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?

What I’m loving lately…

Today I have a bit of a random post with some bits and pieces that I’m loving lately.

(FYI none of the products mentioned below were sent to be reviewed or that I got anything in return for – I’m just giving general opinions on things I’m loving!)

Hello Fresh: I know I keep harping on about it, but I’m still going strong with Hello Fresh. Only cooking for one now (start the violins…) means I can plate up two meals and not worry the next day. I try and plan it so I always have that spare meal when I’m going running or know I’m going to be late home for some reason. Very handy to then just get in and microwave my already prepared dinner.

A really tasty meal I had recently was a risotto with prawns and asparagus. SO good.Prawn and asparagus risotto

I never normally buy prawns as they’re quite expensive and I never think to make risottos so this was quite the fancy meal for me! I also like how it uses seasonal ingredients.

Another noteworthy meal was a chickpea and butternut squash curry made with coconut milk.

Chickpea and butternut squash curry

The portion was massive but perfect for my hungry appetite! What was good about this meal was I could easily freeze the second meal so didn’t need to panic about eating the other portion in a certain amount of time.

Birthday present to me: As it’s my birthday in a couple of weeks my parents asked what I would like…so I said money towards a DNA test. Yes, you read that right. My parents were a little shocked…But keep reading, it’s not like that! 😉

DNAFit (1)

I first heard about it in the RunnersWorld magazine and my interest was instantly peaked. It’s basically a DNA test which tells you your fitness genetic profile: DNAFit.

DNAFit (2) My swab that I sent away

Yes, yes I know, sounds a load of hogwash but it’s a genuine thing. I went for the slightly less expensive test which would tell me:

  • Power and endurance potential
  • Post-exercise recovery speed
  • Injury risk profile
  • Recovery nutrition needs

I’m not expecting any real eye-opening discoveries here because, let’s be honest, I know my own body pretty well. But I’m intrigued as to what my genes really say about me. I’m pretty much expecting a high injury risk result and more of an aptitude towards endurance than power…but we shall see I guess. What it will give me is an idea of really how best I should train and how many recovery days I really need. Or at least confirm what I already know. Perhaps a waste of money but frankly there was nothing else I wanted for my birthday. I’ll share my results when I get them through.

New foam rollers: Check out these bad boys!!


No these are not props from Fifty Shades of Grey as someone in my running club said 😉 They are foam rollers! The ball is about the size of a tennis ball so the cylindrical one in comparison is also very small. Handy travel sized. I’m a big fan of foam rolling and I’m sort of deflating my usual tennis ball by using it too much (and this makes Alfie sad…) so I thought I would splash out for something a bit more exciting and, er, aggressive. I’m using with caution though. They’re great for my calves and bum.

Bargain fitness gear: Fitness clothes from Tesco (UK supermarket)! These leggings were a bargain (£8!) and fit SO well.Teco sport leggings They are very comfortable and I think quite flattering. I’m all over cheap and good quality gym/running gear!

Random 5: And on the subject of running gear…I won a competition at the Hackney Half Marathon! In the race village Brook’s had a chalk board which was about why you’re thankful for running and the most inspiring ones (or interesting) would win some Brook’s goodies. Always keen to win free stuff I put my message on there…and, amongst a few others, won!


Mine says “Thank you running for all the cake”…seemed fitting, you know? 😉 My friend, Karen, from the running club also won (hers said that running helps her “escape from the nappies” as she’s a mum of two youngsters).

The prizes arrived this week. I didn’t really know what I’d won beforehand but we had to give our clothing and shoe size so I hoped for the best. In the package there were a pair of trainers, capris and a T-shirt. Not too shabby, eh!

Ravenna Trainers:imageInfiniti capris:


Short-sleeved running top:


The top is a little big on me though which is annoying but the capris are WONDERFUL. The trainers are also very cool looking. I love the colours!

Standing desk: And my standing desk is still going strong. I’m on a new project so had to switch to a different office but my set-up is still pretty good.

Standing desk (2)

It’s nice because I can look out of the windows easily as they’re quite high if you’re sat down. My chair comes in handy as a shopping bag holder as well (and so no one pinches it as I sit down for lunch!).

And that’s all for now! For tomorrow’s post I hope to do a sort of summary of my marathon training, what I’ve learnt and the good and bad things. I guess I won’t know really how well my training has gone until the Big Day though…

Do you foam roll?

Where do you usually buy your fitness gear from?

Would you take a DNA test to find out more about yourself?

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).


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.


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


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


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!


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! 😉


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?

Friday Favourites

Happy Friday! I cannot believe how quickly time is flying. I’m started to get those pre-Christmas panics (you know the ones…cards, presents, food, decorations). But it’s still October. Whew.

I thought I’d do a post on some stuff I’m loving lately.

Treats in the office:

Although it’s always sad when someone leaves, I do fully appreciate them buying cakes for us to indulge in. Or having a wife that bakes cake and has leftovers!

Office treats

Clockwise: Halloween themed cupcake, oat and raisin cookie, caramel cupcake

Delicious! Nothing like cake to brighten up a day in the office.

Ben embracing the plank challenge:

I’ve been trying to do planks every other day, usually in an evening in my PJs just before bed. Ben sits on the sofa watching TV muttering some weak words of encouragement (“come on, it’s not that hard”). So when I’d collapsed into a heap on the floor I turned and challenge him to do a plank. I scoffed that he wouldn’t manage a minute.

