FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: 2013


Monday, 30 December 2013

Setting goals for 2014

Now that 2013 is coming to a close I thought it was a good time to share some of my goals for next year. I love giving myself targets to work towards; not just in running and fitness but in life in general.

Because if we don't have goals, where are we going?

I've got so much to look forward to next year (getting married and running my first marathon are at the top of the list) and I want to make 2014 my best year yet - in running, my career and personal life.

To chase...

Apart from getting to the start line of Brighton Marathon and saving A LOT more money for Wedfest 2014 (which may mean spending less money on race entries and running kit!) there are a few PBs to chase over the next 12 months...

New Year fitness goals

There are also lots of other things I want to learn and get good at that don't involve pounding pavements but that may well make me a better runner/wife/present-giver at Christmas.

To learn... 

Behold, then, boys and girls, the new things I want to learn in the next 12 months:

Now don't get me wrong, I *can* swim, it's just not pretty and I can only really do backstroke comfortably as I'm scared of water going up my nose/not being able to touch the floor. So I want to learn to swim and breathe properly, like a boss. 

Not only will this open the door to triathlons for me, but will significantly reduce my fear of the water when sea kayaking. I joined a kayak club at the end of the summer with the boy but only went to a couple of sessions as the sea got too rough. 

I'm doing pool sessions to learn to eskimo roll in January and am hoping to get over my fear of capsizing so I can join in on some of the river trips and sea paddles. 

I also wanna do some trail running and get good at yoga - the latter will be taken care of during Charlie's 21 Day Yoga Challenge, which I'll blog about soon. 

To remember...

In addition to the above, there are a few lessons from 2013's mistakes that I'm taking with me into the new year:

1) Keep up with physio exercises to strengthen knees. 

2) NEVER run on painful knees again and listen to my body.

3) REST and RECOVERY is just as important as training. 

And the last one, (which I know the boy will appreciate, so just in case I get a bit bogged down/obsessed with marathon training and forget everything else):

4) There is more to life than running. 

Bring me what you got, 2014, I'm ready for you. 

What are your goals for next year, in fitness and life in general?

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Thursday, 26 December 2013

A week of Christmas running

This Christmas has been one of many firsts:

1) Our first white Christmas tree

2) My first experience of dark Ferrero Rochers (meh)

3) My first Fender (The boy did good!)

4) My first Christmas of running.

Alongside the usual Christmas indulgences, (I don't believe in discipline at this time of year), I've also got out for a few little runs. I'm in week two of my RunLounge beginners marathon training plan, which is perfect for injury recovery as it's nice and easy to start with.

Weeks one and two have consisted of a couple of 20-25min easy pace runs, one threshold session and the Sunday long run, starting at 45mins for week one and building to 60mins for week two.

My recent flare up of painful knees has forced me into rehab with strength and conditioning to build back up gradually to regular running. My physio has advised not to worry about the threshold runs for the first few weeks and concentrate on running comfortably until I start to feel strong again, so it's been all about slow and steady plods for me in the lead up to Christmas.

It also means I've not been able to join the RunBrighton training runs on Sundays but I'm hoping to jump in in January when I can be sure I'm ready.

A rundown then, of this week's Christmas running:

Run one: The Sunday Long Run - 22 December

At only 45mins, I was glad the first Sunday long run of the schedule was achievable when coming back from injury. I kept the pace nice and slow, and took a very round-about route to go and have a cup of tea with Granddad. 6.85km in the bag, thankyouplease.

My longest run since buggering my knees again :)

I was pretty chuffed to make it there in one piece, and did a bit of nostalgic sightseeing on the way (primary school, high school, park, seafront) - although my high school has been demolished so there wasn't much to see but a building site! 

I also got to test out my new FleetfootII running waist bag from Workplay bags, and am happy to report that it's UH-MAZING. Stayed in place the whole time, no faffing whatsoever. I'll blog about that separately once I've tested it a bit more.  

Run two: Post-piss-up run to the car - Christmas Eve

The second run of the week was Christmas Eve, to pick up the car from town after leaving it there to get pissed the night before. Me and the boy enjoyed a night of drinking proper ale in Hastings Old Town with an old friend, caught a band, had a giggle, and paid an extortionate taxi fare home at stupid o'clock just like we were 16 again. Job done. 

