Book Review: Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success by Renee McGregor

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. The weather was amazing. Although I don’t want my blog to become a series of product reviews, I decided that as my Running Science book review was quite well received, I would review some of the books I’ve found particularly useful.

I decided to start with a quick(ish) review of Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success written by Renee McGregor. Renee is a registered dietician and is one of the UK’s top sports nutritionists, advising athletes from amateur to Olympic levels. As a result, Renee ensures that all the advice she shares is evidence based i.e. there has been reliable research around the subject, to make claims both accurate and credible.

Front cover

Back cover

Fast Fuel: Food for Running is for runners of all levels who want to:

  • Achieve their performance goals whether that’s improving their weekly parkrun time, bettering their personal best in the marathon, or venturing into ultra-marathons.
  • Stick to a training plan while also trying to earn a living and juggle other commitments.
  • Improve their knowledge of nutrition because it debunks some of the most common myths.
  • Increase their confidence by knowing that they are eating the correct foods to fuel their body and to maximise their training, without over-reaching and potentially risking illness or injury.

The book is divided into two main sections. The first is broken down into three chapters; (1) Fuelling basics, (2) Training – the road to victory and (3) Fine-tuning your body, and provides a practical, easy-to-follow, step-by-step, scientific introduction to sports nutrition. The second contains an extensive selection of simple but mouth-watering recipes and is broken down into recipes for; healthy breakfasts, light meals, main meals, snacks and portables, and finally, desserts.

Once again, rather than attempting to review the entire book, I decided to highlight the sections I found particularly interesting in the first three chapters. I’ve included photographs with this review to illustrate how easy to follow and well laid out the book is.

Chapter 1: Fuelling Basics

“Chapter 1 is a practical guide to what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. We also look at how your body metabolizes food into fuel, and how it can adapt to provide fuel for different levels of training intensity”

I found that in order to take in all the information, I had to read through Chapter 1 a couple of times. Although I found the sections on carbohydrates, protein and fat really informative, the section of supplements was particularly enlightening.

Supplements

The book provides a selection of ‘real food’ alternatives to sports drinks, energy gels, protein shakes and sports bars. After my next run I’ll definitely attempt to create my own, much cheaper sports drink. Chapter 1 also looks at special dietary considerations, recovery nutrition, metabolism and racing weight.

Chapter 2: Training – The Road to Victory

“Chapter 2 shows the different fuelling requirements for different distances and training intensities and how making the right nutritional choices will benefit you. This section also includes sample menus plans, using the recipes from this book to demonstrate practically how to choose appropriate food”

As a runner in urgent need of a refresher in what actually comprises a sensible training plan, I found the ‘Planning your training week’ section really useful.

Planning training

Looking back, I suspect that last year I was inadvertently completing all of my training sessions at a moderate to high level of intensity. I got my pre- and post-run fuelling totally wrong and was eating far too much carbohydrate. After ‘digesting’ the contents of Chapter 2, I’m now impressed that I (a) didn’t put on more weight and (b) didn’t get injured while I was training for the Great Birmingham Run.

Chapter 3: Fine-Tuning your Body

“Chapter 3 highlights the importance of maintaining the well-oiled machine we call our body; it looks at issues relating the injury, illness and over-reaching and demonstrates how the right nutrition can combat these potential problems”

When I bought Fast Fuel, I headed straight to the sections on injury prevention and nutrition for sore, tired or injured bodies.

Injury prevention

The author points out that although being injured is very frustrating – this is an understatement – it is also a good time to reflect and to work out how you can reduce your risk of the same injury occurring again. Reading the book has made me realise just how much I need to improve my diet. I now suspect that my poor diet contributed to my foot injury. The third chapter also includes a thought-provoking section; ‘Have you lost your running mojo?’

As I believe that at some stage, nearly every runner experiences a loss of running mojo, I’ll dedicate a blog post to the subject.

Food, glorious food – Examples of light and main meals

Although my nut allergy unfortunately meant that I had to discount several recipes in Fast Fuel, I was still left with a decent number of light and main meals to choose from. While I obviously can’t share the exact recipes, I decided to list the meals I’ll be attempting to create over the next few weeks. If you’re really unlucky, I might share my thoughts in a future post.

