Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Year's Runolutions

That's a word right? Runolutions? Well there it is...used.

Lots of people scoff at New Year's resolutions and think that if you want to make a change, you shouldn't wait until January and burden yourself with unattainable goals during an already depressing month.

(These people may also be the types who bemoan 'January Gym-goers' who are really people actively doing something healthy to their lives which is nothing to belittle. Stop the hating people! Remember you were once new to all this too.)

Anyway I digress. I see their point - January can be a little bleak after all the fun of Christmas and I whole-heartedly agree that a date in the calendar shouldn't be the only reason to make a change. If anything it puts it off, delays it for a few months. 

But I like to see a New Year as a good time to stop and take stock of what's what. I also like to use it as a good kick up the bum to make me focus on the things I keep meaning to do but haven't got around to yet what with all that life getting in the way.

So here are my new year Runolutions for 2015

1) Join a Running club
Since completing two marathons in 2014, I have started to get a little more social in my running - whether it's with friends in work, free runs like Sweatshop Running Community or a rare run with my sister - there is no doubt that running with other people motivates me more and pushes me further and I don't think the enjoyment I've found since doing this is a coincidence. It's a lot more fun and finding new routes and places to run which you may not have known about it an added bonus. I have been  wanting to join a running club for a while now and have tried a couple in my area to see how they compare, so the new year coming seems like a good point to sign up.

2) Go to ParkRun and make it a routine.
The fact that I have not ever been to parkrun makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing. Free weekly timed 5k events, all over the country, hell all over the world and I've never been to one? Get a grip Crandon and go and do one! NOW! 

3) Try out Cross Country
Post marathons my running seems to have unexpectedly taken me to the trails, whether it be running through a forest in the dark, running through fields in Wales or finding new routes myself, I just can't seem to stay away and am particularly enjoying all the mud. This has made me want to get more involved and try out X Country - this will hopefully come with joining a running club.

4) Properly train for my half marathons and really try to break 1.45
Sure I've got my PB's in half marathons, but I can't honestly say hand on heart that I have really really pushed myself. I forget the length and challenge of a half until, it seems, I'm mid way through the event and the distance actually becomes real! So with no marathons this year and four halves in the diary, its time I stepped up and properly pushed myself. I am 45 seconds away from breaking 1:45 so lets really try and break this.

5) Have a clear out and lend a hand
Last but by no means least, I am using January as a kick start to donate some running kit to the brilliant A Mile in Her Shoes. They help disadvantaged women find their feet through running and rely on donations. I've had a pair of trainers that I've kept to send them for ages along with a whole host of other running gear which I haven't got round to sending. Terrible and no excuse. Now I'm making myself accountable right here. 
If you have any items of kit or running accessories, especially winter kit, which someone else would find more useful than you, send it on to these lovelies.

And that's it. Five things I WANT out of my running, and have been thinking about for a while with a New Year to kick start and motivate me to get going on them.

2015 - it's time to do this.

What are your Runolutions for this year? Let me know in the comments below!

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Friday, 26 December 2014

Crandon Runs Friday Photo #13 - CHRISTMAS EDITION

A round up of Crandon Runs in one* weekly photo

Happy Boxing Day! 

This week's snap comes courtesy of 'Christmas Cottage Run Club'. Eight friends, one turkey, fifty eggs (don't ask) and one joint run. I say run, but we decided mid-route that this was more adventure trail slash tough mudder madness. 

Clambering over stiles, rolling under barbed wire (not recommended), trampling through streams, sliding through muddy sheep fields (I literally needed my hand holding through this one) and meeting horses, were just a few of the adventures we encountered. The hills were steep, and the wind was strong but it was all good pre-pretend-Christmas-dinner fun and the view sure beat city centre running.

Christmas Run Club

*I've been liberal with the 'one' photo thing this week but 'Tis Christmas after all. 

Happy Christmas!

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Crandon Runs needs YOU!

Crandon Runs has been nominated in the Virtual Running UK Blog Awards and needs your help!

If you like what you see, follow the link (above or top right) and make your vote count! Voting ends the end of the month so get going!

