Brighton 10k Recap (BM10)

Now if you’ve been reading my blog for a while or know me at all you’ll know I detest 10ks. This is kind of amusing considering how many I used to do back when I first started running. I was doing a 10k every weekend it seemed. But it eroded my enjoyment of running as I was always after a faster time and was disappointed when it invariably didn’t happen.

So now I just stick to half marathons and marathons and any other race I do is usually just for fun, or if I’m in the height of fitness (rarely) I might target it to simply see how I can do or as a good speed session.

But I was contacted by Millet Sports to ask if I’d like a place at the Brighton 10k to do a review for 2XU, who are one of the main sponsors, and would include some free kit from 2XU. This is obviously a runner’s dream so I thought why not. I like Brighton, I’ve done the half marathon before and enjoyed it, it’s a nice day out and it might be a good idea to avoid doing a long run and do a slightly more tempo shorter run (my running mojo has been a bit duff recently – more on that in another post).

Initially I was going to get the train but theys weren’t early enough for the 8.30am race start. So this meant driving (and leaving ridiculously early). The Park & Ride was sold out but luckily I have a lovely friend who lives in Brighton and gave me a visitor’s parking permit. My dad, bless his heart, said he’d drive and support. But, ooof, a 5.30am leaving time was painful for both of us!My dad wanted in on the leg photo action too 😉 #dadsofbloggersWe got to Brighton just after 7am. Though it was super handy having the free parking space it was in Zone W which was just over three miles to Preston Park, where the race start was. We did know this beforehand but obviously the reality is something else! We got a stomp on and headed our way there. Can I just say, I’m so proud of my dad. This was basically a parkrun for him. We couldn’t hang about, we had to move quickly to get to the area in time (and I needed the loo somewhat critically and needed to find a toilet – a long queue at a portable loo in the race village was not going to cut it). After losing three stone, power walking three miles (and a fair portion uphill) was far easier than it used to be for him!As we got closer we started joining other runners walking their way to the start and the buzz of the race atmosphere became bigger and bigger. It was a beautifully sunny morning but boded to be a rather hot day. Perfect for the beach but probably not for the marathon that was starting at 9.15am.

I was a little dubious about wearing the full-length leggings for the race and had intended on switching to my shorts but having wore the leggings all morning I was quite enjoying the super tight compressed feeling they were giving my legs. And to be honest, the faff of changing was far too great. Yes I might be a bit hot, but at least I’d be super streamlined!I wore the new 2XU MCS Run Compression Tights which were really comfortable. Yes they’re tight but not in a “oof I need to lay off the cake” kind of way. More like compression socks but for your entire legs (obviously). And they didn’t slip down ONCE. Not ONCE. They kind of stick to you while allowing lots of movement. They also have these detailed bits on them which are apparently for “anatomical mapping for targeted support to muscles to reduce soreness and improve recovery” [Source].I also wore the 2XU GHST Short Sleeve Tee which was SO light and very cool. This was an ideal top to wear for the temperatures as it wicked away sweat and was very thin. It did pain me somewhat to attach my bib to it using pins!The race village was great. A number of portable loos – though I didn’t use any nor the bag drop. There were also a selection of food vans, one of which was a smoothie and oat-based one. I thought this was brilliant (and clearly very popular looking at the large queue). There were non-dairy options as well as a variety of smoothies. Great idea!

My dad said goodbye as he was off to find somewhere to spectate on the course and I headed off to the start funnel. It was all rather smooth and we started on time. It was fairly busy at the start so I had to be careful of not stepping on people’s heels but it stretched out after a bit. There were loads of people cheering from the sides which was great. There were lots of marathon runners walking to the race start so that helped boost spectators and cheering.Clearly doing a bit of window shopping while my dad was taking a photo of me! There was lots of crowds and interesting buildings on the course.Do you know what was really nice? A pretty much entirely flat course. There was no “oh god, mile X has that hill” to dread. Yes flat courses (especially for a marathon) can be a bit dull but it was just so nice to know the only thing really keeping me back was my own fitness and race strategy, rather than something external like inclines.

