Kingsbury parkrun and The National Running Show

So when you’re reading this I’ll be on my jolly way to Dubai. Exciting stuff! I didn’t think I’d write another post before I left but after such a fun and eventful weekend I couldn’t help myself.

I had Friday off of work as I was catching the train to Birmingham to see friends and go to the National Running Show (which I only found out was actually the first one they’ve done!). I did a quick gym session in the morning and some pre holiday jobs before my train left just before 1pm. Happily my dad was working from home and said he could drive me to Fareham station. My train was 12:47 and at 12:10 my dad said he was just going to take the dogs for a quick walk and we’d leave after that. Sounded good to me. I mean I the queen of last minute so I didn’t think anything of it.

By 12:30 he still wasn’t home and I was now very worried. I rang him a bit panicked asking where he was – it would take just about 10 minutes to get to the station and I needed to pick my ticket from the machine. It was very very close! He replied saying he thought my train was 1pm… Erm nope! He rushed home but by that time it was 12:40 and we’d never make it. In the end we had to zoom to another station down the line (Southampton Airport). To say I was stressed was an understatement, especially as I could only get that train and it cost me £72!!! Sweaty bum indeed.

Thankfully we arrived in time. And funnily enough it worked better for my dad as it was on the way to his work where he needed to drop in for the afternoon. We both wondered why we hadn’t done this in the first place… Yeah I don’t know either. I got to Birmingham without any more issues and met with my lovely running friend, James (@runeckers on Instagram). We had a nice time catching up – actually only the third time we’ve met in “real life” but we just get on so well.

We went out for a few drinks in Birmingham. We went to a bar called Bacchus and then the Postal Vaults. Very cool places indeed. I kept trying to perfect my Brummy accent but apparently I’m not there yet. More Peaky Blinders required! After that we headed to The Rub Smokehouse and met with our friend, John, who we both knew from Marathon Talk. James knew John from one of the Sandy Ball run camps and I knew John through the Austria run camp… Weird how connected it all is.

We had a couple of cocktails to start. James had a “Walking Dead” and I had an “Afternoon Tea” (which I originally poo-pooed for sounding weird…). It came out in a teapot (but wasn’t warm thankfully!) with a tiny glass of prosecco to add (like the milk I guess?). It was very tasty. I love how funky the cocktails were. Nice to have a bit of fun with that sort of thing.For my main I went for a full rack of ribs, half a chicken and pulled pork cheesy chips. I realise how disgustingly greedy this is. But it tasted amazing, and I don’t waste food. The food was epic… I mean there was a “pizza taco” on the menu – basically a 16 inch pizza folded up full of pulled pork chicken and battered prawns.John had a far more restrained steak and James had a monster burger with a corn dog on top. It was that kind of place… epic.My ribs were very tasty and the chicken was SO GOOD (as someone who regularly eats a lot of Nandos I can say this was top notch).For pudding I went for a white chocolate brownie with ice cream. Their sister company Brownie Heaven makes the brownies and I’ve heard they’re amazing.Don’t get me wrong, it was incredible, but TINY. I looked enviously at James’ pudding choice… Two doughnuts stacked on top of each other with Nutella, peanut butter and ice cream. Fortunately (for me) he struggled with the second doughnut so I got to help him out. But it left me very full indeed!It was such a lovely evening. The three of us get on so well and could probably talk about life, the universe and on for hours. It was a great evening. John headed back to his hotel (he’d been there for work) and James and I went back to his flat, where I was staying on his sofa. My night’s sleep though was terrible. Nothing to do with the comfort of the sofa (it was lovely) but I kept waking up and my heart was racing (usually I’m around 49-52 bpm at night but it was close to 75!) and I had a lot of hot flushes (meat sweats I guess…). My own fault I’m fully aware!

