Entry 217 – I Move London Relay

Have you heard of the event I Move London Relay?  If not then I urge you to check it out.

What is it?  Well it is more than an event, it is a movement and whilst you take part as a participant in either a 5km or 10km stage with a participant tshirt and receive a medal, it is so much more than just a running event!  This is an event running for 30 consecutive days and nights aiming to cover 4,000 miles by 2,500 runners.  The runners are starting and finishing every stage passing the baton (named Rod) to the next person.  Once complete a Guinness World Record attempt will be successful.

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Don’t drop the baton!  I mean seriously don’t as that would mean the world record attempt is not valid.  And yes running with the baton is somewhat terrifying.  The pressure of knowing you cannot drop or put this thing down means you run the full stage gripping this with all your might.

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I was lucky enough to be invited to be involved in this by the awesome Danny Bent who is the brains behind this – if you know him or have met him you will know this man has an infectious energy and if anyone could pull this off it would be him.  I’ve taken part in the promo video and photo shoot and met some wonderfully amazing people who have all been as inspired as I am by this epic event.

The event is powered by ASICS for three amazing charities:

Money raised will be essential funds to help combat gang culture, homelessness and mental health.

The event started 29 June and is running until 29 July – which is great news as it means you still have 10 days to get involved and be part of this amazing movement.

I ran the opening 5k stage on 29 June with my husband and friend (in addition to a lot of simply brilliant people) and then a 10k stage on 7 July with a friend, which coincided with Pride and England winning a game in the World Cup.

The atmosphere running along the river and across Westminster and Tower Bridge is second to none with absolute strangers cheering you on.

What are you waiting for?  Sign up here.  Together we move London!

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Entry 216 – Spitfire Scramble and packing for an endurance running event

At the weekend I took part for the third year in a row in the Spitfire Scramble 24 hour relay run.

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I’ve written a post about this event before which you can read here. It is basically a running event that you can do as a solo or in a team of up to 8 members over a 24 hour period completing laps of just under 10km.

Having done it previously I knew in advance what I needed and what I’d packed before and never needed in the hope of getting it just right this year.

You can tell the people who do events like this regularly as the set up is like a military operation with clothes lines, grills, food tents and even their own personal sports therapists.

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Now the event is a five minute drive from my house so it always feels slightly odd packing for camping when so close to home.  This inevitably ends up including a lot more than you intend to take, when I could easily go back and forth to a comfortable bed, a proper toilet and shower (it’s seriously tempting)! But that would not be in the spirit of the event and so here is a little list of items I would class as essential going into an event like this (it’s a car full – couldn’t even fit the dog in!):

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Camping – tent, blow up mattress (inexpensive and definitely worth it rather than sleeping on the floor), sleeping bag, pillows, fold up chairs.

Medical – rock tape, scissors, ibruprofen, pro plus, Imodium, piriteze (or any other form of antihistamines), salt tabs, blister plasters, ice/heat packs.

Clothing – I prefer a fresh change of clothes for each lap (this year I wore the same for 3 laps and I have terrible chaffing – sorry I realise this is tmi), visor, trainers (check the terrain), number belt, running belt, jacket (you may walk and night laps can get chilly), sports bras, spare socks, compression calf sleeves (if you use these), waterproof layers (check the weather).

Electricals – running watch, headtorch (mandatory for laps after 8pm), spare batteries, phone charger, battery pack, camping kettle.

Toiletries – towel, toothbrush and paste, brush, dry shampoo, deodorant, baby wipes, spare toilet roll (nothing worse than the porta loos after a weekend of campers and runners and potentially no tissue!), dry shower, antibacterial gel, jungle spray (there are so many bugs).

Food and drink – electrolytes, water (though there should be a supply), snacks, porridge pots, bananas, soreen, breakfast biscuits, there are usually vans selling food – we had jacket potatoes/pasta/pizza/burgers/noodles on offer here though I prefer to stick to what I would usually eat though food and drink will be totally personal preference, tea bags, coffee, milk.

