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Thursday 26 February 2015

4 Horsemen of Running Apocalypse: Itching, Chafing, Blisters & Poo

It is fairly widely known that there are 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Yes, everyone knows that, right? War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. 

4 Horsemen. Source
But did you know there are 4 Horsemen of Running?
  • Itching
  • Chafing
  • Blisters
  • Poo

These are all unpleasant in their own way and who hasn't been in a situation where your pants are riding up, your trousers are riding down and there’s a label itching away and pretending to be a strip of sandpaper? What is it about running that means that there is always something itching or being annoying? And usually in some place you can't really sort out in public?

And the law of running means that when this happens there will ALWAYS a crowd of people behind you. It could be the rest of your running club, a horde of runners in a race or simply a busy bus stop. When is it appropriate to simply stick your hand down your pants and sort it all out?

I imagine the Mr-Average-In-The-Street might not get away with sorting out their underwear in public but we’re runners. We can run away when the screaming starts, right?

But it’s not always as easy to sort out as a quick rummage. Chafing is sneaky. Quite often this goes unnoticed during the actual running but waits until you step into the shower before digging barbs into your unsuspecting, flayed flesh. As if sandpapering your nipples off wasn’t enough, Chafe appears in the most awkward places. Underarms? Thighs? Undercarriage? Sneaky, sneaky chafing.

And I’m sure every runner has suffered the irritating sore, itching pain that is a blister that out of nowhere on a previously unmarred foot, has popped up to ooze and irritate. And stick your sock to your foot with blister-pus.

And Poo. If Poo was a person he’d be a traffic warden. Poo waits until long runs in the country when the nearest toilet is 11 miles and 2 massive hills away. Or else the 2nd to last speed interval, where he asks you whether you’re a gambler. Go find a loo now and leave your run session unfinished. Or finish it and gamble with The Brown Shorts of Shame.

There's a distinctive lurching gait usually accompanied by a staring, thousand-yard stare when a runner is desperate to get home and is moving as fast as they can without soiling their lycra. It’s a terrible, terrible Catch 22 situation. The faster you move, the more you need to 'go' but if you go slow or walk, you won’t make it home in time. Speed Vs Time. Do you feel lucky today? And can you face your neighbours tomorrow if you misjudge it and have to return a wave with brown thighs and a stiff-legged walk.

If you’ve been running any length of time then you’ve probably encountered one or more of these Horsemen already. They're like headlice at primary school. Sooner or later they WILL happen to you.

They’re waiting for you and The Horsemen, like black toenails will appear out of nowhere. All you can do is arm yourself with the available weapons: a liberal application of Vaseline, a generous wad of loo roll & plasters and a practised high-speed zombie shuffle and the location of the nearest loo.

Monday 23 February 2015

Evil Plans, 'Poo Face' & Mars Bars ...

I’m ill. Am rubbish at being ill and hugely envious of all those well enough to be doing their training. And there are LOADS of you. Marathon training, triathlon training … everyone seems to be all healthy and doing great training. You evil, unsympathetic GITS. 

So as a way to make myself feel better, while actually being a bit sick (cough, cough) I devised some ways to enjoy myself. Which don’t involve much exertion and which make me feel better about you lot training and being all healthy.

Hide in a bush and when a runner comes past bark REALLY loudly and with extra growly bits. Extra points for getting the runner to do ‘poo face’ and getting them to sprint to the end of the road extremely fast out of fear. Then shout “Surprise Speed Session!” They’ll be really happy* about their impromptu speed interval. 

Hide in different bush and bang two massive cymbals together when a cyclist comes past. MORE points if you can get them to fall off / cycle into wall / do ‘poo face’. Then say in a patronising voice, “Cycling is SO dangerous.” Then tut. 

Do lots of pretend coughing next to runners tapering for races. Try to do ‘hacking up a lung’ noises. Tapering runners LOVE this. 

Draw lots of contagious-looking spots on face and turn up to parkrun to ‘support’. Try and hug the winners.

Dress up as police officer and make a speed camera out of cardboard and stand on cycling time trial route. Don’t forget to make some 5MPH signs too. Shout “You’re nicked …” when they come past.

What would you think if you saw one of THESE in the swimming pool? Source

Drop some melty-looking unwrapped Mars bars into the swimming pool … and wait for the screaming to start. Then blame old person /  spotty youth / small child and tut at their incontinence. For extra kudos for hook the mars bars out and eat them. Warning: spectators WILL vomit.

Go to track session and throw trainers at the athletes and shout “Ha ha ha ha ha! Attacked by the very things that you love!!” Note: May need fast getaway car as can’t run away very fast when ill. Note 2: Use OLD trainers as runners may keep trainers. Runners hoard them you know. 

Ok. I’m off now. Got to practise my coughing and buy some Mars bars …

*may not be EXTREMELY happy … 

Friday 20 February 2015

Hiring an Athletics Track or Not Poking Small Children Off Bikes

I had a tempo run. I was grumpy. I DID not want to do 20 minutes at my 10k pace from April when I was all fit. I’m not all fit now but that didn’t matter. I was still expected to run at a pace which would make me feel all vomity. In fact run at a pace that I ran my last parkrun at. Ugh.

I sulked publicly on twitter. Autumn and Fiona told me to woman up and get it done. Paul offered to hide me from my coach but I’d have to pay for my keep in Nutella. 

There was no excuse.

I was going to have to do it. 

First things first. How do I make this session at easy as possible? What would stop me from going at speed?

