A journey of 13.1 miles starts with just one step…

It’s hard for me to write this as I still really can’t believe that I, Laura (who couldn’t run to the end of Westercroft Lane in mid- April this year without being out of breath and praying for the breather to be elongated due to the main road being busier than m62 at rush hour) completed the Manchester Half Marathon on 16th October, just seven months after joining the Pumas.

On January 1st 2016 I had embarked on a New Years resolution-cum-Yorkshire Air Ambulance fundraiser in memory of my cousin Georgina Lockey; For every pound in weight I lost, I would put a pound coin in a piggy bank for YAA. My start weight was 18 ½ stone and I had a goal in mind to lose 8 stone of that by the end of the year using Paul McKenna ‘I can make you thin’ and Joe Wicks ‘Lean in 15’ recipes. I began walking to improve my fitness, alongside a kettlebell class and although I had kind of reached a plateau I was reluctant to step it up any more at this stage for fear of doing too much too soon and putting myself off exercise all together.

 May 2015 Training for Yorkshire 3 Peak

May 2015 Training for Yorkshire 3 Peak

Joining a running club

I came to my first beginner’s session in April this year following much persuasion from Holly Parry who convinced me to give it a go, despite my reassurances of ‘I can’t run!!’ she talked me round by saying that the beginners sessions were perfect for people like me; an introduction to running with other people of similar ability and no pressure. It would help to keep me losing weight and putting money in the piggy bank so I caved and said I’d come along- after all every one of us has to start somewhere!
Well, we were both right; I couldn’t run very far, but the session was perfect. Ian has this knack of making me continue running when I don’t want to! He was so encouraging without being pushy which is what someone with my mentality needed.
I would never have thought despite enjoying the session that on 16th October in the same year I would run a half marathon in under 2 and a half hours- I don’t think I thought I could ever achieve that in my lifetime.

Through attending the beginners sessions and running with Holly, Ian and Alison I began to see the improvements over time, granted some runs were harder than others, but every week got a little easier plus I had targets to aim for which kept me focussed. I signed up with Holly and Caroline for the Solstice Saunter at Bolton Abbey on 20th June, a five mile run which was anything but flat and the furthest I’d run prior was 3 ½ miles, but it was something to aim for and I’d promised myself that if I did it under an hour I’d reward myself with a fitbit Blaze. I walked a third of the course in and amongst, but managed to just sneak in under an hour.

Solstice Saunter at Bolton Abbey with Holly and Caroline
Solstice Saunter at Bolton Abbey with Holly and Caroline

Manchester Half Marathon

Shortly after this there was talk on the Pumas facebook page of the Manchester Half Marathon, and spaces on the bus were limited… I must have had a serious case of fear of missing out and booked my seat. Panic ensued. What have I done! I can’t run 6 miles?! Let alone 13.1!! I’d better get training…

I downloaded a beginners 12 week training programme from Runnersworld which the facebook group helped me with some of the terminology (apparently HMP is half marathon pace, not Her Majestys Prison, and LSD is Long Slow Distance not drugs).
I did additional runs alone which were sometimes enjoyable and sometimes hard work but each one was essential, I also ran with a couple of friends who are Sowerby Bridge Snails members who run at a similar pace to me. I had some tough weeks where things didn’t go to plan… you find things out about your bodies tolerances and more so your mental state over physical, but the important thing was to keep chipping away at the end goal, not give up and if I’d had a bad day write it off and start again the day after.

Alison and I working the camera at the Manchester Half
Alison and I working the camera at the Manchester Half

I’d been ticking off the sessions on the plan on my fridge and before I knew it the day was here- I was petrified. We got on the coach at 6 45am and off we went to Manchester. The atmosphere on the bus was as to be expected; friendly and supportive.
I was telling anyone who would listen how worried I was and then Alison Shooter offered to drop back a pen and run with me. I felt better immediately. Alison was a tremendous support for me, she gave me a foil blanket for the starting pen as I was freezing, gave me energy gel and kept reassuring me. Basically she was my Run Mum! Without Alison the run may well have been different for me; she made me smile when I felt like crying, ensured I took advantage of the photo opportunities and selflessly kept checking in on me at every single mile- I am truly grateful. Alison helped out another lady at 12 miles who was breaking down, and pulled her through to the finish line. Real Puma spirit!

There was a great inclusive and social feel about the whole day with so many people taking part in their first half marathon and exceeding their own expectations. The reward for this was drinking and eating whatever I wanted following the race… Cakes, Chinese and gin!

Glow in the Park

On 28th October I ran in a 5K at Heaton Park, Manchester called ‘Glow in the Park’- it was more of a fun run than a race, where participants put as much light up/glow in the dark on as possible and ran through disco zones. Great for beginners; no pressure for times etc and plenty of distractions to take your mind off the running.