Other – foam roller, money, lighter or matches, citronella candles, cool box, water bottle, black bags, bowls/plates/cutlery.

You’re probably reading the above thinking wow that’s a lot – it is a lot but better to be prepared and set up camp and have everything you need so there is no added stress!

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Entry 215 – Can’t Run, Want to Run

For anyone that knows me they will not be surprised to hear that I am not the best runner.  I have blogged about this before and about being in a running funk and it is happening again.  I want to run, I am just not that good at it.runSome people glide along all smiles as they run and others, like me, huff and puff whilst being completely red in the face and wiping sweat from my top lip, forehead, out of my eyes – I mean pretty much sweat everywhere.I do know, however, that this should not be a surprise to me as I have put my cycling and strength training to the forefront this year and so I have absolutely no consistency when it comes to my running and so should not be surprised that when I run 2 or 3 miles I am struggling.Plus the heat!  Oh my god the heat – I don’t want to be that typical person who moans about terrible weather and then moans about the heat but wow it makes it much harder (for me anyway).At the end of last year/beginning of this year I followed a run/walk plan to strengthen a knee injury and worked my way up to two half marathons that I completed – albeit not speedy but I got them done.  I am wondering whether I should go back to this run/walk method until I feel better with the running?I was looking online for hints and tips about how to get out of a running funk and found a lot to comment on the following:

  • consistency is key – I need to work running into my plan and stick to it
  • different routes – I found a lot of websites saying that changing up routes can help so will try this as I have a go to selection of routes so change is as good as a rest
  • run time based – rather than go out thinking I have to do a certain mileage just go out to run for a certain amount of time
  • slow it down – run at a comfortable pace and don’t worry if you need some walking breaks and don’t be afraid of going slow instead be afraid of not trying at all – I’ve been told several times before that I run at the same speed regardless of distance or type of run and that running slow is fine
  • short runs are ok – not every run has to be a minimum mileage
  • change the scenery – I have hit the trails recently and enjoyed that much more than running on pavement
  • never ever judge a run by the its first mile – I often start out and think wow I can’t do this then settle into a rhythm of sorts
  • lose the tech – don’t spend your run checking your watch for time/distance/pace – I did this earlier in the year and it definitely worked for me
  • rest days – I am terrible at having enough rest and I am told a million times by everyone but I think that I really need to listen now and change that
  • mental game – another area I lack in is the mental aspect – I give in too easily when running
  • breathing – I recently read a piece by the awesome Bethan over at A Pretty Place to Play that was linking yoga and breathing to running and I am so interested in exploring this more as I often find its not my legs but the breathing that beats me
  • trust the process – calm down, don’t worry, don’t hurry and just run – some inspo for this has been coming from the amazing Corey over at Learning Patience as she has been recovering from an injury and getting back into running always with her trademark smile!

To be fair this couldn’t come at a worse time as I have some longer obstacle runs in a couple of months and this weekend I am part of a group of awesome ladies doing the Spitfire Scramble 24 hour relay run.  Thankfully we are happy to live up to our team name, Scrambled Legs, and between us are carrying some injuries so happy to do this for fun.I am grateful to those that run with me particularly my friend Emma who is miles quicker than me but very patient and lets me be grumpy and rant and moan – she must be a sucker for punishment ha!Fingers crossed for me!  Time to reset on my running – any tips you have feel free to share x

Entry 214 – Colour Run

At the weekend I headed to Wembley for The Colour Run.  I was taking part in this with my friend Emma and looking forward to being covered in dye and having fun for the second weekend in a row.We turned up and there were huge crowds of people all in the same white Colour Run tshirt that you are given as part of your race pack ready to get stuck in to some colourful fun.  The atmosphere was great and there was music and a huge stand by F45 Training getting people warmed up and in the mood showing what they are about – I have never been to once of these gyms but seen great reviews and results from others.There were people giving away Protein Balls – these are a firm favourite with me – if you have not tried them then do check them out!So with our tshirts on, metallic gold lightning bolt tattoo applied, glitter applied and sweatband positioned we were ready for the off.  I was slightly confused here as you left under a start sign but it wasn’t actually the start, it was a walk out of the event village and then round to another part outside of Wembley stadium where the crowd were being given a warm up, completing a Mexican wave and as they controlled the numbers starting, you were let off in batches under the real start – in our wave we sang happy birthday to a young girl.img_1840This year was the hero tour and so there were a lot of people running in superhero capes and especially the kids seemed super excited about this!There is a huge mix of ages and abilities taking part and it is sold as the happiest 5k on the planet.  On the website it says:

WHAT IS THE COLOR RUN?

