London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 6

Happy(ish) Monday. I hope that everyone who reads this had an amazing weekend. My weekend didn’t go to plan because I spent Saturday morning at the dentist. I can talk and eat again now so the torture session was worthwhile.Collage 14Week 6 and the halfway stage of my half marathon training plan was described as a taper week with a mini target race. The plan recommended that I completed a steady 30 minute run on Monday, a faster 25 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 45 minute run on Thursday, a slow 15 minute run on Saturday and a 10k race or time trial on Sunday. As I’d already entered the Birmingham Winter 10k, I originally planned to switch Saturdays and Sundays sessions around. Unfortunately, my tooth meant that I DNS the Birmingham Winter 10k.

So how did I cope during the sixth week of my half marathon training? Did starting the week with a long run cause me any issues? Did the snow in Wallingford cause any problems? Did I manage to complete my training runs?

Monday – 30 mins easy

Thanks to inadvertently destroying one of my back teeth, I had to take the day off as last minute annual leave. Not the best way to spend annual leave but it meant that I got to run in the daylight. I decided to be sensible and to run before I went to the dentist so after spending an uncomfortable 30 minutes working out how much money I spent on running last year, I got changed and headed out the door.

I think it’s safe to say I got my pacing completely wrong.  I always seem to run too fast when it’s light outside, perhaps I need to stick to running in the dark. The ‘easy’ run felt anything but easy and the final 10 minutes were very much a case of ‘hanging on’ and trying not to slow to a walk. Not the most positive start to week six of my training.

Tuesday – 25 mins fast Rest

To add insult to injury, my fragile right knee felt quite niggly during the 30 minute walk into the office. Only I could potentially injure myself during a not-so-positive training run. Work was quite busy so the day seemed to fly by, always a massive bonus. It felt like one minute I was catching-up on my emails, the next it was time to head back home. As my knee still felt a little niggly during the walk back from work, I decided attempting a 25 minute speed session would be asking for disaster.

Wednesday – Rest

Once again, the working day seemed to fly by. I think having to focus the majority of my attention on technical hydrology work really helps. If I allow myself to get distracted, I make mistakes and end up repeating calculations. After 12 months I’ve worked out that listening to music really helps me focus. By 17:00 I’d had enough and started to walk back towards my lodgings with a colleague. We somehow found ourselves enjoying a quick drink. As I’d only had a small lunch, I managed to convince my colleague to join me for another meal in Delhi Brasserie. The food tasted amazing, it’s just a shame my stomach doesn’t seem to cope very well with spicy food. Without going into too much detail, I had a bit of a rough night.

Thursday – 45 mins steady

I had another productive day, partly because the office was almost completely empty. I had an entertaining few minutes when, thanks to a rather random work task relating to personal security, I had to Google my name. I found a strange combination of dodgy running photos, race results, social media rants, academic research and random planning applications. Having to tell one of my colleagues about this blog was a little awkward.

Managing to mess up my run on Monday completely knocked my confidence. I felt slightly apprehensive as I got ready for my run on Thursday evening; it took me a long time to get out the door. I decided to wear one of the reflective running headbands Kimberley very kindly sent me to test out. I’ll be writing a more detailed review later this week, please check out this Etsy shop. I’m not sure how I’d describe the 45 minute run; I’d probably award myself a C+. Although I managed to avoid starting at an unsustainable pace, I found parts of the run far more challenging than I should six weeks into my half marathon training.

Friday – Rest

I got drenched walking into the office and spent the morning struggling to dry out and to get warm. After a reasonably productive day, I left the office at 15:00, and then got drenched for a second time walking through the centre of Oxford. I kept telling myself that after a dry January we need the rain…  Following a straightforward journey – I even got a seat on the local train – I headed straight to my favourite Chinese restaurant. Some habits are quite difficult to break.

Saturday – Rest

At 10:00 I found myself not on the start line of the Birmingham Winter 10k, but in my dentist’s waiting room. The hour I spent getting my tooth repaired being tortured wasn’t the highlight of my Saturday. I left the dentist and headed into Sutton with a slightly numb face. I managed to only buy what I needed and made it back home before the local anaesthetic I’d been given stopped working. After a quick recovery nap, I spent a productive hour sorting through my running gear. I listed a couple of pairs of leggings I’m never going to wear on the RMR second hand selling page. Both sold quickly, so I took them to the Post Office while it was still light. I got home, vacuumed the house and then sat down in front of the British Athletics Indoor Championships. The rest of the day was so mundane I won’t bore you all to tears!