Having said that, it was warm and within a mile I was overly hot. The leggings were lovely to run in (no slipping down, no chafing, I felt very streamlined) but they were hot. But it was only 10k so really it wasn’t terrible.My aim was to take the first half steady. There was no PB going to happen today, not in my wildest dreams. I’m not particularly fit (I say this all the time, I really should do something about this if I do ever intend on getting PBs again). But I did want a good, controlled race. I felt good running around 7.30s so I stuck there. I was comfortably uncomfortable if that makes sense.Hitting the seafront (basically the second half of the race) things began to get hotter and harder. I tend to enjoy out and backs when they’re short as you can see runners coming the other way and it’s a nice way to take your mind off things. Though it is a long out and back and the whole time you’re thinking “I’ve got to come all the way back”.

But, as more of a long distance runner, it was easy to stay motivated with the hard effort because it was less than a parkrun to go now. I’d stepped up my pace to closer to 7 min/miles and it was less comfortable and more uncomfortable.

As we hit the last mile (and .2) we were turning around. So mentally I just thought “run to the finish”, which I vaguely knew was near the Brighton Pier. A blip in the horizon but a blip nonetheless.

There was a slight headwind (a mild breeze which is amplified about 100 times when on the last mile of any race – whether a reality or in your mind). I was steadily overtaking people which was nice and I prayed to hold on to the pace. I overtook one lady just on the finishing strip (the crowds were fantastic! So many people cheering!) and she pipped me about 50m to the line. I thought “fair play, you deserve that!” I had nothing left to counter it. She also came up to me afterwards and said she was grateful I overtook her as it gave her the boost she needed to up her speed.

I saw my dad on the sidelines which was great and he shouted encouragement. I saw the gun time on the finish as it was ticking towards 46 minutes and just hoped to finish under that arbitrary figure. I did 🙂

I’m really pleased with this time. Not a PB (my PB will stand at 42:50 for a long time yet I think!) but faster than I thought I would. It felt very controlled and manageable.

I met up with my dad and he told me he’d walked about 5k himself to get to the three locations he saw me at and then be at the finish. Bless him, I’m so lucky to have such an encouraging dad.
We then started the long walk back… another three mile walk to the car. I had a little post race photoshoot before starting the trek, of course 😉 What with such beautiful weather and views, it would have been foolish not to!My dad found it amusing the lengths I’d go to get a good photo for Instagram.And then the walk back to the car. There were lots of foodie vans on set-up which was cool, but as it wasn’t even 10am I avoided the temptation. We did buy a large Diet Coke from a soda fountain to share though (ahhhh my nectar). I liked the fact that they had water fountain areas for people too that had been set-up.My top supporter! It’s safe to say we were both fairly knackered when we finally arrived back at the car an hour later. We’d both covered quite a distance that day – and in some rather warm temperatures! I really felt for those who were running the marathon at that point. It would definitely be a tough one.

Despite the heat and it being a dreaded 10k, I thoroughly enjoyed this race.
Do you wear compression gear?

How far do you like to walk before a race?

What makes a good 10k for you?

**Full disclaimer: I received a free entry and 2XU top and leggings in exchange for a review post. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Isobar Compression review

In this brave new world of today, there’s a lot of amazing technology that has recently cropped up or being invented as we speak. Smart fridges telling you you’re low on milk, a voice activation system that can turn your lights off or tell you the weather tomorrow (my dad’s new friend, Alexa, is a new addition to their home) and basically having the whole world in your palm through your phone.

And when technology collides with running, well, I get quite excited. Isobar Compression is a company that manufactures compression clothing that is made according to your exact measurements. And I’m not talking about small, medium or large but YOUR actual compression needs, which is found out using a scanner and then the garments are produced later using a 3D printer.

I was fortunate enough to try this compression gear out. The company gave me a hugely reduced cost for a pair of compression socks and compression calf sleeves in exchange for an honest review of the whole process.

Normally you would go into a centre where the Isobar Compression team have a base and they would scan your legs (or arms) there. There’s actually one (or will be one very soon) about five minutes from my house at the Ageas Bowl Perform centre. However, the day they were available I was going to be at work… Handily though, they (two very nice, knowledgeable chaps) were able to drop in to my office on their way to London as it would only take 10 minutes. It was quite surreal having them arrive at my office building and setting up their gear in our small gym…

After a very quick set-up of their equipment and hooking it up to their laptop, I was instructed to place my bare foot onto the Isobar step. I also had to have bare legs (I wore tights and just removed them).

