Rants and raves #18

**Disclaimer: I’m writing my latest selection of rants and raves after spending the day feeling slightly peaky. I’m still experiencing holiday #FOMO. Spending over an hour looking at my friends Greenland photos made me realise just how much I *need* a holiday. Unfortunately, no job means no luxuries and no holiday funds. As always all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other (far, far superior) and less opinionated running blogs are available**

Happy Thursday. I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable week. I’ve you’ve been away then lucky you. If like me you haven’t, I feel your pain. At least it’s not raining and it’s very nearly the weekend!

Rave: The Big Sleuth

I’m aware that I’ve already raved about The Big Sleuth so suspect that I’m cheating a little, sorry. Thanks to train delays, I had an hour to waste in the centre of Birmingham. As I didn’t feel in the mood for mooching around Grand Central, I decided to see how many Big Sleuth bears I could track down.

I walked the short distance from New Street station to Cathedral Square – I think I had to dodge six chuggers, I could very easily dedicate an entire rant to charity muggers – and discovered just how popular The Big Sleuth is. Hundreds of children and *ahem* adults were admiring the bears. It was amazing to see so many children outside having fun. I actually had to queue to get photos of some of the more popular bears.  Big SleuthUnfortunately, not everyone has embraced The Big Sleuth. One bear in Solihull was so badly damaged it has been permanently removed from the trail. Another bear in Boldmere has been vandalised a couple of times. I just don’t understand some people.

Rant: The weather

Whatever happened to the sunshine and warm weather? I’ve just looked out the window and it’s raining again. It was so cold when I headed out on my run this morning I could see my breath.WeatherI’ve had enough of the autumnal weather and would appreciate it if the sun could make an occasional appearance in Sutton Coldfield. I’ve also had more than enough of the rain. So much for the drought I needed for my research.

Rave: My right heel

I don’t want to curse myself, but I think my right heel is finally starting to feel a lot better itself *touch wood*. It’s still a little bit niggly first thing in the morning, but the pain is now 2/10 rather than the 8/10 it was back in February. I think the combination of wearing supportive shoes when I’m not running and the strengthening exercises I’ve been doing have made a big difference. My right foot feels far more stable when I’m running. Hopefully my right heel will continue to behave itself.

Rant: My left foot

Rather ironically I’m now more concerned about the pain in the top of my left foot. The pain is in exactly the same location as my metatarsal stress fracture a few years ago. The fact that I can still run makes me hopeful that my pavement pounding hasn’t somehow caused a second metatarsal stress fracture. I’m icing the top of my left foot after every run and looking out for any swelling or bruising. I don’t think there’s much else I can do at the moment. However, if the pain suddenly increases I’ll be heading straight to the minor injuries unit.

Rave: The running community

I know that I’ve complimented the online running community before, but I love how supportive the vast majority of runners are. Last Sunday I completed a 55 minute run. More experienced runners find running for such a short amount of time relatively easy, however, after not running for several months, I found running for almost an hour quite challenging. As you can probably imagine, I was left feeling rather deflated when my friend didn’t want to listen to me waffle on about my most recent running achievement. As a non-runner he just wasn’t interested.

Maria commented on my training run on Strava and left me feeling a lot more positive about my run. I’m now making sure I remember to give people ‘Kudos’ on their training runs and rides on Strava. A bit of virtual kindness takes a second and goes a long way.

Rant: Sainsbury’s Spaghetti Bolognese

I’m quite lazy, don’t actually enjoy cooking ‘for one’ and will occasionally buy ready meals to save time and mess. Sainsbury’s Spaghetti Bolognese was one of my favourite pre-run ready meals as I knew one serving was enough to fuel my long runs. As an added bonus my somewhat temperamental stomach seemed to tolerate Sainsbury’s Spaghetti Bolognese, always a good thing as a runner.

Last Saturday I treated (?) myself to a of Sainsbury’s Spaghetti Bolognese meal for one *sobs*in the evening. I noticed that the packaging had been updated and that the Spaghetti Bolognese was rather bland and tasted different. It definitely didn’t taste ‘off’ just different. The following morning I headed out on a 55 minute run. I spent the majority of the run trying to burp discreetly while ignoring the taste of Spaghetti Bolognese. Never again!

