FitBits: 2017

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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Birthday bike rides and spring training goals


I'm 31 today guys. Thirty bloody one.

That means I'm definitely a proper adult by now, right? Oh God I really don't feel like one. I remember when I was a kid, looking at my Dad (hero) in his mid 30s thinking Christ that's old, I've got ages until I get there. 

I honestly thought that by the time I hit my 30s something would click and suddenly I'd be a responsible grown up, with a house, kids and husband, a good job and a pot of savings to whip out for loft conversions or new boilers or whatever these adults spend their hard earned money on these days.

Probably not *another* bike, right?


 

Breaking the exercise fast 


I celebrated entering my 31st year with a solo mountain bike adventure up on the Downs. With the sun on my back and a carpet of rolling green hills and bright yellow fields as my playground, it was the perfect way to break the exercise fast following my less-than-perfect Brighton Marathon.

So many of my awesome running friends have been smashing workouts and getting back to it since last Sunday but tbh all I've smashed is Easter eggs and a right good sleep binge, and I'm not even sorry.

Today marks the end of six glorious days off, which we started by sacking off the planned Forest of Dean trip in favour of some localised chill time in the van and at home / with the fam.





 
We took the road bikes camping but couldn't be arsed to ride and it set the tone for the days thereafter - hence I've done zero exercise until today's day-long adventure.

That five hours on Strava below, that's moving time.

Add another couple onto that for me basically sitting about up on the Downs eating sandwiches and taking in the view because I had all the time I wanted and had nowhere else in the world to be.

There were only about 10 people up there for the whole duration and it was bloody marvellous. (Can you spot where I lost the South Downs Way and had to double back on myself?!) 


  


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If you want to read more about cycling the South Downs Way, check out the posts below from our trip last August Bank Holiday. We did it in sections over the long weekend because a) we're not hard enough to do the whole thing in one go *yet*, and b) we like to take our time and enjoy these things, not batter ourselves into oblivion...

Part 1) Eastbourne to Brighton  
Part 2) (because fuck headwind) Petersfield to Amberley 
Part 3) Amberley to Devil's Dyke
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What's next? Spring & summer training goals

Now that the marathon's done I'm really excited to get stuck into other goals for the year. For me, spring and summer has always been about cycling - it's when we start our regular camping trips to Wales and Forest of Dean to hit the trails, and next month we're finally checking out the Surrey Hills which is much closer to home and apparently has a great network of singletrack to ride for playtime. 

We're doing a guided ride with Sean at Marmalade Mtb so stay tuned to see how that goes! 

Other cycling goals this year for me are to get 100-mile fit for RideLondon in July, and me and Chris are also hopefully doing the BHF London to Brighton road and off-road rides too. 

Check out my vlog from last year's London to Brighton off-roader - 75 miles and quads of doom! 

I saw a sign for the full BHF South Downs Way 100miler today which is fully supported but one hell of a ride - it's very tempting but will have to think seriously about whether I'm hard enough for that one just yet... 


Aside from cycling it's all about triathlon this year, after having to bail on everything after last year's collarbone and wrist break, I'm pretty much starting my swimming from scratch to get strong in the sea for the Brighton & Hove Triathlon in September.

Not giving up on running altogether, don't worry - taking on the Virgin Sport Hackney Half at the end of this month to see what all the buzz is about since Virgin took over. There's a 5.5k too if you fancy, as well as yoga classes and fitness bootcamp / dance sessions too on the day. 

Oh, and I'm also starting a 12 week body transformation soon to get rid of this marathon flab and sculpt a stronger me heading into all this training so stay tuned for that too!

Man I do love a change in season for a renewed sense of motivation! 


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What are your spring/summer training goals, and what's your perfect way to spend your birthday?

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Two different tales: Brighton Marathon 2017



One marathon, two runners, two very different tales.

The final She Said, He Said blog from me and the hubs. He popped his marathon cherry with a bang, I crashed and burned. 

He's eyeing up Beachy Head in October, I couldn't think of anything worse.

Maybe for once I'll be the good wife and actually support him, instead of getting jealous and having to run it all too.

There's a video in there somewhere, put your feet up - it's a long one...  (scroll down for the vid if you cba to read, or click here for YouTube, don't forget to subscribe!) >> 

And if you're bored of reading me pls scroll down to read Chris' blog as he did awesome and I want everyone to know it :) 


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SHE SAID: WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF PLANS - FREESTYLE




Well what can I say about my third Brighton Marathon.

It didn't go to plan - which one, you ask? 

Er... how about all of them.

As I wrote the night before, I had three goals, and decided to go for the middle (and should-be achievable) one, of 4:45-4:55, i.e. a PB. 

In my head there wasn't really any reason why I wouldn't be able to do this. I was far too chilled out about the whole thing really, haven't been as dedicated to my nutrition or swotting up on running magazines as previous marathon cycles.

Yes I'd missed a few sessions over the last few weeks and am not as fit as I was when I smashed my second marathon at Brighton, but I could still run the distance, it just might not be as comfy as I wanted. 

Spoiler: It wasn't comfy at all.

