Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sub 20 minute 5k

When I first started writing this blog, my main goal for running was to get faster. This year I wanted to run a sub 40minute 10k. One of the key milestones along the way for me would be getting my 5k under 20mins, but I had never ran this fast before. My quickest 5k was 21mins 39secs so I was still a long way away.

If you have been regularly reading my blog though, you will know I have been focusing on speed work, trying to increase my speed endurance. Hill sprints, intervals, easy runs and my diet have all contributed to what happened this Saturday...

I was at my local park run, a 5k run held in parks across the country on a Saturday morning. The Edinburgh park run is along the promenade at cramond beach. It is a lovely flat route and perfect for running a fast time.

I had read a great article saying that a study had been done and the results suggested that if you run the 1st mile of a 5k race at a much quicker pace than you usually do, and after that settle in to a rhythm, you will get a much quicker time over all. With this in mind, I shot off the start line.

I felt great, all my hard work had come together and I was flying. I felt great until 4km where I started to lose some steam. I had dropped my pace a bit but then I glanced at my watch and then glanced up and I could see the finish line.

If I could make it in 23 seconds, I would get in under 20minutes. This really shocked me as I wasn't aiming for it, I just wanted to beat my personal best.

I gave everything I had in those last yards so much so that as soon as I crossed the finish line I...well let's just say I didn't feel too great.

I looked at my watch and was over the moon to realise that I did it! 19 minutes 54 seconds. I genuinely have never been happier in my running life, this is my best achievement to date.

I need to get my 5k time even further down if I am going to run a sub 40 minute 10k, but I feel I am on the right track. I have 2 weeks left before my first 10k of the season, I am not expecting sub 40 minutes there but who knows? I might surprise myself again...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Runners Nod

The runners nod is a peculiar phenomenon that I am positive all runners will have experienced. You are running along, be it on a muddy trail, a running track or just on the road, you pass a fellow runner and there is this mutual appreciation for one another which manifests itself in the form of a small nod of the head and a smile. A simple action, but one that says a lot.

That small nod of the head, shared between runners, says "well done you, for being great". There is a huge amount of smugness in the space between the nods, but this has been earned with every step that has led to the inevitable up and down of the head.

There are a few things to consider though, if you have never experienced this. The balance between the runners nod and just looking like a crazy stalker is delicate. Fear not, I am here to help.
  • Don't nod too enthusiastically, this will be awkward for you and the other runner. A single nod of the head is sufficient.
  • Always smile, you are nodding in mutual appreciation, not starting a fight.
  • If the runner you pass does not nod back (this is terrible and they are probably not a real runner), don't run after them screaming "where's my nod, you're meant to nod!!!". Just run off knowing that you are a better person in every way.
  • Don't feel you need to speak to the other runner, everything you need to say is in the nod.
  • Nod when the are in front of you, in your eye line, don't nod as they are passing you - they may just think you are staring.
  • Only nod at fellow runners, they are the ones who deserve it.
The runners nod represents a bond between two like minded people who are enjoying their run and happy to see other people doing the same. There must be similar experiences in other sports; Hikers Hello? Cyclists wave? Dog walkers chat?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Trail Running

This weekend I went our for a great run with my good friend Euan. The route was near a wee town called Falkland, where we drove to and dumped the car. I had bought a new pair of trail running shoes and was desperate to give them a go, so I was very excited.
Our route started with a massive ascent, right up East Lomond hill. Look at the gradient on that guy, we ran up the steepest part too, which was great fun but I was almost blown off the thing as it was incredibly windy.

The whole run was 12.4K long which was fantastic. It was my first long run since starting on the Chia seeds, and I felt fantastic, so maybe the really are a super food. Before setting off Euan had said that the route we were going to do had a bit of everything, and he meant exactly what he said. There were huge hills, small hill, bogs, wind, rain, sun, cows, sheep, forests and lots of mud. It was perfect.

I have decided that I love trail running and am going to try and get out on the trails a whole lot more. Yes you may have to drive a bit further than when you do road running, but it is worth it. If you have never tried it I urge you to get out on some trails and go for it.

My next step is to sign up for a trail running race, so watch this space.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Faster, Higher, Stronger

A few nights ago I watched an episode of 'Faster, Higher, Stronger' a new short series of programmes focusing on athletic events through the years at the Olympics. The episode I watched concentrated on the 100m sprint event, and went through the years of the Olympic winners since 1896.

The programme was really interesting and had a great structure. It tracked (no pun intended) the progress of the 100m sprint event, and showed how it had evolved in the years since 1896. It looked at physical things like the starting blocks and running track conditions and showed how they effected the sport. It also looked at how the physique of sprinters had changed from a lean and slender sprinter, to a bigger more muscular type of sprinter.

I was fascinated to hear sprinters talking about the various stages of the race, from the Initial reaction time from the gun, the drive stage of the race, the last 10 meters when sprinters actually slow down. There is so much going on in the short 10 seconds and its fascinating to hear all about it.

It was also really cool to see Bolt with his world record run again from 2008. That was an unbelievable moment in history, he smashed the world record, and had time to slow down and celebrate BEFORE crossing the line.

You can watch the programme here, there are 3 other episodes on BBC iplayer just now about other events so I am looking forward to catching up with them too.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Unusual Running Races

Running has become so popular nowadays that a lot of different and unique events are popping up that not only involve straight forward running. Running a marathon is just too tame now, we need more than that. I started looking for some unusual or wacky races that I could share with you all, and this a few of the best I found.

North American Wife Carrying Championships  

What a hero!

This race makes me laugh because if I was to suggest to the lovely Charlotte (my wife to be ) that we take part, she would probably call the wedding off. Essentially you run a race through an obstacle track with your wife on your back (note: it doesn't actually need to be your legal wife). Teams need to be made up of one male and one female but it doesn't need to be the man who carries the woman.

"Carrying methods often include the piggyback or fireman's carry, but teams are encouraged to create their own style. All winners to date have employed the highly-technical Estonian carry, which has the woman upside down with arms wrapped around the man's waist and her legs draped over his shoulders."

Seemingly this all comes from a Finnish history. Rankainen the Robber, an infamous 19th century Finnish scamp only wanted the strongest men in his merry band. The way he tested this was to set up an obstacle race and make his men run it with a sack on their back. This evolved into running with women on their back to show more physical strength and so the lovely tradition was born.

The Great Kinder Beer Barrel Challenge

This race also looks like a lot of fun. Essentially, up to 11 teams of 8 runners rise to the challenge of carrying an 8 gallon keg of beer across the mountainous terrain of Kinder Scout.