  • Half and Half Chilli con Carne I’m a fan of ‘normal’ Chilli con Carne so thought this recipe looked intriguing. The recipe halves the amount of beef and replaces it with lentils.
  • Punjabi-Style Aloo Sabsi I picked this recipe simply because I want to try some completely new (to me!) food.
  • Roasted Vegetable and Mozzarella Bruschetta I tend to opt for bruschetta as a starter when I eat out, so I thought I’d see if I could make my own. With a preparation time of only five minutes, nothing can possibly go wrong…
  • Sausage Casserole I love sausages. I also enjoy making casseroles so, when the weather cools down, a sausage casserole sounds like a win-win.
  • Tangy Chicken Stir-Fry I’ve got a culinary confession; I’ve never made a stir-fry from scratch. Fingers crossed I manage to cook the chicken to perfection and don’t burn the vegetables.

If I disappear from twitter for a prolonged period of time, then it is highly likely one of these recipes didn’t quite go to plan.

The Verdict

I found Fast Fuel easy-to-read and I thought that the book was laid out in a logical way, with each chapter building on the previous chapter. If you are a runner who is interested in finding out more about how nutrition can aid your running performance, then this is quite possibly the perfect book for you. If you are a runner with a more advanced understanding of sports nutrition, then I suspect that Fast Fuel may be slightly too basic for you.

Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success is published by Nourish Books and has a RRP of £9.99 and is available from all major bookstores.

**Full disclosure: I bought Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success myself. I was not asked to review the book, but decided to share my honest thoughts on a book I found useful as a runner**

My healthy kitchen ready meal review

Although I’ve been trying to be slightly more adventurous in the kitchen recently, I still seem to end up preparing and cooking the same meals.

It’s probably a good job I live alone as I don’t think many people would tolerate eating pasta several times a week. As you can imagine I was pretty pleased when I received an email inviting me to review a selection of healthy ready meals produced by a brand I hadn’t come across before called my healthy kitchen (myhk).

MYHK Collage

Last week a friendly gentleman in a refrigerated van appeared at my front door carrying a box containing food. Happy days! When I looked inside the box I saw that I’d been sent three myhk ready meals to try; Chicken Paella, Prawn Katsu and Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto. At this stage I’ll admit that I had no idea what one of the meals – Prawn Katsu – would taste like.

What is my healthy kitchen (myhk)?

My healthy kitchen (myhk) was launched earlier this year with the aim of providing speedy, wholesome meals that don’t compromise on taste or goodness.

In an ideal world, we’d all have a fresh, home-cooked dinner every single night. But who has the time?

When it comes to quick, healthier options, you might feel like it’s a choice between bland, low-calorie ready meals and boring salads. But at my healthy kitchen, we don’t think you should have to compromise on taste or goodness when you need a speedy meal. [Source]

At the moment, there are six myhk ready meals available, each inspired by global flavours: Moroccan Prawn; Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Risotto; Oriental Chicken; Chicken Paella; Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto; and Prawn Katsu.

Each meal aims to be as wholesome and tasty as something you’d cook from scratch, contains less than 500 calories and is made with healthy ingredients with no artificial flavours, preservatives or colours. In addition, each meal offers at least one nutritional benefit, whether it’s low in fat, saturated fat, or salt, is a source of protein or fibre, or contains one (or more!) of your five a day.

What can my healthy kitchen (myhk) ready meals be used for?

If you are in a rush and are looking for something fast, filling, and full of flavour to eat!!

The review process

As I have a nut allergy, I checked that none of the ready meals I’d been sent contained nuts. Fortunately none of the ready meals prepared by myhk contain nuts, so I was safe, phew!

Once I’d established I could actually eat the ready meals, the preparation and review process was quick and easy. Detailed, specific cooking instructions were provided with each ready meal, and as with most ready meals, all I had to do was remove the cardboard packaging, pierce the film lid, and cook the meal in the microwave for approximately three and a half to four minutes.

When I was satisfied that each ready meal was ready to eat, I got down to what I hoped would be the best part of the review process, actually eating the food!