The Color Run, also known as the “Happiest 5k on the Planet”, is a unique colour fun run that celebrates healthiness, happiness, and individuality. img_1843It was also extremely hot!  Being so hot, for me at least, makes running seem very tough but this is not a run designed for PBs or a race.In addition to the dye stations there was also a foam station and this was amazing as it completely cooled me down – not for long but was so welcome!img_1844I did find it hard to navigate around people as it was very crowded and although the vibe from everyone is fab the run does take place on an industrial estate so it is not the most inspiring of landscapes.I wouldn’t normally think you would need a water station on a 5k, however, with the weather being as hot as it was I think it would have been a good idea especially as this could be someones first 5k, there are a young children, I saw quite a few people taking part with walking sticks and in the heat hydration is key!On the finish line was coconut water (I think I am the only person who doesn’t like this stuff) and a unicorn medal!  Yes that’s right a unicorn medal – how awesome is that?img_1875It was also half a mile short and so my friend and I ran back to our car to make the mileage up to the 5k.The run finishes back the event village with a total party atmopshere – you are given another packet of dye as you finish and so the music starts, everyone is dancing and the whole crowd get involved with doing a mass dye throw – always makes for the best photos!After showering I have a rather fancy tie dye effect sports bra and my gold tattoo is still on my arm – secretly I don’t want it to come off!

Entry 213 – Run or Dye

I shared a post on my Instagram account at the weekend with the quote ‘Life is art, live yours in colour’ with this picture:

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I spent Sunday morning at Penhurst Place for the Run or Dye event with my family and had an absolute blast!

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The Run or Dye event is a fun run inspired by the ancient Hindu festival of Holi, known as the Festival of Colours.  All participants are given a bag with a white tshirt, face tattoo and packet of brightly coloured dye.  The dye used is 100% safe and made out of coloured cornstarch so completely natural and causes no harm to the skin or environment and is designed to wash out of clothes and hair – my sons girlfriend wore a white pair of trainers that actually look rather funky now and so does the baseball hat my son wore – almost don’t want to wash them!

The idea of wearing a white tshirt is to really show up all the colours of the dye.  There are three distances on offer from 1km, 3.5km and 5km so really something for everyone in terms of ability and no pressure for times with fun being the key element.  The event also supports the Kiss It Better appeal, which was started by Carmel Allen, whose daughter, Josephine, was treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital for neuroblastoma.  The money raised by Kiss it Better goes towards paediatric cancer research at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

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I was signed up with my husband, son and his girlfriend and it was really nice to get out to an event that would be suitable for all of us together.  There is such a family feel to it and I am not sure in some cases who was more excited – the children or the adults!

There was a lot going on at the start with a rock choir, competitions, dance off’s, music and dancing, warm ups and lots of dye being thrown around.  There are food and drink stalls not only for those taking part but also those who were there to cheer people on.  Once in the start funnel there was more music, Mexican waves and more dye being thrown around so everyone was in a totally party mood and smiles all round right from the outset.

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Penhurst Place is stunning and having attending the venues that Castle Triathlon use for their triathlons and Commando Series obstacle run I must say that I am always certain wherever an event is from these guys you are guaranteed a gorgeous venue so I knew this would be the same and it didn’t disappoint!

I also knew that it was fairly certain to be hilly and it was and in the heat it was tough!  Seeing the foam station was so welcome and completely refreshing too – I am sure a lot of us spent a few more minutes in there than entirely necessary but it was so good.