The route is only about 3 miles, however there is a crazy 900ft climb up, and then of course they have to come back down. The fastest team get to drink their barrel of beer.

This is meant to be one of the most gruelling fell running events in the peak district, which is saying something!

Man vs Horse Marathon

Not as exciting as Cowboys vs Aliens marathon but still pretty cool. This is an annual event that pits horses against humans in a marathon through the Welsh countryside. You may think this sounds crazy, but as described in the book born to run, humans can actually outrun animals over long enough distances. This is called persistence hunting and it is how we survived and makes us who we are today.

That being said, in the 32 years of this event there have only ever been 2 human winners. That is still pretty incredible if you ask me!

The Great Wall Marathon

A marathon on the Great Wall of China sounds fantastic to me. I really want to visit China and go see the Great Wall, so it would be a great excuse.

Again, not much hidden in the title here, it is a marathon that takes place on the Great wall of china. Think how tough a marathon is at the best of times, a real test of human endurance and will power. Now add baking sun and 5164 steps to the mix! Maybe I will need to work in a few years of wife carrying before trying this one.

I will be writing more about unusual running races as and when I find them. I feel this is just the tip of the iceberg just now.

Let me know if you have ran in any of these races or indeed if there is a wacky race with your name on it that I may not have read about yet.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Tips for running a race

I really enjoy racing, it's a massive part of why I run. I have taken part in several races before, from winter duathlons to sprint triathlons as well as a few 10ks, and there are a few hints an tips I have picked up along the way. I thought it would be a good time to share these with you all.

Entry central

Every race has to start by first finding the right race for you. Entry central is where you will have to sign up for most of your races unless it's one of the massive city marathons or 10ks. It has great search functions where you can filter all the races by sport, date, distance from your house etc. have a look for yourself and find your next race.

Think about the route

I am certainly not one for studying every inch of a race route before the big day, but I would suggest having a quick look at the route so there are no surprises. For example, If there are lots of hills you want to do some hill training.

Train properly

If you sign up to a race you are making a commitment that goes beyond just the day of the race. You need to train properly for the distance you are racing to give a good account of yourself. There is nothing worse than finishing and thinking "if only I had trained more"! So be sure that you can commit to at least 8 weeks of training before you sign up.

Eat right

It is very important to eat right on race day. You need to eat a substantial amount 2 hours before your race. If you are running in the morning you NEED to get up early and have a good breakfast. If not you will just crash half way through the race and feel like a prat! True story! I would also recommend taking a banana to eat about half an hour before the start.

Have you got everything?

Most races will send you a race number before the race, or will get you to register before the race starts. You need to read everything the race organisers send you. Don't be caught out by small admin things, you want to be 100% focused on the race so make sure you take everything with you to avoid last minute panics.

If you are going to race then race!

This might not work for everyone, but when I run in a race I treat it as just that...a race! I get extremely well motivated by picking people in the pack and racing them, if I overtake them I if d someone else to catch. It really gets me through and makes things fun.

Know your pace

Work out what finish time you would be happy with, and work out the pace you need to run to achieve this time. You need to stick to this pace until the last 20% I would say, where you can pick things up a bit if you feel able. It's very important to not get carried away and sprint off the start line. Here is a great pace calculator where you can work out what pace you need to run.

Change of clothes for after

If you are running a race in a place that means you have to drive home after, take a change of clothes for the car. It's a horrible feeling when you cool down, but still have to sit in sweaty clothes. Eurgh!


It is very important to stay hydrated before during and after the race. I know we all know this but the excitement of race day sometimes gets the better of us. Keep drinking water, but not too much, you don't want to pee yourself half way through.

Have fun

How cliched is this tip? But it's worth saying I think. Races can bring out nerves in runners and get people stressed. The way I see it, there is no point worrying. Races are meant to be fun, and most of the time they are if you approach it with a relaxed and positive attitude (I just read that back and it sounds really cheesy
but I am keeping it in!).

Good luck with your next race, I hope there was something helpful above. I am going to sign up for the Fourth road bridge 10k next, it's where I got my PB so I hope to better it again this year!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Running to lose weight

Yes. Running will most definitely make you lose weight, however it needs to be combined with a healthy eating plan too or else, what's the point? The reason running will help you lose weight is because it burns tonnes of calories, more than any other sport (except cross country skiing but who wants to do that?). However, if you eat more than you are burning, that excess weight is going nowhere.

Here are some tips for using running to lose weight.

Combine running with a healthy balanced diet

Avoid processed, sugary foods that are high in fat. You should be eating a lot of lean protein and complex carbs. Replace white bread and pasta for wholegrain versions. I would recommend eating 5 smaller meals throughout the day rather than the standard breakfast, lunch and tea. Eating 3 meals a day is not the best way for you to keep yourself fuelled and certainly not the best way to lose weight.

1. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs and curbs over eating.
2. Eating more often keeps your metabolism working quickly so you burn calories more efficiently.
3. Food is also absorbed more efficiently when we eat regularly
(Article source)

Another important bit of advice is to avoid the trap of thinking "well I have ran tonight, therefore I can eat a huge meal and have loads of junk food, I have earned it". Stop right there! Take the donuts out your mouth! Treats are allowed but why not treat yourself with some new running gear, or a trip out somewhere nice, try and get out of the habit of having food treats.


Interval training is great for burning calories. If you are unsure what I mean by intervals read my post here. This type of training will use up a lot of calories because of the high intensity. High intensity exercise drains your muscles of their inbuilt energy. Your muscles then need to get this energy back but this can take up to 48 hours. During this time your body has no alternative but to draw and burn up your fat reserves. This is perfect if you want to lose weight.

Keep focused on goals

If loosing weight is your primary goal with running then keep to this and use it as a motivating factor. If you do not enjoy running, and are just doing it for weight loss motivation could be a challenge. Keep focused on the fact it will work, you will feel a lot better about yourself, you will lose weight and be a happier person. What more motivation do you need? Tell friends about it so that you are committing to it, they will ask how you are getting on and if you quit you will be disappointed. Finding a friend with similar goals and running with them is another great way to stay motivated and keep you running.

Don't do too much too soon

If you are wanting to lose weight, don't run yourself in to the ground. You need to be realistic and build up gradually. The couch to 5K programme is a fantastic way to start running, it will get you running to 5k in 8 weeks. I would recommend this if you are a complete beginner. If you want to lose weight quick and do way too much to start, the chances are you will injure yourself and not be able to do any exercise. I would suggest 3 times a week to start. It will be tough and you do need to push yourself, but there is not point killing yourself. You will just be dead and fat.
Me having a rest!

