Rants and Raves #32

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post as I needed a break from completing a slightly tedious job application. I’m also preparing to travel back down to Wallingford. I’m not looking forward to returning to my shared house. As a result, this blog may be slightly more ranty than usual. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, less negative running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Christmas

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas, mine was reasonably positive. I managed to eat and drink far too much and spent some quality time with my parents. I like to think that my parsley stuffing balls were the highlight of our Christmas dinner. Actually, I think the turkey was the highlight; I love turkey and all the trimmings.Christmas 2018Christmas Day was actually quite a low-key event as there were only three of us. Boxing Day was a bit challenging at times, and I ended up in the local pub in the evening having a quiet drink. I found being surrounded by large groups of people a little difficult. I didn’t get to see a lot of my family, but will hopefully see them sooner rather than later.

Rant: Festive food shaming

One of the not-so-positive aspects of Christmas is what I call the festive food shaming. I hadn’t even digested my Christmas meal or eaten any sherry trifle when I spotted this on twitter. I can’t remember who shared it.  Christmas food shamingWhy do people (and some organisations who should really know better) feel the need to share this sort of rubbish? Maybe I’m just as bad for sharing it on my blog. I don’t want to know how far I’d need to run to burn off my Christmas meal. Talk about encouraging unhealthy eating habits.

Unfortunately, running related brands weren’t the only culprits. I spotted this Spillers advert on Boxing Day.SpillersI’m off to run three marathons and then to ride a random horse for a couple of days!

Rave: TK Maxx bargains

I’ve said it before, but I love TK Maxx and its randomness. I love finding hidden gems and the occasional pair of trousers that actually fit. Having said that, I also love the fact it’s now relatively easy to find bargainous running gear online – my local store has always had a slightly disappointing Activewear section.TK MaxxMy brother and sister-in-law very kindly gave me £40 of TK Maxx vouchers as part of my Christmas present. Although I told myself I wouldn’t buy any more running gear, I couldn’t not buy the 2XU leggings I spotted in the red sticker sale. I mean it would have been rude not to buy them as they were so cheap. I bought a couple of sizes to try on and must remember to return one pair. I’m good at buying things and forgetting to return them.

Rant: My Garmin 235

I’m aware that I’ve moaned about my Garmin 235 before and I’ve tried really hard to make myself like it, but I’m still not a fan. I don’t know if mine is faulty but the battery life is rubbish, it takes 5+ minutes for the GPS to be ready, the wrist-based heart rate sensor is a waste of time and spends half the time telling me I’m dead, and a large chunk of my data has randomly disappeared. So based on my personal experiences, I wouldn’t recommend runners buy a Garmin 235.

Apologies for the rather random rant, I do feel a bit better now. I’m tempted to contact Garmin as I don’t think my 235 should lose 50% of its battery life during a 30 minute run.

Rave: TopNine2018 Instagram

I spotted a few snide comments from the usual suspects about people sharing their #TopNine2018 photos, but I loved looking at all of them. My Top Nine Instagram posts had a definite running theme.MyTopNineI guess this makes sense because most of my Instagram followers are runners and I only tend to share running related photos. This year, I’m going to make more effort to update Instagram on a slightly more regular basis. Shameless self promotion alert, but if you don’t already, please follow me.

Rant: Out of control dogs

Although I love running in Sutton Park and I also love dogs, I’m getting slightly fed up with the number of out of control dogs in the park. I can pretty much guarantee that every time I run or walk in the park I’ll have a ‘run in’ with a dog.

I don’t care if your dog is “being friendly” or “just wants to play with you” or “won’t hurt you”, I’m going to be pissed off if your dog jumps up at me or chases me bearing its teeth. And as for the lady I spotted trying to walk five large dogs last week, did you really think it was a good idea?

Rave: Wolves

I’ve been a Wolves supporter since I was a child. There have been ups and (quite a lot of) downs, but at the moment, I’m enjoying the Wolves roller-coaster. The second half performance against Spurs was amazing. The performance against Crystal Palace was terrible.

Although 2019 didn’t get off to the best of starts, I’m looking forward to Wolves having a successful 2019.

Rant: The weather

I know I shouldn’t complain too much because it hasn’t snowed (yet) and the weather hasn’t really messed with my half marathon training schedule. However, I can’t remember the last time I spotted blue skies in Four Oaks. The skies in Four Oaks have been grey for what feels like weeks.WeatherI’m starting to suspect that the lack of decent daylight is messing with my mood. I need some sunshine and blue skies to cheer me up. I also need some slightly chillier weather to test out some of my Christmas presents.

Rave: New Trainers

During my Boxing Day online shopping spree, I somehow ended up on the Brooks Running website and found myself hitting ‘add to basket’ and then buying these Adrenaline GTS 18 trainers.BrooksAt £84 they weren’t cheap, but this FREE SHIPPING & RETURNS. With Brooks’ True Blue Guarantee, take our gear for a trial run and if you’re not 100% satisfied within 90 days, return it for free” caught my attention. If I’m not 100% satisfied, I will be getting in contact with Brooks.

