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?

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Great Birmingham Run training week 14

I hope that everyone had a good weekend and that Monday wasn’t too challenging. I also hope that you were successful in the ballot for the 2018 London Marathon. If you weren’t, there are plenty of alternative marathons. The highlight of my weekend was managing to avoid having an ‘incident’ during my long run on Sunday.Collage 35Week 14 was described as the ‘peak week’ and I should have completed for training runs. Unfortunately, my headaches and nausea persisted throughout the week, and I only managed to run (sort of) very slowly for 1 hr 45 minutes on Sunday. I was originally aiming to run for two hours, however, some issues with my stomach meant that I had to stop running and walk back home ASAP. I’m still constantly reminding myself that I’ve done a lot of training and that the longer runs are the most important, but I’m starting to feel more than a little concerned. At least my knee and heel feel great and I’ve lost weight.

Monday – Rest

My legs felt more than a little niggly after my 100 minute run the previous day, so I was relieved when I discovered that week 14 started with a rest day. Little did I realise that the majority of the week would be incredibly restful. So much for a peak week. After dropping another load of eBay parcels at the local Post Office, I spent a couple of hours working on a job application before I had to stop because I could feel another headache developing. The rest of Monday was more or less a complete write-off; I ended up going to bed at 19:00, such a waste of a day.

Tuesday – Rest

I should have completed a steady 50 minute run but I was unable to run. When my alarm woke me at 05:00, I quickly discovered that rather than getting better, my headache had got a lot worse. When I stood up I felt really light-headed and nauseous. There was no way I could run. I spent most of the morning lying in the dark trying and failing not to feel sorry for myself. By the afternoon I started to feel a little better and made myself go outside for a short walk around the top end of Sutton Park. I figured that some fresh air would make me feel better. While my head felt almost ‘normal’- no jokes please – I still felt quite light-headed and nauseous and had to ask my friend to come and rescue me. Not my finest moment! Rather predictably the rest of Tuesday wasn’t quite as productive as it should have been.

Wednesday – Rest

I actually felt much better when I woke up, perhaps my head knew that it was a rest day… I spent the morning completing yet another lengthy job application, catching up on my emails and blogmin and generally making the most of feeling better. My number and runners’ guide for the half marathon arrived and I discovered that I’d allocated a place in the ‘orange’ or fast start wave. I’ll definitely be relegating myself into one of the slightly slower, more realistic start waves. At lunchtime I met up with Kate for a chinwag, a pub lunch and a pint. I regretted this decision later on.Collage 36I’m not going to go into too much detail here but on Wednesday evening I got to travel in the back of an ambulance for the third time in my life. Although all of the NHS staff were amazing, it’s not an experience I want to repeat again any time soon.

Thursday – Rest

Once again, I should have completed a 50 minute run. However, after spending most of the night and early morning in hospital, running was completely out of the question. Although I was disappointed to miss yet another training run, I was more disappointed to have to miss the Decathlon Bloggers Community event in London. I did my best to follow the event on social media and look forward to hopefully attending the next one.

Friday – Rest

Friday was a day of completely mixed emotions. I received a rather unexpected phone call about last week’s job interview in the morning. Unfortunately, although I hadn’t quite been good enough to land a permanent position, they wanted to offer me a 12 month contract as a hydrologist in the same team. As my brain was in overdrive and I didn’t want to make any impulsive decisions, I asked if I could have the weekend to think about the job offer.

I then proceeded to spend most of the morning weighing up the positives and negatives. The positives definitely outweighed the negatives; I just wish I had more confidence. I also wish that I had someone sensible to discuss the job offer with. So much for being a mature independent woman.

Saturday – Rest

I think the highlight of my Saturday was seeing most of my family at my nephew Oliver’s train themed birthday party. The party was held at the Burton-on-Trent Model Engineering Society miniature railway, and although it unfortunately rained virtually the entire time, the children (and quite a few of the adults) seemed to enjoy the unlimited miniature train rides. My sister-in-law made the birthday cake and while I didn’t get to try a piece, it looked amazing.