Rave: Hero the Hedgehog

Like many other sports fans, I thought that Hero the Hedgehog – the official mascot for the recent World Athletics Championships – was fantastic. As a runner, I loved Hero’s motivational signs.Hero the HedgehogIn my first job, I had the misfortune of having to dress up as Charlie Chalk and Brewster the Bear. I struggled to walk around a restaurant so have a huge amount of respect for whoever was wearing the Hero costume. I’d love to know the identity of the person underneath the costume.

Rant: Manspreading on public transport

I spend far too much time travelling on public transport and quite frankly, I’m getting fed up with men pretending to be cellists. Why do some men feel the need to sit with their legs wide open? Why do some men feel it’s acceptable to invade my personal space? And don’t even get me started on people who put their dirty feet on seats. There’s no need.

Once again, if you’ve reached the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, then thank-you!

Do you have to dodge people fundraising for charities in your nearest town/city? The charity muggers got such a bad reputation in Birmingham; there was talk of banning them.

Do you have to avoid eating certain types of food before you run? I’m gradually running out of meals I can eat the evening before I run.

Great Birmingham Run training week 7

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. When I look back at how unfit I was seven weeks ago, I’ve got no idea how I managed to run for 55 minutes yesterday morning. I guess I need to learn to trust the training plan.Collage 15Week 7 saw me complete the first ‘peak training week’ of my beginners’ half marathon training plan. It also saw me locate and be brave enough to wear my heart rate monitor, learn how to pace myself a little better and run four times a week for the first time this year. My training during week seven comprised of a slightly harder ‘back-to-back’ 20 minute run on Monday, a 30 minute run on Wednesday, a 10 minute run on Friday and a slightly longer 50 to 55 minute run on Sunday. As always, I set out on the longer run with the aim of running for the maximum recommended time. So how did I find the seventh week of half marathon training?

Monday – 20 mins steady

Week 7 of my training plan started with a slightly more challenging back-to-back 20 minute run instead of the usual Monday rest day. As I wanted to avoid running on pavements the day after a 45 minute run, I decided to delay my training run until lunchtime so that I could hopefully head across to the Four Oaks Estate. I spent the morning searching for jobs and completing a slightly long-winded job application and then got ready for my run.Collage 16Although I started my run at a sensible pace and remembered to slow down on the uphill sections, the top of my left foot felt quite niggly throughout the 20 minute run. It’s quite hard to explain how my left foot feels when I run. It isn’t sore but I’m aware that something isn’t quite right. At time it almost feels numb. Hopefully it just feels a little strange because of the previous stress fracture. After my 20 minute run, I asked my friend to video me running so that I could check out my running style. I discovered that I run like a wonky donkey.

Tuesday – Rest

Tuesday was a productive but perhaps excessively restful rest day. The weather was rubbish – what happened to summer? – and I didn’t leave the house. Very lazy! The highlight of my day was getting a couple of lengthy job applications completed and submitted. Fingers crossed I hear back from some of the companies I’ve applied to recently. I can’t get over how many don’t even bother to respond with a ‘thanks but no thanks’ type of email.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a 30 minute run on Wednesday, however, when I woke up at 05:30 I felt so nauseous I swapped my 30 minute run for a rest day. Although I attempted to make some progress with my latest academic masterpiece, the noise from the builders working opposite, meant that it was virtually impossible to work. After a not very productive morning, I headed across Birmingham to the university library in an attempt to get some peace and quiet. In the end, I wrote 500 or so words and completed the first draft of my paper.

Thursday – 30 mins steady

When my alarm woke me at 05:30, although I still didn’t feel great, I felt well enough to attempt a run. After spending a few minutes debating the pros and cons of running, I decided to get up and run. I promised myself that I’d stop running if I started to feel nauseous. I got dressed, worked through a selection of my PF exercises and stretches, had a successful loo visit and turned on my Garmin. I then headed outside and spent what felt like ages standing around looking suspicious waiting for my Garmin to pick up some signal. I hate it when my Garmin decides it doesn’t want to work. As I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent, I was sensible and set out at a steady pace. I found the 30 minute run really easy and got back home feeling I should have pushed myself more.

