A few things to talk about…

Impending marathon aside (THIS Sunday, Chester Marathon in case I haven’t said it enough times…), I’ve been feeling rather positive and upbeat lately. OK in general I’m a positive and upbeat person anyway so this really isn’t that much of a change.

I’m a very much “glass half full” kinda girl. This can definitely work against me at times though when I think things like, “Oh I’m sure I’ll find my way back from my run in this unknown-to-me place, I don’t need to check my route/map” or “I have loads of time before I need to leave for this important appointment…”. But in general I think being optimistic is far better than pessimistic. Just my two pence (pence? Cents? Don’t know but I’m British so “pence” it is!).

After that random tangent… let’s crack on with some stuff on my mind.

New trainers: What is better, right? Actually they’re not that new anymore really but I haven’t mentioned them on the blog I don’t think. As part of the Run Reigate blogging experience (check out my race recap; it’s a great event!), I was gifted Brooks trainers to help me train – the dream scenario right? Thankfully I got to choose which trainers as I’m quite sensitive and injury-prone. I went for the Brook Adrenaline GTS trainers, which I’ve had previously but have since retired due to too high mileage.img_4897

I love the colour of these – minty gorgeousness! These trainers are ideal for me as I need support for my rubbish flat feet to stop me over-pronating. I know people argue that pronation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I am very flat footed that I do need support. O’m continually working on strengthening my arches… though it is ongoing and painfully slow (though I’ve made a lot of improvements, hurrah).

Anyway, the trainers are very springy and supportive and I love them. I wear them alongside my Mizunos Wave Paradoxes. I’ve yet to decide which to wear for the marathon though…decisions decisions.

elete Holistic Hydrate electrolytes: I read about this initially from Lauren’s blog and was intrigued. The company reached out to me after I commented on the blog post so I happily got to try it out myself (for free, in exchange for a review).img_5435elete Holistic Hydrate is a zero calorie and zero artificial nasties product that is used to add to water in order to hydrate effectively. It contains a balance of magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride, which are all key electrolytes, as well as over 60 other naturally occurring trace and ultra trace elements.img_5434Why are electrolytes important? Well in fairly basic terms, electrolytes help keep the body functioning as muscles use electrical impulses to do certain things and so we require a number of minerals in electrolyte form (ionical charged minerals) to help this happen. The electrolytes help keep the fluid and pH balance in your body. I’m not a scientist (obviously) so that’s about as far as I’ll go with this, but the website has lots more information. Basically electrolytes can help maintain hydration, prevent muscle cramps, sustain energy and endurance and enhance mental focus.

I’m a big fan of using electrolytes during and after running. I really like this product for many reasons. One because it has the decent line up of electrolytes and two because it’s practically tasteless. I say practically only because if you don’t dilute it with enough water it can taste slightly salty. However this is easily eliminated by increasing the amount of water you use (2.5ml teaspoon of elete to one litre of water is ideal, I can barely taste a difference). You can also add this to food!! It’s such a small dinky bottle as well that i can take it with me to races or in my handbag. Very very handy. Just a few drops and boom, your water is upgraded. Love it.

Getting the itch to speed train: This whole marathon cycle I really haven’t done any proper speed workouts. I’ve done some very informal fartleks and speedier parkruns, but in general I’ve just ran however I fancied. Now this has been fantastic and also sensible due to my hamstring niggle/issue that I was still feeling the effects of months after Boston. It didn’t hinder my running or cause me pain but it was definitely an echo and made me think twice before pushing things. (Incidentally, my hamstring is 100% fine now thankfully! *Touch wood*)

My times therefore haven’t increased dramatically. I’m minutes away from PBs in most distances. But I’m OK with that because I’ve enjoyed injury-free running and I’m not PB hunting anyway and, finger’s crossed, I’ll get to this marathon unscathed and hopefully finish similarly.