The Verdict

I’ll start with a confession. Although I took a couple of photos of each ready meal before I put it in the microwave, once the food hit my plate I didn’t want to waste time trying to take arty food photos! It’s a good job I’m not a food blogger.

I’ve decided to give my thoughts on each of the three ready meals I was sent separately. I’ve also included information on the ingredients and nutrition information for each meal.

Chicken Paella

myhk says: Our take on the Valencian classic is simple but tasty, cooked with tender roasted chicken breast, beautifully smoky chorizo, sweet Piquillo peppers, peas, Arborio rice and sundried tomato purée.

Chicken PaellaAlthough the Chicken Paella smelt amazing when I removed it from the microwave, it tasted quite bland, and in my opinion was the least enjoyable of the myhk ready meals I was sent to review. While the roasted chicken breast was tender, I didn’t think the smoky chorizo was very tasty. I didn’t find the Chicken Paella very filling and less than an hour after my meal I felt hungry again.

Prawn Katsu

myhk says: Made with aromatic star anise, fennel, fenugreek, and coriander seeds, our irresistibly tasty katsu sauce has a spicy kick. It works perfectly with the flavours of the juicy king prawns, picked carrot, and jasmine rice.

Prawn KatsuI’ll keep my review simple; I absolutely loved the Prawn Katsu! As an added bonus I found the Prawn Katsu really filling, and didn’t find myself searching for more food an hour later.

Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto

myhk says: We make this vegetarian risotto with Arborio rice and quinoa crushed pea and fresh mint pesto, pickled red cabbage, rocket, and a creamy onion sauce.

Pea Mint Rocket RisottoAs I’m not a huge fan of picked red cabbage, I was a little concerned I’d find the Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto slightly too adventurous for my unsophisticated taste buds. Happily, I was proven wrong, and I absolutely loved the Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto.

All in all, I really enjoyed the three myhk ready meals I reviewed. Although I found the Chicken Paella a little bland, I would definitely purchase the Prawn Katsu and the Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto ready meals if I saw them on sale in my local supermarket. Now that I’ve discovered I enjoy spicy food, I might be slightly more adventurous in the kitchen…

With a RRP of £3.95, my healthy kitchen meals are available on Amazon Fresh and Ocado, and in Waitrose stores nationwide. 

**Full disclosure: I was sent a selection of three myhk ready meals for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review and as always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

Rants and raves #14

**Disclaimer: I’m sharing my latest random selection of rants and raves after drinking slightly too much Malibu. I’ve been told that I’m far too honest when I’ve had a couple of drinks. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Tuesday! I hope that everyone had a great Bank Holiday weekend. I can’t believe it’s almost June, whatever happened to May?

Rave: Running

As I’ve spent months complaining about my inability to run, I thought I should probably start my latest selection of rants and raves with a rave. My right heel is feeling so much better *touch wood* I can run again. Although I’m still completing the majority of my runs without my Garmin, I’m now able to run three times a week.

Following on from my last rants and raves post I had to fork out £35 to enter the Great Birmingham Run In order to get my £55 Birmingham International Marathon entry fee refunded. I’m quietly confident I’ll be able to complete the half marathon in October. If I’m injured again then at least I’ve ‘only’ wasted £35 on race entry fees and not £55…

Hopefully the local trains will be running slightly earlier on the morning of the race this year.

Rant: Trains

While on the subject of trains, anyone who follows me on twitter will be aware that I tweet about my train related woes on a regular basis. My personal train travel ‘highlights’ so far this year have included being stuck just outside Birmingham International station for two hours without any information, delays and cancellations due to unexploded bombs and overhead line damage, witnessing fights and drug dealing, phone calls lasting two hours and my least favourite; people vomiting all over the place.Train DelayJust a slightly delayed journey back to Birmingham.

At least Virgin trains have really, really effective air conditioning. It’s just a shame their trains make me feel really travel sick because they smell like a sewage treatment works on wheels.

Rave: The weather

As I’m writing this it’s a typical wet and gloomy Bank Holiday Monday morning. I’m hoping that summer 2017 hasn’t already been and gone, but how awesome was the summery weather we had last week? I’ve just checked out the weather forecast for Four Oaks and it looks like we will get to enjoy a combination of light rain and heavy thundery showers.

