#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 5

Date: 05 June 2020

Miles: aesthetically pleasing 13.13

Total miles: 67.1

Cappuccino time!

Highlight of the run: Finding a good spot for a mid-run wee wee. Always a great success 😄

I have to admit – I was struggling yesterday afternoon/evening. My knees were hurting and I was generally drained (no matter how much carrot cake I ate). I was not up for running another bloody half marathon. This morning, when I eventually got out of the house and started jogging, I was not feeling it at all. But then I thought of my favourite quote by Emil Zátopek.

You know who he is, right? An incredibly inspiring Czech runner whom you can thank for (your favourite) interval training :). Oh, he also ran 5K under 14 minutes. And was the first one to break the 29-min “barrier” in 10K. But arguably, the coolest thing about him is how he totally randomly won a gold medal for running a marathon in 1952 Olympics. That year he already got gold in the 5K and 10K events, and then he made a last minute decision to give his first marathon a go… and won the bloody thing! To this day he remains the only one to have achieved all three in the same Olympics. What a hero!

Anyway, back to his quote. He said “Když nemůžeš, tak přidej” which is boringly translated as “Are you out of breath? Go faster!”. I prefer to translate it in a more poetic way: When you’re struggling, kick it up a notch.

At the begining of today’s run I was struggling. So I kicked it up a notch and ended up running my fastest buggy half while getting a crown on three Strava segments along the way. Something silly compared to Zátopek and his medals; for me an achievement nonetheless 😉

So next time you are struggling (in running or anything else for that matter), kick it up a notch and watch yourself succeed! Happy Friday folks!✌

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 4

Date: 04 June 2020

Miles today: 13.5

Total miles: 54

Highlight of the run: Wearing my superhero undies to give me superpowers!

Windsor Great Park traditional lollipop. (For non-locals: this is a route starting on the Long Walk, followed by a loop around the Copper Horse statue. Windsor Great Park is generally excellent for buggy running – wide concrete roads, with barely any traffic. Come and visit us!)

As I mentioned on Strava, I am only just starting to realise that this challenge might be hard. (Haha, silly of me right?) I have done some crazy stuff in my life (like moving to a different country four times, running a marathon with no marathon training, or singlehandedly raising a child). Looking back, they sound incredibly scary but at the beginning of each life “challenge” I was totally oblivious to the effort it’d require and pain it’d bring me. And that is probably why I tend to do silly (or perhaps admirable) things and quite often succeed in doing them – because at the beginning all I have is a vision, and only start worrying about the details when it’s too late. They say that luck favours the prepared, right? Well, where do you draw a line between getting ready and simply procrastinating (as a subconscious way of postponing what one was meaning to do, because one doesn’t feel prepared). Newsflash – you never will feel fully prepared. The right time is now. Do that thing you have always been meaning to do, because tomorrow it might just be too late…

Tofu and avocado salad ❤

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 3

Date: 03 June 2020 – Global Running Day!

Miles today: 13.1

Total miles: 40.4

Highlight of the run: Realising I am fit enough to run at 09:30 pace while being able to sing at the same time! Huge (insincere) apologies to all the cyclists who snuck up on me and had to hear some cheesy hits.

Today I went back to my rivers, but ran in the opposite direction than I did yesterday – that often completely transforms the route and gives one a different perspective. Speaking of perspective: last night I found out I will be made reduntant because my current role will not exist in our soon-restructured company. (I am not writing this to get sympathy, because although I appreciate it, I certainly don’t need it. You can always sponsor my running challenge instead😉.)

A good friend of mine said that I should really put my 13×13 challenge on hold so I can stay at home and be upset. How about no? If anything, that is yet another reason to get out for a run! A year ago, I suffered with anxiety because I could not handle uncertainty very well. 2020 is nothing but a series of never-ending uncertainties, yet I feel at peace. Why? Obviously, exercise (running) plays a massive role in this. And then there is also my slogan – just have a little faith! (Sorry, if you’ve heard it too many times from me.) I refuse to be upset over things I cannot change; I refuse to waste the little time I have been given sitting around and be sad; I refuse not to be happy! So I continue to have a little bit of faith that things will work out just like they always did, and that my life will get better year by year, just like it has done so far. I am not going to say that everything happens for a reason. I am saying that we have to find a reason in everything that happens. One door is closing, but I can already feel the bloody draft from all the other doors being opened!

So if you are in a similar situation, or if you are worried about all the other worriable things, just have a little faith…and also go running. While running, think of everything you can be grateful for, especially those things that we take for granted – like being able to run in the first place. I promise you, there is always way more to be grateful for, than to be worried about!

