Adding some focus back into my running

Is it just me or has this summer has felt like it’s gone on for eternity?

I feel like I’ve been living in shorts for an exceptionally long time. I think it’s because WFH means I can wear my shorter shorts and can go for a walk in the morning and lunchtime easily… so it feels like I’m experiencing summer a lot more “fully” I guess compared to when I sat all day in an air conditioned office.

And while that’s quite nice – not having to layer up, not having to put a coat on – I’m a little fed up of it now. It’s too hot. It makes me tired mid-afternoon. I hate feeling sweaty and lethargic. I like to go to bed feeling cold, then warming up under my duvet. I don’t like this hot, sweaty, oppressive weather. As a side note, this is how I know I’m a true Brit. I like the variations of the seasons  –  and reserve the right to complain about them at any opportunity of course. But anyway, I’m ready for it to get colder. I’m ready for winter!

My running, despite the heat, has been a bit different lately. I’ve actually incorporated a weekly speed session into my training (and I feel confident to call my running “training”). Now if you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know I’m quite a lazy runner… Lazy in that I don’t often push myself, I don’t tend to do planned “sessions” and when I do a race I rarely go for a time. I know there’s nothing wrong with that sort of approach to running. For me it’s important I just get to run and that I can continue to run throughout my life – regardless of whether I hit PB’s. I just like to be outside in the fresh air moving. I don’t feel particularly competitive with other people’s times or even my own times. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so motivation to improve my times is always a bit lacking.

But with no races in the near future and my running becoming a bit samey I got the urge to jazz things up. A lot of my friends do “proper” speed sessions and talk about reps and recoveries and suddenly I was motivated.

So after doing a bit of research and seeking some advice from said friends, I headed out on a Tuesday evening to do 4x800m with the same amount of time recovery. I mean, nothing crazy. I didn’t want to destroy myself or my motivation by doing too much too soon.

This was a tough session though I can tell you! I ran 1.65miles to a nice long, wide, flat strip of sandy trail and got to it. Angry, fast music on (it’s what works for me) and off I went. Ooooof!

I haven’t done proper speed work or any sort of races to challenge myself (sometimes I’ll do a speedy parkrun when the mood takes me) so I knew it would be tough and I knew I wouldn’t be breaking any records (of my own), but it’s a stake in the ground and I will take it!

I did another session a week later but this time 8x400m with 90 seconds recovery and this mentally felt better as it was shorter (weird how that works as normally longer distances mentally feel better to me in general).

Weirdly I’m enjoying this addition to my running. It’s nice to go out with a purpose rather than “hmmm I’ll just do seven miles tonight” or whatever. I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up or whether I’m going to be able to “show off” this hard work in a proper race eventually but for now it’s nice to have something different going on.

I’ve also been back to my personal trainer (@JonhPridham_rule5coaching on Instagram) to get back to some heavier leg training. He’s massively helped in the past to keep my strong and injury-free alongside my running. As a keen cyclist he understands the need for a well-rounded athlete!

My squats and general strength have diminished a lot of course as I haven’t been able to lift any sort of heavy weights for a number of months now, but it’s good to be working my way up again. Though the DOMS is unreal – three days afterwards!!

So I feel like I’m getting back to some level of focus for my running, both in terms of speed and in terms of strength. Fingers crossed I don’t lose motivation and, more importantly, don’t get injured!

And on a different note… I was sent a pair of PaMu Slide Mini Bluetooth earphones for running.

The earphones are kept in a little box that you charge up (very similar to iPhone Earbuds) and they also come with a cute little bag to keep them in. Charging is very simple – it’s just a micro USB that you put into a plug.

The earphones themselves are easy to pop in, stay nicely in my ears, even when running, and the sound quality is decent. I definitely prefer to wear these rather than the expensive Apple Earbuds!

Also, these have 30 hours playback on one charge which is more than enough for a few runs and walks.

So all in all, things are going well round here with my running 🙂

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the earphones for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

NURVV Run Insoles review

A month or so ago I was sent a pair of NURVV Run Insoles to try out and let me tell you, I was excited.

If you’re anything like me as a runner you’ll love the data you can get from a run – whether that’s recorded by your fitness tracker or app, you can dissect the minute details of your run afterwards. From the elevation, your pace and heart rate, so much data can be recorded nowadays. I mean, did you even run if it’s not on Strava, eh? (Let’s not talk about Garmin being down a few weeks ago tho…).