Thanks - and Merry Christmas Runners!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Crandon Runs Friday Photo #12

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

One pair of very muddy trainers, one head torch, one medal and one Crand all make this week's Friday photo. 

Taken from my 10K in Delamere Forest, this run has been my little running adventure of the week.

Night running

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Sunday, 14 December 2014

In the Forest Dark and Deep - Night running in Delamere Forest

Walking into a forest, alone in the dark (and I mean DARK) is probably not the wisest way to spend your Saturday evening, but last night I found myself doing just that. My running buddy was struck down by the lurgy so it was left for me to run the 10k in the dark for us both, armed with only my head torch and some (not so) speedy legs.
A solitary beam to light my way

When I got to race HQ though I realised I needn't have worried. The choir were singing, stalls were set out and volunteers and runners were lit up like Christmas trees. Literally, lots were wearing Christmas lights while running to light the way. But it was still very dark.

So how was it? 

We've all been out running at night time. If you run, you have inevitably run around your home town after 3pm in the winter, but this is not urban night running. There are no lights nearby and running with only your head torch to light the way is really disorientating. It's a totally different run to that in the daytime. Everything feels closed in, almost claustrophobic, yet freeing at the same time.
Even getting to the start was disorienting as without the ability to see the whole of your surroundings, navigating your way is difficult. You rely much more on your other senses. I noticed mid run that I was gauging the footings ahead from the sound of the feet from the runners in front. Splash splosh - a puddle was coming up. Thud thud - we were on a trail. Squelch....squelch....well, we were stuck in the mud. At some point you learn to just go with it and it's almost as if you're running in a bubble, putting your trust in only your body and trusting your feet to carry you over the unknown. It's liberating.

The first half was brilliant. Steady solid trails galore and lots of people to help light the way. I felt steady and adventurous. Somewhere after halfway there came a big hill, which was difficult and really spread the runners out. There were times now where it was only my light ahead of me. The second half is where it got REALLY muddy too, like a bog. I almost lost a shoe to the course on more than one occasion. What I also learnt it that mud is very slippery - think Bambi on the ice, but in more lycra and less graceful. I was, however, the idiot wearing road shoes and I suspect this is where trail shoes come in handy. Silly urban road runner. I consider remaining upright on this course and not getting to the finish with my arse caked in mud one of my greatest achievements.  


This slip sliding all over the show knocked my confidence a bit. I started to doubt my footing and became really cautious, which I was glad of in a way. Especially on the descent of the biggest hill. I'm not sure what was worse, the almighty steepness going up, or going down at speed with gay abandon unable to see how far your feet would land. Some of the runners were reckless, bounding around really tight corners in the mud and tripping over huge branches. I was glad to be going a bit slower! But people were also friendly. The darkness made everyone huddle together a bit more and people looked out for each other on the course, while the start line was one if the chattiest I'd been at. There was a sense of camaraderie as we embarked on what one girl at the start described as 'the stupidest thing we've ever done.'

There is something really quite magical about running in the cold dark night, seeing the forest trees silhouetted against the star strewn sky, knowing that this is a unique experience. It was a complete adventure, mystifying, scary, magical and liberating. I can highly recommend it and am already thinking about another - but with trail shoes.

Oh, and I also recommend running events in December - mince pies at the finish line seem to be almost mandatory which I believe to be an added bonus.

I'll leave you with the words of Robert Frost, which sum up the race quite perfectly:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

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Friday, 12 December 2014

Crandon Runs Friday Photo #11

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

With Christmas dos galore this week I decided to kick start my weekend with a little candlelight yoga at The Yoga Lounge to unwind. As you know runners LOVE yoga. If you run and don't do yoga, you are mad. It's good for stretching you out in all the right places but this class is not for the faint-hearted. And although candlelight makes it look pretty, it is not as gentle as it sounds. It's pretty hardcore - although I did literally almost faint in today's class. 

Turns out hot yoga fueled by last night's wine fumes, does not produce your best practice.  

A very zen beginning to the weekend.

Happy running and happy yoga. Namaste.