Then Charlie, the guy in the picture above, circled the attached camera around my raised leg.

You can sort of see the image and data that is then projected back to the laptop. And that data is what’s used to create my custom made compression garments.
It was all very exciting I have to say. And I peppered them with lots of questions as I was being scanned. As an avid compression sock wearer (for post-run recovery and for during marathons and long runs) I was keen to understand the difference between these socks and the ones you can just buy off the shelf.

The scanner captures around 45,000 different data points of each leg which will give my “compression profile”. Everyone’s legs are different shapes, with different bone lengths and muscle sizes and pressure requirements. From this data they then make a seamless garment which graduates the compression to an accuracy of within 1mmHg (I will throw my hands up here and say I don’t know what that measurement is). Effectively each stitch is controlled to the pressure needed.

So the difference between these and ones off the shelf is that the ones off the shelf may not be providing your legs with the specific compression needs they require.

For a compression garment to be effective in reducing the risk of DVT and speeding up recovery it needs to produce at least 20mmHg and we can accurately produce this pressure, unlike off the shelf compression garments.Source

So after all that waffle (though I do find it quite interesting), what did I think?

The material feels a lot thinner than your regular compression socks. They’re very stretchy as well, and a lot longer. They also feel quite delicate. I guess this down to the material and how they’re made. The instructions are quite extension for putting on socks – but this is to ensure you don’t put your fingers or toes through the material or misshapen them. But it made me nervous getting them on – which is never an easy task for compression socks in general. But after getting the hang of it it’s become easier.

They’re also quite tricky to tell which sock goes on which leg (there’s some stitching at the top that you can read but it’s not obvious).I put them on post run and they did feel different to my regular compression socks. My regular compression socks squeeze my entire calf and I’d often find it uncomfortable towards the ankle (do I have cankles??). But these felt less restrictive and more comfortable. Perhaps it was my imagination but I definitely felt a different level of compression through the leg, rather than one single “squeeze” all over.

As I’m currently suffering from a shin and calf issue, these have been a dream to wear in the evening and I’m finding they’re helping. Whether this is based on science or placebo, who knows. But who cares when I believe it helps?

I have two major gripes about the product however. One is the cost. They are very expensive. I was fortunate to get a discount so was happy to pay, but for the entire scanning process, a pair of sleeves and socks would have set me back over £200. You pay for the scanning and then the cost of the garment. If you’re keen it makes sense to buy more than one product to maximise the cost of the scanning but I would struggle to justify this cost. It is new technology however and they are the best in their field… Perhaps in the future the cost will go down but for right not while it’s so new, it’s perhaps not surprising.

My second gripe is when I wore them outside on a walk with Alfie, they kept slipping down. I like to wear compression socks on long runs and this would just not work. For lounging around the house they’re perfect, but not for running. Perhaps this is just my calf shape?

But overall, I’m very impressed. There’s a lot of information on the website and they sent me a list of studies to peruse that suggests the benefits of compression (especially for deep vein thrombosis sufferers). I’ve listed it out below if you are interested (I will say though that I haven’t gone through it all, I’m not a scientist and they’ve obviously only provided data that supports their product – but one of the studies is a meta-analysis, so take what you will from it).

I would recommend these if you’re serious about your compression gear. In my opinion this is top of the range gear. It’s a fantastic way to recover.

What do you think about compression gear?

What’s the most expensive bit of workout kit/gear you’ve bought?

Are you a technology addict?

**Full Disclaimer: I given a reduced cost for the Isobar Compression gear (scanning, socks and compression sleeves) in return for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

  • Evaluation of a lower-body compression garment (Doan, et al., 2003 – J. Sport Sci.)
  • Compression garments and recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage:  a meta-analysis (Hill, et al., 2013 – BJSM Online First)
  • The effects of wearing lower body compression garments during a cycling performance test (Driller& Halson, 2013 – International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance)
  • Aerobic energy cost and sensation responses during submaximal running exercise positive effects of wearing compression tights (Bringard A, et al., 2006 – N. Int. J. Sports Med.)
  • Influence of a compression garment on repetitive power output production before and after different types of muscle fatigue (Kraemer WJ, et al., 1998 – Sports Med. Training Rehabil.)
  • Compression garments: Do they influence athletic performance and recovery? (Wallace, et al., School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism, University of Technology – Sydney)
  • The effects of compression garments on recovery (Davies V, et al., 2009 – J Strength Cond. Res.)
  • Influence of compression therapy on  symptoms following soft tissue injury  from maximal eccentric exercise (Kraemer et a., 2001 – J Orthop. Sport Phys.