Rest days

The reason running is so good for you is that it uses so many of your muscles, and in turn burns more calories. When you are working your muscles, they actually get microscopic tears in them and this is why you hurt after a long run. These tears need to repair, and when they do this is what makes your muscles stronger. You need to provide you muscles with the right foods (protein, complex carbs etc.) but they also need rest. How cool is that, you can lose weight by doing nothing! great stuff!

Let me know what you think and if you have any tips of your own for loosing weight while running. Running can do so much to make you feel healthy and better about yourself. I would say it is the best and quickest way you can lose weight.

Friday, 6 July 2012

10 tips for running in the city

My lovely city

My run home from work involves running in the city. This presents a few challenges to overcome to ensure a pleasurable experience. Here are some of my tips for best practise when running in a city.

Know your route

It's important to know your route. I would advise planning so you avoid the busiest pedestrian spots. If you have to go down a certain busy street, have a look on the map and see if there is a side street you could use instead.

Be careful when crossing roads

Although you are running and probably in the zone, you still need to pay attention when crossing the road. A few minutes off your time while waiting to cross is better than getting knocked over. The green man is your friend.

Garmin satellite problems

I have found my garmin watch takes a few minutes lo get to locate satellites in the city, which I think is because of the tall buildings. Keep this in mind when planning your run.

Use the city for training

The city has tonnes of great training opportunities that you can build in to your run to keep the body guessing. Try and work in some stairs, wall jumps, hills, tricep dips on benches etc. use your imagination.

Mix up your route

I said before its important to know your route, it's also a nice idea to change it once in a while, just to keep things fresh and exciting.

Ignore the drunks

When I run home I sometimes get heckled by drunks or youths. Just ignore them, or give them a wave it's up to you, just be secure in the knowledge that in 2 secs you will be away from them, they will be left behind, still drunk, still fat, still a lesser person than you.

Where glasses

I find that I get a lot of dust in my eyes when running in the city so I would recommend wearing glasses of some description to keep this out.

Running at night

Wear bright florescent clothes so that you can be seen. I am sure you have all had the experience from a driver's point of view, when you don't see a runner till the last second because they are dressed all in black, more like a ninja than a runner.

Take water

Cities are hot places because of all the traffic and people. Take some water so you can stay hydrated.

Pedestrian navigation

Sometimes you will have to run through very busy parts of town. I would recommend slowing down a bit, looking as far ahead as possible and pick a route through. Of course you could just put your head down and sprint, crashing in to anyone who gets in your way.

All in all I enjoy running in the city. Hopefully these handy hints will help you navigate your way through the busy metropolis that is your city.
Let me know if you have any other tips I can add to the list.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Run home - 3/7/12

Last night I ran home from work for the 4th or 5th time since "the accident". I felt good but still felt my power draining away from my legs at around 6 kilometres. The full run is around 8km, so great training for my 10k races planned for later in the year.
Stats from run

I have really suffered from having almost 3 full weeks off, but think I am getting back to the way I felt before I injured myself. I will need to do some speed work/interval training to get fully fighting fit.

Running home from work is a great idea for anyone who struggles to fit running in to their schedule. I find because I work in the city, I actually get home quicker than if I were to take the bus. I just change at work, put my valuables in my rucksack and leave my work clothes at work to be collected the next day! This works a treat for me and really allows me to increase my weekly mileage.

So that's it really, I am out a lot this week (Edinburgh Magic Festival is happening) so I am going to try and do some early morning runs, keep reading to find out how I get on.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Staying hydrated while running is of paramount importance. If you become dehydrated doing any sort of exercise you are putting yourself in risk of some serious side effects (headaches, dizziness, muscle fatigue, disorientation) not exactly what you want to be happening when out on a run. Here are some handy hints on how to stay hydrated while running.

mmm I love water (looks pretty natural eh?)

1. Eat foods that are rich in water.

Iceberg lettuce, watermelon, broccoli, carrots, beets, oranges and apples, tomatoes, radish and loads more. Processed foods will give you nothing in terms of keeping you hydrated, they will in fact take and use up some of the water you have consumed that day. Stay away from processed foods as much as you can. Try for 70 % of your diet to include water rich foods.

2. Drink water all day

This is a good rule whether you are running that day or not. As an athlete you should be drinking water consistently throughout the day, every day of the week. As a runner, it is recommended you drink 2-3 litres of water a day. This will help keep you hydrated, but it will also help with other elements of diet and nutrition. Don't just have a pint of water before your run as this will not be as effective, and you may pee yourself while running.

3. Hydration pack
I have a hydration pack that I wear while running. I don't like running with a bottle, and I am sure some of you are the same, so this is ideal. I run home from work a lot and can put my things in the rucksack, but there is a big tube that comes out the pack that allows you to drink on the move. I would recommend getting one of these, they are cheap to pick up and ideal if you are doing longer runs.

4. Remember to hydrate after your run

While you are running you are sweating an awful lot, which means you are loosing fluids. You need to re-hydrate after you have been running. Everyone will be different, there is a general rule of thumb that you should drink 2 cups of water for every pound lost during running. For this you need to weigh yourself before and after, which is a bit of a faff! My advice would be to have a pint or so when you get home, I couldn't be bothered weighing myself and working all that out but if you can, go for it! Also keep a close eye on your wee (not too close) , if it is darker than normal this means you need more water!

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Map My Run+ App

I love my Garmin GPS watch, as you can tell by my glowing review earlier on. However recently I have started to become annoyed by him. The battery has been playing up (only lasting an hour at a time) and it takes a long time to find the satelites, which results in me standing around like a prat for 10 mins before I start a run.

So, given what happened on marathon relay day when I had to quickly download the Runkeeper app for my phone and realised I really liked it, I have since flirted with the idea of selling my watch and using my iphone as my main running tool...controversial eh?

Runkeeper is ace, but nowhere near as ace as Mapmyrun+, a fantastic app filled with features. I donwloaded it last night and had a wee play about, so thought I would share my thoughts incase you too were looking for an inexpensive way to log your runs.

Firstly, there are two versions, one is free but doesn't have ipod controls built in and is filled with ads, so I opted for a blind testing of the mapmyrun+ app for only 69p.

Before having a fancy GPS watch i used map my run all the time to figure out how far I had ran, and I realy like the functionality of the site. So when I saw the app I already had a good idea it would be of a decent standard.

The app is laid out incredibly clearly and has some amazing functions. The main function is "recording" your runs which tracks your progress in real time. You can set this up to give you prompts as to your pace,distance, time etc. at any given interval, I like this about the Runkeeper app and found it allowed me to enjoy the run more rather than constantly looking at my watch.

