Skid Row Marathon and another adulting fail

On Saturday I headed up to London just before lunch for a running-specific visit. However, there actually was no running involved…not even for a train!

I always seem to harp on about this in my blog, but I’m a big fan of the Marathon Talk podcast and have been on a few different of the events that they run. They tend to run an annual run camp located in the heart of the New Forest (at a place delightfully called Sandy Balls) which I’ve been to three times and really hope to make next year too. I’ve also been on the Austrian run camp that they trialled this year, which was FANTASTIC (even if I did come back injured from over-zealous running).

At these events I’ve made some fantastic friends who I’ve kept in touch with and hope to continue being in touch with for years to come. Running really does bring people together and, as I always always say, is just such a warm hug of a community.

So when I heard about a running-based documentary being shown in London and a few of my fellow Marathon Talk friends had decided to go I immediately signed up. The film, Skid Row Marathon, sounded interesting enough but really I just wanted to hang out with some cool like-minded people and geek out over miles, splits and races.

Through the magic of social media I arranged to meet up with a Marathon Talker, James (@Runeckers on Insta) who I didn’t really know in “real life” but knew vaguely through Twitter and Instagram. But I thought he didn’t sound particularly like a psycho and it would be nice to grab some lunch somewhere before the 3.30pm showing. If I’m going to go to London I might as well make more of a day of it.

We arranged to meet in Leicester Square and had a brief moment of funny awkwardness when I could see him across a busy crossroad but he couldn’t see me but I couldn’t get across the road. I was messaging him saying “I can see you!” only to watch him look around bewildered. Eventually he spotted me, but it did scream slightly of a weird stalker girl 😉

James turned out to indeed not be a psycho and we chatted easily, as runners do, about all things races, PBs, injuries and goals. As I’d run 16 miles earlier that morning I could feel my runger start to emerge even though I hadn’t had breakfast that many hours ago. So there ensued us walking around trying to chat but also trying to make our minds up on where to eat. As tempting as Nando’s was, we both decided maybe something a bit more original and found a lovely spot called The Hummus Bros. It was lovely.I must admit the portion sizes did look alarmingly small to my highly greedy eyes, despite having “gone large”. However it was actually incredibly filling. It was quite intensely packed with hummus (surprise, surprise), shredded chicken and guacamole. It also came with two lovely warm thick pitas as well. James had the beef stroganoff hummus bowl which sounded bizarre to me but he said was nice.

On our quest for lunch I’d spotted a fro-yo spot, Yorica, and as James had never tried fro-yo I pretty much demanded that we go there for pudding. You know, to spread the good fro-yo word.The fro-yo flavours sounded good and the lady behind the counter tempted me to trying a mix of chocolate with “mellow macha”. We saw someone having large chunks of brownie put onto theirs and immediately followed suit as well. They looked pretty tasty! It was an interesting spot with a machine for free sprinkles which was rather jazzy. Of course we had to have a little go.Though my fro-yo looks huge in comparison to James’ I actually had quite a big hole within the depths of the fro-yo which was somewhat disappointing but actually it was quite a decent portion (even for me). Then we ambled back towards the Prince Charles theatre in Leicester Square to meet with the others who’d arrived.Quite a few of the Austria run campers had come so it was nice to see them and catch up. Martin Yelling (one of the Marathon Talk presenters, who had organised the event to take place) and his wife, Liz Yelling, were also there and it was nice to say hi and briefly chat again. They also introduced us to the producers of the film which was very cool indeed.

I then bumped into Maria and had a nice chat briefly. She was far more organised than me and had printed off her ticket. I suddenly realised I didn’t have my ticket. What an idiot! I realised it would be on my phone in my emails but I was struggling with Internet signal. And suddenly everyone was going in! Ensue major panic. Luckily my lovely Austria run camp friend, Zoe (who incidentally was the one responsible for organising the cinema screening with Martin – they actually organised it while we were in Austria after Martin asked if anyone had any contacts for cinema screenings in London!) said she knew I’d bought a ticket so I didn’t have to struggle anymore. Thank God. Why am I not more organised!?

John (he’s just completed a ridiculous week of running silly miles every day, legend), James and me

The film itself was just fantastic. It was so interesting, so moving and so well made. I mean, I’m clearly no movie critic but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it deserves to be seen by more people. The film roughly followed four years of an LA criminal judge, Craig Mitchell, and a running club, called the Midnight Runners, that he helped set up. The club is part of the Midnight Mission which is a shelter and addiction centre in the heart of Skid Row where around 6,000 homeless people live (LA actually has 47,000 homeless people in total). It honed in on a number of real people who were trying to make a better life for themselves. They were previous addicts, criminals – even a murderer. A theme through the film, that the producer highlighted at the end, was that no single act defined a person and that people should be given a second chance. It really spoke volumes to me.

