Regaining my running confidence and CocoPro review

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I don’t want to tempt fate, but after more than two months of complete rest, I think that I might finally be able to call myself a runner again.
October runTaken after I’d completed my last long run back in October. It’s good to be running up this hill again.

For once I’ve been sensible with my return to running. Gone are the days I’d happily ignore niggles and run when I was in pain. It has taken a long time and a lot of frustrating running injuries, but I think I’ve finally accepted that I need to listen to my body.Injury ebib

[Source]

Like most injury-prone runners I probably delayed heading out for a run for longer than I needed to. I was afraid that the second I started to run, my foot would implode and I’d be back on the injury bench.

Fortunately, my close friend gave me a bit of a talking to and told me to get out the f**king door. I also rediscovered the cheesy but motivational song my coach used to make us listen to before competitions.

“Never surrender to the doubts that cloud your mind
Never retreat from who you are…“

Perhaps I should listen to it before my next job interview…

Since the start of the month I’ve been running without my Garmin. This may sound slightly stupid but I didn’t want the added pressure. Although the majority of my runs have lasted less than 30 minutes, yesterday I decided it was time to find out if my right foot could cope with a slightly longer run.

I’m writing this several hours after I ran for the not so impressive total of 20 minutes before lunch. Although I clearly didn’t drink enough after my run as I’ve got a headache, my heel is 99.9 per cent pain free.

Fingers crossed I’ll be able to walk in the morning!

CocoPro review

Earlier this year CocoPro were recruiting for brand ambassadors.  Although I knew I wasn’t social media savvy enough to be an ambassador, I rather cheekily asked if I could review their products. CocoPro kindly agreed and added me to their mailing list.
CocoPro

[Source]

Fast forward a couple of weeks and a random bloke called Paul appeared at my front door holding a small parcel; the postman had delivered my bottles of CocoPro to the wrong address. So thanks Paul for being so honest and for delivering my parcel.

What is CocoPro?

CocoPro is the world’s first pure coconut water with added protein drink and is currently available in two flavours; plain coconut and coconut with pineapple. I was sent one 330ml bottle of each flavour to try.

Coconut flavour

I think coconut water is a bit like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. After a slightly rocky start, I’ve grown to quite like the taste of coconut water.

Although the drink is meant to be consumed after exercise or prolonged activity, I decided to drink my bottle of coconut flavoured CocoPro after I’d been for a short run in humid conditions. I was concerned the added protein would give the drink an artificial taste. Although I was pleased to discover the drink tasted quite natural, it was quite bland and didn’t seem to taste very much of anything.

On the plus side the coconut flavoured CocoPro was easy to drink, and left me feeling hydrated and refreshed. It definitely quenched my post-run thirst and as an added bonus, I didn’t develop my usual post running in humid conditions headache.

May runNot the best photo but I’m in love with these Lululemon shorts.

Coconut with pineapple flavour

I saved my bottle of coconut with pineapple CocoPro as a reward for running up one of my nemesis hills without walking, twice. Quite frankly, I’ll take any running positives I can at the moment.

After personally finding the coconut flavoured CocoPro a little disappointing, I was a tad concerned the coconut with pineapple flavoured CocoPro would also be quite bland. Happily I discovered that this wasn’t the case and I could really taste the pineapple. I wonder if I could use the CocoPro to make a refreshing post workout mocktail.

Would I recommend CocoPro?

Yes, I would definitely recommend the coconut with pineapple flavoured CocoPro, thanks to my local Waitrose I’ve already filled my fridge ready for the warmer weather. Although some might think £2.50 for a bottle of coconut and pineapple water is expensive, I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for a refreshing drink that contains protein electrolytes and coconut.

Do you have a favourite post-workout drink?

Have you ever been too scared to run after being injured?

**Full disclosure: I was sent a couple of bottles of CocoPro for free, I wasn’t asked to write a review. As always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

Rants and raves #13

**Disclaimer: Now that I’m able to run again, I’m feeling quite chirpy so the raves should outnumber the rants. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Thursday! I hope that everyone has had a great week so far. It’s nearly the weekend.

