Thing I’m loving lately – June

*Whispers* I don’t want to speak too soon, but I have had a pretty decent streak of running uninjured.

I mean I had a blip after Tokyo with my ankle, but after a week off I was good to go again. It’s kind of all going…dare I say it, OK??Two marathons and now onto my next bout of marathon training, please let it continue to go as smoothly!

So as I’m in a pretty good mood with my running, I thought I’d continue these happy vibes with some things I’m loving lately.

The new series of My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast: If you’ve never heard of it or think it sounds weird, you really just need to give it a go. It is HILARIOUS. Like actual laugh out loud comedy. I binge listened to the first two series and now they’ve just started the third series. They have fans such as Daisy Ridley, Elijah Wood, Michael Sheen. I can’t recommend it enough.

Dogs of parkrun: I love how many dogs come out to parkrun. Not all of them run, but it’s lovely to see them ‘supporting’. I took a photo of some of the ones I saw at Netley at the weekend and made a collage.All so lovely. I know that dogs at races/parkrun can be annoying but I’m a big dog lover so to me I’m happy to have to dodge around them and their leads. I’d love to run with Alfie but I’m worried that as he’s a bit older (almost eight!) it might not be a good idea. He’s never run further than half a mile so I’d need to start very slowly with him, which at the moment I don’t really have time for. He loves racing about on his own though.

SIS products: I really love these products I’ve been sent. I don’t actually take the Overnight Protein Powder in the evening as it suggests but I have it in my porridge every morning (about 15g). I like to boost my porridge in this way to get some added protein and it adds a nice chocolate taste. It really isn’t overwhelming sweet.They suggest taking the protein powder in the evening due to the casein content (80% casein and 20% whey from the milk protein). Casein works while you’re asleep, stimulating muscle protein synthesis. It’s low in fat and carbs as well. Like I said, I like how subtle the chocolate taste is so it goes really nicely in my porridge (I add it to the oats before I microwave it). I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet porridge. It also makes a nice hot chocolate as well when mixed with hot water!

And as I’ve mentioned previously, I love the Go Caffeine Shots. These are going to become pre-race staples for me. I’d normally have a cup of black coffee before a race but I hate drinking too much liquid. This shot is only 60ml so is perfect, so I can still hydrate well with water.

The tropical flavour is definitely my favourite over the cola flavour though. The cola one is just a bit too sharp/sour.

Having a clear out: My drawers are currently bulging with the amount of fitness clothes and race t-shirts I own so I decided to have a clear out. I donated a load of tops from races that I wasn’t too bothered about (really old 10ks) and then separated t-shirts I wanted to keep but would no longer wear, such as marathon t-shirts.

I’ve decided at the end of the year I’ll get a blanket made up of my race tops as a nice way to keep the t-shirts and remember the race. I’ve found this website that does it. It’s expensive, which is why I’m waiting until the end of the year so I can add (HOPEFULLY) a few more shirts to it.

I’d like to do something with my bibs as well (I always save them as well as my medals) but I’m not sure what at the moment. A friend of mine put them on his wall and that looked cool, but I don’t really have the space. Maybe a big scrapbook or something.

What do you do with your race t-shirts and bibs?

Do you use any SIS products?

Do you have long running streaks or are you injury prone like me?

**Full Disclaimer: I’ve been sent the SIS products for free to test out for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Marathon Talk Run Camp 2017 recap

So this was my third time going to the Marathon Talk Run Camp in Sandy Balls in the New Forest. Marathon Talk is a running-focused podcast hosted by two genuinely lovely and knowledgeable guys, Martin Yelling (running guru for lots of publications and races) and Tom Williams (MD of parkrun).

I love listening to the podcast on my long runs and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the previous two run camps I’ve been on so I pretty much signed up straight away as soon as it became available. I knew a few others who were going, though some of them couldn’t make it in the end which was such a shame 🙁 but I still got to see my running friend, Adrian, who went to the last one and I ran Fareham parkrun with a while ago.

