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Thursday, 9 June 2016

10 Reasons NOT To Do Triathlon

GOOD: Remember when you were a kid and got told off for weeing in the pool? In triathlon it’s positively encouraged. BAD: However you then have to put your face in the water. 


GOOD: You get to eat all the sugary gels and pick n mix you can manage. BAD: However this is only DURING the race and by then all you want to do is throw them back up again. Preferably at the FRB who is already finishing the run by the time you start it. No one likes a smug. Especially one covered in regurgitated sugar.


CLLLLLL the sugar ...

GOOD: You will get an AMAZING sun tan with all those training hours outside in the summer. You will be a bronzed Goddess.BAD: However it is in the shape of your trisuit. You look a TIT at the swimming pool. 


GOOD: You will have a gorgeous bike which will be the envy of all your non-triathlete friends.BAD: You will spend hours cleaning the bloody thing, you will have to lie to your significant other about how much it cost and your kids will want to touch it. ALL THE TIME. And you’ll still want better wheels for it. WHICH COST ALMOST THE SAME AS THE BIKE.And the saddle is basically a cheese grater for arses.


Pretty bike, right? IT IS EATING ME FROM THE ARSE UPWARDS.

GOOD: You get to wear a wetsuit which sucks all the fat in and makes you look all lithe and toned and almost like a proper swimmer.BAD: You have to get INTO the wetsuit which involves contortions, pulled muscles and getting really bloody hot. And you still aren’t sure whether to loop the zip pull up or not.You knew you should have listened more at that yoga class you went to once.



GOOD: When your running friends talk about their hard runs, you can be all smug and say “Ha ha! I’ve usually done a swim AND a bike ride by that point.”BAD: No one likes a smug. And then your friends mention that they heard you WALKED a bit in your last triathlon run. And cried.And your race photos prove it.


More ice cream please, I can still do my trisuit zip up.

GOOD: You get to have 3rd and 4th helpings at dinner because of your heavy training weeks. And no-one judges.BAD: They’re totally judging.And noticing that your previously well fitting trisuit is now skin tight and that you have to grease yourself to get into it. Maybe just 2nd helpings.


GOOD: You’ll get some amazing photos of you on the bike. Also because you were on the bike you were wearing sunglasses and you look totally hardcore. And NOT old.BAD: The good photos were only because you were going SO slowly up the hill the photographer was able to take about 15 shots and you could choose the one that didn’t make you look like you were crying or insane. 


A race photo from last year. I look GENUINELY insane.

GOOD: You’ll get to swim in beautiful lakes. Your gorgeous photos of sunset lakes will be the envy of instagram.BAD: The lakes are full of massive fish, triathlete pee and weed.The fish don’t get out to poo or die.You have to put your face in it.


GOOD: You are a triathlete. You know what T1 is, why people use clips on bikes (despite falling off at the Mr Kipling roundabout once) and why getting kicked in the face is normal. You aren’t just mediocre at ONE thing. You are mediocre at THREE things. Go you.BAD: You just want a nice sit down.  



GOOD: You’ve checked your training plan and you have a rest day scheduled for three weeks time. AWESOME: You’ll probably go for a swim, bike or a run on that day anyway. Just to keep your hand in.

   

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

JimmyCASE Review: Why is a Runner Reviewing an iPhone Case?

I was a bit dubious about reviewing a phone case on my running blog until my husband reminded me that the reason I usually damage my phone is by dropping it out of my sweaty little hands trying to take a photo of a goose on a long run or by dropping it over a fence trying to take a better photo of a goat (again on a long run) or by throwing it into my running vest where it bounces around with my keys and change for any time up to 24 hours. 

Fair point.

I’m a bit precious over my phone. It keeps my twitter buddies safe, it takes my instagram photos and it’s where I usually answer my emails. It’s also my Google keeper when I need to find out crucial pieces of information such as ‘How many toenails is too few’ or ‘Does wee damage wetsuits’.

God forbid I actually use it to take a call.

