How was your weekend running?

So, I’m a bit behind with our #medalmonday post – while most of you were running fantastic races like the Two Castles Run (from Warkwick to Kenilworth) and the St Alban’s Half Marathon, I was taking time out from the purity of just running to participate in the 113 Cotswold Half Ironman

 

 

Graeme always has terrible weather at his events,’ confided one of the marshals the day before the 113 Cotswold Half Ironman, as I eyed up the lake I was due to swim 1.9km in the following morning. The next morning, I stood there again, having awoken at 4.30am to rack my bike in transition by the cut-off at 5.40am and to be ready to swim. Except we didn’t. The fog was so thick, you couldn’t see 100 metres on to the lake, let alone the buoys to swim to. And so we waited, all 1000 participants, for 90 minutes until it was safe to get out on the water.

This was my second half ironman distance triathlon this year, which comprises a 1.9km swim, 56 mile bike ride and a half marathon.

If you’re a runner who feels like they need a bit of a change, or you’re injured and need your ‘fix’ without running, or you value the importance of an all over body discipline, then triathlons are a great accessory to add to your running arsenal.

Running is my first love but I decided to take six months out of just ‘pure’ running to help my body grow stronger in different areas, try something new and give myself some ‘mental’ space from chasing marathon PBs. And triathlons have certainly given me that – as well as providing me with new mental strategies that I will now take forward to my final half of the year, focusing on my next ‘A’ race, the Girls Run the World Get Together at the Maverick Snowdonia off road race.

When you’ve got a swim, a bike and THEN a run to do, it’s easier to keep focused and not get overwhelmed by expectation, which can tend to happen with running after you’ve spent 16 weeks training for just one event. Triathlon teaches you to break everything down into manageable segments. On the bike, instead of thinking, ‘Jesus, this is so hard, I’ve got 20 miles to go,’ I focus on eating every 20 minutes, keeping my legs moving and thinking of the strategy for my run.

And on the swim, I just enjoy the vibe and think about what I’m going to do when I get out of the water as I transition on to the bike. (To be fair, I haven’t mastered this and generally tend to faff about!).

And like many triathlons of a longer distance, the runs are almost always broken into laps. As a runner, I used to HATE laps, thinking it was so boring. But when you’re focusing hard, laps have a curiously comforting element to them. This weekend, I focused on one lap at a time, putting the thought of the pain and discomfort of the entire distance away in a box.

Although a great thing about triathlons if you’re runner is that you’ll find that you often get overtaken on the bike, and then you’ll reel them all back in on the run. So,  rather than succumbing to the heat and discomfort on the run, I decided to count every person that I passed and those who passed me. I counted 346, which means that I passed over a third of the field on the run, with only two passing me.

How can I apply this to running, when it really isn’t so easy to pass people? If you tend to go off too quickly in a running race, being secure enough in your running to let others go in front, keeping your pace in check and then reeling people in is a great race strategy. I’ll be trying it.

As for the Cotswolds 113, I’d recommend it if you’re after a longer distance triathlon, friendly, and flat for great PB potential – plus some GREAT pubs to celebrate in!

Thanks to all those who kept me entertained virtually on Sunday morning by sharing where you were running, from the Chew Valley 10km to the Stanwick Lakes Half Marathon to the Parkrun mile to the Hull 10km. We’d love to hear how your running went the past weekend. Let me know!

Psst, if you like the vest design, they’re our limited edition ones, if you want to get your hands on them, give us a shout. They’re £15 plus P&P.

 

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. 

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Power Bombs

So, you hate gels or want to avoid them while training? Try our all natural energy balls

 

  • Ingredients
  • 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

Method

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.

Explore Stanmer Park Trail Run, Sunday 20th May

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.

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.

 

Explore the South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 13 May

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. 

Location and details can be found here

How was your weekend running?

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…

Matt, right, with his father Martin and brother, Josh

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.

 

 

 

Review: Tribe Sports Performance Running

It is very rare for us here at Girls Run the World HQ to rave about any specific sports label. But the new range from TribeSport has got us hooked, combining both function and style in spades…

 

Remember those Parkrun t-shirts that you’d get for running your 50th or 100th park run? Well, they were provided by TribeSports not that you’d believe  this looking at their latest sports range as they’ve repositioned themselves in the stylish performance market. And their range really does tick both boxes.

First up is their Engineered Short Sleeve, £50 which has the softest feeling material and is designed with hi-breathe mesh zones at the chest and back. It is extremely flattering (long) and fitted without being restrictive so that it works for yoga without falling down and exposing an unflattering tyre while moving upside down. But more importantly, it is INCREDIBLE when running in the heat. We tried it on a hilly training session in 25 degree heat and it didn’t become soaked in sweat or start sticking and after the session, it was quick drying so it didn’t leave us shivering within seconds minutes of finishing. Seriously, one of my favourite pieces of running kit. EVER. At £50, it’s a mid-price range product but well worth it. Now I just have to get my hands on one of their Layered Race Vests, £60.

