FLEXISEQ Active review

For some reason – I can’t imagine why – I’ve developed a bit of a reputation as being an injury-prone runner. I’m guessing that complaining about my painful left foot and right knee in virtually every blog post doesn’t help. One advantage – yes really – of being prone to picking up the occasional *ahem* injury, is being sent products that are specifically designed to combat aches and pains.

So as you can imagine, when the company behind FLEXISEQ Active approached me to review their new joint relief pain product, I said yes almost immediately! My sample of FLEXISEQ Active arrived, and I applied some to my troublesome left foot and right knee.

Now I have been using FLEXISEQ Active on a more or less daily basis for several months, I feel that I’m in a position to review the product.

What is FLEXISEQ Active?

The FLEXISEQ website describes FLEXISEQ Active as an adapted, light formulation specifically developed for the daily needs of joint pain and early-stage arthritis sufferers. While I can cope with joint pain, I really hope that the pain in my right knee isn’t early-stage arthritis.

flexiseq-active-pack2

FLEXISEQ Active lubricates the joints and is proven clinically to relieve pain and to reduce joint stiffness. A lighter formulation than the award-winning original, FLEXISEQ Active is described as the perfect introduction to the benefits of drug-free joint lubrication therapy.

The key benefits of FLEXISEQ Active:

  • Relieves pain
  • Improves mobility
  • Helps lubricate and protect your joints
  • Drug-free
  • Convenient twice daily application

So after several months’ regular usage – thanks running niggles – what did I make of FLEXISEQ Active?

The Verdict

I’ll get the basics out of the way first. I found FLEXISEQ Active really, really easy to use. The gel dried quite quickly, and unlike some of the other gels I’ve used over the years, didn’t leave any stickiness or residue behind. The FLEXISEQ Active gel had a pleasant aroma, and unlike some similar products, didn’t smell too what I call chemically. So far so good.

knee-pain

Although FLEXISEQ Active didn’t instantly eliminate the pain in my right knee, I did start to notice an improvement after only a couple of days of regular, twice-a-day use. Perhaps this was some sort of placebo effect – I genuinely don’t know! What I do know is that the regular application of FLEXISEQ Active corresponded with a reduction in the pain and stiffness I felt in my right knee. Unfortunately, the gel didn’t seem to reduce the pain on the top of my left foot.

FLEXISEQ Active has become a useful addition to my ever-expanding running first aid kit. I’m currently working my way through my third tube. While I do think £12.99 for a 50g tube of FLEXISEQ Active is quite expensive, I would rather manage my right knee niggle with a drug-free gel than with painkillers.

FLEXISEQ Active is available at Lloyds Pharmacy, Boots, Superdrug and independent pharmacies nationwide at a price of £12.99 for 50g and £22.99 for 100g.

Have you heard of or used FLEXISEQ Active gel? I had no idea the FLEXISEQ brand even existed until I was asked to review FLEXISEQ Active!

Do you have a running first aid kit? I’m so injury-prone I’ve now built up quite an (un)impressive collection of gels and potions.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a 50g tube of FLEXISEQ Active for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions are my own**

Rants and raves #9

**Disclaimer: this post was written while the author was experiencing both race and sexy looking running kit envy. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

It’s been a few months since I wrote my last Rants and raves post. Now that the Christmas festivities feel like a distant dream and we are halfway through January, I feel the need to get a few things off my chest. As always I’ll start with a race rave.

Rave: Christmas and the New Year

Although my temporary retail job meant that I worked right up until 19:15 on Christmas Eve and between Christmas and the New Year, I actually had a great Christmas. I attended a couple of Christmas parties and managed to avoid getting drunk and acting like a plonker. I met up with some old school friends for the first time in ages, and actually contributed to their adult conversations. Most importantly I managed to avoid getting ill and infecting my family for the third consecutive year.

christmas-dayIf I ignore the trauma of having to spend hours and hours watching rubbish on the TV and accidentally eating a parsnip – Christmas Day was awesome. Everyone seemed to love the presents I’d bought them, and there were no nasty surprise presents. I ate far too much Christmas dinner – I love turkey – and drank far too much Prosecco and wine. There were no family arguments and the cats didn’t trash the Christmas tree. As an added bonus, I got to scoff a second Christmas dinner the following week when my brother and his family returned from Spain.