Glow in the Park with some friends from Sowerby Bridge Snails
Glow in the Park with some friends from Sowerby Bridge Snails
Glow in the Park
Glow in the Park

Then on 6th November I’ve registered for the Abbey Dash 10K where I’m aiming to finish under 1 hour- something which I’ve not managed to do throughout my training. If I achieve this? Brilliant! If I don’t? Nevermind, there’ll be another run to aim for.

Following on from that I’m aiming to hit my weight loss target by losing my last 2 pounds to take me to 8 stone (112lbs/ £112) in total, and hopefully raise just under £1000 for YAA as a number of very kind people offered to match what I put in the piggy bank also.

September 2015
September 2015

I would encourage any beginner to set a short term, realistic and achievable goal with a small reward in mind, whatever that may be; Sign up to a 5K, attend a Pumas session every week, run one extra lamp post than the week- before it really does help. And once you’ve achieved that- set your next goal and reward. All the guys at the club are welcoming and approachable; don’t be afraid to ask for advice. It’s also really important to be kind to yourself and remind yourself how far you’ve come so far- getting kitted up to come to that very first session instead of sitting and watching TV is a huge but important step!   

As part of the West Yorkshire Sport drive to get people involved in sporting activities the Northowram Pumas Running Club hosted our very own Olympic games. Following the amazing success of this event, we’re hosting a series of six Tokyo 2020 warm up sessions to get everyone inspired to take up sport!

The sessions are open to all ages and are taking place every Saturday morning from 10.15 to 11 at Northowram Community Sports and Activity Club (until the 22 October 2016) . And what’s best of all they’re completely free of charge!

The First Session

One of the attendees to our very first session, Tegan Green-Moore, gives a run down of the mornings activities.

We arrived at 10:15am at Northowram Community Sports and Activity Club (NCSAC) ready and raring to go and take part in Tokyo 2020.

Ian, Sarah and Ally started the warm up by splitting us into 2 groups for the domes and dishes activity. We frantically turned the domes into dishes whilst the other team undid our hard work by turning them back to domes! Thirsty work and our jackets came off ready for the obstacle race.

Staying in the same teams, we had to race through hoops, down the ladder, star jumps and a sprint back to our next team member. Ian made us all giggle as he demonstrated how to hula hoop!

A quick drink and we split into 3 teams for the relay race. Batons at the ready, we were determined to win (especially the adults!) High fives all round after some fab relay races.

The sun was shining and 2 old planes were flying above whilst we were having a fantastic time.

Sharks were chosen for the next game. The fish had to stay safe whilst swimming between the 3 islands.

Skidding into a 'safe' zone for shark attack
Skidding into a ‘safe’ zone for shark attack

When the Sharks were full we finished off with a team photo, including 2 mascot dogs who wanted in on the action!

The Puma Olympians
The Puma Olympians

A big thank you to Athletic Ally, Sporty Sarah and Inspiring Ian for a marvellous morning of fun and games.

Literally, since I started running, every time I go on holiday I dutifully pack my running clobber and tell myself that I will, at least once, go out for a run while I’m away.

And I suspect like many people, I never actually do. I drag all my stuff there and it sits in the bottom of my suitcase (hidden under other things so I’m not reminded about it) completely untouched until I get home again.

Total holiday running fail!

But, I recently went to Brussels and I discovered something that will change my lack of holiday exercise forever. SIGHT JOGGING!

This is amazing.

I think the name pretty much gives it away, but basically it’s a sight-seeing tour that’s based around running.

In Brussels, we booked our tour through Brussels Sight Jogging. We booked our tour before we went. It cost us €64 for 2 people and as the tour lasted upwards for 2 hours I think this was pretty good value.

The website gave information on a number of different routes you could do, we plumped for the ‘Old Brussels’ tour as this covered the main highlights of the city centre.

Our sight jogging guide, Alexandre, met us outside our Air BNB (another awesome holiday must!) accommodation and off we went.

Alex was happy to run at a pace that was comfortable for us, which was good. And over the next 2 hours we covered about 7 miles in and around the centre of Brussels.

With one of the many sights
With one of the many sights

It sounds like quite a long time to be running, but we had a lot of stops at different places of interest where Alex would give us a bit of history or story about a particular building or monument.

By doing the sight jogging we got quite a good idea of the layout of the city centre, which made the rest of our weekend a bit easier as we weren’t spending it getting lost!

We also saw a lot of things that I don’t think we’d have ever come across or known about if we hadn’t done the guided run, as your guide is a local they know all about the interesting parts of Brussels and the history behind them. It’s much more interesting than just reading it out of a guide book.

Alex was also happy to give us recommendations about where to eat and drink and also where to avoid!

