Images of the Great North Run and Birmingham Half marathons

I have ran two half marathons now and unlike 5 and 10ks where you can get away with very little to no training you do need to put some effort in for the half marathons. Preparation is key to get you through the 13.1 miles and will make running the distance easier to handle and also to complete safely. This is what I do to prepare.

Practice in the kit you are going to run in

Race day isn’t the day to try a new piece of kit out. Try the new trainers or item of clothing on a training run.

Don’t try new food before race day

Again you don’t want to make yourself ill by trying to eat something new on or the day before race day. Test your energy gels or food on the day and don’t try a new meal the night before just eat bland food.

Run at least eight miles comfortably

Six miles was an easy run for me as I aimed to run that distance in most runs I did as a minimum and that massively helped my frame of mind when I couldn’t run two weeks before the Great North Run due to illness. I had also done one run that was eight miles long and knew that 13.1 was achievable. You do need to do the training beforehand.

Make sure you keep yourself hydrated during the run

I learnt the hard way whilst running the Manchester 10k how if you don’t keep yourself hydrated you can easily make yourself ill. I had a large headache by the end because I didn’t stop and drink at all of the hydration stations. Make sure you drink even if it is just a tiny bit at each hydration station.

Memorise the route

I always look at the map of the route beforehand and pick out some key points. This means on the way round I know roughly how long I have left.

Turn up early

It is not fun to start a race late or even worse finding that the baggage bus has already gone by the time you are putting your bags in (I saw plenty of people running for the moving baggage buses at the Great North Run). Arrive early and it will help with the stress.

Pack the night before

Or if it is a day trip out make sure your kit and nutrition is ready the night before. Again it avoids the stress of finding clothes in the morning or finding out that the shorts you were going to wear are in the wash.

Bring some support

It was lovely to have my Mum there for my first half marathon. Having friends or family there make it a bit easier (plus they can help you out at the end!).

Cross-train

When my right knee was niggling a few months back I completely stopped running and took up swimming instead. It gave my knee the rest it needed but still kept me active. I also did weight training. It all helps.

What do you do to prepare before race day?

Switzerland is famous for many things, Lindt chocolate, cow bells and St Bernard dogs with barrels around their necks. But it would be silly not to talk about the many mountains that I have visited. I love the mountains in Switzerland as you can do so much on them, walking, going up and down the cable cars, skiing in winter and sledding amongst other activities. Having visited Central Switzerland for the summer and the winter I have had the chance to experience both sides. Here are some of my favourite mountains around Central Switzerland.

Stoos

Stoos view with a cross

My favourite mountain, it is not as popular as some of the others around Central Switzerland But I love Stoos. Stoos is a mountain resort. You take a small cable car up from Morschach and then you can walk around and visit the shops and cafes. Stoos I found is more of a winter mountain with lots of ski groups skiing and tobogganing in the winter months. The summer months is more for hiking, regardless which part of the year you go there are stunning views at the top. Lots of investment has been put in Stoos since I was last there in 2014.

Stoos vernacular railway

One investment to note, is a new funicular railway with all the cabins that stay level therefore you can stand the entire way, this funicular railway is the steepest in the world and looks really odd as well.

Titlis

Titlis Mountain

This is the largest mountain that I visited in Switzerland. Based in Engelberg. There is so much to do at Titlis, there is an adventure park, a glacier park (where you could walk through a glacier, which as a Geography graduate I was mega excited about) and areas to go skiing, tobogganing and tubing (you could go tubing in the summer as well, but it wasn’t as good obviously with the lack of snow!) as well as numerous suspending platforms where you can take pictures. This mountain was high enough that there was snow in parts.

People looking from a platform in Titlis

You will find in Switzerland each mountain has a ‘unique’ feature to try and distinguish themselves from each other. Titlis’ unique feature is its rotating cable car called the TITLIS Rotair. As Titlis is a popular mountain, it gets really busy, so the platforms are quite full of tourists most of the time.

Pilatus

View of Pilatus

Pilatus is a mountain located just outside the city of Lucern. The logo of Pilatus is the red dragon due to legend saying that in 1421 a dragon flew into Pilatus and crashed into the mountain. A farmer had seen the dragon crash and had fainted due to the shock. When the farmer came round, he found a lump of clotted blood and the dragon stone which was legally declared as having healing powers in 1509.

Bunting hung up in Pilatus

You have to admit that is a pretty cool story! Pilatus isn’t a skiing mountain but like Titlis there is an adventure park, cable cars as well as the usual cafes.