Once I'd gotten over the banging head and horrible dehydration in the morning the run was actually quite nice, and definitely helped to kick the hangover to touch. 

Run three: A wet & muddy woodland jaunt - Christmas Day

Never one to employ any self control at Christmas, my mantra for the day was perfectly illustrated on the new headband that came with my amazing sports hamper prize from the DMP Facebook competition I won last week. I'm not sure I fulfilled the latter part of the deal, but I'm taking it easy 'til the knees are 100%.

sports hamper zensah compression sleeves tiger tail neoprene ultimate race belt

I couldn't be bothered to run to town again so went up the woods for a bit of fun - and have decided that I now need to buy some trail shoes so I can run trails more often. It was much more fun and interesting than just pounding the pavement, and it was also much easier on the knees in terms of impact, even though I had to dodge/climb over/wrestle my way through various thistle/nettle/bush-shaped obstacles when the path disappeared.

Running in the woods sidley bexhill trail running
Happy feet :)

I used to play in Sidley Woods when I was a kid and remember it being much bigger than it actually is - I'd like to say I've just got bigger, but at 4ft10 it's highly unlikely!

I had a great time and even though some of it was really slow and broken up with having to wrestle my way through brambles etc. I came back wet, muddy and with very happy feet. 

***Disclaimer: I hereby accept that these three runs will not displace the number of Ferrero Rochers, Quality Street, sweets, salted nuts, turkey, roast potatoes, sausages, cheese, wine and beer that I've consumed this week. I also hereby declare that I really don't care! :) ***

Did you run this week or are you having a well earned rest? 

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Sunday, 22 December 2013

2013: a running review

What a year for my running calendar. With Christmas just around the corner and 2013 coming to a close, I thought I'd have a little recap of the races and events that have made it the best year so far in my fitness journey.

Brighton Half Marathon 
February 2013 

An undertrained, painful plod through the 13.1 mile course in my hometown - I only started training for this properly after Christmas and didn't do enough running so it was much harder than it should've been. Despite this, I did manage to shave six mins off my first half marathon time, so not all bad.

I know so much more about running and how to train/fuel effectively now than I did then, so I'm hoping to smash 2014.

Training effort:                 3/10
Race enjoyment:               6/10
Medal bling:                      10/10

Brighton Colour Run
September 2013

Brighton Color Run Colour RunI've never had so much fun in a race, ever. If you've not done a Colour Run (or Color Run, as they spell it), you MUST do it next year! I got together with a few of my favourite girlies for this one and had an absolute ball.

It's not timed, so there's no pressure to run fast, not that you would anyway as it'd be over too soon. The organisation was brilliant, the atmosphere electric - the race village was immense, with a stage pumping music out for a post-run-colour-rave.

Just YES.

Training effort:                 N/A
Race enjoyment:              1000000/10
Medal bling:                      N/A (but t shirt & headband: 8/10)

London Duathlon
September 2013

London Duathlon Super Sprint OK so there was a massive gap in my race calendar this year but that's because I was concentrating on learning how to run faster, joining Parkrun and running with my local Sweatshop Running Community.

The London Duathlon was new territory for me - I'd never competed in a multi-sport event, and was pretty nervous about the whole thing, especially the transitions. I signed up for Super Sprint and knew I could do the distances individually, (5k run, 11k bike, 5k run), it was a question of whether I could put them together that scared the hell out of me. What if my legs fell off after the bike lap?

Turns out they didn't, and I had a great race. The course was beautiful, organisation faultless, and I had great support from family on the sidelines (even though it pissed it down all the way through!)

It was the first race where I didn't drag myself over the finish line and felt strong throughout, so a bit of a turning point for me.

Training effort:                 8/10
Race enjoyment:               10/10
Medal bling:                      9.5/10

Hillmotts Dorset bootcamp weekend 
September 2013

I had so much to say about this amazing weekend I had to split it into four different posts, summarising each day. I used it as a kickstart back into proper training but everyone had different reasons for coming - whether it be weight loss, a fitness boost or just for fun.