Things I’m Loving Lately

Dare I say I’m loving the cooler weather…? I just hope it remains for 2nd October, when I have the Chester Marathon. Anyway, on to some things I’ve been loving lately.

New (inexpensive) workout gear: I popped into TKMaxx the other day quickly just to check out what they had. I don’t often shop there as (similar to Primark) it stresses me out as it had a very warehouse-feel and can be a bit mad ad disorganised. But I rifled through my size area and found two bargains: an Adidas sports bra and a New Balance running top.

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Together for under £25! I love the colours. I don’t often go for greens or blues so it’s nice to have some variety

Toms: I have one pair of Toms (a simple black pair). I love them. They’re so comfortable and go with so many things. My mum also loves Toms. She has SO many pairs…

IMG_5124_thumb.jpgThe white ones I’m wearing are her Toms too

Happily we both have the same size feet (5 if you’re interested). This means I get to borrow her Toms. She often lends them to me in order to “stretch” them a bit so they’re a bit more comfy for her. I willingly oblige (*sighs* the things you do for your parents ). The photograph above isn’t even of all of them. (My mum also has a handbag addiction and I also get to borrow some of those lovelies too! Hello, Mulberry and Michael Kors).

Foot sling: I was sent an Ashipita Foot Sling*. When I was first contacted about this review I was a bit like, “a what?” but then I read a bit more about it and decided it sounded like a very interesting product to try!IMG_4997.jpgThey’re made by a young start-up company in Germany that sells health products, which you can find more of from their Amazon shop. The foot sling appealed to me because my feet are always an issue with running with my fairly collapsed arches.

It’s supposed to strengthen the midfoot ligaments and muscles to allow your feet to roll naturally but not excessively. It helps provide stability and provide comfort. I’ve been wearing them around the house (and with shoes as well as they’re quite discreet). I have to say they do feel very comfortable. After an hour or so I do notice my feet feel a bit different – not achy but just something is off, but in a good way. Like something is working. I can’t tell you if they definitely work or not, but I’ll continue to wear them at home as I do feel like they’re doing something. Apparently they’re quite the thing in Japan – like foot lingerie!

Compression sleeves: I’m a big fan of compression socks and clothing. When I run in the evening I’ll usually pop on some compression socks or sleeves after I’ve showered and it’s divine. Both the socks and the sleeves I use are CEP.IMG_5211_thumb.jpgYes they’re expensive (£40 for the socks; £35 for the sleeves) but I swear by them for recovery. While there’s no firm evidence for improving your actual running, there is some evidence that shows that wearing compression socks improves blood flow and recovery (here’s an interesting article on this can be found on some of the debate of whether they work or not). Personally I love them after a run – make calves feel a lot fresher after wearing them for a couple of hours. As to wearing them during a run? I think the jury’s out on this one. I don’t notice any benefits for short distances (and when I suffered from shin issues they didn’t give much relief) BUT I find that for long runs they’re great. My calves don’t cramp as much. Perhaps it’s psychological but they work for me!

Tangle Teezer: After my annoying hair issue last week after my 21 miler in the rain, Maria mentioned the Tangle Teezer brush.IMG_4998.jpgThe bristles move with your hair so don’t tug it all out when you’re trying to brush through it. It works for both wet and dry hair.teezer-hairbrushI used to use a wide tooth comb for after I washed my hair but this made my life SO much easier. It just seemed to glide through. Saves me loads of time now.

Speaking of hair… My parent’s dogs have had haircuts. They look adorable. Their Cavalier, Dylan, is a bit on the chunky side and this has only been made more apparent post-haircut.dylan

I (lovingly) call him Shamu as he looks a little bit like a killer whale. The little tubster!

