Tuesday, 29 July 2014

TRAINING UPDATE: Ticking over and planning dreams

I’m still injured and I am trying my absolute best to not let it get to me. There are days where I look outside at the summer sun and pine so bad to lace up and get running but realistically, this injury is worse than I thought.

It has been one month since Mizuno Endure24 and since my last Training Update, the pain in my right knee has definitely become more frequent and is making its show during runs sooner. Each weekend, I have attempted to head out for a jog praying I will be able to complete good distance (and by good, I am referring to at least 5K at the moment) but alas, I cannot even complete two miles before the familiarly strong, dull ache kicks in.

Of course, this does signal to me that something really isn’t right and I shouldn’t assume that it is just linked to my injury prone ITB. So as it stands, I am looking to seek some physio help for the very first time to learn what really is wrong with me and more importantly, how can I fix it!? I have also opted to pull out of Chippenham Half Marathon which I am GUTTED about but with it being just weeks away, I honestly feel like I won’t even be ready to shuffle 13.1miles, let alone run to my target pace of sub 8-minute miles.

Things haven’t totally gone to pot though. I have found that I am able to keep up cycling and swimming. Thank God otherwise I’d be going nuts! I cycle to work most days and I have managed at least two swims a week. During this period, swimming for me has been something I’ve discovered I'm actually fairly good at (sorry to boast). I have been heading to my local 25m pool and found myself to be one of the stronger swimmers in the lanes, even overtaking people! Wednesday just gone was also was an achievement for me as I reached the 800m mark in just over 25 minutes and to my surprise, I still had petrol in the tank.

So in all, whilst I cannot run and honestly feel like I have lost all signs of fitness in this field (I cannot remember the last time I ran over five miles) I have decided to start thinking about how I will start up again after I’m fixed.

Focus on my strengths

Before I was injured, I was dabbling in all sorts of distances. I love the challenge of getting those miles under my belt and building up endurance. My dream is to run London Marathon and I have tried a few half marathons to date to customise my body to distance running. Deep down though, I know I belong in the 5K/10K field. This is where I feel strong and dominant. I’m built for this type of running more so than marathons and so once I am able to get back out on road again, I will start to concentrate on these distances to build back up speed and strength. I cannot remember the last time I ran a parkrun (I’d say Christmas?) and my last decent 10K time was back in January so I am keen to find my feet again and get more involved in these sorts of races.

Set a challenge

Of course, if in October I get that much desired letter from Virgin London Marathon confirming a ballot entry, I will definitely, DEFINTELY switch to a training plan for this, no matter how fast or slow I am. However, as you may have noticed on my social media channels, I am incredibly curious to set myself another rather different challenge and that is in the form of a triathlon.

I just love watching triathlons on the TV. From the Brownlee’s storming it at London 2012, to the ITU World Championships (Jodie Stimpson, Non Stanford and USA’s Gwen Jorgenson are my faves) to just recently watching England dominate the singles and relay at the Commonwealth Games, I will watch it all, at home or on the go.

In the last six months, I have become more confident to dabble in this sport myself and now I have my shiny new road bike, all I need is a wet suit and I am good to go!

At the moment I am researching UK triathlon events and seeing which takes my fancy but I have decided to test the water and opt for a Super Sprint. The swim is the bit that daunts me the most so I want to start short and sweet. I’ve found Twitter a great help in learning more about this sport and have also picked up a copy of Triathlon Plus to get familiar with it.

Having this target for 2015 is what’s keeping me sane at the moment. Knowing that I have something to work towards and a project where I will start as a complete newbie does also reassure me for when I’m injury free and back on the road. I feel no pressure to beat any target and I thoroughly look forward to setting a new and very different challenge.

Weight Watcher!