If you've never done a residential bootcamp before you *have* to try Hillmotts. Ditch any preconceptions of military style wake up calls and trainers barking orders at you - at Hillmotts it's all about fun, fitness and mutual support.

Everyone's in it together, no one gets left behind or laughed at, and you'll make some great friends. We went for three days and it was immense. Definitely going back next year, probably as an emergency must-fit-into-wedding-dress exercise at the end of July!

Training effort:                 10/10
Weekend enjoyment:        10/10
Medal bling:                       N/A (definitely should've been a medal for the group's amazing effort!)

Warrior Run
October 2013

This was my second time this year around the 6k course of mud, rope ladders, tyres, swamps, tunnels and ditches - and just as much fun as the last time. The Warrior Run is a 6 or 12k obstacle course just outside of Brighton, and a favourite event for the bfit crew.

This time round was easier for me in terms of running, but harder in terms of the obstacles - they'd snuck a few more in since April. I almost drowned in the last swamp as it was so deep. Or I'm too short. I haven't decided which of those reasons it is yet!

Training effort:                 7/10
Race enjoyment:               8/10
Medal bling:                      8/10 (and t shirt)

Brooks Brighton 10k
November 2013

Brooks Brighton 10k Smashed it. When I started this blog I only had this race signed up for and so it was all about trying to run faster to make it a comfortable one. Lots of parkruns, Sweatshop runs and intervals later, I bagged myself a shiny new 10k PB on the flat seafront course of the Brighton 10k.

I was a little nervous about this one as it's a favourite for the elite club runners, but it was a great race for all levels and the crowd support fantastic. Big high five for the man on the tannoy too, who gave it large in support for every single runner as they crossed the line.

I was buzzing for days after this one.

Training effort:                  10/10
Race enjoyment:                10/10
Medal bling:                        6/10

Running Show 10k
November 2013

Running Show 10k The one that killed my knees. This was a bad race for so many reasons - only a week after the Brighton 10k I maybe didn't give myself enough time to rest and recover. I didn't warm up properly and ran through niggling knees that turned to real shooting pain, stopped at  5k in agony but decided to plough on as couldn't face having a DNF on my race history.

Bad move. I survived, but only just, and have spent the past few weeks paying for it, not being able to run and am only just getting back into training.

Note to self - LISTEN TO MY BODY!!

Training effort:                 0/10
Race enjoyment:               2/10
Medal bling:                      7/10

Brighton Santa Dash
December 2013

The last race of the year, to end 2013 in proper festive fashion. I joined 600 other Santas along Brighton seafront this month to raise money for Passing It On, a charity that builds schools for children in Africa.

Too much fun was had on this day, although I'll never underestimate running in fancy dress ever again, it was soooo hot! How anyone does a full marathon in fancy dress I'll never know. I'm expecting the santa suit to make another appearance on Christmas day as I help cook the Christmas dinner.

Training effort:                 6/10
Race enjoyment:               8/10
Medal bling:                      8/10


Looking forward to an even better 2014 now, with my first marathon on the cards in April (as long as knees recover and I can get back into proper training). 

What's been your running/fitness highlight of 2013? 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

How to lose weight at Christmas - and other fitspo tosh...

I hope you didn't come here and expect to find a definitive guide on how to maintain or lose weight this Christmas. Don't read on for tips and tricks on how to 'Say No' to that extra mince pie, or turn down the chocolates in the office.

Take a look at this piece of guff right here, complete with excellent use of grammar (the copywriter in me is twitching profusely):

christmas fitspo motivation
How about NO? 


Here's a little lesson for us all - we're human. Humans have tastebuds, and impulses, and like to indulge, especially at Christmas. We work hard, we raise children and families, we pay bills, taxes and rent/mortgages. We save money (or try to), we recycle our rubbish into separate boxes. We run, we lift, we cycle. We go to group classes and bootcamp. We drink, we eat, we dance, we go to gigs, festivals and nights out with friends. 

In short, we have lives - often busy and hectic lives at this time of year, filled with deadlines and work, and shopping lists, and one hundred other things to organise and fit in during December. Some of us (me included), also have marathon training plans to start this month too. 