They have a cool, and possibly slightly creepy feature, which is "Live Tracking". This brings up a map and shows where you are on the map in real time. This is cool because you can also sync it to twitter so it tweets a link to a live map so people can watch your progress...Live! That's exciting, so the lovely Chars will know where I am on my run home without having to call me so she can get the dinner on (I am joking of course, but you get the idea).

There is also a brilliant Routes section of the app where you can store your routes, but even cooler than that, you can check for nearby tried and tested routes based on your location. So if you are somewhere unfamiliar, check this section and you will have a wealth of information on where to go for a run.

The nutrition section of the app is great too. I know a lot of people are using My Fitness Pal app where you can log your foods and count calories, but Mapmyrun+ has this built in and syncs with your runs giving you a more accurate description of your calorie expenditure for a day.

I know it is early days but I think this app is great and I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking to get started with running. It will give you tonnes of information and if you are a stat/tech geek like me, you will love following your progress.

Let me know if you have tried it or indeed if you have found a better running app, would love to know your thoughts.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Why do I run?

Sometimes, when I tell people I have just been out for a long run or that I got up at 6am for a nice early morning 5k , people say "Jude, you are crazy" (or other variations of the same thing). So I thought I would write a little bit about the benefits of running and why I enjoy it so much.

Health benefits

Its painfully obvious that running is good for your health. It is a great way to get fit and loose weight, this much is common knowledge, but running also has all of these benefits too:

  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduces resting pulse
  • reduces cholestorol levels
  • Improves cardiovasular fitness
  • increases strength in bones anreduces risk of osteporosis
  • Strengthens connective tissues and joints, reducing injury risk.
  • higher energy consumption (i.e. you will burn more calories and reduce body fat percentage)
  • Reduced risk of insulin resistance - Type 2 diabetes.
Healthy body = Healthy mind

Have you ever felt after excercise that you are in a great mood, you feel great and energised. Well all of the above combine to make you generally feel more positive. Its no surprise that by treating your body right and improving your general fitness that you will feel good mentally too. Long distance running releases endorphines which contribute to the phenomenon known as "runner's high" which is when you feel euphoric after or during a run. Trust me, this is a real thing, I have felt it. Everything feels great, you feel you could run forever, and you can't stop smiling (note - I know that sound ridiculously cheesy). However it is possible to become addicted to this endorphine release and this is probably why so many runners continue to put themselves through the pain and strain.

It's Free

I am a cheapskate, so the fact that running is essentially free is a big plus point for me. All you really need is something to wear on your feet (although what you should wear is hotly contested at the moment). I would also reccommend wearing some sort of clothing (to avoid being arrested), but nothing special is needed, just shorts and t-shirt.

It's Fun
I really enjoy the thrill of trying to become faster, working out a training schedule that will result in my times falling. Competing in races is great too. When you are running in a big event with thousands of other people it really gets the adrenaline pumping.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Barefoot Running Evening - Run and Become

Last week my lovely mother gave me a leaflet for a Barefoot Running Clinic taking place at Run and Become in Edinburgh. After reading Born to Run I was dead keen on finding out more about barefoot running, so this was perfect! Thanks Mum!

I booked my place and excitedly went along to the shop. The session was led by Matt Wallden, who is the UK distributor of Vibram Five fingers, those funny looking thin running shoes that have space for your toes.

The first part of the evening was Matt giving a lecture/presentation on the benefits of running barefoot and the perils of running with heavily cushioned running shoes. Now, throughout the evening I couldn't help but think "This guy sells Vibram Fivefingers, and coincidentally they are also the best possible thing for you to run in"! But with the cynicism to one side, the presentation and the points he made were extremely persuasive. The key points I took from this are as follows:
  • Humans are the only Animal on earth that wear shoes (and yes I know horses do but that's because we put them there).
  • Padded, supportive shoes have only been around since the 70's when Nike invented them. What were we doing beforehand? Running in a minimalist style.
  • Your body has anti-pronation muscles, which cannot be engaged as effectively with big supportive running shoes on.
  • Running barefoot will encourage forefoot running as opposed to heel striking. Hell striking ever step is an inefficient way of running and will increase the risk of injury. Try jumping up and down landing on your toes and forefoot, then try jumping up and down landing on your heels, you will see what I mean.
  • Oxygen consumption is at least 4% less in five fingers than when wearing running shoes! So in terms of running economy there is a clear winner! 
There really was so much, and so many statistic s and figures that I would not do it justice, but the main point was, running with shoes is bad, running barefoot or minimalist is good.

One of the points he made that stuck in my mind was the construction of an arch, and how engineers have tried to replicate the arch found on the foot. Of course by design, arches can support huge amounts of weight (think of a bridge). There are several ways of supporting an arch, but one thing that would never happen would be to support an arch from below, as this jeopardises the strength of the construction. However this is exactly what we are doing with arch-supportive shoes.

Another interesting point he made was that barefoot/minimal running has now taken 25% of the market share. It clearly is not a flash in the pan fad!

The second part of the evening was practical sessions out on the Street. Matt watched our running style and tried to give us tips on how to make the transition to barefoot. I was part of the group of inefficient runners, because I run with a lot of power in each stride. He said this is what makes us fast at short distance running but for longer distances we are not running to our potential. He encouraged a quicker turnover of feet, and suggested at running at 180 BPM. This felt very odd, but the theory is, that using less power per stride, and relying on the elasticity of my feet and legs to propel me forward will mean I can go further and faster.

The evening actually blew my mind! I am a complete convert and will buy a pair of barefoot shoes as soon as I can. The one thing is the shoes are quite expensive, however the provide excellent value as they can keep you going for about 3000 miles, compared to 500-800 miles which is recommended for a normal pair of trainers.

Yes I will look weird, and yes it will take a long time to fully convert, but I am up for the challenge and hopefully it will help my running style. Keep checking back for progress.

Monday, 18 June 2012

First run after accident

Map of my run
 If you follow me on twitter or are just my pal, you will probably know that I had a horrible mountain bike crash 2 weeks ago, that resulted in a) a funny/embarrassing story and b) an injury that prevented me running for a while.

This is not the story of that injury (too soon for that). But I wanted to write a bit about my first run since being injured.

As I say, I was unable to run for about 2 weeks, which is a long time considering I was running 4 times a week before "the accident". In the 2 weeks off, despite working hard on maintaining core strength, I did very little cardio as it was just too sore.

Not sure if anyone else has experienced this, but not being able to run or do any sport had such an effect on my every day life. I was turning in to such a grumpy bugger. I was irritable, I couldn't sleep, I kept waking up feeling rubbish with a sore head - and I think this is directly related to not being able to run.