Rave: Lululemon Sole training shorts

A slightly indulgent rave to start with but I have fallen in love with my Lululemon Sole training shorts. Yes they were expensive and yes I could have bought several cheaper pairs of shorts for the same price. They were a birthday present and I do think it’s important to occasionally treat yourself…

The shorts feel really, really comfortable (hopefully I don’t lose too much weight too soon…), have loads of pockets to stash stuff and most importantly don’t ride up or cause the dreaded ‘chub rub’.

Rant: Sudden calf cramps

Picture the scene. You’re lying on the top of your bed, chilling out reading a book and relaxing when suddenly your calf goes into spasm. You know that the second you move the pain will intensify a bazillion times so you are kind of stuck in a painful predicament. It’s definitely a no-win situation.

This was me on Tuesday evening. One minute I was chilling reading the last chapter of Keep on Running the next I was rolling around clutching my left calf. I guess it was some sort of karma for me being lazy and lying on my bed reading rather than doing the washing-up.

My calf still feels a bit bruised now.

Rave: Chocolate éclairs

Now that I’m able to run again I’m trying to eat less rubbish and more ‘real’ food, I’m also trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot for chocolate éclairs.EclairI’ve tried a few different éclairs, but my favourites are the £1.00 éclairs from the fresh cake/bakery section in Sainsbury’s. Luckily for my waist and wallet they have usually sold out by the time I get to Sainsbury’s, but the other day I managed to snaffle the last one.

Rant: Noisy birds

I like the lighter mornings and the warmer weather. I dislike the birds – I think they are starlings but I’m not sure – currently living directly above my bedroom window. The baby starlings are seriously noisy and start demanding food the second it gets light.  I actually feel sorry for the parents, talk about constant pressure.

To add insult to injury, the starlings somehow managed to activate my house alarm at 05:30 on Sunday. I rarely get to sleep before midnight, so these early morning mini feathered alarm clocks are making me even crankier than usual.

Maybe I should borrow one of my mother’s cats…

Rave: Hydrologists cartoon thingy

When people discover that I’m a hydrologist, they usually know that my research has something to do with water, but don’t understand what I actually do. Neither do I 😉

One of my hydrologist friends sent me this hydrologists cartoon thingy. The hammock picture needs swapping to a picture of a riverside pub, the rest is pretty accurate.HydrologistMy research is actually quite tedious and involves a lot of reading, a lot of number crunching and some drought modelling. I very rarely get to go near an actual river.

Rant: DNS’ing races

I know that I’ve had this one before but the DNS’ing of races continues. I missed the Market Drayton 10k on Sunday and suspect that the Vitality London 10,000 will be another DNS.DNSingHopefully *fingers crossed* Great Run will allow me to ‘downgrade’ from the Birmingham International Marathon to the Great Birmingham Run.

[Update]: this seems a slightly long-winded way of doing things…

“Yes you can change to another distance if you wish, all you need to do is register and pay to secure your place in that new preferred event and let us know when you have done so. We can then withdraw/refund your original entry…”

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

How much sleep do you get during the week? I’m thinking that my 5-6 hours a night isn’t enough.

If you were given £100 would you spend it on a couple of items from Lululemon, or on loads of bits and pieces from somewhere like TK Maxx? I think I’d spend my £100 on a couple of more expensive pairs of shorts.

CEP Ortho Plantar Fasciitis Sleeve review

One advantage of being injured is getting the opportunity to test out a number of innovative running products. Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I have been experiencing pain in my right heel since the beginning of the year. I was devastated when a physiotherapist told me I had the injury all runners dread – Plantar Fasciitis.

I have tried all sorts to alleviate the pain in my right heel: rolling my foot on a frozen bottle, physio sessions, stretching, taping, rolling my foot over a tennis ball and wearing supportive shoes the whole time. Although I started to find walking more bearable, the pain in my right heel stubbornly refused to go away and running felt like a distant dream.

