18km round #3

With less than a month to go until the big day (28 days to be exact), I knew that I had to go out for a run this morning. I was prepared with a fully charged iPod (which ran out of battery on my previous long distance run) and my new moreFit fitness tracker. I was contemplating running 21km (the distance of a half marathon), but I decided to opt for a third attempt at 18km.

If I wanted to check the time, I used to have to take my iPod out of my pocket which is a bit of a faff when you’re running. My fitness tracker is a lot more convenient to see how long I’ve been running for as I wear it on my left wrist. I can also check the distance I’ve ran, although this isn’t as accurate as I was hoping.

When I reached the 5km mark, my fitness tracker only read 4.5km. By the time I completed my 18km run, it turns out that I had only run 16km. I use Mapometer to plan my routes which is pretty accurate, so I knew that I had run 18km, not 16km. Even though my fitness tracker may not be very accurate, it’s handy to have a timer on my wrist while I’m out running, and it gives me an estimate for how many steps I’ve done when I’m just pottering around the house or out walking.

I finished 18km in 2 hours and 10 minutes today, which is more than my previous two attempts. My first attempt was around 2 hours, and my second attempt was about 2 hours and 5 minutes. However, I am not too concerned about reaching a time for my first half marathon; my main goal is to be able to run one, however long it takes. If I was to put a time on, I would say that I’d aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes.

With the half marathon coming round the corner, I’m starting to feel the pressure, although I’m feeling confident that I’ll be able to run 21km/13 miles on the 15th October!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

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Investing in fitness

My mother is walking 10,000 steps a day next month to raise money for Association of Air Ambulances, which also happens to be the charity which I’ve decided to support for the half marathon in Leicester which I’ll be running next month. In order to track the number of steps, my mother wanted to get a fitness tracker. After some research on my father’s part, I bought a moreFit Slim fitness tracker for my mother, and I’ve also bought one for myself!

Say hello to moreFit

I’ve heard positive reviews about various fitness trackers, in particular the Fitbit which is just a bit out of my price range (many are priced at over £100!). The moreFit Slim fitness tracker costs only £19.99, and is perfect for what my mother and I need.

I’ve been using mine since last Friday and it seems to be working pretty well so far. The moreFit tracks the amount of steps you walk/run, how far you’ve walked/ran, the amount of calories you’ve burnt, and the amount of time you have been active for (in minutes). The moreFit also tracks your sleeping pattern, telling you how many hours of deep sleep, shallow sleep and waking sleep you’ve had during the night when you pair it with your phone.

Steps tracker

The app that you pair the moreFit with is called Veryfit, and it is very easy to use. Firstly you enter your details into the app, including your date of birth, height and weight. When you pair the moreFit with your phone, the app updates itself showing you your progress on a chart. You can look at the data on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis for the amount of steps you’ve done and your sleeping pattern as well.

I’ve not been out for a run or to the gym with my moreFit on, but it’s amazing how many steps you can do when you’re just pottering around your home. I went to Leeds for the day on Saturday and walked almost 20,000 steps! (I did look around lots of shops as well as the Leeds City Museum and cathedral).

When I do go out for a long distance run, I can set a stop watch on my moreFit fitness tracker which will also track my exact distance, steps and calories burnt for the duration of the run. It will also be good to track my progress on the Veryfit app as well.

It’s early days yet, but my moreFit seems to be working well so far. The only thing is that the fitness tracker is quite sensitive, so it sometimes counts steps while you’re driving or a passenger in a car. Other than that, you can set yourself a target for the amount of steps that you want to achieve via the Veryfit app, and when you reach your target the moreFit tracker vibrates and shows you a trophy!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

 

Update #19

I didn’t actually post an update last month as I was away in France, where I had a lovely time away and enjoyed the sunshine and French cuisine. I didn’t quite get round to writing an update post as I wrote one about my break in France, but this update looks back at July and August together, since July was a quiet month on my blog.

So back in July I ran 18km for the first time. Since then I’ve managed to run 18km again for my third attempt, as my second go at running this distance didn’t quite go to plan. During my second 18km attempt I experienced ‘The Wall‘, but I’m glad that I overcame this obstacle in my recent 18km run. I’d like to increase this to 21km for my next long distance run, which will be the distance of a half marathon (only 39 days to go until the big day!)

