Rants and raves #35

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after having a stressful day at work. I lost count of the number of times my computer crashed and I ‘lost’ what I was working on at the time. I’m also feeling a little tired after spending a little too much time out in the sun. As a result, I have a feeling that although I’ll do my best to be positive, this blog may be more grumbly than normal. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Dozens of far less negative running blogs are available**

Happy Tuesday, I hope that everyone who reads this enjoyed the long Easter weekend. How amazing was the weather, I just hope it’s a little cooler this Sunday; two boiling hot London Marathons in a row would be a tad unfortunate.

Rave: ReRun Clothing

Apologies if you’re already aware that this company exists, but I thought I’d start with a quick rave about ReRun Clothing.

ReRun is described as a Community Interest Company aimed at prolonging the life of running clothes and equipment and saving them from landfill.ReRun ClothingAccording to the ReRun Clothing website, extending the life of clothes by just nine months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% each. When my self-imposed buying running gear ban comes to and end, I’ll see if I can find anything I like on ReRun.

Rant: Wasting money

In February, I worked out how much I spent on running related purchases last year, the final total was a bit of an eye-opener.  I’m now monitoring how much I’m spending. Thanks to a persistently niggly right knee, I’ve had a frustrating start to the year. I’ve already missed three races:

  • Big Half £35
  • London Landmarks Half £55
  • Cathedral to Castle Run £25

So that’s over £100 worth of entry fees, and no memories or medals. I’m sure that at some point, the race t-shirt, kit bags and safety pins will come in useful… I wish more events allowed the official transfer of entries. I was offered £60 for my London Landmarks number but I didn’t want to risk it.

Fortunately, being injured means I’ve had a lot more spare time, so I’ve sold a lot of my unwanted running gear online.

Rave: The weather

I’m aware that the weather features in virtually every blog I write, but the long Easter weekend weather was amazing.

I lost count of the number of burnt Brummies I spotted during the weekend. In the words of Baz Luhrmann, wear sunscreen:

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
Wear Sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future,
Sunscreen would be it
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now…”

I remember when I first heard Everybody’s Free, I was 21. Now I’m rapidly approaching 40! The lyrics to Everybody’s Free are pretty much guaranteed to make me cry every time.

Rant: Food shaming, the Easter edition

Apologies for another repeat rant, but I was disappointed but not at all surprised to see so much Easter related food shaming on social media. I can’t remember who shared this infographic, but I’d need to complete a lot of push ups after my Easter egg consumption.Easter food shaming 1

 Women’s Running Magazine shared this on Facebook…Easter food shaming 2…and subsequently deleted their original post and published this apology:

“We’re really sorry for our previous post. We want to promote positive relationships with food: after all, it gives us the strength and energy we need to run our best. Thank you for your feedback we’ll take more care with our posts in future.”

So, to summarise, you don’t ‘earn’ chocolate with exercise. Eat what you want when you want. I need to learn to love dark chocolate.

Rave: Boston Marathon 2019

Although I’m such an injury-prone plodder there’s no way I’ll ever get to take part, I still enjoy following the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately, this year I wasn’t able to watch it live because I was at work. I did manage to catch up with the marathon when I got back to my lodgings, so it wasn’t the end of the world.

I loved the sprint finish at the end of the men’s race; I mean how on earth can people sprint at the end of a marathon? It’s incredible; I can barley shuffle at the end of parkrun. I also loved the women’s race; I just wish they got a little more airtime.

I enjoyed watching one of my all-time favourite runners; Des Linden, in the female race. Although Des didn’t come first this year, she most definitely put in a gutsy performance. This interview with Des made me chuckle. When asked if she was tearing up near the finish line (as she waved to the crowds), Des Linden produced a humorous but blunt assessment:

“I’m going to be totally honest with you,” Linden joked. “That was me almost vomiting.”

Des Linden is one of the few elite runners I follow on twitter; she talks a lot of sense.

Quite frankly, the performance of Joan Benoit Samuelson blew my mind. Joan recorded a time of 3 hours and 4 minutes which was within 40 minutes of her 1979 winning time.