It sort of went wrong from the beginning, although I didn't realise it...



Plan: stay hydrated and stick with pacer.

FOILED: Our pink wave were kept in the starting pens for over 40minutes before starting and it was already getting pretty hot. By the time we set off I'd already drank all my electrolyte water and the first water station wasn't until 3 miles.

I remember being thirsty as soon as we started and stupidly declined some water from another runner as thought I'd be OK.

Get to the first water station and fill my bottle, losing the 4:45 pacer way ahead as I faff about with the cups, then mess up my pace trying to catch up.


Plan: fuel correctly. Four gels with shot bloks and energy drink in between. Two of the four gels to be caffeine, taken after 16 miles for a boost. 

FOILED: At four miles, settled into a rhythm with the pacer again and reach for a gel and THEY'RE NOT THERE. As in none of them. I must've dropped all of them out of my Fleetfoot 3 on the way (although not sure why no one behind me said anything?!) Luckily my shot bloks were in the zip up bit so I at least had these.

Mild panic ensues but lovely RunBrighton pacer Dorian assures me he'll sort me out at the gel stop coming up.


Plan: stay cool and don't let the heat get to me. 

FOILED: Out to Ovingdean in the blaring heat, with no breeze. In training runs I've laughed at how people call this a 'hill', having done lots of running up the Downs, my legs are well versed at proper inclines.

Sunday was different. Why was it hard already?

I distracted myself from the warning signs my slightly unhappy legs are giving me by looking out for Chris on the other side, but couldn't find him. (That's because he was smashing it and was way ahead btw but we were close at one point)...

You know that tired, achey feeling you get in your legs in the final miles of a long run? I'm pretty sure you're not meant to get that at mile 10 of a marathon. My new visor was keeping the sun off my face but the sweat still found a way down my face as we turned at Ovingdean.

I remember heading along to the turnpoint begging for it to come, and dreading the incline back into town.

It really shouldn't be this hard yet.

10.5 miles in at the water station and my first admission of defeat as I walk through the water station and beyond, adjusting my goal from b) 4:45ish to c) just finish the fucker.

That set the tone for the rest of the race. The thing with marathons is, once you walk once, you've broken the seal. It's like going to the loo when drinking as a woman. In and out all night.

Or in marathon terms, walk-run-walk-run all the way home.

I was thankful that I had my GoPro as it gave me something to focus on instead of beating myself up. This'll make a good vlog, I thought. An honest, painful marathon.

Talking to others who were also already walking up at mile 10ish was comforting. None of us had this in the plan, but fuck it. No time to be upset about it, let's just enjoy the day.



The weather had brought out the crowds in full force. Never before have I felt support like it, even when I was walking people were still screaming my name. I lapped up the cheers like a kid in a sweet shop, said thank you to everyone, high fived every child.

Seeing people already finishing on the other side of the road as we crossed Panda Bridge at the half way mark was a bit crushing. I think a man must've felt my pain as just before mile 14 he gave me an ice pole and I could've bloody kissed him. He had made my day!

Then seeing two lots of my family for the first time just after, including my beautiful niece with her innocent smiling eyes wondering what all these crazy people were doing running in this heat picked me right up.

The crowds on Church Road came out in force, with cowbells, street parties, water pistols and wet sponges of cold water to cool us down. It was then that I realised had I poured water on myself from the beginning I might've been able to carry on running.


I bumped into a few RunBrighton friends along the way, before picking up my good pal Sally from the BTRS Family who was struggling too. We struggled together all the way home, counting lampposts to run-walk, making promises to not stop after we got to the home stretch on Kingsway.

It seemed to take forever to get to the finish but I relished every second of those last two miles, and didn't try to hurry at all. It seemed like the crowds got louder the more we struggled, as one person said my name, so did another, and another, and same for Sally.

We were carried to the finish in a big Brighton bubble, the best kind of high.

It may not have gone to plan at all, and I came in more than half an hour slower than I wanted to, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I've literally never worked so hard for a medal.

Brighton, I still love you (just) xxx





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HE SAID: I'LL NEVER FORGET THAT FEELING


It was the hardest, the longest, the hottest day of my life but I loved it completely.

I woke up after around 8 hours sleep feeling nervous but well rested. A nice breakfast and plenty of time to get to the start line, it was all a surprisingly relaxed affair, even though Tess was shoving the GoPro in my face on the way down to the park.

Because of the temperature I knew hydration was important, and spent the previous few days drinking plenty of water, and following advice at the Expo only had a pint in the morning before the race started.

I decided as soon as I woke up that I was running a 3:45. One of the skills I’ve learned in tree surgery is sometimes not to look at the bigger picture but to compartmentalise the task at hand, and tick off stages as you go through. I applied this to my 26.2, thinking about different turn points, road ends and the big 17 mile marker which would be the furthest I’d ever ran to date.


If I could get past there, I could do anything.

After much faffing about this past few weeks with shoes, I decided to run in my old trainers, without the insoles that I thought were causing me the problems - not the shoes. Tried to find the 3:45 pacer, Andy, who was right at the front of the blue coral, and gave me some encouragement before we set off.