Last month I managed to write a blog with a slight feminist tone, which is about our perception of body image and how this affects our health. Interestingly there was a news story recently about a study which suggests that even if you are fit and do regular exercise, you are more likely to suffer from heart attacks and other diseases if you carry too much weight. I might write a blog about this, as I consider myself to be fitter even though I am carrying a bit too much body weight. It’ll be an interesting study to look into.

Food wise I recently made a chocolate banana loaf for my sister’s birthday. It went down very well and I’d definitely like to make another one for future occasions. I do like the combination of chocolate and banana, it tastes great!

Many of you will know that I have a poetry blog as well called ‘poclaretry‘, where I have recently posted about a new poetry night I went to called Bohemia. I read out a few poems at a restaurant called Boneyard in Leicester where I had the opportunity to perform in front of a new audience, and meet other poets as well.

Performing at Bohemia

This month I’d like to focus on my training for the half marathon, since it will be my biggest physical challenge so far!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

18km round #2

With only 42 days to go until the half marathon, I was determined to run 18km this morning. The last time I tired to run that far I experienced what many runners refer to as The Wall. I just wanted to stop running and felt like giving up, so I only made it to 15km the last time I went out for a long run.

Today was better than my last 18km attempt, to an extent. I felt great running this morning and after reaching the 10km point, I was even contemplating running 21km, the distance of a half marathon!

However, my iPod died on me. I checked the stopwatch on my iPod when it said 1 hour and 30 minutes, but a few moments later the music stopped playing. My iPod ran out of battery after I had just passed the 14km point, so I had another 4km to go without music.

It was tough as the next 2km was just a straight long path along what used to be a railway. I tried to admire the scenery, saw many cute dogs and tried to listen to the birds, but running without music is very difficult for me.

When I ran in the Race for Lifes and the Resolution Run, I didn’t listen to music as runners are normally advised not to listen to music due to the amount of people. I’m pretty sure that runners are not allowed to listen to music at the Leicester Marathon. When there are so many people though, it’s important to be aware of who’s around you and not to get distracted. I have to be careful when I’m out running as you sometimes can’t hear approaching cyclists behind you.

The atmosphere at large organised runs is fantastic though. The support you hear from other runners and spectators means that you don’t need music to motivate you. I managed fine without music at the runs I’ve participated in so far, but when I’m out running on my own, I need music to keep me going, otherwise I find it boring.

The last 4km was tough, but I finished 18km today in about 2 hours and 5 minutes. I completed my last successful 18km run in about 2 hours, so I’m pleased with my time today, since I found it difficult to run the final stretch without music.

I’m also pleased that I haven’t experienced pain in my shins for a while. I was worried about this earlier in the year during my training, as my shins were hurting which made it difficult to run long distances. I hope that the pain doesn’t come back anytime soon, especially on the day of the half marathon!

I’ll make sure that my iPod is fully charged, so that I have music for the next time I go out for a long distance run, which could be the distance of a half marathon!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Chocolate Banana Loaf

In true sibling fashion, I made my sister a birthday cake for the Bank Holiday Monday. We all went out for a lovely meal to celebrate my sister’s birthday, and it turns out that she brought a cake with her even though I made her one. It was quite funny having two cakes both lit with candles brought out by waitresses for one table!

I had a look in one of my favourite cake recipe books, called ‘The Classic 1000 Cake and Bake Recipes’, and decided to make a chocolate banana loaf. There were a few bananas which needed using (as they were extremely ripe) and I had some milk chocolate, so I opted for this recipe which I hadn’t tried before.

Firstly I melted 150g butter, 150g caster sugar and 150g of milk chocolate in a pan. I normally use cocoa powder or drinking chocolate powder when I make some form of chocolate cake, but I followed the recipe and melted the milk chocolate.

Sweet tooth combination!

When everything had melted, I took the pan off the heat and then stirred in three beaten eggs. When the eggs were combined I added two mashed bananas, and then gradually stirred in 200g plain flour and two teaspoons of baking powder. I then poured the cake mixture into a lined and greased loaf tin and baked for one hour at gas mark 3.

The cake mix tasted so good

Once the cake had cooled down I simply decorated the top with the left over melted chocolate and chocolate sprinkles which were hiding in the cupboard. The melted chocolate dripped down the sides of the cake, but no one seemed fussed about that when the cake was served at my sister’s birthday meal.