The half marathon the other day did get me itching for the buzz of a speedier run though. I decided to head out the other evening and do some intervals on my own. I did a mile warm-up which gave me a chance to see how my legs were feeling and whether mentally I was up for pushing things. I was, so decided to do three fairly fast (for me at the moment) 1km loops, with 1km slower loops in between.1k-intervals

My speeds aren’t exactly crazy fast (for me) but it’s encouraging. After this marathon I’m going to be trying my hardest to put more effort into doing speed workouts. So going to the track workout sessions with my club and doing hill sessions. It’s not with a view to smash out PBs but rather to change things up as I feel like my running has become a bit stagnant and my paces all blur into one. It’s nice sometimes to feel that “omg I’m going to die” burst of speed and the feeling of satisfaction at the end of a session.

But, like I said, after the marathon and that very much assumes I’ll survive it uninjured! And we all know, that’s not a given for me!

Do you do speed workouts regularly?

What are your favourite speed workout sessions? I love a good hills session.

How do you stay hydrated?

Reigate Half Marathon recap

I was both excited and anxious about the Reigate Half Marathon. I was excited because I it was a switch-up from the usual long run grind I’ve been doing week after week, but I was anxious because my runs lately haven’t felt amazing.img_5066I had a terrible run on the Thursday evening before that made me seriously doubt the sub 1:40 goal I had in my mind. Running at 8 minute miles for 6 miles that evening was a struggle. It was a really warm evening so this probably had an effect but it mentally knocked me. The parkrun on Saturday helped relieve some of my nerves but I still didn’t like going into a race without a real plan of attack.

Reigate is about an hour and a half away from my parent’s house, where I was staying the night before. My dad had kindly offered to drive me and support me and we planned to make it into a fun day with Nando’s afterwards. We left at 7am and I had my porridge and black coffee en route.

We were actually a little close to the mark of timings as we arrived and parked at 8.45am (the race began at 9.15am). Parking was easy to find and there were loads of car parks – and only £3! We then walked the short distance and got momentarily distracted by a very cool looking McLaren car. This was the lead vehicle! (Though my dad pointed out what a terrible journey that would be for the driver going less than 10mph for just over an hour).img_5062We arrived at 9am at the race village. It was quite chilly that morning so I was glad to have on my new Brooks leggings over my shorts and the Brooks long-sleeved top but I started panicking as I realised how little time I had to get into my running gear (take leggings off, put compression socks on and attach bib to top).reigate-half-marathon-race-villageIt was fairly overcast for which I was grateful for. A nice cool run, I was hoping. The race village was really quite impressive and set in the lovely Priory Park.

I quickly got myself in gear and said goodbye to my dad, who was on a mission to find some good spots to stand and cheer at over the course.img_5069Now it was 9:05am and I wasn’t even in the right wave yet, argghh. I quickly squirrelled my way through people past the different Xempo paces (saw Susie Chan pacing 2 hours, she was very friendly) and then spotted my friend, Matt who was pacing 1:45. It was a very quick hello as I was still needing to get a bit further forward.img_5078I also managed to fan girl a bit about Kelly Holmes being on stage literally right next to us.img_5075She was giving lots of encouragements and advice (and had done the warm-up, of which I’d missed of course).

And breathe. I was in the right spot, my phone was tucked into my armband holder and my music was ready to play (my playlist was basically three albums I’m enjoying at the moment, picked purely for enjoyment rather than to get me to run fast as I wasn’t sure if I would be running fast but didn’t want to listen to nothing or a podcast).

The race started with a rather long incline that I wasn’t expecting. I suppose it helped stop me begin like a bat out of hell (which I do so often and shoot myself in the foot). After the incline (not really a hill, but definitely an incline) there was a nice decline and then I settled into a solid rhythm. I saw my dad within the first mile and he said he’d see me at mile 10.

And then realised I needed to pee. I HADN’T HAD MY PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY WEE. And it definitely wasn’t a psychological one either. I knew I’d left drinking my coffee too late. I tried not to think about it but realised I was inadvertently looking at bushes considering my options. I decided to forget it but if a loo appeared then I’d stop. Happily at the first water station (mile 3?) there were a row of loos and I dashed inside.