Perhaps there’s still hope for me.

Rant: Bad manners

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve completed a product review, have emailed the person I’ve been dealing with to let them know that the review is live, and have heard nothing back. I get that people are busy, but it only takes a couple of minutes to send an email. Where I work, if I failed to respond to an email, I would probably find myself having a conversation with my line manager. I’m starting to think that my product reviews are terrible.

Rave: London Marathon World Record attempts

Yesterday, the organisers of the London Marathon released information on some of this year’s Guinness World Record attempts. Some of the 84 attempts sound more challenging than others, for example, the fastest marathon wearing ski boots and the fastest marathon wearing ice skates. My fragile left foot hurts just thinking about running in ski boots or ice skates; I struggle to run in trainers. Also, the fastest marathon dressed as a tooth sounds like a rather random choice.

I’ve shared this before, but if you do watch the London Marathon on the BBC, don’t forget to play Marathon bingo!Marathon Bingo


Rant: People who litter

Apologies for ending this post with a rant. After hearing that Saltaire junior parkrun was cancelled due to there being broken glass and rubbish on a large part of the course, I did a bit of online detective work (cross out) checked out facebook, and was shocked at what I saw.

Littering unfortunately seems to be on the increase. I’ve recently taken part in a couple of organised litter picks in Four Oaks. In a couple of hours, a group of five of us managed to fill 23 large bags with litter. While on the subject of letter, I’d love to see a few ShokzPlog events outside of London.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of random rants and raves, then “thank-you”. I’m not convinced I would have made it to the end of my rather random waffle. I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. I do feel much better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans with you.

Did you enjoy the long Easter weekend? Did you manage to make the most of the amazing weather? I just hope it’s cooler this weekend.

Do you follow any elite runners on social media? I’m always looking to follow more inspirational female athletes.


Rants and raves #26

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post with an ice pack balanced on my right knee. A knee niggle I picked up during the Cathedral to Castle Run has prevented me from running for two weeks. As a result, I’m feeling more grumpy than usual. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other, far less negative running and fitness blogs are available. I’m hoping that I can run again ASAP!**

Rave: The weather

I’m aware that not everyone appreciated the recent mini heat wave, but after what felt like several weeks of shitty weather, I decided to embrace the sun. After all, we may well have just experienced summer 2018!

Summer in April

I spent Thursday on a training course in Reading. Looking at the sunshine through windows that couldn’t be opened was pretty frustrating. To make matters worse, the Reading office is located minutes from the Thames Lido. Luckily, I managed to escape the office at a sensible time and mysteriously found myself drinking a pint outside a pub an hour later. I managed to spend a bit more time in the sunshine on Friday and during the weekend.

Fingers crossed summer makes another appearance soon.

Rant: My right knee

After an amazing (for me!) run at the Cathedral to Castle Run a couple of weeks ago, a knee niggle has meant I’ve been unable to run. During the steep downhill section of the run I was acutely aware that my right knee was slightly unhappy. I could hardly walk the day after the run. The 1.5 mile walk into the office was a nightmare. Although my knee is gradually getting better, it still niggles from time to time.

Knee ebib[Source]

I’ve treated myself to loads of new running kit recently and want to wear it! I’ve already decided not to risk attempting to run the Treehouse 10k in Cholsey on Sunday. Although this is frustrating, it means that I’ll be able to travel back home for the weekend before my birthday.

Rave: Marathon season

Isn’t technology great? Thanks to the wonders of modern technology my slightly temperamental computer, I was able to watch both of the Commonwealth Games marathons several hours after they took place. I was also able to watch the Boston Marathon while ‘working’ on a conference paper.

After what felt like the longest build-up to the race in history – this isn’t a criticism, I loved all the pre-marathon tweets, photos and Instagram stories – I spent Sunday morning watching the London Marathon. A tiny part of me wished I was taking part, then my knee niggled and reminded me I was injured! #FOMO

At least I managed to play Marathon Bingo…

Marathon bingo[Source]

…I think I managed to tick off most of these during the London Marathon BBC coverage.