Sunday – Minimum 100 mins aim for 120 mins

When my alarm woke me at 05:00 it became clear that my stomach wasn’t very happy at all. Without sharing too much information, I had a couple of very productive and quite lengthy loo visits. After the second visit I felt a little better and decided to risk heading out on a longer run. I told myself I could always return home if my stomach started to feel iffy. I got dressed, drank a couple of glasses of water, went to the loo a third time, did some stretches, turned on my Garmin and headed outside into the dark.

It took me less than ten minutes to accept my run was going to be a hard slog. I’d get very little energy and felt like I was quite literally running on empty. Although it was drizzling and quite windy in places, it was also pretty humid and I started to overheat. I decided to be sensible and made sure that I didn’t venture too far from my house. Rather worryingly, I don’t remember much of the run.

According to my Strava statistics I managed to run continuously for 75 minutes. Not ideal when I was aiming to run for a minimum of 100 minutes. Looking back, the final 30 minutes or so of the run are a complete blur. I remember my stomach really starting to play up and having to walk a lot to avoid an unfortunate mishap. I also remember nearly tripping over a wheelie bin. At least I just about managed to make it home without shitting myself in public.

So that’s the fourteenth and what should have been the most challenging week of my Great Birmingham Run training not completed. I can’t believe that *fingers crossed* this time in a fortnight I’ll have successfully completed the half marathon.

The training schedule for week 15 contains four runs, looks far more achievable and is described as the ‘start of taper’. It is possible for a runner to be too well tapered? I’m hoping that Monday, Tuesday and Friday are the only rest days I end up taking. I’ve also got everything crossed I manage to complete a steady 50 minute run on Wednesday, a 35 minute easy run on Thursday and a 60 minute run on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 41
  • Time 20 hours 45 mins
  • Distance: 113.34 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52

Niggleometer

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

 

Great Birmingham Run training week 11

As always, I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was the Lichfield 10k. After running on my own for several weeks, running with others was actually far, far more enjoyable than I thought it would be.Collage 27Week 11 of my half marathon training – described as a key week with a time trial – saw me struggle to complete a 20 minute ‘easy jog’ on Monday, swap my Wednesday and Thursday sessions because I felt I needed an extra rest day – my approach worked as I had an awesome 40 minute run on Thursday morning, a 20 minute jog on Saturday and the Lichfield 10k yesterday.

Last year I aimed for and achieved a sub-60 minute time at the Lichfield 10k. Yesterday I was happy just to complete the race without needing too many walking breaks. So how did my fragile left foot and dodgy right knee cope during the eleventh week of half marathon training?

Monday – 20 mins easy jog

When my alarm woke me at 05:30, I reached out, turned it off and woke up three hours later. I clearly needed my beauty sleep. After spending almost an hour faffing about and waiting for the school traffic to die down, I eventually headed out on my run at 09:30. It wasn’t the most enjoyable run as I was wearing too many layers and felt far too warm. I had to dodge people walking dogs, people pushing pushchairs, people running (a lot faster than I was) for the bus and cars blocking the pavement. To make matters worse, I had to stop running twice; once to give way to someone reversing off their drive and once to retie one of my shoelaces. The run left me feeling more than a little mardy.

I spent the rest of the day job hunting and writing. I applied for a very temporary job at my local M&S, passed the first online assessment and booked an interview slot for the following morning. After spending the last two Christmas periods working in the same store, I was fairly confident I’d be offered one of the temporary roles.