Rant: Emails and unrealistic goals

This year, I’ve set myself a really challenging New Year’s Resolution. After failing spectacularly last year, in 2017 I’m determined to avoid buying any unessential running gear. I don’t need any more running tops, shorts, socks, tights, capris, jackets, gloves or accessories. It’s only January and I’m already struggling thanks to the huge number of emails I receive from running brands on a daily basis. Although I unsubscribed from dozens of running brands’ mailing lists during ‘Black Friday’, their emails keep on appearing in my inbox. I’ve now resorted to blocking running related emails, probably not ideal as a so-called running blogger.

Does anyone know why it’s apparently impossible to block some email addresses on Outlook? I swear that I’ve blocked emails from Elite Property Network, Cheap Flights and a fake Match dating site dozens of times. For some reason they keep on appearing in my inbox on an almost daily basis. Really frustrating.

Rave: GoodGym Birmingham

One email I was thrilled to receive – yes I am pretty fickle – was from the guys at GoodGym. Although, like most runners I’d read about the awesome work of GoodGym, there wasn’t a GoodGym in Birmingham.

There is now!! GoodGym Birmingham is GO!!

I’ve registered here and am looking forward to attending the launch event. I just hope that I can navigate my way to the meeting point. The centre of Birmingham is a million times more difficult to navigate than the centre of London!

Rant: My new trainers

After more than 500 miles of generally pain and incident free running, I retired my first pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16s immediately after the Great Birmingham Run. While, like a lot of runners, I was quite reluctant to retire a pair of trainers, I was looking forward to running in a pair of new trainers.

New AdrenalinesI’d assumed that my second pair of GTS 16s would be identical to the first pair. After all both pairs of trainers are exactly the same model, width and size, only the colour is different. My assumption was wrong! For some reason my new trainers are really bloody uncomfortable, the support feels non-existent.  My feet have been shredded to pieces and I’ve got blisters in some slightly random places. It looks like I’ll be buying another pair of trainers.

Rave: Long Tall Sally #TALLERANDSTRONGER

While I love Long Tall Sally’s #TALLERANDSTRONGER campaign, I’m slightly gutted that their collaboration with one of my all-time favourite running brands – MPG – was launched after my running gear buying ban had started. Not treating myself to these capri leggings has been really challenging.

Anyway, back to the #TALLERANDSTRONGER campaign.

taller-and-strongerLong Tall Sally’s research showed that 63% of tall women slouch and 76% experience backache. While I don’t really *touches wood* have any issues with my back at the moment, I’ll make sure that I have a look at the ‘groundbreaking videos’ that are designed to target and strengthen tall ‘hotspots’. You never know, the leg workout might help to strengthen my dodgy right knee.

I’m definitely one of the 63% of tall women who have knee pain…

Rant: Niggles

Guess what? After being sensible and reducing my running mileage during November and December, my left foot and right knee niggles have made an unwelcome reappearance. I’m blaming the safety boots I had to wear at work. At the end of every shift, my foot and knee were more painful than at the end of the Great Birmingham Run.

After one eight hour shift, my left foot was so sore I thought I’d somehow managed to fracture another metatarsal. Hopefully, now that I’ve binned the safety boots, my foot and knee will start to recover. I don’t want to spend another lengthy period of time sitting on the virtual injury bench.

If you’ve reached the end of my latest random selection of rants, raves and moans then I’m impressed.

Apologies for the really, really random blog, hopefully my next post will be slightly more positive.

15 reasons I am a rubbish blogger

A recent glut of review posts made me feel I was the only running blogger not asked to review a pair of trainers for Millet Sports. After spending a few minutes feeling sorry for myself, I realised that although I’ve been blogging intermittently since March 2013, I’m still a rubbish blogger.

I am a rubbish blogger because…

1. I don’t have a blogging schedule or planner. Seriously, what on earth is a blogging planner? Is it just a standard diary with ‘Blogging Planner’ embossed on the front cover in gold letters? I’ve already got a standard diary and a running log. Do I even need a blogging planner?

2. I’m an inconsistent blogger. Some months I’ll write 2-3 blogs a week, other months I’ll hit a blogging slump and my blog will gather virtual dust. Apparently readers like regular updates; personally I prefer quality over quantity.

3. Apparently my blog statistics etc aren’t great. Serious bloggers are obsessed with their blog and social media statistics. My blog averages about 100 page views a day. I couldn’t give a toss if someone unfollows me on Instagram. My Facebook page is followed by the not so grand total of 18 people. After almost 12 months this is quite frankly, rubbish!