We all had a laugh about the delayed start which relaxed me, and I felt surprisingly confident - as long as I stuck with the pacer, everything was gonna be fine.



We set off to great cheers and excitement, but I kept finding myself ahead of the pacer, looking at my watch, and having to slow back to join the group. Must’ve done this about 100 times during the first half, which turned out to be beneficial to me at the drink stations as I was able to walk, take on two or three cups, one over my head, before Andy caught up with me.


This gave me a great boost. 

I was fuelling well on gels every half hour and shot bloks, sweets, bananas and anything I could get my hands on in between.   
I was on it.

It was always an unknown for me with fuelling as I missed so much of the training in the latter stages so I took everything.

At the Panda Bridge, 13 miles, I pulled away with a bit of a kick from the downhill back into town and this time didn’t bother to slow down for the pacer, I felt good and I believed I could do another half at that pace no problem so carried on.

I took the support from the crowd, friends and family cheering, kids high fiving, and got a lift from the crowd as I went up Church Road. I was waiting for the wall to hit me, there were walkers around me and it was bloody hot but I’m used to working outside in the heat and my hydration and fuelling kept me going.

Turning back onto the seafront again I picked the pace up further, chatting to two girls from Farnham Running Club who were going for 3:45 but they were doing 8min/miles and were on a push, so we stuck together and got talking up to mile 21 down to the Power Station.

On the turn I felt good as it was the last stretch, but knew it was a long way home still. My foot was hurting since about mile six but nowhere near as bad as it has been and I believe the adrenaline of the day saw me through (thank God!)

I knew the 8min/mile pace would be too much to see me to the end so I dropped my pace to 8:30s and let the girls go as I thought I should hold something back.

I knew I was going to finish, and I knew I would come in under 3:45 as I was ahead of the pacer, so I ran on strong and confident through the amazing crowds around Hove Lawns where I saw my family and work colleagues really giving me a push.

It felt like everyone was there just for me, not only the people I knew. 

Every step someone cheered my name, and when I waved and said thank you the support increased even further, into a mexican wave of ‘come on Chris!’ all the way to the finishing stretch.

I’ll never forget that feeling. 




When I got to the i360 I knew it was in the bag, I was overtaking runners, I was tired, emotional and couldn’t wait to see the finish line.

When it came into view I felt overwhelmed with what I was about to do, I couldn’t believe that I was a marathon runner. Tess has been on at me for years to do it, and I’m so glad I finally took up the challenge.

The overwhelming sense of accomplishment hit me hard and made the post-run beer taste all the better.

One of the first questions I was asked when I finished was would I do another one, and while some people may say ‘never again’, I couldn’t help but say ‘bring on Beachy Head!’.



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What do you do when your race doesn't go to plan? 
And what was your first marathon like?

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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Time to believe - Brighton Marathon 2017


Shit the bed, it's tomorrow morning. When did that creep up so quick?! One minute we're dusting off our winter kit ready for a wet and windy season, and the next it's a balmy 14 degrees with blue skies and sunshine.

No time to faff about feeling unprepared though, not us Agnews.

Me and Chris have got this NAILED.

EAT ALL THE FRIES 

Last minute running around today all done including volunteering at parkrun and getting a sneaky peek at the start line.

Race numbers picked up, dirty portion of Loaded Fries inaled and factor 30 and Vaseline / Body Glide purchased ready to be applied.

New visor bought (where the feck is my old one?!)

Quick (but brilliant, actually), £20 sports massage down at the expo done for each of us. I did have a massage with Tom on Thursday too but what can I say, I like to be thorough.

I even snuck in a lunchtime yoga class to chill me out and get me all zenned up. Except it wasn't the meditative, restorative chill fest I thought it'd be and was actually quite a workout, with strong poses and lots of twists and downward dogs.

Now though, now it's all done. Only thing left on our Brighton Marathon To Do list is to find Chris' flip flops, charge the tech, lay out the kit, eat and go to bed.

So, boys and girls, here's the penultimate She Said, He Said marathon write up from me and hubs as we head into the big 26.2 tomorrow. The last one will obvs be the race write up so stay tuned for that.


She Said: giving zero fucks


I've been telling everyone how undertrained, fat and unfit I've been this season due to life taking over and work schedules messing with my morning runs but tbh I've got a bit bored of my negativity so have decided to give zero fucks and run it with a smile on my face regardless.




The weather is spectacular right now in Brighton, and the whole city has been buzzing since the sun showed up a few days ago. 14-17 degrees forecast may be hard for us runners who are used to free exfoliation sessions in the driving icy wind and rain, but it'll definitely bring out the crowds, and make the post-marathon beach-fest even more of an attractive offer.

Free ice bath in the sea, anyone?



 

Setting goals

As ever, I have three goals for this year, so I don't get pissed off with myself for 'failing'. The last thing anyone wants is to drag themselves to the finish line having been dropped by the pacer on their top time goal, so I'm breaking it down into three outcomes I'd be happy with:

They are, in 'ideal scenario' reverse order:

1) 4hrs30 - I've been training in the 4hrs30 RunBrighton group all season, so in theory the race pace of 10:20 per mile should be comfortable. It definitely was for the half, but we all know the marathon doesn't really start for another seven miles after that, so we'll see. Realistically I think it'll be too fast for the full distance.

