My Top 10 Websites for Runners

Recently, I’ve spent far, far too much time researching Plantar Fasciitis on the internet. My nickname could be Professor Plantar. The amount of information about injury rehabilitation is mind-blowing, and in a lot of cases of slightly dubious quality. As I’m sure that I’m not the only runner who spends quite a lot of time perusing the internet, I decided to share my top 10 websites for runners.

So here are my top 10 websites for runners:

1. Fetch Everyone If you want to write a blog, find an obscure local race, get advice from runners, enter competitions and monitor your progress (or lack of progress) as a runner, then visit Fetch Everyone. I’ve been a member since 2005 and have made some great friends through the site.

Awesome features and articles include:

2. Runner’s World Although the recent improvements to the site haven’t been popular, Runner’s World remains one of my favourite running sites. If you need advice and support you’ll find it on the forums. If you need to find a 10K race in April search the extensive race listings. The wide range of articles written by experts and occasional competitions are an added bonus.

Recent articles have included:

3. The Running Bug The running site that I have a bit of an ongoing love hate relationship with. I love the useful articles, competitions and forums. I don’t love my online stalker and the fact that I’ve never, ever won a Running Bug competition. Hopefully 2017 will be my lucky year!

Recent articles have included:

4. Strava Strava allows runners and cyclists to track and analyse their training, measure their performance against other athletes, share their training on social media and much more. I’m too tight to pay for a premium membership, so I’m aware that I’m missing out on most of the awesomeness of Strava. When I find myself a ‘proper’ job and can run I’ll be upgrading my account. On a side note, if you want to read about ‘runners’ setting CRs on bikes,  the twitter account @stravawankers is well worth following.

5. Running Heroes Back in October, the Running Heroes website featured as a ‘rave’ in one of my Rants and raves posts. Such an honour! Running Heroes works with organisations and brands to encourage and reward runners. The site is really easy to use and I’ve collated a lot of points and completed 30 challenges. While I’ve never been selected as a random prize winner, I remain quietly optimistic.

The site also allows runners to exchange their points for a wide range of rewards. I can’t wait for my running clothes ‘ban’ to come to an end so that I can exchange some of my points.

Running Heroes

6. GB Mapometer Although strictly speaking GB Mapometer isn’t a running site, it is a useful resource for runners. I used the site to plot all of my longer runs when I was training for the Great Birmingham Run. The site allows users to accurately plot and measure routes, and provides an indication of the elevation of each route. Useful for avoiding hills in the final few miles of a long training run.

7. parkrun An essential resource for all parkrunners. Although the site can be quite slow during the weekend when a bazillion runners are searching for their latest parkrun result, if you are a new runner and want to take part in your local parkrun, you need to visit the site to register. The site contains an interactive map which illustrates every parkrun event in the UK and links to the individual parkrun event pages, a blog, information on sponsors, results, some information on the parkrun team and a link to the parkrun shop.

parkrun

8. NHS Couch to 5K If I had to recommend one running website to people just starting out as a runner, it would be the NHS Couch to 5K site. The site is free and contains a wealth of information for both beginner and slightly more experienced runners. There are links to download the Couch to 5K app, weekly Couch to 5K podcasts, a simple to use race finder and the dedicated Couch to 5K forums. Finally, the series of guides for runners are a useful invaluable resource.

The most popular articles include:

9. Made with Sisu I’ve been using Made with Sisu to generate data visualisations based on my training runs for quite some time. I almost ordered a print of my 2016 training runs but held back when I realised it would probably end up sitting in a corner somewhere gathering dust. I reckon that this site is probably a must for runners attempting to complete the six World Marathon Major events, the example Tokyo Marathon print looks pretty awesome.

10. The Running Blog – The Guardian The final site to make it into my ‘Top 10’ is the Guardian’s Running Blog. Described as a blog on “…all things running, from jogs around the park to ultra marathons”, there is definitely something for runners of all standards and distances. I love the ‘How was your weekend running?’ and the ‘Friday flyer’ series; some of the comments left by runners and jealous non-runners are highly entertaining.

Recent articles have included:

Hopefully some of the websites and running resources I’ve summarised will be useful to some of you. I also hope that my rambling hasn’t bored you all to tears.

What are your favourite running websites? Did I miss out any really awesome sites?

Which website do you use to search for race listings? I’ve always tended to use Runner’s World find the new and improved site quite hard to use.

15 tips for running and racing on a budget

As I’ve got a reputation for being careful with my money a tight-arse, I’ve decided to share some of my tips for running and racing on a limited budget. Hopefully some will be useful.

1. Buy old models of trainers. When I first started running, I would buy the latest model of my favourite trainers as soon as they were released. It took me far too long to realise that wearing the latest model of trainers wasn’t going to make me a faster runner. Old models of trainers are usually almost the same shoe at a much cheaper price. I now always search for old models of my favourite trainers online, and stock up when they go on sale.