4. My website design and layout is crap. I look at other people’s blogs and think that they look really professional. I look at my own blog and think it looks crap. Perhaps one of my New Year’s blogging resolutions should have been to update the layout of my blog?

the-phd-runnerNot the most professional looking blog in the world…

5. My blog name is out of date. I completed my PhD ages ago so I should really update the name of my blog from ‘The PhD Runner’ to something slightly more relevant. I’ve been umming and ahhing about updating the name of my blog for ages. I’ve even made a list of potential new names e.g. ‘The Brummie Runner’, ‘The Running Academic’, ‘Run Brummie Run’ and ‘The Balanced Brummie’ but that’s as far as I’ve got. To be honest I find the whole idea of renaming and re-branding my blog slightly overwhelming.

6. I live in Birmingham. I receive invites to fitness classes and events in London on an almost daily basis. Great! I’m yet to receive an invite to a class or event in Birmingham. Perhaps there is a perception that people outside of London don’t work out or run? Guess what PRs; there is life outside of the M25!

7. I’ve no idea what SEO, PA and DA are. Although I know what the acronyms are short for, I’ve got no idea what they actually mean. My Domain Authority (DA) is 21 and my Page Authority (PA) is 34. What?

8. I’m rubbish at commenting on other blogs. While I’ll spend ages reading other running blogs, I’m rubbish at commenting and providing feedback. Sorry! I’m determined to comment more on your posts in 2017. However, if you use Disqus, as a WordPress user I’m unable to comment on your blogs. I’ve no idea why.

9. My photos are terrible. Some of the running and fitness bloggers I follow have progressed from selfies to professional looking running action photos. I’m still stuck with the not so awesome combination of terrible selfies, ‘action’ photos taken by my very reluctant friend, and not very flattering race photos. I guess the camera doesn’t lie. At the age of 37 with grey hair and a muffin top, my photogenic days are behind me.

kenyan-hillsAnother slightly out of focus ‘action’ photo…

10. I’m not actually very good at writing. I’ve realised that although I’ve got a PhD, I’m definitely more of a numbers than a words type of person. I’m pretty certain that my old English teacher would award most of my blog posts with a C- grade. Can someone explain the current obsession with ‘gonna’ or ‘wanna’??

11. I don’t read through my posts before hitting publish. My method of publishing a blog post is as follows… Type waffle in Word, copy and paste waffle from Word into a new post, justify waffle, add some photos, write captions for my photos and then hit publish. I never, ever check my blog posts for typos. After accidentally typing brothels instead of boreholes in a report I wrote a few years ago, perhaps I should start?

12. I’m far too outspoken and honest. If I don’t like the way a brand promotes a product on social media, I’m not afraid to speak my mind. A couple of summers ago, several running brands worked with the same smallish group of London-based bloggers. One week these bloggers were promoting one brand of trainers, the following week the same bloggers were promoting a different brand. Confusing. Where did their loyalties lie? Do only 15 runners run in London? No! Why not give other running and fitness bloggers the opportunity to promote your products? I’ve learnt that when it comes to blogging, honesty isn’t always the best policy.

13. I like to test out my products thoroughly before reviewing them. On the rare occasions I’ve been sent products to review, I’ve spent weeks and in some cases months testing out each product. I’ve no idea how anybody can recommend a pair of trainers, running clothes or accessories after only one run? Some PRs don’t like being made to wait months for a product review. Sorry!

14. I hate oversharing my content on social media. To be a successful blogger you have to be willing to share your blog posts multiple times on several social media channels. I’ll generally share my posts once on twitter, Instagram and on Facebook (when I remember) and that’s it. I’m afraid that if I promote the same blog post multiple times I’ll piss people off. Perhaps I need to be brave and to promote my waffle on social media more?

15. I’m socially awkward. And finally and perhaps most importantly, I’m socially awkward. Like really socially awkward. The mere thought of attending a blogging event makes me feel slightly nauseous. Last year this resulted in me turning down invites to the Running Awards and to a couple of other events.

I really must try harder in 2017!

Have I missed anything? What do you think I could do to improve my blog? Please be honest, I won’t be offended.

What do you think makes a ‘good’ blogger? Personally, I prefer good content over professional photos.