The next morning John, James and I headed to Kingsbury Water parkrun. This was handy for me as I needed a K for my parkrun Alphabet Challenge. It was quite the miserable morning, drizzling with rain and very cold. All three of us were happy to run round together at no great speed (relatively speaking). I was keen to not stress my calf out which was feeling good, John’s on his way back into running after some time off and James is semi-injured. Normally James and John would be roaring ahead of me!The parkrun was lovely and scenic. It goes round a lake and is a two lapper (my favourite). It’s a very picturesque and of course friendly parkrun. Though it was flat it was also very muddy underfoot. I doubt I could have blasted a super fast time if I’d have been fit enough to do so anyway. It was quite slippy. We chatted as we ran and enjoyed the views. A lovely social run.We got just over 24 minutes and significantly muddy! I felt very bad getting back into James’ car as we didn’t have any towels.When we got back to the flat (John joining us this time) we took turns showering and got some breakfast before heading to the NEC for the Running Show.The Running Show was good. It was basically like a race expo with lots of stands with brands representing their gadgets, clothes, races, nutritional products, foam rollers and more.It was nice to wander round and see different things, try out a foam roller and try some “vitamin coffee”.It was ridiculously busy and very hot though.It was a great event with a lot of potential to grow. The bigger brands like adidas, Nike and Brooks weren’t there surprisingly but I imagine after the popularity this year they’ll be there next year. I will say though that had I travelled 2.5 hours on a train by myself just for the event I might have been a bit disappointed because it did feel very much like an expo. Though to be fair I didn’t sit and watch any of the talks… So I guess I can’t judge entirely fairly. We just didn’t fancy sitting watching anyone as nothing took our interest.I saw lots of friendly and family faces, like Mary from A Healthier Moo blog (bless her, I don’t know how she does it with her crazy long distance running, night shifts and looking after her adorable son, Oscar). I also saw numerous Instagram legends, like Carl from @BigCarlRunning as a guest expert inspiring everyone around him. And of course Marathon Talk friends and friendly faces from my club. And of course the lovely Anji from @Enigmagirl81 who I’ve never met in real life but chat through social media regularly.It was a very friendly place. We gained Michelle in our group (a super fast and lovely girl originally from my running club but now living in Bister – she came to Austria too so knew John as well. All four of us will be going to Sandy Balls run camp in February).After a few hours we headed to the outlet shopping centre, Resort World, where we checked out the Nike shop (I got myself a £14 top!). Then a late lunch/early dinner in Nandos. I can only get one thing from Nandos really. I do feel bad for the sheer amount of meat consumed over the weekend but it was an out of the ordinary thing…And then it was time to part ways and head home. Always a sad thing when you’ve had such a good time together. I wish we lived closer!

Have you ever been to Birmingham?

Did you go to the National Running Show?

What would you like to see at a running show?

Calf and running update

Let me first begin this with patting myself on the back for getting too cocky about running and basically jinxing myself. I’m well aware of the irony of my posts leading up to the calf niggle, believe me!

As always with niggles and injuries I was running so well. Then the calf became uncomfortable and my running took a nose dive. It’s one of those things. I can’t get too upset because I kind of knew my bubble of good running needed to burst at some point. I am after all still an injury prone runner.ASICSSo, the chain of events as far as I can see was that I changed trainers to ASICS after really enjoying a solid period of good running in my Adidas Supernovas. Both calves became super tight but I continued to run in them despite this and then decided, as they got worse, to quickly re-purchase the faithful Adidas again. But it appeared the damage was already done. This was during my time in Wales with my family and my calves felt tight on each run – the left more so.IMG_1697Then I ran the Portsmouth Marathon… calves not 100% but nothing terrible. Though speeding up at the end probably didn’t help things, nor did running so soon (and up a giant hill) a few days later.

I believe this is what we call a “dick move”. I only have myself to blame. My glorious period of amazing running convinced me I was a new woman and my legs didn’t need the normal recovery. And then the left calf became uncomfortable and no longer just simply tight. It felt “wrong” and almost painful in the back body of the calf muscle.

After a very uncomfortable Christmas Day parkrun where the calf was still unhappy, I took just over a week off. I ran on Wednesday of last week…still a bit grumpy but far better. Then I ran a back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday (another dick move). It ached straight after the run on Sunday. A little panic ensued as I wondered, for the first time, if I could do Dubai (don’t get me wrong, I’d still go, I just wouldn’t run the marathon if I still felt the discomfort. I’ve run enough marathons now to care about DNS’s. I want to run long-term not just for a race. I’d enjoy my time in Dubai regardless).