So as you can imagine, I was thrilled when CEP very kindly agreed to send me a pair of their Ortho Plantar Fasciitis (PF) Sleeves to thoroughly test out and review.

Now that I have been wearing the PF sleeve on my right foot on an almost daily basis since the end of March, I feel that I am in a position to write a review.

What is the CEP Ortho Plantar Fasciitis Sleeve?

CEP recognises that for runners, remaining fit and healthy is a priority. Unfortunately, injuries can and do occur, and recovering and getting back to running quickly is important. With this in mind, CEP developed the Ortho PF sleeve. The CEP website describes the sleeve as suitable for sports or everyday use – perfect for a runner trying to make a return to the sport they love. The sleeves are designed to provide comfort with every step, yes please! Finally, the fit and compression are designed to stabilise your arch and provide much needed support.CEP PF Sleeves

The innovative design of the PF sleeve means that your sole and heel are optimally protected when you run. As an added bonus the deep tissue massage effect helps you maintain your level of fitness – or quickly regain it again if you suffer from minor pain and discomfort. Where can I sign up?

What can the CEP Ortho Plantar Fasciitis Sleeve be used for? 

  • To support the arch of the foot and reduce stressful and painful tension at the insertion of the plantar fascia.
  • To relieve the ankle joint and reduce joint irritation.
  • To provide an increased sense of security during exercise.
  • To minimise wear and tear and alleviate inflammation.

So after reading all about the potential benefits of the product, I was intrigued and eagerly awaited the arrival of my pair of Plantar Fasciitis sleeves.

The review process

Like all CEP products, the PF sleeves are provided with detailed illustrated instructions which outline how to put them on. I would strongly recommend following these instructions because they make life a lot easier. The PF sleeve felt quite snug but not restrictive and fitted underneath my right sock. Although I could immediately feel the support and compression, the PF sleeve never felt obtrusive or too inhibiting.

I started off wearing the PF sleeve around the house and on a couple of short 2-3 mile walks. Although both my right heel and arch instantly felt more supported, it did take a few days for my foot to get used to the extra support. The first time I wore the sleeve on a walk my heel felt sore for the first 10 minutes or so. However, once my foot adapted to the extra arch support, the soreness went away and hasn’t returned.CEP montage 1

After particularly active days, I decided to wear the sleeve in bed – being single has some advantages – and noticed a huge improvement in my right heel the following morning. Before I wore the sleeve I would lie in bed each morning dreading having to make those first few painful steps. Fortunately, the PF sleeve virtually eliminated the early morning hobble, I’m no longer reluctant to walk in the morning.

I’ve been wearing the PF sleeve on an almost daily basis since the end of March. Fortunately, CEP provided me with two identical sleeves so I had a spare sleeve I could wear when the other one was in the wash. Both sleeves have now been washed on numerous occasions and have maintained their fit and support.

A week ago, I finally felt confident enough to run for the first time since February. I pulled on a PF sleeve, worked my way through my stretching routine and headed out the door into the rain. Although I was thrilled to discover that my heel felt relatively pain free during the run, like most runners with PF I was more interested in how my heel would react to a couple of miles of pavement pounding. CEP montage 2

After spending two hours sitting down watching the Great Birmingham 10k, I stood up and discovered that my right heel felt great! After a slightly frustrating couple of months of inactivity, the PF sleeve had enabled me to make a return to running.

The Verdict

While the PF sleeve hasn’t completely eliminated the pain in my right heel – at the moment I’m pretty certain that only complete rest would – it has enabled me to walk and run without too much discomfort. The sleeve has also given me the confidence to make a gradual return to running and with a bit of luck, I might still make the start line of the Great Birmingham Run in the autumn.