Sunday – 10k race or time trial 60 mins easy

I decided to go back to the approach I used last year; setting my alarm for 05:00 and running before I could change my mind. As I wanted to enjoy my run and didn’t want to spend most of the time obsessively checking my pace, I decided to leave my Garmin at home and to run for an hour. Back to basics. I think this approach worked as I managed to run at a steady pace for 60 minutes. Unfortunately, thanks to a cunningly hidden puddle, my trainers got soaked in the first 10 minutes and felt like planks of wood. I think it may be time to treat my feet to a new pair. The rest of Sunday felt like it lasted five minutes. The weekends need to slow down a little.

So that’s week six of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training sort of completed. I’m feeling a little underprepared at the moment and can’t believe I’ve reached the half-way stage of my training plan. Hopefully this time next week I’ll feel slightly more confident, at the moment I don’t feel like I could complete a half marathon.

I’m aware that I said this last time I followed this training plan, but I think week seven looks more than a little bit challenging. The training plan recommends that I complete a steady 20-25 minute run today, a steady 40 minute run tomorrow, a steady 50-60 minute run on Thursday and a longer 100 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. I don’t want to talk myself out of my training plan, but I suspect I’ll struggle.

Training totals

  • Runs: 9
  • Time: 5 hours 47 mins
  • Distance: 33 miles

 Niggleometer

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

If you blog, do your work colleagues know about your blog? Trying to explain the whole concept of blogging to a colleague was a little uncomfortable. I’m not even sure my family know about this blog.

How many miles do you wear your trainers for before you replace them? Brooks Adrenalines are meant to last between 300 and 500 mile. I’m a little disappointed my most recent pair only lasted 320 miles. I’m so injury-prone I don’t want to risk running in uncomfortable trainers.

Advertisements

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 5

Happy Monday! I’m not in the office today because I’ve got an emergency dentist appointment this afternoon. I hope that you all had an awesome weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was escaping from a very snowy Wallingford and actually managing to complete a training run.Collage 11Week five of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training – the mid schedule peak – recommended that I completed an easy half hour run after work today, a 20-25 minute speed session on Thursday, a steady 50 minute run on Friday and a longer 90 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. After not running for three weeks I was desperate to run.

So how did I find the fifth week of my training? Did I manage to run? Did the weather cause any issues?

Monday – 30 mins easy

My first Monday in the office this year seemed to fly by. One minute I was completing my weekly time recording, the next I was getting ready to head back home. I’m thrilled to report that after missing so many training sessions I’ve lost count, I managed to complete a training run. Although it was dark and cold and I had to play dodge the pedestrian far too many times, I enjoyed every second of my 30-minute run. The run felt relatively easy and gave me a much-needed confidence boost. It’s just a shame the weather forecast for Wallingford for the rest of the week didn’t look very positive.

Tuesday – Rest

I had an incredibly productive day at work as I was the only person in the office from my team. Luckily, I wasn’t completely on my own as a couple of people were hotdesking near me. The weather was so nice I headed out for a chilly but enjoyable stroll around Howbery Park at lunchtime. I think it’s always good to get some fresh air; if I was more organised, I’d run at lunchtime. After an enjoyable afternoon of data analysis, I left the office and got completely drenched walking back to my new lodgings. I think I would have preferred snow.

Wednesday – Rest

The rain and sleet turned to ice overnight. As I didn’t want to fall over during my walk into the office, I slowed down and did my best impression of a penguin. I tried and failed to take some decent photos of Wallingford. Most of my team were back in the office which was good as I had someone to talk to. The highlight of the day was having my contract extended by three months. The extension to my contract means that I won’t be unemployed at the end of March. It means I’ll also have a bit more time to find a permanent job.

