Royal Parks Half Marathon training week 9

Good morning and Happy Monday. I can’t believe that I’m actually in the office on a Monday. Shocking behaviour! I hope that you all had an awesome weekend.  I think it’s safe to say my weekend only really had one highlight; catching up on some much needed sleep. Collage 28The ninth week of my half marathon training plan – I can’t believe there are only three more weeks to go – recommended that I completed a steady 40 minute run on Monday, a 45-50 minute steady run on Wednesday, a 20 minute long easy jog on Saturday and a longer two hour long run at an easy pace on Sunday. As always, real life got in the way a little and I had to change things around a little.

So how did I get on during the ninth week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to motivate myself to run after work? Did I manage to avoid tripping over running in the evening? Most importantly, did I remain injury free?

Monday – Rest

My week unfortunately didn’t get off to the best of starts. My long run on Sunday left me feeling terrible. I went to bed with a migraine and woke up with a migraine. Luckily, I hadn’t travelled down to Wallingford, so I was able to pay my GP a visit. After I confirmed that I’d had my eyes checked less than month ago, my GP decided it was time to arrange some more detailed tests. I felt a bit gloomy during the lengthy journey back down to Wallingford.

Tuesday – 40 mins steady

Although my headache had virtually cleared up, I still felt a little bit peaky. Fortunately, the office was reasonably quiet and I managed to get quite a lot of work done. I left the office at 16:30, checked my emails and was thrilled to discover that someone had sponsored me and that my fundraising had reached £500. If you sponsored me then thank-you, I genuinely got no idea who you are!Collage 29I returned to my shared house and was greeted by a disgusting smell. I’ve no idea what one of my housemates had been cooking, but it smelt terrible. I headed up to the safety of my room and treated myself to a nap. I woke up, debated the pros and cons of running, reminded myself why I’m running, got changed into some running gear and headed outside. It was so windy, at times I felt like I was running backwards. At least the wind made me run at a steady pace. Week nine *gulp* of my training had got off to a positive start.

Wednesday – Rest

Work was okay. I had a couple of meetings and spent the afternoon preparing for and panicking about my midyear review. I regretted setting myself such challenging objectives earlier in the year. I left the office with a colleague, and we headed to the Boathouse pub for a couple of pints. After a couple of hours in the pub we sensibly decided to get something to eat. Our first choice – Delhi Brasserie – was unfortunately fully booked so we ended up in Pizza Express. I decided to play it safe and ordered myself Lasagna Classica. Following a pretty average Monday and Tuesday, a couple of beers and a nice meal was just what I needed. It’s just a shame one of my housemates held a party in the kitchen and kept everyone else awake until after midnight.

Thursday – 30 mins steady

Although I was woken up at 05:00, I somehow managed to have a really productive day in the office. The highlights of my Thursday were the fact it was Thursday and an amazing lunch. I also spotted another amazing looking job opportunity listed on the internal jobs board.  I left the office at 16:30 and walked outside into what felt like a wind tunnel. It was so windy that even walking was difficult; I realised that running would be quite challenging.

Following a much-needed power nap, I got changed into some running gear and headed out the door. I should have completed a 45-50 minute steady paced run, but decided to stop running after 30 minutes. Although I usually enjoy running, I hated every minute of my half hour run on Thursday. Constantly battling the wind and playing ‘dodge the out of control wheelie bin’ wasn’t very enjoyable and I didn’t want to risk picking up an injury.

Friday – Rest

Most people know my Friday routine now. I escaped from the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. I felt so shattered I got home and did very little. It’s a good job it was a rest day.

Saturday – Rest

In an ideal world I would have made the most of the perfect weather and headed to parkrun. I mean a 5km run is sort of equivalent to a 20 minute easy jog isn’t it? Unfortunately, my friend wasn’t able to drop me off in Sutton Park so I had a parkrun free Saturday. In the end I decided to treat(?) myself to an extra rest day as I wanted to be well-rested for my two hour run. I was so determined to be ready to run, I headed to bed at a sensible time and stayed away from the local pub.

Sunday – Rest!