We exercise because we want to, because it makes us feel happy, and focused, and gives us energy and a nice healthy dose of endorphins. 

So, you know what?

If we want a mince pie, WE WILL EAT A MINCE PIE. If we want pudding with our second or third three-course Christmas do of the month, we'll bloody well have it. With cream, and chocolate, and ice cream, and a massive, self-satisfied grin on our face.  

Eat all the foods meme

There's far too much fitspo guff going round online at the moment telling us how to avoid this, don't eat that, and go for a 10 mile run to work it all off or 'earn it' if we do. This sparked a bit of a debate over on the Twittersphere this week when Polly shared the following tweet:

Leah, Soph, Sarah and Katie all agreed that this person should bore off.

How about just maintaining our fitness level throughout the month, carrying on with what we do anyway, whether that be running, cycling, swimming, walking, exercise classes, WHATEVER, and enjoying a little indulgence alongside it because it's Christmas and that's what we do? 

We've got a couple of weeks at least before the barrage of 'NEW YEAR, NEW YOU', 'Undo Christmas, lose 10lb in 10 days' bollocks hits the magazine shelves so let's just enjoy it, shall we? 

Right, that's my rant over - I'm going for a run. But not because I want to work off anything or earn my dinner tonight (which, yes, is another 3-course Christmas dinner), 

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Saturday, 7 December 2013

Write This Run & The Running Show 2013

It feels a bit silly writing about this so late, so I'm sorry for my tardiness, but I've been mega busy at work and all my spare time has been spent moaning about my broken knees.

The Running Show Sandown Park 2013

Anyway, a couple of weekends ago I ventured to Sandown Park racecourse for the Write This Run conference and Running Show - a whole weekend dedicated to running, blogging and shopping - I could hardly contain myself!

For those of you not in the know, Write This Run is the brainchild of the lovely Laura and Liz, two running and blogging ladies who know a thing or two about how to put on EPIC events and pack UH-MAZING goody bags. (I mean, seriously, free entry to the Running Show and 10k race, a half hour technique workshop with the Running School, free lunch, Balega running socks and a pair of free race entries?! Get in.)

Winter Duathlon series race entry 2013
Me and the boy's hot Duathlon date courtesy of WTR :)

Be inspired

Saturday was the conference, during which we listened to some awe-inspiring stories of running for weeks on end across whole countries, running multiple marathons without sight and running to run away from problems and issues we may face in our lives.

Write This Run November conference
Photos by Matt Alexander

As I'm about to embark on my first winter of marathon training, I couldn't even begin to imagine the strength and stamina of the speakers we listened to - Jennifer Bradley spoke about becoming the first British woman to run across the USA. That's right, RUN ACROSS THE USA. I'm petrified at the thought of 26.2 miles, let alone however many thousand she covered!

Runner and writer Sophie Walker talked about how running helped her support her daughter in finding her way through life living with Asperger's Syndrome, opening the discussion with a question that I think we can all relate to in one way or another:
"What are you running away from?"
Simon Webb shared his story of running the London Marathon without sight, enjoying an alternative view of our great capital's 26.2miles. Just awesome. 

Simon Webb Write This Run conference 2013
Simon Webb sharing his experience of running marathons without sight. 

Better blogging / bloggers and brand relationships

Inspiring training stories out of the way, it was time to get down to business - how to be a better blogger, and how to build and maintain good brand relationships? These panels were led by Mizuno and Fit Brands representatives Rob Henderson and John Dennis, along with blogging queen Muireann Carey Campbell (AKA Bangs and a Bun / Spikes and Heels).

We learned how to write a killer race report and come up with ideas from journalists and runners Johnny Muir, Jody Raynsford and Simon Freeman (who taught us NOT to have our names as our URLs - so FitBits is safe then!)

Johnny Muir at the Write This Run conference 2013
Johnny Muir sharing his tips for better blogging: "Find the nugget"

Run strong

Then it was time to talk about running strong, avoiding injury, how to run better - basically everything that I need to be doing right now, rather than ploughing on through pain and putting myself out for a couple of weeks! Listening to Team GB ultra runner Robbie Britton talk about running hundreds of miles as if it's akin to waiting for the kettle to boil was truly inspiring (and hilarious). Lots of useful info followed from Sub4Health and iThlete followed on heart rate variability and how to avoid injury.