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Running in the Family

Freezing morning Advent run
It was my big sister who really got me into running. Back when I was a chubby student, surviving on a cliched diet of chips cheese and mayonnaise washed down by cheap booze and cheaper fags, she would drag a reluctant Crand out on a little run when I was home from uni. I knew it was her way of saying I could do with dropping a few pounds and living healthier, but really I was mostly worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up.

We used to go out for about 20 minutes, sometimes with my mum and I was surprised that I could in fact keep up with them, and that I actually quite enjoyed it. I remember coming home from the gym and telling her I'd run a whole 5 minutes without stopping. I was so chuffed!

Since then Katie has run a half marathon, and sobbed over the finish line which sounds vaguely familiar, along with lots of 5 and 10ks and still goes running regularly.
In the years since I've clocked up three marathons and lots of half marathons, 10ks etc, many of which cheered on by Katie and my nephew. But we haven't run together in years.

So I was excited when she told me she'd signed up for Advent Running online and would need to sneak in a run or two when they came to visit me in Manchester this weekend. She warned me she wasn't fast and we wouldn't be going far, but I didn't care. I was excited to go out running with my big sister again, something we never get to the chance to do any more.

We went out twice together over the weekend and Katie said that Sunday, her seventh day running in a row was the hardest yet. BUT we still ran faster than the day before and still got our bums out the door and pounding the pavements in the icy rain. And now she can say she has run every day for a week, a claim I have never, and probably will never, be able to make.

Sometimes it doesn't matter how far you go or how fast you run, sometimes it's just about having fun and running with your sister because you can.

If you live in Cardiff you might want to follow Katie's blog for what's happening in the 'diff (I am biased but it is good)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

CrandonRuns Friday Photo #10

A round-up of CrandonRuns in one weekly photo

With the beginning of December this week, comes festive runs galore! Here is my advent running getting off to a good start at the Christmas Pudding 5 mile dash!

See here for full race report and here for more festive runs you can get involved with. Don't wait til January - Christmas running is way more fun!

Ho ho ho have a good running week folks!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Rundown - December Festive edition

Live near Manchester and want to get your sweat on? Then look no further - here's a suitably festive Rundown of what's going on in December.

BTR Santa Dash
7th December, Liverpool
Christmas time sees loads of festive runs taking place, from Yule Yomps to Reindeer Runs including this Santa Dash in Liverpool. Celebrating it's 10th anniversary, this run is guaranteed to get you in the spirit - entry price includes a Santa suit and race medal. What more could you want?

13th December, Delamere Forest
The second in the series, this is a 10k trail run. At night. Through a forest. In the dark dark DARK. Expect fairy lights, carols and crackers for each finisher and Santa himself may even make an appearance. Don't expect it to be easy though, it is a trail run and did I mention it was in the dark? Don your head torch and come and join me and countless others for some festive running fun! 

Running Streaks
Throughout December, online
Running streaks are quite the thing during December. Advent Running encourages you to run once a day for 30 mins for 25 days, while Runners World Winter Streak is a mile a day for 36 days, from Thanksgiving to New Year. The beauty is you can do it when it fits in to your day and gives you the a focus and a kick up the bum to continue running amid all the Christmas parties and turkey overload.

Zero Advent Calender
Throughout December, online
Like the running streaks, this is a free online advent calender to help you keep up your fitness throughout the month. Open the door each day to discover a free workout, recipes, giveaways and deals. It also supports the brilliant charity A Mile in Her Shoes, which helps women affected by homelessness find their feet through running. A healthy month for you and an opportunity to help others. Brilliant.

Christmas Day Park Run
Nationwide, 25th December
The brilliant folk at park run not only put on free 5ks throughout the country every single week, but some are also holding an event on Christmas day. I went for my first Christmas day run last year and cannot recommend it enough. I ran alone and loved it so I am looking forward to my first EVER parkrun being on Christmas day this year in Cardiff. I think it's going to be quite special. Runs are also taking place at some park runs on New Years Day, check the link above to see if yours is included.

Know of another event that's not listed? Then drop me a line at to be added.

Have a brilliant month of festive running. Eat well, run well - and don't do *too* many runs on a hangover.