Week In Review – Training Peak

I’m at that stage in marathon training when the big miles are coming, the weariness is setting in and the taper is looking like an appealing prospect! Here’s how things have been over the past week – linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL as usual.

This week felt like a bit of a whirlwind, but here’s how my schedule ended up looking:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – 1km form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun pacing
Sunday – 20 miles

I actually felt quite good on Monday morning, despite the previous day’s 18 mile run. Clearly the post-birthday high tea was a great recovery tool! (If you missed last week’s post, you can catch up here). It was a good thing too as my work day was going to be a little different. Rather than be in my classroom all day, I was taking a group of 40 pupils to the Edinburgh Book Festival to see some authors speaking live. It was a good trip and the pupils were brilliant, but some of the timings were a little tight so there was a lot of rushing about to make sure we managed to do everything and got everyone home safely.

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I think my young charges were all spending their money in the bookshop when I took this!

After that I decided it would be much more beneficial to head straight home and have some quality time at home rather than rushing about with going to the gym and using up a big chunk of my evening. This meant a reasonably early night and I definitely felt better for it.

Tuesday was a return to normal both with work and training. After school I headed to the gym to complete my bike reps (still hard work but boosting my fitness and making me stronger). I had considered a swim, but was a little later as I had decided to walk down there so headed home again instead so I could eat and enjoy a bit of down time (which basically means sitting in my comfy chair with the cat purring on my lap!).

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On foot to make sure I hit my step goal!

I wasn’t looking forward to my Wednesday workout. I had 10 x 1km form drills to do and I just couldn’t work out a route. It’s fine to do some of the reps on inclines, but it does make it tougher. There aren’t really any totally flat routes around here though. To make things worse, I was quite late getting home and organised so it was about 6:30pm before I was heading out the door and I knew that with a warm up and cool down, as well as my recovery segments, I was probably looking at an hour and a half of exercise. In reality that’s not too much, and the workout was fine, but it meant arriving home again around 8pm, whereupon I had to shower, change and eat. I was so tired that I pretty much headed to bed as soon as I’d done all that and was sound asleep before 10pm!

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The rock and roll life of a runner during marathon training!

I much prefer Thursday as I have my Ashtanga yoga class. I think this is one of my favourite sessions in the whole week. By the time I get to Thursday I really appreciate the time to unwind and stretch. I always feel better afterwards.

Friday became a rest day as I had arranged to visit a good friend from work who has recently had surgery on her foot. She’s been spending her days at home with her foot up, so was keen for a visit to catch up on the gossip as various circumstances prevented that from happening over the summer and her surgery was scheduled for soon after we went back to work. It was great to see her and we had a lovely chat over several cups of tea and a bit of cake. Lovely!

Since Saturday was the first Saturday of the month, it was pacer day at parkrun. I was down for 28 minutes so that meant I had a nice comfortable (for me) run ahead of me. Probably a good thing as I woke up not feeling at my best. Over dinner on Friday evening I felt a bit off – scratchy throat and lethargic – and put it down to being tired from a busy week as that’s usually the physical symptoms I get if I’ve overdone it a bit. I had hoped to sleep it off, but don’t think I slept well enough. I still felt fine to run (no “below the neck” symptoms) and running 28 minutes rather than sub-24 meant I felt no pressure to perform. In actual fact the run made me feel much better and I was pleased to be able to help other runners again. One friend got a great new PB, with lots of loud “encouragement” from me towards the end, and I helped a first timer to keep on going to the end. Very satisfying.

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Impressive that we managed to line up in the right order (no idea where 21 was though!)

IMG_3713It was also Steve’s 100th parkrun (my 90th – nearly there!) and this year he has taken on the job of photographing parkrunners on their milestone run days to add to our event’s Facebook page. I was ready to leap in and take his, however we weren’t standing together and he handed his camera to someone else. It was only later that the lovely Ella pointed out that I was in “stealth mode” again lol!

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Can you spot me?

Sadly no Hatha yoga this week, but that did mean I could join Steve and his brother for their usual Saturday morning post-parkrun catchup. I had a pot of tea and a bacon croissant (so delicious) before Steve and I sorted out all our errands for the weekend. After lunch Steve headed out so I finished off the mammoth stack of laundry I’d not had time to tackle during the week and had a nice nap with my furry napping supervisor. It was just what I needed and I woke feeling refreshed and much less “off” than earlier. Hopefully that should sort me out – a cold would be most inconvenient right now!

