RUNAWAYS: YORKSHIRE

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Inspired by the Saucony Runaways I thought I would share, one of my favourite running routes in West Yorkshire. I feel extremely lucky to live in such a beautiful county with a variety of different scenery from the dales to coastal.

Rolling hills, dry stone walls, woodland and farm land were just some of the stunning views on offer for today’s run. 

Plenty of hills in Yorkshire

Today was my first Sunday long run back, after my end of season break, and to help me round, my training bud Nick Hardy joined me. I was glad to have him there, to drag me up a couple of the particularly steep hills that we have in abundance here in Yorkshire. 

One of my dream houses. Maybe if I win the lotto

This is the first year, where Coach Thomas and I have decided that I should continue to keep in touch with some easy running during my ‘athlete break’. 

Bird Spotting Red Kite

Previous years, at the end of my season, I haven’t ran a step for 2 – 3 weeks and have then found it really tough to get back into training, without picking up an injury. For me, ‘switching off’ from being an athlete is more important and over the last fews weeks all discipline around my diet, sleeping and daily strict routines have gone out the window. I even stayed up past midnight one night! Wild.

They’re pretty good at dry stone walling in Yorkshire 

For the last couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed just running for fun, without wearing my garmin or worrying about what route to run. I’m back wearing the garmin now and avoiding tree roots and will begin to increase my mileage gradually over the next few weeks.

Eccup reservoir

Before Christmas I like to run on more challenging, hilly routes to toughen me up and hopefully prepare me to compete in some cross country races, all being well. Believe it or not, I actually love cross country and have missed competing on it over the last few years.

I love a good hay bale

I’m pleased and excited with starting this winter with some fitness and hope to train even better this winter and compete more. Prevoius years I have struggled to put back to back seasons together and this is another reason why we have decided to keep some running in during my ‘athlete break’.

All smiles now with the sun still on our backs

As I build up the miles and start to bring in some sessions I’ll keep you updated and hopefully have some cross country race results to report back on, as long as I have the energy to do so.

Both Nick and I are rocking the best mileage shoe out there; the Saucony Triumph ISO 2

Click on the images to check out the Saucony apparel we were wearing 

So close…

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Some days I’m still really struggling to get over the disappointment of missing out on fulfilling my lifetime ambition of qualifying for an Olympic Games. I’m struggling, I think, because I came so close to achieving that dream.

Finishing 3rd, outside the top 2, only 0.08 of a second behind 2nd, at the Olympic trials and national championship made my task of qualifying for the games that little bit more challenging. It meant that I had to run a time that would rank me inside the top 22 in the world, or something like that, which was, at the time, 4.04.3, much quicker than the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) qualifying time of 4.07.00. After a great block of training and setting PB’s in my sessions I was confident, in the right race, that I could achieve this and I had also hoped that my performance at the trials was good enough to convince the selectors to pick me for the European Championships. Unfortunately, neither of these things happened. The races I had lined up after the trials, before the deadline, just weren’t quick enough to run the faster time that was now expected and I’m still unsure why British Athletics didn’t select me for the European Champs, when other athletes that performed well at the trial without qualifying times were selected.

I did manage to pick myself up, run 4.05.98 in Belgium and was looking forward to competing at the anniversary games in London. Cruelly, the day before the race, I began to feel unwell. Covered in an all over body rash, breathing like a ’50 a day smoker’ I tried to convince myself it was just allergies, got some antihistamines in me and prayed I would be okay still to race. It wasn’t to be and I pulled out of London, hit rock bottom and it took me a while to get well again and start back training. I was determined to compete again this season but after missing quite a bit of work I was running like an absolute donkey and it was depressing to feel so unfit and the shape that I was in – lost.

IMG_20160729_104914I’m now on my ‘athlete break’, running just for fun, falling in love with my adorable new kitten Wilf and trying to take away the positives from this season. My husband/coach, Aaron, has been super supportive, picked me up (quite literally after collapsing in floods of tears after my ‘last chance race’) and reminds me that my SB of 4.05.98 has been my quickest recorded time since 2013 and will, hopefully, count as a qualifying time for next years World Championships in London.