The early night and extra rest day turned out to be a complete waste of time. I went to bed with a migraine – the flashing lights were impressive but irritating – and woke up with a migraine. I got out of bed and discovered that I felt incredibly dizzy and nauseous. I decided that attempting to run for two hours wouldn’t be very sensible and reluctantly headed back to bed.

The rest of my Sunday was what I’d describe as a waste of a day. I managed to book myself a hotel room for the night before the half marathon; London seems to get more expensive each year. Mum dropped my number and race t-shirt around, I’ve been allocated #2768 in the green wave. I spent a couple of hours trying to complete a job application – never easy with a fuzzy head – and then headed back down to Wallingford.Collage 30So that’s week nine of my half marathon training not really completed. I’m trying not to panic about missing a long run, but I’m aware that the half marathon is getting close!

Week ten of my training plan is described as the ‘peak week’ and is quite possibly the most important week of my half marathon training. I’ve got to complete a 30 minute easy run later today, an hour long easy run on Thursday, parkrun or an equivalent run on Saturday and a longer 120 to 130 minute long easy run on Sunday. I’ve got everything crossed I feel well enough to complete all of my training runs.

Training totals

  • Runs: 28
  • Time: 20 hours 42 mins
  • Distance: 121.62 miles

Fundraising total

  • £502 (£25 increase from last week)

Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 3/10
  • Left groin: 2/10
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Royal Parks Half Marathon training week 3

I hope that everyone had a great weekend, after spending all of last week in a far too warm office; I personally really appreciated the slightly cooler weather. I have a feeling that when this post is published, I’ll be experiencing a dose of Monday morning office related blues.Collage 10The third week of my half marathon training plan suggested that I completed an easy 30 minute jog on Monday, a steady 50 minute run on Thursday, a 20-25 minute speed session on Friday and a slightly longer 70-75 minute run on Sunday at a comfortable pace. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday were meant to be rest days.

So how did I cope during the third week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to motivate myself to run after work? Did the mini heatwave on Monday have an impact? Did I complete all my training runs? Did I end the week injury free?

Monday – 30 mins easy jog

Before I talk about Monday, I need to rewind slightly to Sunday evening. After a slightly lengthy journey to Wallingford, I reached my house at 21:30, opened my bedroom door and discovered that my bedroom had been converted into a sauna. Seriously, it was so hot in there; I knew I’d struggle to get any much sleep. After spending what felt like all night trying to sleep, I woke up at 07:00 feeling shattered.

My first day back in the office was difficult. There’d been a desk move, I struggled to remember my password – luckily I wasn’t locked out after more than three incorrect attempts – and I had over 350 emails to wade through. I just about managed to get through my first day back without getting too stressed out. It was so hot during the walk back to my shared house, I decided to postpone my run until it got a little cooler.Collage 11After spending two hours catching up on emails and Casualty, I rather reluctantly got changed into my running gear, did some stretches and headed outside. It still felt pretty toasty so I started my run at a sensible pace. I’ve no idea why, but I decided to increase my pace. I felt great until the heat and humidity hit me and I wanted to stop. I think it’s safe to say the final 10 minutes of my run were anything but enjoyable. It took me about an hour to feel well enough to have a shower and to get ready for bed.

Tuesday – Rest

I definitely needed a rest day. By Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling mentally and physically exhausted. I emailed my mentor Geoff’s ex PA and unfortunately received some not so positive news. The post work pint (of coke) and meal with a colleague was just what this doctor ordered.

Wednesday – Rest

I had a bit of a scare midway through my morning walk into the office. I’ve no idea why, but my injury-prone right knee suddenly felt incredibly painful. Fortunately, it only lasted for a couple of seconds and Wednesday was a rest day.

The rest of the day went something like this; work, lunch break, work, afternoon snack, more work, walk home after work, nap, TV, shower and then bed. Not very exciting or blog worthy, but I suspect this is the reality for most people who work in an office 9-5.