I can’t actually recall what I spent the rest of the day doing. It can’t have been that thrilling or blog worthy. I spent the evening watching the athletics with an ice pack balanced on my left foot. Exciting stuff…

Friday – 10 mins easy jog

The sun very kindly woke me at 05:30 on Friday morning. Rather than heading out on a run, I spent a couple of hours completing a job application form I’d left until the last minute. I really do need to plan out my days a little better. I also need to learn to pace myself a little better on shorter training runs. I set out far too quickly and struggled to run for 10 minutes. At least I didn’t walk this time.

Once again, I spent my Friday evening watching the athletics. The women’s steeplechase was definitely full of drama. How on earth can a professional athlete almost forget to jump the water jump? This is going to sound like a terrible thing to say, but I loved seeing the American duo beat the Kenyans. I’d love to have a go at the steeplechase. However, knowing me I’d fall over a barrier and break something. Anyway, this article describes the thrills and spills of the women’s steeplechase far more eloquently.

Saturday – Rest

For the first time in about six months I experienced Saturday morning parkrun envy. Hopefully I’ll actually make it to my local parkrun next week. I spent the morning doing several loads of washing, the vacuuming and catching up on some of my favourite blogs. I also read an interesting article on clean eating: ‘Why we fell for clean eating’.

Like the majority of the people I follow on social media, I spent my Saturday evening watching the athletics. I was gutted that Mo Farah ‘only’ got a silver medal in the 5000m and that Usain Bolt DNF his last race. However, watching the women’s sprint relay team get silver and the men’s sprint relay team get an unexpected gold, meant that I went to bed feeling positive. Always a good thing before a long (for me) Sunday morning run.

Sunday – 50-55 mins continuous run

My alarm woke me at the incredibly antisocial time of 05:30, and thirty minutes later I was ready to tackle the most challenging training session in my half marathon training plan so far, a 50 to 55 minute continuous run. Although I set out with the intention of running for 55 minutes, after spending so much of the year injured, running for 50 minutes would have been a massive success.

Once I got the not so enjoyable first 10 minutes of the run out of the way, I settled into a sensible pace that I felt I could maintain for another 45 minutes. Once I settled into my stride, I found running relatively easy and found myself increasing my pace slightly after 30 minutes. Although the run was generally very enjoyable, could someone please remind me not to eat Spaghetti Bolognese on a Saturday evening? Thanks!Collage 17So that’s the seventh week of my half marathon successfully completed. I can’t believe I’m rapidly approaching the halfway stage of my training plan. Once again, I was reminded that I need to trust the training plan and to have faith in my ability as a runner. I was also reminded that I need to start and maintain my ‘steady’ training runs at a sensible pace. I don’t think that running for long periods with a heart rate in excess of 180 bpm is very healthy and might explain why my so-called steady runs were leaving me exhausted for the rest of the day.

Next week’s training plan contains four not quite as challenging runs and is described as a “taper week”. I’m quite a lazy runner so seeing the word “taper” makes me very happy. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are rest days – I’ll do my best to actually rest as my right heel is a little niggly after pounding the pavements for 55 minutes. I’m meant to complete a 20 minute run on Tuesday, 10 minute runs on Thursday and Saturday and a 5k race or time trial on Sunday. If I can convince my friend to drive me to my local parkrun, I’ll be completing my 5k time trial on Saturday morning.

Training totals

  • Runs: 22
  • Time: 7 hours 55 minutes
  • Distance: 44.26 miles

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

What have been your highlights of the World Athletics Championships? Mine are probably the men’s and women’s marathon.

Do you have any foods you have to avoid the evening before a long run? I don’t think I’ll be eating Spaghetti Bolognese again.

Rants and raves #17

**Disclaimer: I’m writing my latest random selection of rants and raves after spending the day in the university library trying to concentrate on a slightly overdue academic paper. I managed to write 500 words in six hours so not the most productive writing session. I’m also experiencing exotic holiday #FOMO as my friend has just returned from Greenland. I can’t wait to see all the holiday photos. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other (far superior) and slightly less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Thursday! Once again, I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable week. If your week hasn’t been that great, the weekend is approaching.