Therefore...

2) 4:45 - 4:55 (PB) - If I can bosh out a PB whilst being a few kilos heavier and a bit undertrained than I was in 2015 I'll be well chuffed.

3) Get round without any tantrums / crying / hissy fits - if it does all go tits up time-wise I'll put my watch in my Fleetfoot 3 and sit back for the ride, however long it takes. No tantrums allowed. Five hours is a long time to be pissed off with yourself, especially when 150,000 spectators are cheering your name.

I'm gonna GoPro it to make up a vlog so stay tuned for a video with the write up!


He Said: going in for the experience




I’ve been surprisingly relaxed about the whole experience until today, even though I’ve had to miss a lot of the training and adjust my goals. 

It’s only four hours or so of my life. I’ve been through a lot worse. 

I’ve done a lot of endurance feats in my life not relating to sport. I’ve worked 12hour railway possession night shifts without sleep the previous night, climbing trees and using heavy chainsaws, where you just have to carry on for one mammoth strength session. 

You’re there for 12hours, you can’t stop. You can’t go home, regardless of the conditions or how tired you are. You have to make it to the finish. 

This is how I’ll get through tomorrow, even though my foot will probably still hurt and the wheels have definitely come off my training over the past five weeks. That and the support along the course from running friends in the race and family and colleagues cheering on the sidelines. 


 

Lessons learned:


  1. Buy new trainers at the start of training, and probably again half way through. 
  2. Get used to the weekly sessions BEFORE the training plan kicks in - this was a shock to the system early on. 
  3. Listen to my wife (Tess edit: I didn’t make him say this, it came out of his own mouth!) 
  4. Listen to my body and don’t push on when injured in training. 
  5. Don’t set too high a goal in the early stages. 

I’ve always said start slowly, in every single race, you always feel better for it. So that's why I'm adjusting my goals and starting with the 4-hour pacer, to hopefully pick it up if I feel I can from 20 miles. 

Yes I could have music to help me through, I love running to music, I get really involved with it. But that’s not what I want from this run. I want a marathon experience in all its painful but magnificent glory. 

It will get done, it just might not be as strong a performance as I originally wanted it to be. 

And as for 'never doing another one', Beachy Head, anyone??  


** Here's Chris' JustGiving page if you want to find out why running a marathon is so important to him :) 

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How do you make yourself believe you can do it when the doubts creep in?

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Thursday, 30 March 2017

VIDEO: HSBC UK Breeze Cycling with This Girl Can


I’m really excited about this one (although I think I say that every time?)

It's no secret that cycling is one of my absolute favourite things to do. There's a special kind of freedom you can only experience on two wheels, and I'm all for getting more women to experience that, in Sussex and beyond, on the road and on the trail!

This month I went on my first HSBC UK Breeze cycle ride and it was AWESOME! If you’re not in the know, Breeze is a nationwide initiative from Sport England and British Cycling offering free, women-only rides across the country.

Whether three miles or 30, Breeze offers a welcoming, inclusive and supportive community for women of all ages and abilities to build confidence, make friends and discover new routes whilst of course improving fitness along the way.


The rides go at a pace of the slowest rider, and it’s not competitive at all.

That means no dropping anyone on the hills or at crossings – you ride as a group from start to finish at a nice social pace, with a coffee and cake stop in the middle or end (because, really, it wouldn’t be right without cake, now would it?!)

On our ride we had ladies in their 70s joining some of us in our 20s and 30s, on all sorts of bikes including mountain bikes, hybrids and road bikes. One of the riders had never even sat on a bike until her late 40s, so you really are never too old to get started.

I’ve loved cycling all my life and was lucky enough to be taught how to ride on the road by my Dad when I was a young child, but this isn’t the case for many women, who may be nervous about joining a group ride with faster cyclists.

With Breeze you don’t need to worry about speed or fitness, it’s about community and confidence building as much as it is the actual cycling, and improved fitness is just a bonus!

So come on girls, on yer bikes!



 
Find out more about Breeze Network Brighton by following the Sussex and South Downs Facebook page, or find a ride near you at letsride.co.uk/breeze.


Also check out activesussex.org for more ways to get active in the county. 

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Read more about my role as Ambassador on the Active Sussex website and on my blog, and watch our other videos:

Tess Tries: Skateboarding*

Tess Tries: Synchronised Swimming*

Women's Sport Week: PT in Brighton**

*Videos produced by the lovely Laura Evans of Brighton  
**Video made by me, hence poor noise quality!

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Do you cycle in groups or alone? 
Have you been along to a Breeze ride? 

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Monday, 27 March 2017

Stand up for your health - it's time to move



I stood at my desk all day for the first time a couple of weeks ago and despite my body protesting initially, by the end of the day I felt awesome.

My legs were tired, my feet were surprisingly very achey, and I had that satisfying rumble in my belly that I get from working out first thing.