Photo shamelessly stolen from The JimmyCASE website here
And as such I keep it in an armoured case. My phone – and the case by default – has to take a LOT of abuse. It also has to be grippy when my hands are sweaty, covered in mud and it can’t obscure the camera in case I get the opportunity mid-run of a llama selfie. (This has actually happened by the way)

So The JimmyCASE asked me to review their case. As usual, I didn’t get paid but I got a case to test and I chose the colours of the case. I decided to go retro with the colours and chose burgundy with a gold stripe as it reminded me of my old school tie. I resisted the urge to cover it in wrapping paper and write 90s graffiti on it such as ‘’Be My Wonderwall’ or ‘Disco 2000’ in sparkly ink.

I’ve had it 6 weeks. It’s replaced my usual ‘heavy duty’ phone case. I’ve got my bank card permanently tucked into it along with an emergency tenner and my McDonalds coffee voucher. I think the real test of a product is whether I’m still using it 6 weeks later. I am. 

Why do I like it?
  • Above all it’s just very handy. I don’t need to carry a wallet AND a phone – this case combines them both which has been brilliant for races. I even used it at the London marathon when I needed a wireless payment card for the tube but didn’t want to carry an Oyster card, a bank card and a phone all separately. 
  • Being made from mahogany and with the bright colour panel on the back, the case looks good and attracts lots of compliments. As a purchaser, I put functionality far above looks in terms of phone cases. Yes, it’s nice if it looks good but it has to protect the phone before everything else. This case appears to manage both. The wood also smells lovely. Even after being carried in a bag with a wetsuit, being run with multiple times and being held in sweaty hands!
  • The phone has been well protected in this case and I have dropped it by accident LOTS of times. As well as being padded by the wood and cards in the back, the case has thick corners and edges which gives the phone extra protection. There’s an occasional dent on the wood but you have to scrutinise it to see them and  there’s no damage to the phone. 
  • The case holds the phone securely and it’s a tight fit. I don’t have to worry about the phone dropping out of or moving around in the case. 
  • It’s not a bulky case, in terms of size it’s fairly slimline which is good if you’re carrying it in a pocket or a running belt.
  • The elastic hasn’t lost elasticity and still holds the cards as tight. It’s also held a pair of earrings securely when I forgot about them at swimming.
  • It retails at $39 with free worldwide shipping which is on the pricey side for a phone case but each case is handmade  with a real mahogany core.



What could be improved?
  • The elastic has bobbled slightly and the colours aren’t as bright after 6 weeks of use. However, it’s had a lot of abuse. I have got it wet several times and it’s been dropped and put down on grass, pebbles and dirt plenty of times while out on a run and while trying to capture the perfect photo. 
  • There’s a gap at the bottom of the elastic so it can stretch to hold the cards so this isn’t very secure for cash. I do however fold my emergency tenner and slide it between the cards although I’ve caught it trying to escape a couple of times.
  • You will still need a screen protector for you phone although the case edges are slightly raised so the screen won’t be damaged if you lay it face down on a flattish surface. 
  • Because putting cards in the elastic raises a bump in the back of the phone, it doesn’t sit very easily in my car phone holder which holds the phone by the edges in a shallow dish.
  • It’s currently only available for iPhones.




Summary

I’m really precious about my mobile phone and this case has survived 2 triathlons, 2 marathons and multiple long runs and bike rides. It’s been thrown into swimming bags, in with wetsuits and in my usual handbag with keys, safety pins, coins and other assorted detritus. It’s also been accidentally dropped from my sweaty little hands at a variety of heights onto grass, tiles, pavements, pebbles, feet and it’s been damp from lake water, spilled drinks and rain. And it still looks good and has protected the phone. 

My armoured case has stayed in the drawer and my wallet has been consigned to my handbag.

As a runner and triathlete, I wouldn’t have thought about buying this case .... but for how useful it has been for races and travel I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another.

It’s just SO handy.


Find out more info here 

Friday, 3 June 2016

Foolproof Tips on How to Effectively Avoid Hitting the Wall - Guest Post

Afternoon! I've got a guest blog on today. This is Louie Luc who writes over at Health Listed and he's written a post on how you can avoid hitting 'The Wall' in a marathon! Enjoy!

My name is Louie Luc and I’m a 30-something runner, marathoner, ultrarunner and fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyle blogger. Running is my greatest passion in life and I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned along the way with others who are similarly passionate about the sport. 