I arrived on Friday night and met my fellow housemates. There was a married couple and two female friends who I was sharing with. What was nice was that I got a room to myself as the friends were happy to share their twin room.The cabins have a little kitchen, two bathrooms and a lovely lounge area with a fire. It’s very cosy but fairly basic. Sandy Balls is a holiday camp set in the middle of the New Forest so the scenery is beautiful with forests all around you.

That evening we headed out to meet other Marathon Talkers around a fire pit and toasted some marshmallows.It was nice to chat to lots of different people. I got to chat to Dan from Xempo, who does all the Marathon Talk clothinig. He was so lovely. A really nice and funny guy. I mentioned to him that I was considering running to the Moors Valley parkrun the next day as I wasn’t going to be able to stay for the Sunday long run. He said that his fellow housemate, Andy, was thinking of doing the same. Funnily enough I realised I knew the Andy he was talking about from Twitter. Though I found out he was a sub 2:40 marathoner so that concerned me a bit that I might hold him up a bit!

After chatting to Andy I managed to persuade him to definitely run it…and he handily said he’d figure us out a good route (the route I’d planned was all road and a bit dodgy with the traffic, true Anna-style planning of course!). He wasn’t entirely happy about getting up earlier than he’d need to for the parkrun but I won him round 😉

The next morning we met after 7am and headed out for the 9 mile planned run he had. This run was fantastic. The route was perfect. It went pretty much all along New Forest trails so off-road and through beautiful countryside. Over styles, along a river, through boggy areas… it was fantastic! We saw lots of wildlife and even had a dodgy moment of almost getting stampeded by horses but it was fiiiiiiine.

Though it was snowing when we set off, I’d worn too many layers and by mile two was feeling rather hot. The pace was good though probably faster than I would have run on my own – but that was nice to be challenged a bit. And there were several stops of jumping over styles and things like that. Though I did worry that I was going too slowly for this marathon pro!We arrived at Moors Valley parkrun with a good amount of time to spare. My pace is all over the place due to the trails and hills.Just enough time to lose our lovely warmth and get cold again! Our smugness of being nice and toasty while everyone around us was shivering quickly disappeared.We had a quick Marathon Talk group photo and then headed to the start. Moors Valley parkrun has definitely expanded since I last did (a year ago) as there were so many people – and not just the influx of 100 or so Marathon Talkers!

Source: Marathon Talk Facebook page

I was going to run with Adrian as he was semi-injured so would be going slower than normal (he’s normally a lot speedier than me!). We positioned ourselves badly though and the first 200m we were stuck behind a lot of people who were going slower than us. This was our fault not ours and we managed to politely (I hope!) navigate past them and get into a good stride.

A lovely woman, Pippa, ran with us too which was nice as did Andy. Then Andy dropped us as he speeded ahead, then Adrian and I peeled away from Pippa, then Adrian peeled away from me! It was quite funny how that worked out. I just didn’t have a sprint finish in me at all on my heavy legs.In the end I got 24:30 (151st! So many runners) which I was happy with after the 9 miles.Then we headed to the cafe to have some breakfast. I’d already decided on a fry-up because I was really craving one. And I knew I wouldn’t be eating lunch because by the time we got back and I got sorted we’d be heading out for another Marathon Talk chat and then interval session. I wanted to do the intervals (gently) as I wanted to increase my miles for the day. I’d done 12 already but I ideally wanted 16 as I wouldn’t be doing a long run the next day.The fry-up was perfection. I got to talk to Scotland’s parkrun ambassador, Terry, which was really interesting. He’d been to a previous Run Camp so he was a familiar face. it was interesting to hear about what an ambassador does and the differences with Scottish and English parkruns.