The NURVV Insoles give you a whole lot more data to look at for each run. Basically you put the insoles into your trainers with tracking devices that are securely fitted to the side of the trainers and then it records SO MUCH DATA about your run. Things like foot strike, stride length, pronation, cadence…it’s all there to see, even as the run progresses.

For example, I can see at the start of the run, when I’m just warming up, my stride length is shorter than towards the end when I’ve sped up a bit more and got into things. The same for my cadence. But likewise, on a long run my form starts to get a bit squiffy as I get more tired.

So to go into a bit more detail… can I feel it on my trainers during a run? No, I cant. Maybe if you’re super sensitive or if you’re really careful about the weight of your shoes. But to be honest, you’re more likely to use these on training runs rather than key races (though I’d love to see my data of a marathon, I’d find that fascinating).

It’s really easy to use – once you get the hang of it. The set-up itself is very easy and once the insoles are in your shoes (which you can’t feel, they’re very thin), you just turn the trackers on and then use the app to start finding satellites for their GPS and then you’re ready to go.

The insoles themselves

It can be a little bit of a faff to wait for the trackers to find GPS but no longer than a Garmin so that doesn’t bother me. Though it IS something else to remember for a run and potentially over-complicate things. I guess that’s the price you pay for wanting more data on a run. In my eyes, it’s totally worth it.

You see a little light flashing on the trackers once you’ve started the run on the app and then you’re off. Handily you can leave your phone at home as well and the trackers will save the data and then upload later (like the Garmin). One thing I will say is that a couple of times I haven’t pressed the start button properly and have gone for my run and got home to realise it hadn’t recorded anything, which is a bit annoying. It’s not overly clear when it’s on, asides from the small flashing light and in sunlight it’s hard to see.

Footstrike data

Aside from that though, I really love geeking out with the data after a run (when I have correctly turned it on!). It’s made me become more aware of my form as I run. For example, I try not to over stride but keep my feet landing beneath my body.

It also lets you know how much you over or under pronate. From most of my runs it appears I over pronate a fair amount on my left side. I vaguely knew this already but it’s really interesting that it’s mainly my left foot – whereas I assumed both were as bad. It also gives you helpful advice on how to improve this. Things like increasing foot strength and improving your arch strength and single leg balance.

I love the NURVV app as it gives you so much information per run (and throughout the run) and it also collates all your runs together to give you overall scores and an overall health rating across the different metrics. I can see where I need to improve on and what I need to keep in my mind as I run. I’m a big believe in running being a skill and to run better doesn’t just mean to run more. There are things you need to do outside of running to keep you strong and injury-free. Things like strength training (and single leg strength – so you can work on individual weaknesses), running drills and mobility.

What’s also good is that the NURVV team are continually improving. Since I’ve started using them there have been some decent updates, such as syncing with Strava and the data being broken down as the run progresses, and upcoming updates include auto-pause (currently you press a button on the tracker to pause), heart rate integration, elevation and manual run entry. Very exciting!

So needless to say, I’m a big fan. I’ll continue to use the trackers and hopefully improve my form and avoid injuries… it’s definitely good motivation to keep up my strength training and mobility work!

Do you like to look at your running data after a run?

Do you do anything outside of running to improve your form?

Do you over/under pronate?

Full Disclaimer: I was sent the NURVV Run Insoles for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.

What I’m Loving Lately – July

There have been so many things I’ve been loving lately.

Let’s start with some good old running stuff. I was really chuffed to be chosen to do a review of the VERY cool running tracker gadget Nurvv. Basically they’re electronic soles you put into your trainers and when you run it tracks how you run. Data such as cadence, pronation and foot strike is collecting (amongst other information) throughout the run so you can properly geek out afterwards.

The trackers sits outside the shoe

As someone who loves seeing splits, elevation and information like this from my watch (I use a Garmin) this was a dream come true. It gives a real insight into how you run and, importantly, how this changes throughout a run and between the different kinds of runs you do.

Some data from the app after my run

For example, when I did a quicker 5k my data was a lot different to when I did a long slow run. This makes a lot of sense because your feet turnover is greater and your moving in a different way than more of a “plodding” run. I find it very handy because I’m so injury prone that I need to be wary of my form and keep it the best I can. And with these trackers on my trainers it helps me concentrate – don’t over-stride, don’t slump, keep my feet landing beneath my centre of gravity… things like that. Anyway I’ll do a proper post on this soon after I’ve got more of comprehensive experience of the trackers. But needless to say, I’m enjoying them!

I’ve also been challenging myself in a different way lately. I’m attempting to get better at handstands.