Thursday – Relaxed run walk run with a colleague

Thursday was not a great day. The office was busy and I found the noise a touch overwhelming at times. Even listening to music didn’t help to drown out the noise. I’ve no idea how people manage to concentrate in large, open plan offices as I really seem to struggle. I escaped at a reasonable time and walked back to my shared house alone. Much as I enjoy walking back with my colleagues, I needed some peace and quiet and some time on my own.

I should have completed a 50 minute steady run, but made the decision to support a colleague who is just getting back into running on a run walk run session. I felt that missing one 50 minute training session would be acceptable, I also wanted to give my slightly niggly right knee a rest. If run walk run is good enough for Jeff Galloway, it’s good enough for me. There was more walking, and talking than running, but I really enjoyed our run along the River Thames and back into Wallingford.

Friday – Rest

My Friday was peaceful and productive to start with because I was quite literally the only person in from my team. I felt sorry for my two colleagues out doing fieldwork because the rain before lunch was quite epic. I got soaked walking the short distance to and from the canteen. Thanks to the wonders of flexible working, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks three hours later. The training plan said “20-25 minutes speed session”, my head said “Chinese takeaway”. I’m a little ashamed to say that I let my head win and the speed session didn’t take place.

Although my Friday evening was quite dull, I enjoyed chilling out watching the athletics on the TV. I was thrilled to see local athlete Matthew Hudson-Smith grab gold in the 400m. I also loved watching KJT win silver in the heptathlon. How athletes can be virtually world-class in seven different events is a mystery to me. It’s so impressive. Once the athletics finished, I plucked up the courage to send an email to my mentor Geoff.

Saturday – Rest

As I lay in bed experiencing parkrun #FOMO, I reminded myself that Sutton Park parkrun is due to start next week. Although the course is so challenging there’s a danger it’ll take me longer than 30 minutes to complete the 5k, I’m going to make sure I attend the inaugural event.

My Saturday was productive but boring; I’m sure that other people have far more exciting weekends. Following a music lesson, I spent a couple of hours doing some presentation preparation for the hydrology conference I’m attending next month. I made myself iron my work clothes, picked loads of blackberries for mum, and then treated myself to an afternoon nap.

Once I’d tracked down my running coat and worked out where I was going to run, I spent the majority of the evening chilling out, watching the athletics. Dina Asher-Smith was amazing and Jakob Ingebrigsten completely blew my mind. How can someone be so talented at 17 years old?

Sunday – Rest

I’m a little ashamed to report that I didn’t even attempt my long run. After a terrible night – I hate the way I over think virtually everything – my alarm woke me at 05:00, I debated running, decided I didn’t feel like running for over an hour, and went back to sleep. I woke up again a couple of hours later feeling incredibly guilty.

Mum picked me up and we headed to the Chase Farm Cafe for a late breakfast – I opted for the Farmers Breakfast which tasted amazing but was a little small for what it cost. Sunday afternoon was a little soggy – we needed the rain – so I spent the time I had left catching up on some paperwork (and Holby City) before packing my gear together for the journey back down to Wallingford.  Collage 12So that’s the third week of my half marathon training not completed. I must do better this week. I need to sort my head out, at the moment I’m letting myself, my sponsors and Geoff down.

Week four of my half marathon training plan contains four runs. As I want to complete the inaugural Sutton Park parkrun, I might end up running five times if I squeeze in a run when I get home from work on Friday. I’ve got to complete a steady 45 minute run tomorrow, an hour long easy run on Wednesday, a steady 45 minute run on Friday and a longer 80 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. I have a feeling that the reality will look slightly different.

Training totals

  • Runs: 9
  • Time: 6 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 36.44 miles

Fundraising total

  • £300 (+£25 from last week)

Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 3/10
  • Left foot: 2/10

How do you bounce back from a not so successful week? If I don’t get my arse into gear next week, I may as well DNS the half marathon in October.

Do you watch much sport on the TV? I’m going to miss the athletics; there have been some amazing performances.

A weekend in Wallingford and a spot of parkrun tourism

Good morning. As always, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. My weekend was a little different. Most of you know that I like to travel back home on a Friday. When I discovered that Oxford station would be closed due to engineering works, I decided to spend the weekend in Wallingford.