Then I thankfully got a lift back with Pippa and her husband and then chilled in the cabin with my housemates chatting about random running-related stuff. One of my housemates, Patricia, is also doing Tokyo so it was interesting to speak to her about it. She got a good for age place which I didn’t even know existed! This would be her final Marathon Major so she’d be picking up her amazing HUGE medal as well as her Tokyo one. How cool!

Then we headed to the conference area where we had a talk from Liz Yelling and Professor Andy Lane (one of my housemates!).
It was fascinating to hear Liz talk about her training, the mental and physical sides of being an elite runner and now being a non-elite and adjusting to that side of life. Professor Andy was really interesting as well, as he was last year. He talked about the psychological aspects of training and having several goals for a marathon rather than one. And not just having outcome goals but process goals so you’re hopes aren’t stacked against one thing that is in the hands of so many elements, not just your ability. For example, run with good form (like if you know the way you swing your arms needs correcting, focus on that) or focus on having fun and taking photos rather than I MUST GET SUB-4. Because ultimately a marathon is such a long way to go and there are so many factors that are out of your control that it is really setting yourself up for a fall if you just have one time goal… good stuff!Then we headed out for some intervals. I wasn’t planning on doing a full effort session but just wanted the extra miles and to “be involved”. We headed out a mile very slowly in convoy to an area just outside Sandy Balls. The views were amazing!We were divided into groups depending on our 5k time and I made sure I sand-bagged my time so I wouldn’t be tempted to go full effort. The session was 1k at tempo speed with 15 seconds break before a 300m full-on effort, then 5 minutes break – four times.In the end though I did run faster than I would have but it was nice to have some speed on my legs, even if it was fairly tough. I did feel a little bad as everyone was in pieces around me but I was OK relatively speaking.Then we headed back for a mile cool-down back to the cabins. So a total of 18 miles for the day! I felt pretty damn pleased with myself. I had a nice hot shower back at the cabin and then chilled out again next to the fire while chatting to the others about social media, races and life in general. It was great.

I was SO hungry though by 6.30pm when we all met up again for dinner. Annoyingly though we were one of the last tables to get called to go up and get our food. I was practically climbing the walls with runger. Yes, my own fault as I should have planned food better but there never seemed to be a great time to eat something – either having just run or about to get running. I did have a few snacks but obviously nothing huge.I made up for that by piling my plate high with chilli and chicken curry (weird combination but to be honest at that point I didn’t care) with rice and salad!We then had another talk from the truly inspiring and amazing Vassos Alexander who told us all about his ultra running craziness. Like how he ran around London ALL NIGHT before heading to his breakfast radio show in the morning. He said he stopped for an espresso but otherwise just kept running. He was such a lovely, lovely guy. I’ll definitely be buying his book! And he’s currently in the process of writing another one. What I liked was how he said he was offered money to write a kind of sports “tell all” book as he’s interviewed so many sports stars but he really didn’t want to as he wanted to remain trustworthy and genuine.I went up to him afterwards to speak to him and he was just so nice. I did have a bit of verbal diarrhoea though by blurting out how I didn’t actually listen to Radio 2 but was more of a Radio 1 listener and how my dad would kill me not getting a photo with him. He found this amusing thankfully!

I also got my usual photo with Martin and Tom… I do feel awkward asking for a photo from them but they’re so lovely that they didn’t make me feel like a silly fan girl.After a fun quiz, which our team (the Camp Runners) did terribly at, I had to go home. I had lots to do the next day and I needed a proper lie-in. I was sad to leave and sad to miss the next day’s fun but it had to be done. I loved the time I did spend though. I will be signing up straight away for the next one as it’s just so good. So much fun, so much good advice and information, so many nice people and a way to connect with other runners. I love it. I fully recommend coming if you can!

Have you ever been to a running camp?

Do you often do intervals?

Last long run and dating frustrations

This was my last weekend before the Chester Marathon. I had one last long run to do and decided on 12 miles, an arbitrary number based on the fact that I had a good route for 12 miles.

