Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Running Show 2012

This weekend just past, 24-25th November, Sandown Park racecourse played host to The Running Show 2012. This was a free event (if you registered in advance) featuring a race, stands for top brands and retailers, workshops and seminars. I went along with my mum on the Sunday and had an excellent day.

The first 1500 people through the door each day got a goody bag and the chance to win some cool prizes if your bag contained a "golden envelope". As well as the usual leaflets each bag contained some gels, drinks tabs and a clif bar. The venue never felt overly busy, possibly owing to the race and running workshop during the day which occupied quite a number of people. I didn't take part in these but might consider it on another occasion.

There were two seminar areas with a full programme of talks throughout the day ranging from advice on training and injury prevention to barefoot running and kit choices. I attended one on marathon training and another on nutrition. The latter was given by Joel Enoch, who was on the Clif Bar stand most of the day, and was by far the most interesting talk on nutrition I've ever heard. I'm suffering from information overload on that subject at the moment as I'm researching aspects of my training but this was really clear, practical and compelling. He invited people to chat to him afterwards, something I took advantage of as I wanted a little more guidance on nutrition for vegetarians in training. He covered an A5 page with notes, gave me some clif builders bars and I came away with a much clearer understanding of how to structure and time my meals in relation to my training. The most important things I learnt:
- to use fruit and veg as the base of all meals, adding carbs and protein as appropriate
- to have basic building blocks you can swap out depending on your needs at that time e.g. your breakfast might be fruit, granola and yogurt. If you need more protein, swap out 20g granola for 20g nuts
- rice and beans together provide a complete protein for vegetarians
- you can download the "clifcast" podcasts from iTunes for more nutrition info

I sampled a great number of bars and gels throughout the day although hardly any were giving away complete sample bars, but it was an excellent way to see which textures you liked best. There were also lots of stands selling kit and providing gait analysis in conjunction with selling trainers. I bought a water resistant running jacket from Crew Room, which means I now have no excuses for not going out when it's raining, and my mum bought a very stylish long sleeved running top from Newline. Neither of these brands I'd heard of before but both were very appealing. Newline in particular offered a great line of stylish gear to rival (in my opinion) Sweaty Betty but at more affordable prices. Plenty of offers were available, from 10-50% off or 3 for 2 on a lot of clothing, and all stall holders seemed very relaxed about you taking things to the loos to try them on, or going off for a run around the venue for testing purposes.

I expected to spend 2-3 hours there but ended up spending almost 6 hours browsing, tasting, listening, wandering and generally enjoying. I thought it was a great event for all runners, whether ultra runners or new starters.

I'm now looking forward to putting some of my nutrition learnings into practice and putting my jacket to the test. I might do a post on that.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Three is the magic number

This week I've been keeping things fairly light with just three 3 mile runs. The first was Monday before work. These are always the hardest for me because I don't eat beforehand and so suffer from heavy legs and lack of energy. Going out in the frosty dawn and seeing the sunrise was worth it though.

Tuesday evening I'd planned to try a free circuits class run by a girl at work. I need to build he strength training habit still and his seemed a good place to start. My friend Anita was game too but we couldn't find the location despite directions. So we gave up and went home. A run helped to ease my frustration and there's always next week. Lastly was my 48th parkrun in the drizzle at Bexley. Apart from my 50 t-shirt being within reach it was nothing much to write home about really.

It's getting hard to motivate myself to run in the early mornings, on dark nights and in the cold, wet, windy weather. A couple of leisure centres in the area are offering free or cheap 7-12 day passes which I'm thinking of taking advantage of in December to build on my strength with body pump classes and so on. I'm reluctant to sign up to one long term but variety is always good. I've not been gong to running club recently but with my training officially starting next week I might start again, especially as I'm a bit clueless when it comes to longer routes in the area.

In contrast to my running schedule, my OH has been running almost everyday for two weeks. I'm really impressed with his dedication and hope to learn a thing or two. Normally I would start getting guilty and worrying that I wasn't doing enough (always one to want to keep up) but I can still outrun him on distance and my training will be under way soon enough.

What has encouraged and inspired me this week was the 2012 Running Show, which I shall write a separate post on in the next day or so. A really excellent event.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Brutal 10k Race Report

On Saturday I took part in my very first Brutal race. Brutal is an ongoing series of cross-country 10k races renowned for being especially muddy and nasty. I lost two nights sleep over the most recent one in Bordon, worrying about everything and nothing. What should I wear? Would I hate it? Would I come last? Would my car key survive the mud?

My overall impression was that it was a very well organised race. The event was well signposted from the road with plenty of car parking, an adequate number of loos and and good tea/coffee/bacon sarnie stall. There was the opportunity to buy technical souvenir t-shirts for £9 and buffs for £5. There was key storage and a decent race brief and warm up which everyone took part in for a change (usually it's just the girls). I met a couple of friends there and was cajoled into wearing camo paint which put me in the mood.

There were around a dozen entrants with dogs who were set off a good 10 minutes ahead of the rest of us and only around 260 entrants overall. A fairly detailed description of the race had been sent out in advance but nothing really prepared me for what lay ahead. It was (unusually, I'm told) a two lap course which was especially depressing as I realised that whatever horrors lay ahead I'd have to do twice. It was the most exhausting and mentally tough event I've ever taken part in. There was sand, pools, bogs, swamps, streams and terrifyingly steep descents with matching ascents. It was less of a run, more of a wade and scramble. The wading tired out my legs so much that when I had the opportunity to run I very nearly couldn't. There were plenty of marshalls, all in excellent humour, a water station at 5k and squash, bananas and chocs and the finish. No goody bag but a free branded buff for all finishers. For £16 entry in advance I thought it was pretty good value, all things considered. I got round in 1:36 while the winner finished in 46 minutes. How he managed it I have no idea whatsoever. Being at the back of the pack was no bad thing for a novice though as there was plenty of banter and everyone looked out for each other.

Despite all of that I can honestly say I enjoyed it. I think is mostly because I managed to change my attitude towards the event. It wasn't a race, it was a challenge. Once I got up to my calves in mud it was a case of "in for a penny, in for a pound" and by the end I was caked almost up to my waist, my shoes and socks were full of silt and grot. There was a fantastic camaraderie and atmosphere. It was great to do something different and for once I don't care about my time, I was just glad I took part.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Back after the break

Sorry for the lengthy time between posts. I took a week off work to go and stomp around in some woods which I thoroughly enjoyed. Although I was staying in a hostel with wi-fi I didn't take my computer as I rather enjoy being off-grid now and again and I didn't plan ahead to schedule any posts, so there you have it.

Having had a week off from running after the Great South Run I was about ready to get back into it and took my running kit with me with the intention of going for a run in the morning but the location didn't really allow. I wasn't familiar with the area, the country roads were twisty and narrow and the woods not quite large enough to hold my attention. I did get a large amount of truly excellent sleep and eat some superb food though!

So my first run since the GSR was Frimley parkrun on Saturday just gone. It was cold, boggy, slippy and wet. I ran two minutes slower than last time I ran but I ran and I was pleased. I took it easy on a three-miler around town yesterday which I enjoyed and will do the same tomorrow. I'm running the Brutal 10k in Bordon on Saturday which I just intend to survive (it's not the sort of course I'm ever going to get a PB on) and that should get me right back into the swing of things. I'm running the Grim on December 2nd which also happens to mark the start on my Charity Challenge training plan.

I don't think it will be too hard to get back into the swing of things but I think my challenges will be eating sensibly and making strength training a new habit. There's already been times this week when I could have been doing some press ups or bicep curls or something whilst watching TV. I've found out this week that there's a girl at work running free boot camp sessions twice a week after hours so I think I'll give that a go, for some variety and motivation if nothing else.

In fundraising news, I've found out how to set up text donations for my page so if this is something you'd prefer to do, rather than via a website you can text VRSS55 £5 to 70070 to make a £5 donation or VRSS55 £10 to the same number to make a £10 donation (you get the idea). I'm 6% of the way there and it would be awesome to get to 10% by the end of the month!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Fundraising Update - October

One month into my fundraising and I'm well on the way. I got my very first donation, a generous £20,plus several more and have raised £180 in total! I'm both touched and rather relieved. I know I haven't really shouted about it yet but I was beginning to wonder if I'd get any donations at all. I've only just started to talk about it on twitter and although I've sent an email out to friends, family and colleagues I know it's very early to be drumming up sponsorship. But I was advised to start as soon as possible, especially with such a big target. My worry is that I'll end up bugging people. 

What has been lovely is that loads of people have said it's a great cause and a brilliant challenge. It's been a real conversation starter and I've have several offers of cakes to sell and running buddies.

I'm still waiting on the charity to send me collecting tins and other fundraising materials but I did submit a press release to the local community magazine and have a mention in there this month so I may get some more support there. The charity have put my story on their website and I also hijacked my OH's coffee business to sell cakes as a fundraiser at an event he attended. I've also sold some cakes at work to raise a few more pounds, which seemed to go down very well.

So all good so far! I think next steps are making a bit more of a fuss on facebook and setting up a text giving code. When I get the materials through from the charity I'll be able to do even more!