

It was a pretty quick pace, but I could see one woman WAY in front, in the distance, running not so far behind the leading men. ‘How the hell is she up there?’ I thought. She must be some kind of machine.

This woman was suddenly my inspiration and I wanted to catch her.

I gave it all I had to peel away from the group I was currently running with. Stride by stride, hill by hill, mud puddle by mud puddle, I edged closer and closer to the ‘super woman.’

Now on mile 8, feeling strong, I was almost with her!

WAIT…

IT’S NOT A HER.

IT’S A HIM.

IT’S A MAN.

I REPEAT.

IT IS A MAN.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

I couldn’t believe it. The slender, toned legs in the multi-coloured short shorts and the pony-tail swishing from side to side was the make-up of a forty-something male.

Was I annoyed for wasting all that energy catching up to the lady who isn’t even a lady? Good heavens, no! Thank you man-not-a-lady. You helped me secure my place as first female!

Hearing my Dad’s bellowing cheer amongst the crowds and seeing his watery eyes at the finish was a very special moment. Even the fact that I had entered made him very proud, but to win… Well, words can’t describe.

Run to get fitter, run to get faster, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

California Part II

Shall we do a half marathon today at altitude? Why not.

I realise this spontaneous attitude is actually a little cocky. In hindsight, it could also have been sheer stupidity. I had not been training for a half marathon (I was doing mileage geared around the 10k). However, I was fit and well and knew that my body could cope with 13.1 miles – it may just be rather slow, but hey ho.

‘Remember it’s at altitude. GO EASY’ I kept reminding myself.

I woke up at the crack of dawn and it was beautiful sunshine. I had carb-loaded the night before with a mountain of red pepper & tomato pasta. I gobbled up a hearty bowl of porridge in the morning (2 hours before race) and then 1 hour before the race it is my routine to have a banana and start to sip on a liquid with added electrolytes.

There was also a 5k race happening that day and at the start line of the half, the man with the microphone made me laugh so much when he said “IF Y’ALL SIGNED UP FOR THE 5K RACE, Y’ALL IN THE WRONG PLACE.”

TUMMY BUTTERFLIES ALERT. JITTERY FEET. Aaaaand the 13.1 miles at 9,000 ft begins!

I started off slow, holding myself back, taking deep gulps of fresh piney air and admiring the glistening sun on the lakes tucked between the rocky mountains. One man who was running alongside me said “pretty spectacular, huh?”
I agreed.
“WOW, you’re from England!?” He had instantly recognised my British accent.
“WOW. So do you, like, do many international races?”
(That sounded so cool).
I laughed and said no. I then proceeded to tell him that I had only ever done one half marathon before and I spontaneously signed up to do this one yesterday.
He literally couldn’t believe it. People train to do a half at altitude for yonks.
“Y’all the craziest fool I’ve ever met.”

As the lovely chatty American began to slow, I still felt fresh, so pushed on ahead.

Around mile 3.5 I was bored of holding back. Yes, this isn’t always the wisest thing and I’m not necessarily advising it – but I wanted to go – so I did.

Let the over-taking begin. I felt brilliant. Mile 4 to the finish, I didn’t get over taken once and it was an amazing feeling. I cannot explain why I felt so good. I think it was a combination of adrenaline from the beauty and excitement and the fact that I am on my own in California – I’m running a half marathon in the mountains – this is what dreams are made of…Let’s not forget I’ve also been training hard this last year. Not for a half marathon, no. But all those speed sessions / leisurely 10ks on the weekend must have helped enormously.

Mile 8-12 were my favourite. Speedier than ever, I was on some kind of running high.

The last mile hit me like a tonne of bricks and was hard. But I was so close!

When I saw the finish line, I wanted it so bad. The speakers were calling out names from “LA” “San Francisco” etc. When he got to my name, the “Thirsk in North Yorkshire” confused him so much. Brilliant.

Unfortunately, crossing that finish line and falling into Joe’s ecstatic hug wasn’t as happy as I had hoped. Like a sudden car crash, I, without warning, felt terrible.

I wanted to be celebrating with my medal and taking photos. Instead, I was on my knees, head over the toilet, trying to be sick. Not the glamorous glory I had imagined.

I then slumped, feeling sorry for myself in the medical tent. I was severely dehydrated. The buzz and adrenaline had completely masked it the whole way around. I didn’t even want to drink, but had to force it. About 3 hours later, after a tonne of electrolytes – I suddenly brightened up. THANK GOODNESS. Time to celebrate.

So, even if having the best experience of my life wasn’t enough. I found out some awesome news. Out of over a thousand runners, I came 2nd in my age category (13th woman over all).

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!

When I arrived home in England, they had posted me an award! I’m now dreaming of my next trip up in the mountains. I will return.