I would have done it on Sunday morning but I was going to be marshalling fairly early at a local race so I decided to do it Saturday…But this also meant a very early morning and sadly not being able to do parkrun as my dad and me were heading to the O2 at 9am. We had gotten tickets to Empire Live, which is an event done by the Empire film review magazine. I’m a huge fan of their podcast and we had tickets to watch the it being recorded live. We also had tickets (it came as a package) to see some old and new films at the cinema there but the timings didn’t work out (we’d have had to have left super early or stayed there later than we fancied) and really we were only interested in the podcast, having a nice meal and a wander around.

Anyway, so Saturday morning saw me up again at 5.45am to be running by 6.30am. I felt very tired in general and like I should be in bed during the first mile but then I woke up a bit and got going (basically woman’ed-up). I saw a gorgeous sunrise over a farmer’s field that was growing pumpkins and it really was a beautiful sight. I wished I’d have taken a photo but I couldn’t be bothered with the faff. A bit later on though I did decide to snap a photo as I was a bit more compos mentos…img_5306The run seemed to fly by quite quickly. The temperature was lovely and cool and only started slightly warming towards the end. I did have a near miss moment with a squirrel that I almost ran over. I don’t know who was more shocked, the squirrel or me! He (she?) lept out of the bushes and in a comedy-esque moment stopped dead-still wide-eyes when he (she?) saw me. Then ran away.

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And my last long run was done! Woohoo! It’s funny because this twelve mile run was exactly the same as one of the first long runs I did when I started this marathon training. I did that run in an average pace of 8.20min/mile and for this run I did it in 8min/miles. Good progress I think!img_5329Then I got showered super fast and we were on the road to London. I decided to just have two apples for breakfast en route as I wasn’t that hungry to have anything bigger straight away and we were having a big early lunch as soon as we got there that I didn’t want to spoil.o2I’ve never been to the O2 before so it was quite cool seeing it – it’s huge! We’d booked a table at a Brazilian restaurant called Rodizio Rico which was fantastic.rodico-o2It was the usual Brazilian-style cuisine with a huge salad bar and the waiters offering different meats on skewers. I was in heaven. I was so proud of my dad who was very restrained and careful about his choices (he’s trying to lose weight). In fact, I think we were both quite good. I ate a lot but not so much that I felt uncomfortable (like I do so often!). It was very tasty but it did start to get really busy as a Marvel event finished and about 20 families with little children came in. Our cue to exit fast 😉img_5341The live podcast was fantastic and really showed how good the guys who run it are as they’re exactly the same on and off mic. They’re so charismatic and knowledgeable about films. There were two guests interviewed as well, Tom Bennett (from Love & Friendship and the Ricky Gervais film) and Mike Colter (he’s in the new Luke Cage series – I didn’t really know who he was but he was a really nice guy and built like a house). It was a really fun thing to watch. We then had a mosey about and a (free!) drink in the Empire Hub (which was like the main congregating area) and then we headed home.

The next morning I was up at 7am to help marshal the Perform 5 race, which is very local to me and is helped run by my club. I took Alfie with me and we walked to the cricket stadium, the Ageas Bowl, which is just up the road and we collected our bibs, signs and instructions.img_5348My instructions were so confusing about which side of the road needed to be closed and for how long. It was really quite stressful. I would have to stop traffic but it wasn’t clear from which way! I was so worried about telling cars to stop but not knowing if I actually should be telling them to stop. In the end another marshal came and joined me on my spot to help out as no one could work out what the instructions meant.img_5354

We worked it out thankfully after coordinating with the marshals up and down the road and could relax a bit until the race actually began. We were around 4ish miles so it would be a while until the first runners got to us. We were right next to Burger King so we used their facilities and bought some coffee 😉

img_5359The lovely Louise and me

I think our position is now a coveted one due to how convenient it’s location is 😉 As the runners started passing through I really got into cheering them on. I started yelling silly things like “Pain is temporary! Glory is forever!” and “the incline is a figment of your imagination!” and got a few laughs and wry smiles. I really enjoyed myself. Alfie even got a few quick strokes.