I found a Physio nearby (South Physiotherapy Gosport – I can really recommend) and booked in for Wednesday. I planned on using the elliptical machine in place of running and my mind calmed and I felt quite chilled. Action plan in place. No point stressing. I know I can run a marathon as long as I’m not injured. I would just get rid of any time goals and hope to run an issue-free relaxed race.

By the time Wednesday rocked up my calf felt absolutely fine. I’d previously been feeling it when I walked Alfie or when I’d walk up stairs (pushing off from my toes caused it to feel very uncomfortable). To clarify things in my mind I decided instead of walking Alfie in the morning I’d run with him round the block (a mile). Firstly, Alfie thoroughly enjoyed himself! His very first whole mile of running – I’m so proud! And he only stopped once for a poo (necessary on his morning walk you see) and happily would have carried on after the mile. My calf? Absolutely fine. No discomfort. Now I felt silly.

I still went to the Physio appointment and explained the issue and the fact that it felt better now (who know show it would have felt after the single mile). The Physio examined it and got me doing lots of exercises. Then he massaged the area, cracked my back in different places, massaged my hamstring and did acupuncture all over my legs, glutes and back. He suspects I had a very mild calf sprain a few weeks ago (probably caused by the change in trainers tightening up my calves and then over-exerting my calf while it was still super tight).

He told me I could give attempt an easy run the next day (today). I’ve never had such a positive physio appointment. He was really thorough and super friendly. He also treats the RAF and Army – very cool.

So finger’s crossed for today’s run. The plan, if today’s run does indeed go well, is to run a gentle parkrun on Saturday and then run as normal the week after. No speedwork! In a perfect world I’d get a “long” run done the Sunday before I go to Dubai (21st – I go on the 22nd, the marathon is the 26th)… 10-13 miles maybe. Just to give me a bit of courage! But as long as I’m running discomfort-free I’m happy to crack on with the marathon.

Keep your fingers cross for me please!

Have trainers ever caused you an issue with running?

Do you calves ever get really tight? Mine are usually fine.

Have you ever had acupuncture?

Things I’m Loving – December

I’m quite excited about heading into the new year. 2017 has been a solidly good year for me. Full of happiness, good running, delicious food and lovely memories. I hope 2018 will continue these themes! Also I’m quite looking forward to being in an “even numbered” year again – is that odd? Anyway, on to some cool stuff I’m loving lately.

Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush

My skincare regime used to be cold water. Literally nothing else. But times are a-changing! After having my first ever facial last month I’ve given my face a bit more thought. Let’s be honest, I’m certainly not getting any younger and, well, I’m still single sooo…IMG_2263On that note I’ve made a couple of investments to my “beauty regime”. My mother is a terrible influence on me. She recently bought the Clarins version of the cleansing brush and let me try it out (yes we shared brushes, no I don’t care. She’s my mother). It felt amazing and left my face really fresh and clean. Then the next day we ended up in Boots and somehow I’d purchased the Clinique cleaning brush. Almost £100. I actually felt a bit sick when I got home. To be fair, it came with three other products, though I mean for that cost it better have!! (It came with a toner product as well not shown in the photo).

After having used it for a number of weeks I can say I don’t regret buying it. My skin indeed looks clearer and happier. I’m not one for getting spots or have “problem skin” but it definitely looks fresher. Plus it’s fun to use.

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% Formula

I don’t actually know what to call this product. I heard about it after listening to the Don’t Salt My Game podcast where they debunked lots of skincare myths. It was one of the products that was recommended to actually work at keeping the skin looking good. It’s also very cheap (£5.50) and didn’t have all the guff and nonsense that other skincare products seem to have.IMG_2264It has a very high concentration of two powerful antioxidants: Resveratrol and Ferulic Acid, which are apparently great antioxidants for the skin.