Thursday – 20-25 mins fast

I had an amazing Thursday. According to the BBC – not very accurate – weather App, it was -6°C when I walked into work. I don’t think so, I’m pretty sure my face would drop off in -6°C! As always, I seemed to spend far too much time taking photos of the River Thames and the Riverside Park. Wallingford is definitely far, far more scenic than Four Oaks.Collage 12Work was great; a team meeting, lunch at the Waterfront Cafe in Benson and then an enjoyable training session. I left the office at 17:00, got back to my lodgings, changed into some running gear and headed out into the cold. The 25 minute run definitely wasn’t what I would call fast but it was enjoyable. I got back, got changed and then walked to the George for a drink with my landlady. The walk back in heavy snow took us both by surprise.

Friday – 50 mins steady Rest

I woke up to a lot more snow than I expected! I half expected the office to be closed but it wasn’t. I saw that more snow was forecast and spent a couple of minutes trying to decide what to do. It was very much a case of should I stay or should I go.

I contacted my line manager to say I was heading back home to Four Oaks and would work from home. I took some snowy photos in Bull Croft Park and then spent a chilly 45 minutes waiting for a bus.Collage 13The rest of the journey was straightforward and there was no sign of any snow when I got back home. I had a reasonably productive afternoon of reading and number crunching and then treated myself to a takeaway from my favourite Chinese. After eating far too much I decided to delay my 50 minute run until Saturday morning.

Saturday – Rest 42 mins at a stupid pace

I debated heading to Sutton Park parkrun, but I’m lazy and my warm bed was more inviting than a chilly park! Unfortunately the pavements were a bit dodgy first thing in the morning so I headed out with the aim of running for 50 minutes at lunchtime. There were still a few slightly dicey patches but conditions were generally pretty good. I enjoyed running in daylight for the first time in ages but didn’t enjoy playing dodge the dogs. I’m not sure why, but I really struggled to run at a sensible pace and ultimately paid the price. Thanks to my stupidity and asthma, I had to stop running to get my breathing under control after 30 minutes. I started running again but felt so rough I decided to head back home. I guess 42 minutes is an improvement on zero minutes. The highlight of my Saturday– I’m easily pleased – was watching Wolves beat Everton; it’s always amusing when an animal on the pitch stops play.

Sunday – 90 mins comfortable Rest

When I started writing this running blog in 2013, I aimed to keep it real.  I wanted to share my dodgy running photos and the trials and tribulations of my life. In spite of this, I’m a little ashamed to confess that I didn’t complete my 90 minute training run yesterday because I didn’t feel like running. The thought of spending over an hour running in the cold just wasn’t tempting. Gone are the days I took my training far too seriously and used running as a strange form of punishment, running is my hobby and I run for fun. I’m hoping my running mojo returns this week.

So that’s week five of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training sort of completed. I can’t believe there are only another seven weeks to go. Although week five was 100 per cent more successful than weeks two, three and four, I’m a little concerned about my fitness levels and the longer runs I’ve missed.

The sixth week of my training plan is described as a taper week with a mini target race. The training plan recommends I complete a 10k race or time trail on Sunday. I’ve already entered the Birmingham 10k Winter Run on Saturday so I’ll switch my Saturday and Sunday training runs around. I’ve also got to complete an easy half hour run on Monday, a ‘fast’ 25 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 45 minute run on Thursday and a slow 15 minute run on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 6
  • Time: 3 hours 32 mins
  • Distance: 20.25 miles

 Niggleometer

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

The ballot for the Royal Parks Half Marathon opened this week. Are you going to stick your name in the virtual ballot hat? I read through my race report from last year, saw how much it costs and decided not to bother. I’ve had my turn.

Do you find running in the cold difficult? I love running when it’s cold, it’s just a shame the cold air seems to be triggering my asthma at the moment.

Did you get much snow where you live? Wallingford had loads, Four Oaks had hardly any.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 4

Good morning. Happy Monday. As always, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. After a slightly hectic week, I quite enjoyed spending a bit of time chilling out at home during the weekend.collage 8Week four of my London Landmarks Half training plan recommended that I completed a steady 45 minute run on Tuesday, a 60 minute easy run on Wednesday, a steady 45 minute run on Friday and a longer 80 minute run on Sunday. After not running for a couple of weeks, my main aim was to complete at least a couple of runs.

So how did I get on during the fourth week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to get my training back on track? Did my virus clear up enough to let me run? Did I spend my evenings feeling guilty for not running?

