Having Fun on the Run!

Our Spark Plod Ambassador, Sarah, completes week 2 in style. Read more about how she got on in her second blog for us...

"Doesn't time fly when you're having fun on the run?! Into week 2 of my training for the Great Manchester 10k in May and this week has seen the 100 day countdown to the start line! It's getting real now and therefore I've stepped up in my endeavour to stick to the training plan I've been given. If you remember from my last blog, life got in the way of my training, so this week I was determined to reset and get running without dwelling on last week. Besides, I'm approaching this opportunity as a chance to change my lifestyle, not just as a means to reach the 19th May!

"So - to the plan on how I was going to meet my training requirements this week.

"I'm lucky enough to work for a company that encourages flexible working, so I arranged to work from home on Wednesday. There are plenty of opportunities to get out for a run with the F92 Plodders but I chose Wednesday as I thought it would be a good hump day pick me up. I was really strict with myself in terms of finishing on time to ensure I wasn't rushing to meet everyone.

"When doing my Couch to 5k with the Plodders at the end of last year, I was renowned for turning up with about 2 minutes to spare and having to be helped get my high vis bib on, my Couch to 5k app on and ready to go! Not this time - or so I thought. I'd completed another deadline that morning so I was in the mood to treat myself - I'd bought myself a chocolate muffin at lunch to say well done to myself (that's a thing right??) and sat myself on the sofa with a huge coffee and my chocolate muffin and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd had a headache brewing all day and as I was sat on the sofa watching TV knowing I should be getting changed soon, I could feel myself justifying in my head why tonight wasn't the night I should train.

"I said in my first blog one of the challenges I'd face is the self-motivation to get out there and train. I therefore used this as motivation to get myself off the sofa, took some Nurofen and changed into my brightest running outfit. I found Tikiboo sportswear last year after a really good friend of mine turned up to a 5k in a jazzy pair. I have to say I'm now a big fan and have spread this throughout my family! I have a range of jazzy leggings but these are my most crazy and put a smile on my face whenever I wear them:"

Plodding Happy

"As I'd faffed about, I was now almost running late so I grabbed my stuff and rushed out the door. I pulled up in the car park and was collecting everything I needed - phone...yep, armband for said phone....yep, earphones as I can't run without them...

😲😲😲 Nooooooo.

I actually went into a mild panic - I don't think I've ever run without my Spotify playlist specifically designed to consist of motivational tunes that distract from the fact I'm struggling to breathe and make me feel like an athlete!

I struggle to chat when I run. I always have a little chuckle to myself whenever any training plan says 'jog at a pace where you can hold a conversation'... you mean I walk then? Normally when I join the Plodders, I love the chit chat at the beginning, catching up with everyone and having a laugh. I then pop my headphones in and off I go before we finish and I'm back chatting again. Given I couldn't do this today, it was going to be tough. However, if ever I needed to find the right group of ladies to chat to, it's the Plodders!"

"I shouldn't have worried... as soon as I joined the group I was greeted by friends.

"The feedback I received from my first blog was really positive and I was genuinely touched that people found it honest and relatable. That's exactly what I want from my blog and to hear from people that this was coming across in my blog brought such happiness to me. A few ladies asked questions about my first training session and tips I'd mentioned in my first blog and it was lovely to share the knowledge I'm obtaining. Before long we were limbering up and ready to go - out for as far as you could get in 20 minutes and then turn around and come back again.

"My mini running group consisted of the fabulous Katherine Shaw, Rebecca Mogford and Lesley Gorton (pictured below). I met Katherine and Lesley in the couch to 5k and I love their enthusiasm, humour and company. I mentioned to Rebecca that I was worried about running without my earphones (as I'd be forced to socialise haha) but what I didn't realise was how much better a time I would have running without them! Chatting to Rebecca really helped the time fly and before I knew it 10 minutes had passed and we'd already had a good chat and it didn't feel like I was exercising!

"We had a wonderful chat about what we think a healthy body and mind means and how much running has done for us. We both found that running not only made us stronger physically, but had a really positive effect on our mental outlook. One of the things we talked about was the need for balance and everyone's individual view on what this means. For example, in my opinion, the fact that I had a muffin as a well done today didn't make me feel bad in the slightest, especially as I was then getting exercise afterwards. For me, stripping out anything that makes you feel good, a muffin here, a scotch egg there (M&S - thoroughly recommend) is not the right way to go. Instead, it should be coupled with some exercise and all is well with the world! I 100% appreciate others may not share my view but it's up to each individual to determine what they think is right for them.