I tackled the germs hard on Saturday night with an assortment of remedies I know usually ward off any nasties for me and I awoke on Sunday morning feeling pretty much myself, but with a bit of a lingering sniffle. The 20 mile run was on! There was a bit of me that kind of couldn’t be bothered, but I told myself that once the run was done I would feel ready for race day and would be able to taper. But having fought off a probable cold, I didn’t want to stray too far from home in case I had any bother so plotted a route that would keep me reasonably close by but without too much repetition.

I’d be lying if I said it was easy, but then when is a 20 mile run ever easy? I felt absolutely fine, but my body did take advantage of the time in the fresh air to make my nose run a fair bit. This, in turn, made my mouth and throat feel really dry so by the time I got home I was desperate for a drink as I’d used up all of mine. Luckily I had the foresight to text Steve and ask him to have my drinks ready for my return so there was some ice cold water at the door for me to drink straight away, before some electrolytes and my recovery shake. By the time I had my shower I was feeling fine again.

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Tired but happy post-run

I also took the opportunity on this run to try out a running skirt I hadn’t worn before but was considering for race day (I liked it so that looks like a decision made) as well as a new pair of the shoes I have been training in (always best to check in case there’s a bit of material that rubs or something). Most excitingly, I had bought a new hydration pack and was keen to try it out. I already have a couple but the sloshing of the water reservoir can be a bit annoying and I still have a scar on my shoulder blade from where the pack I was wearing in Paris worked loose and rubbed against my back in the heat. Ouch! This time I decided to invest in a Salomon pack, where you buy a specific size. It came with two soft flasks on the front and loads of storage for phone/gels/tissues and anything else I consider indispensable. There’s also space for a reservoir, but I just went with the soft flasks today as that was new to me. I have to say, the pack was amazing. It doesn’t really move, there’s no sloshing from the soft flasks and is barely noticeable while I run, yet I know that everything I need is easy to access without having to stop and faff around. Perfect!

IMG_3739So that’s my longest run done and now it’s time to taper. I’m definitely ready to cut back a bit and plan to really focus on rest, especially sleep, over the next three weeks so my body is ready to go for it on race day.

What is your next challenge?
What’s your preferred method (if any) of carrying hydration for a long run?

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Friday Finds – 1st September

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Hello September! Where on earth did you suddenly appear from? I hope everyone has had a great week. Here are some articles I’ve come across this week for your reading pleasure…

First, a bit of research into the prevalence of knee arthritis in our modern world. We runners are constantly subjected to non-runners declaring running to be bad for our knees, but as this article points out, there really isn’t much in the way of research to support that. There is, however, plenty of research showing that osteoarthritis is becoming increasingly common. In a bid to shed some more light on why, researchers studied skeletons from a number of different periods and developed some theories as to why arthritis is more common now. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but based on their theories I would suggest that those of us who run are actually doing the best thing to take care of our knees.

Some further interesting research sought to settle the question of whether marathon training or iron distance triathlon training was harder. Sound like a pub debate? Well to an extent the researchers were trying to find answers to the very questions they explore with friends. I’ve never trained for an iron distance tri, but I have trained for marathons so know what that feels like. With that in mind, the results of that study turned out to be rather intriguing…

I also enjoyed this article from Trail Runner magazine about Strava. I know I’ve included plenty of articles about Strava before, but they have tended to be related to road running or Strava art. This considers the implications and etiquette for Strava on the trails in a bit more depth. That said, some of the etiquette definitely transfers to other activities e.g. coming up with a better name than the stock option for workouts (I don’t always do that terribly quickly, but do take some time at the weekends to change “Afternoon Run” to something a bit more catchy!).

Also discussing trails (albeit in a rather different context) is my next article taken from Motiv Running. By now you’re probably familiar with the concept of the beer mile, but what if that mile was taken to a whole new level by being run at altitude? Well apparently that is a real event that people take part in. Not only do you have the challenge of keeping 4 carbonated beers inside your stomach as you run laps, but the altitude works against you by making the beer even fizzier and your body less able to take in oxygen. Sounds like a pretty difficult challenge to me! Anyone tempted?

And finally, you have to check out this amazing shoe art. Yujia Hu, a Milan-based restaurant owner, is instagramming his amazing sushi in the form of various running shoes. Dubbed “shoeshi”, his creations are certainly attracting interest. Definitely too good to eat!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 19th May

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

It’s been a funny old week in the world of running and fitness. The biggest spring marathons are naught but a distant memory, the Breaking2 experiment is still generating some comment (more on that in the promised separate post soon!) and with the (mostly) better weather people are getting their summer training schedules kickstarted. For that reason it really is a bit of a mishmash of finds this week.