As any serious running enthusiast or cyclist will know, there is nothing more difficult than “hitting the wall.” This usually happens around mile 20 into a race and when that feeling washes over you, totally pushing you down. Your spirit wants you to keep on going, however your body is just saying ‘no’. 

That shift from feeling in control and strong to questioning as to how on earth you’re ever going to manage to finish, feels like sheer hell. Even when you’re running at a slow pace, every step seems like trying to navigate through quicksand with weights tied to your feet. That horrible acknowledgment of your energy levels dropping, your muscles getting stiff and increased breathing rate is something that no athlete wants to -- or even needs to -- endure.

Through training, longer runs and speed sessions, it is possible to actually increase your endurance so you can avoid having to deal with the “wall” at all. I’m here to help you with my tried and tested tips to stop you both from “hitting the wall” and finding the strength to keep going once you’ve hit that plateau. I’ve also discussed this topic  with some of the top running bloggers I know and these are some of our best tips combined.

What Does “Hitting the Wall” Feel Like and How Can You Move Beyond It?

There’s nothing worse when you’re in the middle of a run and things begin to fall apart. The physical symptoms are bad enough, add this to the negative thought processes and almost overwhelming urge to quit that accompany “hitting the wall” and it’s understandably something that every athlete dreads. Unfortunately, it’s something which every runner will experience at some time or another.

As reported by Runner’s World, research fellow at Stanford School of Medicine, Matt Buman, Ph.D., ran a study into the specific psychological and physical reasons that recreational runners tend to have when they hit the “wall.” He also looked into how they recover from and cope with this setback.

Of the 315 runners surveyed, a huge 43 percent had hit that plateau in a recent race. Although the study focused solely on marathon runners, the information he collected is helpful to all running enthusiasts -- professional and otherwise. Take a look at these three proven strategies to help ensure you can bounce back from those mid-run meltdowns in no time:

1. If You Feel Pain: Slow Down, Stop and Stretch or Walk


When you’re pushing yourself to the limit, it’s perfectly usual to feel pain in your calves, quads, hamstrings or even upper body. If the pain becomes severe, it is important that you slow right down and assess the condition of your body. Often, simply stopping for a few seconds of stretching or walking is enough to ease the discomfort and to allow you to continue. 

2. If You’re Overwhelmed: Shift Your Focus


It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have miles left to cover. A great trick to use when you feel that you just can’t handle going on, is to shift your focus to something else entirely. For example, you could make a grocery list in your head or perhaps count the number of trees along your route. 

The runners in Buman’s study used techniques such as counting backwards to help them refocus. They were also urged to focus on their own physical well-being and on staying hydrated in order to stop themselves from feeling overwhelmed.

3. If Thirsty or Feeling Energy Drop: Drink Water or an Energy Drink

Runners who keep going without water for 75 minutes or less and who feel sluggish and thirsty are likely to be suffering from mild dehydration. This is simple to remedy, you just need to keep a sports drink or some water with you and take regular drinks. 

If, however you’re on a longer run and you feel thirsty, have heavy-feeling legs, accompanied by a lack of energy, you could be running low on fuel. To remedy this, drink an energy drink that can be converted to glucose in order to fuel your muscles.

A Final Thought

We all run at our own pace, with varying levels of fitness. What works for one person, might not necessarily work for another, so try not to stress too much if you get into difficulties during a race. 

Goals can always be made fluid and modified and just remember, there will always be more races. The here and now is not the be all and end all. It’s the journey that really matters as well as the destination.

Happy running!

Louie





Author bio:  Louie Luc is a runner, marathoner and ultrarunner. When he is not blogging about fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyles on his personal blog. Louie is living his biggest passion: running.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Are The Running Awards & Strava Saving The Bloggers From a Hangover?

So suspecting neither of having read my blog, (in which snacks, poo and hedges feature prominently ... although not at all at the same time) Strava and The Running Awards invited me to go along to the 2016 Running Awards for a Q&A with Tom and Martin of MarathonTalk and a run with Strava. 

Running I can do, being able to ask a sensible question had yet to be tested but behave myself at an awards do had yet to be proven. However, I accepted all 3 and prepared my best running kit, my most inquisitive questioning voice and my sparkliest dress. 