Ben planking

Challenge accepted and accomplished! He proved me very wrong. He did a very successful minute plank. He refused to go further than a minute though. Apparently proving me wrong was enough.

Doing stretches in the ladies’ toilet:

Yeah it sounds weird. Yeah it is weird. I need to get these stretches in and so I’m squeezing them in wherever I can. Nothing major, just hip flexor stretches and pendulum kickbacks.


I live stretch in fear of someone walking in and seeing me though…Not like I haven’t already got a reputation at work of being a little bit strange (mug incident).

Slow cooker meals:

I’ve been enjoying a fair few slow cooker meals recently and I’m loving it.

Slow cooker

It does involve a little preparation either the night before or in the morning, but it saves so much time in an evening. Perfect for when I’m back late. More on my favourite recipes to come!

Running in thunder storms:

My eight mile run on Tuesday evening began with some scattered bits of lightening which was all very exciting. On mile four, however, the heavens opened up and it was a crazy downpour!

Running in the rain

Sorry that the video is a bit rubbish! You can see how hard it was raining in the puddles though. When I got home I was soaked and ready for a lovely hot shower.

Running in the rain

Doing my best drowned rat impersonation

But other than getting drenched, it was a good run. I kept it fairly easy running 8.30-8min/miles. I wanted to ease gently back in to it after my niggle reoccurrence and also with the race on Sunday.

My best friend and worst enemy:

I recently got a new foam roller as I found my smooth one wasn’t quite ironing out all my kinks. So I upgraded to this bad boy:


A Trigger Point foam roller. It has ridges in it to mimic a person’s hand, attempting to emulate a sports massage. I love it. It really does get into your muscles and work hard. Plus it’s nice and small to tuck away easily. Now if only I could take this to work and use it in the ladies’…

Cold weather running gear:

I can run in the cold no problem. I get warm quickly and it doesn’t bother me. All except my hands. They never get warm on runs. Last winter I just used regular gloves and they were sort of OK but a nightmare when I wanted to do something on my iPod. Now I have some great running-specific gloves with a thumb area that works on the iPod/phone screen!!

Nike Running Gloves

Plus they just look cool and aren’t bulky. In fact I feel a bit like a magician in them Open-mouthed smile

And here’s some random links for your viewing pleasure:

What things are you loving lately?

What’s your essential workout item?

Foam rollers: do you use them? I can’t live without mine now.

Pyjama plank time

Thanks for all the interesting comments for yesterday’s post. I really hope I didn’t offend anyone. That wasn’t my intention. Nor was it to say clean eating was wrong. Clean eating is what you want it to be, in whatever form that might be. Not eating processed food, not eating meat, not eating grains etc. My point was just that I get a bit narked with some of the attitudes around it when people become a bit tunnel versioned and dogmatic about it all. And that eating a bit of rubbish now and again won’t kill you Winking smile

Moving on! Not that I want to brag…but I’m off on holiday in TWO WEEKS time. To Mexico!

But I have a confession. I’m slightly concerned with what I’ll look like in a bikini. Not in the way you might think though. I have some embarrassing tan lines going on at the moment. With all the summer running I’ve been doing and wearing my shorts and vests…well, it ain’t great. Oh I’m going to be a hottie on those first couple of days.


Oh I look all smiley there, but now I wish I’d run in a bikini…[totally joking]

Every other day I am still doing my usual injury prevention routine (clams, side leg lifts, foam rolling) and have also added core work in because you can never do too much core! I amazed myself by doing a three minute plank the other night. In my pjs…naturally.

PJ plank

No idea where that came from (the plank, not the pj’s– they came from my dresser). I think it was because Ben was watching TV at the time and I could distract myself. And his occasional “come on, keep it up, don’t be lazy” comment helped as well. Love him.

Then last night after running club (a crazy off-road through the countryside run of 8 miles) I spent a lot of time foam rolling my kinks out. My groin still doesn’t feel amazing if I’m honest. But foam rolling is definitely helping.

Foam rolling distraction

Especially will Grease in the background.

Anyway, random story time. I overheard a conversation at the gym last night that made me sad. I was in the toilets just having a final pee before circuits (too much info? I’m setting the scene!) and I overheard two girls talking. One of them said to the other “Right, we are not leaving until both of us do 400 calories. Our target though is 450 calories”.

I’m all for people having targets and it’s great people are excising but I just thought that was a bit sad. Exercise shouldn’t be just about burning a set number of calories. OK, it isn’t going to be a daytrip to the zoo. It’s tough and I hate it sometimes, but there are very frequent moments – a lot in running – where I feel ‘kick ass’. Like I’m doing something amazing and I’m hard core. In reality I’m not, I know that. But I feel good. I know that this isn’t going to be the case for everyone but maybe it’s because they haven’t found their kick ass thing yet? For example, when we were warming down from circuits, Zumba had just started. 90% of the class were smiling. And they had some serious moves. They were kick ass.

What makes you feel ‘kick ass’? Going for a long run or a fast speedy Parkrun makes me feel unstoppable. I love how strong I feel, like I’ve just climbed a mountain.

What strength and core exercises do you do? I like planks, squats and lunges. Pretty standard.

What is your aim when you workout? A specific time, number of calories, goal distance, number of reps, exhaustion…? Winking smile