Chocolate banana loaf

Using melted chocolate in the cake mixture seemed to work really well. The sponge was nice and moist, which would have also been due to the bananas. The simple decoration of melted chocolate on top with sprinkles tasted nice as well, and made the whole loaf look like a chocolate lover’s idea of heaven!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

57 days to go

The date is looming nearer and it’s starting to feel pretty surreal. In 57 days’ time I will be running a half marathon at the Leicester Marathon (on Sunday 15th October). I try to think to myself that just under two months’ time sounds better than 57 days, but whatever way I phrase the amount of time I have left, it’s making me feel pretty nervous now! How about eight weekends to go until the half marathon? That sounds even more frightening!

I haven’t ran the distance of a half marathon yet. I’ve made it to 18km so far, which is 3km shy of a half marathon. Ideally I’d like to run the distance of a half marathon at least once before the big day.

Rather than going out for a long run I went to the gym this morning, after taking the dogs for a walk, and completed an intense 3km workout on the cross trainer. I felt pretty good afterwards, as I was varying the intensity levels while maintaining an average speed of 130 spins per minute. I completed 3km in just over 48 minutes, which is just over 16 minutes per kilometre. I always like to see the amount of calories burnt, even if it is just an estimate based on your age and weight, as well as your heart rate which is measured by sensors on the cross trainer which you place your hands on.

Result on the cross trainer

Even though I’ve not been getting down to the gym or running as often as I’d like to, I still keep myself active during the working week. Since my parents have been away I’ve been taking the dogs for an early morning 20-30 minute walk and then I walk to work, which is just shy of 2 1/2 miles and takes me about 45 minutes. A few nights after work I’ve took the dogs out for another walk, especially when the weather has been nice.

After the gym this morning- what’s happened to my hair?!

Ideally next Saturday is my next opportunity to go out for a long distance run. I’d like to run 18km again since my attempt last week didn’t go as according to plan. I have a half marathon route planned, which I actually did last year when I was supposed to run one.

My half marathon route for training

While I do feel nervous, I’m also in a position where I believe that I can complete this challenge. I am not aiming for a time, but I’d like to complete the half marathon in no more more 2 and 1/2 hours. I think that’s a reasonable target, since this will be the first time that I have ever ran this far, which I never had previously imagined before!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

 

The Wall

With just over two months to go until the half marathon, I was aiming to run 18km for the second time this morning. After taking the dogs out for a walk I geared myself up with my running shoes, headphones and water, and felt ready to complete this long distance run.

Unfortunately my run didn’t go quite as I had planned today. I felt fine at first, going along the same route I did recently when running 18km for the first time. Just as I was reaching the half way point I was feeling tired. My legs were aching slightly, and upper back started to as well, which is a first for me. I walked for a bit then started running again at a gentle pace and then gradually speeding up. However, I couldn’t keep running for very long before I had to stop and walk again.

I was struggling to keep on running and when I reached the 10km mark, I was tempted to call it a day as this point is very close to home. I decided to carry on though, maintaining a steady pace. Part of me wished that I did stop at 10km, as my right calf was starting to twinge after about the 12km point.

I persevered for a while, gently running along but then I finally decided to do some brisk walking instead.  I didn’t want to cause any damage to my calf, such as pulling a muscle. In the end I reached the 15km point of my planned 18km route, and finished in about 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Part of me wonders if I experienced today what runners call the Wall. In the comedy film Run Fatboy Run, there is a scene where the main character (played by Simon Pegg) reaches a point while running a marathon where he feels that he can’t continue running. He’s exhausted and just wants to give up (although he does have an injury at this point as well, but in real life he wouldn’t have been able to finish the marathon). Despite this he manages to ‘break the wall’ and he finishes the marathon!

 

The Wall scene in Run Fatboy Run

It is explained in the film that runners training for a long distance race can hit the Wall at any point. I must admit, I did feel like giving up when I reached the 10km point. My legs were hurting and I felt tired, but I carried on until realising that it was for the best that I stopped running any further before causing damage to myself.

I guess that this was the first time that I hit the Wall today. Even though I didn’t want to give up after I carried on when I could’ve stopped, I was struggling to carry on. I will take this experience today as a part of my training, and that with more running planned for the next few months, I am sure that I will be able to ‘beat the wall’ and complete the challenge of running my first half marathon in October!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