If you’ve reached the end of this blog and have read all of my somewhat random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve put pen to paper so to speak.

What was the highlight of your Christmas meal? Are you a turkey fan or do you prefer to eat something else?

Have you ever had any scary dog incidents while out running? I hope that my recent experiences are unusual rather than the norm.  

What is the most you would spend on a pair of trainers? £84 was slightly more than I’m usually prepared to spend.

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Supacore Compression performance wear review

Most of you will be aware that I’m a somewhat injury-prone runner. So as you can imagine, when the marketing manager for Supacore Compression, a compression performance wear company with a focus on injury prevention and rehabilitation contacted me, I was over the moon. They had found this website when they were searching for running blogs, and wondered whether I’d be interested in collaborating with a product review or feature. supacore_compression-colI went away, did a bit of research, liked what I read and agreed to review some products. Before I start my review, I’m aware that people may not have come across Supacore Compression (I hadn’t) so here’s some information about the brand.

An introduction to Supacore Compression

Supacore’s website includes a page dedicated to answering a range of FAQs. I’ve decided to share a couple of questions and answers here to provide some information about the brand.

How is Supacore different from other compression brands? Supacore is the only seamless compression product that assists with injury prevention and recovery for core, hip, groin and back related injuries. Products are constructed using unique seamless technology, enabling specific compression to be engineered into the garment without the use of uncomfortable seams.

Who should be wearing Supacore? According to the website, Supacore should be worn by:

  • All athletes (from beginners to professionals) who suffer from back, groin and hamstring injury and would like to keep playing and recover from injury faster.
  • All athletes who want to increase core stability.
  • All athletes wanting increased blood circulation, less soft tissue damage and faster recovery.
  • All athletes wanting to reduce the effect of DOMS and increase blood circulation.

A few months later, I was a little surprised when a parcel from Australia arrived in the post (I’d assumed I’d be receiving a parcel from Supacore’s UK-based distributor). Supacore had very generously sent me three items to review:

  • A unisex sleeveless compression top
  • A pair of women’s Coretech injury recovery and prevention compression shorts
  • A pair of calf compression sleeves

The items were well packaged and had been placed inside a white net bag with a drawstring. I’ve used this bag to transport my toiletries to and from the bathroom of my shared house. I had struggled to carry everything before; it’s always good to receive a ‘bonus’ item from a brand.  

Anyway, back to the point of this blog, a review of Supacore compression performance wear! I’ve decided to review the top, shorts and then the compression sleeves. A sort of top-down approach.

When I saw how tiny both the shorts and the sleeveless compression top looked, I had a scary flashback to the time I got myself trapped inside a top in a tiny changing room inside Selfridges. The changing room was boiling hot, and the more I tried and failed to remove the top, the more I panicked. At one stage I thought I was going to have to be cut out of a £100 top. I’ll never forget the feeling of relief when I finally managed to wiggle my way out of the top.

Sorry, I got sidetracked again. I figured that (a) compression gear is meant to be tight, the clue is in the name and (b) I was in my own bedroom, not in a tiny changing room. Also, if I couldn’t physically squeeze myself into the sleeveless top or the shorts it wasn’t the end of the world. I could always pass them onto someone who hasn’t spent the last couple of months trying out every food establishment in Wallingford.

Unisex sleeveless compression training top

According to Suapacore’s website, this top provides postural support at the upper and lower back which enables improved body movement, as well as reducing muscle oscillation and thereby injury during training. Compression also aids circulation during workouts, increasing performance and recovery.  The top is designed to be worn whenever you exercise, and can even be worn underneath everyday clothes to provide postural support. While I wasn’t quite brave enough to wear the top underneath my work clothes, I was brave enough to test the top out during some of my longer training runs.Training sleeveless top

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Apologies for including a stock photo, but I’ve decided not to include the photo my friend took of me wearing this top. I’m all for keeping it real, but I look terrible in the photos. The top was so tight I looked at the size guide for the top, unearthed my measuring tape and checked I’d asked for the correct size. I had done. I think it’s safe to say that when I saw the photo I had a bit of a reality check.TrainingTankBlack1_grande_13ac0cf6-aab4-474f-bd19-40871644b4fc_540x

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During longer runs, my complete lack of core strength and poor posture occasionally combine to leave me with back ache during and after my runs. In the lead up to the Royal Parks Half Marathon, I actually had to lie down after some of my longer training runs to give my back a break. I briefly considered wearing the sleeveless compression top during the Royal Parks Half, but decided that wearing two new running tops in wet conditions was possibly asking for trouble.

I’ve worn the top during some of my recent longer training runs in Sutton Park. I love it! The top is quite long and doesn’t ride up when I’m running, perfect for this taller than average runner. The material is comfortable and doesn’t rub; I wish the same could be said for some of my other running vests. The material is also breathable which is brilliant because I don’t overheat when I wear the top as a base layer. Finally, the top feels incredibly supportive while not being restrictive, and definitely seems to help my posture. I haven’t had backache during or after any of my recent longer runs. I’m looking forward to wearing the top during a 2+ hour training run later this year.