Plus, it burnt off enough calories to cancel out all the beer and waffles (ha, it totally didn’t but that’s what I’m telling myself)!

2 hours sight jogging = lots of beer
2 hours sight jogging = lots of beer

If you’re off on holiday and want:

  • To do a bit of running
  • Learn about the place your staying
  • Meet a nice like-minded local

I would whole heartedly recommended sight jogging. Most major cities seem to have companies that offer it. And it is a great way to get a different view of the place you’re staying in.

We’ve already got one booked in for our summer holiday in Slovenia! Roll on sight jogging Ljubljana

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday morning say Deke Banks and Andrew Tudor take on the Trimpell 20.

Andrew tells all about their adventures over the border in Lancashire:

We set off early the Lancaster for the Trimpell 20 Miler, arriving in Lancaster surrounded by beautiful countryside, historic buildings and the seafront not far off either. With the Sun shining we were feeling fresh and looking forward to the challenge ahead.

Registration was in Her Majesty’s Prison Lancaster Castle, something we weren’t expecting!

It’s a beautiful building and it was quite surreal to go inside and see the old prison cells and walk ways

After registration we made our way down to the starting area, which was a couple of fields at the side of a bike path. The sun was still shining and there was a lovely view of the castle and church at the top of the hill and the knowledge we would be heading up the hill to the finish at the castle after nearly 20 miles of running.

The race set off at 11am with over a 1,000 runners, some serious athletes, some club runners and some there to challenge themselves or in fancy dress.

It was a nice flat route for the most of it, taking us along the River Lune for most of the course, crossing over the iconic Lancaster Millennium Bridge down into Morecambe with views of Morecambe Bay, back around and over the Millennium Bridge out towards Caton again alongside the River Lune. We mostly ran along cycle paths with just a few hundred meters at the side of a road during the turn at just over 13 miles. The route then headed back down the cycle paths crossing bridges with wonderful views of the River Lune and the rapids before hitting the big hill up to the finish line at the Castle (the hilly training sessions we’d been doing earlier in the week really paid off as I overtook about 10 people on the final climb and felt really strong).

I was very happy and surprised with my time (as you can see from the picture below when I see the big clock), I just wanted to get around in 3 hours.

Overall it was an excellent day out and brilliant race and course. I was very happy with my time and Deke was happy with his (even if this was a little slower than he’s capable of) as he’s had a bit of a niggling knee so he took it easy and came through with hardly any pain.

It has given us both the confidence that we can complete the 26.2 miles waiting for us in London in April and maintain a decent pace throughout.

Provisional results were:

  • Deke: Position 189 with a time of 2:35:28
  • Andrew: Position 289 with a time of 2:48:15

Have a look at some of the pictures of Deke and Andrew and the Trimpell 20:

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While the rest of us spent most of December finding excuses not to go running quite as much (because it Christmas of course!) Matt decided to do something crazy. Like, really crazy, and run every day of the month (that’s 31 consecutive day’s people!). Each and every run had to be at least 3 miles or 25 minutes long. The challenge was called Marcothon.

When Matt first started out his aim was to see how far he could go, it turns out, pretty far!

The trouble with signing up to run every day is that it means that you have to run every day. Whether it’s nice weather or pouring it down (which it did, A LOT, in December) and you have to fit it around work and home life. We all know how hard it is to try and fit in a couple of runs a week, never mind one a day!

Days one to nine, were fairly easy going, but by day 10 Matt had to change his mindset somewhat as the injuries started to take their toll. He had to knuckle down and run through the pain.

Because he is clearly somewhat insane, Matt then decided to celebrate making it halfway through his Marcothon by running a half marathon (that’s 13.1 miles (after already running every single day for 15 days)). Mental, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Not content with just running 3 miles a day Matt managed to run a fair few 10k distances along the way as well.

But even superman couldn’t sustain all this running so by day 21 Matt made the decision to just do the basic 5k runs with a slower time just to get him to the end of the challenge

To celebrate the last day of his challenge Matt met up with some fellow Marcothoners to do the last run together.

Matt and the Marcothon's
Matt and the Marcothon’s

Altogether Matt’s total mileage for December was 122 miles and this took him a total of 19 hours. A huge achievement! Well done Matt!!

Ever wondered how much training, dedication and, lets face it, pain, goes into training for and running a marathon?

Well, wonder no more, 2 of our Pumas are here to answer all your questions!

Adam Standeven and Andrew Tudor will both be blogging about their training in the lead up to their marathon debuts at the Virgin London Marathon on 24 April 2016.

To visit their blogs just click the links below:

Their blogs will chronicle the ups and downs of training for a marathon. And hopefully they’ll inspire you to take your own challenge in 2016.

If you’d like to make their hard work worth it, both Adam and Andrew will be raising money for some great charities. You can find links to their sponsorship pages by visiting their blogs.