My flexible sit-stand desk arrived this month and I'm not gonna lie, it's pretty brilliant.

After years of faffing about with boxes for makeshift standing desks, I've finally got my own proper set up thanks to Varidesk!


I've since got a new keyboard so the laptop is at eye level, don't worry... 



Those who've worked with me before will understand the significance of this moment. I don't know if it's just me, (please tell me it isn't?!), but every marathon cycle, and basically whenever I'm training a lot, sitting down for eight hours a day physically HURTS.

As in literally pains me. My hips hate it. My hamstrings hate it. My glutes hate it. It's literally a pain in the arse.

I need to stand up at regular intervals to avoid seizing up. Stop - drop - pigeon pose has occurred on various office chairs and floors throughout my office working career, as I dream of a lunchtime run or yoga to energise and unwind my tangled body.

Impromptu chair-assisted pigeon pose before my Varidesk arrived :) 


I like to think I'm pretty fit and healthy. I exercise regularly, try to eat well most of the time (ish), and when aiming for a big goal like the marathon I try to prioritise my sleep, rest and recovery.

My marathon training hasn't gone wholly to plan this year and I'm carrying a bit of extra weight but let's be honest - even if I'm running the prescribed three or four times per week and strength training once or twice a week - that's still at most one or two hours a day of activity, apart from the long run of anything between two to three and a bit hours.

The rest of my day is spent on my bum, regardless, and it's got to change. Stay tuned for more posts on the Varidesk as I get to know it a bit more...


Time to move


And then there's lunchtimes. If you work in an office, what do you do on your lunch breaks?

I know when I'm busy I basically move from one desk to another from the office to the cafe upstairs and sit to eat before going back down to sit again until hometime.

Recently Brooks Running released findings from an independent study revealing just how inactive UK workers really are, with the average person spending four hours 26 minutes sitting at their desk per day, (yeah, and the rest!) and 23% spend a massive seven hours or more sat down at work. (GUILTY)

Pitiful total step count by 17.30 on one day last month


Eight out of 10 say they have a daily afternoon dip and to escape this, 66% of workers reach for coffee, 42% eat chocolate and 10% even admit to taking a nap while at work. To be fair, I'm right there on the coffee and chocolate but not sure I'd get away with a nap - what sort of career witchcraft is this??

Experts agree that a run break (or runch) is a much better alternative to any of these options, and I have to admit, as much as I love a morning workout to kickstart my day, on the few occasions where I've been organised enough to grab a lunchtime run, it's always been the best kind of fuel for a productive and energised afternoon.



Brooks realise the challenges to beat the afternoon slump and get out for a run break, so have teamed up with personal trainers across the country to help people get up, out and running during the working day.

“Incorporating a run break will make a massive difference to your working day,” says Graeme Hilditch, personal trainer at GH Training. “We all have those moments when we feel sluggish or tired during the day, or we simply want to escape the pressures of the daily grind."

I'll be the first one to shout about the virtues of a good run in changing my mood, however tired I am, and ironically when we're at our most tired is probably the time when a lovely 30min run in the open air will do us the most good.

It doesn't matter how busy we are, we should always make time to get away from our desk and get outside - whether that's a run or walk. Something I've been working on this last few weeks as much as I can.

So with that in mind, I asked Brooks and Graeme to give a few tips to help get us organised and lift us out of the lunchtime lull...


  
Prepare
No one wants to skip lunch, so make sure you prepare your lunch in advance of your midday run. By having your lunch ready to eat it means there’s no need to go out and get it, saving you time and leaving you with more time to run. (GUIILLTYYYYY)


Buddy Up

By running with a colleague who is under similar time restraints, you’ll be far more motivated to get organised and will procrastinate far less. There’s nothing quite like the worry of letting someone else down to help focus the mind and stick to a strict time schedule. (true dat!)



 

Intervals

To get maximum benefit from your run, why not do some intervals for your 30-40 mins session rather than just a steady pace? 

Interval training, for example running fast for 3-6mins, jogging slowly 1min etc., packs a huge fitness punch and will not only make you feel incredible afterwards but it’s also the best way to torch a load of calories. (Can personally vouch for baddassery of intervals)


Set targets

Another way to increase the intensity of your lunchtime run and help save time is to set yourself certain goals on your lunchtime training run. For example, if you run in a park, set yourself a time limit of 30minutes, then the goal of sprinting to one bench, then jog to the next one. Over time, see if you can beat the number of benches you run past in the 30 minutes.



If you do head out for a runch this month, maybe check out the latest Brooks release, the Ravenna 8, designed to put more spring in every step with dynamic responsive cushioning and an updated design.

I've yet to try these as I've been running in the Ghosts and Glycerins, but will be giving them a go at the Brooks Run Signature Tour when it comes to Brighton next Saturday.

The tour is back with 15 locations across the country so if you fancy a free gait analysis and run in the latest pair of Brooks shoes to see if they're for you, find your nearest one and book in.

Worth a try, right?