Robbie Britton on 24hour racing

Running School workshop

Once the talks were all over there was a choice of a yoga session or Running School workshop, and I chose the workshop to suss this 'good running form' malarkey out. I already had a niggly pair of knees so it wasn't the greatest start, but when we were shown how to cycle our legs instead of over striding and slamming our feet on the ground it really was a revelation. We were light-footed, graceful gazelles bounding round the paddock.

The Running School at the Running Show 2013
Learning about good running form from the Running School

OK so not quite - we only had a half-hour session and this stuff takes weeks to learn, but I can definitely see the benefits of what we were taught. I think I'll stick to my strength and conditioning exercises from my physio for now and just be mindful of better technique in the coming months.

Running Show 10k - the one that killed my knees! 

Along with the amazing goodie bag, Running Show entry, free lunch and free race entries, our Write This Run ticket also got us into the 10k race on the Sunday. I was meant to be doing the first RunBrighton training run and Brighton Marathon Training Day back in Brighton but had signed up for this beforehand so didn't wanna miss out.

Running Show 10k 2013
Where's Wally?
Photo by Matt Alexander
My knees had been niggling the previous day and didn't feel great but I thought they'd sort themselves out like they normally do once I warm up. I was wrong. The course was a couple of laps around the undulating, multi-terrain racecourse, through the carparks, around the track, out and back by the stables - nothing too boring, until you have to repeat for the second lap. The change of terrain and hilly bits didn't do my knees any favours though and I spent 70% of the race in pain praying for the finish line.

I *so* wish I pulled out at the 5k mark when I stopped at the top of the carpark hill nearly in tears - it's only a 10k, I've got a marathon to train for, why on earth did I carry on?!

Anyway, plough on I did, and came in at 56:26, my second fastest 10k - which either shows my running fitness is at an alright level even when injured, or that I'm a complete nobber for running so hard on painful knees. I've been in pain for the past two weeks so think I can safely say it's the latter.

Running Show 10k
Despite the pain - so glad to have met such lovely bloggers - go Team WTR!
Photo by Matt Alexander
I don't wanna end this post on a negative, so I'll just promise myself NEVER to run hard on painful knees again, and say how lovely it was to meet so many brilliant bloggers that I follow and speak to on Twitter and Facebook. It was a great weekend despite my stupidity and I'm really glad I came along - will definitely be up for the next one.

Oh yeah, and the other great thing about the weekend?


Running Show goodies


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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Rest & recovery - the hardest thing to do?

Dear Tess, you're a nob. 
OK thanks bye. 
PS enjoy the knee pain. 
Tess x 

Two weeks ago I ran my best 10k race in the world *ever*, got a shiny new PB, ran strong with no pain at all, found Jesus at the finish line, etc. etc. Job done. The week after, another 10k race, (OK not on a nice flat seafront but around the undulating tracks of Sandown Racecourse at the Running Show), and I'm practically in tears at 5k with shooting pains in my knees.

Being the stupid, stubborn and inexperienced runner that I am I decided that I couldn't possibly call it a day at that point so ploughed on to finish, and have been in pain ever since.

I haven't been able to run all week, or walk/get up from my desk/go up and down stairs/squat or crouch/DO ANYTHING without these shooting pains following me around reminding me of the Grade A Douche that I am for not listening to my body. It's like the aftermath of Ben Nevis all over again.

Add to this lack of sleep and an *insanely* busy week at work hunched over my desk with lots of overtime and you get one stressy Tessie. There's so much tension in my shoulders and neck it's ridiculous.

Rest hard

This morning I'm meant to be running with RunBrighton up to Devil's Dyke but am obviously giving it a miss. (sad face). I'm actually going mad not being able to exercise though so was planning a 10mile bike ride and an hour of swimming to restore some balance.