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 2

Date: 02 June 2020

Miles today: 14.2

Total miles: 27.3

Highlight of the run: Spotting a fellow buggy runner – one child in a buggy and the other one cycling alongside her. Genius! Now I know what to do once my monster does not fit into the buggy any more. Problem solved!

Today I did my most favourite route of all. I just love running/walking alongside rivers. Water surfaces are always enchanting, and my two rivers give me a sense of peace, tranquility and also joy. There is no other place you can experience these feelings – but in nature. So I do love to venture out and follow my river paths which are at some places fairly traily. The Thames Path from Dorney Lake all the way up to Taplow is bumpy, with dips and stones and tree roots. It was impossible to conquer with my old running buggy, so I am super thrilled that my new buggy just whizzes through the terrain. The suspension is great so my little passenger does not complain. If you are looking for a running buggy, then I totally recommend the one I have – an excellent value for money. I will write a more detailed review in a couple weeks’ time.

Oh and I also got carried away and accidentally took a longer route which added an extra mile on top of my half marathon. I promise myself that I won’t do even one step over 13.1 miles in the next 11 days 😉

Now I shall enjoy my (alcohol-free) beer (I am an athlete after all and my body is a temple! 😁 ) while planning tomorrow’s route.

Thanks for reading and for your support!

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 1

Date: 01 June 2020

Total miles: 13.11

Highlight of the run: Getting my lovely neighbour out for a 2.5 mile jog (pic below). She enjoyed it and wants to do it again on Wednesday! I love seeing people getting out and active 👏😍 Huge well done to her!

I didn’t plan any specific route because after two rest days I just wanted to run and feel free. That is probably why I foolishly decided to take a random path, instead of the main road, and ended up fighting my way through a sea of nettles, because I always stubbornly refuse to turn back. My child in the buggy was stunned by the adventure (and by the nettles) so he didn’t complain much, apart from an occasional “ouchie”. Anyway, getting stung by nettles is actually good for you as it increases blood flow in affected area. I remember an elderly woman in our village who used to whip her legs with nettles as a “cure” for arthritis. I suppose there is always a little bit of truth in old wives’ tales. Having said that, I think I’ll stick to wider nettle-free paths in future 🙂

It comes without saying that day 1 is usually the easiest so I have no complaints, apart from my slightly niggly knees. However, in my experience, the more I run the better they get so let’s just hope for the best.

If you get out for a run/jog/walk today (and I insist you do) here is a veggie lunch tip that has everything you need to fuel your body with healthy stuff: coconut milk and lemon grass stir fry with tofu. I’m just tucking into it now ❤

Let me entertain you with my mad running challenge

The Runnerd (or simply “me” if you think that referring to myself in third person is a sign of mental disturbance) is thrilled to announce a 13 x 13.1 in 13 days challenge starting on 1st of June!

I will (attempt to) run 13 half marathons (13.1 miles) over 13 consecutive days. All of them with a buggy. Let’s just call it the 13×13 challenge, shall we?

Before you ask, yes, I might be mildly bonkers.

Now, why am I doing it?

Trust me, this is a question I will be asking myself several times per day over the next two weeks. So I better write it down while it still makes sense to me:

Occasionally, people tell me I inspired them to do something cool (usually studying or exercising). We live in crazy times and we all seem to be getting a little bit mad (which is only natural) as if having our freedoms limited brings out (on occasions) the worst in us. I strongly believe that exercise is the answer to that. So I want to kick your bottom and energise you! Get up! Get moving! Go for a jog! You’ll experience endorphins rushing through your body which will make you feel happy; you’ll inhale some fresh air which will make your brain work better, and the sense of achievement you get will make you smile for the rest of the day. And if you lose a few grams of your lockdown weight (not that you need to) – well, that’s just the cherry on the cake. So yes, I am doing this to inspire you.

Secondly, I want to show everyone that excuses are lame and totally unnecessary. I am a single mum and have no childcare which means I cannot run, right? Wrong! I’ll shove the wee monster in a buggy and off we go. Whatever excuse you throw at me, chances are that there is always a workaround. Unless you are in a wheelchair and if you are, well, then I will run for you, friend.

If you have never jogged and/or are feeling self-conscious, then join me! If you are close enough to meet me in person, we are “open” between 07:30 and 10:30 7 days a week. I am happy to jog even the shortest distance in your company, no matter how slow, or just go for the (stop/start) first run attempt with you. Get in touch! And if you are not from the Windsor area then join me virtually and share your experience on Insta @the_runnerd or Twitter @JetJenny747. You don’t need these flipping £200 Nike shoes and crappy electrolytes drink to run your first mile. Just get out and do it!

