Happy New Year!

Uncategorized

It’s finally 2019! At parts of last year I thought it would never come but it has! Most people make new years resolutions, I haven’t this year. Throughout this post I’ll chat about what my plans for 2019 are. The short answer is do more of what I did last year, though while eating less chocolate and worrying a bit less!

As you may already know, 2019 will be the year I run the London Marathon! As I’ve said before, I’m really no athlete, I HATE running but after I’ve done it I forget about the fact I get breathless and suddenly everything is okay! So I don’t know how that logic works, but I’m going on the premise I love a challenge, I like the idea of being strong and healthy, and I love achieving stuff, so I’m sure that works? 😉 I’ve just started the London Marathon beginners training plan – I’m documenting it over on my Instagram (clairesproject26.2), go give me a follow!

On a slightly less active note, there’s a small matter of a degree to finish! I’ve loved being at uni and still do – but I’m beyond excited to get stuck into the world of work! Of course I’ll continue updating this website throughout it all – the job hunting begins soon! I’ve got so many thoughts and ideas on what I want to conquer and work on, hopefully 2019 will be the beginning of all of this!

Over the next year I’ll be putting even more content on this website, from the pictures I take, to popular science and marathon training updates.

It’s going to be fun!

My links:

Instagram: @wildlifeclaire and @clairesproject26.2

Twitter: @WildlifeClaire

img_2957

This is one of my favourite photos of 2018, the London skyline

 

Week 1 – Baby Steps | VMLM 2019

Uncategorized

This is my first training update for the London Marathon in 2019. I’m starting off on an epic journey to the start line (fingers crossed!) in April next year. Over the next 8 months you’ll be finding out about why I’m running London and essentially the progression of my relationship with running! Every week, I’ll be posting an update about how the training progresses. My hope is that when I get closer to April, I’ll be able to look back on these and notice how far I’ve come and have a record of the overall experience. My fundraising page is here. 

As you may or may not know – I’ve run before, in fact I’ve run 3 half marathons and a 10k timed. Somehow this feels very different. In previous events I’ve been able to almost wing it – I’m ridiculously competitive even though in a physical sense I’m far from gifted! I’ve found that before sheer grit and determination has gotten me across the line – not necessarily because I’ve had any structure in training, or even fuelled like a runner. But, this is where it’s all going to change!!

So far this week, I’ve run 2 x 2 miles and 2.6 miles – that doesn’t seem like a lot but I am slowly breaking my own records! The first run I set a personal best for 2 miles at a mere 28 minutes. The second run I ran the longest I’ve ever done without stopping – 6 and a half minutes covering a tiny half a mile! My plan with this is to go running across various distances setting “baseline” bits of data which then gives me areas to work on. I’ve come to my first realisation that one of the keys to me running for longer will be getting my breath in order. I have a habit of over breathing/breathing irregularly and I don’t think that’s the best habit for long distance running! So the first step to mastering my breath will be to practice a ‘running breath’ when I’m not running, so hopefully the same thing can easily be applied when I’m in motion! I am also hoping that as I get fitter that will also become easier – we’ll just have to see! I will also add that the 6 and a half minutes of consistent running included running up a hugggeee hill that I’ve previously avoided!

This week, I also went to have my gait analysed – it wasn’t necessarily in the plan but somehow we ended up in a running shop, they were offering it for free, so I thought why not! For the non runner, this is essentially where they get you running on a treadmill while videoing your feet. They can then play the video back in slow motion to investigate your stride. It wasn’t really a surprise when I turned out to be an ‘overpronator’. This is essentially when, during your stride your feet don’t hit the ground in a flat fashion – almost like you’re 10% penguin! I’ve also always known that my ankles are quite mobile and when I was a proper kid, I had lots of investigations for a multitude of reasons but i was also very hyperflexible! Ironically – with my metal spine I’m far from flexible, but thankfully I still have a bit of that left!! My first run with specialist shoes came when I ran for 2.6 miles. That run wasn’t particularly fast – I think I my muscles might be feeling the effects for over 6 miles in a week! I think for a long time that’s the most I’ve run in a shorter period of time for ages!

I’ve also started to investigate running nutrition – normally I’ve run with basically nothing and maybe the odd jelly baby, but I’ve also invested in a couple of energy gels – I’ve never had one before but we might as well go and try them out! As my training progresses, I’ll post some recipes and foods that are really helping to fuel the extra miles!

From my next run, I’m also going to start a training photo challenge. During every run, I’ll take a picture on that run so by the end of the training I’ll also have a photo record of my experiences. I’ll post the pictures on here but also on twitter @WildlifeClaire with a hashtag of #PhotoMarathon.