Thanks to Brooks Running for sharing research to input into this post. 
Thanks also to Varidesk for sending me a standing desk to review - I'll write more about this soon, lots to tell you about my new favourite way to work!! 


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Have you tried a standing desk? Do you treat yourself to regular lunchtime run breaks?

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Sunday, 19 March 2017

How to keep running when you really want to stop



I ran 18.1 miles today, and my legs hate me.

They didn't hate me for the whole 18 miles though. They were carrying me quite nicely indeed along the Downs Link towards the half way turn point. So nicely in fact that when we got to the RunBrighton van for water and gels, I didn't even realise we'd ran a whole nine miles to get there.

Probably because I forgot my watch and my phone was in my Fleetfoot III running bag, but hey. 

I'm on an accidental four-day run streak right now, having ran three 5k's on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as part of my 'not-following-the-training-plan-at-all-oh-shit-better-actually-do-some-running' programme in the lead up to Brighton Marathon.  

Now, normally, I would tell you that I can't run on consecutive days, my legs won't let me, my knees get angry, I'm not built to do that. But who'da thunk it. Turns out I can.  


I'm not saying it wasn't painful and tough - it bloody was - but I learnt a good deal about myself today, as I think a lot of us did, during those last few lonely miles when we separated and some of us ended up running on our own back to the car park. 

We started at the Adur Outdoor Activity Centre and ran along the Downs Link to Henfield and back. It was a cool and breezy day and spirits were high in anticipation of the beloved taper. This was our last longest run before ramping it down for the big day, and let me tell you I'm not the only one excited for next week's 'walk in the park' two hour long run! 

Talk along the way was of race day kit, fuelling, and post-marathon treats / training goals (drinking, going out out, Easter chocolate bingeing, triathlons and 10k's). 

I was surprised at how good I felt, how had we ran nine miles already to get to the turn point? That means we're gonna do 18 today - awesome! 

That also means it's nine miles back. 


It was fine for about three of them, then the pain came. Achey hamstrings, twingey knees, a weird thing in my chest when I couldn't get breathing right. Brain telling me it's a long way home and how am I gonna find another eight miles after today?

After a while some of the group peeled off to do marathon pace while some of us hung back, and eventually ended up running on our own along the Downs Link. 

For those of you who aren't familiar, it's mostly an old railway line that goes on FOREVER and is lovely and flat and long and straight in places, mostly on trail. Long, flat and straight means you can see everyone running miles ahead of you and it just goes on and on and on.

I don't bring my music on the group runs so had just me and my thoughts / aches for company, so had to dig deep and give myself a proper talking to for a good five miles at least to get back. It wasn't pretty, but it's done. And on that note:


Here's how to keep running if you REEEAAAALLLYYYY want to stop:


1) Think about something else 


May sound obvious, but don't think about what you're actually doing. Definitely don't focus on your achey legs or tired feet, or the fact that [insert number here] more miles of this is gonna huuuurt.

Plan your post-run pub meal, what you're gonna wear for tomorrow's meeting, think about your to-do list for the rest of the day (writhing around in pain on the foam roller, actually, and yourself?)

Look at what's around you and tune into the different sounds. I particularly love to do this by the sea, now that I've started to do some of my runs without music along the seafront. 

You'll be surprised how quickly you forget the pain once your mind is occupied with something else. 



2) Get into a rhythm 



OK so this contradicts the first point a bit so before you stop thinking about what you're doing, just give yourself a once over and adjust to get into a rhythm. 

Are you shuffling your feet? Pick them up a bit. Are your knees knocking together? Make sure they don't touch. Is your breathing out of whack? Take a couple of deep breaths in and out and let it settle back down again. 

Don't hunch over. Imagine your body has a zip running from your navel all the way to your chin and run straight to keep this taught. 

Do all of that, then stop thinking about running and think about beer and chips. 



3) Ignore your watch

I'm really glad I forgot my watch today. If I hadn't, I would've looked at it probably every 30 seconds during that painful last five miles. 

Instead, my phone was recording on Strava in my bumbag, and whilst I did get it out pretty much at every mile to see how long was left, this was only a few times rather than hundreds. 

If you're doing an out and back or you're running home or in a race chances are you know where the finish line is and you're not gonna get there any quicker by counting every 10 metres. 


4) Have a chat 


This might be difficult if you're running on your own of course, but if like me today, you're with a group but just broke away and are struggling, find someone to run with and chat your way home.

The best thing about running in groups is the community, and the chat. Yes, we all make lots of new friends, but the aimless chat serves a very key purpose: to make us all forget we're actually running!



5) Give yourself a pep talk 

  

Positivity and self belief are powerful things. Give yourself a good talking to whenever you start to flag and let negative thoughts creep in. 

Yes it hurts, and yes it's a long way home, but you can do this. 

Think about those last few miles on race day - this is what it's gonna be like - only hopefully with a nice loud crowd to cheer you in. 

You may be in pain, you'll probably want to stop, but you won't. 

You will get to the finish line, you will not quit. It'll take a lot longer if you walk, so if you can, keep running. It's always harder to get going again if you walk. (Unless your race plan is to run-walk or walk the whole thing in which case knock yourself out!) 