Rave: Running

Although having running as a rave for the third time in a row is probably cheating, after complaining about being injured and not running for almost six months, I feel I need to balance out my blog a little.RunningSmiling Grimacing at the top of one of my nemesis hills.

At the moment, my dodgy feet are still *touch wood* coping with my half marathon training. As an added bonus, after struggling for five weeks I’m now starting to feel a little bit fitter. Hopefully my fitness levels will continue to improve.

Rant: Having to enter races months in advance

When I started running, it was possible to turn up and enter the majority of races on the day. Perfect for injury-prone runners. Fast forward to 2017 and a lot of races are selling out within hours of entries opening. While this is good news for race organisers, it’s not so great for runners who pick up a lot of injuries. I’ve recently entered two races several months in advance because I was aware entries would sell out almost immediately. Hopefully I’ll be fit enough to run both races.

Rave: Blogging

After several years of intermittent blogging, I think I’m finally starting to see the benefits of sharing my random running-related thoughts online. Writing about running also seems to help me with my academic writing.

Rant: Wheelie bins

Perhaps the most random rant ever, but like the majority of people living in Birmingham, I’m not a huge fan of wheelie bins at the moment. Unfortunately, the refuse collectors (I’m not sure that the correct term is!) in Birmingham have been on strike for six weeks. This means that in addition to wheelie bins for household waste, gardening waste and mixed recyclables, the pavements in some areas are covered in overflowing bin bags, cardboard boxes and rubbish. Residents have been instructed to leave their bins and extra rubbish at the side of the road. Unfortunately, some people have abandoned their bins in the middle of the pavement.

If I can’t squeeze past a bin when I’m running, I doubt someone pushing a pushchair could get past.BinsI actually had a dream about wheelie bins last night. 

Although the situation isn’t quite as bad where I live in Four Oaks as it is in the centre of Birmingham, the bins haven’t been emptied for a month and the smell is getting quite bad. Apparently the strike could continue for another four weeks. As I’m not very good with ‘smells’, I’ll have to dig out my old BA mask.

Rave: runABC Midlands

After I somehow managed to win an Ultimate Direction hydration pack last year, runABC Midlands has been one of my favourite running magazines. A few weeks ago, I received a message via my blog asking me if I’d like to review one of my favourite local races for runABC Midlands. I said yes (of course!) and answered a few questions about the Lichfield 10k. Hopefully my article will be published and will appear in the August-September issue. I can’t wait to see my race review in print.

Rant: Drivers who don’t indicate

Can someone explain to me why so many drivers don’t seem to know how to use their car indicators? I’m not a mind reader and I don’t have a crystal ball. Seriously though, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve needlessly stopped running to give way to cars at junctions. Apologies for the f-word but I love this meme.Did you know

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Finally, don’t get me started on cyclists riding on pavements. I don’t mind children riding their bikes on the pavement, but adults dressed from head to toe in Team Sky kit should be able to ride their Cannondale bikes on the road. Having to dodge wheelie bins, drivers and speedy cyclists is making my running quite stressful at times.

Once again, if you’ve reached the end of my latest selection of rants and raves then thank-you.

Do you find having to enter some races months in advance irritating?

Should more race organisers offer full refunds or the option to transfer your entry if you can’t run? 

Nutri Advanced Magnesium Glycinate tablets review

Back in June, I discovered that Nutri Advanced were on the lookout for people to review their Magnesium Glycinate tablets. I applied, was accepted and a couple of days later I received a large tub of Magnesium Glycinate tablets and some really informative supporting documents. Once I’d read through these documents, I was ready to start the three week trial.

nutri 1

Now that I’ve completed the three week trial, I feel that I’m in a position to produce a hopefully useful review.

What is Magnesium Glycinate?

Nutri Advanced has been providing healthy effective vitamins, health and nutritional supplements to a wide range of consumers since 1981. Nutri Advanced uses rigorous scientific research to make sure that their supplements use bio-available, active and preferred forms of vitamins and minerals to ensure maximum absorption.