I’ll start with a story from the world of triathlon. You might remember Jonny Brownlee’s dramatic finish to the World Series finale in Mexico last September when his brother Alistair carried him over the finish line. Back in action for the first time since then, he once more demonstrated his grit and determination when a crash in the bike leg rendered his bike useless. Rather than give up, Jonny picked up the bike and ran barefoot to the transition a mile away so he could still head out on the run. Despite being almost 7 minutes behind the winner, he still finished the race, saying, “I had not come all the way…not to finish.” What would you have done?

While Jonny Brownlee may not have had quite the comeback he was looking for, what about the rest of us? Taking time out of training for any reason inevitably means a lot of hard work to regain previous form, something I’ve noticed even from taking a little time off after a marathon. With that in mind, I found it really interesting to read this piece from Outside in which a number of high-profile athletes discuss their approach to a comeback and what they learned from it. Some even went on to perform better than before!

At the other end of the scale, what happens if we run too much (yes, it is possible). This is a topic I’ve come across a few times recently, both in print and on podcasts, and I think it worth highlighting. It’s easy to fall into the trap of only running because it makes us feel good, but it’s important to find a bit more balance in our workouts in order to be create the strength we need to support our running and to be a bit more resilient. Getting the balance wrong is a fast track to injury, as I’ve learned to my cost, and if I could give myself as a beginner one piece of advice then this would probably be it. In this post the writer discusses how easily our running can become an obsession, and what we should do about it if that happens.

Possibly the coolest thing I’ve come across this week comes from Nike. The sportswear giant, fresh from their Breaking2 endeavour, has created a running track shaped like a running shoe. What’s so cool about that? Let me tell you. The track is also lit by LED lights and is integrated with a sensor worn on your shoe (a bit like a timing chip) which then allows you to race against your own virtual avatar. If you’re anything like me then as soon as you’ve watched the video you’ll want to give it a go. Shame it’s so far away!

And finally, here’s one for the ladies. Posts on social media lamenting the struggles of putting on (and taking off!) a sports bra are a regular occurrence (and a struggle our male counterparts will never know). For those in the know, this tongue-in-cheek set of instructions for putting on a sports bra is sure to raise a smile:

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

So You Want To Start Running…?

Perhaps you watched the Boston or London marathons on TV this week. Perhaps you have friends who have been encouraging you to join them for a run. Perhaps your children enjoy Junior parkrun and you’d like to set them a good example. Whatever your reason, at this time of year there are often many people who make the decision to start running.

For me, it was the spring of 2005 and the loss of my grandmother to cancer. I wanted to do something to make a difference for others, and having never run or done anything sporty before in my life, signing up to a charity 5k seemed like a great challenge.

The problem was, I knew nothing about running and had no idea how to get started. I was lucky that I had a PE teacher friend to help me, but not everyone is so fortunate. So if you’re feeling inspired to begin your running journey, today I’m sharing my tips to help make it a bit easier.

NB Remember I’m not a running coach. These tips are simply based on my own experiences and things I wish I’d known when I started.

  • Get fitted for some proper running shoes. Running shoes should be bigger than your usual shoe size to avoid pinching and blisters. It can be confusing seeing rows and rows of different brands and shoe types, but the most important thing is that they feel comfortable. You shouldn’t feel like they need to be “broken in”. If the shoe doesn’t feel good when you try it on, then it’s not the one for you (even if it is a bargain!). Ideally you should be able to try them on before you buy and have a run either in/outside the shop or on a treadmill. Running in the wrong shoes is definitely a mistake I made and it took me a long time to backtrack and find a shoe that suited me.

  • Ladies, your other essential pieces of kit is a sports bra. This is vital no matter what size you are as there are no muscles in this area, only very delicate ligaments which stretch easily through exercise. A good supportive sports bra will keep things in check and help prevent pain when exercising. Again, there are lots of different brands and styles so try a few on to see what feels most comfortable for your size and shape. Just make sure it’s a sports bra designed for high impact activity to give you the best support.

