Happy Friday! Here is my third vlog; for any of you new to this, I have started a new video series following my running jaunts, and offering advice on running. If there is anything YOU would like to know about running, or that you would like me to feature in a vlog (or even to collaborate with me!) then do get in touch. This week, I filmed being out and about, and thinking about why running is important. I wanted to think about it from both a mind and body perspective; as we know it can be so good for our general health, but what about for our psyche, and mindfulness too? Also, is running just important for those who run competitively, or can it be important for anyone? I give a personal account of just a few thoughts about why I think it is important to run.
Exciting news : it's Friday!
The impending weekend is not the only reason I am so cheery. Friday is going to be my new vlog day! I really enjoyed my recent video in the Lakes (click here to watch), and have decided to share running and fitness info, adventures etc on video, aiming for once a week on a Friday.
I have called the series 'For Fit' Friday. This is to motivate you with your weekend adventures and maybe think about going for a run, especially if this is something more new to you. For some, the prospect of that is still daunting and may take a while before it seems enjoyable, hence the slight play on roads. But hopefully I can help you see that exercise doesn't have to be seen as a 'forfeit', and that actually, you can have the greatest times, being outside and sharing brilliant running experiences.
Go watch ! :)
Filmed on a Sony Action Cam
This weekend past I headed to the Lakes! It was a great time to chill, and be active, as well as catching up with our good mate John Mason. Our first port of call was to make our way up towards Great Gable, 'the British birth place of climbing' where we climbed Napes Needle, before heading to the Summit of Great Gable. After this, JR kindly took the climbing kit back down while John Mason and I went on a very chilled run from the summit to Scafell Pike Summit, before heading back down towards the lake.
I vlogged the days adventures for you to see! The weather was pretty good and experienced some new challenges, as well as some good contrasting terrains.
If anyone wants to get a feel for mountain or sky running, this is certainly a good place to start!
The mind is a funny thing.
I am pretty fascinated with the mental game of training and racing when it comes to running. The concept that adventure, endurance or more ‘extreme’ sport requires mind over matter is common, and I know from my own training the challenges that your own mindset can provide. Feeling a bit out of sorts before a run? Under confident that you can make the distance? Just feeling a bit tired? All seems to be able to have the power to hinder achieving goals, whether your body is actually capable of doing the task or not.
I have been recently preparing a talk about my own journey to becoming an ultra-distance runner ahead of my ultra next week and it has given me the opportunity to reflect on the concept of distance and the ‘mindful’ nature of running. From signing up to an ultra in January 2014, I raced a mountain ultra that August, having only previously raced 10 miles upon signing up. A lot of those months in between involved strategic and pretty dedicated training. But if I had had the wrong mindset or lost my nerve? Well I would never have done it.
So it was an overwhelming surprise to me to be able to train my legs to be able to be fairly successful in that race, but I remember clearly on the day how much the ‘positive mental attitude’, ( aided by wonderful supporters, good weather etc. ) helped me to run that bit more confidently, and make it smoothly to the finish line. As discussed by Neil Maclean-Martin, director of Physiotherapy based in Chamonix, in our running doc ‘Running Wild’, the mental challenge is, quite arguably, tougher.
On that basis, some positive thinking. I really think running an ultra is open to all. It is not something reserved for some kind of ‘ultra-human’ . It just needs to be mentally tangible from the off. Can you run 10k? Good, four miles more and you have decent fell race distance. Get used to this, then the transition to half marathon is just over three miles. For off road runners, spending whole days out just focusing on this kind of distance (stopping for lots of snack breaks etc) would better your endurance and stamina, and then moving onto 15 miles becomes very accessible. Etc. I have mentioned this before, but this blog really helped 'keep it real' when it comes to training for long distance races, so do visit for some down to earth advice: http://yourfirstultra.blogspot.co.uk/
I have yet to actually take part in a marathon (nothing like going whole hog to ultra from a half – but it is doable!) but you can see how the miles rack up, and roughly 26 miles were something I tackled as part of getting ready for my first ultra. It is a fairly long way. But then, some people enter events that are 100 miles – and they finish! So don’t underestimate yourself.
When I mentioned I was writing this post to John, his take on this notion of mind and sport was “You don't eat an elephant in one sitting”. Quite. Small steps for big distance running.
Whatever the distance, never assume you won’t be able to do something.
Within the next hour I will begin my journey back from St. Anton, Austria. I had been looking forward to coming out here for some time, to spend time with my family and to get in some training at altitude, to help prepare for my next race. Mountain trails are the ultimate running terrain for me, as I adore the landscape, the quietness, and the panoramic views.
Over the week I visited some beautiful places, with near to 4000M total elevation gain overall. Quality training! The trails here are very much like what I have discovered so far surrounding the French Alps,(beautiful, scenic..etc ) with perhaps sightly more unpredictability underfoot - Day 1 revealed this when I slipped on a downhill footing on a hike! It all however adds to strategic thinking in the mountains and all helps me to learn more about the off road running I enjoy so much.