After arranging to meet up with a couple of colleagues on Saturday, I escaped from the office, walked back to my shared house, had a nap and researched my weekend running options.

My preferred option was to get up early enough to make it to Didcot for a spot of parkrun tourism. Unfortunately, thanks to the incredibly unreliable bus service between Wallingford and Didcot, this wasn’t guaranteed.  A Sunday morning run with the Run Wallingford group was another ‘safer’ option.

So what happened? Did I pop my parkrun tourism cherry? Did I join up with Run Wallingford for a longer Sunday run?

On Saturday, one of my house mates woke everyone up at 06:30. I’ve no idea what he was doing in the kitchen, but he was incredibly noisy. I wasn’t too fussed as I’d got 8 hours’ sleep. I’d set my alarm for 07:00 so could live with the loss of 30 minutes sleep.

I’m pleased to report that the 07:50 bus towards Oxford got me to Didcot in plenty of time for parkrun. We had to swap buses in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell – what an awesome name – but still reached Didcot at 08:30. I successfully navigated my way to the rather low key start area, took a terrible parkrun selfie, and got chatting to some local runners. I also met a few people who were collecting their ‘D’ as part of the parkrun alphabet challenge.

Didcot parkrun start

Didcot parkrun selfie

I was a good parkrun tourist and attended the pre-run briefing where we were informed we had to complete three laps around a small park and then a longer straight section to the finish. We were also asked to get into a group for a sensible group photo.

Didcot parkrun group 1

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

We were then asked to strike a pose for a second group photo…

Didcot pakrun group 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

It seems it was a case of different parkrun, same old Emma. I set out at a slightly ambitious pace and started to struggle with stitch during the first lap of the park. I slowed down and started to feel a bit better during the second lap of the park, and by the final lap, I finally started to enjoy myself. Three laps of the park complete, I left the park and headed into the unknown.

Didcot parkrun lap 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

I thought we’d run a short distance along the perimeter of the housing estate and then finish. After what felt like several minutes heading in the wrong direction and away from the start, I started to feel a little concerned. Although by this stage it was incredibly warm, I could see goosebumps on my arms and felt cold. I knew I needed to stop running ASAP and to get myself in some shade. Let’s just say I was incredibly relieved when we finally turned right and started to head back towards where I assumed the finish was.

We were directed onto some energy sapping grass and I finally spotted the finish area. I’d like to say I put on an impressive sprint finish but I simply staggered across the line, collected a token, had my barcode and token scanned, and then found some shade. Most people didn’t appear to be hanging around – I’d timed my tourism with the one week the local football club wasn’t available for post-run drinks – so I found someone who knew where they were going, and walked with them back to Didcot station.

I made it back to Wallingford at 11:00, got back to my shared house, had a quick shower and then headed back to bed for a powernap as I didn’t feel quite right. Fortunately, a lengthy powernap seemed to do the trick, and I felt much better when I woke up.

I spent a couple of hours chilling out in my room and then walked into Wallingford to meet up with a work colleague. After a quick discussion, we decided to walk the shortish distance to the Waterfront Cafe located on the banks of the River Thames in Benson. The walk to Benson introduced me to what would be an amazing run through Wallingford Castle Gardens towards Benson Lock. I’m a little frustrated I was so busy talking I forgot to take any photos as the area around Benson Lock was stunning.

We reached the Waterfront Cafe and found a table outside close to the Thames. We ordered a couple of pints of draught beer and then spent ages checking out the menu. After debating the pros and cons of various options, I decided to order the rather grand sounding Waterfront Caesar salad and my colleague ordered the prawn and smoked salmon salad.

The Caesar salad looked amazing when it arrived but contained a little too much lettuce for my liking. It was very much a case of I wish that I’d ordered something else! We finished our salads, ordered a couple more pints of beer and waited for another work colleague to arrive.

Saturday evening

I think it’s safe to say we were both a little tipsy by this stage, so we were relieved when our colleague arrived and we could check out the dessert menu. The menu was a little limited so I decided to play it safe and ordered the luxury ice cream – the choice was either vanilla or vanilla ice cream – with strawberry sauce, and a fourth pint of beer. Our colleague unfortunately couldn’t stay for long so we chatted some more, drank some more, paid the bill and then walked back into Wallingford.