 

  • There’s no need to kit yourself out in expensive clothing right from the start. The most important thing is that you wear something you feel comfortable in. I know I’ve changed how I dress to run over the years as my confidence has grown and if running becomes part of your life then buying some new kit could be something to look forward to. Wicking fabrics are great at moving moisture away from your skin and if you do want some new gear then there are plenty of budget buys available. Check out High Street retailers and discount supermarket chains.

  • If you don’t want to go it alone then find a friend to run with you or consider looking out for a beginners’ group to join. There are plenty of friendly groups running programmes to take you from zero to 5k in a few weeks and many people have success with smartphone apps doing the same thing. Here in Scotland a JogScotland group might be useful. I did almost all of my early running by myself, but it would have been nice to have company. Even just having a friend alongside you to chat can make it much more manageable and can be a good way to have a good old catch up.

 

  • Keep it simple. If you sprint off then you’ll be out of breath in no time. I DEFINITELY made this mistake and it’s a common one when often our only experience of running is sprints in PE at school, or we’re used to high intensity classes and are chasing that same feeling. Instead, focus on how you feel. You should be able to hold a conversation and speak in sentences rather than gasped words. At this stage, time and distance aren’t important. Lay the foundations and get comfortable with your running first.

 

  • It’s ok to be “slow”. Speed is all relative. A new runner might look at my paces and think I’m fast, but my average pace is naught but a warmup for an elite athlete! Even if you feel like you’re moving only slightly faster than a walk, you’re still on your way. Find your rhythm and stick with it. As you get fitter, your pace will naturally quicken with the same effort level. Run your own run and forget about what anyone else is doing.

 

  • Be consistent. Unsurprisingly, going for a run then leaving it for weeks before you try again won’t lead to much improvement. Put your runs in your diary as you would any other commitment and stick to it. I run 3 times per week and 3-4 runs per week is about average. A good pattern might be to run every other day, being sure to leave rest days in between to allow your body to recover and get stronger. If anything feels sore, back off and consider seeking advice from a physio.

 

  • Set yourself targets. I started running in a local park and was using run-walk intervals. I used to aim to increase the length of my run intervals and decrease the walk breaks each time, until eventually I reached the huge milestone of one lap of the park (about 1.5 miles). I was so thrilled you’d have thought I’d run a marathon! I suggest targets like the next lamppost, a certain amount of time, a lap of the park, and so on. Ultimately you might aim to complete your local parkrun – a great place for a beginner to find like-minded people and a supportive, welcoming community.

  • Avoid getting bogged down in detail. You don’t need to be in head-to-toe lycra or wearing a massively expensive running watch. There’s plenty of time for that in the future if you want it. All you need is that pair of running shoes and some comfortable clothes. If you must know your time/distance/pace then there are plenty of free smartphone apps available.

 

  • Remember it’s supposed to be fun! Exercise isn’t a way of punishing yourself for something, it’s an expression of what our bodies can do. Take your time, run your run and enjoy being out in the fresh air improving your fitness. Running benefits not only your physical health but your mental health too. It clears your head and helps sharpen your mind. If you’re not enjoying your run then the chances are you’re running too fast. Ease off the pace, stand tall and repeat a positive message like  “I CAN do this”.

If you are at the beginning of your running journey, welcome. I hope you find everything you want on the roads and trails. Do stop by and keep me up to date with your progress.

What is your reason to run?
Any other tips for beginners or questions to ask?

Friday Finds – 25th November

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a runner, in possession of the desire to run, will eventually succumb to an injury. Those injuries might be caused by many things such as overuse, a biomechanical issue or wearing shoes unsuited to an individual’s running style. The debate has raged for years about what the “right” running form should be and what the “best” trainers are. Personally, I subscribe to the theory that the best shoes are the ones I can comfortably wear for miles and miles, while the right form is whatever feels most natural (with the odd tweak here and there). I’ve found this to be a controversial issue though, with zealots declaring that their preferred style/shoe is gospel and all else must be wrong, and this has led to various fads such as barefoot running, minimalist shoes and, more recently, maximalist shoes. To say nothing of the traditional gait analysis and methods of shoe selection. To date, I have believed that there was no substantial research to support a particular running style or shoe type over another when it comes to injury prevention, so was surprised to see two newspapers this week extolling the virtues of a minimal shoe and forefoot strike as leading to a lower incidence of injury. Intrigued, I read further, only to discover that this study was based on just 29 test subjects! I’m no scientist, but it seems to me that this is a very small sample and am inclined to take this particular revelation with a grain of salt. As far as I’m concerned we’re all individuals and therefore there can be no “best fit” for all. I’d be interested to hear your views on this…

