Event Review: Vitality London 10km

Nowadays, marathons and ultra races get all the glory but a 10km race is just as challenging – and can be just as fun as the recent Vitality London 10km proved…

Imagine running through the closed streets of London, past steel bands and cheering supporters, past the Houses of Parliament and right along the Mall before ending right in front of Buckingham Palace. Sound familiar? Yes, the Vitality London 10km takes in all the very best parts of the London Marathon route but without the months and months of training or the agony of having to run 26.2 miles. What’s not to like?

The Vitality 10km takes place over the May Bank Holiday and is part of a weekend of activities, with kids’ races and the Vitality Westminster Mile taking place the day before. The 10km race is actually doubles as the British 10km Championships, which means that as I lined up, I found myself about 100 metres from the elite pen (where one of our GRTW coaches, Tara was – lucky her!) where Mo Farah was getting set to race.

 

This is a BIG event with over 8,000 taking part but it is brilliantly organised with six different pens and a clever filtering system that sees you having to file through some barriers before you actually hit the start line, helping to avoid a mass pile up when the klaxon – and Jessica Ennis Hill – started us off.

A 10km race when running hard is, well, hard. But having the kind of support that you’d usually only ever get at a marathon helps you to pick up your feet and keep pushing, past the two water stations, through the shower to cool everyone down on the run and finally, heading straight for Buckingham Palace and the finish line.

If you’re starting near the back of the pens, it’s a long wait to the start line as I saw people on their first kilometre as I was finishing but it’s such a great atmosphere and a rare opportunity to race through the streets of London in the summer when it’s not freezing cold (except for this year’s London Marathon of course which broke all the records!), I don’t think many people minded.

Mo Farah won this one in 29 minutes and 44 seconds, but just as impressive in our eyes was one of the Girls Run the World coaches’ , Tara Shannahan, who PBed with a time of 37.44 minutes – she’s getting faster with age!

After the race, you can hang around in the park where they even have a yoga space where you can unwind and chill out from the run. I nearly didn’t go to this event but I’m so glad I did; whether you run it seriously in a bid to PB or to just enjoy it for the London scenery, this is a destination race (even if you’re a Londoner) that’s worth doing.

 

For details of next year’s Vitality London 10km visit https://www.vitalitylondon10000.co.uk

 

The Good

Great location, brilliantly organised – with added yoga too!

The Bad

Long wait to start if you’re not in the front pen, but that’s standard with London races

The Ugly

Nothing truly bad to say about this event. It’s fab.

If you are training for a 10km and want to get a PB, check out virtual training mentoring which provides customised training, direct to our training app so it’s right at your fingertips. 

How was your weekend running?

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 info@girlsruntheworld.co.uk) 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.

How was your weekend running?

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.

Grantham and Jarvis 2005, Recovery Pyramid

 

Sleep

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.

Body Management

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.

Nutrition 

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.

 

Do you want to be a Girls Run the World contributor?

Do you love running and exploring the UK and the rest of the world as you run? We do, and we think that other women of GRTW do too. That’s why we’re looking for YOUR help

 

Watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat before the half marathon in Cambodia

We are working behind the scenes on creating a fantastic website and on that, we’d love to create a space for women to send in their reviews of the most amazing, awe-inspiring running events that they’ve taken part in, from 5km and 10kms to half marathons, marathons and even marathons.

We’re not just looking for the typical ones though – London Marathon, Royal Parks Half, Manchester…these events have been written about all over the internet. We want the unusual ones, the local trail ones that are stunning for their scenery or for the fact that they have a funny twist to the race, right through to the out of this world events on the other side of the globe in unusual cities or up mountains and along beaches.

Your article will feature on our website and be entered for a prize to be drawn at the end of every year, where we will ask our readers to vote for their favourite review, the one that made them think, ‘Right, I’m going to do that event, even if I have to save up for years.’

You can be someone who has always wanted to write or someone who already does, or on the flip-side, you’ve never thought about writing but have a great event that you’ve run that you want to tell other women about. It doesn’t matter where you live, the UK or the Far East, the further afield our contributors the more stunning events we will all get the opportunity to read about.

And don’t worry, we’ll give you questions to answer so you know what to write and what to include and not to.

Want to be a GRTW contributor? If you have a race that you have already run, or are about to run and think it would make a good review, please fill in this form. If you have already run it, please only fill in the form if you took pictures on the race or know that the event organisers will have some that will showcase the event.

Here’s to sharing the events that we have run and enjoyed with women around the world!

Become a contributor – click here

Race refreshments around the world

Salted cucumber, so Sweden
Salted cucumber, so Sweden

While picking up my Mumbai marathon race number a few years ago, I met a couple from Sweden and the wife told me that she has stood on the sidelines of the Stockholm Marathon for the last ten years, handing out refreshments.

And the refreshment of choice for Swedish runners?  Salted cucumber.

Genius, I thought.It begs the questions, just how different are race refreshments around the world?

In Paris, I’ve been given bananas and oranges, in England it’s all about sports drinks, while Mumbai was sweets and biscuits, as was Lake Garda  (sadly, as I was hoping for some genius pasta variant).

It begs the question, what would the refreshments be like at the Angkor Wat Half Marathon, or the Great Wall of China Marathon.

Have you eaten anything unusual during a race? Which country do you think provides the best enroute refreshments?