I want to be able to hold myself on my own without support… but it is HARD. So far I can last mere seconds before dropping back down. I’ve been practising up against the wall in our house and trying to keep my body straight, push up through my hands and keep my head aligned, but that’s about all I can manage. It’s fun though. I can do headstands find, but handstands are a whole different ball game! I’ll continue to keep practising every week and watching YouTube videos for advice.

Another bit of running coolness is the fact that my incredible grandad made me a calf stretcher! My calves get very tight and my physio recommended getting a device to stretch them while I did other things, like brushing my teeth, and as I was Googling them I had an idea that my grandad might be able to build one himself. He’s such a talented carpenter. I mentioned it to him and he loved the idea.

While he’s over 80 now, he still likes to be busy and loves helping people out (he does a lot for charity and goes up to help out with looking after the reindeers in the Cairngorms Reindeer Centre every year.

Anyway he made the most amazing adjustable (!) calf stretcher which I now regularly use while working from home.

How cool, right?

I’ve also recently been sent an anti-chafe cream, called Slipstream, for when I’m running. I get such bad chafe under my arms when it’s warm and this has been an absolute life-saver. It’s easy to apply, doesn’t leave horrible white marks or anything like that and reduces my chafe SO much.

It only uses natural ingredients, waterproof and vegan. Love it!

And I’ve finally got my Six Star medal up in the frame that Kyle bought me for Christmas.

My favourite medal without a doubt. So much time and effort. And to think no Majors have happened this year (to the public, Tokyo was only for the elites). Chicago has recently cancelled and London… well, who knows? I cannot imagine how they could still go through with it. And is it responsible if they do? I imagine there are a lot of talks behind the scenes going on and a lot of it to with contracts, insurance and, most likely, money.

I’m so grateful I was able to run Chicago Marathon last year and get my medal. I almost didn’t run because of my hamstring and then my knee issue. I’m just SO glad I went ahead. Though I feel terrible for people who had planned this year to be the year they got theirs. But hopefully, next year.

Is there a race you were looking forward to doing this year?

What’s your favourite medal?

Can you do a handstand?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent the anti-chafe cream and the running trackers for free in exchange for a review. All opions are my own honest ones.**

One final long run before the next chapter

So Kyle and I have finally moved out!

Even during this crazy lockdown Covid-19 era, we managed to sell my flat and move into our newly bought home. There’s still a lot to do and a lot to buy (allllllll the furniture) but we are super happy.

It was a busy day on Saturday packing everything into the van my parents got. I didn’t bring any of the furniture from my flat home as I sold furnished (which was what I wanted to do because I want to start fresh with Kyle) so it was just things like clothes, crockery and homeware like that… which is still a lot of stuff! But few items that were “big” other than a dining table, outdoor table and chairs and my bike (ha!). We dropped everything off at the house, then headed home again.

It was my mum’s birthday on the Sunday so it seemed like a nice last day with my family. Then Monday I’ll move out properly. It also helped keep Kyle and my family separate during the moving in process as he moved his things Sunday. (Alfie will of course be coming but once we’re a bit more settled so it’s not so disruptive for him).

On the Saturday I was able to do one last long run before we moved which was just so lovely. My long run route is a route I’ve been doing for so long. I can easily add bits on, take bits off and get anywhere from 6 miles to 20 miles. It goes all along the coast from Hill Head, Lee-On-Solent to Stokes Bay. I just love it. It’s super flat which helps 😉

I ran 15 miles and while it was super windy it was a lovely run. I tried to soak it all in and appreciate it. I’m sure I’ll find runs just as good in my new home – the coastline will just be slightly different.

Running, amazingly, has been going so well recently. I’m really chuffed about this because while there are no races to train for and no pressures, I’d hate to not have the ability to run right now. The freedom and the mental breather it provides is just so helpful right now in this time of uncertainty and restraint.

I haven’t been doing any sort of formal training or sessions, but this is hardly any different to my usual way of running! I’ve kept to around 15-16 miles as my long run and this has been a nice length for me. I don’t know how long it will be until races are back of course, as no one does, so it does feel weird not having anything in the horizon but for now I’m happy.

And now onto a review of a new protein range from MyProtein that sounded very intriguing: their Keto Blend. It’s been created to have a keto-friendly ratio of macronutrients for anyone on the keto diet, which is quite a strict low carb high fat diet. Now I will stress, I’m neither keto nor on any sort of diet but I do love MyProtein’s Whey Protein (I have it every day in my porridge). So I was happy to give this a go!