While I’m on the subject of potentially controversial studies, I felt I just HAD to share this gem from The Daily Mail, a newspaper I’m not generally a fan of. According to this article from the end of last week, the stress of Christmas shopping can raise the heart rate to a level comparable to running a marathon. Now while I’m quite sure that the physiological response is true, I’m not convinced that comparing the stress of festive shopping to running 26.2 miles is quite accurate. To me, one is very much a negative stressor, whereas the other is a healthy activity where raising your heart rate is seen as a positive to aid fitness. But if you are worried about the “marathon” effort of completing your gift shopping, a solution is offered: high intensity interval shopping! Yes, you did read that correctly. Perhaps I should suggest it to Steve as a seasonal fitness class 😀

Something which seems to have much more sound theory behind it is the assertion that exercise helps to combat depression. As runners, we know the mood-lifting properties of a good run and I’m sure I’ve shared articles on a similar topic before. What I found interesting about one recent study is that it drew on data from many previous studies, a data pool of over 1 million participants. Unsurprisingly, the link between physical fitness and mental health was considerable, with the least fit participants around 75% more likely to be given a diagnosis of depression than those with the highest level of fitness. Obviously it takes more than one run to make a long-term difference, and more work is needed to determine an optimum amount of exercise, but it is clear that being active is key to improving mental health.

Related to this is this article about using brain stimulation to improve athletic performance. For me, the idea of zapping my brain is a rather scary thought, however it seems that several sports teams/organisations are buying into the premise and using the devices mentioned. It’s certainly true that the mind is a powerful factor in athletic performance, but I’m not sure I would go as far as this to shave a bit of time off a run. What about you?

And finally, a piece about a most unusual running partner. Many people like to run with friends, family or a club. Some like to run with their dog, but Christopher McDougall (yes, the author of perennial favourite Born to Run) has a much more unconventional partner: a donkey! In this first part of a new column for The New York Times, he explains how he came to have a donkey in the first place, and what thought process led him to believe that making that donkey his running partner might be a possibility. I’ll leave it to you to read the rest…

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 11th November

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

A couple of weeks ago I shared an article from Fortune magazine which detailed the running shoe preferences of non-elite marathon runners. At the time I was surprised that my preferred brand, Adidas, didn’t make the list and was curious to know how this compared to the choices made by elite runners. I also thought it would be interesting to dig into the statistics a bit more to find out more about why people choose a particular shoe. This week, I have a follow-up. While it doesn’t tell me any more about why people choose particular brands over others (e.g. marketing, availability, technical specs, etc) it does confirm my suspicion that elite athletes tend to make different choices. Interestingly, it also broke that down into male and female elites, where there was a slight brand difference. I suppose these facts in themselves raise more questions for me about why these choices are made, and I would love to read more research on this.

Next up, an interesting piece from The Guardian about running and weight loss. I enjoyed the discussion at the beginning about the various reasons people choose to run, and while it’s not my reason, I wasn’t surprised that around 40% of people say that they run to lose weight. I know that when I get stuck into marathon training I need to be careful to maintain/increase my calorific intake or I will lose too much weight, but for others weight loss from running can be frustratingly slow, for a variety of reasons mentioned in this article. So if you are feeling a little put out that running is not having the desired effect on your weight, perhaps this will help you to pinpoint why.

I also read with interest this next piece from Women’s Running. In it, the writer discusses why racing isn’t a big priority for her, and how the lack of a big goal makes her feel when surrounded by others striving for a time or distance goal. I have to say, this really resonated with me. I do love to race, but sometimes find that constant striving for PBs a bit much. That’s why I chose not to discuss my autumn race goal this year. I also want to prioritise being able to run for years to come over completing a goal race, which is why I ultimately didn’t run the race I was training for. For me, defining myself as a runner means that I run regularly, not that I race regularly. Racing is fun, but I agree with the writer that you don’t have to race in order to call yourself a runner. I’d love to know what you think about this.

Of course for many racing is a big part of running, but what if training for a race put you at risk? Would you still do it? What if you were a western woman living and working in Afghanistan who wanted to train for a marathon? That was the difficulty faced by lawyer Jessica Wright when she gained a coveted spot in the New York marathon. When I train for my next marathon and get fed up with long runs in terrible weather, I’ll remember the difficulties Wright faced to achieve her goal and remind myself how lucky I am to have the freedom to run, train and take part in sport without threat.