So the day came on Sunday where I felt I was well enough to try and run. It was a horrible rainy day, which I love for running, and I set off out towards with the mind of doing a short loop out to Edinburgh airport.

Throughout the run I felt sluggish and unfit, my pace was much slower than usual, but it was such a boost mentally and when I came back home after a nice and easy 7k I felt rejuvenated. I slept really well and woke up this morning feeling fantastic. It is incredible how much of a possitive influence running can have on the way you feel.

Immediately after stopping however, I felt a strain in my left foot. I have had this before and I think it's a result of doing too much too soon. This has been a bit of a disappointment as I don't think I will be able to run for a few days! Doh!

So, please learn from my mistakes. If you have been injured don't try and run a long distance right away. 7k is nothing, I know, but after injury it has proved to be too much. So just be careful, because there's nothing worse than setting yourself back even further.

The positive I can take from this however, is that even with my sore foot I can get out on the bike, so all is not lost! I will be fighting fit again soon.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Born To Run - by Christopher Mcdougall

Whenever you do a search for "Running Books" or "Books about Running", the fantastic “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" always comes top of the list. Eventually, I had enough of people telling me how great the book was, and I decided to see for myself.

I also really wanted to test out the kindle app on my Ipad, so thought it was perfect timing (reading on the Kindle app is great by the way).

The book essentially tells the story of  how humans are a species, were "Born to Run". It has a fascinating chapter on how Running was a vital part of our eveloution, and makes us who we are today. It really is fascinating and has some wonderful stories about the reclusive tribe the Tarahumara, some of the worlds best ultrarunners and amazing races.

The book adresses the question of running and how modern running technology has played a part in making us more injury prone, inefficient runners. Born to Run has inspired me to pursue minimalist running, and I will be posting about this in the weeks to come. I am actually going to attend a barefoot clinic at my local running shop in Edinburgh, if you are from these part you should check it out too.

I thoroughly recommend this to any body who is interested in running. I would even recommend it to those of you who are not, as after reading it, you will be!

I would love to hear what you thought about the book. Have you been converted to running barefoot? Do you now eat, sleep and run like the tarahumara?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Chia seeds - Food of the (Running) Gods

Chritopher Mcdougall's excellent book 'Born to Run' talks about a miracle food, that has left me confused, excited, sceptical and hungry, all at once. This super food is the Chia seed, an ancient Aztec food that packs such a high nutritional punch that it provides enough energy for endurance runners to keep going on little else.

I wanted to put forward some of the key benefits for you to have a read over, there are tonnes of benefits out there, this really does seem like a miracle food.

The nutritional make up of the seed speaks for itself really. Tonnes of protein, fibre, calcium, omega-3 make it a runners best friend for obvious reasons, but I will explore this in a bit more detail.

The Protein in the Chia seed is fantastic for athletes, because every time you go out for a run, you are putting tiny wears and tears in your muscles. In order for this tissue to reform and grow, you need a source of protein. High Protein content in your diet will also mean you feel fuller for longer, great if you are trying to maintain a healthy diet.

Chia seeds are high in dietary fibre, which again make you feel fuller for longer. Fibre is also great for lowering cholesterol. Fibre is a vital element of a healthy diet, so the fact that Chia seeds are stocked full of the stuff is great.

Chia seeds have a lot of calcium, great for runners as it helps build up strong bones. This is essential for people who do a lot of running, as you put a lot of strain on your legs. We dont want broken/sore bones, so calcium is essential! The other cool thing about Chia is that it contains the mineral boron. Boron acts as a catalyst which speeds up and increases the way calcium is absorbed in to the body. Antoher great plu point of Chia!

The seeds are also full of Omega 3 - these fatty acids are great for runners because they give you a healthy Heart. They reduce inflammation and swelling (meaning your muscles will not be as sore after long runs). Omega 3 has also been linked to a healthier brain, and has been said to increase focus, meaning you can stay motivated and focused on your running goals!

oooo Chia - is there anything you can't do? It would appear not!

Once digested, Chia acts as a barrier between carbs and the enzymes that break them down. This is really cool because it effectively slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, meaning you will feel fuller for longer, and your carbs will be released as energy slower. Great for runners. Also great for Diabetics!

These tlitte miracle workers also absorb up to 12 times there weight in water. This means that they make for a perfect source of slow release energy, keep you hydrated and energised throughout your long run. If you mix Chia seeds in water, give it a stir and leave for 10 minutes, it will form a jelly like substance. If you add some lime juice to this and knock it back, you will be drinking something very similar to the Iskiate drink that the Tharahumara tribe drink, the Tharahumara are the subject of the book 'Born to Run'. These are the guys who are dubbed as being some of the best distance runners in the world, and this is what fuels them.

I don't know about you, but I am ready to try some Chia seeds and see if I turn in to a super athlete too - can't do any harm...can it?

If you are already eating these seeds in your diet, let me know. Has it affected your performance at all? Is this all just a big joke? Why do we all not eat these every day at every meal?

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Edinburgh Marathon - Team Relay

Picture the scene, the sun is splitting the sky, it's a baking hot 21 degrees and you are standing in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, ready to run 8.4 miles of a relay. Life could not be better.

The atmosphere was great and 10am could not come quick enough, I was super keen to get running. With 5 minutes to go I decided it was time to turn on my Garmin 305 and lock in to the satellites. But my watch had other plans. I was holding down the power button till my finger was sore, but no dice, my watch wanted a lie in today.

'Quick download the app Run-Keeper on your phone, its better than nothing!' was the sound advice from the lovely Charlotte. I was anxious, and could feel my world caving in. I am a creature of habit when I run, and didn't know what I would do without my pace keeping companion on my wrist.

The Run Keeper app is actually very good and I would recommend it to anybody. It played my custom made relay playlist and every 5 minutes it would interrupt and tell me my pace and distance ran. I was actually running a lot faster than target pace because I was not constantly looking at my watch.

I was hoping to run the 8.4 miles in about 1hr 10 minutes, so at mile six, when I was about 6 minutes ahead of target, I felt great. The sun did little to slow me down, and I really felt like I was flying. There was something lovely about running faster than all the marathon runners (I was kind of cheating only running a 1/3 of the way), but my pace was much quicker, meaning I spent an hour over-taking people. I felt like the fastest man alive.

When I was in Portobello, my great friends Helen and Euan were there to cheer me on, Euan took the picture below - look how happy I look!! Seeing them gave me a boost and I started running even faster. Charlotte had driven to the finish line so I knew when I saw here I could just sprint to the finish.