The Running Awards are typically held on the Friday before the London Marathon on the Sunday. No-one is sure why but we suspect it is something to do with stopping all the bloggers who are running the marathon from drinking all the free fizzy, getting horrendous hangovers and spoiling their marathons PB attempts. In actual fact it is probably more to do with the fact that all the brands are at the expo for the London Marathon. But this is the boring explanation so we're ignoring this one and believing in the altruism of the Running Awards instead. 


Liz Yelling!! Actually ... Liz quite Sedate.
After a mad dash around the London Marathon expo, meeting Stewart and going all fan girl over Liz Yelling who handled it beautifully and even signed my London Marathon race number for me, fellow bloggers, Loz and Helen offered me a lift to the hotel where I would be meeting the Strava team. 

The trip didn't go quite as planned due to roadworks, traffic and a labyrinthine road system but it wasn’t a disaster as I learned some interesting new swearwords from Helen (some of which I will try and insert into future blogs) and I was eventually dropped off on a roundabout in the middle of nowhere (outside hotel). However thanks to my trusty phone and amazing sense of direction (outside hotel), I managed to navigate myself through the scariest parts of London (full of hipsters leaving marketing jobs) and get myself to the hotel. I really do amaze myself sometimes.

After extricating myself from the hotel’s revolving door - which stopped revolving as soon as I entered it - I managed to make a graceful (stumbling) entrance into the lobby and was greeted by the lovely Strava team. They impressed me immediately by handing me a goodie bag (containing a gorgeous Tickr bluetooth heartrate sensor with a memory which works with Runkeeper and Nike+ and a maroon Strava Tracksmith top which is beautiful. I love a goody bag – it’s like being at a 5 year old’s birthday and winning at pass-the-parcel. Although with less pineapple and cheese on sticks.  *Writes memo to marketing department ... Dear Sir, I regret the lack of pineapple and cheese ...”*

The hotel was lovely and we were provided a room so we could changed ready for the run with Strava. Apparently bloggers getting changed in hotel lobbies lowers the tone and scares the proper paying guests. Laura of Lazy Girl Running and I were sharing the room and we decided we definitely needed a coffee. However unlike my usual bargain race-hotel rooms, instead of a cup of coffee involving opening a mini coffee sachet and boiling the kettle, in this swanky hotel room we had to use The Most Complicated Coffee Machine Ever.  

With my prowess with technology (see how to build a turbo trainer) and my Master Builder skill at Lego, I immediately decided I had to be nowhere near The Most Complicated Coffee Machine Ever. Laura however was sucking her teeth and looking at it like a mechanic looks at a car that’s going to cost its owner a lot of money. However, within 3 minutes she had managed to persuade it to provide a steaming cup of coffee and hadn’t even incurred serious burns. I would totally trust her as a running coach. 

After a hot coffee and after finding the shower cap, robe and slippers we contemplated the rain pouring down the windows and wondered whether we could watch TV for half an hour instead while wearing all of the above but decided that it was time to go and brace ourselves against the torrential liquid British sunshine. 


Before our run ...!
Turning up in the hotel lobby, we found there were to be 8 of us in our running group including Dr Juliet McGratten, Jenni from UkRunChat, Laura of Lazy Girl Running, Richard Hayes who is Mohican Runner, Simon from Jographies and 2 very athletic Strava hosts; David and Dan. And me. Disaster on Legs. 

The run was pitched at a sociable pace so in theory we could chat and run, but the weather had other ideas, attempting to blow our words away and dampen our hair and clothes. Richard Hayes was immediately concerned about his famous vertical hair and the effect the inclement weather would have – possibly a Mohican at a 45 degree angle wouldn’t have quite the same effect. 

After promising Mohican Runner we would lend him hair straighteners, hairspray and calming his concerns about his hairdo, we set out at a trot. It was nice to come to a hosted run but even better to chat to the other runners and find out what they were up to. Laura was telling us about an ultra in France which ended at the Eiffel Tower and sounded amazing. Richard was saying about how he used to weigh 20 stone – which seems impossible when you look at his athletic frame and his race times. 