Patented women’s CORETECH® injury recovery and prevention compression shorts 

I checked out the Supacore website, and discovered that these shorts are ideal for people with groin injury, hamstring injury or osteitis pubis; a common cause of chronic groin pain in footballers.  The shorts are also described as being ideal for new mothers wanting to speed up recovery after pregnancy. The shorts are different to other shorts, because along with several other features they have patented waistband technology, seamless knitting technology for comfort and longevity and medical grade compression level.Womens Coretech shorts

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Now although I can honestly say I’ve never owned or worn such an expensive pair of shorts – the shorts have a RRP of £85 – I looked forward to trying out the Coretech compression shorts more than the sleeves and top. It’s been a long time – possibly more than 10 years – since I last ran in a pair of compression shorts. I was intrigued to see how much or even if compression technology had evolved. Would the Coretech shorts live up to my expectations?Shorts

Shorts 2I’ve had more than my fair share of random running injuries. In 2005, a groin injury meant that I missed all of my longer training runs in the lead up to the London Marathon. One second I was running on a treadmill, the next I was in agony and could hardly walk. I managed to get around the London Marathon but ended up having to take a break from running. Fortunately, I haven’t had any issues with my groin since that disastrous treadmill training session.

I’ve worn the compression shorts on several training runs and I’m a fan. While the material the shorts are manufactured from looks slightly unusual, they are incredibly comfortable. I love the higher than normal waistband, it stays put and doesn’t ride down, definitely a bonus. Although the shorts feel tight and I could definitely feel the compression when I wore them, they weren’t overly restrictive when I was running. Finally, the material is not see-through, and the shorts passed the all important squat test.

Although I don’t think I’ll be wearing these shorts when I tackle my next half marathon in March – I need pockets – I will be wearing them during the majority of my longer training runs.

Calf compression sleeves

The final product I was sent to review was a pair of calf compression sleeves. I’m not going to go into too much detail as more information is available online. Supacore state that their calf compression sleeves are designed and manufactured using garment construction technology, including medically-proven gradient compression, and are seamless to ensure durability and comfort during use. The sleeves provide targeted compression to the lower leg providing a range of benefits; these include the reduction of muscle vibration which decreases the risk of injury whilst exercising.Calf Compression

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I’m not sure if I completely misinterpreted the size guide, but these were so long, they actually almost covered my knees. Now I have longer than average legs so this actually made quite a refreshing change. The sleeves felt slightly lacking in compression, and when I wore them during a run, they slipped down slightly.

I’ve worn several brands of compression sleeves and socks. In my opinion, compression sleeves have a couple of major advantages over socks. They are easier to put on and can also be worn with normal socks after a long run. These sleeves were lifesavers immediately after the Royal Parks Half when I wanted to wear compression socks to help my calf muscles recover but my feet were too sore to cope with anything other than my favourite fluffy ankle socks.

I’ve worn the sleeves a lot. I genuinely believe that wearing the sleeves immediately after the Royal Parks Half helped my slightly tight and niggly calf muscles recover from pounding the streets of London. I was able to walk rather than hobble the two miles to and from the office the day after the half marathon. Although at £26 these aren’t the cheapest compression sleeves on the market, I would be more than happy to spend that amount to invest in a second pair.

The washing machine test

One of the reasons it takes me a while to produce my product reviews is that I like to wear and wash items I’m reviewing several times. Unfortunately, in the past some of my running gear hasn’t coped very well with being washed. Grey Lululemon anti-stink top I’m looking at you.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that all three items most definitely passed my stringent washing machine test.

The Verdict

So would I recommend Supacore compression performance wear? Yes, I would. The compression top, shorts and sleeves all felt incredibly comfortable when I wore them during and after longer training runs. All three items appear to have aided my recovery. I’ll definitely be wearing the shorts and top in the lead up to my next two half marathons.

Although the HQ of Supacore Compression performance wear is located in Melbourne, Australia, Supacore has a distributor in the UK called Live on the Edge.

**Full disclosure: Supacore sent me a unisex training sleeveless compression top, a pair of women’s Coretech compression shorts and a pair of calf compression sleeves for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I didn’t want to break the internet, some photos were taken from the Supacore website. As always all opinions are my own**

Christmas Gifts for Runners

The last couple of years, my completely unsubtle Christmas Gifts for Runners (named Emma) posts have been reasonably successful. Last year, I found myself unwrapping parcels containing Lululemon shorts, a sports bra, and some running tights.

It’s now December, and the annual festive office Bake Off has started. Christmas Day is rapidly approaching. Unlike last year, I’m feeling quite well prepared, and have purchased and wrapped most of my Christmas presents. My family have been asking me what I’d like for Christmas; apparently a donation to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity isn’t enough. As a result, I’ve decided to put together an updated Christmas gifts for runners guide.