After my marshalling duties I then headed out for my own run. Four miles round the block. It was windy but lovely and sunny. The run started fairly sluggishly but then I got faster as I went on. The route was a new one to me and nice because it was literally two miles away from home then swinging back for two miles home again so it felt quite satisfying.4-miles

 

 

 

I then got showered super quickly and made some lunch. I had a date planned (met through Internet dating, God help me) for a coffee in Winchester at 2pm so I needed to have an early lunch. I’d luckily had an early breakfast so this worked out nicely…Until the prospective date cancelled at the last minute saying his mum wasn’t well and her partner had asked him to look after her at the last minute as he wasn’t there. I’d practically given myself indigestion trying to eat as quickly as I could to make the time. *Sighs* I’d washed my hair, put a nice outfit on and made some actual effort…for it to be wasted. Oh well! I went shopping with my mum instead. Hey hum.

Do you do any marshalling at races?

Have you been to the O2 before?

Have you ever had a date cancel on you?

What I’m Loving Lately

I started out writing this post as a Rants and Raves post…until I realised I actually didn’t have anything to rant about. This is obviously a good thing! So instead, here’s what I’m loving lately.

The Olympics: I’m quite sad that the Olympics is over. I must admit I was a bit late on jumping on the band wagon. It didn’t help that some of the stuff I would have watched (Mo’s races, Usain Bolt and the heptathlon) were in the middle of the night. It’s really not my thing to set an alarm and stay up to watch things. I like my sleep too much!

I did, however, watch both triathlons. Is it wrong to say I find them more interesting than regular running races because a bit more happens (oh the drama of the transitions and the different strengths involved)? The Brownlee brothers were amazing but the women’s race was quite tense! I watched the men’s marathon as well and thought it was hilarious when Meb Keflezighi fell over right on the finish line and then started doing press-ups! What a great save of face.

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Rave: Finding new podcasts. I love my current favourite podcasts but I’ve been zipping through them really quickly on dog walks, driving to and from work and while cooking/cleaning. My two new additions are TED Radio Hour and Stuff You Should Know. Again, so late in the game with Ted Talks (I’m like a lost sheep… I will eventually follow the flock but only after they’ve left and headed way up the hill).

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I love the TED Radio Hour because it has an overriding theme. It discusses several different talks that relate to the theme the host interviews the different TED talkers so we hear a bit more detail. It’s very good. One I listened to the other day was called Brand Over Brain and it was so interesting. I’m trying to pace myself through them but it’s tough.

The Stuff You Should Know is great for more focused information on one specific subject. For example, I listened to a podcast all about caffeine the other day which was cool. The two guys also have very soothing, smooth American voices which are very calming!

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To be honest, I could listen to them discuss anything. Case and point: I listened to them discuss the differences between jelly fish and octopi. Honestly, my brain is going to explode with information Winking smile

Books: On a similar knowledge-seeking vein, I’ve just finished The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor (as an audio book). It started off really interesting and I was fully on board with what he was saying… Things like going really low in calories isn’t the best way to lose weight and how eating more food of better quality actually regulates your metabolism, set-point and hormones and losing weight becomes easier. Obviously I’m not looking to lose weight but I find books like this very interesting. I get so annoyed when I read about diets touting 1,200 calories as the “golden number” and this book gave more insight into why those diets don’t work in the long-term. There was lots of science and clinical studies to back things up which made it very compelling.

However, I struggled a bit with the overall guidelines and mandates of the book. He dismissed “jogging” in a big way and claimed only 20 minutes of resistance exercise each week was enough. OK, I fully agree that exercise isn’t essential for weight loss. It’s a tool and can help speed up the process. And our body’s aren’t stupid, we adapt. That three mile run you did last week will have less of an effect this week because your body is adapting and finding sneaky ways of making it easier (biologically speaking). And anyone who’s trained for a marathon knows that it’s not the way to lose weight. If anything, you put on weight. More miles does not mean more weight loss. But to dismiss it outright… hmm. OK it won’t make you lose weight but there are so many more health benefits (physical, social and mental) that are given. But it was an interesting read.