The relay handover was quick and painless (considering I had never met Katie, my team mate). I gave her the band and she was off like a shot, after a quick and awkward "Lovely to meet you - have a nice race!"

I had finished my leg of the race in just under an hour - 59 mins 32 secs in fact! The rest of the team ran 'relay' well and we actually finished in just over 3.5 hours. Out of 701 teams we came 57th, which we were all very chuffed with.

Chocolate milk in hand and medal round my neck I was filled with the desire to run the full Edinburgh Marathon next year. You may think it was just the adrenaline talking, but after a few nights sleep I am still hungry for 26.2 miles. Maybe I will win the whole thing?

Monday, 28 May 2012

Best Breakfasts for Runners

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, if you read anything about nutrition and fitness this is one of the first things you will come across. Skipping it will set you up poorly for the day, and will mean that the "wall" will hit you much sooner than you'd like when out running.

I have laid out a couple of the best breakfast foods for runners here, with some simple recipes and ideas that I think will help your running.


There is a reason that a lot of people eat porridge before doing exercise. Porridge oats are complex carbs, which means that they will slowly release energy and will keep you going for longer. This in turn helps your body stabilise blood sugar levels for the day, meaning that you won't feel the need for a quick sugar fix.

My suggestion would be to have the porridge with some fresh fruit and berries. I would try to stay away from the mutant sachets of porridge though as they have tonnes of sugar and may not be the best thing you are looking for before a big run.

Banana Loaf

Line a loaf tin and preheat your oven to save you waiting around. Mash 4 ripe bananas and mix them together with 225g wholemeal flour, 100g butter, 150g caster sugar, 2 eggs and a pinch of salt. Bake it altogether and then in about 1 -1.5 hours you will have some banana loaf that will taste delightful.

This will be the effect breakfast as it has a nice mix of fast burning energy and slow release energy with the wholemeal flour, so you will feel full. Also great for cooking at the start of the week and then grabbing on your way out the door if your are in a rush.z


Muesli is awesome for runners. It's packed with whole grains, nuts and fruits which are all great sources of slow burning energy, and this will keep you fuelled throughout your run.

A great tip - go to your local health food shop and by all the dried fruits, nuts and grains you like - smack them all together in a tupperware and you have just created your own muesli. Make sure you get some bran, barley or oats in there, as they are great wholegrain carbs.

Scrambled Eggs on toast

A great recovery breakfast. Eggs are packed with protein which is what your muscles need to recover, and the whole grain carbs in your bread are need to fuel your recovery, and allow the protein from the eggs to be carried to your muscles.

Why not add some ham and cheese to the mix if your particularly hungry and looking for some extra flavour?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Fartlek Training

Fartlek literally means 'speed play' in Swedish, and it really is just that...playing with speed. Fartlek sessions are a work-out both aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels and as a result are great for increasing endurance and overall running performance.

Fartlek sessions are different to interval sprints in that they are continuous. Intervals require stopping and starting whereas is fartlek sessions you vary your pace between jogging and running faster segments, but you will always be moving. In interval sprints you have a set distance that you stick to and set recovery period. However in this type of training the slow-fast intervals are determined by how the athlete feels (yes you are an athlete).

To incorporate fartlek training into your runs, every so often throughout a longer run you should pick up the pace to faster than you would run on race day, and maintain this for a minute or so, then drop back down to slower than your normal running pace until you catch your breath. Once ready start running at normal pace again, then after a while repeat the process. Again this is not based on a set distance, so just respond to how your body is feeling. You will have to push it in the faster intervals, but if you need longer to recover that's completely fine.

Fartleks will put extra strain on your system and will raise both aerobic fitness and anaerobic threshold as mentioned above. Plus its a fun word to say. This is also a great way to lose weight, so if that is a concern, smack a few fartlek training sessions into your schedule and watch the weight drop off.

Friday, 18 May 2012

New running shoes - review

My new shoes (I got two though!)

I would argue that a decent pair of running shoes are the only essential piece of kit for a runner. I know there a people out there who couldn't live without their fancy water bottle or compression tights, but all you actually NEED is a nice pair of trainers.

As my current running shoes were almost dead, it was therefore essential for me to buy a new pair this week (at least that's what I told myself). However I am getting married this year ( in 6 months in fact) and I just simply couldn't afford a pair that cost £100.

I had about £50 I could happily spend, and had a rough idea what I wanted. Something light. Something that looked nice. Something that was discounted. I found a pair that ticked all the boxes.

The Adidas Flyby trainer is a lightweight shoe for the natural runner. I am a normal pronator when I run so I don't really need a specialist shoe. I also wanted a trainer that was not too heavy, something really light that I could just lace up and forget about, not feel like they were weighing me down.

The trainers feature a synthetic mesh upper section which means that your feet remain incredibly cool throughout your run, which is nice and comforting.

There is also a continuous zig-zag tred on the sole, which supposedly reduces and naturalises impact on your legs (sounds like a gimmick to me, I just liked the look of them).

Zig and Zag

I have now ran two reasonably long runs in my new shoes and the verdict is...they are great! My feel are cool, they are super light so I don't feel I am carrying any extra weight, and they look really nice. If you are looking for a pair of running shoes on a budget I would look no further than these.

What shoes do you have? What would be the minimum you would spend? Am I a cheapskate? All feedback welcome!



Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Hill sprints

This is the hill I do my sprints on

If you are determined to become a faster runner (like me), no matter what distance you are training for, I would recommend working hill sprints in to your training schedule.

What do I mean by hill sprints? I mean finding a nice stretch of uphill and sprinting up it as fast as you can. The stretch I use is around 60-70 meters, but just run whatever feels comfortable to you.

This is very similar to normal interval sprints, but with the addition of hills you will find yourself getting fitter, faster, stronger, and leaner - all good things for a runner. Hill sprints are also great at boosting HGH (Human Growth Hormone) which is essential for allowing your muscles to build and repair, which will result in you becoming a faster stronger runner.

Another way hill reps will make you quicker, is that it will increase your stride length. Uphill running helps us increase our knee lift. You will really work your quads and hip flexors by lifting your knee higher which will translate to a longer stride when running on flat. If you can maintain a longer stride, you will run the distance faster! Great News!

Yet another plus side, is that if you regularly train on hills, you will not dread hills when they come up on race day. So there are psychological  benefits to hill running too, which is great because as we know, all runners are mental.

How to structure your hill Sprints

I would recommend starting with 5 reps and adding another rep each week till you get to 10. I would also suggest that you do hill reps twice a week, then just watch your times come flying down. A lot of runners will feel cheated out of a long run if they are only on their feet for 20 mins, but If you are doing it right, you should be a breathless, sweating mess.