I could go on and on about how good this film was but I won’t. I will stress though that if you get the opportunity to see it (hopefully it will become available to stream) then you really must. It gave me a lot to think about.After the film had finished there was a Q&A with the film makers themselves, Gabi and Mark Hayes. They were lovely and were very generous with their time and patience to answer a number of questions. They shared a hilarious tidbit that during the Rome Marathon that the running club took part in, one of the main “characters”, Rebecca, stopped half-way for a pizza and a cigarette as she was struggling so much. I think we’ve all felt that pain before!

When we broke out into the foyer I hung out with other Marathon Talkers. Gabi and Mark were there too so we could ask them a few more questions. They were so willing to chat and so friendlyEventually a bunch of us headed off to grab a drink and food as it was now around 6pm. We stopped at a nearby Slug and Lettuce. A few of us ordered a chicken salad in a tortilla bowl (very tasty) and my lovely friend, Deni, ordered four portion of chips for us all to share.Runners know how to eat, of course!

After chatting away it was time to head back home. An easy train ride for me at 8.09pm to Portsmouth Harbour, which would stop at Hedge End where I’d walk the 15 minutes back to my flat. Easy peasy.

I got on my train (yep, it said Portsmouth Harbour, yep it was around 8pm) and happily chilled out. It was only when I got chatting to a lovely couple near me that I realised I’d made a mistake. Well, they highlighted to me my mistake. I was on the wrong train. The wrong Portsmouth Harbour train. I’d gotten on the one that didn’t go through Southampton! Why put TWO Portsmouth Harbour trains running at VERY similar times on neighbourghing platforms!? Don’t they realise they’re dealing with people with limited common sense, AKA me??

I quickly checked online on my phone and the couple were, of course, correct. This train did not go anywhere near Hedge End. Anna Standard Behaviour right there. So I made the dreaded phonecall to my parents to see if by any chance they could pick me up and take me home from Havant (a legitimate stop on this train), which was about 15 minutes from where they lived. As ever, they came to my rescue (and may I add, not at all surprised. After all, this is not unusual behaviour for me to be without my brain at crucial moments). In fact, my dad went as far to say that whenever I travel a distance away from home one of them won’t have a glass of wine that evening as they never can guarantee I can make it home safely alone. Jeeze.

What made it even worse was that the train was delayed by 45 minutes. My dad remarked when he finally saw me that only I could get on the wrong train and then have it delayed. The couple who I was sat near were lovely company though and we passed the time chatting away. Bless their hearts, they said they had a daughter “my age” too…she’d just finished travelling after university (she’s 23! Ha! I’m almost 30 don’t you know!). That said, this 23 year old could evidently make it safely and happily around South East Asia for six weeks without any issue. I can barely navigate two hours from my home.

*Sighs* but I made it home safely thanks to my life-saving parents. A silly way to end a fantastic day. At least I go to talk their ears off about the film that evening…

Have you ever got on the wrong train?

Do you enjoy documentaries?

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?

Rants and Raves #29

Instead of doing my usual weekend catch-up post I thought I’d start off Monday right with a good old rant and raves post.

Rave: I never really used to be one for buying stuff around the house. But now that I live on my own I’ve really gotten into the swing of making it a home and somewhere cosy and that I love being. I’ve really been enjoying buying bits and pieces. My recent purchases have been cushions. Now I never used to be a cushion person because, let’s be honest, they don’t do anything. You don’t really use them on the sofa (well I don’t…I kind of move them out the way) and you certainly don’t sleep on them. They are purely for decorative purposes (some may say superfluous home items…but then, what’s a picture on the wall?)

So I went a bit cushion mad and bought a load from Next Home no less (!!) and some really fancy bedding.IMG_9663

Incidentally the rectangular cushion is actually from M&S and my mum gave it to me. She loved that I was getting so into sprucing up my home and wanted to help, bless her. I mean, the bed would clearly look awful without that final small rectangular pillow, am I right? Winking smile

Rant: The bed now longer to make in the morning.