We’ll dream some more…

Thank you to CSPC Physiotherapy, in particular Graeme Everard, my chiropractor – Doug Clark at Dynamic Chiropractic and Aaron, adding even more strings to his bow, as my fantastic soft tissue therapist for keeping me fit and healthy. With this team, I am more confident than ever that I can put a back to back winter and season together, something that I haven’t managed before and come out even faster and stronger next year.

Thank you Saucony for continuing to support me and provide me with the best apparel, running shoes and spikes that are out there! My feet have never been so happy and this has also been key in keeping me fit and healthy.

LOVING IT

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Every year I notice how winter training starts in September, feels a drag to Christmas but then all of a sudden we are already into February and the track season will be here before we know it!

My winter training didn’t start too well, after my usual end of season break I started back running but then had to have a short stint on crutches, after annoying my heel fat pad, followed by a bad chest infection, it ended up that I had an extra unplanned month off so I was really unfit! This, at the time, really frustrated me and I was annoyed not to be in shape to compete, before Christmas, in some XC races and in particular the Euro Cross trials and cross challenge in Liverpool. I had wanted to be in good shape for that race and to see how close I could get to making the team. I suppose though these things can end up being a blessing in disguise because I now feel my fitness levels are peaking just at the right time, ready in another month to start bringing in a bit more quality.

I’ve been training hard since fully recovering from the chest infection, probably the hardest I’ve trained in a couple of years. This is because I’m pain free and I’ve not had to manage any niggles or nurse my foot through plantar fasciitis. I’m also enjoying it so much more because I’m not worrying how my foot will respond or hobbling round on warm downs. I’ve been consistent with my training, apart from a not to serious cold over Christmas, and this is key.

I’m now looking forward to, all being well, a few races in February. I’m excited about competing but I think I’m even more excited about the break from training hard and freshening up a bit! Firstly I’ll don my Saucony Racing uniform for a 10km planned and hopefully a PB, then my first ever trip to Ireland to compete in the Armagh International. At the end of the month, I’ll dig out my club vest – Wakefield and District Harriers and compete in the National XC champs. Into March, it will be back into training and readying myself for the track season.

12507369_1019591928084747_2907888251914993017_nIt was great to be back representing GB again, when I competed in the 4 x 1km relay in Edinburgh and hopefully I’ll get my chance again this summer. This will be no easy task and I’m not thinking too much about the Olympics or Europeans. I’m just concentrating, at the moment, on getting myself as aerobically fit as possible and robust enough to start running a bit faster in the spring. Coach Thomas and I have changed a few things this winter to make that transition smoother so fingers crossed, in the summer, I’ll be fit, healthy and loving my running and sport as much as I am now.

Thank you Coach House Sports Physiotherapy Clinic and Dynamic Chiropractic for helping me me stay fit and healthy so far.

Charlene

COMPETING TO COMPETE

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This time last year I missed 4 months of running, one month of which was spent on crutches, and didn’t complete my first full week of training until January due to a very painful plantar fascia. Because of this I knew it would be tough to be in shape early on in the season and a challenge to get into the competitive races that I would need to bring the best out of me and run a qualifying times for the World Championships with missing last season. I’m grateful though to be healthy this year and still feeling that I have more to give this season.

It’s not been until recently that my plantar fascia has fully recovered. Reducing the amount of heavy weights I was lifting through my calf muscles and feet to strengthen the plantar fascia has allowed it to finally adapt and to my relief stop hurting so much! Being pain free has meant I’ve been able to really attack my sessions and I’ve come on in the last month. Track sessions were a challenge when my plantar fascia was sore and warming down was more of a hobble than a slow run. The trials were also challenging with two back to back races.