Stanzerhorn

View from Stanserhorn

Stanzerhorn is famous for two things the world’s first open air cable car (costing CHF 28.1 million with the capacity of holding 60 people) and the rotating cafe. The rotating cafe is quite clever because it is quite a simple idea. Essentially as you walk in the cafe there is a platform and it is the platform itself that rotates. The open air cable car is also 90% swiss made, which I like.

Stanserhorn Heidi hut

There is also a funicular railway that is 125 years old that operates at the bottom of the mountain upwards for 45 minutes which takes you to the cable car for the rest of the route up.

Rigi

Lamp post in the Rigi

Rigi is a lovely small mountain situated in Central Switzerland. It is well known for having a cog wheel railway but like all the other mountains there are also numerous cable cars going to different places. It is a great mountain if you want to go for a short walk and spend either the morning or afternoon and not a whole day!

Wooden cross on the Rigi

Have you been to Switzerland? What is your favourite mountain?

Five mountains to visit in Switzerland Pinterest image

Image of Rebecca and James with their running medals

It is the Wednesday of race week. I had a ten hour sleep the night before and for the past two weeks I have been feeling rough and have not ran at all. I have been running consistently however the longest run I have done is eight miles two miles short of the ten I wanted to be at, at this stage. I am unsure if I will be fit enough to run or not. I entered the ballot back in January so have been waiting all year and don’t want to miss out.

I decide on the Friday, after feeling much better, that I will least start the race, I have done enough runs in the Great Run series that I know I can pull out at any point. I will also walk part of the run if I need too. Race Day- after spending the Saturday travelling up to Darlington via York where we met James’ friend for a drink (non-alcoholic for us!) we got the train from Darlington to Newcastle in the morning to meet my Uncle beforehand and run the race.

The Great North Run is the flag ship of the Great Run series. Having participated in Great Runs in Manchester and Birmingham, I had my eyes on the Great North Run for a while. Having always seen it on the telly the 13.1 mile route starts in Newcastle and finishes in South Shields with the best part running through the Tyne Bridge. It is the largest and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the most popular half marathon in the world, I mean how many half marathons have the Red Arrows fly over! So many people enter it has to go through a ballot.

Race Day. Very early start for myself and James, we drove to Darlington train station and got the first train out. The train was busy with people for the Great North Run and the atmosphere was really good with everyone in high spirits. Just the little things like the conductor wishing us a lovely day was great.

After meeting my Uncle (who lives in Newcastle) we made our way to the start line. Like every Great Run the race is split up into groups. I was in the green group which was the second from the back (I used to be in the pink group which is the back group so I have made process!). It took about thirty minutes before we even got through the start line. The route is fairly flat not like Birmingham where there are some hills (especially the uphill finish). The Tyne Bridge is quite early on but the end of the route in South Shields over looking the North Sea. I live in the West Midlands so I don’t live near the beach and don’t go to the beach often at all, so a finish alongside the beach is a treat for me.

Image of Rebecca and James at the start of the Great North run

What did I think of the run?

I loved the Great North Run and it was my favourite race in so many ways. The crowds giving out free sweets, water and juice slices or just cheering us on. As the route isn’t a loop, I hadn’t planned transport for the way back however there were constant buses taking us back to Newcastle city centre. The bus back isn’t free and cost I think about £3.00 for each person, so make sure you bring money with you. It is worth factoring that time in as it took us about forty minutes to get back. The route is great, it isn’t taxing, no hills really.The Great North Run isn’t the run if you are looking to get a personal best, there were times where I wanted to run but couldn’t as everyone was just walking. The Tyne Bridge is a big part of the route and as it is quite early on, it does feel a bit, oh thats it now… but seeing the Red Arrows as I was running was a real treat.

Image of the Garmin Forerunner 235 watch

I entered the world of fitness trackers quite late. Yes I had the stepometer/pedometer when I was a kid (does anyone remember the Walkers crisps pedometers?). I also had a cycle computer when I was heavy into my cycling to see the distance and speed I was doing. But other than that I positively refused to have a fitness tracker, for me I participated in enough sport that I didn’t then want to track it.

Late in 2017, I decided that I wanted to join in and started with a Garmin Vivosmart 3. I soon wanted to upgrade so sold the watch on ebay and brought off ebay the Garmin Forerunner 235, my current watch.So after changing the language from Polish to English (it was a used watch!) I was ready to roll!

I chose that particular watch because it had the features that I wanted mainly to track running and sleeping! I also liked the strap (it is the bright blue ‘girly’ one) and most importantly my friend had the watch and gave me the chance to play about with it beforehand and liked what I saw and how it worked.

What features does the Forerunner 235 have?