NATHAN The Hipster waist belt review

I’ve invested in several running accessories from NATHAN in the past, and I always try to remember to wear the foot lights I bought last year when I run in the dark. As a result, when NATHAN contacted me towards the end of last year to see if I’d like to review their brand new running accessory – The Hipster – I jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, I then got injured and had to delay my product testing and review. Sorry NATHAN!

What is The Hipster?

The Hipster is described by NATHAN as a super-soft step-through belt which incorporates multiple individually separated expandable – so expandable the belt can hold an iPhone 7+ – pockets to keep your items snug and secure. The Hipster belt can be worn at the gym, on a run, and around town. The Hipster is both comfortable and stylish and is designed to stretch to your individual contours.

the-hipster-running-belt[Source]

The Hipster is currently available in four colours; black, cockatoo (light blue), glacier (light grey) and very berry (bright pink) and five sizes ranging from XS (66 cm to 72 cm) to XL (96 cm to 102 cm). My medium glacier-coloured Hipster belt fitted me perfectly before Christmas, now it’s a little snug.

How did I find The Hipster?

I’ve tested out The Hipster belt on several short training runs and have found it really, really comfortable. Although I don’t own an iPhone 7+, my soon to be replaced iPhone 5C fitted easily inside one of the individual pockets, and felt secure while I was running. As an asthmatic I always run with my inhaler when it’s cold. Although my inhaler is quite bulky, I haven’t noticed it sitting inside The Hipster on any of my training runs.

hipster-1Having to breathe in slightly…

The photos I’ve included in this review show me wearing The Hipster belt over my running top. I’ve actually tended to wear the belt underneath my running tops, and haven’t noticed I’m wearing it as the material is really soft and comfortable.

hipster-2Running while not breathing is probably not recommended!

Finally, the most important feature of any running belt has to be its ability to stay put and to not ride-up. I stopped wearing another running belt because it used to bounce around while I was running, really – quite literally – irritating! Although my festive weight gain may have slightly influenced the outcome of this aspect of the review process, I found that The Hipster belt really is bounce-free.

The Verdict

Although I was unable to test out The Hipster belt on a long training run, injury permitting I will be wearing this belt during the Cambridge half marathon. It might contain some energy gels; it will definitely contain my mobile phone and keys. The NATHAN Hipster retails at approximately £25 and is available from all good running stores including Runner’s Need and Sweatshop and The Hipster website.

Do you wear running belts on training runs during races?

What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever carried in a running belt?

**Full disclosure: I was sent The Hipster running belt for free in return for an honest review. As always, all opinions of the product and dodgy photographs are my own**

My running goals for 2017

Firstly, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year! I hope that you all had a great Christmas and New Year. Here’s to an awesome and hopefully injury-free 2017.

As – like loads of other runners – I’ve already reviewed 2016 in far too much detail  – I think it’s time for me to look ahead to the New Year and to set some goals for 2017.

Although I managed to achieve most of my 2016 running goals, I still eat far too much crap food and tend to ignore the strength and conditioning ‘personal action plan’ I was given 12 months ago. Therefore, if I had to award myself an overall grade for 2016 it would be a ‘B-‘.

I’ve decided to set myself some challenging but hopefully achievable running goals for 2017. Although I love writing out resolutions and goals, I wasn’t originally going to share them. However, as previously putting my running goals into writing appeared to motivate me to get off my arse, I decided to publish this post.

training-journalsPerhaps one of my goals should have been to take better photos…

Enough waffling, here are my running goals for the year ahead…

Run 700 miles – When I first drafted out my running goals I wanted to run 1000 miles this year. However, last year I only ran 700 kilometres or approximately 435 miles. As a result I’ve been sensible and have adjusted my annual mileage target, so that this year I’d like to run 700 miles, still quite an increase on my 2016 mileage. I’ve worked out that I will need to run approximately 58 miles a month or 2 miles a day.

Complete 10 parkruns and 10 races – I set myself the same goal last year and failed miserably. Last week I worked out that due to several ‘DNS’ and a ‘DNF’ I only managed to complete three parkruns and a handful of local races. As I currently have to rely on unreliable friends and public transport to travel to races, I suspect that I’ll find this goal more challenging than it probably should be.

A sub 8 minute mile – my current mile PB of 9:09 is from 2012 when I hobbled around an indoor athletics track with tight bends with a leg injury. I’d like to lower this time at some point this year, hopefully at the Westminster Mile in May.