Further bed-related rant…: I washed the bedding and my bottom sheet so it would be all lovely and fresh for that night. However my stupid washing machine-come-tumbler dryer did a half-hearted dry (or what really happened is I didn’t put it on to dry for long enough…) and parts of the bottom sheet were still slightly damp and I didn’t realise until I was making up the bed just before I was going to go to sleep.

So I had to improvise a bit…


It worked but it took bloody ages.

Rave: My Boston pack came in the post!


This is all very exciting. I pick up my bib when I’m out there at the Expo (which I guess should be quite good!). I go to Boston with my mum in less than two weeks – Friday 15th to be precise. The marathon is on the Monday. NO PANIC. So far I’ve survived marathon training (*touch wood*).

Rant: I know runners aren’t huge fans of dog walkers and dogs during a run. Even I, a dog owner, get annoyed at some people’s lack of awareness and control of their dog. However, as a regular runner and a regular dog walker I do think there should be a bit of give and take from both parties. No one owns the pavement – it’s shared. When I walk Alfie I try my hardest to keep him under control, pick up his poo, and not be the annoying long lead person. I just wish that a local runner near me would also be as considerate.

She runs every single morning in loops around the park where a lot of dog walkers walk their dogs. When I first moved in I tried so many times to say good morning and engage a bit of smiling and politeness. She point blank ignored me. So I’ve given up. She gives Alfie such a look of disdain as well – like how dare he be there. This morning I was walking on the left side of the path and Alfie was on his long lead also to the left (normally he’s running free but it was a bit wet). I saw her coming towards me also on the left and, because I had Alfie on the left too, I assumed she’d move to the right WHERE THERE WAS ENOUGH SPACE TO PATH. She just ran at me and then tried to run past me on the left and then saw Alfie’s lead and had to do a big arc around it on the grass. She looked so annoyed. It’s not like she couldn’t have seen 100 metres ahead of her and moved slightly to the right to make life easy for herself. It just annoys me that she expects all dog walkers to give her priority. It’s a shared park!!

Rave: parkrun at Netley Abbey was beautifully sunny this Saturday.IMG_9699

And we were on the normal course again – with only three hills! I was glad to have my shorts and t-shirt on (arms out for the first time in ages!). Sadly my legs felt rubbish during the run. This was probably because I was too busy chatting rather than doing any sort of warm up before.

Netley Abbey parkrun April (1)

(Photo credit: Ken Grist)

I got 22:06 and third female which is the best I’ve done at Netley in a while (August last year!) – though it is the easier course. I did manage a fairly good negative split though so I’m happy with that!





Rave: Seeing some lovely little ducklings in the little nearby lake near my home.


Where I walk Alfie is just full of wildlife and birds, it’s lovely.

Rant: This is how my work deal with health and safety issues:


Potentially trip risk due to cables coming out of the floor? Totally fine, just put a chair with a printed out sign over it. It’ll be fiiiiine.

It concerns me that this entire post has nothing about food in it…this is odd for me. I did enjoy some good ribs at the weekend, but are you surprised…?

How was your weekend?

Dog walkers and runners…opinions?

Do you enjoy decorating your home?

Heartbreaker Half Marathon (and last of the MT Run Camp)

So the final part of the Marathon Talk Run Camp weekend recap is basically the race recap of the Heartbreaker Half Marathon that took place on the Sunday.

{Catch up with PART 1 and PART 2 of the MT Run Camp}

Not everyone at the Run Camp was doing the half but most people did. The others that didn’t did an 8 mile or 16 mile run with Tom.


The handy thing about the race was that the race HQ and the start line was at Sandy Balls so it was really easy to get to in the morning, obviously, as that’s where the Run Camp was based. I knew the course was going to be tough and I had no ambitions to get a good time so I wanted to add some miles on beforehand to make it into a good marathon training long run instead. Happily some of my new (and old) fellow Marathon Talkers had similar plans so a small group of us planned to meet up at 8.45am to run five miles. The race started at 10am so it was more than enough time.

My fellow lodger, Hannah, and I headed down to meet Matt and another guy, Aidan.

IMG_8815Thanks to Hannah for the photo!

We planned a fairly easy pace and a 2.5 mile out and back to keep things very simple so we wouldn’t be at risk of getting lost and missing the race.


We asked a passing dog walker to take our photo before starting so we could get a “Sandy Balls” photo. Annoyingly he missed the “Balls” off! Ah well.

The route was actually quite tough as it was rather undulating but it was just a precursor of what was to come really.