I just put a couple of drops on my face after using my face buffer and then smooth it in. It’s quite oily but doesn’t leave my skin oily if that makes sense. I really like this product. Together with the buffer my face has really improved. And for someone who quickly gives up with skincare products after I don’t see the point of them, these are things I’ve maintained for a good number of weeks now and really like to use.

eGloves

I was recently sent another pair of eGloves to try out after I bumped into the guy behind the business at a parkrun and he mentioned that my current eGloves looked to be a bit too big for me (they’re a small). He very kindly offered to send me a new pair in extra small in the new range. It was also extremely good timing because I was finding my hands were getting really cold when I ran. The eGloves I originally had were more lightweight gloves which were good when it was chilly but not so much for when the temperatures were really low.IMG_1887When I first popped the new gloves on I knew they were the real deal. These bad boys are seriously warm. They’re also not big and bulky – as some winter gloves are – and still have the cool finger bits that allow you to still be able to use the touch screens of smart phones (so annoying when you have to remove your gloves to do this!). IMG_1983I wore the gloves during the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon and they were perfect. The material is very breathable so even when my hands got hot it didn’t feel like they were sweaty inside. Fully recommend these if you’re looking for some warm running gloves!

Oryx Desert Salt

I was also recently sent a set of salts to use for cooking. Oryx Desert Salt is an unrefined, sun-dried salt, free from additives and preservatives. It contains natural and essential minerals and comes all the way from the Kalahari Desert, where it is ethically and sustainably harvested. And, what I most love, is with every purchase they donate a percentage to the Khomani San and Mier communities who own !xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.IMG_1917The pack I received is a fab gift box set of three grinders containing coarse salt, smoked salt and wine salt and a cotton refill bag. I also received an apron (see below photo: my dad loves the apron).IMG_2173Yes too much salt can certainly be a bad thing for your health, but used in moderation and sensibly, these salts really add a lovely taste to my dinner. Salt is also good for reducing the dreaded cramp and is important if you sweat a lot (hi all runners). IMG_2175I feel rather posh using them I must say! I personally loved the smoked one as it adds such a subtle tasty edge.IMG_2180

You can buy them in Sainsbury’s.

Next month I hope to talk about my vibrating massage ball (always sounds so wrong…) and my new running watch… 😉

Do you use a lot of salt when cooking?

What is your skincare regime like?

Are there any new products you’ve been loving this month?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent both the gloves and the salt pack for free in return for a review on my blog. All opinons are my own honest ones.**

Runner’s Christmas Wishlist

I know every blogger is doing a similar post but I personally quite like them as they give me ideas of stuff to buy for (runner) friends or stuff I want to ask for for Christmas. None of this is sponsored and yes some of it is from Wiggle, where I work, but I’m not being asked to write about and, no, I don’t get commission (damnit).Runner wishlist

Hyperice Hypersphere Vibrating Massage Ball

This is what I’ve asked for from my parents for Christmas. As it’s from Wiggle I get a discount which helps as I’ll admit, it’s quite pricey. But (and I’m now fairly certain you’re sick and tired of me saying this) as I’m an injury prone runner I’m always on the look out for gadgets and witchcraft to keep me running 😉hyperice-hypersphere-massage-ball-sideVibrating foam rollers are *apparently* better than regular ones (random study I found starting to explore this area, I will preface this with I’m no scientist) and as I really get on well with using a tennis ball I thought this would be the ideal upgrade. I’ve read a lot of very positive reviews and I do find regularly foam rolling helps keep me less tight and niggle-free. I will do a review of it once I’ve given it a few goes.

T-Rex Medal hanger

Weirdly, I’m a big fan of dinosaurs. I actually wanted to be a paleontologist when I was growing up after finally getting over my extreme fear of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park when I first watch the film (side note: I’m really proud of myself for spelling paleontologist correct first time round. Other side note: I genuinely had a big fear of dinosaurs growing up. To the point that I couldn’t sleep on my own for a few weeks and my sister had to make up a bed in my room, not that she could have saved us if indeed they did attack. I was a sensitive child with a very active imagination). ANYWAY, so the dinosaur-themed medal hanger really appeals to me.