Run to get fitter, run to get faster, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

California Part I

I am still trying to play catch up a bit with this blog. So many exciting things regarding running have happened recently, you’re in for a treat! But let’s rewind back to June…

This summer I was lucky enough to go on a trip of a lifetime – California for 5 weeks. The highlight of my trip was visiting Yosemite and staying in Mammoth. Why such a highlight? (literally, very high up) – probably because there was running was involved…

In Mammoth Lakes, I was staying with my dear friend Joe. We were going hiking together everyday – to the summit of Mammoth mountain, Cloud’s Rest in Yosemite (16 mile hike) – the experiences were fantastic. The views were breath taking, so beautiful that it felt like I was walking in a painting. ‘Those colours, those shapes just can’t be real.’ I wasn’t dreaming though. The pain and exhaustion from the hikes was very real indeed. This kind of strenuous hiking would usually take it’s toll – but the fact that it was at altitude (9,000ft) made everything that bit harder.

Now, let’s talk running. I had never experienced physical activity at altitude before the trip. I was unprepared for the effect it would have on me.

My first day in Mammoth saw me itching to explore the spectacular views in the tangerine sunshine. I laced up my trainers, ready to run.

I died.

I completed 5k in my usual 10k time (it was very hilly). My whole body felt like lead and I was constantly short of breath. “Maybe back at home, this is what running for a non-runner feels like” I thought to myself. Not pleasant.

However, the next day I seemed to forget about this utterly exhausted and defeated state. I seemed to forget about the pain.
And altitude, what’s that?
The next day, forgetful little me spontaneously signed up for the Mammoth half marathon.

No, not next year…

The next day.

Lose the Garmin

On the 12th July I did the Kilburn 7 – a 7 mile Road Race incorporated in annual Kilburn Feast. The route through historic Coxwold, Byland Abbey, Oldstead & finishes in centre of Kilburn.

It was a hot day and I was warned that it was a very hilly course.

Getting out of the car, I saw a sea of neon. Brightly dressed athletic figures paraded around doing warm-up lunges and strides.

‘Why does everyone look so pro?’ I thought to myself. Usually at these sort of races you’ll see a select few that look really keen, but the majority will look like Sunday-afternoon-fair weather-joggers, or people maybe doing it for charity.

Not here. Everyone looked the absolute bees knees.

I’ve had some great success at local races, but judging by the sort of people that were running in the Kilburn 7…’top 10 for my age category? Maybe?’

‘You know what, it’s a beautiful day – let’s just go with no pressure and enjoy the run, enjoy the scenery.’

At the start line I met a lovely man called Phil – a keen member of the Stockton Striders running club (and a brilliant runner!) He knew my Aunty and had promised her he’d ‘look after me.’

A few at the start line asked me – “why aren’t you wearing your Garmin?”

The reason for my bare wrist was that I didn’t want to be bogged down by timings and pacing. I am very grateful to own a Garmin (it was a generous Christmas present – thanks Mum and Dad!) but I also often find myself resenting it. Those annoying little beeps every few minutes – often telling you that you’re falling short of your target. It can be pretty crushing.

“I just want to enjoy the run” I told them.

Plus, with all the hills, I was bound to be running at a slower average pace. I’d rather just go with the flow and listen to my body, rather than listening to those, let’s be honest, rather interrupting, disheartening beeps.

I set off with Phil and it was a very, very fast pace. So fast that I was with the fast men at the front.

By mile 3 (still at the front) I was exhausted and could no way keep up that pace for another 4 miles, so I slowed down considerably.

Quite a few men over-took. Then, out of no where, a sudden burst of energy came to me just before mile 5. I was able to run much quicker for the last two and a half miles and over-take a few again. I felt like I had wings – it was incredible.

With a mile to go, we were offered wet sponges. Sprinting past, dripping with sweat in the July heat, I grabbed one and shoved it in my face. My mouth was open a bit and I got a mouthful of what tasted like Dettol – mmm, tasty.

I didn’t care. I felt glorious. I had no idea if a woman was very close behind me or not – even so, ‘second place would be incredible’ I thought to myself.

For the last stretch I felt even stronger, and all that was going through my head was: Run like Emelia Gorecka.

(Emelia is one of my good friends and she is also spectacularly inspirational to me).

Crossing that finish line as the first lady was amazing. My Mum couldn’t believe the result. Dad wished he could have been there but said he was very proud.

I found out during the results that the next woman to cross the finish line was 4 minutes behind me – I could’t believe it! I honestly don’t think I would have done so well if it wasn’t for Phil. Although I slowed in the middle, trying to keep up with him would have shed minutes off my overall time, I have no doubt about that. So – thank you, Phil.

Run for the moment and push yourself!

Run to get fitter, run to get faster, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv x

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