Friday, 26 July 2013

Run to the beat - 7 weeks to go

I've started to properly get the fear and doubt about my first half marathon, run to the beat on September 8th this year. I signed up after the buzz of my first 10km when I thought I could conquer the world, and with a few other tougher 10kms under my belt and the struggle to train in the heat I now have the fear.

As other bloggers have done, I've decided to blog my progress for the next 7 weeks up to the race. Hopefully to help others training for their first half, but also to keep me accountable for my training! Each week I'll write about my runs and other training and do a feature on "what I learnt about running this week". I hope you find it interesting and helpful!
Who else is doing run to the beat??

7 weeks to go!

My training weeks tend to start at the weekends and run till Friday so here goes for last week.


A hot day visiting family in Sussex. A spot of open water swimming (only half and hour or so!) in the sea. I don't think I've done this for years but it was so nice after the mugginess of London over the last few weeks.

This was followed but a 3 miler along the sea front in the early evening. It was so good to run with a breeze in the fresh sea air! It reminded me why I love running!

Sunday: rest day


Monday was suppose to be a 10 miler according to my asics training plan. Over the weekend I'd visited decathlon to stock up on a variety of gels, which people keep saying I should use for long runs. I also dug out and old travel money belt to keep said gels and cash to buy water along the way.

I had a good breakfast early and set out for my run about half 11, along my beloved london canals.

The first 4 miles were great, I had downloaded one of the free remixes for rock my run and was at a good pace down to the Thames and back towards Victoria park. At mile 5 I decide to pause in Victoria park for a toliet stop, buy more water and try a gel. 

But this point it was just after 12 and about 30 degrees. I set of for a lap of the park and then up to Islington canal side, but really struggled. Nothing was hurting, it was just so so hot, and the self doubt began to creep in. I made it up to shoreditch with a few stop starts and decided to turn back home, a little disappointed but happy with my decision not to push myself too hard in the blistering sun. I later found out this was the hottest day of the year so far. 32 degrees. Too hot for a red headed freckly thing.

I popped home and after a quick pasta lunch went to meet some friends at London fields lido. Have lived in east london for 5 years I can't believe I had never been here before! It's amazing!

The plan was a dip and some sunbathing, however this soon turned into 30 lengths (of a 50 meter pool), as I'd forgotten how much I used to love swimming. I cycled home knackered but happy as larry, but promptly fell asleep on the sofa after my day of exercise. Needless to say the next day I was still knackered.

Tuesday - rest day, plan was to do the lorna Jane pop up 5km but was hurting too much from previous days activities


After a lovely day frolicking in the country with a lovely friend (including a yummy pub lunch) I returned to the smoke quite late so didn't get out for a run until 8:30pm However it was lovely, much cooler than the recent runs I had recently had in London, 3 miles of bliss and very fast for me! Happy run day.

Thursday - rest day


For my final run of the week I was pretty knackered after a day of packing up my london flat for the big move tomorrow, but none the less I wanted to really enjoy my last run in east London for a while, especially as this is the place I found my running mojo. I set of about 8pm and headed towards the canals for my usual jornt but decided to take a different canal up towards the Olympic park. It was spectacular! Especially as there was a legacy event on and they were interviewing British atheles!

I paused and reflected on how far I'd come. I couldn't of imagined this time last year I'd be running at all, let alone miles at a time and training for a half marathon!

I turned back through my beloved Victoria park and along the canal home feeling happy and content. And faster than my regular pace to my surprise!

Overall I did about 6miles in around an hour. Very happy running day!

What I've learnt about running this week

  • What a foam roller is, something I am suppose to use to stretch my ITB, right, better invest
  • If I've having a good day I run better, faster and I enjoy it more
  • The importance of cross training - I have rediscovered swimming!
  • I need to stretch more

How is your training going? How are you coping with the heat? What are you training for?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

British 10km

I was really excited about taking part in this year's British 10km for lots of reasons. The last few weeks have been a hugely significant time in my life with a transition from a student to a doctor, preparing to move outside of london for 2 years and feeling like I might actually be a runner.

Me and the boy decided to take part in the 10km to mark these events and raise money for London's Air Ambulance, a charity I believe in whole heartedly, with doctors who have massively influenced my career. One of the best things about the British 10km is that they charge charities the same prices as the public for race places, which is great (compared to several other well known races.....)

All the pre race organisation was done through London's Air Ambulance and our race packs complete with charity running tops arrived in good time for the race, complete with a full booklet on how the race day was organised. Impressed so far

To be honest I was feeling rather cocky about this race, having ran just under 10 miles as part of my run to the beat training the week before.

Race day arrived, and it was a fairly early start, especially as I hadn't done a day time run before (wasn't sure when to eat etc) but the excitement built as we spotted other runners on the tube on the way to the start, all chatty away to each other.

Having heard about "bag drops" and invisaging chaos, I was pleasantly surprised but the number of volunteers, ushers and bag drop helpers, making things all rather smooth sailing. There were two bag drops, one for charities and one for individuals. There were also a lot of porter loos with short queues. 

We then make the walk up to the start, a good 20 mins but passed Buckingham Palace and the like in the morning sun

The start line was on Picadilly and we were lined up around both sides of the road to manage the 28000 people doing the race. From where we were we could actually here the PA system and KAtrina and the waves getting the crowd going, we were mostly just overheating in the 28 degree heat! However we did find another London air ambulance runner which was nice! 

The race started about 15 mins late and the start was staggered which was really good. Once we got going the route was great as well as the atmosphere but the heat was just unbearable! No breeze just a reall intense heat which felt like it was radiating off the road. At 3km we were down on embankment, still no breeze but the first of the water stations (I think there were 4) and London air ambulance supporters cheering us on. At 5/6km there were a few underpasses which were great for a bit of rest bite from the sun.

My favourite part was the photo below coming back over westminister bridge towards Big Ben. 

I couldn't get to the finish quick enough (although quick is something I definately was not!) it was so hot, I was constantly thirsty and just generally unhappy in this run!

We finally made it in a slow time of 1:15 with a short break to help a partially sighted chap who had fallen over. The medals were great! And organised well so you picked up from the bag drop to keep things moving at the finish line! The Gatorade was a welcome treat, I really hadn't timed Pre race fueling well, with just a smoothie for breakfast.

Overall a fab race, well organised and terrific to raise money (a first time run raising money for us) just don't ask me to run in that kinda heat again!!!

Race day prep - the kit you need

I've done 3 organised events to date, Energizer Night Run, We Own the Night and most recently the British 10km (blog post to follow). Most of what I've learnt so far about what you need on race day I've learnt the hard way!

What I have learnt is preparation is everything. Whether its following a training plan to give you the confidence that you can complete the race or choosing the right kit you've worn before so you know its comfy and functional.

What I learnt from Energizer night run

For my first run I was a little unprepared. Having never taken part in a sporting event before I had no idea what to take, what to wear, what a bag drop was....

My key lessons from this race were:

1) never ever ever wear cotton to run in, especially when it is raining. Bad times.

2) Pack a spare top and trousers (esp if its raining!) to change into afterwards

3) Take post race treats you want to eat in case the ones they give you aren't very nice

4) Never ever ever use something for the first time on race day. My iphone holder left me with a small scar.

We Own the Night

For my second race I was more prepared with a change of clothes, carrying my iphone and assorted treats for post race. However, I had been out of action for a few weeks and with the temperature rising was not prepared for running in the humidity!

Key lessons learnt:
1) I cannot run in anything with sleeves (no matter how small) when it is hot

2) although sweat bands are the least trendy item known to man, they are mandatory when running in the heat!

3) Hydration is so so important and should be done during the day before as well as pre - race

4) If your doing a race on your own, have mates come along to cheer you on! especially if its only your second event! Felt quite intimidated going on my own!

With two races under my belt and a very useful Womens Running event at Runners Need attended, I was feeling ready for the british 10km! I had my kit out the night before, spare tops, sun cream, vita coco. 