Things I said out loud to myself today included: "Come on", "for Fuck sake", "four more miles", "three more miles",  "get it done", "two more miles", "don't stop", "I can do this", "food at the end", "one more fucking mile - just over 10mins" and it worked.



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Although getting split up and running on our own is never an aim of the group runs, it was brilliant practice for race day, when we will likely be on our own. 

In my head I slowed to a shuffle, I wasn't running at all, I was crawling, and every step hurt. 

But my splits were consistent(ish), and I ran 18 miles, so I thank you earlier self for not giving up and letting me experience the screaming legs and smug satisfaction that I feel right now :) 


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What's your running mantra and how do you keep yourself going when it gets tough? 


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Sunday, 12 March 2017

VLOG: RunBrighton adventure from Goring to Hove!



This is my third season of training for Brighton Marathon with RunBrighton, and until today I've always missed this route due to racing half marathons instead. But not today! 

The famous train ride to Goring and run back route is a favourite for the RunBrighton Ambassadors and runners. 

Due to the logistics of managing training runs with different pace groups based on time on feet rather than miles, most of our long runs are out and backs - that way we all turn at the same time, no matter how fast we're running. Everyone gets back to the cafe/pub for breakfast together, and everyone's happy. 

So to get the train somewhere and run allllllll the way home is a real treat!

Today we had BBC Sussex Breakfast presenter Neil Pringle running with us, so listen out tomorrow morning from about 7:20am for interviews from the run!

My 4hrs30 pace group ran nearly 17miles today, and I'm not gonna lie... my legs are SCREAMING. 

This time in four weeks they'll be screaming even more, because they'll have ran another 9.2miles on top of that. 

Hopefully!!! 


*RunBrighton is the official training partner to Brighton Marathon, and hold weekly training runs throughout the winter and summer months. Find out more at www.runbrighton.com and www.brightonmarathonweekend.co.uk.

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Where are your favourite run routes, and do you run in a group? 



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Saturday, 4 March 2017

RACE REPORT | Brighton Half Marathon 2017

 
OK so it's a bit late and no one cares any more but we're writing this anyway. Me and Chris haven't blogged together for a while so we thought we'd share how last Sunday's Brighton Half went for both of us. Brighton Half's basically my fave. It's all the best bits of the marathon without any of the pain. 


Catch up on previous years' blogs:


This year was a bit different as for the first time ever I chose to run it at marathon pace instead of going for a PB, and also Chris has the bigger picture to think about this time as he's popping his marathon cherry at Brighton in five weeks. 


SHE SAID - Tess' 13.1



For me, the half was a lot more fun than I thought it was gonna be. My marathon training hasn't exactly gone to plan this time round, I've been mega busy in work and in life and my changing schedule with travel has messed with my routine. 

The week before we both had a really difficult long run, 14miles for me, 17 for Chris, on flat, seafront tarmac in Worthing. In theory, it sounds great, and is actually not too different from Brighton Half in terms of terrain, but in practice it was hell, marred with painful feet for Chris and angry, cramping legs and blisters for me. 

I never get blisters, but this season they're everywhere dammit! Behold my blister solution:
Half Marathon survival pack from Wiggle :) 

 
I hadn't ran all week of the week leading up to the half due to my legs not being ready til Wednesday. That's my fault for not being consistent with my strength training and recovery. 

Then my work schedule changing my planned runs again, so instead of the usual PB effort (sub2 will have to wait), I went into the race planning to run 10:20 marathon pace to make sure it was comfortable. 

The way my knees have been recently made me nervous - I wasn't sure if I could even run marathon pace comfortably but I taped the fuck out of them and put my positive pants on to give it a good go.  


Our mate Norman :)  (who smashed his PB) 





As we arrived the grey clouds and 18mph winds did their worst but couldn't dampen the already buzzing atmosphere. We dropped our bags in the press tent, met the lovely Sarah from Goldilocks Running got a little too excited about the VIP loo and post-run pastries/bacon sarnies before making our way to the start. 

As we stood in the pens waiting to go, Fatboy Slim Right Here, Right Now blaring out nice and loud, I forgot all my worries about my training and knew it would be ace. 

I had people calling my name, getting high fives from kids around the course, and full on entertainment, chats and giggles from RunBrighton Ambassador-come-2hr15-pacer Daz and the crew. It was like another RunBrighton long run, only with a few thousand other people to run with and cheer on. 


Daz and the awesome RunBrighton pace crew


 
It was the first time I didn't wear my earphones, and I feel like I soaked up so much more from the day. I usually have one earphone in to keep me going and still hear the crowd, but my amazing JABRA earphones are too fat and snug to have just one in. 

I'm now deliberating whether to go 'naked' for the full marathon too - but I guess that'll depend on who's around for a chat... 

Miles 1-3 were spent waiting for the knees to warm up and legs to get into their rhythm. We were bang on pace and sailed up the 'hill' to Ovingdean. I love how all the mental hills we run make these little inclines feel so easy. 