2. Look after your trainers. I need to replace my trainers every 400 miles or so. To make my trainers last longer I avoid wearing them for anything other than running. I used to play tennis in my favourite trainers, now I know this was adding to their wear and tear, just walking in trainers can wear out the cushioning. Finally, if you need to wash your trainers then use mild soap and cold water, never put them in the washing machine.

3. Only buy what you actually need. I used to be really gullible when it came to buying running gear and accessories, and would purchase virtually every ‘must have’ running gizmo I saw advertised in Runner’s World. I realised that my spending was slightly out of control when I owned 24 pairs of trainers. It really was a case of ‘all the kit, still shit’. Guess what? You don’t need 24 pairs of trainers and the latest blingy GPS watch. I’ve spent thousands on running gear and I’m still shit at running!

all-the-kit

4. Shop around for running gear. While I’m a huge fan of my local independent running store, my limited budget has forced me to search for cheaper alternatives. One advantage of the current running boom is the ever-increasing availability of running gear both on the high street and online. Over the last four years I’ve purchased most of my running gear from SportPursuit, eBay and TK Maxx. Although I love a good bargain and refuse to spend a fortune on running gear, I also refuse to buy low quality running gear. People don’t need to see my arse cheeks when I’m running.

5. Look after your running gear. Once you’ve purchased technical running gear, make it last longer by looking after it. Apparently air drying running clothes instead of sticking them in the dryer will make them last longer. Also, make sure you read the care label on your running gear. It took me far too long to realise that technical running gear and fabric conditioner aren’t a winning combination!

6. Become a brand ambassador/product tester. The recent Asics FrontRunner campaign was open to runners of all ages and abilities. I’m pleased to see more and more brands giving ordinary runners the chance to become a brand ambassador. Occasionally brands will advertise for new product testers. Why not apply? You have nothing to lose. My friend in the USA gets to test out trainers and clothes for a major brand. I’m only a little bit jealous!

asics-frontrunner

7. Plan races ahead and race selectively. As I don’t have an unlimited race entry budget, I sit down at the beginning of the year and prioritise my races. My ‘A’ races are the races I want to do the most, ‘B’ races are backup races, and ‘C’ races are races that would be awesome to do but are far too expensive. I set myself an annual budget and make sure that I stick to it. I then look out for ‘early bird’ race entry discounts and sign up for any ‘A’ races I can afford and definitely want to run. I’ve stopped letting race FOMO get the better of me and won’t be entering the Tokyo and New York Marathon ballots until I’ve saved up enough money.

8. Race locally. While it’s fun to travel to new cities and countries to race, the cost of train tickets, flights, hotels and meals soon start to add up. I once spent a ridiculous amount of money on train tickets, a central London hotel and food in order to run a not very well organised 10k. I now save time, stress and money by entering races that are closer to home. Thanks to parkrun I’ll never have to pay to enter a 5k race again. Thanks to local running clubs and groups I can enter well organised 10k and half marathon races for the price of a train ticket to London.

9. Volunteer at races. Race organisers are sometimes desperate for volunteers. Some race organisers will offer incentives such as free race entry into the race the following year. Volunteering is also a great way of getting free running gear as some races will give volunteers the same goodie bags as the race participants. You’ll also get to feel pretty awesome.

10. Search for race discounts. Some races have started to offer quite substantial entry discounts on sites like Groupon and Running Heroes and in other online promotions. If I’m registering for a larger event online I’ll always do a quick search for online discount codes. I’ve been lucky a couple of times.

running-heroes

11. Share race day costs. I used to drive to races on my own until some running club friends asked me for a lift to a race. They gave me some fuel money and by car sharing we helped the environment. Another great way of saving money is by sharing a hotel room. I’m not suggesting that you share your twin room with a complete stranger but with your running friends. Consider alternatives to hotels, If a friend lives near the location of your next race, ask if you can stay the night before the race. Don’t, however, make the same mistake I once made and spend all night drinking wine and reminiscing about school. I didn’t actually make it to the race.

12. Look out for free training groups. Although running clubs can be quite expensive, don’t assume that you have to pay for training sessions with a qualified coach. Many running stores now offer free coached runs and workouts. Examples in Birmingham include the supervised runs organised by Up & Running and Good Gym. In addition, many races have started to offer free or very cheap training runs to registered runners. It’s always worth checking.

up-running

13. Stay injury free. I’m not very good at staying injury free, and dread to think how much money I’ve spent on physio sessions. The recovery from running injuries can be both emotionally and financially draining. The majority of my injuries have been self-inflicted and caused by me either ignoring niggles or trying to increase my mileage too quickly. Although it’s probably almost impossible to totally avoid injuries, always listen to your body, warm-up and cool-down, avoid doing all of your training on hard surfaces, and invest in a cheap foam roller.