Image of the Garmin Forerunner 235

You are able to monitor your heart rate, amount and quality of sleep, calories, weight, V02 max, steps, track your running, indoor running, cycling and ‘other’. You are able to link the Garmin to Strava which is an added bonus for me since I use Strava often and it saves having my phone tracking my route as well as my watch. I also like Garmin Connect where you can collect these badges and you can see all the badges you have earned (they look so cool!).

What features do I use

I use sleep, heart rate, track my running and cycling I also use ‘other’ to track my heart rate when I do weights at the gym also whilst I swim. Whilst I am running I monitor my heart rate (I check which zone my heart rate is in). I am obsessed with the sleep feature and check how much deep sleep I got the night before almost everyday!

Would I recommend the watch?

Image of a screenshot of the Garmin Connect badges

Yes I would recommend the Garmin Forerunner 235. It looks stylish (even though the large watch face took some getting used too!). It does the job as well and I like the features such as the badges and that it links to Strava. The tracking I found to be fairly accurate. The only downside is that I do wish it could track swimming, as I do go swimming quite a bit but overall it is a really good watch.

What fitness watch do you have? Do you have the Garmin Forerunner 235? If so, what are your thoughts?

 

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When I tell people that I went to boarding school, a question I often get asked is would I do it again. I have spoken about my boarding school experience before on posts here and here. But for a while I have wanted to write a post aimed at both the parents of those who have or thinking about sending their child to boarding school. For those who may have just started boarding school I hope to make sense of those thoughts and feelings you may have about being away and hopefully make the most of this unique experience.

First of all the details!

School I went tooAckworth School

Years I boarded  2007-2009

Age I boarded 16-18

How do you know if you will enjoy boarding?

To be honest, you won’t know until you try it. If you enjoy socialising and being involved with activities then boarding will suit you well as you will always be busy. I can guarantee at first you will hate it, but that is all normal and it is just part of settling into a new school, new routine and making new friends.

I have just started boarding school and feel upset and homesick all the time, is this normal?

Yes it is. I remember my first day, just being in utter shock and being so upset. I tried to keep it in (being a 16 year old boarder, so a little older than most). You will likely feel like this for at least a month but get involved with as many after school activities as possible to keep your mind busy. I would not recommend seeing your parents for the first month. as it just makes those feelings worse.

What were the advantages you found of boarding?

I felt very prepared for living away at University, having being a boarder I was accustomed to not being around my parents. It was good to learn about different countries and cultures from the international borders. I enjoyed the different activities that were put on during the weekends such as movie nights and I tried some different activities I wouldn’t have tried otherwise such as being part of the debate club or European Cinema club.

I lived in Yorkshire for my sixth form experience and to experience a new county was really good. Yorkshire was very different to Lincolnshire where I grew up. I happened to study A Level Geography and we would have all of these field trips around Yorkshire which was good fun.

Every Sunday there was evening reading where a speaker would come in and talk about a topic. Some of the topics were dull but there were some really good speakers, I remember one Doctor who came in and spoke her time as a burns specialist in Australia. I was one of eight school officers and one of us would have to stand up and say a vote of thanks after this. I really felt the vote of thanks improved my public speaking skills.

Rebecca having fun in the boarders common room

What were the disadvantages of boarding?

I couldn’t have a part time job, which I felt held me back when applying for jobs after University. There are curfews as well which at 16 being accustomed to seeing my friends more or less anytime I wanted, I felt was a bit pathetic. I hated Saturdays as we had to do activities in the morning and then we were free to do whatever we wanted in the afternoon. We were not allowed off site after school on the evenings after tea and could only go to the Co-Op between 4-6, which again annoyed me being able to go out when I pleased. At my school Prep (homework) was between I think 6.45- 8pm Monday to Thursday which drove me insane. Sometimes I just wanted a break from homework and I feel the continuous revision just isn’t healthy.

When you are ill and boarding it is the worse, it is just not the same as at home where your mum can come and give you treats! Obviously I missed my family and I found myself drifting away from old friends as the internet wasn’t as good in 2007 so that made catching up that bit harder.

Poster saying farewell

Final thoughts

Would I board again? To be honest if I could go back and do it again, I would but I would have chosen different A-Levels as that certainly hampered by experience (another story). I am glad I boarded when I did at 16, I felt at 11 it was too young but the younger girls seemed to have so much fun and I think at times coped with boarding better than the older girls as friendships were not as deeply made. I did feel sorry for those younger international boarders who seemed to only see their parents at Christmas or the summer. I don’t know how a relationship can be continuously developed if you are not a constant presence and I do think you would miss out on all of the key moments.

Have any of you boarded? Would you consider boarding school?

 

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