So, you hate gels or want to avoid them while training? Try our all natural energy balls
1/2 cup almonds
15 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (plus 1/4 cup for rolling)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons cacao powder
pinch of rock salt
1 tablespoon water if needed
Put almonds into a food processor and pulse until it forms a flour (or you can use packet almond flour). Now add the remaining mixture and pulse until combined. If it seems dry, add a bit more coconut. Then spoon out the mixture and roll into balls. Coat each ball by rolling in coconut.
These are great for afternoon snacks, pre and post run and every time in between. You can also play around with the ingredients, changing the nut (pecan and walnut?) and add cinnamon, ginger, even a bit of cracked black pepper.
If you’re lucky enough to run with us in Brighton, some of our runners even get these at the end of a run.
The weekend just passed had us thinking a lot about motivation and will power to push through when training or racing gets tough…
Perhaps this was partly due to my taking on Grafman, a Half Ironman event, which comprises a 1.8km open water swim, followed by a 56 mile bike ride and rounded off by a half marathon at the end. But it was also because it was a weekend of running events that require a lot of mental reserve, such as the Night of the 10km PBs and the North Downs Way 50.
Fittingly enough, the Girls Run the World ultra distance coach, Sarah Sawyer, took home first place this year at the North Downs Way 50 (for coaching advice and mentoring with Sarah, email firstname.lastname@example.org) and another reason my focus was on mental strategies due to a podcast that I did with her last Friday. After all, who better to ask about mental strategies than a woman who came first in the Crawley 24 Hour Track Race a few months ago, running 127.8 miles in 24 hours around a 400 metre track?
You can listen to the podcast later this week, but what was most interesting about our chat is that Sarah didn’t say ANY of the usual things when it comes to mental strategies. Instead of counting, music or mantras, her main approach is grounded in the fact that she loves running and whenever anything gets tough, she reminds herself of how lucky she is to be running. That and switching up her events so that her ‘journey’ to that final event destination goal stays interesting and enjoyable seem to be her main strategies for staying strong. At the beginning of this year, she focused on the 24 hour track race, then she switched from flat running to the hills to take on the North Downs 50, which leads her on to the Global Limits 200km Stage Race.
So, when I was running my final six miles of my Half Ironman this weekend, with the sun belting down, I reminded myself that ultimately, I choose to do this, as we all do. At any time, any one of us can say, ‘That’s it, I don’t want to do this any more,’ and stop.
We take part and participate because we enjoy the challenge, the camaraderie and the sense of achievement. And if we remember this, that when we train and it feels tough on a tempo run, or a long run when we’re just not feeling it, try to shift your thinking to accept that that discomfort is simply part of your end goal, making you stronger, and helping you to get to the fantastic end feeling of achievement. If it wasn’t challenging, none of us would feel quite so good at the end of it. Besides, it makes the celebratory beer feel even more amazing.
We’d love to hear about your weekend racing and any strategies you use when the going gets tough. Comment below.
It’s going to be a beautiful weekend and the perfect time to explore the trails. Why not join us this Sunday for a guided route of five or ten miles?
Join our GRTW coach, Amy, as she guides you through two different loops on this beautiful trail one, the first one five miles through the beautiful Stanmer Woods (she may even throw in a few trails you don’t know as this is her back garden!).
After that, if you’re working towards building endurance, you can join her on the second, different loop that will take you up on to the South Downs before dropping down through the beautiful Falmer Village.
You can join us for a one off run explore, £12 or use it as part of your training. As long as you can run the distance, you’re welcome to join.
Details of locations and meeting points are here. Book via booking page. Starts, 8.30am.
We don’t know about you, but we often fantasise about what we’re going to enjoy eating during a long run. And so after we tried a version of these at Ott0lenghi one weekend, we had to give them a go ourselves. They’re delicious, and make for a perfect post run brunch at the weekend…
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup plain flour*
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
3/4 cup of milk or non-diary substitute
2 large eggs, separated
2 tsp cinnamon
Butter for cooking
*for an added protein kick, replace the flour with almond flour although it will make for a denser, less fluffy pancake.
Combine, flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk ricotta, milk and the yolks of the eggs. Combine with the dry ingredients and add the egg until it forms a smooth mixture. It should be a thick batter so if need be, add more milk. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold into the mixture.