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The book I’m currently reading I actually heard about through the Marathon Talk podcast. Tom Williams, one of the presenters, mentioned it in passing. It’s called Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The tagline is “The Surprising Truth About Success”. I’m not one for self-help books but it didn’t seem like that kind of spiel. And it isn’t. The title refers to the black boxes found in planes and how when a plane crashes or has a problem, the reasons behind it can be fully examined afterwards and we can learn from those mistakes.

This is not the case in other industries however. For example, in healthcare mistakes are not examined as thoroughly. An accident in surgery can be swept under the carpet as a “something that happens” or “an unfortunate complication”. Not because doctors and healthcare workers are dishonest or stupid, but because of culture and psychology. It’s a fascinating book and I fully recommend it. It also makes me never want to go to hospital again!

Workouts: Asides from running (see my last post), I’m still going to the gym and working on my strength. I do three strength sessions a week. One session is focused on glutes and legs, one on shoulders, arms and chest, and the third on my back with running-specific exercises and core work thrown in here and there. I’m also going to spin on Fridays when I can. This was originally because a cute guy started to do it (yes, I’m that sad and clearly I’m at my most attractive covered in sweat, ha!) but I’m now going because I enjoy it.

With running I’m not really doing any intense speed sessions because marathon training is hard enough coming back from injury and not having enough time. I’ve dabbled a bit with some harder effort parkruns and a fartlek session but otherwise it’s just getting the miles in to sort my endurance out. I’m not expecting a fast time for Chester after coping with that hamstring thing for so long it sort of shot down those hopes. So to just get through this training and the race itself without injury is good enough for me!

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So spinning. It’s a great way for me to get that quick leg turnover and fast speed workout in without the impact and injury-risk that a hard running speed session could pose for me. It was also nice to see the friend face of fellow Southampton runner, Ruth, as well.

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She used to write a blog (not sure she does anymore!) and that’s how we connected. Interestingly enough was suffering from a similar hamstring issue to me. It was lovely to have company while spinning (though she’s a spinning extraordinaire and put me to shame).

What workouts do you do in a week?

What podcasts do you listen to?

What books have you enjoyed recently?

Marathon Talk Weekend 2016–part 1

So I don’t even know where to start really. This weekend has been such an incredible experience. This post will probably be quite long (and will be in two parts) though I’ll try not to ramble too much…

I headed to the Marathon Talk Run Camp straight from work on Friday evening. Marathon Talk is a UK-based podcast all about running and marathon training and it’s co-hosted by Martin Yelling (a fairly proficient runner in his own right but also the husband of Olympian athlete Liz Yelling) and Tom Williams, the MD of parkrun. It’s full of banter and running-related information, like training tips, news and interviews.

I went to the first Run Camp two years ago and it was absolutely fantastic. I didn’t go last year but was really keen to go again this year. It’s based at the Sandy Balls (tee hee) holiday centre in the New Forest and there’s only about 120 people (including the Martin, Tom, their families and the guest speakers) so it’s actually quite a cosy affair. You stay in lodges (a bit like Centre Parcs) and the weekend is full of lots of running, informal chats, proper chats with interesting people and food. So right up my street!

My friend, Matt, who I had first met at the first Run Camp was going again so I would know at least one person. Though to be honest runners and Marathon Talk listeners in general are so friendly and easy-going I knew I wouldn’t be sat in a corner alone with no one to talk to. Matt and me agreed to meet Friday night at the Sandy Balls restaurant, the Woodside Inn. He arrived with his lodge mates in tow (mine hadn’t all arrived yet). We pushed a load of tables together and just got chatting straight away. It’s fairly amusing because there was always the standard questions that got asked: “are you training for a marathon?”, “which one?”, “is it your first?”, “where have you come from?”… and conversation just flowed so easily.Woodside Inn

For dinner I ordered the pulled pork flat bread with sweet potato fries and followed up with a Mississippi mud pie with honeycomb ice cream. Heavenly!