Finally, if you are an experienced/regular runner and don’t need my silly attempts to motivate you, then I am here to entertain you! It’s going to be a laugh. 🙂

Look out for daily updates on this blog and @the_runnerd Instagram, or alternatively my Facebook. And if you don’t know what to do with your cash, feel free to buy me a gel or Lucozade here. Now get off your bum and put your trainers on! Chop chop!

The (small) two rivers loop

I do most of my buggy half marathons in Windsor Great Park, mainly because there are plenty of almost-traffic-free tarmac roads that make buggy running considerably easier. Today, I fancied something more challenging and therapeutic (I love water!) so I embarked on a lovely “two rivers” half. Starting from Slough and running by Jubilee River all the way to Taplow, then crossing over to Thames, following it to Dorney Lake and finally crossing back to Jubilee River. See below ⤵️

Jubilee River path itself is an excellent buggy running grounds as it’s wide and moderately easy to run on. But if you are an experienced(ish) buggy runner and fancy something a bit more challenging why not try the 6 mile loop from Dorney Lake up to Taplow Bath Road and back (see below⤵️).

The small “two rivers” loop

  • Why small? Because there is a much longer one that I shall map for you in the near future.
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Difficulty: 7/10 (with 1 being a stroll on a perfectly flat concrete with a topless waiter serving you chilled coke every other mile, and 10 being a requirement to lift your buggy over a fence while escaping from angry cows)
  • Key points: single buggy only, one set of steps.

Obviously, since it’s a loop, you can technically start anywhere and run either clockwise or anticlockwise. On the map ⬆️ I marked a paid-for carpark at Dorney Lake, but you can park for free at a carpark by Marsh Lane/Jubilee River or Lake End Road (B3026)/Jubilee River. Please note that due to lockdown the two latter carparks are currently shut.

Whether you run clockwise or anticlockwise probably depends on whether you prefer to go up or down a set of steps with your buggy. I went up (anticlockwise) and it was manageable. A great way to get some muscle training into your cardio 😉

Either way, you can split the run into two different sections:

Jubilee River – As I mentioned this is the easier bit. The path is wide, fairly flat, with a decent surface (little bumpy at places but your buggy occupant is probably used to it already).

Jubilee River path

Thames path – This section is a bit more challenging. The north part is fairly wide and easy, with a great view of some ultra-posh houses. Going south it gets gradually narrow and traily – tree roots and uneven surface. Don’t expect to move fast. But it is stunning so it’s worth the effort. You can’t pass someone without one of you getting out of the way, so I would recommend less busy time than a Sunday afternoon. I ran there around 9 am on a Friday morning and bumped into a handful people only.

Lock at Thames path

So when you are fed up with running in a “civilisation”, crossing the road for a hundredth time on a 5 miler and constantly apologising everyone for blocking the pavement, ditch the town jog and come to run by my rivers ❤

How to show the world you’re a proper runner

During our delightful lockdown, large numbers of joggers-newbies appeared practically out of nowhere. Because, who would want to miss out on their entitlement of one form of exercise a day, right?

First of all, let us be clear that we (we = the true running legends *cough*) support them and encourage them to run because we love running. We want them to keep it up and do well.

At the same time, we sometimes can’t help it and tend to judge them with the same scepticism that we have for all the newbies who join the gym on January 1st every year. We know that soon their numbers will be depleted and most of them will end up back on their sofa. Sad reality.

As much as you want everyone in the world to take on running, you were doing it since before you were even born and don’t want to be mistaken for a newbie (not that there is anything wrong about being one). So how do you make sure that the world (the passing-by drivers, doggers, cyclists and most importantly other runners) realise that you are the real deal?

Here are the key points, some of which you are already following (that is if you really are the hardcore gel-eater that you claim to be):