Pain free I’m now feeling really good and I think in the right race I could run a PB this season. It’s been a frustrating and a disappointing last month though, with reasons still unclear to me as to why I was not given the opportunity to compete in the London Anniversary Games 1500m, which was my last chance to run the QT for the World Champs. I was pretty gutted to not have the opportunity to compete there. On seasons best I was quicker than some of the athletes in that race and it was a non Diamond League (DL) event. Instead of supporting British Athletes the event had 8 US athletes in and only 3 British athletes, of which 2 of them I have ran quicker than this year. I was also disappointed back in June not to get a start in the Birmingham DL race. I picked myself back up again though and was looking forward to competing in the Janusz Kusociński Memorial meeting this Sunday but last Saturday I tweaked my calf and it has not recovered fully in time ready to wear spikes and run flat out. Fortunately it’s not serious but was just very bad timing!

I now plan to get myself ready for the final BMC GP in Solihull and hope the BMC can put a good field together with a strong pacemaker where I can give running fast a good go. I’m also going to compete on the Wednesday after Solihull at Watford in the BMC Gold Star meeting and will hope to run quick there too.

The BMC races can be great when the best in Britain turn up but this often isn’t the case. It’s a shame that the BMC don’t appear to have the finances to fund athletes from the rest of the world to compete in the meetings and pay travel expenses and accommodation. It’s so competitive to get into races in Europe and I can’t help but feel disappointed that we can’t have more meetings in the UK set up to run qualifying times. At the last DL meeting in Stockholm, as part of the pre meeting build up there was 4 lots of mens 800m races, a women’s B 800m race and numerous 400m races set up for their national athletes wanting to run PB’s. It would be great if we could do the same when we host the DL events in Birmingham and London. In the past we have done this, in particular when Dame Kelly Holmes organised an ‘On Camp with Kelly’ 800m.

Next year will be even more competitive to get into the races. I’m determined to run fast this season, stay healthy in the winter, compete on the mud and be in shape earlier in the season to run qualifying times. The Coach House Sports Physiotherapy Clinic and Doug Clark at Dynamic Chiropractic have done a great job in keeping me healthy most of this season and in fixing my calf this week! If I finish my season with a good world ranking it might be a bit easier for my agent, Flynn Sports Management, who have been a great support this year, to get me in the races I need but it would be so much more less stressful if we had more opportunities here in the UK too.

I hope to see the endurance athletes who are not at the World Champs compete at the final BMC GP in Solihull and Watford. Let’s run fast!

Charlene

 

#FontRomeu2015

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18099_10155362279820162_9108678633154543393_nPacking to spend a month in the Pyrenees mountains altitude training in April can be tricky. The weather can be unpredictable and one day is glorious sunshine the next snowing. I made packing for Coach Thomas even more of a challenge by lending out all of our suitcases to friends and family. His two and a half weeks worth of clothes, shoes, accessories and most importantly his Easter egg had to fit into a carry on case! Fortunately Font Romeu (FR) blessed us with the best month of weather I have experienced during April and the trail shoes, hats and gloves weren’t needed. Coach Thomas survived on a few outfits.

20150424_171104The fantastic weather helped bring me on and I managed a few faster 1500m sessions. Prior to coming out to Font Romeu I had picked up a niggle, just after the indoor champs, so missed two weeks of running. It had then taken me another few weeks to get back into full training and I felt a bit fed up and flat. A change in scenery, and stunning scenery it is, certainly perked me up and with a change in my mood and a full month of consistent training now behind me, has set me up nicely for the season ahead.

Cracking view

I’m working with my agent, Ray Flynn at Flynn Sports Management, on my race schedule and will open up my season at the Westminster road mile on the 23rd May. The season is a long one, with the trials and major champs later this year, so I will look to do my first track races in June, which also gives me a bit more time to get into shape. If I do surprise the coach in training over the next couple of weeks I could open up earlier and do love to compete at Stretford in the BMC meets. The first GP is the 17th May, we’ll see.

IMG_20150429_154032For now, it’s home to Leeds and back training with teamthomas who will be sporting a new kit, designed by me, so keep a look out for them setting PB’s in a cool new uniform. I hope to be running quick too, in my new Saucony Racing uniform and yellow just so happens to be my favourite colour!

Thank you again to my sponsor Delamere Dairy, who also continue to support me and alongside British Athletics part funded my trip to FR.

Charlene