Funny Ladybird books: I love these Ladybird books. This one called “The Wife” made me laugh a lot.img_5047I’m sure we all know that person, right?? Hehe. Whereas this one spoke to me on a more personal level…ladybirdDating in this day and age… such a nightmare! Speaking of which, I’m listening to an audio book that Maria (again!) recommended called Modern Romance and, though hilarious, does actually speak of a lot of home truths I’m experiencing. Giving me some good advice as well.modern-romance

I’ve also just started reading the Brownlee brothers autobiography, Swim, Bike Run: Our Triathlon Story. How amazing was it to see Alistair sacrifice his first position in the World Triathlon Series to help his brother when he was near collapsing near the end of the race? I’m not an overly emotional person but it did almost bring a tear to my eye!

What books have you been reading lately?

Have you heart of the foot sling before (or “foot lingerie”!?)

Do you use compression clothing?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the Ashipita foot sling for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Probably jinxing it now – marathon training

Pretty much the entire (running) world and his friend are tapering or just about to taper for impending marathons. It seems everyone is training for London, Brighton or Edinburgh to name but a few.

While I’m sad that I’m not in that gang, I know that deferring London until next year was still the right decision. I couldn’t do yet another marathon on minimum training and maximum stress. I am however still training for a marathon at the moment. I’m just a couple of months behind the main pack.

The Liverpool marathon is mid-June, so I’m currently about 10 weeks away. I’m taking nothing for granted though and know only too keenly that injury could strike me down like a bolt of lightning at any point. Not to sound too depressing but being realistic is far better for me than being blissfully optimistic and then being disappointed. I also think that having this arguably pessimistic approach means I can try and not make silly mistakes (notice I said “try” there).

Running

My long run is up to 13 miles and my next run is 14 miles. I’ve pretty much just been gently crawling up the mileage like this – though some runs I’ll do twice to allow my body to adjust before ramping it up again. The only run I’m increasing is the long run, whereas previously I’ve just thrown in miles all over the place, which doesn’t seem to work for me. I also have the Southampton half marathon planned for the end of April, which (all things being good) I will aim to race.

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In a regular week, I do a hill session (usually just over 10k), a parkrun which I try and put some speed in my legs and then a long run which I’m really trying to slow down and just get the time on my feet. At this point in my long runs this is more important than ever.

Strength training

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Ahh that little gem I’ve previously been missing in my life. This I would say is almost as important as my running. For me the two have to go hand-in-hand for now. I feel so much stronger. Who knows if this is essential for everyone and whether it’s essential to do for all the time you’re training. All I know is my running feels stronger, I have no injuries and no niggles.

My Go To Moves

Cross-training

I try and do one session a week of cross-training. This is steady-state cardio and it’s normally the day after my hilly run so it’s nice to shake the legs out a bit and not put a huge amount of effort in. I keep my heart rate fairly low to replicate a recovery jog.

Rower workout selfieIt’s usually 45 minutes on the rowing machine listening to MarathonTalk. I’d say this workout is probably more for my sanity than anything. What I mean by that is because I’m only running three times a week I worry that I’m not doing ‘enough’ endurance-style cardio. Who knows if this helps but it does make my legs feel fresher and I enjoy it!

Nutrition

Getting Hello Fresh meals (food/recipe delivery service) helps a lot. I’m a vegetable and salad lover to my core and while this is a great source of nutrients and vital vitamins…it may not be the best way to keep me fuelled for my long runs and my gym visits.

IMG_0201 Chicken Shawarma (spiced chicken with lentils and roasted vegetables)

With Hello Fresh my meals are far more varied and they’re all a good balance of protein, carbs and fat. It’s no secret that I don’t love carbs too much…pasta, rice and bread are not things that make me go “mmm”, but making meals with mash potato or roasted new potatoes are rocking my life right now – as well as my usual well-loved sweet potato. Don’t fear the spud! 😉

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Teriyaki beef with sweet potato chips

And I’m eating more red meat and this ensures my iron levels are tip top. I can satisfy my salad need at lunch, but dinner is where the big guns come out ready for my next early morning gym session or run.

And cake. Lots of cake.

Added extras

Sleep is never usually an issue with me. I like to go to bed early and find after reading my book for a bit I fall asleep very easily. I get up stupidly early (5am if I’m going to the gym, 6am otherwise) so the early nights help. As long as I get seven hours I feel great. As a childless person this is quite easy to do I know (don’t hurt me, parents out there!!).