I’m not sure who suggested we stopped off at the Boathouse pub for pint number five but I didn’t say no. By the time I got back to my shared house it was almost midnight. I knew there was little chance of me feeling well enough or getting up in time to join up with Run Wallingford for a training run.

I think I’d describe Sunday as quiet and steady. When I woke up at 08:00 I felt far better than I probably deserved to. The hot weather had made an unwelcome reappearance so I decided not to join up with the Run Wallingford group. After a quick food shop in Wallingford, I spent most of the day inside reading and catching up on some blogmin. A slight waste of a Sunday but I needed some time to myself and to chill out.

So all things considered, I had a great second weekend in Wallingford.

Did you have a good weekend?

Do you think the heat wave is ever going to end?

Rants and raves #29

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post while watching the football. Apologies for the inevitable spelling mistakes and typos. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, less negative and far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: The Weather

After enduring a pretty disappointing first few months of the year, I’m making the most of the warmer weather. Walking to and from the office is no longer a chore, and I’m loving the sunshine and the blue skies.

Wallingford summer

I’m more fortune than most of my colleagues because although my office doesn’t have air conditioning, I have a window seat. This means that when I’m lucky, I get to sit in a breeze and don’t start to feel too warm until the afternoon. Thanks to my complete lack of ‘real-life’ commitments, I’m able to run when I want which really helps.

However, as a hydrologist, the lack of recent rainfall is getting a little concerning. If it doesn’t rain soon, work will be a nightmare so watch out for this rave cunningly turning into a rant.

Rave: Recognition as a blogger

I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but have been asked a couple of times to share this information so here goes. My blog was selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 10 UK Women Running Blogs on the web.

Blog awardHere’s the link to the Top 10. Although there are lots of amazing blogs on there, the site is a little confusing as unless I’m being really dense, there only appear to be seven blogs in the list.

So thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and to comment on my running-related ramblings.

Rant: Flying and biting insets and nettles

I know I complained about this 12 months ago, but there is a downside to the warmer weather; flying insects, insects that bite and stinging nettles.Nasty things

[Source]

I’ve lost count of the number of insects I’ve swallowed. I’ve also discovered that tiny black bugs in Wallingford *really* like fluorescent yellow running tops. Not ideal last week when I realised that all of the running tops I had in Wallingford were fluorescent yellow.

Rave: Running

Another repeat rave but *touch wood* and *fingers and toes crossed* my fragile body is behaving itself at the moment. After a couple of disappointing races, I took a couple of weeks off from running and embraced the drinking scene in Wallingford.

The drinking didn’t suit me so I charged up my Garmin and pulled on my trainers. Although my run on Thursday evening felt quite challenging, my five mile run on Sunday morning felt effortless. Training for Royal Parks Half Marathon starts in three weeks time and I can’t wait

As an added incentive to run regularly, I signed up as a member of #TeamSouth – there wasn’t a #TeamMidlands or #TeamCentral option – for the Run Around the World Challenge  in July.

Run Around the World

Mind is an amazing charity and the medal looks awesome. If you haven’t already signed up, check out the website!

Rant: Fundraising

Apologies in advance for what I have a feeling is another repeat rant. A couple of weeks ago I spent the day with Geoff in the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea. Witnessing firsthand the amazing work the hospital does and meeting some seriously unwell people left me feeling incredibly fortunate. I also came away feeling even more determined to reach my £1000 fundraising target.

I shared my experience in a post on Farcebook and my fundraising total increased by the grand total of zero English pounds. I emailed the link to my fundraising page to a family member in the hope they’d add a donation and they completely ignored me. This family member was cured by the Royal Marsden so they have a personal connection to the charity.

I guess I’ve got quite a few more months to encourage irritate my friends and family on social media. As I don’t want to irritate everyone, I’ve set up a dedicated page on Farcebook.

Rant: My sun repelling legs

My arms are nicely tanned but my legs seem to be determined to repel the sun. They now look so white I’ve been considering investing in some fake tan. I’m just a little concerned I’ll repeat the great fake tanning disaster of 1999.

Rave: Marathon Talk/Runr t-shirts

I’ll end with a bonus rave; the link to a Marathon Talk/Runr t-shirt  I treated myself to last week.Marathon Talk runr tee

So much for my ‘ban’ on buying unessential running gear. By the way, I’m not on commission and haven’t been asked to share the link to this t-shirt, I just thought I’d share it on here as a ‘rave’.

Once again, if you’ve managed to reach the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, a massive thank-you. I’ve saved my major rant about Skimlinks and WordPress for another post. Anyway, I hope my rants and my raves were reasonable.

Have you been enjoying the heat wave or have you had enough of the hot weather? I love summer but wish my room in Wallingford wasn’t like a sauna.

Do you have any tops for cooling down after running when it’s hot? I seem to look like a beetroot for several hours after each run.

A belated birthday, a parkrun and too much food

I hope that everyone had an amazing Bank Holiday weekend. How amazing was the weather? Returning to Wallingford later is going to be even more of a chore than normal.

I’ll start by rewinding a week. Last Tuesday I reached the grand old age of 39. I celebrated(?) my birthday in an incredibly quiet office. There was no cake and no after work drinks, I don’t think many people realised it was my birthday. The highlight of the day was my right knee surviving a five mile run after work.

I wasn’t too fussed as I knew my birthday celebrations would take place during the weekend.

I made my usual quick escape from the office at 15:00 on Friday, and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. After demolishing far too much Chinese food, I spent my Friday evening tackling the washing mountain, catching up on Chicago Fire and just chilling out. Boring but I needed some time to relax.

On Saturday, I woke up ridiculously early and couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided to risk running a little faster (for me) at Walsall parkrun.

I arrived at the Arboretum, jogged to the start area and made sure I lined up a little nearer the front than I usually would. I crossed the start line and spent a couple of minutes struggling to get into any sort of rhythm.

Not the most flattering parkrun photo, I can’t tell if I’m smiling or grimacing. Walsall 1

[Photo: Laurie-Anne Kennedy]

I wanted the finish in sub-28 minutes, but given the heat and my lack of running faster than 10 min/miles recently, I was happy to finish in 28:18. I’m aware that I’ve said it before but next time 😉

I jogged back to the top end of the Arboretum where my friend was waiting – apparently I looked just like a beetroot – posed for the traditional post-parkrun photo, and was given a lift home. Post Walsall

I had a couple of hours to start my ironing, to have a shower, to lose my red face and to get ready for my first belated birthday meal.

I met my friend at Bistrot Pierre in Mere Green, selected a table inside the restaurant (it was far too hot to sit outside) and spent a few minutes working out what to eat. After a lot of debate, I opted for the Cassolette de moules to start with followed by Steak-Frites and Crème brûlée to finish.

Although I managed to eat all three courses, I felt incredibly peaky when I’d finished the Crème brûlée. I never usually struggle to eat, so will blame it on the warmer than average weather.

Food food food

The rest of Saturday afternoon was quiet and may have involved a power nap; I guess it’s all good practice for when I turn 40 next year. I caught up on some blog related admin, listed some unwanted running gear on FleaBay and finished my ironing. Fun, fun, fun! Adulting tasks over, I had my third shower of the day, got changed and walked to the local pub to meet some school friends.

I had such a boozy night my early Sunday morning run didn’t take place.

After a very steady start to Sunday, mum collected me and drove me back home. The original plan had been to head to one of the local Chinese restaurants for an ‘all you can eat’ buffet. Due to the appearance of ‘summer 2018’, the buffet meal was postponed.  After a bit of sneaky sunbathing – top tip, remember to remove your socks first – we ate in the garden.

Summer 2018

I failed as a blogger and forgot to take photos of the food and birthday cake mum had made for me. The cake was amazing and possibly fuelled by Pimm’s and lemonade; I piled far too much on my plate.