As I am not running at the moment, I am noticing a erm…slight tum forming. I think this is due to me eating the same amount of food that I was consuming during the peak of my training. I need a food overhaul and VB6, which I blogged about in my last Fuel for Thought post, is definitely helping even if I may have slipped up this last week. But I have been working crap loads and when I am working long hours, I do reallllly struggle to maintain a routine.

As I am losing the luxury of high calorie burning through running, I need to ensure I cut my food intake and I have also decided to try and squeeze in core and glute strength exercises to keep the old bod toned (or close to being toned is more like it for me). Also, I get enough of my fiancé ‘casually’ mentioning ‘hey, why don’t you try and do some squats?’ so it’s safe to say my bum isn’t in tip top condition. Cheeky sod.

That's it for now but let’s hope next time, I actually have some ‘training’ to update you on. And maybe a perkier behind!

Lipstick Runner.

Friday, 25 July 2014

RACE RUNDOWN: Insane Terrain

This review is long overdue and I do very much apologise. Other areas in my life have been crazy busy!

At the beginning of the month, I took part in a rather unusual event for me. One that involved mud, hay bales, swamps, icy cold rivers and cargo nets. Yep, I ventered into the world of Insane Terrain.

Before I start, might I add this was no option. After being presented my place as a gift for my birthday by my best friend, I HAD to take part. ;)

Insane Terrain takes place during the Summer over various UK locations and I headed up to the Peterborough location. Exactly one week after Mizuno Endure24, I was still feeling the repercussions of my knee injury and I also had that really irritating foot pain I mentioned in my last Training Update. Insane Terrain does give the option to run a 5K or 10K route and I had originally opted for the 10K but last minute thought it was best to switch to the shorter route.

When we arrived on Sunday morning, the open fields that were spread out in front of us didn’t really reveal much. We could only see one pond, a couple of balance beams and a small wooden wall we had to climb. Inside, I was a little disappointed but after seeing the first wave of runners set off before me and head out through a bit of hidden woodland made me think there was more to this course than meets the eye.
I was right. The start of the race you set off downhill to an icy cold stream and I mean ICE COLD. Brrrr! It certainly woke me up! Then you have to run back up the hill to turn around and come back down again. Odd.

Next you take a right off into those mysterious woods where you are greeted by a big puddle. This didn’t really phase me but when my friend went in first and the water came up to her waist, I realised this wasn’t a puddle. It was a bog – bleugh!

In fact what followed after was similar to this. Some hay bales, mud tunnels and more hills before we hit a massive swamp…that we had to swim across. From the first touch of my toe in the water, the stench of the murky water made my nose wrinkle and the feel of the reeds catching on your ankles as you dragged yourself across was, I must say, rather gross.

By the halfway mark, I was up to my neck in mud but the group I was running with were all in fits of giggles and we didn’t care that we smelt worse than a dustbin.
 (Hugs anyone?)

What came next was another swamp, this time with a huge floating mat we had to run across. All our friends and family got to watch us from the side lines for this one and I was relieved to make it over in one piece without falling over. By this point we were back in the main fields and heading towards all the obstacles we saw at the start. The team was in full spirits and we whizzed under the cargo net, over the balance beams and wall to the finish where we were greeted with a huge Fairy Liquid slide. I made sure I took a running start to skid down this as fast as possible into the pool of clean water at the end.
  (Team balance beams!)

Crossing the finish line hand in hand, we all had such a wonderful time! Who’d have thought mud, tunnels, hay bales and swamps could be so much fun? At the end, I received a rather generous goody bag containing a nice running top, medal and Chunky KitKat, which I chowed down on immediately.
I guess the question for myself is – would I ever try something similar again? My answer – I honestly don’t know. I wouldn’t say it’s addictive like road running but it sure was a bloody good laugh!

RACE OVERVIEW (this is based on an obstacle experience)

Course: 4/5
Scenery: 2/5
Facilities: 3/5
Water Stations: N/A
Medal & goody bag: 4/5

Lipstick Runner’s overall rating: 3.5/5

For more information on Insane Terrain, visit the website HERE.