Once again, I’ve included photos and links to hopefully save people my family time when they are shopping online. While I’m aware I’ve included links to a few quite expensive items, most of my gifts are quite reasonably priced.Gift Guide 2018Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 trainers UK9 I’m aware that I’ve included links to Brooks Adrenaline trainers in my last two guides, however, a runner can never have too many pairs of trainers. Although these trainers are currently quite expensive, I’ve spotted a couple of Brooks bloggers wearing Adrenaline GTS 19 trainers. This means the GTS 18’s will soon be a lot cheaper.

Subscription to Intrepid Magazine I’ve reached the stage where Runner’s World Magazine et al. no longer float my boat. I find the majority of articles predictable, and the pages and pages of adverts rather tedious.  I recently stumbled across Intrepid Magazine which is described as the first UK based female-first adventure and outdoors print magazine. I’ve read one issue, and believe that a subscription to the magazine would make a great Christmas gift.

HydrateM8 water bottle I still need to drink less Diet Coke and more water. I’m confident that a motivational HydrateM8 water bottle would help me increase my daily water intake.

TK Maxx Gift Card I’m a huge fan of TK Maxx, and tend to head straight to the Active Wear section whenever I pop into my local store. I love the fact you never know what is lurking on the clothes rails. A TK Maxx gift card would make a great Christmas present.

Sweaty Betty Anna Headband My hair has a slightly irritating habit of getting into my eyes. I’m getting a little fed up with always wearing a cap when I run!

Ultimate Direction Women’s Specific Race Vesta 4.0 M/L I need to learn how to drink water without stopping during my longer training runs. A lot of runners I know have told me that hydration vests are the way forward. I’ve read quite a few positive reviews of the Ultimate Direction Vesta 4 hydration vest. I don’t want to be picky, but if you could avoid the light pink option.

Entry into the Vitality London 10,000 I’ve included this rather random gift again, because an entry into one of my all-time favourite 10k races would make an awesome Christmas present. Entries into the Vitality London 10,000 are currently open.

AfterShokz Trekz Air wireless bone conduction headphones Earlier this year, I was incredibly fortunate and won a pair of these in a twitter competition. As I needed a decent ‘guess my finish time’ prize to increase my Royal Parks Half fundraising, I decided to give away my AfterShokz headphones. I don’t regret my decision as I raised almost £1000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. However, I would love some money towards a replacement pair of bone conductor headphones.

Lululemon Strength and Sweat Shorts US8 Unfortunately, Lululemon are yet to restock my favourite Sole Training shorts. The Strength and Sweat shorts have received positive reviews, and I’d love to give them a try. The shorts are longer, so I’m hopeful that they won’t ride up causing chub rub.

Shock Absorber Ultimate Run sports bra 36C I never did manage to solve the mystery of the disappearing Shock Absorber sports bra. Anyway, I’ve looked through my running gear, and although I own enough running tops and shorts to last the rest of my running career, I’m desperately short of supportive sports bras.

SOLE Women’s Active Medium footbeds UK9/EUR43 A couple of years ago, SOLE very kindly sent me a pair of Women’s Active Medium footbeds to test and review. The footbeds made such a difference, they have remained firmly wedged inside my trainers ever since. I have a feeling that the footbeds will need replacing soon; therefore, a second pair would be really useful.

Lululemon Run Fast Gloves M/L And finally, I desperately need a new pair of running gloves, and I love the look of Lululemon’s Run Fast gloves. Lululemon gear may be expensive, but it generally lasts a long time. If possible, I’d prefer a pair in black.

I hope that you enjoyed reading through my Christmas wish list. I have a feeling that the majority of my gift ideas are a little too ambitious!

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

How I’m rediscovering my running mojo

I’ve lost my running mojo.

It disappeared immediately after the Royal Parks Half Marathon, and I’m struggling to find it again. After a decent performance in the Royal Parks combined with some epic fundraising, I’ve struggled to run on a regular basis. Some weeks, my trainers have remained unworn and my Garmin battery has gone flat.A well placed benchMy right knee and left foot have been a little niggly. I’ve no idea what I’ve done to my right knee, it started to hurt one morning when I was walking to work, it’s all a bit of a mystery. I suspect the ‘niggle’ in my left foot is related to the stress fracture, it only hurts when it’s cold.

I’m not using this as an excuse, but I’ve also been feeling both mentally and physically exhausted a lot of the time. I think the lack of sleep combined with what has happened this year have finally caught up with me.

I’ve rather foolishly entered two half marathons in London in March, so I need to get my running mojo back ASAP.

Here’s my advice for rediscovering your running mojo. As usual, I’m struggling to follow my own advice.

Enter races – Although I enjoy running on my own, this year I’ve rediscovered my love of taking part in organised races.London Landmarks HalfNothing beats running somewhere new with likeminded people. The medal at the end is just an added bonus. I’ve got everything crossed I make it to the start line of my next 10k race on Sunday. If I don’t, I’ve got the Wheaton Aston 10k to look forward to next month. My sister-in-law has also entered, so I’ve got even more of an incentive to take part.