I don’t actually hang up my medals at the moment. They’re in a box. I wouldn’t want to hang up all my medals, just a few prized ones. Or maybe rotate them. I don’t know. But it would be nice to have them up.

Garmin Fenix 5 (with HR monitor inbuilt)

I almost, almost bought this watch when I started at Wiggle. I currently wear a Fitbit Surge as my ‘step counting’ daily watch and then wear my Garmin 225 on with this when I run (double watch lovin’). I love my Surge, don’t get me wrong. It looks less like a convict’s tag than some of the other fitness trackers and more like a proper watch and it tracks all the stuff that I like geeking out over (sleep, steps and heart rate). But it does bug me having to put on another watch to track my runs. Yes I could track my runs using the Fitbit but it really wipes the battery and the Garmin is ultimately better at tracking runs in my opinion. The Garmin Fenix however does everything so I wouldn’t need to wear two watches. Yet it’s over £300. And after I crashed my car and all the other stupid stuff that cost me money because of my stupidity a few months ago I can’t justify the cost. But it’s still on my wishlist if I win the lottery.

Aftershokz Titanium

OK technically I have these already. But I’ve been meaning to talk about these a bit more on my blog because I love them. If mine broke tomorrow I’d buy a new pair pronto. I know some runners can be a bit sniffy about using headphones when you run (and God forbid you use them during a race…) but I actually love listening to podcasts and music when I run. Obviously not when I run with other people, but certainly when I’m on my own or when I’m running a race where I either need to run fast and need the motivation or where I need to zone out a bit (like the middle section of a marathon) I really find it helps.Aftershokz-Trekz-Titanium-Wireless-Headphones-Slate-GreyWhat I really like about these headphones is that they don’t go inside or over your ears but rather behind your ears. The sound travels through your bones by vibrations so you can still hear external sounds from around you as well. So they’re a lot safer; you can hear traffic, cyclists and people. It’s also great in a race because you can still hear marshals and the crowds and feel the atmosphere. They’re also partnered with England Athletics and are OK’ed by the UK Athletics to be allowed to be used at races.  Yes the sound quality is somewhat compromised but that’s to be expected and a sacrifice I’m happy to make.

parkrun Plastic Barcodes

After my idiotic barcode mix-up it was certainly wise of me to upgrade my current situation. I did used to have a plastic ‘credit card’ barcode but I lost it and then stuck to the printed out paper version (and there began my mix-up). So I recently re-purchased the plastic card again. I keep a couple of paper ones around the place (in my purse and in my car).

The plastic card is far better as it’s obviously more weather-proof than paper (and sweat-proof). It’s a worthwhile investment if you’re a parkrun nut like I am 😉 The key fobs are great too.

Bardou Immaculate Spray Dry Shampoo

As someone who works out quite a lot and has long hair, washing my hair has become the bane of my life. Specifically blow-drying my hair. So I invested in some very nice dry shampoo. Yes Bastiste is good (as is Boots own brand FYI) but I really hate how it can leave little streaks of white in my hair. Yes I know you’re supposed to brush them out but it doesn’t seem that easy – and also, continually brushing through my hair is just going to make it more greasy!BARDOU_Immaculate_Spray_Dry_ShampooThe Bardou one is a lot better and smells amazing. For those brunettes out there, it is perfect (Yes I know Batiste do a brunette one but if I get it on my forehead I look bruised).

Nathan The Hipster Running Belt

I love my running belt. It sits flush to your body and doesn’t bounce. OK you can’t get a huge amount in but it fits at least three gels and an iPhone all at once (generally what I take for a marathon). Sometimes it might ride up but otherwise it’s perfect..Nathan-Nathan-Hipster-Running-Belt-Belts-And-Wallets-Black-NA-91516-1

Adidas Supernova Sequence BoostCaptureAfter recently switching to ASICS Gel Exalts as my Boosts went over 400 miles I’ve realised how much I truly love the Boosts. The ASICS don’t feel right at all. Not as bouncy… so I’ve re-bought the Boosts to go back to that ‘running on the clouds’ type feeling. I love them.