There was an informal gathering in the events room next door at 8pm so we all headed there and met up with loads more of the run campers. Martin gave a quick welcome and we just mingled and chatted with each other. I met some really lovely people and it was fascinating to hear about their training and the races they’d done (one guy, Pete, had run the Death Valley half marathon!!) and which marathons they were aiming for. People had come from all over the country so the races were very varied. It was somewhat amusing that as it got closer to 10pm we started heading back to the lodge. Marathon training runners aren’t know for having lots of late nights after all Winking smile and with parkrun in the morning we all wanted to be fresh.

IMG_8765The lodge was lovely. Quite basic but perfect for our needs (though it was really cold!)

I met two of my housemates (the other two would arrive the next day), Maureen and Hannah. I really bonded with Hannah. She was just so interesting. She had lived in so many different places and done so many interesting things. I was in total awe of her amazingness. She was also so easy to chat to and just lovely to hang out with.

The next morning we all convoyed to Moors Valley parkrun, which was about 20 minutes away. I drove Hannah and a couple called Deni and Marcin who were also really nice. We all arrived just before 8.30am and there wasn’t anywhere warm to stand. So the Marathon Talkers just stood gaggled together jumping up and down trying to stay warm as it was quite chilly that morning.Moors Valley parkrun

We then all got together for a Marathon Talk team photo.

IMG_8776I’m just off from the centre to the right in a black coat (Photo credit: Helen Williams)

After a little warm-up, we headed to the start. Moors Valley parkrun has only been going since November and I think they usually have around 150 people, but we almost doubled that with our invasion!

The course is beautiful: it’s set in the Moors Valley country park and it’s on compacted dirt tracks so it’s easy underfoot and it’s fairly flat. There were some cheeky inclines but barely anything to worry about really (in fact, some of the hardy Northerner run campers laughed when anyone said there was an incline on the route). It’s pretty much the same (but shorter) route as the Moors Valley 10k I did a good few years ago.IMG_8768

It was one loop, which was quite refreshing as I haven’t done that in a while! I didn’t want to go ridiculously fast but I found myself in a good rhythm and didn’t feel like I was pushing my limit so I’m happy with how I paced it.

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There was a short section where we came back on ourselves so we could see the front runners. They were going eye wateringly fast! Martin Yelling (19:27 with the double buggy), Steve Way (18:34), my new friends Marcin (19:02) and Mark (18:05) were storming ahead. My friend Matt unceremoniously overtook me and squeaked a sub-20 by one second. We’re *sort of* around the same speed (though I’d say he’s just a bit faster than me – and definitely at the moment as he’s further in his training and a more experienced marathon runner) so I’ll let him have it. I got 21:29 which I’m over the moon about as that’s faster than Conwy’s from the other week (#progress).

My friend Hannah was doing her first ever parkrun so it was quite exciting. She’d volunteered before a few times but never actually run it! She really enjoyed it thankfully.

IMG_8775Left-Right: Marcin, Deni, Hannah, Matt and me

I wore my new parkrun t-shirt (personalised with my home parkrun, Netley Abbey). It’s such a lovely fit and has lots of the back as well. Though I wore a base layer underneath as it was quite nippy.

After the parkrun everyone headed to the quite large cafe (thankfully as it was quite full now!). The queue for food and drink was long but it was nice to chat to people so no one really minded.IMG_8772

As I knew lunch probably would be missed later due to all the things happening and timings I decided to fill up on a big breakfast to tide me over.IMG_8773The full English was really tasty. It wasn’t too greasy (though I had swapped hash browns for another tomato). Then it was back to the car where we were annoyingly we missed the car park fee cut-off by five minutes. Until 10:45am it’s free but after that you have to pay. And it was £6!!