Magnesium is an important mineral – it is essential for hundreds of reactions within the body. Magnesium is also known as “nature’s tranquiliser”, it has a calming effect on nerves and muscles and is also necessary for energy production.

  • Magnesium is essential for the production of energy within every cell in the body – it may increase energy levels and help reduce tiredness and fatigue.
  • Magnesium contributes to the electrolyte balance within the body.
  • Magnesium is essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system and psychological function – low magnesium levels may be associated with confusion or irritability.
  • Magnesium contributes to normal muscle function.
  • Magnesium contributes to the synthesis of protein.
  • The maintenance of normal bones and teeth need magnesium – it helps keep calcium within bones and teeth.

Nutri Advanced magnesium tablets use Magnesium Glycinate. This is a superior form of magnesium that is well absorbed meaning that it gets to work quickly and doesn’t have a laxative effect. Magnesium Glycinate is generally well tolerated, so the tablets are suitable for people with a sensitive digestive system.

Nutri Advanced[Source]

As a runner, I was curious to see if the Magnesium Glycinate tablets would help to increase my energy levels and reduce my tiredness. Although I must admit I was slightly sceptical when I started taking the tablets, I was also interested to see if the Magnesium Glycinate tablets would help to reduce the post-run aches and pains, random calf cramps and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) I’d been experiencing.

The review process

In theory, the review process was extremely straightforward. All I had to do was take two tablets two times a day with my meals and then report back on my experiences.

Nutri 2

It took me a couple of days to get into the habit of taking the Magnesium Glycinate tablets. While I’d describe myself as a world expert at eating food, it turns out that I’m not very good at swallowing tablets. I overcame this minor hurdle by closing my eyes so that I couldn’t see the tablet, and making sure that I swallowed the tablet with a lot of water. Other people have recommended snapping the tablets in half to make them easier to swallow.

The Verdict

After completing the three week trial of Magnesium Glycinate tablets, I can confirm that these tablets are gentle on the digestive system. Fortunately, my somewhat temperamental digestive system tolerated the tablets and I avoided any ‘toilet sprints’. I was experiencing quite painful calf cramps and DOMS at the start of my half marathon training, the DOMS and cramps almost completely disappeared when I was taking the tablets. I accept that this may be purely down to the fact my legs have now adapted to my regular training runs. It will be really interesting to see if the cramps and DOMS make an unwelcome reappearance now that I’ve stopped taking the tablets.

Although the Magnesium Glycinate tablets didn’t always completely eliminate my tiredness and fatigue, I did start to notice an increase in my energy levels towards the end of the trial. Although it’s only been two weeks since I stopped taking the tablets, I’ve already noticed my energy levels decreasing and levels of irritability increasing. This may be a result of me running more frequently and not getting enough sleep; it will be interesting to see if I continue to feel tired and quite irritable virtually all of the time.

What I do know is that after seeing the benefits of increasing my daily magnesium intake, I’m now actively trying to consume more magnesium rich foods.

Magnesium Glycinate tablets are available from Nutri Advanced and other online retailers and have a RRP of £17.95.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a tub of Nutri Advanced Magnesium Glycinate tablets for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions are my own**

Great Birmingham Run training week 6

Once again, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I can’t believe that I’ve more or less successfully completed a third of my half marathon training.Collage 12The first couple of runs looked relatively simple. I was to run for 20 minutes on Tuesday and 30 minutes on Thursday. Both runs were to be completed at an “easy” pace. The third run, however, looked slightly more challenging. The training plan gave me the option of running for between 40 and 45 minutes at a “very easy pace”. Although I found running for 35 minutes last Sunday relatively easy, I was concerned that I would struggle to run for an additional 10 minutes. So how did I find the sixth week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Fortunately, week 6 started with my favourite component of any training plan – a rest day. Have I mentioned just how much I love rest days? I’ve never really understood why some runners find taking a day off from running so difficult. Once again I spent the morning catching up on emails and planning out the week ahead and the afternoon job hunting. Exciting stuff!