So huge thanks again to CEP for sending me the PF sleeves and for allowing me enough time to produce a hopefully meaningful review.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a pair of CEP Plantar Fasciitis sleeves for free in return for a review. Please note that the use of a CEP Ortho product does not replace the advice of a doctor/physiotherapist. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

A trip to Hythe, a closed beach and Lululemon

Following a quiet Bank Holiday Monday, I travelled down to London on Tuesday to meet up with my best friend. The train journey to Euston didn’t get off to the most positive start when the lady sitting opposite me started to work her way through a huge bag of peanuts. I have a peanut allergy and tend to avoid any contact with them. Even the smell of peanuts makes me feel nauseous, so I was really relieved when peanut lady got off at Coventry.

The rest of the journey was uneventful. I reached Euston, found a seat in the waiting room and sat reading a book while I waited for my friend. An hour later I realised I was waiting in the wrong train station – yes I am a muppet – so I followed the slightly dubious ‘green’ walking route to St Pancras International. I met up with my friend who was fortunately running late, and discovered that we were heading to Hythe in Kent.

Unfortunately, my friend hadn’t realised that the ‘beach’ in Hythe would be closed for some sort of beach management works. I found the whole closed beach situation quite amusing, my friend was less than impressed.Wet HytheOh! I do like to be beside the seaside…

We checked into our hotel rooms and then met up in the bar for a bite to eat. Although the bar food menu was quite limited, I was happy because chicken Caesar salad was on the menu. As the beer in the bar was apparently “terrible” – I can’t say that I’d noticed and my friend was shattered, we headed back to our rooms.

The following morning I was woken by the rain and some noisy seagulls. I watched the weather forecast and discovered that while most of the UK would be sunny, London and the South East coast would be cloudy and soggy.  I guess the South East does need more rain… After a full English breakfast I was rather reluctantly dragged outside for a walk in the rain so that I could “fill my Brummie lungs with some sea air”. If nothing else it was bracing and I enjoyed watching the trucks driving up and down the beach.

At midday we made the most of a break in the rain, checked out of the hotel and walked the short distance to the Hythe Bay Seafood Restaurant where I knew I’d be able to order some Moules-frites. We shared some mackerel pate which tasted delicious, and a shellfish platter as a starter. After a short break I was presented with a huge portion of Moules-frites.Hythe BayJust looking at this photo makes me feel hungry.

I managed to eat most of the mussels but couldn’t quite eat all of them, next time I’ll make sure that I leave enough room for all of them as I hate wasting food. Needless to say I still felt pretty stuffed when we arrived back at St Pancras International a couple of hours later.

My belated birthday treat got even better when I finally got to check out the new(ish) Lululemon store on Regent Street. I walked through the entrance, stood feeling slightly overwhelmed for a couple of seconds, looked to my left and spotted the shorts I wanted. I was in and out of the store in less than 10 minutes, definitely a Lululemon personal best.Lululemon shortsI’ve no idea why this photo is skew-whiff

I met up with my friend again and got to experience the delights(?) of Moss Bros for the first time. I got to witness some hardcore ‘bridezilla’ behaviour while my friend was being fitted for a hire suit, and was relieved when I finally got to escape the aroma of sweaty feet. After a couple of few too many pints, we were feeling quite peckish so headed to one of our favourite Italian restaurants; Casa Becci.

All in all I had a great couple of days celebrating my birthday. Sometimes it’s good to get away and to forget about job hunting and other stresses. The only negative was discovering that I hadn’t got the job in Newcastle. Next time I’ll ignore my ‘phone!

A rather random one but have you ever been to Hythe? Although the closed ‘beach’ was slightly disappointing, the Hythe Bay Seafood Restaurant was amazing.

Do you tend to stick to restaurants you know and love or do you like to try new places? In the seven years I’ve been in London, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been to Casa Becci. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal there.

Rants and raves #11

**Disclaimer: this post was written while the author was experiencing heel pain and race 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 while since I wrote my last Rants and raves post. Now that it’s April and I’m still injured, I feel the need to have a rant. As always I’ll start with rave.