The weather has been perfect - so warm, the majority of the days being clear, and only two noticeable rain patches. It has been a good routine of running in the early morning, to then relax in the afternoons, and do things like stretch and swim, read/ hang out in the spa. And eat delicious cake!
Definite highlights to mention are such things as seeing, what I assumed (however unlikely this would have been this high up) to be a big fluffy cat jumping in surprise at my presence, but turned out to be a marmot, the amazing trails high in the mountains, the warm welcome of all the local people. And the cake.
I will have fond memories of this trip.
Happy Monday! This weekend was a brilliant one full of sunshine, ice cream, and a BBQ. It was also brilliant because I worked on gaining and developing a skill, which is navigation for fell running. The ultra that I am racing in this August requires map reading skills, so I was keen to take part in this navigation day course in the Peak District.
We had so much fun!
It was great to turn up and find four other ladies had also wanted to improve their map reading. We ran a bit, we read our maps, we laughed, we debated directions...it was a blast to be in an all girl group for the day proving that #ThisGirlCan, once armed with a reference point and a given a sense of direction.
Dave Taylor was our very experienced fell running guide and was incredibly helpful and patient. We all met out Outside Shop, before heading out of Hathersage and towards Burbage Valley. I was grateful to Dave for covering a section of the race route, and for all the information he passed on to us.
We had so many laughs! A great day out, and I really recommend to anyone new or experienced in fell running to take this kind of course - having navigational skills, whether your race is marked or not, allows you to feel more confident in training and in racing.
For more information about Dave Taylor's navigation courses: http://www.fellrunningguide.co.uk/
My tapering week prior to Tour du Giffre - a time where I was working, eating, and race preparing. It was a busy race preparation time, seeing me board a plane less than 48 hours before I would be at the race start line. However, this is an important time before a running race, so I thought I would share my recent tapering experience with you.
It wasn't a massively long trail race, but it still required proper training and preparation in order to race well. These were the things I really considered prior to the race, and why it's important to relax and unwind before running.
Get enough sleep : I really tried to be more disciplined the week before the run. This can be hard - but being kind to your body through getting enough rest is really important. Even if it is only a matter of minutes - this all counts for essential rest. If it's possible to have a nap during the day (even if it is simply part of your morning commute!) I think it all helps. Be relaxed, be restful.
Don't obsess over mileage : some people can be afraid to taper. It does seem a little counter intuitive - you are about to run your fastest and perhaps your longest distance, and you are chilling out the week before and NOT clocking the miles. But your body knows what it is doing, and it needs to be ready. So be disciplined. Before this race, I rested, I cycled a little, I ran small distances, I did pilates.
Eat well - I love eating. I really love eating. It is not difficult for me to eat more the week before a race to fuel. I made sure I never felt hungry, I ate often and tried to make sure my diet included healthy foods and protein & carbohydrates such as salmon, and gnocchi. Drinking lots of water is always important, especially in the tapering week. This is something I could definitely keep improving upon. I also made my own smoothies with fresh fruit and natural yogurt as a dessert some evenings, which again helps boost calorie intake as well as having numerous health benefits. I also find making recovery drinks are good after exercise this week to support muscle repair.
Stretch regularly - Helps you to be ready. Muscle maintenance is always a good thing.
Thinking time - I fully chilled out on the plane journey over. I studied the race profile, I relaxed and admired the sky out of the window. On the Saturday I watched a film with one my best mates. I caught up with friends and spent some time with Thomas, Nikki's cat. I stretched. It's easy to sit there twiddling your thumbs before a race. Or being VERY concerned about it. I'm learning that with impending events, it is better to either focus on it positively, or don't focus on it at all. It will be ok.
Don't worry what other people's tapering looks like- Train to your own tune.
Now June is well under way, I am psyched for the impending adventures. All going to plan I should be in Chamonix this time next week, to catch up with some very dear friends, time for some filming and time for some racing! It’s also a pivotal moment in my life as I head to my 25th birthday on Midsummer's day. So what ten things have I felt I have gained in terms of wisdom as I go into the next quarter of a century? For one, my adventures with running have taught me some life lessons. You go through a journey; hardships of training and setback, the adventure of the trial, the good days, the wins, and the bad days. Here’s a moment to reflect so far.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. People will always be better than you; there is a big world out there; quit worrying; perspective is precious, seeking and gaining this is valuable.
- In the same vein, don’t take life too seriously.Things go wrong, you make bad choices; you learn, you get it better next time. Learn to laugh at yourself; accept flaws in life. Nothing is perfect, but keep motivated.
- But take your passions seriously. Watching inspiration sports/adventure films of men and women, wise beyond the years that gave them such wisdom, speak of their passions as if time were no limit – that’s living.
- Get out of your head by getting outside your door. I sometimes worry that we are moving towards generations where the outdoors isn’t seen as a necessity; but is treated with apathy. Countless people have spoken of the health benefits of being outdoors and exercising for both body and mind.