Tuesday – 20 mins easy

Like last Tuesday, I struggled to drag myself out of bed at 05:30 to get my 20 minute run completed before Four Oaks woke up. I eventually headed out on my run after 08:00. I probably should have stayed at home as my run was rubbish.  Once again, I managed to get my pacing completely wrong and set out at an unsustainable pace. Just to add to my woes, it was windy and I felt like I was running constantly into the wind. After 15 minutes I walked for a couple of seconds and then felt like I’d failed. Not the most positive start to week 6.

The rest of Tuesday was so mundane and uneventful; I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Wednesday – Rest

Another rather mundane and generally restful rest day. Once I’d spent most of the day working on job applications and my latest academic masterpiece, I felt like I needed to get out of the house. Thirty minutes later I found myself walking around the top end of Sutton Park.Collage 13Although it rained and I got soaked to the skin, walking helped me to relax and forget about my job hunting woes for a couple of hours.

Thursday – Rest

I should have completed an easy 30 minute run on Thursday, however, when I woke up, my right heel felt a little niggly after my epic walk in Sutton Park. Looking back, my walking shoes probably weren’t quite supportive enough. As I knew my heel just needed a bit of time to recover, I decided to be sensible and swapped my run for a rest day.

Friday – 30 mins easy

For some reason, I really struggled to sleep on Thursday night/Friday morning. I remember checking twitter at 02:30, not ideal when my alarm was set for 05:30. When my alarm woke me, I felt really tired – you can tell I haven’t had children! – and doubted I’d be able to run for 30 minutes. After lying in bed debating missing my run, I decided to get up and run. I got dressed, worked my way through my PF stretches and exercises, went to the loo, turned on my Garmin and headed out on my run. I was sensible and set out at a very steady pace and found running for 30 minutes quite easy. Running can be so unpredictable.

After spending the rest of the day working on a job application, reading about recycled water, vacuuming, sleeping and replying to a couple of blog related emails, I settled down to watch the athletics. How amazing was Mo Farah in the 10,000m? I don’t think I’ve ever watched such a stressful race, there was so much drama towards the end. I’d love to be able to run 5k in his winning time of 26 minutes 49 seconds!

Saturday – Rest

I spent the morning and early afternoon watching the athletics on the BBC. I also spent a bit of time preparing for my violin lesson. I’m sure that most sensible people spent their Saturday evening either watching sports or spending time with friends and family. Unfortunately, I had a violin lesson I couldn’t miss and found myself sharing a train with loads of slightly merry football supporters. At least my violin lesson prevented me from enjoying a few too many pints of Stella, before my long (for me) run the following morning.Collage 14Birmingham University is very quiet at this time of the year. After my violin lesson I went for a quick stroll around the campus and tracked down another Big Sleuth bear. A delayed train meant that I missed the men’s 100m final. I don’t think I missed much.

Sunday – 40-45 mins very easy pace

I woke up feeling great at 05:30. After lying in bed for a minutes telling myself that I could run for 45 minutes, I got up, got dressed, had a successful loo visit and spent 30 minutes working my way through my PF stretches and exercises. By the way, although it’s only the sixth week of training, I’m already fed up with doing the same old stretches. I made myself drink a glass of water and orange nuun, switched on my Garmin and headed out the door.

Conditions were perfect and I was sensible and made sure that I set out at a steady pace. Although I found running for 45 minutes a lot easier than I thought I would, I felt tired during the final five minutes and wouldn’t have been able to carry on running for much longer. Rather worryingly, the ache in my left foot made itself known throughout the run. Please don’t be another stress fracture.

I returned from my run, did a few half-hearted stretches, drank some more orange nuun and iced my right foot. By the time I’d had a shower it was getting quite late, so I reluctantly made a start on the mountain of washing that had accumulated during the week. I spent the rest of the day watching the men’s and women’s marathons and random track and field events. I think I’m going to have to ban myself from watching athletics during the daytime.

So that’s week six of my half marathon training more or less successfully completed, only another 10 weeks to go. I was reminded that I’m definitely an early morning runner – slightly concerning given that the Great Birmingham Run starts at lunchtime – and that I need to remember to cool-down and stretch after every run.