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

Do you use dry shampoo?

Do you foam roll?

The superstitious runners

Us runners (and sportspeople in general really) are funny people. We have little quirks and beliefs that can make us do and think in ways that in normal life would be seen as odd. If you asked me if I was superstitious I would laugh and say “don’t be daft”. I believe in science, logic and rational behaviours. But on examining my behaviour a bit closer I’ve found that’s actually not entirely true.

I genuinely worried in the lead-up to the Gosport Half Marathon that I would get injured. And not just because I’m injury-prone, but because I’ve never been able to race it due to injury and believed I was (yes, go ahead and laugh) cursed. Every time I mentioned Gosport I would say something like “well, if I get there” or I would touch wood and say “fingers crossed I make it”. This is ridiculous and defies all logic. But I’d still do it.Further to this, I’ve constantly being touching wood, pleading and praying out-loud for my good running streak to continue. I feel like I’m walking a tightrope of good luck. My time to get injured is approaching… despite the fact that NOTHING niggles. Every run feels fine. My legs are working as they should. Yet I wake up every morning and tentatively step out of bed. The running god works in mysterious ways, they might decide to smite me down in my sleep. I could wake up and find my knee niggling or my calf throbbing. So far I haven’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe it won’t. THERE IS NO LOGIC.

And I don’t think I’m alone in weird behaviours or worries. I know people who have lucky shorts. People who have to have the same morning routine – and not because that’s what works for them, but because doing anything different might mess with the running universe.

I’ve been running in the same pair of Adidas Boosts for a number of weeks now. They feel fantastic. I love Boosts. But they’ve acquired over 400 miles now and this is dangerous territory for me. I like to change my trainers after around 300 miles because I’m convinced anything more will encourage injury. However I’ve been running so well lately that I’m scared to change. What if these magical trainers are the reason I’m not getting injured? And then I change them, boom! Injury strikes.But I have a brand new pair of ASICS sat waiting for me to transition into. I should swap over to them but I’m just scared.Runners are so easily freaked out and probably over-worry that little bit too much. Just before the start of the Gosport Half there were a gaggle of us runners (the technical term for a group of runners I believe) chatting away trying to keep our mind off being cold. Someone pointed to someone else’s laces and said “your laces look a bit loose”. This panicked the runner and sparked her into a frenzy of lace untying and tying at speeds never seen before. We all then quickly examined our own laces, just in case a loose lace epidemic had begun.

It made us consider what other statements could panic a runner just before the start. I suggested “ooh your knee looks a bit swollen”. Sure to get the eyes bulging and the heart pumping. Or “your Garmin’s just turned off”, or “Where’s your chip?”. Just so many ways to freak a runner out. I don’t advise it.

Before a marathon I always have the same thought when I put my shoes and socks on: “The next time I take these off it’ll all be over”. I always think it and it always amuses me (slash terrifies me). I also think things like “When I next shower I’ll be showering away the marathon sweat” (the best kind of sweat in my opinion). Or “This time tomorrow it’ll all be over”. In a weird way it helps me normalise things and relax me. Like, “This too shall pass”. It’s just a few hours. It’ll be over with before you know it. And life is going on as normal despite your OMG RACE TIME craziness. It’s almost obscene to see normal people out and about doing normal non-running things, or smelling bacon being cooked somewhere – WHO IS EATING BACON WHEN I’M RUNNING THIS INCREDIBLE RACE?? Normal people. It helps put things into perspective. Running, races… it’s all inconsequential at the end of the day. You get a PB, you don’t get a PB, you run a race, you don’t run a race. Sometimes it helps remember these things before things get that little bit too serious, or stressful, or no longer feels fun. I know I’m just as guilty of this as the next person!

But us runners aren’t normal people. We’re special. With all our craziness, superstition, over-thinking, over-analysis, over-sharing. And though I do all these things, I’m still happy to call myself a runner. Crazy or not. But, for a little while longer please, can I be a runner and not an injured runner for once? 😉

Do you get paranoid about injuries?

Are you superstitious?

Do you have any pre-race must-do rituals?