And finally, if you’re in need of a little humour this week, why not check out this Buzzfeed piece which probably describes your life. I can definitely relate to number 14! Which one best describes you?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 28th October

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Often, I like to find some kind of theme in my Friday Finds, something to tie all the articles I share together, like my recent marathon special. It’s nice when that happens; it seems like there’s some joined up thinking going into my posts. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes my news feeds are just full of unrelated, yet interesting, articles that I want to share, and my post ends up feeling a little bit random. This week is one of those weeks!

My first find this week, although from 2014, seems very timely as here in the UK the clocks go back this weekend. Some people love running through the winter months, feeling their performance improve in the cooler temperatures, while others find it difficult to find the motivation to head outside. I have to admit, while I’m not fond of how much little daylight there is through the winter months, I know I feel better for getting out and running, feeling the cold air on my face yet being snug in my toasty winter kit. I may have to alter some of my routes, but getting out at night always reminds me of when I first started running more seriously in January of 2009. In this article, Harry McGee points out some of the advantages to night time running, and helps us to find the beauty in those cold, wet nights, as well as providing some useful safety reminders.

Next up, the results of a fascinating study comparing the mental performance of athletes and non-athletes when under pressure. While none of the athletic participants were runners, it’s still intriguing to read of the difference it makes to have the mindset of someone used to making quick decisions when their success or failure can come down to that one split second. I have included articles about that mindset before, so found it interesting to see the direct comparison between those conditioned to making split second decisions under pressure, and those not.

This week’s marathon-related article comes from Fortune. If you love marathons, running shoes and statistics then this is the find for you! Although based on US statistics, it does give an interesting insight into the brands that are getting the most wear right now, and I have to say I was quite surprised that my preferred brand doesn’t get a look-in, despite similar studies of elites in recent years suggesting it to be their pick. I would be really keen to see someone dig into this a bit deeper and find out WHY people are picking the shoes they do, and if there is a discernible difference between the elites and the “average” recreational runner.

I have written before about my desire to run for many years to come, and have found countless examples of runners doing just that, such as the amazing Ed Whitlock, but I’ve always thought of that in terms of continuing with an activity I love, rather than considering what all those years of running might teach me. Even in the relatively short space of time I’ve been running (compared to those who have run throughout their lives) I feel like I’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience that, given sufficient opportunity, I will gladly share with others. And all in just a decade or so of running. So what else might be learned from 50 years of running? Well that’s exactly the subject matter of this piece I found in Outside. It’s a beautifully written account of a running journey, and the lessons learned along the way. I hope you enjoy it.

And finally, what kind of a runner are you? No, not whether you prefer morning or night, heel strike or forefoot strike, but your running character. Looking at this fun piece from Runner’s World, I reckon I know a number of the runners described and can recognise a few of the characteristics I possess. The only problem is that “blogger jogger”, despite its charming rhyme, somewhat conflicts with the “don’t-call-me-a-jogger”! Oh well, I must have many layers of running quirk within me. What about you?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

A Runner’s Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

Wow, another year gone by already! I hope you, Mrs Claus and all the reindeer are well. Did you enjoy the protein bar and electrolyte drink I left out for you last year? You need to fuel properly for an endurance event like your annual trip around the world! I do hope you’ve recovered well, trained sensibly and had a good taper for this year.

I’ve been really enjoying my running lately and am looking forward to all the festive runs I missed out on last year due to an ill-timed injury. With a spring marathon on the horizon, I’m working hard to get my body ready and am trying a few things I’ve not tried before like yoga and trail running. Since it’s December now, you’re probably anxious to start getting the sleigh ready for your trip (now there’s a strength workout getting all those gifts loaded up!) and since I’m sure I’ve been very good this year, there are a few things I’m hoping you might have on there for me…

Something I’d find really useful is a new yoga mat. I bought a very basic mat to get started with as I didn’t want to spent lots of money until I knew yoga was something I wanted to commit to. Now, I’d really love a higher quality mat like this one from Lululemon. It comes in really nice colours, like my favourite purple/pink shades, and looks like just the thing to help me continue my yoga journey.

On the running front, there are so many things that would help me to feel good when I’m hitting the roads and trails. I’ve got my eye on the new J Crew for New Balance kit, especially this top which comes in my favourite striped design (and would pair beautifully with these tights from the same range). There’s nothing like a Breton stripe to get me in the mood for running in France!