Honestly, I’m amazed at how fast I was in and out of there. I spotted the girl I was running next to up the road (bright pink shorts) and aimed to get back there – not by sprinting but by running probably 15 seconds faster than I had been. I just fixated on those pink shorts (not in a weird way…) and got back to my original area of people.

At this point I was consistently running around 7.30min/miles. It felt fishy. This was a pace I’d been running at parkrun lately (my best times being around 22 minutes at the moment). And yet 7.30s were feeling comfortable (not a breeze, but comfortable). I was
wearing my Fitbit (I wear both my Fitbit and my Garmin when I run) and checked my heart rate. It was 170 which I didn’t think was too bad. I decided to keep at the pace I was at as it felt fine but I’d monitor my heart rate. If it went up I’d slow down.splits

Actually I did have to keep slowing myself down a few times, reminding myself I had a long way to go. In the back of my mind I wondered if the pace I was at was too fast and that I’d pay for it later but I thought, “what the hell, just embrace it”.

The course runs through beautiful country roads. There are a few undulations, but after every incline there was always a decline. Along the way clusters of people were
standing on the sides cheering or handing out jelly babies and it felt very friendly. The marshals were all lovely and it just felt like a nice race, you know? A lovely run through the countryside ticking off the miles.

The sun did come out though and this made things all a bit sweaty but it wasn’t humid or overbearing. It also wasn’t crowded but there were enough people that you were usually running alongside two or three people at all times.splits2It was nice knowing my dad was at mile 10 so it broke the race up nicely.img_5103It’s always nice knowing where your supporters are roughly going to be as it meant from mile nine I could start looking around and this took my mind of running.img_5108I spotted him literally under the mile 10 sign and we smiled and waved and I shouted, “just a parkrun to go!”.img_5102I then switched my music to my parkrun/speed-workout playlist as I was ready to go-go-go. Sadly the course wasn’t quite optimal to put the hammer down as some rolling inclines increased in frequency and the most horrific hill appeared at mile 12.reigate-half-elevationIt was a BEAST. A few people walked it and fared the same as me running it (I say “running”, the motions were there but the speed was not). Then there was another equally sharp hill afterwards. A lovely marshal shouted “it’s a short one!” which really helped to know. Then a sign saying “Caution Steep Decline” appeared and it was like party-time for my legs to speed up and goooo!splits3(Well, in my head I was going speedy!) I kept pushing and finally reached the race village area and knew it would be over soon. A marshal shouted at me that I was in the top ten females and that pushed me on faster. I smiled all the way to the finish and was greeted by lots of people cheering and shouting us in. It was a fantastic finish line.img_5081My time was 1:37:45; I was not in fact in the top ten females ( was 14th (or possible 13th if Matthew made a mistake…) as it’s chip-timed of course so I might have been top ten gun time but not chip time – hey, I’ll take 14/13th position! I was SO pleased. Yes I’m like three minutes off my PB and over a minute off Weymouth Half earlier in the year but  honestly I was so chuffed. I felt in control of the race (besides the hill) and comfortable. I wasn’t dying at the end either. It really has given me a HUGE boost of confidence exactly when I needed it. I was floating along happily, getting my medal, water, banana and perfectly fitting technical t-shirt.img_5089Happy days indeed!reigateBy now it was very warm though! It gave me a good excuse to show off my lovely Brooks sports bra which by the way is fantastic. Do you know why? Because you can undo it from the back exactly like a normal bra. This means no sweaty-almost-getting-stuck-horrific sports bra removal process. It’s just a quick unclasp and boom, done. It’s also very comfy and supportive (though I’m hardly the most blessed in this department to be the best judge).

I also nipped into the massage tent and a truly fabulous 10 minute FREE massage as well.img_5090I was still sweating as I laid on the bed which was, erm, pleasant.