Monday – Rest

Thanks to taking a flexi day, I managed to avoid being in the office on Blue Monday. Although I didn’t feel great when I first dragged myself out of bed, I had a pretty awesome day. Mum collected me in the morning and drove us to the café at Chase Farm Shop for a cooked breakfast.collage 9I felt much, much better after working my way through a cooked breakfast, I could almost feel my energy levels increasing with each mouthful. Mum dropped me back home and I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon completing a job application and some blogmin. After a relatively speedy journey back to Wallingford, I spent the evening packing my bags ready to move out of my shared house.

Tuesday – 45 mins steady Rest

After one of my housemates woke me three times, getting up for work was challenging. I’m ashamed to admit I popped into Greggs on the way into the office and grabbed myself a couple of sausage rolls. Such an unhealthy breakfast but I needed some comfort food. The weather was a little random; at lunchtime it was sunny then it suddenly went dark and started to snow. The walk back to my shared house was slightly hazardous in places. Once I got back to my room, operation pack up and move my belongings. I managed to leave on good terms which is always a bonus. I briefly considered heading out for a celebratory run but decided not to risk running and falling over on the icy pavements.

Wednesday – 60 mins easy Rest

Thanks to some incredibly icy pavements, the walk into the office was hilarious. Looking back, I’ve genuinely got no idea how I managed to stay upright.collage 10A couple of interesting meetings meant that the day seemed to go quickly, and I was soon repeating my Bambi on Ice impression. I got back to my new room, lay on my bed and had a much-needed nap. The rest of the evening was slightly more productive. I think it’s safe to say I feel more relaxed now that I’ve moved out of the shared house of doom.

Thursday – Rest

Once again, the day seemed to fly by, always a positive. I escaped from the office when it was still light and called into the Boat House for a couple of drinks with a colleague. I’ve no idea why but BrewDog tastes better in Wallingford than it does in Four Oaks. We left the pub at a sensible time and walked the short distance to Delhi Brasserie for something to eat. If you ever find yourself in Wallingford – I’ve no idea why you would because there’s not a lot to do – check out Delhi Brasserie; the food is amazing.

Friday – 45 mins steady Rest

After a slightly bizarre week – I guess starting the week in one house and ending it in another is always going to feel a little strange – I was pleased when I could escape from Wallingford for a couple of days and head back home. I got home, stuck a load of washing in the machine, ordered myself a Chinese takeaway and relaxed in front of the TV. Not very exciting but just what this doctor ordered.

Saturday – Rest

I felt well enough when I woke up to attempt a short run. Unfortunately, thanks to an epic coughing fit, I had to head back home after 10 minutes. The rest of my Saturday was more positive. I popped into Sutton Coldfield and came away from TK Maxx with some yellow sticker sale bargains including three pairs of 2UX compression tights for only £2.50 a pair. I also bought some cheap running socks, a compression top with a built-in hydration pack and some smartish trainers for work. I briefly considered checking out the Birmingham branch of TK Maxx but decided to give my debit card a rest. The rest of Saturday was productive but dull; nothing beats ticking off loads of tasks on my things to do list.

Sunday – 80 mins comfortable Rest

Another day and another failed attempt at a training run. I only managed to run for 5 minutes before I had to return home. I really can’t imagine running a half marathon in a couple of month’s time. I can only hope that this virus clears up ASAP. So that’s the fourth week of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training not completed. I’m trying to remain positive but it’s getting quite hard. I’ve just checked out the weather forecast for the week ahead and it doesn’t look great.

Week five of my half marathon training plan is described as the mid schedule peak. To be completely honest, I don’t feel like I’ve completed enough of the plan to be reaching a peak. I’ve got to complete an easy half hour run after work, a 20-25 minute speed session on Thursday, a steady 50 minute run on Friday and a longer 90 minute slow run on Sunday. The thought of running for 90 minutes sounds completely unrealistic at the moment, but I’ll see how I get on.

Training totals

  • Runs: 3
  • Time: 1 hours 55 mins
  • Distance: 10.83 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 0/10
  • Right foot: 0/10

Did you have much snow where you live? I’ve just checked out the forecast for Wallingford and the week ahead looks a bit dodgy.

What is your best running related bargain? I’m not sure I’ll ever beat 2XU compression tights for £2.50. I’ve been told that had I gone into TK Maxx later the tights would have been even cheaper.

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.

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

[Source]

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

[Source]

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

[Source]

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

[Source]

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?