That was until I got some good advice on the Twittersphere from a physio, who spent ages politely telling me to rest before finally pulling out the caps lock in response to my 'but-what-about-swimming/cycling?' 'but-I-*have*-to-do-something':


He's got a point. "Seven days of doing nothing, fixed, or three months messing around still in pain". There's another good point. I'm not ready to dump Running yet, we only just took our relationship to the next level, and if we're gonna get marathoned I'm gonna have to do the following things:

1) Listen to my body. 
2) Rest HARD - that means no cycling to work (I've cycled every day this week), no swimming, nothing, nada, zilch. 
3) Ice my knees, get on the anti-inflams, book a physio appointment with Tom
4) Book a massage to rid me of the tension I'm carrying on my shoulders. (Anyone got any experience with massages? Not sure which type to go for...)
5) CHILL. 

Operation Rest Hard is underway. The most difficult thing to do :(

PS. I will write about the Write This Run / Running Show this week too, just fancied a moan first!

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Friday, 22 November 2013

My first winter of marathon training...

OK so I've gone on about it enough here and on Twitter, Facebook, at work, home and basically anywhere and everywhere I go. If you've been following my blog or social media profiles you'll no doubt have heard me banging on about this winter being my first one of training for next April's Brighton Marathon.

marathon training meme
This is probably how my friends and family feel right now...

Getting through it alive...

I've never ran a marathon before; the furthest I've ever ran is 13.1 miles; a distance that I've dragged myself through somewhat painfully twice before, but now I'm getting better at running I want to do it well. (When I say 'well', I mean I want to come out the other side alive and under five hours, still able to walk the next day). That's realistic, right?

Asics Gel Cumulus 15 womens
Look how pretty they are!!! 
Anyway, I'm really good at talking about it, and reading about it, and buying new trainers for it, and thinking about it, but not very good, it seems, at pulling my finger out and training for it. Yet.

I've had a couple of 10k's to run this month (last week's Brooks Brighton 10k and this Sunday's Running Show 10k as part of the Write This Run conference), so have been telling myself that I'll get down to it properly once these are out of the way.

I've been to physio to get my knees/ankles looked at, and have targeted exercises to be getting on with for the next few months to improve my balance, control and strength in my muscles to support my knees. At the moment I'm running 2-3 times a week (to be increased Monday after this last 10k) during the lead-in period to proper training, which starts on 16th December.

Getting stuck in

I'm really excited to get stuck in to proper training, but need to make sure my base running-fitness is at a good level before plunging into the deep end. I've got the Women's Running Marathon Training Guide and there's a beginner's marathon plan in there but it doesn't quite work for me so I'll adapt it alongside another more time-focused plan that Sian tweeted me. (I'm keeping the time goal of this one under my hat for the moment as I'm not sure if it's realistic yet).

winter marathon training
Gimme what you got, winter... 

I'm signed up to the Run Brighton long training runs on Sundays which is meant to start this Sunday but I'm running the 10k with the WTR crew so will miss the first one. I'm really glad I've signed up to these though as it means I don't have to either plan my long runs or do them on my own, and also as they're at a set time (8.30am!!) I have no excuse to not be bothered and bail out. I always run better with a group and push myself harder than I would alone so I'm hoping to continue improving as I have been this past few months.

The Garmin is ready, the running playlist is updated, and Christmas wishlist features essentials such as a foam roller, running socks and winter running gear. I've even bought myself a really cute little diary for 2014 which I'm gonna write all my runs and fuelling down in to see what works and what doesn't.

So, boys and girls, the groundwork is all laid out and prepared, all I've gotta do now is start training. I'll do it just as soon as I've had a WICKED WEEKEND at the Write This Run conference and Running Show. (If you're going and have previously ran a marathon, be prepared for lots of harassment and repeated questions on training, nutrition etc.)

Are you training for a marathon, and if so which one? First time or second/third/1000th?? (Looking at Cat there...) Send me your marathon tips!! 

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Brighton Brooks 10k - how I learned to run faster

I'm on such a high right now, it's ridiculous. When I started this blog a few months ago I kept writing about wanting to get faster and improve my pace and technique in time for the Brooks 10k. I'd just started adding intervals and hills into my training and was aiming to break the hour for the race.

Today was that race. I came in at 54:54. To say I'm chuffed would be an understatement - I pity anyone who talks to me over the next few days 'cause I'm gonna be a nightmare.