Tuesday – Rest

I definitely needed a rest day as my legs felt quite sore after my slightly longer run on Sunday and failed recovery run. In the morning I travelled the short distance by train to Sutton Coldfield, had the most informal interview ever and was told to wait for a phone call. I also managed to overcome my slightly irrational phobia of hair salons and booked myself in for a seriously overdue hair cut. I spent the afternoon working on some ideas for an academic paper and writing a product review. I also treated my calf muscles to another session with my foam roller. I’ve decided that I’m so useless at inflicting pain on myself, I would probably benefit from a sports massage.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a 40 minute run, but for some reason, when my alarm woke me at 05:00, I just didn’t feel like running. Fortunately, the rest of the day was far more positive and productive. I discovered that I’d got an interview for a hydrology job I’d applied for at the end of August. I hadn’t expected to get an interview so the email was a very pleasant surprise. I vacuumed the house, mopped the kitchen floor, did two loads of washing, listed more rubbish on eBay and completed a couple of job applications. As I was determined to run the following morning I made sure I was in bed before midnight. It’s just a shame I woke up at 02:00 and found it virtually impossible to get back to sleep.

Thursday – 40 mins fast with warm-up and cool-down

I decided to approach my run on Thursday the same way I’ve approached all of my training sessions. After running at a reasonably steady pace for the first ten minutes, I attempted to increase my pace a little. I’ve clearly lost the ability to run at anything faster than 10:00 min/miles as I struggled to progress from first into second gear. I think I only managed to increase my pace to avoid smelly rubbish bins and to cross the main road. I did, however, remember to cool-down so the run wasn’t a complete failure.Collage 28After spending the rest of the day attempting to answer technical competency questions and waiting for a phone call from M&S that never materialised, I headed across Birmingham to the university to collect some books. I may have failed as an academic, but I’m determined to complete the paper I’ve been working on for almost two years.

Friday – Rest

Friday was a reasonably productive but incredibly restful rest day. I only left the house once to pick up a takeaway from the local Chinese – the takeaway was virtually inedible and went straight through me. So much for a Friday evening treat, perhaps my body is now repelling unhealthy food.

Saturday – 20 mins jog

When I looked through the training plan at the start of the week, I was a little surprised to see it included a 20 minute run the day before a 10k time trial. I’m pretty sure you can work out what happened. I completed a 20 minute run rather than a 20 minute jog. So much for taking it easy the day before a 10k race.

Luckily the rest of the day was far more relaxing. I received an email from M&S. Although I’d passed all the assessments, there were no suitable vacancies for me. The email came as a bit of a surprise after my meeting on Tuesday.

In the evening I met up with some friends for a couple of pints. As I was aware I had a 10k race to run the following morning, I made sure that I actually limited myself to two pints. When I got some I spent ages looking for four safety pins, double checked the train times, got my running kit ready and went to bed at a sensible time.

Sunday – 10k race or time-trial

Like last year, I was originally meant to complete an 85 minute longer run at an ‘easy’ pace in week 11. However, after researching local races, I decided to take part in the Lichfield 10k. As I’ll be writing a review of the Lichfield 10k in a separate post, I won’t write an essay here. In summary, it was cool and very windy, I ran with the lady I met last year for the first four miles and then told her to run on ahead, she smashed her PB. The last two miles were a struggle and I needed to stop a couple of times to stretch out my right knee. I need to check out some old race results, but I think I recorded my slowest 10k time ever.

So that’s week 11 of my training for the Great Birmingham Run more or less successfully completed. I got my pacing completely wrong on Monday, couldn’t be bothered to run on Wednesday so gave myself a rest day, had a great run on Thursday, a mediocre run on Saturday and somehow managed to complete the Lichfield 10k without my right knee falling off. At the moment I’m finding it a little difficult to comprehend that in five weeks time I’ll *fingers crossed* have completed a half marathon.

The training schedule for week 12 contains four runs and looks quite challenging. I’ve got to drag myself out for a 20 minute recovery jog at some stage today; hopefully my legs will feel slightly more awake this evening. I’ve got to complete a 55 minute ‘steady run’ on Wednesday morning, another 20 minute run on Saturday and then a longer 85 minute run on Sunday. After my recent issues with pacing and route planning, I need to map out the perfect (i.e. as flat as possible!) route for Sunday. I have a feeling that the rest days on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday will feature foam rolling and icing sessions.