Rant: Living in a shared house

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m too old to be living in a house with six other people. There’s nothing wrong with my housemates – well not with most of them – I just need my own space. After three months I’ve reached the stage where I resent paying £110 a week to live in a house with no living room, no working smoke alarms, a front door that is never locked and noisy housemates.

I’ve been checking SpareRoom for better options on a daily basis and have realised that my options are limited. I could spend £100 more a month to live above a funeral parlour in a tiny box next to a building site. No thanks!  Renting outside of Wallingford would be cheaper but I wouldn’t have access to shops. I’d also have to pay £6 a day to travel to and from the office.

There’s also the small matter of me not really enjoying my job much. Some mornings I dread going into the office. I really can’t see myself in my current job in six months time. At some point I’ll update this post.

Rave: Making the top 10

Enough moaning! Last week, I was over the moon to learn that this little corner of the internet had made it into Vuelio’s top 10 UK running blogs for the second year in a row.

I was asked to answer a few questions for a blogger spotlight and took to opportunity to name some of my favourite running blogs.

Blogger Spotlight

I’ve genuinely got no idea how I made it into the top 10 but I’m pretty sure it’s mainly down to you, the people who read my waffle. Thanks!

Rave: Wolverhampton Wanderers

I’ve got a bonus rave; Wolverhampton Wanderers. After several slightly disappointing seasons, I was thrilled when Wolves were guaranteed promotion back to the Premier League. Sealing the Championship title on Saturday was incredible. It’s just a shame it didn’t happen at home.Wolves

I think the highlight of the season was when Wolves somehow managed to beat Cardiff at the beginning of the month. I just hope watching Wolves in the Premier League isn’t as stressful as it was last time. Seeing Wolves get beaten on a weekly basis wasn’t much of fun!

Once again, if you’ve made it to the end of my latest rather random selection of rants and raves then thank-you. My next rants and raves post will hopefully be slightly more positive.

Do you enjoy running in hot weather? Much as I love the summer and warmer weather, I struggle to run well when it’s warm.

Do you have any shared house horror stories? If you do, I’d really love to hear them.

How to enter the 2018 London Marathon

Last Sunday, like many others I spent several hours watching the London Marathon. Would Mary Keitany win the women’s race or would her fast start come back to haunt her? Could Charlie Purdue beat Alyson Dyson? London Marathon

If watching people pounding the streets of London inspired you, here’s my guide of how to apply for a place in next year’s London Marathon which will take place on Sunday April 22nd.

Public ballot. The most common way to apply for a place is through the public ballot. The public ballot system for the 2018 London Marathon opens on May 1st and closes at 17:00 on Friday May 5th. Whereas the ballot used to close once a certain number of people had entered, it’s now open for five days to give everyone who wants to enter a fair chance to do so.

Although arguably this system is fairer as accessing the ballot entry system used to be a bit of a nightmare, it has resulted in a massive increase in the number of applicants. More than 250,000 people entered last year for just over 50,000 places so the odds of getting a place aren’t great. The ballot is drawn completely at random and results are usually announced in October.

Although the odds of getting a place through the public ballot are pretty slim, you’ve got to be in it to win it! If you do enter the ballot then get training now, don’t leave it until the results are announced later in the year.

London 2015

Run for charity. If you fail to win a place in the public ballot then another option is to run for charity. The majority of major charities have a set number of places in the London Marathon each year through the London Marathon’s Golden and Silver Bond scheme. Each charity then allocates their places to runners on the basis that they will raise an agreed amount of money for the charity.

The London Marathon website has a list of charities with places here. Another really useful website is CRunCH – the Charity Runners Clearing House. CRunCH teams up people who want to run the London Marathon with charities that have guaranteed places to offer.

If you really want to run for charity, then I would strongly recommend that you start sending in your applications as early as possible i.e. now and definitely well before October when the results of the ballot are announced. Most charities ask runners to pledge to raise in excess of £1500 so the earlier you start your fundraising the better!