Hard work pays off

I've been working really hard on my running this past few months - focussing on shorter, faster runs to try and give it some welly in the pace department and improve my stamina and endurance. Parkruns, Sweatshop intervals and hill sessions, weekly seafront 10ks and a few runs to work/around the track seem to have done the trick in getting me faster. 

Brooks Brighton 10k

The past few 10k training runs have been around the 57 minute mark so I set myself a top goal of 55 minutes for the race, with a secondary goal of 56 minutes if I couldn't quite do it. This is the first race I've ever actually sat down and worked out the pace I needed to run at to reach a goal - normally I just go for it and see what happens.

I think having a Garmin has a lot to do with it - it's much easier to keep track of pace and distance when it's on my wrist rather than using a phone app in a pouch on my arm. I wrote my two goals on my hand to remind me - something I've seen lots of fellow runners do on Twitter and thought I'd give it a go.

Target race pace

Keeping one eye on my Garmin I could see throughout the race that my pace was fluctuating between 5:25 and 5:40 for most of it, although looking at my splits it seems I started off really fast and then slowed in the middle, before picking it back up again for the finish line glory. To come in just under 55 minutes has made my day and proved to me that all it takes is a bit of commitment and hard work to reach my goals.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share a few things I've learned since May if you're trying to be a better/faster runner.

How to run faster 

1) Run faster

Sometimes things really are that simple. If you want to run faster, you're gonna have to occasionally run faster. Add speed sessions into your training. Pyramid intervals and fartleks are a good way to get the blood pumping and wake the old lungs up. It needs to hurt, but a comfortable hurt, if that makes sense. 

2) Step outside of your comfort zone

It took me a long time to realise that I was never gonna get better if all I did was plod around the park or along the seafront in training. I spent the whole time training for both of my half marathons sticking to the same pace, same routes, same times, all that changed was the mileage. Yes I was able to run further, but not faster, and not better. 

It was only when I stepped outside of this comfort zone that I started to see improvements. Hill training, speed sessions, shorter and faster runs, cross training. It'll hurt, but it works. 

Mind over matter - running meme

3) Run more often 

In order to get better at running, you need to run more often. Two ploddy runs a week alongside other sessions/classes aren't gonna make you a stronger, fitter or faster runner, they'll just maintain the level you're at right now. I thought doing 3-4 bootcamp sessions and running twice a week was enough training for a half marathon. Yes, I was fit, but not running fit. I got through it, but it wasn't easy, and hurt more than you'll ever know. (I'm looking at you, last 5 miles of Brighton Half Marathon).

It's only since I've started running more often, well outside of my comfort zone, that I've seen improvements. 

4) Run with others 

I don't know about you, but I run much better when I'm with others - whether that's in a group training run, my local Parkrun, Sweatshop run or a race - I hate being last and will always try and keep up with whoever I'm with. Even if you can't keep up with the group keep trying - you'll soon edge closer and in time will be able to maintain a faster pace for longer. 

Picking off people in front of you to overtake is always a good game to play too, I learnt this from Sarah on Twitter a few months back, and do a fair bit of it myself now to pass the time in races. 

Running meme

By the way, I'm not pretending to be an elite runner here, I'm a very far way off being the best I can be, but what I do know is that hard work pays off. I'm a sucker for finish line glory and it's only the latter part of this year that I've actually enjoyed getting to the finish line rather than enduring it. 

It takes a lot of sweat and effort to be a better runner - 
but get out there and get it done and you'll reap the rewards! 

Sign up for the Brooks 10k 

Are you running faster than you were a few months ago? Any exciting PBs or tips I've missed to learn to run faster?

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Monday, 11 November 2013

Running, I love you.

Dear Running,

I just wanted to say, I love you.

Thank you for our 10k date yesterday, it was lovely. My favourite route - Brighton's undercliff path. The sun was shining, the air brisk, sea calm, and Etherwood's new album playing on my iPod - it was beautiful.

Remnants of the weekend's gin still sloshing around in my belly but there was no hangover at all, Running, because you made me drink water in between jaeger bombs and gin at the family wedding, didn't you?

Just so I could run the next day.