Training totals

  • Runs: 36
  • Time: 15 hours 15 mins
  • Distance: 84.77 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 5/10
  • Right knee: 9/10
  • Left foot: 4/10

Nutri Advanced Magnesium Glycinate tablets review

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

nutri 1

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

What is Magnesium Glycinate?

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

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

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

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

Nutri Advanced[Source]

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

The review process

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

Nutri 2

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

The Verdict

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

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

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

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

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

Updated running goals and race plans for 2017

At the beginning of the year I set myself some challenging but achievable running goals for 2017. I felt so confident I shared my goals and signed up to Trail Running’s #RUN1000MILES challenge.

Unfortunately, I picked up a running injury towards the middle of January and found myself sitting on the injury bench.

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The injury was so persistent most of the first six months of 2017 were a complete write-off. I stopped running, started stretching, sulked, put on a lot of weight and sulked some more.

My house was spotless.

I forgot about the majority of my running goals.

Now that we are almost half way through the year and *touch wood* my foot injury is under control, I decided to update some of my running goals and race plans.

Run 700 miles Run 400 miles – I’ve just checked my training log on Fetch and discovered I’ve run the not so impressive total of 29 miles in 2017. 29 miles!!! If my maths is correct, I’ve set myself the target of running another 371 miles in six months.  I’d like to think I’ll be able to run approximately 60 miles a month.

Complete 10 parkruns and 10 races Complete 5 parkruns and 5 races – After writing ‘DNS’ next to several races this year, my race calendar is starting to look slightly more respectable. I’ll summarise my race plans later on in this post.

A sub 8 minute mile – I’d like to think that this goal is still achievable.

A sub 25 minute 5k A sub 26 minute 5k – I set my current 5k PB of 26:49 last February. If my foot continues to behave, I’d like to think that at some stage this year I’ll manage to run a sub 26 minute 5k.

A sub 55 minute 10k A sub 60 minute 10k – My original goal was to run a sub 55 minute 10k during the Vitality London 10,000. Now I’d be over the moon with a sub 60 minute 10k!

A sub 2:20 half marathon – The original aim was to run a sub 2:20 half marathon during the Cambridge Half in March. Although Cambridge was a DNS, I’ve decided to keep this goal the same.

Listen to my niggles – At one stage my foot was so painful I had little option but to listen to my niggles. As an injury-prone runner I now realise that listening to my niggles is not enough. I also need to improve my diet and make a lot more effort to follow my strength and conditioning ‘personal action plan’.

Join a new running club – Although I resigned from my last running club at the end of March, my lack of running fitness has made me slightly reluctant to join a new running club. I suspect that I’ll continue as an ‘unattached’ runner for the rest of 2017.

Be slightly more sociable – I still tend to run on my own and I’m still a running recluse. To be honest I enjoy running on my own so much, I can’t see this changing. Although I am a bit of a loner, I have really enjoyed volunteering at a range of local events.

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – My foot injury has definitely helped me curb my obsession with buying unessential running gear. Hopefully I will actually achieve this running goal 🙂

My race plans

As I’m the type of person who needs a target race, I’ve entered the Great Birmingham Run in October.

gbr-large2x

If my dodgy foot doesn’t cope with the half marathon training plan I’ve put together, I’ve entered the Lichfield 10k as a sort of Plan B race.

LichfieldLogo

If my foot doesn’t cope with training for a 10k – the way it is feeling right now this is a definite possibility – I’ll have to look at dropping down to even shorter distances.PrintFingers crossed my foot lets me achieve at least a couple of my running goals.

Do you have any target races planned for the second half of 2017?

Did you sign up to Trail Running Magazine’s 1000 mile challenge? If you did and you didn’t receive a Ruff headband let me know and I’ll post you mine.