Be a fast runner! If you are a fast UK-based runner then applications for ‘Good for Age’ entries will open in June. There is loads of information on the London Marathon website here. As a 38 year old female, I would have to run a marathon in under 3 hours and 45 minutes.GFA

Although this is never going to happen, I’m just pleased I’m not a male runner as they have to run a sub 3:05 marathon! If you’re really, really speedy then you can apply for a Championship entry. Standards for Championship entry are currently:Championship Entry

If you qualify for either a ‘Good for Age’ or Championship entry then you are awesome, make sure that you enjoy the 2018 London Marathon!

British Athletics Club entry. One advantage of being an active member of an athletics club affiliated to British Athletics is what I call the annual London Marathon ballot entry rejects draw. Athletics clubs are able to apply for club entries into the London Marathon, with the number of entries given to each club based on the number of affiliated first claim adult members. Athletics clubs with between 1 and 99 members only receive 1 place whereas clubs with more than 300 members receive 4 places.

Although this allocation is not as generous as it used to be – I can remember the year my club actually struggled to find people who wanted to complete the marathon distance – this option still offers another entry route into the London Marathon. Each athletics club will have its own set of rules for entry into their ballot entry rejects draw but I can name dozens of runners who have got a coveted place in the London Marathon through their athletics club.

Enter Competitions. Although this isn’t a guaranteed route into the big event, I would recommend that all London Marathon wannabes find out the names of the major partners and sponsors of the 2018 event and stalk follow them on social media.


I was fortunate enough to win a place in the 2016 London Marathon through a competition on twitter, and I’ve already spotted a couple of competitions offering entry into the 2018 London Marathon. It’s definitely well worth keeping a close eye on social media.

Because I’m feeling generous, here’s a Virgin Money Giving competition I spotted on social media earlier.


Enter here.

Start a running blog. Although I haven’t been fortunate enough to receive an email offering me a media place in the London Marathon, a number of running bloggers have been provided with entries. While blogging definitely isn’t a guaranteed route into the London Marathon, you never know, one day your blog might catch the attention of an official partner or sponsor.

Become a celebrity. Please don’t!

Finally, please note that all of my waffle above only applies to UK-based runners. If you are an overseas based runner then please have a look here.

Good luck!!!

Mental tips and strategies for marathon runners

Dr Carla Meijen, Lecturer in Sport Psychology at the University of Kent, has introduced the first psyching team – a team who offer help and support with practical mental strategies before, during and after long distance running events, to the UK.  As a number of spring marathons are fast approaching, I decided to share some of the mental tips and strategies for runners developed by Dr Meijen and her colleagues.

By following the advice of Dr Meijen and her colleagues, runners can use simple techniques to prepare for mental demands such as worries about coping with the pain and discomfort of running a marathon, or about sticking to their race plan. These techniques are split into mental strategies for before the day of the marathon, during the marathon itself and after the marathon.

Before the day of the marathon:

  • Have multiple goals and try not to rely on just one time-based goal. Many runners have a time-based goal in mind; it can be helpful to expand on this and have some flexibility in your goals. One approach is to set different levels of goals, for example setting a dream goal, for when race day conditions are perfect. Next, set a goal you would still be happy with when conditions are less than perfect. I did this before the Great Birmingham Run. Finally, identify a goal that would be the bare minimum if things don’t go to plan. Having three different goals can help you avoid disappointment during the marathon if your dream goal is hard to achieve on the day of the race.
  • Break the race down. Consider splitting the race into different parts. The marathon distance can seem daunting and those 26.2 miles can seem a long way away. Dr Meijen recommends thinking about the marathon as having three different parts and having goals for each part. You can consider using the first 8-10 miles to take in the atmosphere and to get comfortable with your pace. The next 8-10 miles are about trying to intensify the effort. During the final 6 miles you should be totally focused, monitor how you are feeling and if things are going to plan go for a full-out effort to the finish.

Just a parkrun to go[Source]

  • Prepare in order to reduce worries on the day. One of my favourite quotes is “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, this is true for the marathon. As a first-time marathon runner you may feel concerned about what to expect on the day of the race with so many other runners around. There will always be factors out of your control – for example the mini heat wave during the 2007 London Marathon – but you can prepare for those you can control. Do the necessary preparation beforehand and study the course. How will you get to the start? Where are the water stations? Where are the portaloos? Make a check list to make sure you’ve got everything you need. It’s also important to practice your pre-race and race day fuelling strategies on a longer training run before the marathon.

During the marathon:

  • Run your own race. After three marathons I’m yet to run my own race, the atmosphere at large marathons is inspiring, almost too inspiring! It’s easy to get carried away at large events with the crowds cheering; with so many other runners there is a risk of starting at a much faster pace than normal and being worn out early on. Focus on your own race – at larger events there will be different pace groups – follow the one that is closest to your personal time-based goal.

London Marathon[Source]

  • Recall successful training runs. You should trust your training and if you are struggling during the race, recall all your successful training runs to remember your own ability. Use these positive experiences to give confidence that it can be done. You can recall what helped you through those challenging longer training runs; it may have been an inspiring song or the reason you have for actually running the marathon.
  • Have a mantra. Having a mantra can be really helpful, so choose one that worked for you during your training runs and use that during the race. Some runners write their mantra on their hand as a reminder. Unfortunately, my personal running mantra isn’t publishable, sorry.
  • Focus. Inevitably there will be a time during the marathon when your body starts to feel tired and sore. You might find it helpful to distract yourself when this happens by focusing on the sights or by replaying a song in your mind. Some runners prefer to focus on how their body feels and use breathing as a strategy to remain focused. Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe used to count to 100 three times in her head and knew that was roughly a mile.  Use whichever approach feels most comfortable for you.

After the marathon:

  • Reward yourself. After the marathon you may experience some post-marathon blues. Ideally, there should be a reward for your achievement – in my case a huge Mc Donald’s immediately after the last year’s London Marathon. You should also take time to reflect on what you’ve achieved.  I was so disappointed with my performance I didn’t do this and regretted it afterwards.


  • Start planning for next time. Finally, it’s back to planning and thinking about setting a new goal to work towards. Your new goal might to run another marathon or something totally different.

I really hope you found this post interesting. If you’re running a spring marathon then good luck! I’m more than a little bit jealous.

Do you have a running mantra? I quite like Paula Radcliffe’s ‘no limits’ mantra.

How do you keep going when the going gets tough? I’m rubbish and tend to walk as soon as I start to struggle.

London Marathon 2016

[Warning, this is a long post] My London Marathon weekend started on Friday with an uneventful train journey to Euston. I left Four Oaks at lunchtime and was settled in my London accommodation three hours later. The location was perfect. Less than a two minute walk to Baker Street and near to Marylebone High Street.

I spent most of Saturday relaxing, eating and watching rubbish on TV. Back in 2006 I spent several hours on my feet walking around London. I was tired before I’d even started the marathon. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. On Saturday evening I laid my kit out, took a photo and then spent what felt like ages trying to pin my race number to my charity vest.

Kit choicesI was going to regret some of these kit choices!

I ate the Spaghetti Bolognaise I’d prepared earlier (it tasted terrible), had one last read of the ‘Final Instructions’ leaflet and checked that I’d set my alarm for 6am. I didn’t want to sleep through the start of the marathon. I was in bed by 9pm and fell asleep within minutes. I woke just before my alarm feeling refreshed and ready to go. I had a quick shower, got dressed in my pre-race hanging around at the red start gear, packed my kit bag and had a decent sized breakfast.

The journey to Greenwich was straightforward. I left Baker Street at 7am and arrived at the red start in Greenwich Park 45 minutes later. Looking back I have no idea why I allowed myself to get so stressed out about the journey to Greenwich Park. It was simply a case of follow the crowd of nervous looking runners.

Walking to red startWalking towards the red start. At least it had stopped raining.

In 2006 and 2008 I was a ballot place runner and started on the blue start. The red start seemed much larger, with more baggage lorries and more portaloos. There were loads of portaloos and I managed three pre-race wees. Only one of the portaloos I used was disgusting, so this time I had a positive portaloo experience. In-between the portaloo visits (I’ll stop talking about portaloos now!) I got changed into my race outfit, ate a couple of bananas, drank some water and deposited my kit bag at the relevant baggage lorry.

Half an hour before the race was due to start I entered Pen 9 (right at the back of the field) and spent the next 30 minutes chatting to other runners while trying to keep warm. It was pretty chilly! I remember looking across London and realising just how far away the finish line was. At this point I suddenly realised I was about to attempt to complete the London Marathon. The race started at 10am, I crossed the start line 29 minutes later. At this stage I was virtually the last placed runner in the London Marathon. Slightly surreal! After three miles we joined the main course and merged with runners from the blue and green starts. I had been warned that this part of the course would be really congested. It was deserted! We eventually started to catch up with runners from the blue and green starts at Cutty Sark.

Mile 9Running alongside the Runner’s World 5:15 pacer at Mile 9 – photo purchased from Marathon Moments

I reached Tower Bridge and then halfway feeling great. My knee wasn’t hurting and my foot felt fine. The course was really congested, making it difficult to run properly, but I was coping with the course congestion. At this stage I was running in a large group with the Runner’s World 5:15 pacer. Although I was enjoying the slightly random run, power walk and run routine, the congestion on the course was to end my enjoyment of the marathon. Soon after the halfway stage I was clipped from behind by another runner. I lost my balance and in avoiding falling over, jarred my right knee. One minute I was loving the London Marathon, the next minute I was unable to run properly. It was 2008 all over again.

I walked for a couple of miles and noticed that I was getting really, really cold. I regretted wearing a running skirt. I tried to run again but couldn’t. My right knee was really painful and I had no strength in my legs. The lack of long training runs was about to come back to haunt me. I hadn’t respected the marathon distance and was about to pay the price.

I remember watching the faster club runners running in the opposite direction. Some of them looked incredibly relaxed. At this stage I seriously considered dropping out of the marathon. I was cold, both of my knees were painful, I felt sick and just wanted to get away from the noise. I’d had enough of being heckled by the crowd, of dodging the water bottles dumped on the floor and of wading though discarded gel wrappers. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many gel wrappers.Marathon miseryOne advantage of being so slow. The official race photos keep appearing!

I power walked hobbled around the financial district, past Billingsgate Market and past a huge crowd of Samaritans supporters. Sorry! At the 22-mile(ish) point I reached Fetchpoint and stopped for a couple of much needed hugs. It was great to see some friendly faces and those hugs really helped me. Thanks! After leaving Fetchpoint I managed to run for 500m before having to walk again.

I remember hobbling alongside the River Thames and spotting Big Ben in the distance. The support along this section of the course was amazing and I even managed to start running again. I eventually reached Big Ben and knew that the finish line was a mile away. I hobbled along Birdcage Walk, past Buckingham Palace and then turned onto The Mall. At this point I realised that I had approximately 60 seconds to get under 6 hours. I started to run.

5 hours, 59 minutes and 45 seconds after I crossed the start line I’d completed my third (and definitely final) London Marathon.

Marathon resultsNot my best marathon performance!

I collected my medal, posed for an official photo and remembered to collect a goody bag (I forgot in 2008!).

Medal poseOfficial medal pose photo. Feeling relieved that it was all over!

I was slightly disappointed that there were only large or extra-large t-shirts left. I’m now the proud owner of three London Marathon tents. I collected my kit bag, took a couple of slightly dodgy selfies and made my way to Piccadilly Circus. Ten minutes later I found myself stood in a queue inside Mc Donald’s on Baker Street. Not ideal recovery food but I’d been fantasising about salty chips for several hours.

SelfieLoving my attempt at a post-marathon selfie!

I somehow managed to get my Mc Donald’s, broken kit bag, goody bag and myself down some steps into my accommodation. I sat down and devoured the most enjoyable Mc Donald’s ever. I had a bath, inspected my feet (only a couple of blisters), got changed and had a nap. A few hours later I travelled across to Waterloo to meet my friend. Remarkably my knees and legs felt great. I had a couple of blisters but otherwise didn’t feel too bad. Not actually running the whole 26.2 miles clearly had some advantages.