14. Gifts. I was quite cheeky and published a ‘Christmas gifts for runners’ blog just before Christmas. My unsubtle approach worked and I unwrapped some trainers and a gorgeous running skirt on Christmas Day. Let your family and partner know that you’ll always appreciate running related Christmas and birthday presents. If you don’t want to end up having to return unwanted running gear, ask for something simple like entry into one a race or gift vouchers.

15. Start a running blog. Finally, start a successful running blog. Although there are now far too many running influencers bloggers, your running related thoughts might catch the attention of race directors and brands. If that happens then congratulations and think of all the money you’ll save on entry fees and running gear.

I hope that you’ve found a least one of my tips useful.

Do you have any tips for running and racing on a budget?

Do you have an annual race entry budget?

Rants and raves #9

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

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

Rave: Christmas and the New Year

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

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

Rant: Emails and unrealistic goals

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

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

Rave: GoodGym Birmingham

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

There is now!! GoodGym Birmingham is GO!!

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

Rant: My new trainers

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

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

Rave: Long Tall Sally #TALLERANDSTRONGER

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

Anyway, back to the #TALLERANDSTRONGER campaign.

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

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

Rant: Niggles

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

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

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

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

15 reasons I am a rubbish blogger

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

I am a rubbish blogger because…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I really must try harder in 2017!

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

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

My running goals for 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🙂

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

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

Christmas gifts for runners

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

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

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

christmas-2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XMiles monthly nutrition box review

Last month, while I was researching a number of energy gel brands and flavours, I stumbled across the XMiles endurance and sports nutrition website.

xmiles-logo

What is XMiles?

XMiles is a “…vibrant young company formed by runners focused on nutrition products”. The company was launched in October 2014 and in December 2015 XMiles UK Ltd was founded.

As an independent endurance sports nutrition store, XMiles aims to “…support and be active in the running community.”

Now although I’m definitely not an endurance athlete, after the Great Birmingham Run I’m acutely aware that I need to find out if my temperamental digestive system can cope with energy gels.

dscf1543

As I result I treated (?) myself to the XMiles November nutrition box (£13.99 and £2.95 P&P). Unfortunately, a couple of days later got struck down with norovirus. When the nutrition box arrived I felt so unwell, I decided to delay opening the box until I felt fully recovered.

So what’s in the November nutrition box?

As I don’t get out much at the moment, when I finally got around to opening my XMiles November nutrition box, I was really, really excited.

Upon opening the box – I think that it’s definitely worth noting that the box should fit through a standard letterbox – I spotted a handwritten postcard and some rather exciting looking goodies…

dscf1546

So what was actually included in the XMiles November nutrition box? As I don’t want to write an essay, I’ve listed what was included:

  • Truestart – 5 single sachets of performance coffee
  • Clif Shot Gels – one Razz flavour 37G energy gel
  • Torq Energy Gel – one limited special edition Adnams ‘Ghost Ship Ale’ energy gel
  • Torq Energy Bar – one Raspberry and Apple flavour 45G energy bar
  • Tailwind Nutrition – one Green Tea Buzz flavour two serving stickpack
  • Saltstick Fastchews – one tube of Tart Orange flavour chewable electrolyte tablets
  • Sports Beans – one 28G pack of assorted sports beans with electrolytes
  • Mule Bare Energy Bars – one Peanut Punch flavour 40G energy bar

As I have a nut allergy and can’t stand the taste of coffee, I won’t be able to test a couple of these products. I will, however, be testing out the rest of the products during my Cambridge Half Marathon training. I’m particularly looking forward to finding out what the ‘Ghost Ship Ale’ energy gel actually tastes like!

What are the subscription options and prices?

Now that I’ve very briefly reviewed the contents of the XMiles monthly nutrition box, I need to answer a really important question:

How much do the XMiles monthly nutrition boxes cost?

Subscription boxes can be quite expensive to purchase every month. I personally couldn’t afford to sign up to a regular subscription at the moment even if I wanted to. The option to purchase a nutrition box as a one-off treat is, therefore, a great idea.

A monthly subscription costs £12.59 (this price includes a 10 per cent ‘subscribe and save’ discount) plus P&P.

A one-time purchase costs £13.99 plus P&P.

The Verdict

A major concern that I have with subscription boxes is that the items included in the box aren’t actually worth the cost of the subscription.

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I quickly calculated the value of the items included in the November XMiles nutrition box using prices I found online, and found that the contents of the box are worth more or less the same as the subscription which is reassuring.

In my opinion, charging £2.95 for P&P when the actual postage cost was only £1.54 was a perhaps a little excessive. I was also slightly disappointed to receive five identical sachets of performance coffee, with subscription boxes variety is the key to success.

All in all, I would be happy to recommend XMiles to other runners, and can’t wait to test out the contents of the box.

If you would like to find out more about XMiles and the wide range of products they stock – they sell nuun hydration tabs – take a look at their website.

**Full disclosure: I purchased the November XMiles nutrition box myself. I was not asked to review the nutrition box, and have not received any payment for this review. As always, all opinions, typos and dodgy photographs are my own**