Celebrating good runs with burgers

It’s incredible how different runs can be.

A couple of weekends ago I was knocked down by a bug. I feel like whenever anyone mentions feeling unwell everyone immediately assumes it’s COVID-19 related. Happily mine was just a bug that made me feel a bit lethargic and meh with a bit of a dodgy tummy. Alfie and Kyle actually had similar issues as well – can dogs get ill from you (or vice versa)?! It was very weird, for two days he kept sporadically throwing up, which was just lovely.

I didn’t actually realise I was feeling ill though until I got back from a very unwise long run. I woke up in the morning without being aware that I felt different, then headed out and it just felt so hard. Half-way through I had a little sit down on the curb and just had to take stock of the fact that I was 5 miles from home without any easy way to get back (Kyle’s motorbike had a flat battery and he can’t actually drive our car yet).  In the end I managed to claw my way home. On finishing I felt so drained.

After a few days though I was back to normal and my runs felt SO much better. I decided to leave the speedwork (check me out being all routine-like with my speedwork now) and just do some “whatever I fancy” running to make sure I wasn’t pushing my body when it was just back to normal. Then at the weekend I headed out for my long run without any real ideas of how far I was going to go. I have a great route that I can basically cut short very easily… from 6 miles all the way to 15 miles. I have easy points to add on and take-away.

As I headed out I realised I felt pretty good and decided to go for a longer run. My pace was strong and I felt full of energy. The weather was perfect with barely any wind (such a problem with living on the coast!) and it was relatively cool. In the end I did 17 miles which just felt great and has tempted me to consider running another marathon on my own in a few weeks… Rotterdam  Marathon is doing a virtual one in October so I’ll see how it goes. But I’m putting no pressure on myself.

After running the 17 miles, I got showered and Kyle and I walked down to 7Bone for some lunch. The fact that we can walk to 7Bone is dangerous indeed. I mean I love that we can walk to some fantastic favourites of ours but it can’t be good for our wallets and health!

7Bone were fantastic. They took our temperature before we went inside and had hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE – even on your table. We felt very well looked after and safe. The food, of course, was fantastic too.

Both Kyle and I went for the Winner Winner chicken burger and added an extra halloumi patty and had halloumi fries on the side too. Kyle went for loaded cheesy fries and I went for some Rasta chicken wings. It was a feast! The burger is honestly one of the best chicken burgers I’ve had. Though the chicken wings are always a bit disappointing. But then you don’t go to 7Bone for the wings.

We then walked home – which definitely helped our fullness.

The next day I went for a very gentle 5k and then headed to meet my mum in Southsea for coffee.

It was a lovely mum and daughter time. We had a drink in the Watkins & Faux, a tennis themed café, on the seafront and then walked along the Southsea parade. My mum had a tasty chocolate milkshake and I had a cappuccino.

A solid weekend full of good food and good times (and good health!).

Have you ever run when you felt ill?

Have you been tempted by any virtual races recently?

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.

Old favourites and getting some structure into my running

A lot to catch up on recently…

So firstly, I’ve become a bit green fingered in our new house (and garden). I never thought this day would come. I’ve never been interested in plants or flowers before but now I’m loving that we have a beautiful little garden. I’ve planted some flowers, got some lovely little house plants and I’m carefully looking after them.

I’m trying really hard to not let them die, reading up on how to care for them and watering them as often as they should be. Who’d have thought some don’t like too much watering and some get very sad without it (my temperamental little peace lily drooped significantly when I forgot about him for a bit).

Well anyway, it’s bringing me great joy, much to my parent’s and Kyle’s amusement as I’ve never shown such an interest before.

The other weekend we also had a very lovely visit from my friend Emma. She popped down from Reading for a run and some brunch. Originally we’d planned 14 miles but when it came down to it neither of us were feeling it and decided to bump it down to 5 miles instead.

It was a lovely relaxed run and we were able to catch up whilst seeing the sea and enjoying some trails nearby to where I live.

Chicken, bacon, potato, cheese, coleslaw, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, onion, salad, berries

We then walked with Kyle down to Southsea for brunch at The Parade Tearooms. I had the rather un-brunch-like Jayne Salad which was, as always, ginormous but so tasty.

We then walked to The Tenth Hole to pick out some cakes – it had to be done of course! The Bakewell slice was particularly delicious I must say. We are so lucky to live within walking distance to these places – though not close enough to be a real danger thankfully 😉

This weekend gone Kyle and I house sat/dog sat for my parents while they visited my grandparents in Wales. At first we were very happy because my parents have a hot tub (!!) and we were able to get a takeaway from our favourite Indian restaurant (honestly, I’ve never found as good an Indian as the Stubbington Tandoori).

But then during the middle of the night the happiness drained away as their dogs barked several times during the night and I had to stand in the garden at 3am while they did their business. This happened every single night we were there… it was exhausting. How my parents live with this I do not know. I couldn’t remember them being that bad when I lived there so perhaps they were sad my parents weren’t there, who knows. Either way it was ANNOYING. It also meant one morning we didn’t wake up until 10am!!

Anyway, despite these problematic sleeps, Kyle and I had a lovely 6 miles walk along the Titchfield Canal and Hill Head seafront. Thankfully we were sensible enough to put on suntan lotion as it was very sunny and warm. It was a lovely walk. Asides from running, I just really love to walk, explore and be outside (you might already know this I expect).

Sunlight making us squint

We also enjoyed a lovely 4 miles run down to the beach followed by a huge full English fry-up at the Penguin Café (another of our favourites in the area).

It was delicious. It was lovely to sit outside in the sunshine with the sea breeze and eat a ridiculously large breakfast. Then we walked the 2.5 miles back – which certainly helped the full stomach I can tell you!

Then the next day I got up and headed out for a solo long run. I really didn’t know how far I fancied going or where I wanted to go so just went with enjoying some of my favourite routes at random.

I listened to the new-to-me podcast RunPod which I’m really enjoying. Lots of good interviews with people about running and in the end did 10 miles. It felt exactly like what I needed. Not too hard, or too far, or too fast… just a nice gentle plod. I’ve started paying attention a bit more to my heart rate. I won’t say that I’m specifically training using my HR, but I definitely want to keep an eye on it. When I say I’m going to go and do an easy run I want to make sure this actually happens.

So much of my running is just one pace. I feel a bit of a fraud compared to other runners who do specific sessions. They run their easy runs easy and their hard runs hard. Whereas I just…run. Sometimes I go a bit faster, sometimes a bit slower. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. And while I like to have a bit of freedom with my running and never want to go back to when I was going to the track every week, I do think a bit of structure would help. My motivation to run is never based on times or PB’s, but to some degree I know I need to have a bit more structure to at least keep me motivated and interested. With no races around the corner, my running is becoming a bit stale.

And on the subject of races… I was half-way through writing this post, about to say “guess what! I’ve just signed up for the Reykjavik Marathon – in like two weeks!” and was super excited. And then literally just got an email to say it’d been cancelled. That email came through mere hours after signing up.

I know I was probably too hasty to sign up with everything going on but it seemed like Iceland was fairly safe and they seemed pretty confident. *Sighs* guess not. I think Kyle and I will still go to Iceland (I was so super organised I’d booked flights and an Airbnb – yes, I KNOW, super keen). We’ll only go for a few days but hopefully it’ll be nice. I’ve been to Iceland on my own ages ago so it’ll be lovely to go back with Kyle 🙂

Are you going anywhere on holiday?

Have you got any races planned that are still going ahead?

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.**