If we’re in for a cold winter (and we’ve already had a particularly cold snap) then keeping warm is crucial. Last year I spotted this Odlo top with a built in face mask when I was perusing some kit reviews and have really fancied it ever since. I’m also interested in the new parkrun jackets which have just been announced. I wear my parkrun Tshirt to just about every parkrun I do, but if it gets super cold then a jacket would be a brilliant way to keep showing my support for parkrun.

And speaking of cold weather, one of my biggest worries is always slipping on icy, frosty paths. I certainly don’t want to take any risks, but if trying out some different shoes means I can avoid the treadmill on icy days then I’ll be very happy indeed. Recently I tried the all terrain version of my go-to 5k/10k shoe the Adidas Glide Boost, and now I’ve discovered that there is an all terrain version of my favourite long run shoes, the Ultra Boosts. I found the all terrain soles really grippy and was able to complete my workouts with confidence that my feet wouldn’t slide around – they even helped me to a good finish in the parkrun points competition – so it would be great to have another pair so I can continue to rotate my shoes and ward off injuries.

With all the changes I’ve made in my training, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to race a bit more in 2017 than I did this year. I love trying to improve my times and have amassed quite a collection of medals. Each one is a memory and I love being able to display them all on hangers in our new home. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of room on my current hangers so need a couple more to give me a bit more hanging space. I will use new hangers to extend my current displays so my requirements are quite specific. This one in both black and sparkling plum will be exactly what I need to match my current hangers and the extra space will give me the motivation to earn some new bling and fill them up!

So that’s my Christmas wish list Santa. I do hope you’re able to bring me something from on there and make me smile on Christmas morning. I’m off to choose a healthy snack to leave out for you so you can refuel properly and avoid hitting the wall on your most important night of the year.

Love to everyone at the North Pole,
The Running Princess

PS No sponsored content or affiliate links here, Santa. These are the things I would truly love to find under my tree this year. What are you hoping to find under yours?

US v UK Running Lingo

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I’m always intrigued by linguistic differences both within the UK and between other English-speaking countries. I notice this most when I visit Florida, and for the first day or so my dad often reminds me to “speak American” so I can be understood! And it’s not just me. Earlier this week I got an email from my blogger friend Jessie at The Right Fits with an idea about working together on a post looking at some of the differences between US and UK running lingo. Jessie ran the London Marathon this year and her experience there, combined with reading UK-based running blogs like mine, really made her notice differences in the way those in the US talk about running compared to here in the UK. We put our heads together to bring you this post – US v UK Running Lingo: A User Guide!

(You can read Jessie’s version of this post here)

London-Marathon-finisher-2016
PR/PB: Personal Record vs. Personal Best!
Jessie may hear some Americans call it a PB, but generally it seems that PR is the preferred noun to discuss a personal record. PR is even used as a verb: “She PR’ed at Boston!”
Of course PB’s are the lingo in the UK, including as a verb: “She PB’ed in her race!”!

I ran my biggest PB at the Paris Marathon in 2014:IMG_2863

Tank/Vest:
To Jessie, when she thinks of a vest, she thinks of a down winter gilet, not what she calls a tank top. But in the UK, a “vest” is your sleeveless running top: “He was wearing his club vest.”

Sneakers/Trainers:
Jessie says she really loves the term “trainers” and is hoping to bring it to the US! Yet currently, if she mentioned trainers to her friends, they’d think she was talking about a personal trainer who’s helping her with strength training, not the Brooks on her feet!

Gear check/Bag drop:
Runners in the US drop off their post-race stuff at Gear Check. In the UK, it’s Bag Drop!

Packet pickup/Registration:
At the expo, our US friends head to packet pickup ahead of a race. In the UK, you just head to registration.

Boston (and BQ)/London (and GFA = Good For Age):
I commented on this on Jessie’s “What it Means to Run Boston” post that in the UK, Boston isn’t the big deal. Rather, the “big” deal is the London Marathon, and here, you want to run a “Good for Age” time in another marathon in order to get in. In the US, it’s all about the “BQ!”

Bib/Race number:
To non-runners, the term bib probably means something a baby wears when eating in a high chair, but to US runners, the “bib” is what you pin on your “vest” with your race number. I just call it a race number!

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Corral/Pen:
In the US, runners are grouped into starting corrals. Which corral you end up in depends on your qualifying time or your predicted finish time, but in the UK, it’s the starting pen!