Sharing adventures and being inspired by the stories of others is part of what I find so great about running. I love finding out the stories and motivations of the other runners. Why they do it, what made them start and what keeps them going.   


Check out this running form! Speedsters!
The run took us alongside the Thames and onto a mixture of bricks, trail and quiet roads. In the distance, a bulbous building like a glass bubble was visible next to the Thames. Apparently it housed the start of a path which runs under the river and comes out near Greenwich. We weren’t going this far today but I was determined to explore this at some point. It was a treat to run in London and see the landmarks I usually only see in pictures. We turned off the river path after about a mile and headed inland towards Greenwich Park. 

Apparently there was a good segment in the park so the lads took off after it and I trailed in their wake until Laura yelled “SARAH! Save your legs for London Marathon!” Gratefully seizing the excuse to slow down and trying not to look as though I was struggling to breathe, I slowly ran up the hill where we all stopped at the vantage point and admired the beautiful view over London. We even managed a group selfie without dropping the camera or a runner off the side of the hill. 

We trotted back to the hotel, full of chatter. The day was getting colder now and the rain heavier. Despite loving the chat I was looking forward to a hot shower and a leisurely chance to get into the sparkly dress. 

Arriving back at the hotel after the run, we were told we had 20 minutes to get ready for the Q&A and Running Awards. TWENTY MINUTES? I was covered in mud and smelled like river water and desperation. Our lovely Strava host relented (or possibly caught a whiff of me) and told us “Ok you can have 30”. So that’s 30 minutes to get out of wet run kit, have a shower and make self presentable. I could probably manage the first two ... 

I managed a quick change Superman would have been proud of. Shower and change into dress managed. Makeup not so much. I crossed my fingers and hoped that the awards do would be dim. I probably had lipstick on my ears and mascara on my hairline. I could always tell people I was going for the Picasso look. 




We went through Secret Tunnel (it actually had a code name: ‘Direct Walkway’ that’s how secret it was) into the O2 from the hotel and were handed a glass of bubbly and introduced to Tom Williams, Chief operating Officer at parkrun and Martin Yelling, running coach and MarathonTalk co presenter and Simon Klima from Strava. These three were going to be leading the Strava Q&A session and telling us why we should all be using it. 

I was an easy sale. I was already using Strava and have my local segments staked out. I live in fear of a faster runner spotting them, stealing them and forcing me to reclaim them using a segway, Garmin and my ‘I Am A Strava Wanker’ hat. 

If you’re not familiar with Strava, it’s basically a social network for people who run, bike or swim. Your activities upload to the site (mine go automatically from my GPS watch) and your friends can see them and comment on them and give you ‘kudos’ – similar to Facebook lilkes. It’s nice to have the positive encouragement and it’s interesting to see other people’s training. There are a few interesting little things with Strava though ... there are ‘segments’ dotted throughout the UK which are sections of road. The fastest runner along these gets a CR (course record) and the fastest cyclist gets a KOM or QOM (King or Queen of the mountain). It also tells you when you get a personal best and tracks your previous activities for you. 

However, I picked up a few things I didn’t know. Apparently ‘Strava’ means ‘To Strive’ in Swedish. I now know another useful Swedish word along with ‘sauna’ and ‘smorgasbord’.  So I can now try, eat and sweat should I find myself in that lovely country. Is ‘Segment’ the same?

Apparently the UK is Strava’s most successful country but worldwide there are 5.3 activities uploaded every second (probably half of these by those REALLY keen triathletes I follow – so smug!) and over 1 million photos every week! I know that Strava is a social network for athletes, but those stats astounded me – I had no idea it was that big. 

I’m all too familiar with the fear when I get a Strava notification, that cold feeling telling you that someone has stolen – I mean I’ve ‘lost’ - my CR or QOM on a particular section of road. But knowing that there are over 150,000 people joining Strava every week, I feel a little bit better knowing that I’m bound to lose a segment every now and then to all these people. Just keep away from my home segments, you FRBs. 


