Event Review: Race to the King

Whether you chose 23.4, 30.2 miles, or run the whole she-bang, Race to the Stones has quickly established itself as a fantastic race event in the summer trail calendar. And for GRTW runner, Florence Theberge, who came first female for the Day one race, the perfect training race for her first ultra the South Coast Challenge in August 

The morning of the race was gorgeous, with the temperature already warm at 5am, lovely as a start but promising hot conditions for later for the many runners, joggers and walkers taking part in the RTTK 2018. As I was allocated wave B start at 8.15am, I arrived at Arundel train station at 7.15am to waiting for the event shuttle (£10) to the race start.  I arrived there to find many other runners waiting for the shuttle too and we all exchanged stories, some had signed up for both days, some to run it continuously, others to break for the evening and some, like me just doing day one.

Most were from UK, although there were a few runners from as far afield as Poland, who looked very experienced judging by the running kit. And the age range was really diverse, including two ladies in their sixties or seventies who told me they walked the race every year.

Soon we were on our way to the  race start at Gaston Farm (BN18 0RS), arriving just a few minutes before the first wave went off at 8am. The atmosphere was great with the usual warm ups, long toilet queues and the excitement of the runners, support crew and event organisers all in the middle of a farmer’s field just north of the beautiful city of Arundel.

Ten minutes later, my wave was started by a man dressed as a King, carrying a fuming torch,who ran in front of the runners before quickly stepping aside for risk of being trampled over by a hoard of eager runners/walkers.

The start was quite narrow for about a mile, making it difficult to overtake walkers/slower joggers & runners, so I’d recommend anyone else doing this next year to start nearer the front. But soon the path widened and wound through a mixed of shaded, wooded areas and South Down chalky trails, including some steep hills! I love  hills but these were even quite an ascent for me but it gave everyone the opportunity to have a  power walk and refuel. And the reward of the climb was stunning views and picture-perfect landscapes which made me regret having buried my phone at the bottom of my running bag.

Over the 23.4 miles there were 2 feed stations (8 and 16 miles approx.), which were both well provisioned with fruits, sweets, squash, flat cola, and water, while the second stop included for the 1st and the 2nd had savoury snacks and sandwiches – and both hand hand santizers, a new one on me!

I ran most of the race on my own but chatted to a few runners who gave me advice on how to manage cramp during ultras – the Monty Python Walk.  Apparently, if you feel your calves starting to cramp, practice that walk and you’ll be fine. It didn’t quite work for me but that might be due to being already too tired to be able to reverse the process. Thankfully, I was close to the finish for day one where were were cheered in and ushered towards hot food and salad bar.

At the finish, there were also small tents for those who were staying overnight or for the runners who needed a break before pushing on. They were quite close together, so if you are a light sleeper, I’d bring ear plugs. The best thing though were showers, yoga mats for stretching as well as a massage tent provided by Birmingham physio students.

I loved the race but the downside of finishing in such a remote area was the complete lack of mobile phone reception (3 mobile) , and being nine miles from the nearest train station. I didn’t want to wait six hours for the next shuttle at 7.30pm, and so I had to walk another mile to Compton village for a bus (every two hours to Havant).

 

What I learned from the race:

  • A change of scenery is great for fighting the ‘tiredness’ of the training
  • Never, ever neglect 2 things: sleep and strength training, especially your upper body; your body gets tired and you really need your upper body to switch on and help support your body
  • Practice, practice, practice: I used this event as a training run for my A race – my first ultra – and it was a great occasion to test running gear, refuelling on the go, pacing in race conditions.

 

The Good

  • Great organisation from start to finish with clearly marked route and well stocked pit stops (even ice cream!); love the hand sanitizers at every pit stop.
  • Finish area (day 1) greatly set-up; my favourite was the bean bags areas with free newspapers and a giant TV screen to watch the World Cup 2018 football
  • Very good atmosphere, friendly staff and great post-run massage from Birmingham physio students.

The Bad

  • Narrow start meant a very slow jog over almost 1 mile before getting into one’s own pace.

The Ugly

  • No phone reception at the finish area.

Flo is being mentored and coached by GRTW ultra running coach, Sarah Sawyer. For details on our virtual coaching packages please click here

 

Event details:

https://www.racetotheking.com/

Next year date: 22-23 June 2019

Day 1 2018 entry fee £57

Shuttle from Arundel station to race start: £10

YouTube video of full length (not official video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnaaC9A8RRo

 

 

 

Vegan Curry

This delicious curry is SUPER quick to make and it’s also raw! Which means it’s perfect for these hot running conditions, while also being really tasty…

Ingredients

2 avocados, 2 lemons, juiced, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp curry powder, 4 carrots, 1 apple, 3oz green beans, 1 red onion, 2 stalks celery, 1 red pepper, 2oz pine nuts, 1oz raisins.

Method

Blend avocado, lemon, sesame oil and curry to a cream in a food processor. Meanwhile, grate carrot and apple, fine slice green beans, onion, celery and red pepper. Add remaining ingredients, stir and serve.

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.