Bank Holiday weatherTypical Bank Holiday Monday weather!

Fortunately, the weather for the remainder of the week looks slightly more positive.

Rant: My inability to drink in moderation

On Thursday I travelled down to London to meet up with someone I hadn’t seen for ages for “a quick drink” and a bite to eat. Four hours, several pints, half a bottle of red wine an Italian meal (I can’t remember what I ate…) and a shot of Limoncello(?) later I was feeling slightly inebriated. For some reason I decided to take several photos of the local architecture, so much for drunken selfies.

Drunken photosI have zero interest in architecture so have no idea why I took these photos.

My “I’m never drinking again” vow on Friday morning clearly didn’t last very long as I spent Sunday evening working my way through the bottle of Malibu my brother bought me for my birthday. Cheers Paul!

Rave: My bargain MPG leggings

Whenever I’m in Sutton Coldfield, I always end up calling into TK Maxx to check out the Activewear. Although I tend to leave empty-handed, I got my friend to treat me to a pair of these  Mondetta tights for my birthday.

Mondetta tightsUnfortunately it was too wet to get a photo of me posing in my new running tights. 

They are easily the most comfortable pair of running tights I’ve worn.

Rant: My diet

After keeping a detailed food diary for a few weeks, it’s clear that I urgently need to improve my diet. I rarely eat enough portions of fruit and vegetables and I eat far too much junk food. I treated myself to a couple of Renee McGregor’s books last year; it’s about time I actually read them!

Rave: Nuun mixology

I was going to have a rant about the BBQ my new neighbours had on Saturday – smelling the BBQ food was torture – but I decided to include a short bonus rave. My mobile has been playing up so much recently; I’ve transferred all of the photos from my phone onto my computer. In among all the random photos I found this article on Nuun mixology.Nuun Mixology

Apologies for the rubbish quality of the article, I found more information here and here.

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

Did you have an enjoyable Bank Holiday weekend? Hopefully the weather was better than it was here in Sutton Coldfield.

Do you ever run without your GPS? Hopefully I’m not the only ‘naked’ runner out there!

Rants and raves #13

**Disclaimer: Now that I’m able to run again, I’m feeling quite chirpy so the raves should outnumber the rants. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Thursday! I hope that everyone has had a great week so far. It’s nearly the weekend.

Rave: Lululemon Sole training shorts

A slightly indulgent rave to start with but I have fallen in love with my Lululemon Sole training shorts. Yes they were expensive and yes I could have bought several cheaper pairs of shorts for the same price. They were a birthday present and I do think it’s important to occasionally treat yourself…

The shorts feel really, really comfortable (hopefully I don’t lose too much weight too soon…), have loads of pockets to stash stuff and most importantly don’t ride up or cause the dreaded ‘chub rub’.

Rant: Sudden calf cramps

Picture the scene. You’re lying on the top of your bed, chilling out reading a book and relaxing when suddenly your calf goes into spasm. You know that the second you move the pain will intensify a bazillion times so you are kind of stuck in a painful predicament. It’s definitely a no-win situation.

This was me on Tuesday evening. One minute I was chilling reading the last chapter of Keep on Running the next I was rolling around clutching my left calf. I guess it was some sort of karma for me being lazy and lying on my bed reading rather than doing the washing-up.

My calf still feels a bit bruised now.

Rave: Chocolate éclairs

Now that I’m able to run again I’m trying to eat less rubbish and more ‘real’ food, I’m also trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot for chocolate éclairs.EclairI’ve tried a few different éclairs, but my favourites are the £1.00 éclairs from the fresh cake/bakery section in Sainsbury’s. Luckily for my waist and wallet they have usually sold out by the time I get to Sainsbury’s, but the other day I managed to snaffle the last one.

Rant: Noisy birds

I like the lighter mornings and the warmer weather. I dislike the birds – I think they are starlings but I’m not sure – currently living directly above my bedroom window. The baby starlings are seriously noisy and start demanding food the second it gets light.  I actually feel sorry for the parents, talk about constant pressure.