Next week’s training schedule comprises of four runs for the first time and is described as a “peak training week”. Hopefully my right heel will cope with the extra run… I’ve got to complete a steady 20 minute run on Monday, a steady 30 minute run on Wednesday and a 10 minute “easy jog” on Friday. On Sunday the plan gives me the option of running without taking any sneaky walking breaks for between 50 and 55 minutes. Although I’m not as fit as I was 12 months ago, I’m going to do my best to run for 55 minutes.

 Training totals

  • Runs: 18
  • Time: 6 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 33.70 miles

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 6/10

Have you ever had a really good run when you’ve not felt great? I seem to run better when I’m not feeling 100 per cent.

What are your favourite track and field events? Mine are the sprint hurdles and the pole vault.

 

Learning to pace myself when I run and an introduction to Pacebands.co.uk

My recent half marathon training runs have demonstrated that I’m unfit compared to last year, comparison (with my training last year) is the thief of joy and I urgently need to learn how to pace my “easy” runs.

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At the moment, I feel so good when I head out the door, I’m tending to start my runs at a pace I’m not able to sustain. I find myself struggling to run, or in some cases, taking a couple of sneaky walking breaks. Although I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with walking, I shouldn’t really need to walk during an “easy” 20 minute run.

My issues with pacing are unfortunately nothing new.

Last year, I shared my goals for my target event of 2016; the Great Birmingham Run.

Rather predictably, on the day of the race I set out at an unsustainable pace, and struggled throughout the final 10k. Looking back, I made two fundamental mistakes. My Garmin was set to kilometres rather than miles, and I hadn’t worked out what pace I needed to run at to meet my time goals.

I was over-confident and thought that I was experienced enough as a runner to be able to pace my race by feel. I was wrong. As a minimum I should have referred to a half marathon pace chart before the race.

Although my pacing is still a bit hit-and-miss, I’m doing everything I can to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes during this year’s Great Birmingham Run. In an ideal world, I would track down one of the official race pacers and let them do the pacing for me. However, I’m not 100 per cent certain there will be official pacers this year. In addition, there’s every chance I won’t spot the pacers. I didn’t last year!

Pacebands.co.uk

Fortunately, the lovely people at Pacebands.co.uk recently sent me a selection of Pacebands to hopefully help me with my pacing.Pacebands logo

Pacebands.co.uk is a small start-up born out of frustration: the vast majority of races in the UK, even those with several thousand runners, don’t offer a Paceband on race day. As a result, Pacebands.co.uk was launched with the aim of providing an efficient service to runners looking for an inexpensive but professional pacing solution before a target race.

What are Pacebands?

Pacebands are simple, disposable wristbands that list the time at which a runner should pass each mile (or kilometre) marker of their chosen distance, in order to meet their target time. Pacebands are manufactured from durable Tyvek, are designed to be used once, are durable and should withstand all weather conditions.

Pacebands 1

All you need is a basic sports watch or GPS and a Paceband. In theory you can then adjust your effort to make sure you run an evenly paced race, giving yourself the best chance of meeting your time goal.

If you want to find out more visit Pacebands.co.uk or visit the shop section of the website where you will find a selection of Pacebands for the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon distance.

I’ll definitely be wearing one of the half marathon Pacebands I was sent when I take on the Great Birmingham Run in October. You never know, it might just help me run at a more sensible pace!

Do you have any tips that might help me improve my pacing? So far I’ve tried listening to music, running on a dreadmill, constantly staring at my Garmin and

**Full disclosure: I was sent a selection of Pacebands for free. I did not receive any payment from Pacebands.co.uk and as always all opinions and photographs are my own**

Book Review: Pilates for Runners by Harri Angell

I hope that everyone is having a great week. As I don’t want to complain about my lack of fitness and injury woes again, I’ve got a far more positive post today; a book review.

When Harri contacted me to see if I’d like to review her new book – Pilates for Runners – I agreed pretty much immediately. I knew that I would find reading and reviewing the book incredibly beneficial as it is dedicated to a subject I knew very little about.

Front Cover

I’ll start this book review with a huge spoiler. Pilates for Runners is one of the most informative and useful running books I’ve read. I found the book engaging and easy to follow and read. Let’s just say I got so engrossed in the book during a train journey, I missed my stop and ended up in Lichfield. Not ideal when I live several miles away in Four Oaks. Luckily, the train conductor didn’t issue me with a fine.