Rave: Diet Coke

I think I’ve mentioned my slight Diet Coke addiction several times in my blog before. I recently realised my addiction was getting out of control when I looked inside my recycling bin and estimated that most of my recycling was Diet Coke cans. I would buy a multipack of Diet Coke – for some reason it had to be cans – and during an average day would easily drink 5-6 cans.

A few years ago I managed to stop drinking Diet Coke for six months; I can’t remember what made me break my Diet Coke ban, but I was soon drinking 5-6 cans a day. I decided to give up drinking Diet Coke and eating chocolate for Lent. The chocolate ‘ban’ lasted two days; when I see a bar of Dairy Milk I have zero willpower. I’m pleased to report I haven’t been near a can of Diet Coke since March 1st. I found breaking my Diet Coke drinking addiction so easy I suspect that it was more an obsession than a ‘proper’ addiction. It’s just a shame I’m now drinking a lot more tea.

Rant: My lack of self-control

I’m now going to contradict myself. While I found breaking my Diet Coke addiction quite straightforward, I wish the same could be said for my eating habits. Since I’ve been injured my eating habits have been poor. I’ve been treating myself to takeaways several times a week and eating far too much junk food. As a result I’ve gained a fair amount of weight since the start of the year. I’ve always had a slightly iffy relationship with food. I‘m an emotional eater and when I feel rubbish I seem to eat rubbish.BMIMost runners seem to lose weight, I’m the opposite. 

I know there are some limitations in using the body mass index (BMI) but I find it a useful guide. Although my BMI currently sits within the ‘healthy weight’ range, I’d like it to sit slightly nearer the middle of the range.

Rave: Tall ranges

There’s another slightly fickle reason I’d like to lose weight; summer.

I’ve never been a particularly girly girl; I blame my height and the lack of clothes for ‘tall’ women when I was growing up. As a teenager, I’d spend far too much time mooching about with my friends in Miss Selfridge, Topshop, C&A and New Look. While my friends had a great time trying on loads of clothes, I would spend my time wishing I was shorter as nothing ever fitted. My options were limited to Long Tall Sally and other expensive brands, so when I wasn’t wearing my school uniform or riding gear, I lived in jeans and checked shirts. The mid 90s were awesome…DP Tall dressesA selection of three of the summery dresses available in the Dorothy Perkins tall range.

Fast forward 20 or so years and more and more high street stores now have dedicated tall ranges. Although I’d rather have been looking at running gear, last night I spent ages looking at ‘tall’ summery dresses on Dorothy Perkins, Long Tall Sally, New Look, GAP and Next. I’ve finally accepted that I’m too old for Topshop. It was great as for the first time ever I actually felt slightly overwhelmed as there were so many dresses to choose from.

Rant: Plantar Fasciitis and DNS’ing races

I’m still injured and haven’t been for a run since Tuesday February 6th. The Cambridge Half Marathon, the Seven Pools Run and the City of Birmingham 10k have all been marked down in my running diary as ‘DNS’. While I’m sure I’ll be writing ‘DNS’ next to a few more races, my heel is gradually getting better and I’m confident I’ll be running again fairly soon.

Rant: Unworn running kit

Apologies for having two consecutive rants, but as this one is directly linked to my rant about my injury woes I thought I’d get away with it! Like virtually every runner I know I love shopping for new running kit. My injury means that the running kit I was bought for Christmas is as yet unworn, and in some cases is still waiting to be unwrapped.Christmas clothesThis is possibly the most upsetting photo I’ll ever share on my blog.

I’m just thankful something made me opt for a pre-Christmas shopping spree in Long Tall Sally rather than in Niketown. Perhaps subconsciously I knew I was about to pick up an injury.

Rave: The National Running Show

And finally, some positive news. The organisers of the National Running Show are currently recruiting Ambassadors. I applied and was accepted. I’m just waiting to receive a few more details, but it would be great to see some of you in Birmingham next January.

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

Huge apologies for another rather random blog, hopefully my next post will be slightly more positive.

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?