Lipstick Runner.

Saturday, 12 July 2014


The last couple of weeks have been what can only be described as ‘jumbled’. Half Marathon training was supposed to be worked around Mizuno Endure24, my biggest challenge to date, yet what has happened is well, not much.

In the week leading up to Endure24, as I mentioned in my last training update it was going to be a taper week. I had the time off work also so I spent it concentrating on getting my bike sorted for commuting and also seeing my fiancé, who had returned from a work trip.

By the time Endure24 came, I was energised and relaxed and managed to run four strong laps in the most horrific weather conditions (read my full review on the event HERE). The last lap was my toughest and I started to get a very familiar pain in my right knee. This was the sort of pain I had suffered a year previous and straight away I knew it was the dreaded return of the irritated ITB.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) first became a problem for me last September and came across in a weekend training run when I was running up a hill on Hampstead Heath. A very annoying, tight pain could be felt in the knee joint and for a good couple of weeks, I tried various stretches at home for knee related injuries. It wasn’t until I attempted a fast track session and pulled out in agony that my coach informed me that it was in fact not my knee but my Illiotibial Band I had triggered. Where the band runs from the pelvis and extends down over the knee, it has become almost ‘taught’ and was rubbing again my knee, causing inflammation and aches.

I was prescribed new stretches and a daily dose on a foam roller (at the time I used a Sprite bottle which works just as well!) and after a month or so, the pain decreased and eventually stopped. I did have to pull out of St Neots Half Marathon as that was at the peak of my ITB problems but I did manage to attempt Cabbage Patch 10 in a reasonable, yet slightly painful, 1.20.

So, going back to Endure24 on my final lap when that all too familiar knee ache kicked in, I knew exactly what I needed to do. This time, I have invested in a foam roller and have spent the last fortnight putting the right pressure on my ITB to almost loosen and relax the tension.

The week after Endure24, I did no running what so ever but I did start my cycling commute to work. I saw this as a great alternative for exercise and is less invasive on my knee than running. I also managed to squeeze in an evening at the local swimming pool so by Friday I was feeling ok(ish). 

Oh how I jinxed it.

Friday evening, my fiancé and myself took a nice evening walk after a meal out. During this walk (where I was wearing supportive trainers may I add), a searing pain appeared in the side of my left foot. This baffled me as I was merely strolling along a flat path but the feeling was very uncomfortable. I thought I may have trapped a nerve so went to bed that night thinking the pain would have subsided by the morning.

That weekend, I had another challenge to face in the form of the tough and very muddy obstacle course, Insane Terrain. Waking up on the Saturday and still feeling the dull, continuous ache in my foot I was a bit dubious about tackling this 10K course. After studying my foot for signs of swelling or bruising, to which there was none, I tried to shrug it off and ignore it. Travelling up to Peterborough, where Insane Terrain was taking place, I took some Nurofen to numb the pain slightly but by the evening, it has returned stronger. My friends Mum who is a nurse looked over it and after massaging it could feel a lot of tension and suggested that I drop out of the event on Sunday. I was gutted as my best friend had bought my place for my birthday and I felt awful letting her down, so the next morning we decided to opt for the 5K course and take it slow. Her Mum & Aunt were also taking part so it felt more of a team effort.

I won’t go into too much detail on Insane Terrian here as a Race Rundown will follow but I can reveal that it was actually a lot of fun. Despite crossing the line and smelling like a swamp, we were all in fits of giggles and actually, running it together proved to be more entertaining. The ankle held up, especially as I drugged myself with Nurofen again and even though I felt a bit battered from the course, I was still smiling.

This last week I have managed two runs and another full week of cycling to work and back. By Tuesday the foot and knee were feeling much better and were almost a distant ache and so I opted to go for a 5K. I don’t know if all this cycling is tiring me out or its where I haven’t ran properly for a couple of weeks, but I felt shattered! I managed an average of 8.15 minutes per mile but boy was it tough! The aches from my ITB also made a presence in the last 2K, signaling that perhaps my struggles weren’t gone for good.