  • Wear a race top, ideally an older one, with a year clearly visible to show everyone you’ve been doing this for a long time.
  • Lycra. Be dressed in lycra head to toe. Loose sweatpants advertise that you are a newbie.
  • Wear as little clothes as possible. Is it windy and rainy? So? Running vest and shorty shorts are still all you need. Put away that bloody winter jacket you rookie!!
  • Wear only real running brands, especially when it comes to shoes. Lonsdale sneakers are NOT running shoes. It’s gonna get expensive so whoever told you that running is a cheap sport was not a true runner.
  • Do not jog holding a bottle of water. Especially not if it’s just an old coke bottle refilled with water and you are doing two laps around the block. No! You don’t need that stuff. If you are going for a long run (long run is not 3 miles!!!) and need some hydration, use a proper fancy running belt or camelbak.
  • Do not stop and walk! It’s a no no. Just keep running. No stopping. NO!
  • Go running no matter the weather. Pissing down? Only the hardcore runners will be out – so you can show the world you are one of them!
  • Enthusiastically greet all passing runners. An acknowledgement nod is not good enough. Wave as if you’ve just spotted your best mate.
  • Join Strava. Share all your runs on other social media for those who are not Strava athletes. Running without a fitness watch is not allowed!
  • When talking to friends, refer to your cousin’s husband’s uncle as your “coach” just because he once gave you a running related tip.
  • If you really want to take it to the next level, get a foam roller. And then never use it.
  • Finally, please don’t do stupid stretches using a bench in the park. No real runner has ever been spotted doing that kind of stuff.

I hope these tips are helpful and will consolidate your status of a running legend. Also note, that it is much easier to impress non-runners who have not got a clue whether you have just completed a 10 miler or jogged up and down the street. Chances are they will tell everyone you run marathons just because they regularly see you sweaty and dressed in lycra. Take advantage of that!

Now, if you are a newbie who is trying to fit in the running community and disguise yourself as one of us, follow the tips above religiously (you are welcome). We sincerely hope that what started as a disguise will become your nature. I am already looking forward to spotting you sucking on a warm piss-flavoured gel at mile 15 of your Sunday run.

Me + run-commute = love at first stride

I’ve gone mad (ok, I might have been mad to start with) and just completed my first run-commute today!

You, slaves of the office and 9 to 5 victims, you who struggle squeezing a run in because in the morning it’s too early and in the evening it’s too late. You totally should try to run-commute. Why? If nothing else, because it’s often faster than driving or taking public transport! Especially during a rush hour…

On Monday, the idea of run-commuting flew into my funnel (if you don’t watch Thomas the tank engine, please ignore my choice of words). On Tuesday I bought the first running backpack I saw. On Wednesday, I was looking for reasons not to do this and since I haven’t found any valid ones, today – on Thursday I have done it.

First impressions: It’s hard work. It feels odd running with a bag because it changes your posture and the way you move your arms. You feel like a teenage mutant ninja turtle. A well-secured bag is definitely essential. Also, be careful what you pack in it because every pound makes it a little harder.

On top of that, people think you are bonkers. Changing into lycra in our HQ toilets and then trying to sneak out while everyone stares at me like “What’s this clown doing here?” is mildly intimidating. Also, when you are running with a backpack people outside stare at you too. Passing cars beep (if you are a female). But sod them all! Sod them because this not-so-teenage ninja turtle is on fire and will keep run-commuting whenever she can.

I cannot recommend this enough. Join the club!

Why I run

Ever since I was a child I hated running. You get all sweaty and out of breath, your wobbly bits wobble and your face turns red. Through my adult life I attempted to run every now and then (on average once every other year) mainly with the intention to impress this or that guy. Still hated it. Surprisingly, now I’m known as a crazy running mum and a militant parkrun enthusiast who will not turn down any opportunity to conquer a mile or two. So what has changed?

I started properly running last year. I vaguely remember joining a running club for a sole purpose: to meet some hot guys, because of course that’s where all the handsome and fit guys are gathering. I have not dated any of them… yet I keep running. So why do I run?

I run because when I’m running I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. I don’t care about my adorable screaming baby. I don’t care about his dad who is far far away. I don’t care about those I love. I don’t care about those who annoy me (the list is long and you are probably on it). I don’t care that my house is a mess which normally bothers me greatly (I hate mess!). I don’t care that I need a new job so potential unemployment hangs over my head like the sword of Damocles. I don’t care that I am stressed about the impossible prospect of juggling a career with single-handedly caring about my little one. I don’t care that I’m broke and my savings keep getting smaller each month. I don’t care that I haven’t showered unobserved for a very very long time. I don’t care that every time I go for a wee, my little treasure takes advantage of being unobserved and attempts to catch and lick the guinea pig or stuff its poops into the power socket.

When I run, the most important thing and the only thing I truly care about is to make another step, followed by another step, and another, until meters become miles, and ultimately until I get to the finish. That’s why I run – because every minute I run is a minute when I don’t care about anything in the universe. It’s the most liberating feeling ever, especially in the world of musts and obligations and pressures – in the world where freedom is a mere illusion. But not when I’m running. When I’m running, freedom is real.

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PS: This is a huge thanks to all my friends, family and Datchet Dashers who looked after my little one so I could run!

PPS: Any potential babysitters for Sunday’s cross country? 😉