So here's my essential kit

1) running vest, not cotton, very comfortable and always worned before race day

2) Running leggings

3) proper running socks - they really do stop you getting blisters

4) tried and tested trainers

5)Race number and spare safety pins

6) spare kit

7) Running arm band - I love yfumble as its seamless

8) headphones - I use yurbuds

9) factor 50 sweat and water resistant suncream! ones for kids are usually good!

10) Yummy post race treats - I love Vitacoco

11) Cash

12) Keys

What do you use for race days?

Friday, 5 July 2013

Heathly (ish) brunch at Allpress Shoreditch

Brunch is my favourite meal of the day. Particularly after a long sunday morning run. My favourite is this Breakfast plate at All Press Shoreditch on Redchurch street. Super yum! They also roast their own delicious coffee on site. A must visit if your in the area.

Mad Hatter's Tea at the Sanderson

A few weeks ago, I took a friend for afternoon tea at the Sanderson for her birthday. It was a few days after the We Own the Night 10km and I had been looking forward to it for weeks.

Personally I'm more of a savoury person, and am not really the biggest afternoon tea fan, but the reviews of the Sanderson were fantastic and friends had said its one not to be missed.

Having never been to the Sanderson before, it looked completely inconspicuous from the outside, but through the doors opened up into a gorgeous lobby with the famous long bar to the right. We we shown to our table in the gorgeous courtyard. Tummy grumbling from walking past other guests afternoon teas.

The menu looked amazing! And we were promptly presented with two glasses of champayne, ready to begin

The tea was served on the most beautiful crockery (if anyone knows who its by do let me know) with a delicious selection of teas that tasted like sweets and a cake stand overflowing with delicious treats. The colours and flavours were out of this world, and so much thought had gone into each and every piece.

My favourite bits were the "drink me" passionfruit potion and the green tea and white chocolate mousse. To die for!

Overall I would recommend this tea to everyone, especially nice to look forward to after an event. Thumbs up from me!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Terrible run

Yesterday I hit a wall. Not in the marathon, can't move you legs kind of way, but in the mentally I couldnt move my legs kind of way.

I was scheduled for a 5/6 miler, and pumped after the Women's Running Event on Tuesday, but still couldn't shake of all the negativity I had developed from my experience at Nike+ run club on monday. Being slow and feeling like I was a terrible runner.

I'd also had a bit of a rubbish day shopping for a dress for a ball I'm going to next week. I think we've all been there when we've tried on every dress on the high street and not one makes us feel good. So needless to say, I was not in the best mindset for a run.

I set of with the boy, my new headphones and a new playlist, but just couldn't get going. Running felt unnatural again. Everything hurt and I just didn't want to carry on.

I got about a mile and a half down the canal path and just couldn't go on, promptly turning around and walking home. The first time I've ever given up mid run and walked home.

Now I've just got to get my motivation back up for my long run of the week tomorrow. An attempted 9 miles this week.

Really need some tips here guys, how do you get out of a slump?


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Women's Running Event at Runner's Need Waterloo Bridge

I've just got home from the fantastic Women's Running Magazine Event at Runner's Need Waterloo Bridge tonight. After my less than fantastic time at the Nike+ run last night, I was a little apprehensive about going along, but it was such a fantastic evening and made me hugely excited again about running.
How cute are these cupcakes?

We were greeted with champagne and cups cakes (trainers and treats all round!) and took our seats with plenty of time for mingling with the other guests. The room was full of women spanning the decades and of all shapes and sizes. I was sat with two lovely ladies, one who has run lots of half marathons and is recovering from a knee operation, the other has just started running and was looking for some tips.

 The talks started with Christina Macdonald, Editor and Chief of Women's Running with some great tips on what to do when you hit a plateau.
Christina Macdonald - Editor and Chief of Women's running

This was followed by Nina Anderson, british women's No. 1 for 200m, 400m and 800m as well as an experienced running coach. She shared her top tips on training and the importance of knowing why your running. Next up was Mike from Asics talking about trainers and their new minimalist shoe.