On Thursday, I really wanted to head to my weekly track session as I had missed so much these last couple of weeks. Conscious that my strength and speed have suffered, the urge to go back out that, guns blazing is too fierce. However, my knee niggles weren’t far from my mind and instead of tackling a fast session with my club mates, I opted to go home and do my own speed session up on Ally Pally.

Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) is a great place for fellow North London runners to head if they want to get a good training run in. If you want a run with a challenge, there is the big climb up to the Palace which gets the heart rate working but there is also a great flat straight if you want to concentrate on faster, shorter sessions.

This quiet pathway measures almost 400m so I find it is a great alternative to track training and the quietness and nature of the park is, to me, rather therapeutic. After a half mile warm up to the park, I did some drills before carrying out a session of 2x 800m at 5K followed by 4x 400m hard. It felt tough and when I got down to the 400m, the knee just about held up but I could definitely feel it was still hindering my performance. I then finished with a run home to complete 5K.
My splits confirm a loss in speed but I was surprised I managed to keep this pace despite everything that has unraveled these past few weeks. The half marathon training schedule on the fridge that I try to follow religiously is lacking in activity and I am worried how this will all contribute to my half marathon in September. I really don’t want a repeat of St Neots again and so I have decided to take it easy until my ITB has fully repaired. Injury, which I guess this is, is only temporary and half marathons can be run again and again. Whilst I am pining so bad for that glorious sub 1.45, keeping my body in correct working order is far more important.

For now, it’s all about getting in to the rhythm of cycling to work and introducing mileage over slower speeds. The less impact on my knee the better and so I hope to integrate some swimming sessions into my weeks (if work commitments allow) to help repair and build my ITB. I know what I can achieve and if I cannot reach that point at the moment, I know that one day, I will eventually reel back in my target pace.

This motivational message basically sums it up for me.

Lipstick Runner.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


I don’t eat meat. Not to object from animals not having the right to live but merely because I don’t really like it. I never have. When I was a child I’d pick at chicken and Billy Bear luncheon meat (hands up if you would eat the ears, eyes, mouth first and then the face?) but that was about it. I became a vegetarian in my teens then tried meat again in my first year at University before slipping back into being a non-meat eater a year later.

I do however eat fish. I love fish – especially salmon, tuna steak and swordfish. I feel healthy when eating it and it is a key source of iron and Omega 3, which are vital nutrients that play an important role in my training.

Last year, I felt a bit podge. Not fat but definitely a bit heavier than normal and with my best friends wedding fast approaching where I needed to fit into a rather tight bridesmaid dress, I opted to try out VB6 for six weeks.

I’d read about VB6 (Vegan Before 6) in the late Zest magazine and then found it was featured in all sorts of women’s titles so it was obviously becoming the latest diet craze. It’s written by American food critic, Mark Bittman, who after learning he had developed diabetic and heart disease symptoms, founded the VB6 method for effective weight loss.

Mark was advised to become a vegan by his doctors and as a successful food journalist, this must have been a hard thing to hear. So, he decided to adopt a part-time vegan lifestyle by following all the rules during the day and then by 6pm, switching off and enjoying what he wanted in the evening.

I LOVED the idea of this. I could be healthy and strict at work and then go out after 6pm and indulge in evening meals out with friends, or hearty homemade dinners with my boyfriend. Also, being a non-meat eater, this sounded like an easy ride. So, I purchased Mark’s book, gave myself six weeks and got stuck in.