I tried their Strawberry & Vanilla flavour and their Chocolate & Caramel flavour.

I tried the Strawberry & Vanilla in my porridge and as a drink. As a drink (I mixed with semi-skimmed milk) and it was just like a strawberry milkshake. It mixed well and was lovely and smooth. Both flavours were great in porridge too.

No issues in how it mixed and made my porridge taste lovely and subtly sweet (not overwhelmingly so).

So the blend contains 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs. One scoop (25g) contains around 115 calories and about 10g of protein. They also do a Coffee Walnut flavour. So not too shabby! A nice way to get some extra fat and protein into the diet.

Now back to sorting and unpacking!

Do you have a favourite long run route?

Do you enjoy sorting out things for your home? I’m a big fan of organising!

Do you have protein powder in your diet?

What I’m Loving Lately in Lockdown

So post lockdown marathon, things have been fairly slow round here.

I’ll do a more thorough post on the things I’ve been doing to keep myself somewhat sane in terms of fitness, but immediately post marathon I didn’t do a whole lot of running. This was mostly intentional. I felt quite chilled and had a lack of urgency to get back into any sort of formal training again so gave my legs a bit of a break. Unfortunately this intentional break turned into an enforced break as I then got a tummy bug which wiped me out for a number of days.

At first I thought it was food poisoning because of the symptoms but then it recurred a day or so later for another wave of rubbishness. I felt very weak during this time so avoided anything other than just walking. I did attempt a run when my stomach felt better but it felt dreadful and I canned it.

But anyway, I’m feeling far better now and back running. So I thought I’d do a bit of a what I’m loving lately but in lockdown.

So weekends can sometimes be a bit tough as normally I’d spend the majority with Kyle. But as we’re currently self-isolating at our respective homes, we’re separated. And of course I can’t really go anywhere beyond walking and running, so this has left somewhat of a gap in my weekend.

My dad and I have watched a number of films together which has been lovely. We’ve delved into a few documentaries: McQueen, Diego Maradona, Supersonic, Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, as well as some classics like Saving Private Ryan, A Few Good Men and some newer films like Hustlers and The Founder. I must say, all have been pretty good. Any recommendations welcome 🙂

As well as films, my family and I have been enjoying a Sunday roast, something we’d stopped doing for a while because, you know, we’re all busy people doing different things. But it’s been so lovely us all cooking together this family meal. And I really feel my cheese sauce has come to perfection now 😉

My favourite roast is pork, followed by lamb… my least favourite is beef. Of course I love chicken but I don’t see this as a proper roast meat? Is that weird? Possibly because I can eat a fair amount of a chicken on my own that it just shows how greedy I am.

Another thing I’ve been loving are my Aussie Soles, which I was sent recently. They’re flip-flops that have orthotics for your toes, heel and arch to help support your feet when walking.

Now I tell you, I’m doing a lot of walking in lockdown! When I’m not running I’m doing a long walk each day and as the weather gets warmer I love going out in flip-flops. I’ve been told by many a physio that flip-flops are quite bad for not only our feet but our posture and the way we walk, but having the additional support built in it means they’re far better for you.

There are several different colours and types, but I went for the Starfish variety. And they’re sooo comfy. I love them. Actually it’s funny because my mum gave them a try (we’re the same size) and instantly fell in love with them and bought herself a pair too!

The other good thing about them is they’re vegan too – so guilt-free 🙂

They’ve also given me a cool discount code to use at the checkout for 20% off. Just put in ANNATHEAPPLE20.

Also, I’ve been recently trialing TRR Nutrition products and they recently shared with me a 14 day workout plan for me to share. It’s also full of great recipes and nutrition tips from one of their advisors of nutrition and a High-Performance Nutrition, Claire Fudge RD (@the4thdiscipline). Worth a gander if you need some inspiration!

I love the TRR Nutrition products and have previously reviewed their advanced collagen supplement (you can find my review HERE). I’ve also tried out their whey protein which I adore as well. Perfect to vamp up my porridge with a bit more protein and some tasty chocolatiness. They also do a vegan variety too.

No aftertastes and not too sweet!

I love their products as they’re such good quality, sports approved and just a solid way to get some added nutrition into you.

And a final add… I received this so incredibly thoughtful and lovely medal from Kyle in the post celebrating my marathon. It was such a sweet thing for him to do and I had no idea it was coming, so it was a lovely surprise. Ahh 🙂

What have you been lovely during lockdown?

What’s your favourite roast?

Do you like flip-flops?

**Full Disclaimer I was sent the flip-flops and the TRR products for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**