I spent the majority of Monday walking around Marylebone and eating. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much food in one day. Breakfast was two cheese, ham and tomato toasties, lunch was steak and chips in Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte and dinner was calamari, pasta and ice-cream in my favourite London Italian restaurant, Casa Becci. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of my food (blogger fail).

Since returning home I’ve had plenty of time to think about my marathon experience. What went wrong? What could I have done differently? Will I ever enter another marathon? The first question is easy to answer. I didn’t train sensibly, was under-prepared and didn’t respect the marathon distance. I’m not sure that I could have done much differently as a knee injury prevented me completing several longer runs. Had I been given the option to defer I probably would have done, unfortunately I wasn’t. The final question is harder to answer. I know that I will never run another London Marathon. I’ve done it three times, I’ve had my turn. I might, however, attempt to run the Birmingham International Marathon next year. As a Brummie it would be rude not to!

I also finally looked inside my goody bag…

Goody BagMinus an apple, bottle of water, bottle of Lucozade Sport and several leaflets.

Beef Jerky?? Slightly random! Men’s deodorant, thanks! I managed to eat the popcorn, skittles and crisps yesterday. I think that I’ll give the Beef Jerky a miss.

Have you ever had a disappointing marathon experience?

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever been given in a goody bag?

Do you have any tips for speeding up the blister healing process?

My Virgin Money London Marathon Expo experience

Yesterday I travelled from Baker Street to Custom House to visit the Virgin Money London Marathon Expo. Runners have to attend the Expo to collect their final instructions, race number, kit bag and timing chip.

Expo 10

I planned ahead and studied the layout (i.e. the exit) of the Expo. I knew what I needed to buy and set myself a spending budget. This enabled me to enjoy the Expo and stopped me wasting money on running gizmos I don’t need.

I arrived at the ExCeL centre soon after the Expo opened its doors on Wednesday. A few hours later I was back at Baker Street.

The journey from Baker Street to Canning Town was uneventful. At Canning Town I ignored the crowds of runners heading in the wrong direction, and jumped onto a DLR train heading towards Beckton. Three minutes later I arrived at the ExCeL centre.

I was slightly disappointed that the London Marathon music wasn’t playing as I entered the Expo.  The music was playing when I left so I guess I was just unlucky. I joined the queue to collect my number and got talking to a really friendly bloke from Striders of Croydon. I hope your knee holds up Martin!

Number queue

I had my identity checked, signed my registration form and collected my final instructions, number and kit bag. A word of warning, this year the kit bag is see-through and small. I then joined a short queue to get my timing chip activated (I still have no idea how I managed to miss this part of the process in 2008!) and headed into the main area of the Expo.

I posed with the Sporting Life marathon trophy and spent an enjoyable couple of hours wandering up and down the aisles. Although the Expo was quiet, I managed to resist the temptation to sample the various energy bars and gels that were on offer.

Marathon trophy

I located the CEP compression stand and purchased a pair of black calf sleeves. These will be tested after I’ve (hopefully) completed the marathon on Sunday. I then headed towards the exit and picked up a slightly disappointing goody bag (what happened to the free can of London Pride?) and made my way towards the London Marathon Virgin Money Lounge.

In order to escape the Expo you have to navigate through the London Marathon Virgin Money Lounge.  This area was actually great fun. I had my photo taken next to a giant replica of the 2016 medal and entered the #OneinaMillion competition. I was even brave enough to have my photo taken inside one of the photo booths.


After a couple of hours at the Expo I’d seen everything and decided to make my way back towards Baker Street. The Expo was getting busier and my knee was starting to ache. The journey back to Baker Street was quite eventful. The Jubilee Line train I caught at Canning Town got trapped behind a defective train. As a result we were stuck in the tunnel between Westminster and Green Park for over 30 minutes. Hopefully this doesn’t happen on Sunday morning!!

Now that I’ve collected my number and timing chip I feel far more relaxed about Sunday.

Did you enjoy the Virgin Money London Marathon Expo this year?