Sweatpants/Trackies (tracksuit bottoms):
Chilly before a race? Americans don their sweats. You put on your trackies or trackie bottoms in the UK!

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Portapotty/Portable Toilet:
In this post, Jessie discovered the existence of the female urinal! But even the regular facilities have different lingo- in the US, these are portapotties. We refer to them as portable toilets or portaloos (although this one is a brand name and I know they can be quite protective of it, so let’s stick to portable toilets!).

Spandex/Lycra:
Those tight fitted shorts? Jessie calls them Spandex. I call them Lycra.

Register/sign up for a race, vs. ENTER a race:
In the US, they register for a race or they sign up. In the UK we enter a race!

trackies-sweats

OTHERS:
Since some of my family lives part of the year in Florida, I’ve had the opportunity to run races in the US as well as the UK, like this one last month:

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I’ve noticed that at almost every race I’ve done in the US, the national anthem is played at the start. There’s nothing like that in the UK, it’s just any announcements from the race director, then you’re on your way.

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Jessie has also noticed from my blog and from following UK runners on Instagram how huge parkrun is here. When she ran the London Marathon she saw a sign that read “Wave if you love parkrun!” and felt “in the know” about what parkrun was from my blog. While there are some parkruns in the US (currently 6 compared to over 400 in the UK), it’s still very much a new thing and unfamiliar to most, whereas for me the last 5k of a marathon is “just a parkrun to go!”. Where Jessie lives they have Flapjack Friday, which I understand as an early morning run followed by some food. Sounds pretty good to me!

One last difference- Post Race Food:
Jessie found this one really interesting. I’ve noticed that there tends to be a difference in post-race food. I don’t mean in the goody bags [or SWAG bags in the US] but the food laid out. In the UK we really only have food laid out if the race has been organized by a running club and it will likely be sandwiches (using the UK term meaning the filling is between slices of bread) or filled rolls (what Jessie would probably call a “bun”) and home baking (cakes, biscuits [that’s “cookies” in the US, we only call them cookies if they have chocolate chips!], etc) and any fruit is pretty much bananas or maybe apples whereas races I’ve been to in the US lay out a lot of BBQ, potato chips [“crisps” in the UK], pretzels, watermelon, etc.”

Jessie agrees, having noticed this at the London Marathon. The post-race food wasn’t quite as extensive as she sees at US marathons. Though they did have Jack Link’s beef jerky (straight from Northern Wisconsin!) which made her feel a bit more at home!

Huge thanks to Jessie for sharing her thoughts for this post!

If you haven’t started following Jessie, definitely do so! And with the helpful lingo in this post, you’ll actually know what she’s talking about! 😉

You can follow Jessie on BlogLovin and Instagram!

Friday Finds – 24th June

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Life is a funny old thing. One minute you’re flying along feeling great, and the next you come plummeting back to earth with a thump. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.

I’m feeling a bit discombobulated this week: not only is there the usual end of term exhaustion, but there’s a rather uncertain air everywhere. And to cap it all off, my beloved MacBook died so while I wait for it to be repaired, I’m blogging via my iPad, which is not ideal.

With all that in mind, I think this week’s Friday Finds needs some positive stories. Stories that are inspiring, uplifting and entertaining.

I’m going to begin this week with one of the most heart-warming stories I’ve seen in a while. At this time of year, schools up and down the country are holding their annual sports day. One sports day in particular made the news when a group made sure that their classmate, who has cerebral palsy, had a sports day to remember…

Next up, some positivity from everyone’s favourite athletic social network, Strava. I’ve long believed that if you take part in an athletic endeavour, at any level, then you are an athlete. Strava, it seems, agrees and I love their new video with the tag line, “strive to be an athlete, and you are one”. What do you think?

Next up, the rather odd story of Juris Silenieks. This runner recently completed the Hotlanta Half Marathon in 1 hour 17 minutes. What’s so remarkable about that? Well what if I told you that Silenieks ran his race in dress shoes? That’s right, that’s 13.1 miles of chafing leather. Ouch!

Following on from that, a story that comes direct from the “only in America” category. A would-be bicycle thief got more than he bargained for when he was chased down, not on foot, but on horseback! A passerby spotted the theft outside a supermarket, took his horse from its trailer and set off in pursuit. It’s like something from a movie unfolding in real life!

And finally, if like me you’re in need of a laugh, check out this video alerting us to a worrying trend spreading among young people…distance running! Just place your tongue firmly in your cheek, sit back and enjoy!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess