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Tuesday 4 December 2012

Runners World & ASICS #Target262 Bootcamp

RunnersWorld and ASICS #Target262 invited me to the Bootcamp with 44 other runners with the aim of narrowing the field to 22 and to put those through to a public vote to choose a final 5 to go on to run the Paris Marathon!

My alarm went off at 6.30am so I sprang out of bed and into my perfectly prepared clothes and ate my wonderful breakfast. The birds were singing.

Actual: Dragged self out of bed, had shower and went to put on clothes I’d laid out ready yesterday only to find that my red top was missing. Emptied Running Clothes drawer out to find no sign of it. Finally discovered red top in the clean-but-not-dry washing basket. Soaking wet.

Considered hanging my red top out of the car window but thought it might blow away as I was driving down the M1. Next time I’d see it, it would be being worn by a tramp telling a story of how this wondrous but slightly sweaty smelling red top came flying out of the sky and landed in his Special Brew.

Decided was not going to clothe tramps for free and resorted to hairdrying the top. Thank goodness for quick drying synthetics.

Made it unscathed through the Brum traffic and into the South Carpark of Birmingham University. Saw a gentleman in running clothes and promptly grabbed him – in a non-threatening way of course. Poor Mark had no idea what hit him as he was subjected to my nervousness-induced verbal diarrhoea. However, we managed to find the Munrow Building eventually – after complete strangers took one look at us and told us where the gym was - and to grab a cup of coffee and a chair in the cafe.

The cafe had been completely taken over by a friendly looking group of people in various styles and colours of lycra. It was either the Runners World lot or I’d stumbled into some sort of fetishist group with an obsession with eye-watering colours and skin tight elastic-wear. I decided I was reasonably safe from getting my leg licked as I noted the sensible running shoes. I don’t think BDSM groups tend to go in for pronation support footwear.

Caught up with a few people in the cafe whose names I remembered from the ‘ASICS Target 26.2 – 2013’ thread on the Runners World forum, among them ‘JenF’, ‘Green and White Tigger’ and ‘KarenG’. Fab to have a quick girlie chat and find out their running backgrounds.

We all started filing towards the lecture theatre where we had an introduction to Asics and Runners World and the Simon Cowell of the Bootcamp day! We were all also told we could quite freely tweet about the day and post pics and to use the hashtag #Target262.

Photo Shoot

We were all told it was time for the photo shoot. It sounded quite glamourous and nothing to do with getting sweaty running or lycra at all. We were all told to line up in height order so I waited while pretty much everybody else filed past ... except Emma aka ‘First26point2’, Caroline aka ‘CaroT’ and Sarah aka 'Sarah Osborne 4'. One day we 4 girls may reach the heady heights of 5’4 … but until that day we go to the back of the queue in height order.

'Sarah Osborne 4' (left), me 'RunnyRunRun' (centre), 'CaroT' (right) 
The photographer was snapping away and it all looked very glam! I waited until the last minute to take off my warm top for the photo … and realised I clashed. Horribly. Not only did my pink top clash with the stripes on my Capris, my neon pink socks clashed with EVERYTHING else. Including the flooring. I’d managed to clothe myself in a collection of pinks which sounded delightful, but actually looked as though Barbie had vomited into a running shop. Hmmm … well at least I’ll be memorable.

In my individual Barbie-Vomit style
The photographer was lovely. Really took time to try to put me at my ease. However, when I’m nervous I gurn. Yep. Gurn. It’s completely unintentional and I have no doubt the ability will win me good money when I’m old and toothless, but while I’m in my early 30s and trying to get a decent photo for the Runners World comp, the gurning ability is not really my friend.


Also, I reckon I can safely say that I don’t think my video clip will be used for the Bootcamp publicity. I was told not to look at the camera. So in checking where not to look, I promptly looked into the camera. OK not a great start. I can save this.

Interviewer:     So what do you want to get from today?
Me:                  (Looking around desperately for inspiration). It will be great to get some tips from the experts ... and um ... talk to other runners about running. Um ... Because when I talk to my partner about running, he just huffs and gets glazed eyes. (Trailing off quietly) Um ... I talk too much don’t I?

OK. Probably not the impression I had hoped to make. But I can save this, can’t I? Got told where to go to get back to the others and promptly opened the wrong door into a sports hall. Then proceeded to open 2 other doors into cupboards looking for the way out. Find the right door. Escapes.

Physiotherapy – Sarah Connors

I was in Group 3 and we were scheduled to have the first session with Sarah Connors who is a chartered physiotherapist. She’s had over 20 years treating athletes and worked for the British Athletics Team in the past. Sarah was lovely and REALLY knew her stuff. She gave us some really good information on which niggles to look out for and when your trainers are bin-ready … and it’s a lot sooner than I’d thought! Once your trainers are twist-able diagonally – that’s it. It’s time for some new ones. Sounds good to me – I HAVE to have new shoes. Sarah Connors told me so!