Set some goals – I’ve always struggled to keep myself motivated without goals. At school I’d set myself attainment goals, slightly geeky but it worked for me. I like to set myself running and fitness goals and share them on here to make myself slightly more accountable. While I’ve accepted I won’t be grabbing myself are more PBs this year, injury permitting, I’d like to run 50 miles in December.

Start again – If you haven’t fun for some time, it may well be worth going back to basics, and starting again. I’ve completed the Couch to 5k twice after recovering from running injuries. More recently, I returned to running with a slow parkrun. It was perfect, just what this doctor ordered.

Run with others – This summer, I discovered that running with others not only takes some of the pressure off, it also means that the miles fly (sort of) by. My Sunday morning runs in Sutton Park with Ellen were definitely my running highlight of 2018. We ran at a sensible pace, and stopped to take selfies and to eat ice cream. Perfect! I really hope your injury clears up quickly Ellen.Sutton Park ice creamI also enjoyed a few runs after work with my line manager. I’m gutted that these runs probably won’t happen again. A couple of weeks ago, I arranged to meet someone whose blog I’d enjoyed reading for years at Sutton Park parkrun. I hope that your hand is feeling a lot better Rachel, and you are back running again really soon. I’m sorry your first experience of Sutton Park parkrun didn’t go to plan.

Try something new – I suspect my running mojo disappeared because my training runs got too predictable. I estimate that in the lead up to the Royal Parks Half Marathon, 95% of my training runs were completed in the dark, on the pavements of Four Oaks and Wallingford. My running routine got too predictable and almost boring. Don’t make the same mistake; hit the trails, try a track session or embrace the mud. Mix it up.

Be a parkrun tourist – I finally popped my parkrun tourism cherry this summer when I travelled to Didcot parkrun.Didcot pakrun group 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

Although the course was a little uninspiring, I met loads of other parkrun tourists and enjoyed running somewhere completely different. Not knowing the route was quite exciting. When I get a car, I’m determined to explore more of my local parkruns. Finally, check out Anna’s running blog. Anna has recently completed the parkrun alphabet challenge, such an amazing achievement!

Volunteer – If you don’t feel like running consider volunteering. I can pretty much guarantee that marshalling at your local parkrun will help you rediscover your running mojo. I’m looking forward to a spot of volunteering this weekend.

Listen to podcasts – I started to find my long Sunday morning training runs quite monotonous. Quite a few runners suggested downloading and listening to podcasts, so here are a few of my favourites.Running PodcastsI must admit I was a little sceptical, but listening to a podcast really did seem to make the time go faster during my final long run. I’ve now started to listen to podcasts while I’m blogging and also when I vacuum.

I Run On – I can pretty much guarantee that watching this short film will help you rediscover your running mojo.I Run On

Otherwise try watching a running-themed film, there are plenty to choose from, my favourite is Without Limits.

New kit – treat yourself. I’m going to sound really fickle, but new kit is pretty much guaranteed to get me running again. Buy that running top you’ve been secretly admiring for months, if it works for me, it may well work for you too.

Don’t stress – Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel like running. At the end of the day, running is meant to be fun. Stick your trainers and running gear on and head outside for a walk. You never know, you might find yourself running again.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my hints and tips. What are your tips for rediscovering your running mojo when it goes AWOL? Have I missed any?

Rants and Raves #30

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post while waiting for my Just Eat order to arrive. I’m feeling quite hungry so may be slightly more ranty than usual.  As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other, less negative and far, far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: The Running Community

I definitely need to start by thanking the online running community. Most of you will know I’ve been raising money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Thanks to the generosity of other runners, my fundraising total currently stands at £826. Absolutely amazing! At one stage, I was scared I’d be left donating in excess of £500 to reach my £1000 target!

720359-1004-0020sSo a huge thanks to everyone who read and commented on my training update blogs, who sponsored me, who took part in the ‘guess my time’ competition I organised. Although I’m a little gutted I no longer own a pair of Trekz Air headphones, they made a great prize and helped me raise over £250.

And let’s face it, Christmas is rapidly approaching. A runner can always dream drop a load of unsubtle hints.

Rant: eBay

A couple of weeks ago I listed a load of unwanted bits and pieces on eBay. Some items sold, others didn’t, not a problem. I didn’t relist the unsold items because I knew I wouldn’t be around to post them the following week.

I was a little surprised when I received a ‘bid received’ email on Wednesday. I opened eBay and discovered that everything that didn’t sell had been relisted. As I know I didn’t relist the unsold items myself, I did a bit of research and discovered that a lot of sellers have been having issues with eBay automatically relisting unsold items. eBay also has a trick of lowering prices until an item sells.

Rave: Sturdy by Design

The chilly weather got me researching full length running tights. I’ve mentioned the difficulty I have had finding running tights that are long enough before. I own a lot of ankle skimmers. I asked for help on Facebook, and was told to check out a brand I hadn’t heard of before; Sturdy by Design.

When I checked out their website, I discovered they have a whole section of running tights for tall runners. Amazing! I’ve pre-ordered a pair of pups leggings and have signed up to the Sturdy by Design newsletter so I can hopefully buy some paint swirl leggings. 

PS, I did a bit of googling and discovered that ‘RUN15’ gives 15% off all orders.

Rant: The Royal Parks Half Marathon

The Royal Parks Half Marathon cost a slightly eye-watering £57 (plus £3.95 postage and packaging) to enter. Yes I know it was my choice to pay that much to actually enter the race, yes I know it’s all about supply and demand etc etc

I could have just about lived with the cost had the race been better organised on the day. No runner should ever be ‘taken out’ by pedestrians walking across the course. It just shouldn’t happen, except in a real emergency. The lack of places to get changed into dry clothes after running was another letdown.

What really irritated me was the discovery the race wasn’t registered with UK Athletics. When I queried this with the organisers I eventually received the following response:

Hi Emma. We have explored the option of the event becoming a UKA race but as the race is for the benefit of charities it has been decided that the cost of achieving this licence is not in keeping with the ethos of the event. Thanks!

So is the Royal Parks Half Marathon a race or a charity fun run? Don’t the organisers care about the runners? My friend who ran a sub 1:25 time thought she’d qualified for a Championship Entry into London. It turns out she probably hasn’t because the race wasn’t registered with UK Athletics.

Rave: This Works Choose Sleep Gift Set

Don’t worry; I don’t think there’s any danger of me turning into a beauty blogger. Having said that, now I’m nearing 40, I’m starting to get concerned about my complete lack of a skincare routine. Last week, I spent a scary and quite confusing five minutes in the beauty section of my local M&S.

I recently had to spend £35 in M&S to qualify for the Beauty Advent Calendar for £35. I decided to treat myself to this Choose Sleep Gift Set and I must say I’m impressed. Although nothing will ever drown out the noise my housemates make, I have been waking up feeling a little more relaxed.

Rant: Irritating Adverts

Ok, I completely understand that WordPress are a business and therefore need to make money. I also get that the majority of websites are now plastered in adverts. However, what I don’t understand is why WordPress have added an advert to the top of my blog.

UntitledNow as soon as I scroll down, the name of my blog is completely covered up. Not ideal. So thanks WordPress, you’ve finally got me researching alternatives.

Rave: Twitter

There has been so much negatively on social media recently, I’ve cut down how time I spend on twitter et al. However, just occasionally, I see a tweet or a thread of tweets that remind me how amazing social media can be. I’m sure most of you will have read about Florence Ilott becoming the first person to run across Westminster Bridge in 1934, but just in case you missed it, here’s (hopefully) the link to the thread on twitter.  

Next time I’m in London, I’m going to see how long it takes me to run across Westminster Bridge. OK,

Rant: Asics #IMoveMe

And on the same day I read the story about the amazing Florence Ilott, I watched a video Asics shared on twitter. I don’t want to share the link to the tweet, but here’s a screenshot from the video.

IMG_2254While the use of slender young models irritated me, I’ve no idea why Asics thought filming part of the #IMoveMe video on a railway track was acceptable. I mean what a dangerous message to send out to children. What were they thinking? And no, I’m not bitter because I wasn’t selected as an Asics Frontrunner two years ago.

Once again, if you’ve managed to reach the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, a massive thank-you. After not ranting and raving since July, I hope you think my rants and my raves were reasonable.

Do you buy and sell on eBay? The site is so complicated now, I may just stick to buying!

Do you think all large races should be registered with UK Athletics? I can understand small events not wanting to pay for a UKA licence but I think that events over a certain size should have to be registered.

Royal Parks Half Marathon training week 7

I need to start this training update with another public service announcement. I’ve had a couple more mystery sponsors. I’ve genuinely got no idea who you are. If you happen to read this then “thank-you” I really appreciate your support.

Good morning. I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I’m not in the office today as I’m preparing a presentation for a conference later this week. I think the highlight of my weekend was having a lie-in on Saturday and completing the Lichfield 10k yesterday.Collage 23The seventh week of my half marathon training plan originally suggested that I completed an easy 20-25 minute run on Monday, a steady 40 minute run on Tuesday, a 50-60 minute steady run on Thursday and a longer 100 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. I entered the Lichfield 10k before I even started my half marathon training, so decided to test my speed over the 10k distance. I’ve still got another three longer runs in my training plan, so I’m not too concerned about missing one.

So how did I cope during the seventh week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to avoid picking up an injury? Did my foot behave itself?

Monday – Rest

Week seven of my half marathon didn’t exactly get off to the best start. I was meant to complete a 20-25 minute steady run, but my legs felt so niggly first thing in the morning following the Little Aston 5, I decided to treat myself to an additional rest day. Although the majority of my Monday was so mundane I won’t bore you all with the details, I was thrilled to discover that someone I’ve known since birth had sponsored me.

Tuesday – 40 mins steady

Unfortunately, thanks to some issues with some random runtime errors, work was a little stressful. Fortunately, my colleagues are incredibly supportive and I eventually managed to complete what should have been a reasonably straightforward task. I think it’s safe to say that the highlight of my day was leaving the office at 17:00.