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There are dye stations at 5 intervals throughout the run and so you get covered in the dye more and more as you run and it just adds to the fun.

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It is such a family orientated event and so good to see so many kids, parents and whole families taking part.  It is rare that I do an event with my husband but even more so with my son and his girlfriend and so finishing together was great!  We were all covered in different coloured dye and the party atmosphere continued at the finish with games involving the crowd and you guessed it – more dye!

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Entry 212 – Life of a Commuter/Don’t be a helmet

I have been commuting by bike to work now for a while and I am still really loving it, despite the fact that I started in the cold and wet winter months.

I am really enjoying the bike right now so this probably comes as no surprise that I am loving the opportunity to get some extra miles in by swapping the train for the bike.  However, it is very different and I don’t think I was ready for just how different it would be from my usual cycling.  I am used to cycling with my cycling club, Romford CC, and tri club, Havering Tri.

I cycle with a friend from my cycling club who has been commuting by bike for over 20 years so I am in good company!  Plus hes a lovely man and if there is wind he is the perfect wind breaker (such a gentleman).  The bulk of the journey is on the CS3 cycle path into London though this does run along a main road so not exactly a scenic route but does make it easy to follow and off the road too.

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However, I have some gripes!  There are cycle paths to make things easier for both cyclists and pedestrians so it is annoying when people choose to walk in the cycle path especially as there is an ample pathway right next to it.  I have put a bell on my bike so I can alert people and have had people screaming at me to get off the path and that cycling on the path is illegal – its a cycle path and most definitely not illegal.  I was taken off my bike the other week by someone telling what looked to be an animated story who then decided to jump on the cycle path and promptly send me flying.  It was a complete accident on his part and I am fine (and my bike) but his initial reaction was to say I shouldn’t be there and he didn’t know it was a cycle path – it’s a shame its not painted bright blue with white bikes painted at intervals and signs to indicate what it is, oh no wait it is.  Anyway these things happen.

The cycle path often has the most amount of litter, sand, gravel, glass – all sorts on it and I often find myself arriving covered in mud even when it’s been dry!

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There are a million crossings so it is a very stop start journey, which is frustrating but par for the course – I am still using my cleats and sometimes I can understand why people opt for trainers instead.

There is a section that goes behind some trees at one point and you have to cycle between some bollards – this is my least favourite part of the route.  I am always worried I will clip my handle bars on the bollards and it is a lonely little path there where no one can see you!

I’ve learned that my slow bike handling skills are terrible, in fact beyond terrible and I am not entirely convinced there is hope for me yet in this area but time will tell.  Some of the crossings are almost at right angles and as the cycle path has a cement type curb acting as a lip I struggle getting round some without having to manual move my bike round – much to the amusement of my cycling buddy.

Cycling in London is not my favourite.  There is too much going on – too many pedestrians, too many cars, too many cyclists and I would think you either have to be super confident or have more experience than me to be properly comfortable with navigating some of the roads.

Now whilst most of the cyclists are fine there are of course some that are not.  Hence the title of this post don’t be a helmet.  What do I mean by this?  Well not just for commuting to be fair just in general – cyclists get a bad rep and there are some terrible cyclists for sure though there are also some terrible drivers but lets not tar everyone with the same brush.

Why would you not wear a helmet?  Being a member of a cycling club we have a strict rule – no helmet, no ride.  Speaking as someone who had an accident and my helmet saved my head I just don’t understand why anyone would not wear a helmet and actually think they should be a legal requirement.  Yes its not the best look and there are better accessories but its not a fashion show rather a necessity.  I am always so surprised to see people on my commute (and at other times) without a helmet on.  And those little cycling caps? They won’t save your head either.

Light yourself up  – be safe and be seen.

Headphones!  Have a brain – don’t wear headphones whilst cycling it’s just plain dangerous.  I won’t expand on this as I feel its self explanatory.  If you have headphones in and cannot hear how is that safe?!