A Sub 25 minute 5k – I set my current 5k PB of 26:49 last February. If I fail to run a sub 25 minute 5k at some point during 2017 I will retire from running. That is a promise.

parkrun-pbI want to receive a few more ‘Congratulations on setting a new Personal Best’ emails this year

A Sub 55 minute 10k – After it took me several attempts to run a sub 60 minute 10k last year, I suspect that I will find this particular goal the most challenging. I’ve already entered the hopefully flat and fast London 10,000, and will do my best to set out at a sensible pace at the end of May.

A Sub 2:20 half marathon – now that I’ve finally rediscovered my running mojo, training for the Cambridge Half in March is going well. The mistakes I made during the Great Birmingham Run taught me how not to pace a half marathon. I’d love to achieve this particular running goal in March.

Listen to my niggles – I’ve reached the conclusion that I’m quite an injury-prone runner… Some runners hardly even seem to pick up injuries; I’m definitely not one of those runners. As I don’t want to spend another extended period sulking on the injury bench, I’m going to listen to my niggles this year.

Join a new running club – This is quite a tricky one as there is nothing wrong with my current running club, I’m just far too slow to attend the training sessions at the moment. I also have no idea where I’ll be living and working in six months time. Although I’ve researched alternative local running clubs, I’ll probably become an ‘unattached’ runner for the first time in a decade at the end of March.

Be slightly more sociable – At the moment I tend to run on my own and I’ve turned into a bit of a running recluse. This year I’m determined to overcome my anxiety and to attend more social runs. I’m also planning on pushing myself out of my comfort zone by volunteering at a range of local events.

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – I set myself the same goal 12 months ago and failed spectacularly! Last month I sorted through all of my running gear, worked out exactly what bits and pieces of essential running gear I needed to replace and then bought what I needed in the sales. While I’m still on the hunt for a couple of sports bras, I don’t need to buy anything else.  

🙂

Have you set yourself any running goals for 2017? While some of these goals are quite challenging, I hope that they are all achievable…

Are you a member of a running club? If you are, how often do you attend club training sessions? There are now so many different social running groups, I’m starting to question if I actually need to join another running club.

2016 review: running highlights & lessons learned

As 2016 is nearly over, I’ve decided to write a review of my running highlights and lessons learned throughout the year. If you don’t enjoy reading review posts then please leave my blog now, I promise that I won’t be offended. I’m nosey and really, really enjoy reading about other runner’s progress, so please do get writing and sharing.

January

Following a slightly disappointing 2015 – stupid injuries – at the start of January I was working my way through the Couch to 5k training plan. I was also nursing a slightly niggly right knee. Rather unexpectedly I equalled my parkrun PB of 27:33 at my local parkrun – Walsall Arboretum – towards the end of the month. I still have no idea where that sub-30 minute time came from. However, the main running highlight of January was winning a place in the London Marathon. While I knew that whatever happened in April I would complete the marathon distance, I quickly discovered that I lacked both the mileage base and fitness required to run long distances. I decided to adopt a run-walk-run training strategy.

February

February was a mixed month. Although I successfully completed the Couch to 5k training plan and achieved a parkrun PB of 26:49, a foot niggle meant that my marathon training was extremely limited.

walsall-parkrun-pbHeading towards a parkrun PB

Once again I was reminded that my left foot and right knee could not cope with running longer distances. I started to feel concerned that any attempt to complete the London Marathon would cause another long-term injury. While I was unable to run, I did my best to maintain my fitness levels by swimming five days a week in preparation for Swimathon.

March 

The swimming, break from running and expensive physio sessions seemed to temporarily cure my knee niggle, and I was able to successfully complete 10 and 11 mile training runs at the beginning of the month. Although I missed the Mash March Madness 10k trail run in Cannock Chase due to a lack of transport, a week later I completed the 7 Pools Run, a challenging cross country run in Sutton Park, without taking a walking break. Unfortunately, I ended March with elbow and knee injuries. Evidently running a challenging 10k cross country event wasn’t very sensible. At the grand old age of 36, I was finally starting to fall to pieces. I accepted that the London Marathon would be a painful and not very positive race experience.