After showering and getting sorted we then headed to the events room again for the official welcome. Some people hadn’t arrived last night (like our two other housemates, who were also very lovely) so it was the first time we’d all gotten together as a group.

IMG_8779Martin Yelling

Tom then did an interview with Liz Yelling and Steve Way which was really interesting. It was fascinating for me because they’d been interviewed at the Run Camp two years ago and that was before Steve has achieved his fantastic 2014 with qualifying and then running in the Common Wealth Games… But he was sombre in his reflection of 2015 because it had been full of injuries and set-backs and lessons learnt.

IMG_8780Tom Williams

He spoke about finding your limitations, recognising over-training, engaging in prevention not cure (he does Pilates all the time now and works on his core a lot more rather than just foam rolling himself “to buggery” when he gets a niggle). He also talked about what he calls good nutrition being simple, whole foods. He doesn’t prescribe to low carb/Paleo/Whole30 or anything like that. He just says that as the goal race gets closer he cuts out junk food (like his after dinner Magnum ice creams and sweets) and instead eats fruit or yogurt. To him it was just about making better choices, but never cutting out entire food groups.IMG_8781

This was something him and Liz were very much on the same page about. Tom made the point that he’s always known Liz’s diet, even at her peak, was never that different to other people’s. She didn’t eat slabs of cake or reward herself with cheat meals. She just ate a bit more but always protein, carbs and fats. Interestingly Steve said that though he runs up to 150 miles (!!) a week he knows he doesn’t actually burn the 1,000s of calories that his Garmin and apps tell him do because his body has become so efficient at running that it burn a very small number of calories per mile now. So to refuel what he’s apparently burnt would probably make him gain a fair bit of weight.

Another point that Liz made that really struck a cord with me was that though she could get away with eating rubbish, she’s conscious (or at least she was highly conscious during her prime running time) that everything she puts in her body has to help her achieve her goals. It wasn’t just about calories and macros, but what nutrients did the food contain that would help her recovery, keep her from getting sick and keep her running strong. Sure a cake wouldn’t cause her to gain weight, but how nutritionally-speaking would that cake help her long-term? Though she did admit she didn’t cut out cake or chocolate completely though (whew!).

After lots of questions and answers we then headed for another running session. I umm’ed and arr’ed so much whether to join in but I was sensible and decided to watch instead. A few people were injured or didn’t want to run again so I wasn’t alone and we walked down with Tom to the area where they’d be doing 1,200km reps. I was sad not to do it but ultimately made the right choice when I saw how hard it looked. As they did their loops (split into groups, wow the speedy guys were so fast!) I sat with a lovely lady called Jaz, who’s the head of HR for parkrun. So interesting chatting to her! We were also both eyeing up all the different running gear and making mental notes to do some online shopping pronto…

Jaz works very long hours for parkrun but it’s clear how passionate she was about it. She lives in Leeds (as does Tom) and I asked if the parkrun HQ was there and she said it was at Tom’s house! parkrun is still so much in its infancy and so much dependent on volunteers and donations that you forget it’s not a big corporate company. But the people behind it are just amazing. It was interesting to hear a bit about the behind the scenes stuff.

Deni joined us after one loop as she wanted to be sensible too. We were so cold sat there that we started piling ourselves with the gear people had stripped off!IMG_8783

To be honest though it was nice not running so I could talk more to Tom and the others. I was just like a sponge, absorbing everything being said and having a good old chin wag.

IMG_8823(Photo credit: Gary Derwent)

I’ll leave it there for now as otherwise this post will become more of a monster. I could go on and on about how amazing this weekend was obviously! Open-mouthed smile The next post will be about the evening and then the long run (with a race) the next day.

Have you ever been on a running camp or a fitness camp?

Do you run more than once a day ever?

What would you have asked Steve Way or Liz Yelling?