Red lights – red means stop!  If you are riding on the road you have the same Highway Code rules as any other vehicle.  When I first started commuting I would point this out to people who went through red lights but this was often met with some verbal abuse.  There was a terrible accident outside my work last week where a cyclist went through the red light and was then hit by a van to be taken off in an ambulance.  Think about the van driver too who has to deal with hitting someone through no fault of their own.  It’s careless and dangerous.

Not all cyclists are bad I promise you!

I’m lucky I have great facilities at my office so I have secure locking for my bike and a locker room with really nice showers so this makes the commute really easy and actually no longer than the train journey I used to do.  Plus if there are train delays or strikes – doesn’t effect me if I am going on my bike anyway.

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Some people see commuting as junk miles though I have seen an improvement in my cycling fitness this year and I am sure the commuting miles contribute to that in some way.

Plus I am saving a bit of money by cycling instead of paying train fare everyday and its good for the planet too with zero pollution.

So here’s to many more commuting miles!

Entry 211 – Train Smart, Train Strong

Have you incorporated strength and conditioning training into your training schedule?  I have, and there are a number of reasons for this including seeing many people around me who do and how it has benefitted them.

I recently took part in Outlaw half Nottingham as part of a relay, completing the bike leg.  This was 56 miles and I completed it in 2 hours 56 minutes, there is a separate post about this you can read more on here, but it is safe to say I was really proud of myself for that result.  I have, however, had several people congratulate me but also ask what I think saw me achieve that time.  I should note that the previous year I did ride the route, not as part of the event, but just for myself the day before as my husband and friends were preparing for the event.  I rode the route in 3 hours 29 minutes and so in one year I achieved a PB for this of 33 minutes over the 56 miles.  Hence why I was so pleased with the result.

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So the questions of how I achieved this made me reflect on what had I changed in my training?  Three things:

  1. More structure to my cycle training.
  2. Strength and conditioning training.
  3. Healthy eating.

I am lucky that my husband is a qualified cycle coach and so I have him on hand to tell me how I should be structuring my rides rather than just putting in the miles, that are never wasted, but to just ride with no structure is often referred to as ‘junk miles’.  So I have tried to make sure I include slower recovery rides, hill training, tempo rides, concentrate on specific cadence levels over structured intervals and on top of this I now commute two or three times a week covering 28 miles per day.

I am also lucky that my best friend is a qualified personal trainer and we do a lot of training together that is geared around goals I have.  Her sessions are invaluable and I truly believe they were a huge part in the result I achieved.

With my strength training I have found that:

  • I am able to maintain a higher intensity during continuous exercise than previously.
  • My core strength is hugely improved.
  • Aside from my knee injury, which was caused from a trauma, I have been injury free and am sure that the improvement of my mobility plays a part in this whilst also increasing my power, as I am working muscles that I had not concentrated on before.
  • The sessions I have on a weekly basis concentrate on specific muscle groups allowing them to activate fully. A good strength and conditioning coach knows what muscles are used for what sports you take part in so they know how to activate them, where to target them and help rehab any injuries.
  • Technique is key and every session ensures that movements and exercises are done so with correct technique for maximum benefit.
  • I feel stronger and incorporating weight training into my routine has seen the weight I can lift increase relatively quickly with the correct guidance.

Healthy eating – its a no brainer that when you eat rubbish you generally feel rubbish and I feel so much better when I eat well.  I am eating to fuel myself and it feels great!

I am also not alone in my thinking about strength and conditioning training.  I am surrounded by many friends who also incorporate this into their training and have seen huge results from it.  Last year my husband took part in his first full distance Ironman event in Austria and completed in a time of 11 hours 19 minutes and he is absolutely certain that a main contributor to this time is down to his strength and conditioning training.  He is one of many from our triathlon club who complete this sort of training in addition to their swim, bike and run sessions and also one of many who train with the same trainer as I do (she’s that good!).

One of my closest friends is a Specialized ambassador and we were recently discussing this very issue.  She compared the difference in her cycling from this year compared to last year, when she was completing three strength sessions per week and felt much stronger whilst on the bike and so is incorporating this back into her schedule this year.

So in short train smart and train strong!