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**

Rants and raves #15

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this latest random selection of rants and raves while watching the England versus Australia cricket match at Edgbaston. England aren’t playing very well at the moment. I can guarantee that because they are playing cricket in Edgbaston, it will rain in Four Oaks later (Update: It did eventually rain and England won). As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Monday! It will soon be Friday again… I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I’m looking forward to reading loads of race reports

Rave: Running

I’m pleased to report that I’m (just about) still running. My heel is still a little bit troublesome, but thanks to the combination of being sensible and not running too much, and stretching on a regular basis, I’m hopeful that I’ve got my injuries under control. My 16 week half marathon training plan starts on June 26th, and although I’m not 100 per cent confident my heel will cope with a half marathon, I’ve reached the stage I need some structure with my running. The first four weeks of the training plan are relatively easy, with runs lasting between 10 and 30 minutes, so *fingers crossed* I’ll at least make it to this stage of the plan. If I don’t, then it’s back to the drawing board.

Rant: The weather

Last time I raved about the weather. This time I’m going to have a short rant about our so-called ‘summer’. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has had enough of the cycle of sun-rain-sun-rain. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve set out on a walk or run in bright sunshine and have ended up getting drenched.RainFor once I was happy to be travelling on a train!

The weather has played havoc with the cricket – yes I know I now sound really middle-aged, and has left my house smelling of damp running gear and soggy trainers. Why are trainers so such a pain in the arse to dry? Don’t get me started on the midges and over evil biting insets that thrive in damp, warm conditions…

Rave: Avon Skin So Soft

I must apologise in advance for what is probably the most random rave ever; Avon Skin So Soft. If, like me, you seem to attract every single midge and random biting insect for miles, then invest in a couple of bottles of Avon Skin So Soft. It really does work.

Rant: Overly protective swans

Last week, as I was early for the train, I decided to take the scenic route to the local train station. My relaxing stroll (in the rain!) was great until I came face to face with Mr and Mrs Swan and their latest clutch of cygnets.SwansCute cygnets, evil parents!

As I power-walked ran through the swan danger zone, I was reminded of just how protective swans are of their young. The hissing was pretty impressive. I wouldn’t have minded, but the adult swans both know me because I’ve been feeding them fresh bread on a weekly basis since January. I guess that everything and everyone is seen as a potential predator. I just hope that this year the cygnets manage to avoid being taken by foxes.

Rave: Nike tights

I’ve decided to continue with my slightly fickle tradition of raving on about a random pair of running tights. Anyway, my latest discovery are these Nike Pro training capris.Nike tightsWorth breaking my running gear buying ban?

If my heel allows me to complete three runs for the next two weeks, I’ll probably break my ban on buying new running gear and treat myself. I’ve shifted so much of my unwanted running gear on eBay recently; I think I deserve a treat.

Rant: Mysterious announcements at train stations

Although I feel reasonable safe when I’m at London Euston, for some reason I feel anything but safe when I’m at Birmingham New Street train station. Probably because I rarely see any police and because the platforms are underground, are dark and cover a huge area. Last week, I was waiting for my train back to Four Oaks when this random announcement started playing on repeat:

 “Attention please, Staff Call 100” 

It’s amazing what you can find on YouTube!

I couldn’t see any station staff or police to talk to, and no one else was moving, so I decided to remain on the platform. The slightly scary announcement stopped playing after five minutes, so I guess it was some sort of false alarm.

Rave: Relive

I’ve now got a bonus rave for you lucky people.Relive

I’ve just registered on Relive and can’t wait to create and share some 3D videos of my more interesting training runs.

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

Have you ever been chased by animals or birds? I can now add angry swans to my list of horses, geese, cows, sheep and pigs.

Do you like to have running goals or are you more a ‘go with the flow’ type of runner? I like to set myself goals, and writing this has reminded me that thanks to my heel injury, I need to update my running goals.