April 

The main focus of April was the London Marathon. My niggly left foot and right knee meant that my training in the lead up to the marathon was virtually nonexistent. Not ideal. Some mornings my niggles disappeared, other mornings I woke up and was barely able to walk. I started to suspect that the ‘niggles’ were all in my mind. Despite my negativity and lack of training, I somehow managed to complete the marathon distance.

london-marathon-selfieOne of my more successful running selfie attempts

I made the fatal error of thinking I could keep up with the Runner’s World ‘run-walk-run’ pacer. I managed to power walk and run to the half-way point. Shortly after running across Tower Bridge – the atmosphere was bloody amazing – I was clipped from behind and jarred my injury-prone right knee. The second half of the marathon was miserable, cold and painful, and as I hobbled towards the finish line in the less than impressive time of 5 hours 59 minutes and 45 seconds, I accepted that my marathon running days were over. I shared my honest review of the London Marathon on social media and the subsequent surge in traffic temporarily broke my blog.

May 

A week after the London Marathon I felt ready to run again. I guess that walking the majority of the 26.2 miles had some advantages… Not following a training plan for the first time in 2016 was great, and in an attempt to rediscover my running mojo I decided to focus on running shorter distances.

hill-west-runPosing with the smallest medal in the world after completing the Hill West 10k

The highlights of May were running consistently and completing the Hill West 10k in the not too shabby time of 62:18. I met Matt for the first time; it was great to put a face to the twitter name! Looking back, if I ignore the fact I celebrated (?) my 37th birthday, May was a great month.

June

June was a month of running ups and downs. At the start of the month I had a really enjoyable 8.5 mile run around Sutton Coldfield, and completed the Great Midlands Fun Run in a respectable (for me) time. When the official results were published I discovered that I’d somehow knocked 30 minutes off my 2015 time! Unfortunately, due to a slightly forgetful friend I didn’t make it to the start line of the Aldridge 10k and wasted more money on race entry fees. The following Saturday evening I enjoyed a few too many beers, and the next morning had to drop out of the Race for Life at the end of the first lap. Recording my first ever ‘DNF’ made me briefly question my commitment to running.

July

July saw the start of my Great Birmingham Run training and my progression towards feeling more like a ‘real’ runner; the walking breaks were finally eliminated from my training runs! I decided to write weekly Great Birmingham Run training updates – apologies if I bored you to tears – in an attempt to make myself more accountable. Although I didn’t complete any organised races during July, I successfully negotiated the first few weeks of my half marathon training and managed to remain injury free.

August 

My half marathon training continued and I somehow managed to run continuously for over an hour. Both my fitness and my confidence levels were increasing, the half marathon training plan was working. I discovered my love of early morning, and will never forget watching the sunrise during some of my long Sunday morning runs.

parkrun-20-08-2016I’d probably run faster if I actually opened my eyes…

Although I didn’t enter any official races, I finally made it back to Walsall Arboretum parkrun and completed the 5k distance in 28:05. Although I enjoyed running with others, I had got used to my early morning runs and running at my own pace. All in all, August was great!

September 

At the start of the month I completed the more challenging than I had remembered Lichfield 10k. Although I finally managed to bag myself a sub-60 minute 10k, I ran like a plonker and was reminded of the importance of running my own race at my own pace.

lichfield-10kBefore the wheels fell off at the Lichfield 10k

My half marathon training progressed well and I found running for almost two hours both enjoyable and relatively easy. I set out a series of gold, silver and bronze half marathon time goals, and after running 130 kilometres during September, looked forward to the start of my half marathon taper.

October 

One event – the Great Birmingham Run – dominated my thoughts and training during the first half of October. I successfully completed a two hour training run and then caught Freshers’ Flu. Fortunately, my dose of the lurgy coincided with the beginning of my half marathon taper, and I felt more or less fully recovered as I stood shivering in the rain waiting for the Great Birmingham Run to start. The race itself didn’t exactly go to plan… I set out far too fast, ran out of steam at 8 miles, walked more than I ran, was unable to run down any of the numerous hills and hobbled across the finish line in tears.

great-birmingham-runRun a half marathon they said, it will be fun they said…

The highlight of the day was bumping into Matt in the chaos at the finish and getting a lift home. Matt’s kindness meant that I avoided travelling home on an overcrowded train. Thanks again Matt. I got home, had a shower, ate three packets of crisps, drank far too much Diet Coke, sulked and wrote a detailed race review. I sulked some more, reflected on what went wrong, hid my trainers and made myself take a break from running. A couple of weeks later I entered the Cambridge Half Marathon. Cambridge has to be less undulating and more knee friendly than Birmingham.

