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Leeds Country Way is a 62-mile route around Leeds, taking in some of the stunning countryside to be found just outside the city. The running relay version, organised by Kippax Harriers, is slightly longer at 64 miles and starts and finishes at Garforth. The route is split into six legs, and clubs enter teams of 12 – a pair of runners per leg.

I did the race last year and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was eager to sign up again. I asked to do the same leg (the second one, from Stanley to Morley) in case I didn’t find time to do a recce, and that request turned out to be very wise.

My original partner was poorly and couldn’t run, but with three teams to fill and the usual injuries cropping up our reserve list was depleted and I only got my partner the week of the race. I was about to have kittens – as well as knowing your leg you also have to coordinate getting yourselves to the start and leaving a car at the finish – so the logistics can be tricky. But Becky and I arranged ourselves with no fuss once we figured out what we needed to do, and we got to the start in plenty of time for a pee in the woods and a catch-up with our fellow Purple Posse runners doing leg two.

Actually we had almost an hour to wait – the leg one runners all set off together at 8am, but we didn’t really know what time our pair would come through. It was great to see the others handover their batons though, and we even had an early win for Kirkstall Harriers, with Ben and Jen the first mixed team to finish the first leg.

Becky and I took on the baton from our team-mates just ahead of the mass start for leg two, and we set off steadily. I found it tough going at first, and it didn’t get any easier. But we continued steadily enough, taking regular walk breaks (for my benefit) and enjoying the scenery.

Overall it was a very pleasant morning run. It took us 2:35 to finish the 11.2miles, but we didn’t get lost. It is a nice route, not horribly tough but with lots of variations in terrain. All but our purple club friends and the marshals had gone by the time we finished, and I was very glad of the Fudge I had left in Becky’s car to scoff as soon as I finished!

Then it was more car manoeuvering and home to eat and shower. The best thing about the LCW Relay is the reception at the pub afterwards. I headed back out with Emma and Becky to cheer in the leg six runners (another winning pair in Adam and Shami for the Kirkstall Harriers), pick up my awesome pottery memento and take advantage of the carb buffet.

It’s a long day with a lot of driving if you go at it the way I did, but a lot of fun with plenty of opportunities to spend time with running friends.

 

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As this is Eating Disorders Awareness Week I thought I would take a minute to reflect on and share my own experience. I have done this before in a difficult, but necessary, post on eating and food, so today is just a brief note on where I’m at now and how I feel about it.

The number on the bathroom scales does not trouble me like it used to. It has become a bigger number in recent months, but that’s OK, because that’s just how my body needs to be to do the things I ask of it.

I know my body is stronger, fitter, healthier and sexier than ever before, because I feel it.

I make informed, rational, and sometimes poor, decisions about what I eat and don’t eat. Disordered habits do not control me, although they are still there at times.

 

So there you go. As with all the mental health issues I have encountered during my lifetime I don’t expect I will ever be able to say I am fully recovered with no chance of relapse, but I am doing well. Very bloody well.

For information, advice and support on eating disorders, please do get in touch with beat.

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of this week I will be half way through my training plan!

Am still on track so far, and the past week has been steady away.

I rested on Monday and did have to cut out the intervals on Tuesday and just go short and slow instead, but that’s OK. On Wednesday and Thursday I tried some new things – I went out with Jill’s beginner group and then did her hills and drills session. Both were good fun and I will be back. I have been trying to keep up with my stretch, strength and yoga work but with not much success, and I still need to get my diet under control.

The best bit of the week was my birthday weekend. I was joined by lots of friends for a neon parkrun and birthday cake session on Saturday and on Sunday we had 19 Harriers at the Liversedge Half Marathon (full report on that to follow in the week) after which I refuelled with Jagermeister, a Sunday roast and apple pie and custard.

Total: 28.3

(all distances in miles)

Week 8

Monday: rest

Tuesday: cross train

Wednesday: 5 (race pace)

Thursday: v short intervals

Friday: cross train

Saturday: 18 (inc Leeds parkrun)

Sunday: 3

As it is my birthday today I am having a weekend of celebration, mostly involving running.

I called on my friends to join me at parkrun in Woodhouse Moor yesterday dressed in all the neon they could muster, and they did not disappoint.

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There were a few PBs and a lot of blurred neon around the course. Then afterwards it was back to mine for cake.

My good friend Helen bought me a Costco cake for my present. They are massive and the yummiest sponge cakes in the world.

We made a good go of scoffing it all but there is still plenty left so I’ll be living on cake for a few days yet.

Big thanks to all my Kirkstall Harrier, other running and non-running friends for joining in my celebration and bringing me some fantastic cards and gifts. I am very blessed to have you.

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This post has been in the making for about two weeks now.

When I started this blog the plan was to talk mental health as much as running. To open up and speak out about some of the challenges I have come through and those I still face. It hasn’t quite worked out like that. Turns out running is much easier to write about than depression, eating disorders, self harm and other mental health issues.

I decided I would try to write something about food and eating. What I wanted to do was talk about running, relationships with food, and eating disorders. But I couldn’t quite find the right words, nor a way to write them that was coherent and concise.

The point was going to be something about managing eating habits and finding something that vaguely resembles a healthy, balanced diet. From anorexia, through a food-exercise binge-purge habit, to what can still at most times be described as a disordered eating pattern and too much time spent on the scales or reading nutrition labels.

But I kept getting lost on the way and it turned out to be really difficult to get things out.

I think what I want to say is, that although I still over-indulge on confectionery, baked goods and takeaways a bit too often, using a long run or tough race as an excuse, I think I am coping quite well.

To lose so much weight (in a healthy way, this time) and then find your body in a state of maintenance that you’re not quite sure you’re ready for nor happy with, is tough. My focus now is on letting go of arbitrary numbers on a scale and understanding how my body is fitter, stronger, healthier and more beautiful because of what it can do, not what it looks like.

I’ve got myself out of the habit of jumping on the scales every single morning. I am learning to say no when presented with food I don’t really want or need. And I’m letting go of calorie counting, for better or for worse.

There’s no doubting that food is a favourite topic for most runners. Almost every time I go for a run with company the conversation will turn to eating, and we finish the run even hungrier than we were at the start. Given that runners are always hungry anyway, this only makes the tummy rumble even louder.

But food can also be a source of concern for runners, and athletes in general.

Not long ago Formula 1 drivers spoke out about the effects of the enforced weight limit on their eating habits. Mark Webber admitted to starving himself. David Coulthard was bulimic.

And the other day I read this on disordered eating.

I recognise some of myself in these stories, and I know I will always have to work hard on my eating habits and how I feel about my body.

For now, I am trying to think more about food as fuel, and concentrating on putting good stuff in. Cake, chocolate, Chinese takeaways and chips will always be regular features in my diet. But that is not a bad thing, and I will not let it become so.

Loved ones – I hope this post does not alarm, shock or upset you. I am OK. I will continue to be OK because I am aware of myself and I know I have your support and love. If I ever feel the need to talk about anything, trust me; I will come to you. Whether you see me say no to seconds or stuff my face with cake; know that I am simply responding to my body and my mind and what they need at that moment.