To add insult to injury, the starlings somehow managed to activate my house alarm at 05:30 on Sunday. I rarely get to sleep before midnight, so these early morning mini feathered alarm clocks are making me even crankier than usual.

Maybe I should borrow one of my mother’s cats…

Rave: Hydrologists cartoon thingy

When people discover that I’m a hydrologist, they usually know that my research has something to do with water, but don’t understand what I actually do. Neither do I 😉

One of my hydrologist friends sent me this hydrologists cartoon thingy. The hammock picture needs swapping to a picture of a riverside pub, the rest is pretty accurate.HydrologistMy research is actually quite tedious and involves a lot of reading, a lot of number crunching and some drought modelling. I very rarely get to go near an actual river.

Rant: DNS’ing races

I know that I’ve had this one before but the DNS’ing of races continues. I missed the Market Drayton 10k on Sunday and suspect that the Vitality London 10,000 will be another DNS.DNSingHopefully *fingers crossed* Great Run will allow me to ‘downgrade’ from the Birmingham International Marathon to the Great Birmingham Run.

[Update]: this seems a slightly long-winded way of doing things…

“Yes you can change to another distance if you wish, all you need to do is register and pay to secure your place in that new preferred event and let us know when you have done so. We can then withdraw/refund your original entry…”

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

How much sleep do you get during the week? I’m thinking that my 5-6 hours a night isn’t enough.

If you were given £100 would you spend it on a couple of items from Lululemon, or on loads of bits and pieces from somewhere like TK Maxx? I think I’d spend my £100 on a couple of more expensive pairs of shorts.

Rants and raves #11

**Disclaimer: this post was written while the author was experiencing heel pain and race 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 while since I wrote my last Rants and raves post. Now that it’s April and I’m still injured, I feel the need to have a rant. As always I’ll start with rave.

Rave: Diet Coke

I think I’ve mentioned my slight Diet Coke addiction several times in my blog before. I recently realised my addiction was getting out of control when I looked inside my recycling bin and estimated that most of my recycling was Diet Coke cans. I would buy a multipack of Diet Coke – for some reason it had to be cans – and during an average day would easily drink 5-6 cans.

A few years ago I managed to stop drinking Diet Coke for six months; I can’t remember what made me break my Diet Coke ban, but I was soon drinking 5-6 cans a day. I decided to give up drinking Diet Coke and eating chocolate for Lent. The chocolate ‘ban’ lasted two days; when I see a bar of Dairy Milk I have zero willpower. I’m pleased to report I haven’t been near a can of Diet Coke since March 1st. I found breaking my Diet Coke drinking addiction so easy I suspect that it was more an obsession than a ‘proper’ addiction. It’s just a shame I’m now drinking a lot more tea.

Rant: My lack of self-control

I’m now going to contradict myself. While I found breaking my Diet Coke addiction quite straightforward, I wish the same could be said for my eating habits. Since I’ve been injured my eating habits have been poor. I’ve been treating myself to takeaways several times a week and eating far too much junk food. As a result I’ve gained a fair amount of weight since the start of the year. I’ve always had a slightly iffy relationship with food. I‘m an emotional eater and when I feel rubbish I seem to eat rubbish.BMIMost runners seem to lose weight, I’m the opposite. 

I know there are some limitations in using the body mass index (BMI) but I find it a useful guide. Although my BMI currently sits within the ‘healthy weight’ range, I’d like it to sit slightly nearer the middle of the range.

Rave: Tall ranges

There’s another slightly fickle reason I’d like to lose weight; summer.

I’ve never been a particularly girly girl; I blame my height and the lack of clothes for ‘tall’ women when I was growing up. As a teenager, I’d spend far too much time mooching about with my friends in Miss Selfridge, Topshop, C&A and New Look. While my friends had a great time trying on loads of clothes, I would spend my time wishing I was shorter as nothing ever fitted. My options were limited to Long Tall Sally and other expensive brands, so when I wasn’t wearing my school uniform or riding gear, I lived in jeans and checked shirts. The mid 90s were awesome…DP Tall dressesA selection of three of the summery dresses available in the Dorothy Perkins tall range.