I got back to my shared house, headed up to my room, lay down and spent ages thinking about recent events. I must have nodded off as one minute it was light, the next it was dark. I very briefly considered not running, but decided that the exercise and fresh air would do me good. I got changed and tried and failed to find my Garmin. In the end I headed out without my Garmin and completed three laps around Wallingford. Each lap usually takes me 15 minutes so I definitely ran for 40 minutes. It’s a shame my run wasn’t exactly steady. After having to wait until 23:00 to have a shower, I headed to bed feeling shattered.

Wednesday – Rest

Once again, one of my housemates woke me far too early and I struggled to get back to sleep. When my alarm woke me at 07:00 I felt incredibly tired. I stopped off at the River Thames on the way into the office, and spent what felt like ages sitting on a bench, watching the river flow past me. I was incredibly reluctant to leave my peaceful spot next to the river.Collage 24I’m a little ashamed to admit that after a terrible start to the morning where I felt totally useless at my job, I broke down in tears at my desk. My line manager told me to head outside for a walk and joined me. I’ve already said far, far too much, but sometimes it’s just good to talk. I’m going to really miss my line manager when my temporary contract ends in March.

Thursday – 60 mins steady

I had a meeting in Reading so although I had an early start, I enjoyed the change of scenery. I’m not sure how I managed to board the ‘slow’ bus, but the journey to Reading took ages. Henley-in-Thames looked seriously posh; I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people walking Labradors. I managed to catch the slightly faster bus back to Wallingford, walked back to my shared house and got changed into some running gear.

My Garmin was unfortunately still on the missing list, so I decided to time myself running for 60 minutes using my watch. I figured I could work out how far I’d run using GIS or GB Mapometer. I found running for an hour quite hard, and I finished the run feeling completely unprepared for the half marathon in October. At least my niggles behaved themselves.

Friday – Rest

After what had been an average week, Friday was a lot better. Following a productive morning, I met up with the rest of my team at a local pub for lunch. My BLT tasted amazing but was so crispy; I genuinely feared my fragile teeth would fall out. I escaped the office and an hour later found next to a lady who was heading up to Newcastle to run the Great North Run. Emily, I hope you had an awesome run.

Following a horrendous train journey between Birmingham and Four Oaks – the British Transport Police were called – I arrived back home a little later than usual. I was emailing a friend when I realised my vision wasn’t quite right; I’d got the start of a migraine. I headed straight to bed and prayed that I’d wake up feeling better.

Saturday – Rest

Unfortunately, I woke feeling as rough as a badger’s bum; luckily I hadn’t offered to help out at parkrun and was able to have a lie-in. I had originally planned to spend most of the day working on a couple of job applications and my conference presentation. I felt dizzy and my head unfortunately felt so fuzzy, I wasn’t able to do anything productive. Even collecting a couple of presents for my nephew and having my hair cut left me feeling exhausted. I went to bed feeling doubtful I’d be able to complete the Lichfield 10k.

Sunday – Lichfield 10k

I should have completed a comfortable 100 minute run but decided to run the Lichfield 10k. Fortunately, I woke up feeling much better and definitely well enough to run six and a bit miles. I travelled the short distance to Lichfield and navigated my way to an incredibly chaotic race HQ. Although I completely failed to track down Ellen, my sister-in-law Julie spotted me near the start. As Julie wanted a sub 60 minute time we positioned ourselves between the 55 minute and 60 minute pacers. A couple of minutes later Ness tracked me down and joined us. Well done on an awesome time, I hope your foot wasn’t too painful Ness.

Lichfield 10k 2018

As I’ve reviewed the Lichfield 10k a couple of times before, I’ve decided not to write a lengthy race review. You all know my racing routine now… I set out at a far too speedy pace, walked up the hill that crosses the A38, ran again, walked a couple more times and then finished feeling a little disappointed in 61:17. Actually, given how unwell I felt the day before, I was quite pleased I’d managed to knock more than five minutes off my 2017 Lichfield 10k time. I was ever more thrilled when I discovered that Julie had got her sub 60 minute time.

So that’s my own interpretation of week seven of my half marathon training more or less completed. I’m starting to feel a little concerned about my lack of preparation. Hopefully I’ll feel more positive once I’ve got some longer runs under my belt.

Week eight of my training plan looks achievable. The schedule recommends I complete an easy 30 minute run today, a 45 minute steady run on Wednesday, parkrun on Saturday and a longer 110 minute run on Sunday. After missing a couple of longer runs, I’m determined to enjoy every minute of my 110 minute run on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 22
  • Time: 15 hours 59 mins
  • Distance: 94.51 miles

Fundraising total

  • £477 (£57 increase from last week)

Niggleometer

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

Do you prefer to enter the same races or do you prefer to try out new races each year? After completing the Lichfield 10k in 2016, 2017 and 2018 I think it’s time I explored alternative 10k events. Although I like to check out my progress year-on-year, I find knowing courses too well quite challenging.

Do any of your relatives run? Although I only managed to keep up with Julie for a couple of miles, I enjoyed running with her.