We saw lots of marshals heading out to their positions as we were very close to the actual race route and we waved and smiled. A walker wished us good luck for the race as Hannah and me were wearing our bib already to save faffing time later. Then we got back in time to have a quick pre-race pee and listen to the brief. I also spotted a few of my running club friends as well which was nice. It’s a fairly local race so I wasn’t surprised to see them (one of them had previously told me he was doing it but I was just an idiot and had forgotten).


Then we walked down to the start. “Down” being the operative word here. The race begins at the bottom of a rather steep hill. An actual hill, not an incline or undulation. If I’d have come across this hill at any other point during the race I would have walked it!

My friend Matt and me decided to run together which was nice as without any time goals it can be a bit boring just plodding out miles. Plus we’d both done the first five miles together so we were both fatigued to begin with. We tried to pretend the five miles hadn’t happened. Annoyingly my ankle chip thing had come undone and so I had to stop to sort it out mid hill. I told Matt to go on and this was pretty much the theme of the race!IMG_8801

After the awful hill we were then on to a very gentle incline along the road for about a mile and then onto the track in the New Forest proper. The ground was easy underfoot and the scenery was beautiful.


The course is a sort of T shape where you run down the stem of the T, where the aid station is based (water or a carb-based drink on offer), and then it’s a left turn to head down an out back of three-ish miles. There was an almighty downhill and then some sharp uphills before turning around and heading back…to that almighty uphill.



Matt is further along in his marathon training and in general I think he’s slightly faster than me so he was springing up the hills whereas I was struggling. I walked without shame when it got too tough, but I always caught him up again – though it did require me to burst some speed out.

IMG_8802Mid-race photo of Matt on the downhill

As we got going along the next bit of the T out-and-back we were going along quite nicely, chatting away. The good thing about these out-and-backs were that we could see so many other people either going out or coming back. We waved and cheered other Marathon Talkers and people we knew, which was great. We saw Martin Yelling zooming along several times too. I waved and shouted to my running club friend, Mark, but he just looked daggers at me and grunted.

“Must be having a hard time, I guess”, I said to Matt. Then we got to the turnaround and began our final way back (after just being passed by Steve Way heading back on the last stretch of the marathon – the marathon began an hour earlier and was twice the course). As we turned around the wind hit us in full force. Jesus! Suddenly we were faced with a ridiculous wind and some nasty uphills. No wonder Mark reacted like he did when I cheerily greeted him. I would have been the same! Matt broke away from me again on the hills and I vowed to catch him up again on the flat – which I did (though I can’t be certain he didn’t just slow down for me).

Then finally we turned again to head back to Sandy Balls. Thank god, we were now out of the wind. The good thing about the course was that you could split it into segments psychologically I found this easier than one loop or point-to-point (ahh Boston is a point-to-point…).

We just had one final nasty long slow incline to power up. Before that we had a nice downhill so I sprinted down it to put some distance between Matt and me so that when I inevitably slowed down on the hill the distance between us both wouldn’t be so huge and my catch-up wouldn’t be so hard.

The hill was relentless but we powered up and Matt, once again, got ahead of me.

IMG_8822Matt on the left (Photo credit: Gary Derwent)

But on the final mile back we were on a gentle downhill with the wind behind us. I did my fastest mile and felt completely in the zone of strong running. I caught Matt up and we pushed on to the end. Whew!image









At the finish line we received our medals and a free cup of soup and bread roll (though I somehow missed the roll as I was talking too much). What a great way to finish a race! My time was 1:44:37, 58th overall, 10th lady and 6th in my age category. 18 miles in total. Not a bad training run!IMG_8806

The race was fantastic but it was really hard work. The hills and wind… it was tough, tough, tough! Especially with five miles to begin with. But the medal is great – with the race and date engraved on the back.


I rushed back to get showered and sorted and then met the MT crew back in the usual events room for a carvery lunch. Before the lunch we had another talk, this time from Andy Lane who’s another Marathon Talk podcast interviewee (it also gave people a bit more time to finish and shower before lunch). Andy Lane is a psychology professor and does a lot of research into emotion regulation in sport. I was a bit zoned out at this point and very hungry. I hadn’t had breakfast or anything during the run, only the small cup of soup and it was now heading towards 1pm. My concentration levels were a bit blurred. What I did hear was interesting though.


He talked about how as runners we need to have more of cyclist mentality where not every training session needs to be goal-driven and pressured. We should have more “cake rides”. Cyclists are renowned for just going out and cycling a fair distance but then stopping and enjoying some cake and social time. This rarely happens with running (OK logistically and stomach-wise it’s obviously tough, but we rarely have a run where it’s just about catching up with people and not focusing on the actual run). He said that goals don’t always need to be time-driven and hard. They can be things like: take some photos during this run or simply enjoy the outside. parkrun is a great example of this – it’s not all about your finishing time.