My dad and me had a wander round the village and saw loads of amazing food tents offering loads of different foods, like Indian cuisine, burgers, Italian food, etc.reigate-half-race-villageIt was a great atmosphere. I also bumped into fellow blogger,Beki (aka Miss Wheezy). She’d run the 10k earlier. We had a nice little natter and it was lovely to meet her in person!img_5097Then my dad and me headed off to refuel, Nando’s-style.img_5115Standard whole chicken with a side salad and endless Diet Coke. I was heaven.

I thoroughly enjoyed this race. It was well organised and good fun. It had the feels of a big half, like Reading, but with a better and more picturesque course (and not as crowded). I went away with a smile on my face.img_5119And what was lovely was that the design of the medal had been done by a clearly very talented five year old boy. Lovely touch!

What makes a race a good one for you?

How do you know a race is going well for you?

Do you like to travel out for races or prefer to stick to nearby ones? I love going to different and far-away places for races as I get to see other parts of the UK (and the world!).

**Full Disclaimer: I was given a free entry into the race as well as further products to help with my training and racing. All opinions are my own honest ones. I fully recommend this race and would happily enter it myself another year**

Marathon Training and Reigate Half

So my next marathon is the Chester marathon. Obviously nothing is a given with my track record for injuries, but I’m hopeful as ever Winking smile

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Ideally I was going to really go for it and aim to get near my PB from Liverpool marathon (3:24:06) but after the hamstring debacle and only recently getting back into some normal running I think it might be wise to just give it my best with no pressures (I think this is my mantra for most races if I’m honest). I don’t want to plod around it easily but I don’t want to kill myself in training or in the race. So we’ll see.

In terms of the details of my training… Well, nothing much will really change compared to previous marathon cycles. Four days of running: one speed session (hills/fartleks/tempos/intervals), one easy run (for mental sanity), parkrun and a long run. Ideally I want to get to 18 miles and do that distance twice.

I also only have one race in the lead-up to the marathon, a half marathon (my second favourite distance to run). A half marathon race is usually quite standard in the lead-up to a marathon so I’m always happy to schedule one in. I’m taking part in the Reigate Half Marathon which is two weeks before Chester (18th September). So, depending on how my training is going, it will be a nice one to blast out some speed or test out my marathon pacing.

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The course is a good one in that it’s one lap of a fully closed route that goes through some nice rural countryside and picturesque country lanes and it’s relatively flat. It’s chip-timed with a technical t-shirt and medal. Yep, sounds good to me!

Intersport Run Reigate organise both a 10k and a half marathon and has raised over £150,000 for charity since 2014 which is pretty fantastic, right? It’s also achieved silver in the UK’s best half marathon category in The 2015 Running Awards. Pretty cool.

I’ll be running as part of the Run Reigate blogger team, which is fairly exciting as you can imagine. The half is about five weeks away which is nice as it means I can continue to get in some good solid training and be more than ready. As part of the blogger team I get a very nice goodie bag to help me with my training which includes:

  • A Fitbit Surge (super excited about this as I’ve previously had a Fitbit but they’ve since hugely upgraded them. I love that it has an in-built HR monitor and gives phone notifications)
  • Brooks running top and shorts
  • Brooks trainers
  • A spa day at Nutfield Priory (including spa treatment, use of facilities / gym / pool / sauna and lunch) – because that’d be very much needed during marathon training!

I also get to write a few blogs over on their blogging page.

This is obviously all amazing in itself but I’m actually really excited to have a half marathon in my diary as I haven’t done one in a while now, and especially one I’ve never done before. I’ll be about three weeks out from Chester so it’ll be really good to see where I’m at with my training and test out things like nutritional decisions (number of gels) and what I’m going to wear (i.e. avoid the dreaded chafe or over-heating).

I’ll continue to keep you guys updated with my training as always and also if you fancy reading my posts over at Run Reigate I’ll let you know when they’re up Open-mouthed smile

What’s your favourite distance to race?

Do you like to plan in certain races as part of your training?

Do you use a fitness tracker?

**Full disclosure: Run Reigate have offered me free entry into the race with the goodie bag in exchange for writing about my training on my blog and their blog. All opinions and training decisions are my own.**