Yesterday, I spent the morning and early afternoon working on the paper I am meant to be presenting at a conference later on this year. After discovering that my current assignment is not going to be extended, I also spent a couple of hours exploring some possible career options.

Definitely not the most exciting Bank Holiday Monday!

Did you have a good Bank Holiday weekend?

Christmas gifts for runners

Last year, my rather unsubtle Christmas gifts for runners (named Emma) post was reasonably successful. While my family quite sensibly ignored the more expensive items in my guide, on Christmas Day I found myself unwrapping parcels containing a Lululemon running skirt, Shock Absorber sports bra and some running socks.

It’s now December and Christmas is rapidly approaching. Although I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told my family I can’t afford Christmas this year, I keep getting asked “what would you like for Christmas Emma?”. As a result, I’ve decided to produce an updated Christmas gifts for runners guide.

Once again, I’ve included photos and links to each item to hopefully save my family time when they are shopping online.

Christmas 2017

Donation to my fundraising page My close friend Geoff was recently diagnosed with a rare form of thyroid cancer. After a discussion with my him, I decided to use my place in the Cambridge Half to raise money for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust, the first registered charity in the UK dedicated solely to the support of people affected by thyroid cancer. At the moment my fundraising isn’t going very well. I’m hoping that my family and friends will start to feel more generous as Christmas approaches.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17 trainers I’m aware that these were included in my gift guide last year. However, I genuinely believe that a runner can never have too many pairs of trainers. Although these trainers are expensive, they are cheaper than the physio sessions I needed last time I attempted to run in a different brand and model of trainers.

HydrateM8 water bottle I need to drink less Diet Coke and more still water. I’m hoping that a motivational HydrateM8 water bottle will help me to ditch the fizzy drinks and to embrace the clear stuff.

Entry into the Vitality London 10,000 I’ve included this rather random gift suggestion again because an entry into one of my favourite races would make an amazing Christmas present. I’m pretty certain that most runners would love to receive a race entry as a Christmas gift.

Garmin Forerunner 235 Unfortunately, my second-hand Garmin Forerunner 220 has been a little temperamental for quite some time and will probably need replacing within the next six months. A runner can always dream!

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium wireless headphones I’ve done my research, i.e. I’ve read a couple of blogs and online reviews, and the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium wireless headphones sound pretty awesome. When I (hopefully) move to Wallingford next month, I’ll be doing most of my training on a ‘dreadmill’ and will, therefore, need to upgrade my rubbish freebie phone headphones. If you do decide to treat me to a pair, blue is my favourite colour.

Shock Absorber Ultimate Run sports bra If anyone in my family knows what happened to the Ultimate Run sports bra I unwrapped on Christmas Day last year please let me know! My boobs have now had enough of the worn-out sports bras I bought from H&M over four years ago.

Bespoke eatnaturally nutrition plan While I’ve really enjoyed attempting to follow and recreate several of the recipes on the Fitnaturally website, I know that I’d benefit from a bespoke nutrition plan. You keep telling me that I’m getting a little “podgy” so here’s your chance to help me sort my diet out.

Jasyoga Hit Reset book I’ve been subscribing to Jasyoga for quite some time now and would love a copy of Erin Taylor’s Hit Reset book. If you don’t manage to track down a copy of the Hit Reset book don’t worry, Erin has written a second book called Work IN which is available for pre-order now.

The Running School biomechanical running analysis And finally, if you are searching for the perfect gift for an injury-prone runner, I’ve got a great suggestion; a biomechanical running analysis. I’ve included a link to The Running School; however, loads of places seem to offer a similar running analysis.

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

I’m feeling like a runner again and Vieve protein water review

I hope that everyone has had a great week. I can’t believe that it’s nearly the weekend again.

After recently completing 65 and 75 minute training runs, I’m finally feeling like a runner again. It’s been a while. I’ve almost reached week 12 of my half marathon training plan and I’m starting to believe I’ll make it to the start line of the Great Birmingham Run next month.