Things determined to stop me:

  • Irritating people walking slowly and blocking the pavement. These people really DO move in herds. 
  • Yappy snappy dogs with extendable leads. 
  • Small, sticky children weaving around on pushbikes and intent on running over my feet. 
  • Broken, bumpy pavements and gooey, sticky mud.
  • Teenagers with dead eyes and massive headphones on.

Potential 'Poking-Children-Off-Bikes-Stick'. Image

What can I do to stop these things from slowing me down?
  • Wave an axe to scare everyone out of my way.
  • Drugs for the dogs. And probably the teenagers.
  • Invent a mud hoover and borrow a steamroller for flattening down those dangerous pavements.
  • Get a big stick to poke the small children off their bikes.
  • Hire a running track.

Having a lack of drugs and feeling that waving an axe might slow me down, I investigated hiring Rugby track.

£4.15 for as much running in circles as I could manage. Perfect.

Love how I have been charged for '1 Athletic Track'. Amazing.

No stress about dodging around people, having to cross roads or lumpy paths, I could just run. And I did.

Like a hamster in lycra, I circled the track. 20 minutes later, tempo run done, I had my smug face on.

And without drugging anyone OR having to poke any small children off their pushbikes.

Am obviously ALL heart. 

Monday 16 February 2015

MuleBar Curry Energy Bar Review: Curry Burps & A Clean Front ...

I was running. And I had the ‘Curry Burps’.

*Burp* Pardon.

Yep, definitely a ‘Curry Burp’.  I carried on running … and munching on the curry flavour energy bar I was carrying. 

Yep. Curry flavour. 

I hadn’t known what to expect when I’d read that MuleBar were making 'Eastern Express' - a curry flavoured energy bar. Don’t get me wrong. I’m ALL for snacks on the move, but the idea of my weekly takeaway making it onto my long run – even in bar form – was something entirely unexpected.

This didn’t mean I was adverse to giving it a go though. Curry in a snack form. Could be my new favourite thing. 

Opening the wrapper, it looked much like any other energy bar ... except slightly orange. And with neon green pistachios. Ok. It looked like any other energy bar IF you were colour blind.

But taste-wise, it was winning. 

It was definitely something new. Every mouthful had a zing of curry and the pistachios gave it a nutty balance which wasn’t unpleasant. In fact it was downright tasty. And reminiscent of Friday nights. If they could make a naan flavoured bar which I could eat as an accompaniment, I may even be tempted away from ‘India Kitchen.

The curry burps whiled away a happy hour or two on a long canal path run. I got to have a run, look at some nice scenery and enjoy the equivalent of a a curry on the move. And without the worry of spilling it down my front. 

Curry on the run ... pre-curry burps.

I will be buying these and alternating them with my usual flapjack bars. And when I’m running long miles in the dark and cold, I can pretend I’m sitting in the warm on the sofa with a takeaway on my lap. 

Fancy some MuleBar Eastern Express on the go? Available here:


  • You WILL burp curry …
  • The bar is NEON coloured.
  • There isn’t yet a pilau rice or a naan bread flavour to accompany it …

  • Curry burps are NICE. 
  • It’s a lot tastier than many other energy bars but it’s not overly sweet either.
  • The bar is slimline. I could fit a lot of these in my race vest. 
  • Packs a good amount of calories despite the slim size. Great for ultras when I want some calorie dense food on the run. 
  • Eco friendly - all the MuleBar energy bars are wrapped in a unique compostable wrapper.
  • Fairtrade ingredients are used in their energy bars & ReFuel protein bars.Organic ingredients accredited by the Soil Association are used in the MuleBar energy bars and Kicks energy gels.

About MuleBar
The company started after Jimmy and Alex went on a trip to the Andes in 2002 and were supplied with some energy bars by their guides which made their stomachs bad. They decided that they could make a better product than these … so they did!
  • Winner of The Natural and Organic Awards 2010 for Best New Sports Nutrition Product.
  • Awarded 10/10 by Cycling Weekly.
  • Cycling Plus 2010 Nutrition Awards.

*MuleBar sent me a pack of their Eastern Express bars free. As per usual I was 100% honest. I liked them. If they tasted like curry vomit I would have said so. They didn't. Curry burps totally win. 

Thursday 12 February 2015

My body likes ice cream and adventures ...

Scallywag Sprints wrote a brilliant post about body perception. She touched on how she’d hated her own body and how she’d never realised that it was ok to NOT hate, that it was ok to like, even to love your own body. She has come to the conclusion that she respects her body and that is good.

We’ve had our ups and downs, but I can genuinely say I love my body.

I DO love my body. It carries me to the top of mountains, to the finish lines on marathons and on silly, crazy, wonderful adventures with friends. Some of which may involve running. And swimming in lakes. 

Beer & ice cream adventures ...
But I didn’t always love it. I disliked how my thighs were curvy at the top and disliked the freckles on my face. The strange toes and the knobbly knuckles.

Chicken hat adventures ...
But as I’ve got older, I’ve softened. Towards my body. I’m kinder. Familiarity has brought love. And acceptance. And gratitude. 

People my age die. Their bodies succumbing to illnesses, diseases, cancer.

But I go moving forwards. Stumbling onwards. Literally stumbling a lot of the time. I DO love my body, but accept that grace and coordination will probably not be attributes I will ever possess physically. I don’t need coordination that much. I can kick like a mule. Run like the wind. But you don’t want to see me dance.

Very, very flat adventures ...
My body and I go on adventures. We discover new trails, swim in the sea, eat ice creams together. I am thankful for my body. I am grateful to my body. And when I die, I will be glad that I have lived in this wonderful home.