I looked out for Chris and cheered him and others I knew on before the turnpoint at mile 4. The knees warmed up and I felt great, kept pushing ahead and had to slow myself to get back with Daz and the 2:15 crew. 

Marathon pace. Must run at marathon pace. 

I sailed back into Brighton towards the pier and what would be Panda Bridge for the full marathon (one of my favourite parts of the race), enjoying every step, chatting, chilling, nice and comfy, maybe actually a bit faster than marathon pace until about mile 9 when I slowed but only to just over. 

At the 10mile turnpoint I reeeeally wanted to just push on for a strong finish so with the blessing of my RunBrighton buddies stormed off for three glorious negative split miles, coming into finish at nearly threshold pace. 





I felt like superwoman overtaking everyone, like there was a rocket on my back. My legs were feeling it but I just ploughed on, feeling strong, finishing in 2:11:11. It was just the confidence-boosting race I needed. 

It's such an amazing feeling to finish a race like this. There's a lot to be said for really holding back in the early miles to turn the gas on for the final push. 

I did this for the last time I ran an epic, awesome Brighton Marathon in 2015 - held back (maybe a bit too much actually), and had loads left in the tank for the final three miles. 

This is how I want to run it this April but I'm not sure I've done enough consistent training so we'll see!




Things learnt: 
1. 10:20 marathon pace is definitely comfy (for 13 miles, anyway) :) 
2. I don't *have* to have my earphones to hand for every race
3. Holding back to smash the last few miles is a WINNER
4. Fatboy Slim is a dude :) 
5. Best bit of Brighton Half this year: having Chris cheer me in over the line from outside the press tent :) 

**Massive big ups to Sarah for smashing her PB whilst ironman training. LIKE A BOSS. Read her race recap here

HE SAID: Chris' 13.1





Painful. 

Tess asked me one word to describe my half marathon, and this is it. Before we go into why, I need to explain my training for the past couple of weeks as it’s been a while since we’ve blogged. 

I am a marathon runner. I must run. 

I’ve had a shit few weeks due to dislocating my shoulder and missing three weeks of training. I went back into training for a 2.5hour long run on tarmac at 8:20min/mi. My group went out a bit too fast and I spent the remaining hour and a half fighting to keep up with the 8:20 pace, eventually giving up with a pain in my left foot, which was a real blow to my confidence. 


Not impressed after our painful long run



I put this down to my ridiculously old trainers which Tess has been telling me to replace for ages but I haven’t got round to yet. When two other RunBrighton ambassadors took one look at my shoes and told me to throw them away and go shopping that day I finally started looking. 

So fast forward to Sunday's race - there I am on the start line, brand new trainers, having never worn them before, nor ran in this brand previously (Adidas Boosts, for the record) - what could possibly go wrong? 

Before the race when we were planning our paces, we realised that my planned marathon pace in the group I’m training in, is actually my half marathon PB… so yeah, I’m probably in the wrong training group. 

The stage awaits...

But, I am a marathon runner. I must run. 

All these negative thoughts were with me on the start line, and I knew from the get-go that I couldn’t keep up the pace so went out slower, not getting caught up with the other stress heads getting stuck behind slower runners in front. 

It all works itself out - you can always make your time back at the end. A slower start is always better - you’re more likely to finish stronger, and there’s no point in weaving, so I chilled out until we got to mile 3 and caught up with a guy in my RunBrighton group feeling great as we chatted along. 

Eventually I kicked off away from him into the wind which wasn’t really that bad (we’ve trained in horrendous seafront conditions before so this was pretty mild in comparison) and started getting into my stride. 

At miles 4 and 5 I was bang on marathon pace so continued on until mile 6 when my foot started to hurt. At first it was the same pain as last week which I knew I could handle so ran on, but then another pain started elsewhere in the same foot and it all went tits up. 

Stupidly, as stubborn as I am, still looking at my watch, I allowed myself a moment or two to have an easier pace, but stopping was not an option. 

I am a marathon runner. I must run. 

I carried on at 7:30 marathon pace knowing the remaining six miles were doable. 

At the turnaround I knew it was just a parkrun in it, and with the tailwind, I pushed on harder through the pain in my foot for negative splits to get back what I lost at the start. 

I was on a good parkrun pace, overtaking people all the way to the finish and was puffing, but able, although my foot still really hurt quite bad.

I am a marathon runner. I must run. 

The crowd were amazing and when I saw that the time on the finish line was a PB I sprinted even harder for a strong but painful finish - coming in at 1:36:33 




Things learnt:
  1. My foot still hurts. But not as much. 
  2. It's not broken - just tissue damage. Time to cross train!
  3. Don’t buy new trainers of a brand you’ve never tried and then run a half. 
  4. I now know that I couldn’t continue my planned marathon pace for another 13 miles so… 
  5. I’m gonna have to adjust my goal from 3:15 to a comfy 3:30 marathon. 
  6. Despite knowing this, I’m not changing training groups as I’m stubborn and I like a chat with the lads :) But I am gonna cross train for the next week. 
  7. I am a marathon runner. I must run. 

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Do you run races as training runs, 
and do you ever run through pain? 

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