In a hot buttered grill pan, drop two ladles of the mixture into a hot pan. Turn the heat down and wait until you begin to see the edges brown and little bubbles appear on the surface. Now flip over. Cook until golden both sides, put to one side in a heated oven until all the mixture is done.
Serve with fruit salad, Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup. Sit down, devour!
The best thing about these pancakes is, if you make too many, you can keep them and eat them the next day as snacks.
Sleep, or more widely, how to maximise your recovery has been on my mind this weekend. This is partly because I was chatting with Jonathan Robinson, exercise physiologist at the University of Bath at the recent Elevate conference, and because it appears to have then cropped up in numerous conversations with clients over the weekend.
Time and again, as runners – and particularly if we ‘re also mums and runners, we tend to focus on running only as our training, and perhaps if we’re really good, a bit of foam rolling and yoga. But this is NOT what we mean by recovery, and if we got this right, we’d optimise our performance, prevent injury and avoid mental burn out.
All the research points to how recovery is the cornerstone of your training, not an add on. Ignore it, and you effectively undermine all those hard training sessions that you’re doing.
So, what do we mean by recovery strategies?
What might come to your mind are compression socks, ice baths, recovery footwear and the like, but according to scientifically proven studies, your foundations for recovery are simple -sleep, body management and nutrition.
When we sleep, our bodies get to work, helping our muscles to repair and adapt to grow stronger. According to research in the British Journal of of Sports Medicine cognition, metabolism and tissue repair are critical physiological processes that contribute to training capacity, recovery and performance and are all positively affected with the right amount of sleep.
What you can do?
Start tracking your sleep to see how many hours, on average you’re getting. I have a Garmin 920XT watch which tracks not only my sleep, but the quality of my sleep. It’s a helpful reminder to show when I’m not. If you are consistently getting injured, or not seeing improvement despite lots of training, take a look at your sleep patterns.
Simply put, this means how you are managing your body. Are you only running or are you adding strength training, yoga and foam rolling?
Recovery methods, such as at home yoga, stretching even for 20 minutes per day can help promote blood flow to the muscles and improve range of movement, which in turns helps you to run with better economy, which means less stress on the body. Moreover, focused, good quality strength training not only helps prevent injuries. Research shows that the fitter and stronger you are, the less time you’ll need to spend on recovery strategies.
What you can do?
Try a Yin Yoga class, try to remember the poses that are the most challenging for you and do those ones on your own at home. Strength wise, we have lots of free exercises on our YouTube channel that you can follow to build stability. Our more dedicated month long gym or at home strength workouts will launch in a few weeks for our dedicated Virtual Training Hub members. Pre-register here.
Follow the three Rs, rehydrate, refuel, rebuild. Running is BIG business, and nutrition has kept pace with this resulting in the proliferation of products from protein shakes to beet and sour cherry shots. Some of these can be useful if you have a very heavy training load or are short on time.
What you can do?
You can get all the nutrition you need from the food you eat or drink, whether it’s a chocolate milk/almond milk shake after a run, foods rich in polyphenols, such as beetroots (grated in a salad or juiced with ginger and apple) to help with inflammation, fish, meat or pulses for a protein kick and green leafy vegetables and fruit for a vitamin kick to boost your immune system. It can be useful to keep a food diary for three days, noting what you eat and when you eat, plus when you run. That should be enough, without any expert advice for you to evaluate whether you are eating right for running.
We’d love to hear how you manage your recovery strategies, and if you have any tips that are useful for super busy women.
Thinking that carb loading means filling your plate with pasta, rice or potatoes is an old fashioned way of looking at nutrition. Keep it fresh, zingy and tasty so you fuel without flabbing out…
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 small cucumbers (280g)
2 large tomatoes (300g)
1 small red onion, peeled
1 red pepper, seeds and pith removed
20g coriander leaves and stems, roughly chopped
15g flat-leaf parsley, picked and roughly chopped
120ml olive oil
Grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 50ml lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sugar
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp ground cardamom
1½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
seeds of one pomegranate
Greek yoghurt (optional)
Dice the cucumber, tomato, onion, radish and pepper and mix with the coriander and parsley. In a jar or sealable container, put 75ml of olive oil with the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic and sugar, shake and season to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss lightly.