"We also discussed what a positive mental influence exercise has had. For example, I could have stayed in, felt sorry for myself for having a headache and then felt bad for not having come out with the Plodders. Instead, I feel invigorated for the exercise, happy because of the conversations I've had along the way, and a sense of pride that I'm putting myself first just for an hour instead of being at the laptop! I didn't count the number of steps or the speed at which I was going (mainly because I didn't have the stats relayed to me by my phone), but because I was distracted I didn't stop AND I felt I had to think that little bit less about my foot placement. It's definitely getting easier to adjust my form just from practice and it was lovely to have some of the other ladies try it out too."

Sunday Runday

"Sunday came and it was time for my weekly 'long run'. This time it was 6km. Usually with the plodders' mid week run I get between 3.5-4km on our social plods, and parkruns are obviously 5km. I figured an extra 1km wasn't going to make much of a difference so I wasn't too worried about today's run. My favourite cheerleaders (aka mum & sister) came with me to get some fresh air too - we chose a route between the RHS Harlow Carr gardens, through pinewoods, to the Valley Gardens in Harrogate. As a family we love Harlow Carr and the Valley Gardens is lovely, especially now spring is starting to appear! I'm also very lucky to have access to such nice places for runs - I always find runs easier when the views are lovely as I find it a distraction from running so it becomes a bit more comfortable. The view on this route was lovely fields on one side, and woods the other :) it's a frequent route by runners and I found other athletes (because that's what I am right?) smiling at me as they ran past (both coming towards me and overtaking me haha). I try not to let my slow speed get me down as I always think I'm faster than anyone on the sofa right now!

I set off and before long my Runkeeper app was telling me I'd reached my first kilometre - well that felt fine!! 7min 25seconds?! Wow that's quicker than usual - I must be getting much fitter as I'm speeding... I thought to myself. I carried on almost skipping along and again, 1km later my app pipes up - wahey - 2km down and average pace still around 7min30 seconds per kilometre.


I'll be done in no time then I can dig into the Betty's cakes I've promised myself. I literally felt so athletic and happy... then it happened.

I think my body realised it was practically in sprint mode and it started to give up! In about 2.5km I'd reached the Valley Gardens and honestly it was as if I'd run out of petrol. The next 4km felt really tough and I have to admit I had to bring in brief period of walking :/ I felt like I'd let myself down because one of the goals of my training is to get round the Great Manchester 10k without stopping and this wasn't looking good - walking at 3km? I was kicking myself for starting off far too quick - when I heard that first 1km stat I should have slowed down a bit given this was a long run - definitely lesson learnt.

During one of the first periods of running I spotted my mum and sister entering the park (they'd walked the same route). Shamefully (and given this post is about honesty I'll tell you but I didn't even tell them) - I started to run again when I thought they could see me! 😂 My mum is literally the most supportive person I know for me but there was a part of me that thought - they can't see me walk!! Ridiculous I know but there was a part of me that wanted them to be proud, even though I know they're proud regardless. So I nearly collapsed running up a bit of a hill to do this, in order to reach a downhill bit which made me feel more speedy. I then thought oh perfect we won't stop again now we've started... until I reached the bottom of the hill and couldn't keep the pace at all. I could see my mum & sister again walking towards me but I literally couldn't breathe so I had to stop and walked up to them. My mum, as usual, was so supportive and told me not to beat myself up as 'you could have still been in bed!' - right then I wish I had been! Haha. We had a brief photo opportunity to prove I did it and I carried on for the final 2km feeling more upbeat after my pep talk from my cheer squad.

The final 2km were much the same - a combination of walking and jogging. I find that once I stop once, I almost let my head tell me I can't carry on jogging for the rest and give up more easily back into a walk as I've already blown it walking already. Something I need to work on.

After I'd finished the 6km, we took some fun photos (as what's the point if you don't enjoy it?) and as I'd promised myself, bought some Betty's cheeky little rascals. They're special edition and I've been wanting some for ages!! If you've ever had a fat rascal from Betty's you'll know exactly what I mean - get in my belly! :)


Spurred on by Rebecca's suggestion, I've also set up my own Instagram! Here I'll post when a new blog is up as well as share some pictures throughout the week in between blogs. Please follow me - it would mean such a lot. Also, please comments with any feedback or tips you have to help me on my journey!


Have a good week everyone, Sarah.