Then it was finally time to eat. It was a carvery so we had to go up and serve ourselves. Our table was about sixth to go up and I was getting increasingly hungry. Thankfully chatting distracted me so I wouldn’t turn into more of a monster.


When we got up there I piled my plate high with vegetables, potatoes, gravy, and what I thought were stuffing balls, and then roast beef was placed on top from the chef. I tried not to wolf this down at breakneck speed… Turns out the ‘stuffing balls’ were actually vegetarian falafels. An interesting addition to the roast dinner! It was so lovely sat there eating this delicious meal amongst running friends and discussing the half marathon and running in general. I was very content.

IMG_8821This is actually from the Saturday evening but it’s mostly of the same people (Photo credit: Gary Derwent)

Then we went up for seconds Open-mouthed smile The chef gladly gave me more meat (there was loads!) and I was in my happy place. Until I was in my very full uncomfortable place Winking smile (arguably this is also my happy place…).

I plucked up the courage to go up to Martin and Tom, similar to the last Run Camp, and asked them for a cheeky photo. I told them I’d been there two years ago and showed them the older photo. They found it quite amusing.

IMG_8818Martin, me, Tom and Toms daughter, Rosie

They’re so friendly and lovely! I really hope I can make next year’s running camp. They’re just fantastic at organising the camp. It’s so well put together.

Then to finish Martin explained his epic running he’s got planned: running the South West Coast path! Twenty-one days of running 630 miles! Ouch! On the website you can sign up to join different stages or parts of the run with him which is quite cool. I might think about doing that – maybe! And not an entire stage!

And then that was it! I headed home with a lovely warm fluffy feeling in my stomach, and not just from all the food Winking smile Anyway, the Marathon Talk Run Camp was EPIC, amazing, so much fun and just fantastic. I learnt a lot, met some truly brilliant people and did some really enjoyable running. Fully recommend it to anyone interested in running: whether a veteran marathoner or a newbie runner just doing 5ks. It’s so inclusive and friendly. No one is left behind or made to feel like they’re not good enough.

Would you be interested in a training camp?

Are you better at running up or down hills?

What kind of course do you prefer – an out and back, a loop, laps, point-to-point, etc.?

The Nitty Gritties–Recovery

Marathon training is relentless. It seems that as soon as you finish your long run on Sunday you’re back on it with a hard training session for the next week. And after each long run you can’t imagine running any further. But you do.

The most important factor behind this is good recovery. This covers such a range of different things: fuel and nutrition, rest, foam rolling, a sensible training plan and, the often forgotten or least prioritised, sleep.


I mentioned in a previous post about ‘good’ nutrition but here I’ll specifically talk about pre-run. Like with most nutrition (and marathon training in general – are you sensing a theme here?) it really is what works for you. I’d be wary of anyone saying, “this is when and what you should eat before a run and this is what you should eat afterwards”. There is not an exact science. Obviously there is science and research which can give good guidance on ratios of carbs to protein and fuel timing but in reality, you have to find what works best for you. Everyone’s tummy is different and everyone’s training is different.

Personally I find eating straight after a long run is actually quite hard. Oh sure I can spend a good amount of time before and during the run imagining all the amazing things I’m going to eat (platters of ribs followed by cakes dipped in chocolate…) but in reality as soon as I’m done food is the last thing I want to think about. I’ll rehydrate with water straight away and then probably take some time to let my body chill. It’s just run a fair distance and it needs to adjust to no longer being running anymore.

There seems to be this panic in the running community (and training world in general) that you must refuel immediately. There is a teeny tiny tight window and if you miss it you’re going to EXPLODE. I highly doubt this is the case. Your body isn’t stupid. If it’s telling you that food is not sounding good right now, don’t force it. Wait a while. But make sure you do refuel of course.

An interesting point that was made by Liz Yelling at the MarathonTalk weekend was that it is so important to eat good nutritious food. Don’t think “oh I’ve just run 18 miles I can now eat half of KFC and a jumbo chocolate bar”. Firstly, you probably haven’t burnt as many calories as you think you have (or that your watch/app is telling you). And secondly, you need to top your body up with vital nutrients in order for your body to repair itself (long runs take a lot out of our bodies, not just burnt calories). Macro nutrients are important but micronutrients are even more so. Treat your body like a temple and use food as a natural medicine. It doesn’t have to be complicated either, something simple like scrambled egg can do! Avoid crap and choose instead wholesome food. You want to be able to wake up the next day feeling good, not fatigued, foggy and with a sugar hangover.