Let me know if you do hill sprints and if you have any tips? Do you prefer flat sprints? Have you noticed a difference by incorporating hill sprints in to your training?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Chocolate Milk after a run

What a wonderful world. Chocolate Milk, a deliciously creamy and sweet drink that has universal appeal (find me someone that doesn't enjoy it) is actually good for you!

There has been a lot of discussion in the running community about the benefits of drinking chocolate milk after running. In the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, a study was published which concluded that the silky smooth beverage that we all know and love is an effective recovery aid after exhausting exercise.

Indiana University Bloomington physiologist Joel Stager supports this by going as far as to say that Chocolate milk is THE BEST thing athletes can drink after exercise. 

Once you are back from a long run your body is screaming out for lost carbs, calories, sodium and some protein to help with muscle recovery. Low fat chocolate milk has a great ratio of all of the above, and in much better quantities than commercial recovery/sports drinks. You will also find that Chocolate Milk is a lot cheaper. 

The nay-sayers believe that water is the best thing after a run and putting Chocolate Milk into your body will upset your stomach. But I think as long as you stay hydrated, and if you don't chug down 2 pints of Chocolate Milk immediately after a run, you will be fine. Have some water and a glass of the good chocolatey stuff and you will feel your body recovering and at the same time your taste buds will be screaming their appreciation. 

Your turn: What do you drink after a run? Have you tried chocolate milk and felt sick? Is there anyone who does not like chocolate milk?

Thursday, 10 May 2012

2 mile race

Speed training is an important part of becoming a faster runner. Training at your threshold will allow you to increase your aerobic capacity and will in turn allow you to become a stronger faster runner. Sounds great eh? 

I was due for a run home from work last night, so I was prepared for a run home. I was feeling particularly "pumped" after a long weekend biking and was really looking forward to a run.

This led to me looking around for some races that I could really test my fitness on. I know for a fact I am not at optimum levels of fitness but I am working up to it, and races are always a nice indicator of how well you are progressing.

Much to my surprise, I found that there was actually a 2 mile race in the meadows taking place that night and it was only £2 to enter! I had my kit and the meadows is 10 mins from my work, it was as if the universe was conspiring to get me racing.


The race is part of a series of races that take part throughout the summer months, some 1 and 2 mile races as well as the occasional 5k. This is exactly what I need and I will definitely be going back.

The race went really well for me. I had never raced this distance before and was excited to see how it felt. The course was a flat 1 mile loop that we ran twice. I really loved the distance and will look for more 2 mile races. It was long enough to get myself into a zone, but short enough to really inject some pace.

I ran the first loop in 6min 11sec and the second in 6min 18sec, which is not bad pacing considering I forgot to bring my Garmin forerunner which is usually my pace setter. Finishing in 12min 29sec I was very happy and felt I gave a good account of myself. I like to set my sights on a couple of targets when I am racing, I find people who are running at a slightly quicker pace and tell myself I am going to overtake them. I managed to overtake both my targets, and they were both affiliated with racing clubs, so I feel pretty good (this can be read as smug as you like, I don't mind).

I would really love to get this time down to the 11min mark, and the races run until September, so I think this is possible.

If you are in Edinburgh you should definitely check the events out, they are well organised and good fun, and it's a great way to work in some speed training into your week, no matter what you are training for.


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Cross Training

Cross training is an important part of any training schedule, and can do a lot to help you achieve your fitness goals, whatever they may be. With the right approach to cross training you will find that there are several advantages that will make your running even better. I thought it would be helpful to write about some of the benefits as well as some tips specific to running.

One of the main advantages of cross training is that it work muscles in your body that you would not be able to work by just running. Swimming and cycling are great sports for runner to use as cross training, and both will provide a different workout for your body that you would not get from running. I love to mountain bike, and just spent all weekend in Dumfries cycling on the various 7 stanes routes down there. This provided a great workout for my quads (the front leg muscles) that I would not get if I was just running. Mountain biking also provides a great core workout which will help with balance for your running. The other amazing thing about biking (of which there are many) is that it is low impact. So you are not going to be hammering your knee joints in the way you do while running.

Me and Euan at biking in Dalbeatie
Cross training also provides a welcome rest from running. I know myself that sometimes I can get a bit bored running 3-4 times a week. By adding another sport to the mix, I find that I become excited about getting back to running. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. You will also notice the difference in fitness and feel that your running is improving, thus providing motivation to keep going.

Cross training will also help with your overall cardiovascular fitness. Cross training on rest days is great because as I mentioned before with biking or swimming, there is little to no impact. But both sports are great for improving cardio fitness and will allow you to run for longer. Cross training is also fantastic for active recovery, so if you have been out for a massive run, and are looking for a warm down, why not hop on the bike. It will increase your stamina, and by allowing your body to recover while active, you will speed up recovery more so than if you were to just rest outright.

I recommend cross training to everyone who is seriously interested in running and improving their fitness.

Your turn: let me know what you do to cross train. Do you not enjoy cross training at all? Would you rather spend all your time running?

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Don't run on empty!

Nutrition is a big part of running and exercise (a bit I clearly need to get better at - I have had 2 bags of crisps today). If you don't give your body the right fuel to perform, you will find yourself hitting the wall much earlier than needs be and you will start to feel pretty crap. This is easily avoidable by eating the right foods and staying hydrated. I just wanted to outline some of my thoughts and suggestions for the best running foods I eat. This is not to say they are the only good foods, just the ones I enjoy.

1. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is great for runners and athletes. It is a fantastic, cheap, tasty source of protein and calories. If you whap some peanut butter on a slice of wholemeal toast you have a great slow release post workout snack to keep you going.I know some people will say "NOOOOO peanut butter makes you fat" but this is only true if you exceed your calorie intake per day. As part of a balanced diet it is great.

Warning - contains nuts.

2. Wholegrain Pasta and Bread

Runners obviously need to have a lot of Carbs in their diet to fuel the physical exertion. Whole grain foods are (by definition) less processed. Whenever food is processed you are loosing some of the goodness in the nutrients. With wholegrain products such as bread, pasta, cereal, you are getting more nutrients (so they are good carbs) and you are getting more fibre, so you will feel fuller for longer. I know that when you are trying to carb load bread or pasta is an obvious choice, so just as long as you stay away from the white stuff, you will be grand!

3. Bananas

I bloody love bananas. They taste great. They smell great. They are cheap. They are yellow. They are also really good for runners. They make a great pre-workout snack because of the SIMPLE carbs. This means that they can be broken down quickly and released into the bloodstream to give you an almost instant hit.