Fast forward 20 or so years and more and more high street stores now have dedicated tall ranges. Although I’d rather have been looking at running gear, last night I spent ages looking at ‘tall’ summery dresses on Dorothy Perkins, Long Tall Sally, New Look, GAP and Next. I’ve finally accepted that I’m too old for Topshop. It was great as for the first time ever I actually felt slightly overwhelmed as there were so many dresses to choose from.

Rant: Plantar Fasciitis and DNS’ing races

I’m still injured and haven’t been for a run since Tuesday February 6th. The Cambridge Half Marathon, the Seven Pools Run and the City of Birmingham 10k have all been marked down in my running diary as ‘DNS’. While I’m sure I’ll be writing ‘DNS’ next to a few more races, my heel is gradually getting better and I’m confident I’ll be running again fairly soon.

Rant: Unworn running kit

Apologies for having two consecutive rants, but as this one is directly linked to my rant about my injury woes I thought I’d get away with it! Like virtually every runner I know I love shopping for new running kit. My injury means that the running kit I was bought for Christmas is as yet unworn, and in some cases is still waiting to be unwrapped.Christmas clothesThis is possibly the most upsetting photo I’ll ever share on my blog.

I’m just thankful something made me opt for a pre-Christmas shopping spree in Long Tall Sally rather than in Niketown. Perhaps subconsciously I knew I was about to pick up an injury.

Rave: The National Running Show

And finally, some positive news. The organisers of the National Running Show are currently recruiting Ambassadors. I applied and was accepted. I’m just waiting to receive a few more details, but it would be great to see some of you in Birmingham next January.

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

Huge apologies for another rather random blog, hopefully my next post will be slightly more positive.

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.

Red Kooga Natural Energy Release review

As you know I’ve been training for the Great Birmingham Run since the end of June. The combination of warm evenings and light mornings has meant that I’ve also been struggling to sleep. As a result of my limited sleep and increased training I’ve been feeling really tired after lunch – not ideal for my afternoon productivity.

When I received an email in June asking me if I would like to review a new herbal product – Red Kooga Natural Energy Release, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more. I received the sample of Red Kooga in the post and then decided to delay my product testing until after I’d given blood at the start of July.

What is Red Kooga?

Red Kooga Natural Energy release apparently enhances both energy and sports performance using tried and tested herbs. The tablets contain a unique combination of vitalising natural ingredients:

  • Panax ginseng – a herb used in the Orient for thousands of years to promote vitality and maintain mental alertness.
  • Guarana – a herb that helps to provide a natural source of caffeine.
  • The recommended daily allowance of B Complex Vitamins – to help maintain a healthy nervous system and help release energy from food.

Red Kooga 2

Did Red Kooga make me feel more energised?

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of taking tablets and will always try to source the vitamins and nutrients I need from food. In addition, I was slightly dubious about some of the claims the product manufacturers were making.

As Red Kooga aims to provide a natural energy boost, I tried taking the tablets before I would usually experience mid-morning and afternoon energy slumps. I initially tried taking a couple of tablets at the start of the day – I hoped that this would eliminate my mid-morning energy slump. Unfortunately, the tablets didn’t appear to make me feel more energised and I still felt quite tired in the lead up to lunch.

On the days I get up really early to fit in a training run before it gets too warm, I’ve really struggled to stay awake during the afternoon. On some occasions I actually had to have an afternoon nap. Not ideal! I decided to take a couple of tablets with my lunch to see if they would help eliminate my post-training run afternoon fatigue and naps. This time the tablets did seem to make a difference, and I felt far more energised and mentally alert during the afternoon. I definitely didn’t need a post-training run afternoon nap.

The Verdict

Although the Red Kooga tablets didn’t always manage to completely eliminate my energy slumps and tiredness, on the days I didn’t take the tablets I definitely noticed a difference in my energy levels. Perhaps this was some sort of placebo effect – I genuinely don’t know. I do know that my afternoons were far more productive on the days I did take a couple of Red Kooga tablets with my lunch.

Red Kooga is available in Boots for £7.99. I’ve already purchased some more to help me remain more mentally alert on my longer training run days.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a box of Red Kooga Natural Energy Release tablets for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions are my own**