She also showed us 2 valuable exercises. One was to work your glutes. You stand on one leg and rest the side of the bent leg against a surface like a wall. The supporting leg has the knee slightly bent and then you twist your knee slightly outwards. You can feel your glutes working immediately.

The second exercise was the bridge. You lie on your back (your arms not supporting your body) and raise your bottom off of the floor until your body is being supported by your upper back and your feet, with your knees bent. Your tummy and upper legs should form a straight line. You engage your core and your glutes and raise one leg, trying not to dip to one side. Repeat.

Track Session – Pacing with Sam Murphy.

Sam was really nice. She came across as really knowledgeable and approachable which was lovely as we were all quite nervous. Our fellow runners at the bootcamp were friendly and it was great chatting to them about running, but it was hard to shake the fact that we were all competing for the same prize! 

Sam got us checking our pacing and our consistency. She made us do 400 metres (1 lap of the track) at our marathon pace + 60 seconds. My marathon pace was 3 hrs 35 so I was looking at just over an 8:30 mile for marathon pace, so 9:30 m/mile for this exercise. The second was marathon pace + 30 seconds for 800 metres, then marathon pace for 1600 metres. The whole run was comfortable and I found that I was reasonably good at keeping the pace consistent which was good as it was the first time I had tried this type of exercise. Maybe the recent marathon had been a good lead up!

Sam gave us some good tips for pacing over long runs and she recommended doing a negative split on long runs to get you ready for running on tired legs towards the end of a marathon. For instance, the pacing exercise but over a longer distance although Sam advised us not to take it over 12 – 14 miles. She also recommended off road and trail runs for long runs to avoid impact injuries and as a good balance to road running. Sounded good to me. Running trails is my favourite kind of running! 

Gait Analysis

We had the gait analysis straight after lunch. It was really interesting. I’ve always worn the same shoes – Asics 2160s and own 6 pairs at the present moment (including a mud running pair!) and have always worried that maybe I’m not wearing quite the right ones. But I haven’t liked to get any others while the Asics are fine!

Don't knock over the treadmill camera!
 The Gait Analysis gent put us in neutral shoes and got us to run at a comfortable pace on the treadmill which felt very strange in front of a group of people. Afterwards, he showed us the video. It was very odd watching my feet flailing around and it looked as though I was trying to put out a fire by tap dancing on it. However, I was reassured that this was perfectly normal. 

He stopped the video at a point where my foot was flat on the treadmill and drew a line from the centre of my heel to my knee and depending on where my ankle was on the side of the line depended on whether I overpronated or supinated. The verdict came back -  my left foot was neutral and right foot overpronated. The chap was very good and said could recommend the models for every brand. I'm apparently in exactly the right shoes... But they could do with a good clean!

Track Session – 5k Time Trial with Steve Smythe

Next was the session we were all dreading ... The 5k time trial. Steve is quite intense and comes across as quite stern. You can imagine he wouldn't brook any shirking off from intervals. It was 400m at faster than 5k pace, 100m at a fast jog, repeat 10 times. The idea was to come out at around your usual 5k time. 

I nailed it home at 21:51 with a sprint finish. Thought I’d end on a negative split. Bang on what I put on the form. Felt good afterwards and knew that I could have gone faster. Think there's going to be a new 5k pb soon as 6:45 m/mile was comfortable. Did a warm down lap with the lads and we picked up our gear and sauntered back to the exit. The photographer was snapping off loads of shots of us all.  It was good to know that we were done for the day and could relax a bit now. It was a fantastic day talking about running with runners and experts. Perfect.

Finishing off the 5k Time Trial at the track
We all went back to the lecture theatre for a farewell. Got a goodie bag with a bottle, sweat band, 'run addict' t-shirt, RW magazine and some socks – always appreciated! Also given a cool keyring by the gait analysis chap. Very funky and a nice reminder of a fab day whenever I look at my car keys!

Went to coffee shop with Karen, Sarah, Malcolm and Tony. It was really nice to have a coffee, relax and chatter about upcoming races and to dissect the day. We stayed there for about an hour and just chilled.

I left the bootcamp feeling really positive. I’d done everything I could and done it the best I could. It would be an amazing achievement to make it to Paris, but the bootcamp was a win in itself. It was enough to have done it all right and to show myself that I could compete. One day I’ll get to Paris … 


QUICK UPDATE: Can't quite believe it ... but I'm through to the voting stage! I'm in the final 4! Eeek!

Please, please vote for me here.


  1. Brilliant post Sarah, and some great pointers :) on to the next stage my friend !!!

    1. Hee hee! I can but hope ...! :) Glad you found the tips handy!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Jen!! :) I was so amazed to have got through to the bootcamp stage!! Cool stuff like this doesn't happen to me!! :)