Mix together the cardamom, allspice, chilli, cumin and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and spread on a plate. Toss the chickpeas in the spice mixture to coat. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and over medium heat lightly fry the chickpeas for two to three minutes, gently shaking the pan so they cook evenly and don’t stick. Keep warm.
Divide the salad between four plates, arranging it in a large circle with a slight indent in the middle, and spoon the warm chickpeas in the centre. Drizzle some Greek yoghurt on top and some seeds of pomegranate.
Serve either with Lebanese flatbread of with sliced chicken or salmon for extra protein.
Whether you’re a visitor to the area and fancy a trail run or you’re a local looking to explore or build your miles, join us this Sunday for a beautiful off-road run starting at Hove Park
This route starts at the park but immediately takes an off-road route until we arrive at Waterhall Mill. Built in 1885 by James Holloway, it worked until 1924 and was used in World War II as a lookout post. It was finally converted into a house in 1963.
Here, we’ll leave those runners who would prefer to do four miles to return via the way they came on their own steam. Those who would like to do 8 miles can continue with us up on the South Downs Way, before joining the Sussex Border Path and returning to Hove Park.
If the weather is nice, a 10 minute al fresco yoga session to finish the Sunday run leaving you feeling strong and supple.
Book via our booking page, £10 or £45 for the entire 8 remaining runs.
Make no mistake, this is calorific but if you’ve done a big run, what’s wrong with that? On the plus side, it’s largely made from ground almonds which packs a BIG punch in helping your muscles recover after exercise
200g soft butter 200g golden caster sugar 3 large eggs 40g plain flour 140g ground almonds grated zest and juice of a lemon
Line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Then cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Then gently beat in the eggs one at a time, adding flour as you go to prevent curdling. Now, on a slow speed if using a food processor, fold in the ground almonds and zest.
Spoon into the lined cake tin, smooth the top and bake for 45-50 minutes at 180 C/gas mark 4. Test it with a skewer – the point should leave the cake without any mixture stuck to it. Don’t overcook though! Finally pierce with a skewer and squeeze over the juice from half the lemon. Leave the cake to cool in its tin before removing and serving with fresh raspberries.
Finally, the weather is going to be gorgeous enough for a truly beautiful, vest top kind of run on the South Downs…
This Sunday, we’re going to be heading up to a beautiful part of the Downs that takes you through the beautiful village of Ovingdean, past the 11th century St Wulfran’s church before heading with Rottingdean to the east before dropping back down to the seafront. Here, those who prefer a shorter route can return along the Undercliff path for a five mile run. Others can choose to go with our coach and complete the full 7 miles, enjoying the views of the sea.
Open to all levels of runners as long as you can run the distance of five or seven miles. Book online for £10 or join the full season for £45. This is a beaut of a run in this weather.
Running can get you fit, help you meet new people and explore the world. But as #milesformatt has shown, it also has the power to do a whole lot of good and drive positive change and action…
Looking at our Strava club, this weekend was not about races or parkruns (although there were a fair few of those around too) but about running 3.7 miles in memory of the 2017 Masterchef finalist, Matt Campbell who collapsed 3.7 miles before the end of the finish line at last weekend’s London Marathon.
What most people already knew about the 29- year old from the TV show, was that he was a likeable and extremely talented chef and that he’d sadly lost his father, suddenly and unexpectedly in 2016. But then The Brathy Trust, a charity who work to help inspire disadvantaged children and whom Matt had been helping raise money for, released a press release.
It revealed that Matt was not only a fantastic chef and runner (he’d run the Manchester marathon two weeks before in under three hours) but a pretty amazing human being full stop, setting up the Martin Campbell Memorial Fund in memory of his father, which had raised £14,000 to help young people with mental health problems. He’d been planning to run his third marathon, the Windermere Marathon next month to raise even more money.
So far, £250,000 has been raised in his memory but runners across the UK and beyond running the last 3.7 miles of his marathon. It doesn’t change the fact that a young man has lost his life, tragically leaving behind a family who will miss him terribly. But if anything positive can be drawn from this, it is the power of a running community coming together virtually.