Running Tight, £75

Sculpting with a high waist band which makes them super flattering, these are a great Spring or Autumn tight. While it comes with a zipped pocket at the back, this is only big enough for keys or a bank card.

Our picks are definitely the tops in this range – they’re not cheap but if you run A LOT, and most Girls Run the World runners do, then they are well worth the investment.

 

 

And for cooler weather, there is also the Long Sleeve, £55 which is very flattering with hi-mesh breathe panels back and front, plus well thought out thumb hooks to keep the top fitted to the arms. Depends how you feel about logos but this is emblazoned with Tribe Sports right across the chest which we’re not mad keen on but overall, top marks for function and style (shame the same can’t be said for hair styling in the shot below!)

 

For more information, visit Tribe Sports.

 

 

 

 

Have you got the marathon blues?

You’ve probably spent the last two weeks thinking, ‘I can’t wait for this marathon to be over,’ and the last few days basking in the sense of achievement at finishing it. But now, is the marathon comedown beginning to creep in….

 

It happens every year, you finish the marathon and feel fantastic and then suddenly, a few days, a week or even two weeks later,  you start feeling withdrawal symptoms before hitting a huge comedown.  All that training that you’d begun to hate suddenly doesn’t seem that bad, and the lack of training and that huge, big target that you had on the horizon is suddenly no longer there, leaving a big void.

Sound familiar?

Perhaps not, perhaps you’re one of the few well organised, experienced runners that have already set yourself a new goal in running, fitness, life or work before the end of your marathon training and knew what your next step would be. Well done you.

If not, what’s the best way to get over the marathon blues?

  1. Find your next running focus … but make sure it’s one that gives you enough time to rest, recover and then build your training again. One of the worst mistakes you can do is get bitten by the marathon bug and sign up for another one in a few weeks. You need to give your body – and mind- the time to recover. Nowadays, so many people are doing charity 10 marathons in 10 day kind of events, that it’s easy to forget that running 26.2 miles is a BIG DEAL, and it’s not easy to juggle the training and be kind to your body if you attempt to do multiples. Be sensible, assess how much time you have, set yourself a periodised plan where your body has the time to rest and build back up again. (if you would like to join us in training – virtually – or in person, we are going to be creating plans and training for both the Maverick Snowdonia 17km or 22km in September and the Bewl 15 miles, July 1st as our BIG community wide get togethers).
  2. Set yourself a fitness goal – training for a marathon may have revealed areas of weakness in your training that you could focus on. Maybe you want to set yourself a month-long core challenge? Perhaps you would like a four week programme of yoga to help your body recover? It’s easy to stick to what you know and do another running event, but ask yourself, what do you REALLY want to do? Don’t just run because that’s what you always do.  If the thought of going out running doesn’t fill you with joy, try something else for a month, conditioning, setting a swimming challenge, it could be anything. (our new virtual hub will be holding opt-in month long core and flexibility challenges that you can choose to participate in which can run alongside some fun running rather than racing if you fancy still having a goal to keep you on track without the pressure of a race).
  3. Spend time with your friends and family –  has your entire social life, other than running based events and training fallen off the cliff? Now you don’t have to train long miles at the weekend, not go out on Friday because you’ve got the long run, and spend the rest of the week recovering, you have time for all those other things. Go to galleries, go out for dinner, go hiking instead of running. After spending so long feeling like you were forcing yourself to get out there and train, you will probably find yourself finding it almost impossible to NOT go out and run. But having balance in your life is important, so set aside some time for other things so that you don’t end up burnt out.

If you want to join our Virtual Members Training Hub, we launch in May. It’s a paid per month membership, and we’ll have an exclusive 24 hour special offer window. To pre-register click here. (If you’ve already done so, there is no need to do so again).

South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 8th April

Work off that Easter chocolate frenzy this weekend with a beautiful off-road eight mile route from Rottingdean

This is a challenging but stunning route with as many lovely, recovery downhills as uphills to build your strength and endurance on hills (particularly beneficial for those of you joining us for the Girls Run the World get together at Angmering BlueBell Trail Races or the upcoming Snowdonia Maverick Race in September.

The hardship will be rewarded with stunning views, gambolling baby lambs and a route that overlooks Breaky Bottom vineyard (who produce some delicious sparkling wine!) before heading down through Saltdean and along the cliff for a stunning sea side finish.

Will it be 8 miles, or will you add some more at the end to really fire up your face finish for the Bluebell 10 mile trail race? Remember that dastardly hill? Whether you’re taking part in the event or just joining us for the runs, this is a beautiful run that takes in Downs, sea and even a glimpse of Breaky Bottom vineyards!

Location: bottom of Bazehill Road, Rottingdean here/ Parking free.

Footwear: Road shoes will be OK but trail shoes are preferable!

The run is open to all as long as you are regularly running this kind of distance. This is our LAST run before the BlueBell Trail Race. Summer Season starts Sunday 29th April when we drop distance again.

Book online under weekend runs. Lift share via our Girls Run the World Brighton and Hove Facebook group.