- Determination pays off, but self doubt is costly. Quite a few people recently have told me how that they wished they ran, but they felt self conscious; they didn’t feel fit; they didn’t think they could go very far. After times of injury I have felt pretty powerless with running. All of this stops you conquering fears and stops you doing what you wanted to do. Only you can will convince you that you have the right to be free to fight the fear.
- Set back happens. Why did you think it would be smooth sailing (or running for that matter…)? I have been unspeakably luckily with the opportunities I have had in my life so far. But I am also one of the first to fold my arms and furrow my brow when things don’t go to plan. But then, trails that haven’t followed the expected route have turned out pretty interesting.
- You have a lot to learn.I feel somewhat humbled and embarrassed to write this as if I know what I am talking about. I don’t. But I’ve learnt to accept that, and that none of us know truly what we are doing.
- Take care of yourself.Drink more water. Do your stretches. Discipline pays dividends. It's also a learning process.
- When comfort is the preferred option, go run in the rain. I forget this on a frequent basis, but then am reminded when I do do it - heading outdoors in the cold/rain/when you are tired/mind elsewhere etc is always the better option than not. As has been said countless times before, you rememeber what you do, not what you don’t do.
- This girl can.And I’m so glad that there is a worldwide move to remind every girl that this is true.
Today's trip out was definitely an adventure! Possibly one of the funniest runs I have ever been on. Upon a visit to my folks, my dad, a keen walker, suggested we try a route which would work for me as a new running route when I visit. It would also give me the chance for a bit of navigation, which is a skill I definitely want to work on.
The retired charter surveyor and myself ventured forth, only to reach the first navigation challenge: one route, two paths ahead - both leading to forests, both following a stream to the right of the path...which one was the correct route? We both made our case for different paths; venturing forward, re-considering, back to square one, etc. Weather was turning. The map itself was fairly limited (a walkers hand made document, specifically for certain walks, omitting arguably beneficial information etc.), so it took some studying.
Turned out my navigation was correct, but this wasn't before encountering one hyperactive sheep dog, and then a sheep that was having trouble getting up as it had wriggled onto it's back (which nearly involved a de-tour altogether as my dad considered sheep shifting, although there was an electric fence in the way - you get the idea of the wonderful chaos of it all (sheep turned out to be fine.)
We planned to do the route separately, but we figured out a way for me to run and my dad to enjoy the walk - keeping it a shared adventure. Signs of spring everywhere, and although the occasional downpour, was warm and full of flowers and colour.
A really great adventure out - and a good laugh!
I think it's easy to spend too much time inside, where it's comfortable and familiar. Those days spent in this way, are arguably often not remarkable.But taking the step to go outside and run, walk, or whatever you choose, makes you appreciate everything, and have some quality experiences. Get outside and enjoy it!
Bank holiday weekend, and we went running! As many of you know, (see my recent post on this) I have been dealing with injury. However, I have been persistent, dedicated and as stubborn as a mule trying to keep up with stretching, squats, cycling to work etc, and it seems injury is beginning to feel better. Yes, you heard me! Last weekend I went out for about 10km in the Peak, ran a few miles again the next day, and felt improvement. Ran during the week, felt better still. I've been out each day this long weekend, with only slight twinges today. Could not feel more chuffed! Really conscious not to push it/ speak to soon, as still work to do, but it is hard to contain the excitement! All being well, I am really excited to let you know about upcoming projects, so do keep up with the blog!
It has been a pretty adventurous weekend. After checking the forecast, we were deciding between running in the Lakes, or Wales on Saturday. We decided Wales, and made our way to Snowdonia. Little splatterings of rain we brushed aside in our excited chat as we headed to our destination. Then we arrived. Snow, gale winds. Hang on - was this not May?
Well - it was worth a try at least. However, I really was not well prepared for these kind of conditions in my kit. Being rather blasé I decided that May meant lambs bleating, birds chirping, being surrounded by glorious sunshine and no need for key essential items. Note to self: have always in your bag, everything for any kind of weather! I ended up borrowing waterproof trousers (thanks John) - I don't think I had set out for a run in weather like this to date! We began our run. Head down, watch your feet (in snow and slippery rock), scrambling up, sharp snow/hail in your face...we climbed about 2/3rds of the way up before we made the decision, all of us cowering by a rock, that to persist would not have been wise. I then basically sledged my way down. Annoying to have to quit - but it would only get more exposed the further we went, and the conditions underfoot were too risky. This was us last year, around the same time in Wales - could not have been more different weather!
Saturday we went for a short run, using it for interval training. This kind of training is helpful for speed work and stretching out the legs. I was saying how respectful I am of short distance sprinters, or those 5/10km racers. Running full pelt takes stamina. Today we popped out to the Peak for an amble in the countryside! Weather consistent and fairly warm, and a good trip out with the guys.