This is us doing our "Who's going to win??" faces ...
After our chat with Strava, we threw ourselves into the glitz of The Running Awards 2016. As usual, it was a lovely event dotted with familiar names including Julie Creffield of ‘Too Fat to Run’, Susie Chan, Ultra runner and Record holder and the inspiring Shaun, UKRunChat, Equinox 24 and Hope 24 among others. Personally I loved meeting the bloggers and hearing their stories but there were so many deserving nominations and winners.

I loved the networking, putting the faces to the names and to the photographs inside the book covers and to the twitter race photos. Hearing about new races and new adventures and best of all being able to talk about running for the WHOLE evening and knowing that everyone else there also loved it as much as me. 

Loz, H, Me and Laura


Favourite Charity
1st Cancer Research UK
2nd Alzheimer’s Society
3rd Macmillan Cancer Support

Blog
1st The Fat Girls Guide to Running
2nd She Who Dares Runs
3rd Lazy Girl Running

Community
1st Virtual Runner UK
2nd UKRunChat
3rd 

Magazine
1st Runner’s World
2nd Obstacle Race Magazine
3rd Women’s Running

Book
1st parkrun - Much More Than Just A Run In The Park
2nd Running Hot & Cold
3rd No Run Intended

App
1st Strava
2nd Garmin Connect
3rd Map My Run

Headphones
1st Yurbuds Inspire Pro Earphones
2nd Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless
3rd AfterShokz Bluez 2 Bluetooth Headphones

Nutrition Brand
1st SiS
2nd High5
3rd Clif Bar

Sports Drink
1st Lucozade Sport
2nd High5 ZERO
3rd Vita Coco Coconut

Well-Being Brand
1st Clif Bar
2nd Nakd
3rd High5

Wearable Tech
1st Garmin Forerunner 15
2nd Garmin Forerunner 10
3rd FitBit Charge HR

Wearable Tech Brand
1st Garmin
2nd TomTom
3rd Flipbelt

Men's Clothing
1st adidas
2nd Ronhill
3rd Nike

Women's Clothing
1st Nike
2nd Ronhill
3rd Karrimor

Men's Shoe
1st Brooks Adrenaline GTS
2nd adidas adizero Adios Boost
3rd ASICS Gel Nimbus

Women's Shoe
1st Brooks Adrenaline GTS
2nd Brooks Ghost
3rd ASICS GT

Trail Shoe
1st Salomon Speedcross
2nd Brooks Cascade
3rd adidas Kanadia

Shoe Brand
1st ASICS
2nd Brooks
3rd adidas

Women's SPorts Bra
1st Shock Absorber - Ultimate Run Bra
2nd Shock Absorber - Active Multi Sports Support
3rd M&S - High Impact Sports Bra

Accessory
1st Event Clip
2nd Dry Robe
3rd Flipbelt

Underwear and Socks
1st Hilly
2nd Underwear
3rd Under Armour

Independent Retailer
1st Run 4 it
2nd Run and Become
3rd Absolute Running

National Retailer
1st Sweatshop
2nd Up & Running
3rd Decathlon

Online Retailer
1st Wiggle
2nd SportsShoes.com
3rd Sweatshop

Customer Service
1st Run 4 it
2nd Sweatshop
3rd Up & Running

Marathon
1st Virgin Money London Marathon
2nd Brighton Marathon
3rd Baxters Loch Ness Marathon

Half Marathon
1st Ealing Half Marathon
2nd JCP Swansea Half Marathon
3rd Cardiff Half Marathon

10K
1st Southport Mad Dog Seaside 10k
2nd Admiral Swansea Bay 10K
3rd Glenlivet 10K

Charity Event
1st Race for Life
2nd Guy’s Urban Challenge
3rd Hope24

Endurance Race
1st Race to the Stones (Dixons Carphone)
2nd Equinox24
3rd Mizuno Endure24

Event Series
1st parkrun
2nd The Major Series
3rd Frostbite Trail Race Series

Fun Run
1st Rock & Roll Liverpool
2nd Dark Run 5K
3rd The Colour Run - London

International Event
1st Uganda Marathon
2nd SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon
3rd BMW Berlin Marathon

New Event
1st Hope24
2nd Dorset Invader
3rd Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon

Obstacle Race

1st Wolf Run - Winter Wolf
2nd Munificent 7
3rd Race for Life Pretty Muddy