Do you prefer to collect your number, timing chip and kit bag and leave ASAP or do you prefer to spend hours mooching around the various stands?

Rants and raves #4

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

Yesterday, I realised that I haven’t had anything to rant about since last July. This is a good thing. As I’m feeling a little bit grumpy at the moment I thought that I’d resurrect my rants and raves series.

Rant: items going ‘missing’ in the post

I ordered a personalised Walsall Arboretum parkrun t-shirt from Tribesports at the beginning of February. After Tribesports agreed to send me a replacement due to the quality of the personalisation of the first t-shirt I received (my 5 year old niece could have done a better job) I was sent a men’s t-shirt by mistake. I returned the men’s t-shirt and am still waiting for a replacement to arrive. The second replacement sent out by Tribesports never arrived. Hopefully it will be a case of fourth time lucky. I want to wear my sexy apricot t-shirt!

More recently a parcel transported by a courier failed to arrive at my house. The courier was apparently unable to deliver the parcel and the parcel was subsequently returned to the sender. I’m slightly dubious about this particular incident as there are only two houses with my postcode (my Tribesports orders have been sent to a different address). Couriers don’t usually have an issue finding my house. In addition, I didn’t receive any form of communication from the courier. Strange. Luckily Lululemon haven’t had any problems finding my house.

Rave: Lululemon running skirts for tall people

I never thought that I’d find myself writing this, but I’ve really fallen in love with my Lululemon running skirts. I bought my first skirt on eBay last summer for £15. Not bad considering the skirt had never been worn. I love a good bargain!

Walsall Parkrun 15_08_15 2Nice skirt, shame about me!

More recently I treated myself to a purple Lululemon running skirt. So a huge thanks to Lululemon for giving this taller than average runner the confidence to run in a skirt. Now I just need to stop dazzling people with my bright white legs.

Rant: social media induced maranoia

The various online running communities I subscribe to are generally awesome. Unfortunately, as we approach the weekend of the London Marathon I’m having to distance myself from Farcebook. I can only cope with so many London Marathon themed nightmares. So far I’ve dreamt about leading the marathon, someone stealing one of my trainers and getting my foot stuck in glue. I wondered why I was feeling so nervous about the London Marathon. I then realised that I had been spending far too much time reading about potential London Marathon disasters. I’ve got the experience to realise that it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll collapse, and the common sense to realise it’s impossible to get lost during the marathon.


I know how to attach my running number (another popular question) and how to collect my number and how to navigate to the red start (I’ve read the final instructions). I’m now having a small break from certain online running communities and already feel more relaxed.

Rave: my Garmin Forerunner 220

I recently purchased a second-hand Garmin Forerunner 220 as the battery life of my Forerunner 10 was rubbish. While I’m only just starting to get the hang of my new running toy, I love all of the additional features. I’ve already discovered that for someone with longer than average legs, my stride length is crap.

Garmin 220I have no idea what most of this stuff means!

I’m already looking forward to analysing my London Marathon splits and statistics. Fingers crossed the battery lasts for more than 5 hours!

Rant: my left foot

I’m also hoping that my left foot lasts the marathon distance. Now my right knee has *touch wood* decided to stop hurting, my left foot has decided to make itself known to me. I’m not sure if the occasional twinge is a niggle or an actual injury. I’m praying that my metatarsal stress fracture isn’t about to make an unwelcome reappearance. I don’t want to have to seek medical assistance during the marathon.

Rave: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers

I love my Brooks Adrenaline GTS (Go-to-shoe) 16s, and will be upset when I have to replace them. This week, in addition to pounding the pavements of Four Oaks, my Brooks have been for a couple of pints in the Barley Mow in Marylebone, and for a slightly overindulgent meal in the Royal China restaurant on Baker Street. I was the only person wearing trainers in the Royal China.

Brooks GTSThey don’t look quite so pristine now.

At some point I’ll write a detailed review of my Adrenaline GTS 16s. Knowing me it will probably be after the release of the GTS 17.

Sorry Brooks!

Would you consider running in a running skirt?

Do you think social media has led to an increase in maranoia?