Also, when you run you sweat, and when you sweat your body looses potassium. Bananas contain the vital potassium to help you reload, which is important as it helps regulate muscle contraction and will mean you don't become crippled with cramp (which really 'cramps' your style when out running).

4. Tuna

Runners need a lot of protein too (between 60-90 grams a day) to help rebuild muscle after gruelling sessions. Tuna is a great source of lean protein, so it makes the perfect post-run dinner. Tuna is also full of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Some great tuna recipes can be found here.

5. Low fat yogurt

Low fat yoghurt is great. It is a great source of lean protein and carbs. The calcium content is perfect for runners to, because all of that pounding the pavement means that you will become susceptible to stress fractures. It is handy then to have strong bones to lower the risk.

Personally I eat Low fat yoghurt with bananas for breakfast when I am going out for a morning run. Also really nice too add to smoothies to make them a bit more creamy. More ideas can be found here.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

1000 Kilometer Challenge

I am a man who enjoys a challenge. I am also a man who enjoys running. So last night I was struck with an idea of creating a self-imposed running challenge (how exciting?).

It is on Wednesday 25th April 2012, I say with complete clarity of thought and without poor judgement, that over the course of the next year I am going to run a total of 1000km. Yes, you read that correctly, I will run 500km, and I will run 500km more, just to be the man who ran 1000km in the name of an incredibly self-indulgent year-long challenge.

This challenge will satisfy a few of my needs and wants. Primarily, it will be a great way to make me run more frequently and for longer. It will serve as an incredibly progressive, interesting and engaging weekly blog post (please read with intended sarcasm). It will also allow me to indulge in some great running stats, which I love.

An example of such exciting stats is below:
  1. To run 1000km in 365 days, I will need to run an average of 19.23km per week. That is 2.73km per day. 0.11km per hour (Have I taken it too far?)
  2. Over the course of the year I will burn an average of 55,000 calories (low estimate), the equivalent of 327 bags of Flame Grilled Steak McCoy crisps.
  3. Running 1000km will take me approximately 83 hours or 3.45 days. Maybe I should get it all over and done with in a weekend? Take the Monday off work?

This will be a big challenge for me. I understand that there are people who run 1000km in a few months, but I have a busy year. I am getting married, starting a PGDE in Edinburgh to become a teacher and I am becoming an Uncle, so fitting in regular runs will be tough, but I am excited. I will definitely have to partake in some Early Morning Runs.

I will be updating you on my quest as I work towards the end goal of 1000km, and every time I blog about my runs I will include my 'running total'.

I hope I don't look like this when I reach my target

Why not start a 1000km challenge of your own? Maybe you have done something similar before, let me know any tips you have please. Any good name suggestions for my challenge?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Early Morning Running

One of the biggest challenges I find with picking up the running miles throughout the week, is trying to find the time. I need to leave for work at 8am and don't get home till 7pm so trying to fit in running as well as everything else (family, food, films, friends etc - alliteration was a happy accident there) is a big challenge.

One way in which I plan to get round this is setting the alarm clock an hour early and going for Early Morning Runs. I am going to outline 5 of my top tips for running early in the morning, please feel free to let me know if there is anything else I should be thinking about, or any tips my fellow early morning runners have that make the process a bit easier.

1. Forward Planning

Think about what you will need to do to save yourself time in the morning. What can you get ready the night before that will mean you can stay in bed another 2-3 minutes.  I like to lay out my kit so that I don't have to spend any time looking for running socks in the dark (it's bad enough finding them when it is light). Also, check the weather report for the next day so you know what you should be wearing (don't use the weather as an excuse though - nobody likes a skiver!)

The time this will save you will really help, also the process of laying out your kit will me that you are less likely to think "ah fuck it" (which is a danger) and go back to sleep. The plan is you will go to bed thinking about your run, and you will wake up motivated and raring to go!

2. Have breakfast

Having breakfast is a vital part of the day anyway, but especially if you are getting up early to do a run. You want to have something that is going to fuel your early morning escapade, but also something that wont take too long to make....but also something that is not going to sit too heavy as you cant afford to sit around till it digests...

This morning I made myself a slice of wholemeal toast with peanut butter and sliced banana. Nice source of slow release Carbs with the wholemeal bread, protein in the peanut butter and the banana is great energy just before a run. I wash this down with some water and I am ready to go.

Another plan, is to have some energy bars ready that you can quickly eat, then have a decent breakfast when you get back to give your body the vital nutrients.

3.Know your route

 You only have a certain amount of time for your run, so don't use the EMR (early morning run) to try outthe new weird and wonderful off-road route that you have been planning. Stick to what you know. You should know how long the route will take and when you will be back. You also don't want to be knackered for the rest of the day, so remember you have a full day in front of you, don't absolutely kill yourself.

4. Find a running buddy

 I find that if you have made the commitment to meet up with something to go for a run, then you are more likely to get up and go. There is no greater motivation for me than feeling obliged, I hate letting people down. This is also good for having someone to chat to and it feels like you are sharing the burden, and that you are not the only person in the world crazy enough to be up and running.

 If you have no willing friends, or just no friends, don't fret, just comfort yourself in the knowledge that you are doing the right thing for your body, and you will probably live longer than those unwilling, lazy, unmotivated, pathetic excuses for human beings...(I'm joking of course, as much as there is a certain amount of well earned smugness that comes from running early in the morning, don't tell people that you are therefore better than them, even though you are, it won't end well).

5. Hydrate

It is incredibly important to be drinking water throughout the day, especially if you live an active lifestyle. You should make sure that you have a drink of water before heading out and also when you come back. Make sure that you pay particular attention to drinking water throughout the day of your early morning run too, no use putting all that effort in then crashing at 2pm because you are dehydrated.

Your turn: What is your early morning run routine? What do you have for breakfast? How else can I squeeze runs in to my busy week?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

6K with hills

I have a standard 5k run set out that I frequently do when I am wanting to have a quick blast. It's not very nice to be honest and I should really find another route, however it serves it's purpose.

Anyway, on said run, at around the 2nd K I always pass a path the leads up in to the woods, so today I decided to take the path (adventurous I know) I was feeling adventurous and wanted to do some hill running, and I was not disappointed with what the mystery path had in store.

It started with a very steep accent through the woods and didn't really stop going up for about 1.5 K. it was the first time in a while that I had done any hill training, so needless to say I was a spluttering, panting, red faced mess when I got to the top of the hill. However this lovely view over the west of Edinburgh proved to be well worth it.

View over Edinburgh
The whole run was only 6k altogether, but I think it will my replace my depressing road run. The only views I get from that are smokers at the bus stop and traffic jams, nothing that will be missed.

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