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.

 

Spiced Almond Dessert Salad

A delicious post-run sweet snack, packed with protein for muscular recovery – plus it’s good for your joints too

 

Ingredients

olive oil spray

50g whole natural almonds

1 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

1/2 finely chopped red chilli

1 tsp sea salt

4 finely chopped tomatoes

1 tbs chopped coriander stem

1/4 cantaloupe melon

1 tbs blueberries

1 tbs fresh mint

Method:

1. Toss the almonds in oil and cook over gentle heat for 4 mins, tossing them around regularly. Add the chilli, salt and garlic and cook for a further 2- 4 minutes or until the garlic turns into a golden colour.

2. Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander and tomatoes

3.  Toss the melon, fruit and fresh mint together and serve with salad leaves. Delicious with a spoonful of natural yoghurt.

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.

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.

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.

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Ricotta Pancakes

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…

Ingredients 

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.

Method

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 29th April

If you’ve been hibernating or pounding out the miles for marathon training, NOW is the time to get out and enjoy the beauty of the trails in early summer…

This week is the start of our Summer Trail Series in Brighton, £45 for the entire series which runs to the end of June or you can drop in per session to suit.

We have two distances, a shorter one for those who simply want to build their endurance and start running on trails but for fun, and a longer distance that will build week by week for those who are joining us in training for the Bewl 15, July 1st.

This week’s run meets at Ditchling Beacon for a beautiful run along the top of the ridge before heading down for a loop past a local farm and back to the return. The total distance on the start of this season is six miles but it is also open as a four mile route, with runners being able to turn and return on their own should they wish.

Get fit, meet new runners, explore new trails. It is the BEST time to be on the Downs.

For details of the full season, click here. To book visit our booking page and choose the full series or book per run. 

Plus don’t miss our once a month Running Adventures, starting in May. Details coming soon. If you’re not in our Brighton and Hove Facebook group, don’t forget to join.