 

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Cumin Toasted Chickpea Salad

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…

 

Ingredients

100g chickpeas
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 small cucumbers (280g)
2 large tomatoes (300g)
1 small red onion, peeled
240g radishes
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
30ml vinegar
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)

Method

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.

This is a recipe adapted from Ottolenghi.

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Lemon Almond Raspberry Loaf

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

Ingredients

Serves 8.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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).

Brighton and Hove Women’s Running courses Starting w/c 16th April

It’s hard not to be inspired by watching a marathon in your home town. If it’s made you want to start running to get fit, build your distance to improve your endurance, or get faster at Parkrun or 10km, we’ve got a course that is perfect for you in Brighton…

(P.S If you don’t live locally, don’t worry our Virtual Training Hub will launch soon, giving you access to all the training sessions you’ll need, whether it’s strength work, pace sessions for 5km or 10km, half marathon or marathon plans and more –  click to pre-register)

run

Run Fun Fitness, starting Tuesday 17th April, 6.45pm-7.30pm Six Week block @ Preston Park, £48

ONLY TWO SPACES LEFT

This course is for beginners, those returning to running or those who just want to build their confidence. It’s personalised so you can tell us your goals at the beginning and we’ll incorporate them into your training.

The focus in this course is on having FUN. We help you improve your running technique, endurance and fitness with a series of games led running exercises so that you’re running  without you even thinking of it as running. But we’ll also ensure you build your strength so that you build your foundations to become a runner who is able to develop with less chance of injury.

Smash Your Parkrun or 10km PB, starting Weds 18th April, 7-7.45pm, six week block, @Hove seafront, £48

To become a faster runner, you just have to run faster. Sounds simple but it’s hard to do if you’re training on your own. You need to challenge your fitness system in order to see improvements and this is what we do in this six week course, but within a group environment so you feel motivated, inspired and see improvement. You’ll not only learn about running economy but begin to understand more about your own individual pace and how to work with that to see improvements. You need to be able to run 5km to join this course.

Strength for Running, starting Thursday 19th April, 7.15-7.45pm @ Hove Park

ONLY THREE SPACES LEFT

One of the most neglected areas of training for any runner, beginner or experienced and the single most important part of training alongside the running itself. Strength brings you stability, which means you don’t wobble around a lot when you run which causes stresses on your body which result in injury. You know those race photographs where you’ve been caught looking like you’re collapsing into yourself or almost bent over? That comes from a lack of strength.

Build strength and stability and from that, you become a more economical runner, which means you use less energy and you can become faster too. This is suitable for ALL levels from beginners to advanced. The class is small so you get the attention you need. Don’t just think you need strength for marathon running, it’s for ALL running.

 

Trail Run Explore or Trail Endurance, Summer Season, starts Sunday 29th April, £45 or £12 drop in.

Whether you just want to enjoy some short hour long runs off road to keep your fitness in and explore the downs or you want a fresh focus that will help you build your endurance, our Summer Season is for you.

We have two different options within the runs, a shorter route of between 5-8 miles and runs that will build you up to 15 miles for the fantastic Girls Run the World Get Together Bewl 15, a gorgeous summer off-road race around Bewl water which ends with a pint of Harvey’s and some lovely cake.

You can drop in as and when, or pay for the full Summer Season. locations vary according to the route.

 

You can book all our courses direct via our Booking page by clicking here

And separate to ALL of this are our Yoga and Trail Running Weekend in July, Ethiopia Week in November and our upcoming Valencia Marathon and 10km trip in December. 

How was your Easter weekend of running?

So, how did you run off the chocolate eggs this Easter? 

From special Good Friday runs like the Easter Victoria Park 10km in London to the numerous Bank Holiday Monday events, there were lots of opportunities to enjoy some shorter distances runs this weekend. Frustrating though for all the marathon runners out there… you get FOUR days to fit a long run in and you’re on your taper!

This was my last weekend taking it easy before my training kicks into a more intense phase for Half Ironman triathlon training and a strength phase for some autumn mountain races, including the Girls Run the World Get Together event in Snowdonia, September 29th (read our newsletter in your inbox for details – or sign up for the newsletter via our front page).

My usual weekly running regime involves five or six runs per week, including a long run, tempo,interval or hill and some easy runs. But I’ve had to take a step back while I rehabbed a tight calf – and at the beginning of the year, a kickboxing injury (don’t ask…I forgot that I was 46 for a minute not 18!).

Injury or niggles can drive you mad but they can also be an opportunity, the chance to try something different and learn a new skill. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post about what to do when you’re injured but need/want to stay in running shape, what you replace it with should be something that creates the same or as similar a physiological effect as running has on your body…and gives you that same mental buzz!

And this weekend, that was road bike track race training for me. In pairs, we set off with a time handicap between teams, the goal to catch the people in front and avoid capture from those behind. Has anyone ever tried it? It’s brilliant, all the fun and challenge of interval running but without that stress on the part of your body that you’re rehabbing.

The other thing about not running and returning to it, is that it reminds you once again of just how fantastic running is, how it makes you feel to just get out and run. And through a daffodil strewn wood on Easter Sunday, empty but a lone mountain biker, that’s just what I did.

How was your Easter weekend of running?