My standing desk at work helps reduce the amount of time I spend sitting to around 3-4 hours a day (2 hours worth of commuting, lunch, and sofa time in evening). My legs feel so much better, my hip flexors no where near as tight and just generally I feel better (read this BBC article for more information on the health benefits).

Foam rolling after my runs seems to help loosen up my tight muscles. It’s so easy to do while watching TV in the evening that I can’t not do it without feeling guilty.

Same goes for wearing my compression socks after a run. When I do my hilly 10k on a Wednesday evening the compression socks go on straight away after I shower and I usually sleep in them (yes I know, what a sexy beast I am). And I wake up with new calves, it’s fabulous.

Having said all this, I’m pretty sure I’ll now get injured 😉 #sodslaw

What are your tried and tested methods of injury prevention?

What are your top priorities during marathon training?

How long do you stay sat down each day?

Seriously painful

Howdy, howdy guys. Happy Friday. And I forgot to say in my last post, happy 4th July to those celebrating it. Do you know, it’s slightly depressing not celebrating a holiday that 80% of the blog world seem to be enjoying. Just an observation.

It’s been quite a busy week here. On Wednesday night Ben and I went to a great running event called Mile of Miles with our running club (did I mention Ben had joined the running club?? Well, he has…). It was at our local track and it was basically teams of 10 people running a relay.

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So each team member would run just one mile. It was a beautiful evening and there were quite a lot of teams and running clubs involved.

I was fairly nervous and not particularly looking forward to it if I’m honest. I don’t tend to enjoy 5ks (3.1miles) so one mile was going to be worse. OK it goes quickly but it’s still painful. In my head I just kept thinking at most it was going to be 8 minutes worth of pain.

I was a little worried about only just being recovered from my previous leg issues. And I was on the fast team! Though the team were lovely and reassured me I didn’t need to go full out and to put my well-being first.

I warmed up and got ready to be tagged in. I was number six and so far our team were flying. Miles ranging from 6.30 minutes to 5.48minutes!!

Then I was off! I could feel my heart beating stupidly fast to begin with as I was so nervous but then I got into it and it honestly felt good. I couldn’t even really look at my Garmin because you literally don’t have time. It’s four laps around the track and I thought this would drag but it zoomed by. And the best part was passing the supporters on each lap.

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My running club and team cheered me on loudly and it honestly put fuel to my run.

My mile came in at 6.12 minutes!

The fastest mile I’ve ever done! I was so pleased. And Ben, who was on a different team, got a time of 6.25minutes. My team ran our 10 miles in 1hour 1minute. I mean seriously, that’s pretty impressive!

And how do you celebrate a good race?

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Check out my Inspector Gadget coat

By cake. Obviously.

The next day though I knew I hadn’t done my leg any favours. *Sighs* So I took it easy at running club the next evening and then enjoyed endured an ice bath afterwards.

It was painful I’m not going to lie. But it did feel pretty damn good. Perverse, I know.

Afterwards I decided to put my new compression socks on. It was so hard. I just couldn’t seem to get them over my ankle, and then when I struggled away I got the worst case of cramp in my calf that I have ever had. I literally screamed the house down.

Ben ran upstairs wondering what the hell was going on and went to touch me and I screamed at him “Don’t touch me!! Don’t come near me!!” as I feared it would only make things worse. Then Ben started laughing (don’t worry I’m currently filing for a divorce) and said “this will be like childbirth”. I then started laughing, then immediately started yelling at him to stop as all my muscles tightened when I laughed.

God. It went on for hours a good few minutes. And I didn’t even get a baby out of it.

In the end, Ben had to put the socks on for me. It was like that scene from Disney’s Cinderella when the guy is trying to cram the glass slipper on one of the ugly sister’s feet.

Then I slept in the damn things because, seriously, I wanted my money’s pain’s worth out them.

Runners, do you prefer roads, track or trail running? I was pleasantly surprised at how good track running felt. Nice and springy and the laps went quickly. I doubt I could run 10 miles on it. Or even three. Too boring.

Do you get cramp a lot? Thankfully I don’t. And after the other day, I never want it again,

How do you recover after a hard run? I’m all about icing and compressing now.