Nina Anderson

This was followed by the lovely Nora from Covent Garden Physio  with some great  technique tips as well as injury prevention. And finally the guys from yurbuds headphones promoting there new women's running headphones which "never fall out", got a pair to try out!

the fantastic goodie bag

I learnt tons of tips this evening, but here's a quick run down (no pun intended!) of some of the best.

1) Strength and conditioning, strength and conditioning, strength and conditioning. I think nearly every speaker mentioned the importance of this for improving your running and injury prevention.

2) If you hit a plateau take a few days off running and do something else without feeling guilty

3) Use two different types of shoes whilst training, minimalist for short runs (if your not use to them)

4)FITT training - vary your Frequency, Intensity , Type and Time

5) When training for an event, vary the speed of your training runs so you run race pack, slower than race pace and faster than race pace

My new yurbuds headphones

Overall it was a fantastic and inspiring evening which I highly recommend to all female runners alike, no matter how much or how little running you may have done. Women's running have a few events to follow at other runner's need stores around london, see here for more details.

Happy running


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

New Asics Gel Nimbus 15

I had a particularly tough time at Hackney Run Club  a few weeks ago. I'd started upping the miles to start my Run to the Beat training and on this particular day I just couldn't keep up and my shins were agonising. Ade, the running coach, gently ran back to the studio with me, and when through the different causes of the pain, giving me some stretches for my shins as well.

The two causes were 1) running technique and 2) trainers. It had been a while since I'd got new trainers, so I had a week of running and promptly took myself back down to Runners Need to get re - assessed.

My first proper trainers were the most structured ones in store, I was an over pronator. On this trip, I was delighted to find out I'm now a neutral runner! Probably from all the squats and core work I had been doing.

They recommended I try either the new nike lunar or asics gel nimbus. Personally I'm a Asics fan, and with runner's need out of size 3s, I went off to Asics Flagship store had another gait assessment, still neutral, and went for the Gel Nimbus 15s.

They come in a range of lovely colours, I went for the brightest ones! They are delightful to run in, a little like running on clouds, hugely comfy and cushioned, good for long and short runs alike. Very happy runner.

What trainers do you run in?


Nike+ Run to the Beat Training Runs

Firstly I'm going to put this out there, I'm not a fan of group running. For me its just like being back in school and being the last person across the finish line. Not very fun and doesn't give me much confidence about my running.

It took me tons on courage to go along to Run Hackney running club, which defied every preconception I had about running clubs, was friendly approachable and had huge amounts of encouragement for the trainer Ade.

I've recently started my run to the beat training, first half marathon so very very nervous at this stage and full of self doubt. I used ASICS to design my training plan. This is great because it uses your times from previous runs as well as weight height data to produce a plan for you. You can then download there app with your plan on it to map your runs.

Being my first half marathon, I need all the help I can get, so when I heard about the Nike+ Training runs at Boxpark I thought I'd check it out.

I arrived at Boxpark with the boy in tow (managed to bully him into signing up for Run to the Beat as well) feeling very nervous, and surrounded by boys and girls who looked super sporty slim and tone. No one was really mingling, more just sizing each other up, which only made me feel worse! We eventually struck up conversation with a few people who seemed to be the only ones that hadn't done a half marathon before.

The session started with a pep talk from Sonia Moses one of nike's master trainers. She gave some fantastic advice on training and the importance of cross training.

We then warmed up outside, the warm up itself was good, just a little tricky on the cobbles outside of boxpark. Once we were ready to go we split into two groups, beginners and intermediate. I was promised all paces were welcome so joint the beginners group hoping it would be full of equally nervous and new runners.

As we set of my Shock Absorber running bra promptly pinged it strap. Hugely helpful, but the pace was so fast I didnt have chance to stop and sort it out. I soon found my self right at the back with two other girls, and the "slow" pacer almost out of sight. This was a little downhearting as the 3 of us were running at a pace of 6:15- 6:45 min per km , which although slow, wasn't like we were walking.

Luckierly the run was in my stomping ground and I knew the route well, along the canal, round Victoria park and back. I love running along the canal so tried to focus on enjoying the run whilst not getting too down about being at the back.