November

Although November has always been my least favourite month – I’m not a fan of the dark afternoons and evenings – I was determined to adopt a positive attitude. After finally drawing a line under the Great Birmingham Run, I was looking forward to getting back into some sort of routine and starting my Cambridge Half training. I completed a short run at the start of the month and felt like I could have carried on running for hours. Unfortunately, later on that day I started to feel unwell and the toilet became my best friend. Thanks to norovirus I was unable to run for a couple of weeks due to a complete lack of energy, the Birmingham MoRun was yet another ‘DNS’. At least I started my Cambridge Half marathon training feeling very well rested and niggle-free!

December

I’ve just worked out that I’ve run the not so impressive total of 5 kilometres so far during December. The combination of a niggly right knee, the lurgy and working 40+ hours a week in retail has resulted in me completely losing my running mojo. I’ve treated myself to colourful running gear I don’t really need, entered a couple of 10k races, looked at my medals from this year and charged my Garmin. For some reason I just don’t want to run at the moment. I’m starting to think that I should listen to my body and hide my trainers for the remainder of the year.

Perhaps it’s time for me to think about my running goals for 2017? One should be to reduce the amount of times I wear purple running gear.

monthly-distancePerhaps I should just ignore November and December!?

After all, if I ignore the last couple of months, 2016 has been my most consistent year of running in almost a decade. According to Strava I’ve run exactly 700 kilometres during the year, I’ve decided I quite like the number 700.

Do you have any running or health and fitness goals for 2017? At the moment my running goals are to run more consistently, to manage my knee and foot niggles and to hopefully run 1000 miles. As for health and fitness goals, I’m planning on cutting down on the amount of Diet Coke I consume.

Finally, a slightly random question… do you have a favourite colour? Purple isn’t actually my favourite colour!

Christmas gifts for runners

As usual, I’ve left the vast majority of my Christmas shopping until the last minute. Although I’ve bought some amazing presents for my niece and nephew – sometimes I wish that I was six again – I’ve no idea what to get the rest of my family. My temporary Christmas job means that, once again, I’ll be praying that all of my internet purchases arrive before December 25th!

While I think that certain members of my family are virtually impossible to buy for – Paul I’m looking at you – I like to think that I’m really easy to buy gifts for. However, following yet another “what would you like for Christmas?” conversation, I’ve realised that my technique of dropping not so subtle hints during the last couple of months has failed this year.

As a result I’ve decided to be slightly less subtle. My family read and subscribe to this blog *waves* so hopefully they’ll read this post. I’ve even included pictures and links to each item to save my family time 😉

christmas-2016

1. Injinji Spectrum trail socks I know that socks aren’t exactly the most exciting Christmas present, but as my feet have turned into sock shredders, I now never seem to have enough pairs of running socks. Injinji socks are quite expensive and are probably too good for this plodder, but I think it’s time for me to invest in some hopefully more durable running socks. The colourful and quirky designs are just an added bonus.

2. Leadership in Running Fitness course I was booked onto a Leadership in Running Fitness course at the start of the year, but unfortunately my funding from Run Birmingham didn’t materialise. Although I’m an affiliated athlete, the one-day course is still quite expensive, so any contributions towards the cost would be awesome.

3. Entry into the Vitality London 10,000 I’ve included this slightly random gift because the London 10,000 is one of my favourite races. I’m pretty sure that most runners would love to receive entry into one of their favourite races as a Christmas gift.

4. Lululemon Circuit Breaker skirt (Tall) I know that I complained about the quality of the Lululemon running t-shirt I bought, but their running skirts are really comfortable. I’ve included the link to the Circuit Breaker skirt which currently costs £52. If you do treat me to a Lululemon running skirt, please, please make sure that you select the ‘Tall’ option. I don’t want to be exposing my wobbly arse to people when I’m out running.

5. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17 trainers As a runner, I’ve decided that it’s actually impossible to own too many pairs of trainers. I’m currently pounding the pavements of Four Oaks in a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16s but would love to test out the Adrenaline GTS 17s.

6. Shock Absorber Run sports bra I’ve got a huge confession to make… I’ve been wearing the same four sports bras for over three years. It’s probably time to treat my boobs to some decent support.

7. Oiselle Rundies I originally blogged about these awesome running themed knickers back in 2014. Hopefully someone I know will be visiting Canada in 2017…

8. Fitbit Surge The final item on my Christmas gift guide is the Fitbit Surge. A runner can always dream…

Have you asked for any running or fitness related gifts for Christmas this year?