Foam Rolling

Ahh the nightmare that is foam rolling. As most of us are mere mortals and can’t really afford the luxury of weekly physio appointments and massages we have to make do with what we can. The foam roller. It’s a painful, it’s awkward, it’s a chore, it’s boring… we never do it enough. I personally find it a great way to keep niggles at bay and help keep my legs fresh.

Foam rolling

Obviously I’m not an expert but I believe it’s to do with self-myofascial release. It can help with increasing the blood flow throughout the body which can help reduce muscle tension and help decrease muscle tightness. You can also use it to warm-up the muscles before a run as well.

After a long run I always find a good foam roll session the next day can do wonders for helping me recover ready for my next run. Here’s a great list of tutorials for foam rolling different areas from Kinetic Revolution (a great resource for injury-prevention and running in general).Foam rollers

I mainly use my trigger point foam roller (not an affiliated link) and a tennis ball, though there are lots of ‘interesting’ rollers out there for more aggressive and specific targets (see above). I use the trigger roller on my calves, hamstrings and quads and a regular tennis ball on my glutes, hips and more specific calf focus. I tend to do it watching TV or listening to a podcast to keep myself entertained. It takes 10-15 minutes if I’m really being thorough, but if I only have five minutes I’ll focus on my glutes and calves which are always my trouble spots. I tend to foam roll the day after a long run and then maybe once or twice more in the week depending how I feel.

Another great way to help my calves recover are compression socks/sleeves.

Compression socks

I find after a long or hard run wearing my compression socks feels wonderful. I can’t say I notice a huge difference during the run if I wear them but I do wear them during 18 milers and all my marathons. I find they can help reduce cramp (though this is highly anecdotal on my part). I used to take ice baths post long run but I don’t anymore. I just didn’t find it helped enough to go through that trauma, but there are lots of people who swear by them.

Sensible Training

Granted this is a bit vague but what I mean is: don’t be a slave to your training plan. You don’t have to follow every single workout it’s got written down. It’s a generic plan – it doesn’t know you personally. It’s not an actual coach where you can feed back how you feel. If you’re really struggling, miss a run or swap it round. Honestly, it’s not a big deal.

What does this have to do with recovery? Rest. If you’re really struggling, take a rest day. It’ll be far more valuable to you then a sub-par run that you’ve forced yourself to go on just to tick it off the calendar. You’ll feel better resting and then smashing out your next run on rested legs and mind.


This is the big one. Out of most things this is the thing that people let slide or prioritise over. “I’ll get up an hour earlier so I can get in another run” or “maybe just one more episode tonight…”. Or the uncontrollable and unchangeable issues that invade our sleep, such as young (or old!) children. But honestly sleep is one of the most important things you can do to help your running.

It’s where most of the recovery is going to happen. Liz Yelling said that when she was training as an elite she’d get at least 10 hours a night! And a nap in the day! Steve Way agreed (he’s a childless “house husband” so can have that luxury). Liz also said that Paula Radcliffe would usually have 12 hours a night! This is crazy but also makes a lot of sense.

As someone who has a fulltime job and a long commute, getting 12 hours sleep would basically be impossible for me unless I slept at work. But I do make sure I hit the pillow no later than 10pm every single night. As I get up 3-4 days a week at 5am, I don’t find it a struggle at all to fall asleep early. Sometimes even 9pm and I’m ready to snooze. At the weekend I can obviously sleep a bit later.

If you’re feeling tired and training is getting harder and harder, honestly do yourself a favour and go to bed a bit earlier if you can. This isn’t for life, marathon training only lasts for so long. I run four times a week and go to the gym through the week, but if I have a crap night’s sleep I won’t go to the gym or I’ll postpone a run. Sleep is more important. It’s like your whole system becomes a powerhouse of recovery, repairing muscles, smoothing out kinks, flushing through your system and mind.

I heard a very interesting MarathonTalk podcast a while ago about the importance of sleep and it said very few people can last on less than six hours of sleep. Yes people are different and some need less than others but generally speaking most people really do need around eight hours. Don’t kid yourself that you can survive on less. Don’t use coffee to get yourself going. Use actual sleep. Your training will feel the better for it!

What are your key recovery tips?

How much sleep do you usually get?

What do you eat after a run/tough workout?