Once we got to the park, we couldn't even see the rest of the pack, one of the girls sped off and I hung back with the other girl, who had only signed up for Run to the Beat the day before, and was promised a "beginners run" but the nike guys. We continued running at our pace, of 10ish  min miles and once we got back to the canal for the home run, the last pacer was waiting for us. Arriving back to box park in around 53 mins for 5 miles. But feeling a little crap about the whole think. 

I think training runs are great, and running clubs are a fab way of getting training tips and making friends. But in this instance the runs really didn't seem to be geared towards beginners, and this put of me and a few of my friends at the back. Despite the fact we ran the whole thing, just slowly. At the end of the day I made a few friends and swapped numbers so now have some new running buddies to train with, but I'm not sure I'll be going back. 

If your a bit faster like the boy, who lead the 5 mile group from the front, then its a fab group to be a part of but I'm not sure this one is for me. Perhaps Nike need to state what kind of speeds they will be going at, or what running experience you need before coming along. 

Happy Training


Monday, 1 July 2013

Thackery's Cookery School

Now for a foodie related post. I tend to eat pretty healthily during the week and indulge a little more at the weekend. I love hosting and cooking up a storm for friends and family, and own more cookery books than you can shake a stick at. 

I've done a few cookery schools before, the obligatory Thai Cooking School in Bangkok and a short lunchtime course at L'atelier des Chefs in London but I was delighted when my step dad bought my mum and I a full day cookery course at Thackery's in Lewes. Mum had done two courses here before with delicious and impressive results and I was really keen to have a go.

Thackery's offers 1 and 2 day cookery schools in small group as well as individual tuition, and they have plans for a whole host of new courses and ideas (see there website for future courses). Its run by the lovely Graham, a hugely experienced chef who has worked extensively in London restaurants as well as ran the famous Thackery's in Lewes. The courses I ran in a beautiful 300 year old cottage in Lewes (with parking opposite). 

Graham kindly booked us in for a full day Sunday course , where it was just the two of us, at we set about creating a delicious but relatively ambitious 3 course menu of;

Tempura Prawns with Chilli, Coriander & Lemongrass dipping sauce

Individual Beef Wellingtons in Crisp Filo Pastry

Strawberry, Hazelnut Meringue with Strawbery Coulis

The day started with a demonstration of the starter and main course, with tons of tips and advice about cooking techniques, tools and lots of ways to make complex cooking much easier.
lovely ingredients

 Around Lunchtime we got to share the starter and main course which were delicious. The quality of the prawns and the beef was incredible, and all ingredients were locally sourced.

Graham showing us his skills
 After Lunch it was time for us to have a go at trying out the recipes, with lots of guidance from Graham. First was the construction of the individual beef wellingtons, so they could be cooled in the fridge before we started cooking. The instructions were relatively simple to follow and below is my wellington mid construction

Whilst they cooled we set about making the prawn tempura. The prawns looked amazing, and were fresh from a local fish monger.
yummy prawns
 The ingredients for the dressing were all of my favourite flavours, chilli, lime, lemongrass and coriander, they looked so lovely together in the bowl below

And Here is the finished article of the starter, absolutely delicious. I will definitely be buying better quality fresh prawns now, and making this for friends in the near future. The batter goes a long way and could also be used to make veggie tempura as well.

Next came the beef wellingtons. I like my steak more on the rare to medium side, with my mum much preferring her's a little more well done. Graham taught us how to adjust the timings according to each guest whilst still ensuring the pastry is nice a crispy.  And here it is! What do you think?

After this, feeling very full, we constructed desert. I was keen to get some tips on this as friends will know I have a reputation for being terrible at desert as well as several failed attempts at meringue.
Graham demonstrating his piping skills

My attempt at piping
 The meringues then went in the over and we make the strawberry coulis, and covered strawberries in chocolate for the decoration

Here's the finished product, which you get to take home to share (or not share). Truly scrumptious.

Overall it was a fantastic day, and by far the best cooking course I have done. You get to take the recipes home and I can't wait to try them out on friends in the near future. 

Thackery's website is here and courses start from £165 for a one day course.