In more ways than one this week has really been about conquering things I’ve been scared of and going way out of my comfort zone! I’m not sure when my next run will be but it will be before the end of the week – it would be great if I could beat 10 miles for this week!

40391243_714272082249183_4678904322489057280_n-01

This is some of the stats from my longest run of the week so far – I’m totally aware some people might call this walking – it’s a marathon not a sprint! 🙂 

TOTAL MARATHON MILES SO FAR: 6.6

 

Faster. Higher. Stronger |Part 3

Uncategorized

This is the final installment of my mini-series on my back operation. Things were finally looking up –  I was getting stronger and a little bit faster. This is where I really should mention my Dad. Sometimes (actually a fair amount 😉 ) he drives me bonkers – he’s all about exercise. But to be honest I really don’t think I would have come out as I did had I not been walking about as much (under his instruction) before hand. After the operation Mum and Dad alternated their time off work week by week so I’d always have someone at home. Dad had the first week after I’d come out of hospital. We’d go on small walks near forward and back to our local postbox which makes it about a 20 minute walk. It’s not much but that probably played a vital role in building up my muscle strength!

38777769_251612132329320_7230788991430164480_n

These are my before and after x-rays – the one on the left is the before shot. The slightly strange bits on the x-ray are the metal parts of my back brace!

My physical ability kept on improving and so did my stamina and concentration. That seems like a funny thing to say but after the operation it takes a while to build up your stamina and concentration. Sometimes it would be challenge to do stuff like watching a long TV programme, you’d have to do things in short bursts. Throughout my recovery I continued to have work sent home from school – as much as I hated school I wanted a lot more work, I wanted to be busy (again not much has changed!). After two weeks at home, I went back to school part time doing only the really vital lessons. I was told to expect 6 weeks, so this was pretty amazing! Of course I was off sports for about 6 months until my spine had fully fused – I was a year, so again this was another fab milestone to hit! Don’t get me wrong at no stage was I doing any athlete level sport, but being active – yes. I was pretty much back to normal – all be it this new version of normal. In the context of time, there was all the pre-London 2012, build up – I had absolutely no hope in hell of being any where near even remotely good at any sports but equally the whole Olympic spirit and atmosphere inspired me. I wanted to be faster, higher and stronger.

I had various follow up appointment, x-rays and so on. X-Rays I initially had creeped me out a bit – suddenly seeing this metal monster acting as scaffolding keeping me upright – yet I could feel absolutely nothing. I also had one appointment of hydrotherapy, that was the biggest waste of time EVER. Not saying it wouldn’t be useful to other people, but I’d gone (in my opinion), way too deep into my recovery, I was stronger – not the strongest, but equally it felt a bit like like doing a gorilla doing perfect mini pigeon steps. I was capable of much, much more.

During 2012, I visited Italy with school, and attempted what I believed to be the impossible – I managed to climb what we did of Mount Vesuvius. It was hot, I was comfortably last but I did it.

I set off metal detectors but apart from the odd ‘woaaahh’ feeling, I’m perfectly normal. No pain – I’m unflexible as hell but who even cares? I can do everything I want to do. At school I was always known as the person who couldn’t do sport, or was simply just a bit rubbish – the type that would have a tennis ball come at them at 2mph, comfortably a HUGE distance away from her and would still flinch and shut her eyes!

BUT…

I’m proving all the doubters wrong. I know I’m no athlete but I’m still someone who’s gone from complete couch potato to running 3 half marathons and a 10k for a charity, with at very least 2 more half marathons on the way. I’m just coming to the beginning of my 3rd year at uni – I’m not perfect, I’ve still got tonnes more I want to do and will continue to do but I’m doing sooooo much I would just have straight up laughed at you for beforehand.

I should also mention how much the paralympic movement has done for me too. I’m not disabled, but equally paralympians like Hannah Cockroft, Kare Adenegan, David Weir and Jonnie Peacock and have continued to inspire me in the sense that being a little bit physically disadvantaged isn’t actually a disadvantage. It’s a benefit. It’s a push to make an even greater impact on the wider world and if you put your mind to it, anything is possible!

I really hope this series of articles can act as some kind of support for people who have or are going through a similar thing. You can do this – and soon you’ll be doing things you’d have had no idea you would have done before. If anyone who’s reading this has any questions at all, or if you’re about to go through the same thing then send me an email clairenicholson078 at gmail.com or fire me a tweet @WildlifeClaire.

I made it. I’m all straightened up – a bit more bionic than before but this is just one little part of what makes me the person I am today. I truly believe that in a weird way this gave me so much extra confidence and gave me a push in the direction to really believe in the person I am – I wouldn’t have changed anything. In September this year, I’ll be 7 years post op and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am faster, I am stronger.