*You did that.* 

From now on, it's just me and you.

Me, you and Physio

146 days until the three of us get together with Brighton and do the M word.

I know Physio will sort us out, he's a top bloke. We'll listen to him this time.

I flirted with you for a long time, spending most of my time with Bootcamp and Zumba, but they just didn't give me what you can.

I mean it this time, it's not a fling. I'm ready to commit. It's time for the M word.

I've even bought running socks and How-To books to learn more about you.

Running, I love you.

Please don't hurt me before 6th April!

Forever yours with endorphins,

Tess xxx


Do you sometimes find yourself ridiculously in love with putting one foot in front of the other, or is it just me?

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Saturday, 2 November 2013

How to fuel a marathon - pre, during & post-race

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you'll probably have heard me banging on about starting training in November for Brighton Marathon next April. Well, November's here and I'm officially shitting it. But in a good way. 

I've been battling equal measures of pure terror and over-excitement at the prospect of getting stuck into some serious training - it's just SUCH A LONG WAY to run, and I honestly don't know if I can do it. But, I've ran two half marathons before, and never thought I'd ever be able to do that, so a full 26.2 *might* just be doable if I sort my knees out, put the work in and fuel efficiently, right? (Say yes Tess). 

Speaking of fuel, I've been sorting my nutrition out recently and am trying to eat clean, but have no idea where to start in terms of fuelling for the marathon distance. Step in the lovely people at the Supplement Centre, who have sent me over some tips for how to fuel efficiently before, during and after the marathon.

I'm especially excited about the three days of carb loading! 


How to fuel a marathon

how to fuel a marathon

With determination and consistent, safe training it’s true that many people can acclimatise their bodies to running the 26.2 miles of a marathon. However, it’s not all about what we do with our bodies; what we put into our bodies is also a huge contributing factor.

It can feel unnatural to change lifelong eating habits, but if you want to make your marathon as fast and fun as possible then it’s worth considering how you fuel your body.

Marathon nutrition can be broken down into three main time spans:

  1. Pre-marathon
  2. During the race
  3. Post-marathon


It used to be recommended that the pre-marathon phase should begin approximately one week prior to the big day. This school of thought has been replaced with a more short-term approach of just 2-3 of days, otherwise known as ‘carb loading’.

Carb loading marathon training
True story...

When we exercise our bodies draw fuel from either glycogen in the muscles (which is a product of carbohydrates) or fat. Fat however is a far less efficient fuel, it burns slower. This means that when our bodies run out of glycogen and switch to fat burning we ‘hit the wall’. Our legs slow down, fatigue sets in and that elegant trot turns into a treacle-footed slog. To delay hitting the wall as long as possible, savvy marathon runners ‘carb load’ to ensure they have as much glycogen stored in their muscles as they possibly can.

Follow their wisdom by eating plenty of carbohydrates for 2-3 days before your marathon - rice, pasta, oats - anything with a high carb content should be packed in. As a rule of thumb 85-95% of your calories should come from carbs during this phase.

During the race

When you get to race day, your muscles should be stocked up to the max with energy-giving glycogen. However, unless you’re superhuman, that ‘wall’ will come at some stage during your race. This is why sensible marathon runners carry some high-energy fuel with them to top up the glycogen tank on race day.

Energy gel is a great option - it’s far more compact than a drink and doesn’t disrupt your breathing pattern like chewy energy bars or supplements might. Start taking in small amounts after only 30 minutes of running, and then continue to steadily consume this fuel throughout the race. Remember to keep taking in water to aid the replenishment of glycogen into your muscles.


If you cross the finish line, first thing’s first - give yourself a colossal pat on the back! Completing a marathon is a fantastic achievement. However, your work is not yet done. If you want to be able to walk properly within a few days, you’d better start feeding those work-weary muscles.

Get a couple of energy gel sachets into your system immediately. Follow them with a non-carbonated sports drink and then get your hands on some carbs again! Keep stocking up your system as you did before the race until you feel like a fully functioning person again - keep going for at least a few days!

Overall, you might be a finely tuned athletic machine, but you’re useless without the right fuel.

This is a guest post from the Supplement Centre.

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