Keeping it Real # 2

As it’s Thursday #ThrowbackThursday #tbt etc etc, I thought I’d share some of my not quite so flattering running photos. I put together a similar post way back in 2014, it was definitely time for an update.

Apparently, to be a successful blogger and to make money from my random thoughts, I need to fill my posts with professional photos. I think it’s safe to say that with the exception of a couple of official race photos, the photos in my blog are anything but professional.

I’ve been blogging for several years and have never made a penny. I have a full time job and blog as a hobby, so although it would be nice to cover the costs of running this blog, I don’t really mind if I don’t.

Enough waffle, here are some photos I found while I was sorting through all the random files I’ve got saved on my computer. I’m not completely sure why I actually paid for some of these beauties.

Don’t get injured

Since 2014, I have had more than my fair share of running injuries. I’ve tried to run through some of them – never a smart idea, rest is the only way forward.

My friend took this photo of me back in 2015. I’d been injured and hadn’t been able to run for several months. For once in my life, I’d listened to what my physio said, had done loads of strength and conditioning exercises, and hadn’t tried to rush back into running. I remember the excitement of being given the go ahead to run.

Injured runner

Unfortunately, although I managed to complete a 3000m run, during the final couple of laps my right knee was incredibly painful. I knew I was back to square one. As you can imagine I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I discovered my friend had captured me lying on the track sulking.

Fortunately, I recovered from my knee injury and was soon back gurning my way around races while impersonating a beetroot.

Don’t stop running

My friend took this delightful photo of me towards the end of the 2016 Great Midlands Fun Run. It was boiling hot and I’d made my usual mistake of wearing far too many layers.

GMFR 2

I remember spotting my friend at the side of the road, stopping and removing a couple of layers in front of quite a few slightly bemused spectators. I’m sure my friend really appreciated being handed a sweaty and rather smelly t-shirt. Although I wasted valuable time, stripping down to my club vest was definitely the right decision.

Also, don’t ever run with #1 on your race bib. The heckling when you aren’t actually in first place does get a little predicable after an hour.

At least I look reasonably awake and have my eyes open. Judging by the photos I sorted through, I seem to run with my eyes closed.

Strike a pose

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I tried to give the race photographer a ‘thumbs up’ as I approached the finish line of the 2016 Great Birmingham Run. After running for well over two hours, I was clearly feeling too tired to keep my eyes open.

Great Birmingham Run

Can someone explain to me why I paid for this delightful photo? It’s a dreadful photo. I’m also struggling to recall why I felt the need to wear a pair of shorts and a running skort. Oh well, at lease the male runner wearing bib #8328 looks happy.

At least I was pleased to be nearing the finish line, this isn’t always the case.

The grumpy runner

I think it’s safe to say I didn’t enjoy the final mile of the 2016 Lichfield 10k. I set out at a far too ambitious pace and found the second half of the race a struggle. As you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I realised that the finish line of the 10k was at the top of a grassy hill.

Lichfield 10k

I think this pose is a combination of “shit there’s a race photographer” combined with relief at crossing the finish line. I was so tired I couldn’t even find the strength to give the photographer a proper thumbs up.

The kick up the arse photo

This delightful photo was taken at the start of this year’s Great Midlands Fun Run. Although the rather random positioning of my running bag doesn’t help, I personally think that I look terrible.

Too many takeaways

The camera doesn’t (generally) lie and this photo was a bit of a wakeup call. I’d been eating far too much unhealthy food for far too long and it showed, I could almost see all the takeaway meals.

At least I nailed my standard thumbs up pose.

The beetroot faced runner

I’ll start with a confession, whenever the photographer has actually captured me; the photos of me running at my local parkrun haven’t been that bad recently. I think knowing what Ron looks like and where he usually ‘hides’ helps 😉 Unfortunately, the traditional post-parkrun photos I get my friend to take are generally pretty rubbish.

This particular photo is awesome as I’m doing my standard thumbs up pose while looking like a beetroot.

Strike a pose

I mean how red does my face look in this particular photo? The heat from my face could have powered the National Grid. I don’t think it was even that warm that morning!

Mine’s a double…chin

I loved every minute of the Cathedral to Castle Run earlier this year. The 10 miles felt relatively easy, and I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. Although I love how focused I look in this photo, I’m not such a fan of my double chin.

Chin chin

I guess playing the violin for 30+ years hasn’t helped. Can anyone recommend some anti double chin exercises?

I can just about make out a hint of a double chin in the final photo I’m going to share.

The peaky selfie

I took the final photo I’m going to share myself, so I’ve only got myself to blame for this delight. I think I need to provide some background. I’d just completed a half marathon training run and was feeling incredibly nauseous.

Terrible selfie

It took me several attempts to take this half respectable selfie, and I still look pretty terrible. My usual bright bed beetroot face is nowhere to be seen. I remember it taking me ages to walk home as I felt so rough. I made it home and then spent several hours in bed feeling ill. At least I wasn’t actually sick.

Definitely not my finest moment as a runner.

So I hope you all enjoyed this #ThrowbackThursday post and my not quite so perfect running photos. Hopefully, you won’t have nightmares.