I’m feeling so confident, I’ve started to look at potential races in November and December. Although I suspect that some of my revised running goals may well be unachievable due to my lack of pace, I’m still determined to run a sub-30 minute 5k and a sub-60 minute 10k this year.

Learner runner[Source]

Once I’ve successfully completed the Great Birmingham Run – you see, I can be positive – I’m going to focus on running slightly shorter distances. I’m also going to incorporate some speed work into my weekly training. Hopefully my dodgy feet will cope with the fartlek sessions I’ve got planned.

Vieve protein water review

I recently received a press release about a brand new protein water drink; Vieve. As I was intrigued and love testing and reviewing new products, I asked if I could have some samples to review.

Vieve 1My samples of Vieve arrived a couple of weeks ago and I immediately put them in the fridge. The recent warm weather meant that they didn’t last very long.

What is Vieve?

Founded by entrepreneur Rafael Rozenson, Vieve is a new protein water brand which launched in the UK this year. As I’m a hydrologist and not a nutritionist, I’m not going to pretend that I’m aware of the benefits of protein to active women and men.

A recent report by Mintel suggested that I’m not alone and although in the UK we are becoming increasingly health conscious, we still lack awareness of the health benefits of protein, with 25 per cent of us unsure of how much protein we really need in our diet.

With no sugar, no fat, no artificial colours or flavours and 20g of protein in every bottle, Vieve is marketed as a refreshing way for active women and men to get the protein required for recovery, muscle growth and maintenance of healthy bones.

Vieve is the first sports nutrition product to achieve Sugarwise certification and is available in three flavours:

  • Coconut and Honey
  • Strawberry and Rhubarb
  • Citrus, Apple and Mint

I was sent one 500ml bottle of each flavour to try. Here are my thoughts on each of the three flavours.

Coconut and Honey flavour

Although, after a slightly rocky start, I’ve grown to like the taste of coconut water, I’ll be completely honest and admit that as I don’t like the taste of honey, I wasn’t looking forward to drinking the bottle of Coconut and Honey flavour Vieve.

I decided to drink my bottle of Coconut and Honey flavour Vieve after I’d completed a 20 minute recovery run in humid conditions. Unfortunately, I only managed to drink a quarter of the bottle as I didn’t like the combination of coconut and honey and started to feel slightly nauseous. I suspect that this may have been a result of the humid conditions rather than the drink.

Strawberry and Rhubarb flavour

I was intrigued and a little apprehensive when I saw the bottle of Strawberry and Rhubarb flavour Vieve. While I love strawberries and quite like the taste of rhubarb, I wasn’t completely convinced that the two would work well together.

Vieve 2I saved my bottle of Strawberry and Rhubarb flavour Vieve as a reward for completing a longer run. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to drink 500ml of Strawberry and Rhubarb flavour protein water at 6am on a Sunday morning, but it was very easy to drink and tasted so amazing I was disappointed when I reached the end of the bottle.

Citrus, Apple and Mint flavour

Once again, I was intrigued and a little sceptical when I saw the bottle of Citrus, Apple and Mint flavour Vieve. What would the combination of citrus, apple and mint taste like? Would the taste of mint overwhelm the citrus and apple? Would I manage to drink it?

I drank my third and final bottle of Vieve after a hot and challenging 20 minute run. I found the Citrus, Apple and Mint flavour Vieve natural tasting and very easy to drink. The drink left me feeling hydrated and refreshed. As an added bonus, I managed to avoid my usual post running in humid conditions headache.

Would I recommend Vieve protein water?

Yes! I would definitely recommend the Strawberry and Rhubarb and the Citrus, Apple and Mint flavour Vieve. Although I personally didn’t like the Coconut and Honey flavour Vieve, my friend Kate did. I found Vieve slightly easier to drink at 6am than my usual post-run drink; strawberry or chocolate flavour milkshake. I found Vieve quite filling, very refreshing and incredibly convenient. If I spotted Strawberry and Rhubarb Vieve in my local supermarket I’d definitely stock up.

Vieve protein water drinks are available from Vieve and costs £14.99 for a pack of six bottles.

**Full disclosure: I was sent some samples of Vieve for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**