Pilates for Runners is written by Harri Angell an experienced Mat Pilates instructor, marathon runner, personal trainer, England Athletics Leader in Running Fitness and member of the Register of Exercise Professionals (follow Harri on twitter @Harriangell). The book is described as containing everything you need to start using Pilates to improve your running – get stronger, more flexible, avoid injury and improve your performance. Pretty much perfect for a weak, inflexible, tall, slouchy, injury-prone runner like me!

The book is broken down into 13 chapters; (1) Why Pilates is good for runners, (2) Joseph Pilates: a brief history, (3) The principles of Pilates, (4) Postural alignment, (5) Breathing, (6) Equipment, (7) Mat Pilates exercises for runners, (8) Post-run stretches, (9) Five 10-15 minute daily routines to improve your running, (10)The healing power of Pilates, (11) Injuries, (12) Pilates for the running mind and (13) Finding a Pilates class and what to look for.

Pilates for Runners

Once again, rather than attempting to review the entire book, I decided to highlight the sections I found particularly interesting and relevant to me. Although the quality of my photographs is quite poor, I decided to include them to illustrate how well laid out the book is. If you want to read the text you’ll have to purchase the book.

Chapter 3: Principles of Pilates

As I had a very limited zero understanding of Pilates before I read the book, I found Chapter 3 particularly interesting. Joseph Pilates – the inventor of the Pilates method – devised specific principles that he believed were necessary to accompany each of his exercises

Chapter 3

Although these principles have been adapted over time, Harri believes that the principles of; Concentration, Breathing, Centring, Alignment, Relaxation, Flow and Endurance are worth acknowledging and applying when performing the exercises in Pilates for Runners. At the moment, I’m definitely struggling with my alignment and flow.

Chapter 7: Mat Pilates exercises for runners

Chapter 7 contains over 100 pages of mat Pilates exercises for runners. Please note that Harri recommends that you should resist the temptation to jump straight into the exercises without reading the preceding Chapters.

Chapter 7

Each exercise comes with easy-to-follow instructions and photographs to provide guidance. In addition, each exercise is graded as beginner, intermediate or advanced and nearly all have options to modify or progress, so that you can opt to work at whichever level suits you. The exercises I’ve attempted have confirmed that I’m not very flexible, that I quite enjoy lying down and that I’m very much a beginner. Hopefully, I’ll be able to progress from the beginner to the slightly more challenging intermediate and advanced exercises.

Chapter 8: Post-run stretches

So far, I’ve found the selection of post-run stretches I’ve incorporated into my running routine really beneficial.

Chapter 8

The stretches in this Chapter should only be performed once the body is warmed up, for example after a run, or at the end of a session of Pilates. As, from time to time, I struggle with tight calf muscles; I’ve incorporated the calf and Achilles stretch into my post-run stretching routine. These stretches are simple but effective and appear to be helping my calf muscles.

Chapter 11: Injuries

I’ve got a confession to make. As an injury-prone runner, this was the first Chapter I read. So much for starting at the beginning. Although Pilates for Runners isn’t a book about running injuries, many runners encounter Pilates for the first time because of a running injury. Harri stresses that although regular Pilates can help runners avoid injury, it can be just as beneficial to runners nursing an injury.

Chapter 11

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I’ve been struggling with Plantar Fasciitis (PF) since the start of the year. I’m clearly not alone as PF is the first injury listed in Chapter 11. I thought I was an ‘expert’ at managing and treating my dodgy heel, however, the section on PF reminded me of potential benefits of incorporating foot mobility and strengthening exercises into my daily exercise routine.

The Verdict

I would highly recommend Pilates for Runners to runners of all ages and standards. I particularly enjoyed reading the motivating testimonials written by runners who incorporate Pilates into their training.  I loved the inclusion of a series of inspirational quotes from the master himself, Joseph Pilates. If you are an injury-prone runner, I suspect that you will find the entire book both eye-opening and informative. I definitely did!

Pilates for Runners is published by Bloomsbury has a RRP of £16.99 and is available from all major book retailers.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of Pilates for Runners for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review and as always all opinions and photographs are my own**