I’m not one to follow recipes in books. I am a skim reader so I read about Mark’s story and consumed all the scary facts about food (if you want to learn the harsh reality of some foods– you should also read Skinny Bitch) and then wrote up my own straightforward plan. This consisted of the following:

Breakfast: Oatibix with soya milk OR home-made granola with soya yoghurt

Lunch: Carrot sticks, cucumber and radishes with red pepper hommous

Snacks: fruit, fruit and more fruit OR nuts

This I found really easy to adapt to, as I like all of the above. It was also easy to prepare for work and cost effective. At 6pm, whilst I was craving vegetarian lasagne smothered in cheese, I did try to restrain from ‘binging on crap’ to put it bluntly. I made sure I ate a source of carb, whether it’d be salmon with new potatoes or quorn based spicy fajitas. I also made sure I treated myself to curb sweet cravings so hot chocolates or Angel Delight were normally my options.

By the time the six weeks was up, I must say I did feel amazing. I felt lighter, detoxed and definitely more energetic. My skin also was incredible – not a blemish in sight! More importantly, I fitted in my bridesmaid dress and felt bloody fantastic in it!

This program WORKS and that is coming from someone that can barely last a week on diets (I didn’t even get through two days on 5:2 which I attempted to support my Mother). I find VB6 a safe, healthy and manageable weight loss option. I didn’t actually lose a huge amount of weight (only 4lbs if I remember) but it was enough to get that zip up on the dress. I reckon if I had chosen to continue and make VB6 a full time eating plan, it would definitely be a successful weight loss journey.

At this present time, I feel like I have slipped back into my 'podge mode'. I recently took part in Insane Terrain and was snapped by the events photographer on the course. I did have a good gawp at myself in these pictures yesterday and did wince slightly at the rounded tum that has recently formed.  After also coming back from a short 5K run this evening, I even felt heavier and well, a tad sluggish.

I’m stocky and muscular but that’s my natural shape so nothing I can do about that. Despite this though, I know I can ensure this is maintained in the best way possible and that, for me, has to be through VB6. With my own wedding a year away, I may as well start as I should mean to go on - just in case the dreaded jammed zip happens with my own wedding dress!

Best go munch on a carrot then.

Purchase VB6 HERE.

Lipstick Runner.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

KIT PICKS: The Worn Trainer

As I have mentioned in my previous post (If the shoe fits, don't ever change it!) and raved on Twitter & Instagram, I can’t live without my Mizuno Wave Rider16s. They are the trainer that work for me - so much so; I tracked down a brand new pair on Achilles Heel last month.

It wasn’t until I put my current Mizuno’s up against my new Mizuno’s that I realised just how worn out trainers can become. This is the first time I have repurchased an identical shoe and sitting them side by side made me realise that I definitely needed a new pair. I’m sure by looking at the pictures below you’ll agree.

So what changes? Miles and miles of running builds body strength and develops endurance but on the trainers, it causes extreme tiredness and gradually, defeat. Whilst you spend all that time pounding the streets, your trainers are slowly losing their form and the structure and ‘bounce’ in the shoe wears thin.

If you take care of your trainers and keep them clean and tidy (like I have attempted with mine), these changes to the shoe are harder to notice and at a glance, you are still seeing the same shiny(ish) sneak. As you can see here though, what you are looking at is a misshapen, worn out boot.
Looking closely at the sole, the tread has actually remained in quite good condition on this pair, but it’s clear to see the rubber is wearing thin. For example, the black tread on the heel of the trainer looks a lot slimmer on the old pair than the new (see highlighted area).

Focussing on the tip of the trainer, it’s obvious these are on their last legs. The top of the trainer bends in a lot more compared to the new pair and this shows sign that the structure and form of the shoes has well and truly being broken in.

And the colour? Well, I thought I kept my trainers relatively white but now the new pair has arrived, I was most definitely fooled by my own eye!

I have lived in these trainers for a year now. Who knows how many miles I have done in them but I would estimate around the 500/600 mark. They have been a very loyal shoe and I’m thrilled I get to continue my running journey with them again.

How often do you change your trainer? Do you notice similar wear and tear?

Lipstick Runner.