Monthly Archives: June 2013

Rest Week

Training has been going ok again the last few weeks. I’ve been increasing my mileage steadily and I feel like I’m getting somewhere after all the injury nastiness. Currently I’m concentrating on building my endurance base and I’m hoping the speed will follow as I get stronger. I’ve also been to a couple of Running Club sessions at Dragon Crossfit which were interval sessions and speed work. I absolutely love these sessions. I love being around other runners and I love interval training. I did it all the time when I was a track athlete so I tend to enjoy it and find it familiar. The old legs were a bit slow to start with but they eventually remembered what to do.

I struggled to fit anything much in over the weekend as I was away but I did manage to get half an hour of running on a treadmill in the after thought that was the ‘fitness suite’ in a spa type resort on the weekend. It was a hen weekend so I joined in with the towelling robe part for a short while, got bored, changed into my runners and shorts and hit the treadmill. The other girls on the hen must have thought I was bonkers. But I say sitting around in a dull room with weird music in a wet swimming costume and fluffy orange dressing gown is bonkers!

I have had a couple of niggles and I haven’t been feeling that great. I’ve got an ongoing health issue hanging over me and I’m due to have more blood tests. My stomach is being naughty and lately lots of things I’m used to eating normally have been making me rather ill. Bit inconvenient for someone who exercises a lot and likes cheese and pasta and bread. Frustrating is definitely one word. Bloody annoying are two more. Hopefully though I’ll get to the bottom of things soon and I can stop worrying.

When I reflected back on the last few weeks, considered the niggle in my calf and other issues I decided to have a rest week. I know it may seem excessive but I’ve continued to train over niggles before and all that happens is that little niggles become bigger niggles which then become nasty persistent injuries. This time I’m listening to my body. I also feel that with this other health issue hanging over me and impending tests, I want to get them out the way and recharge a bit. I need to have time being good to myself. I can’t deny that I won’t have that feeling of guilt hanging over me because I won’t be exercising but it’s because I want to keep running that I’m doing this. I’m sure by the end of the week I’ll be climbing the walls and will have reneged on this agreement with myself but I’m going to do my best to rest.

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Running and Raising Boys

I’ve been reading a great deal online in the last few days about how we should speak in front of our daughters with regards to diet and health. I do feel that boys get left out of this a little bit with people forgetting that young boys spend a lot of time with their mothers and can also be influenced by what they see and hear their female role models talking about.

Little boys soon become convinced that boys are better than girls. Boys are stronger, faster, more powerful and generally superior to girls. It’s something that riles me a little bit. People say it’s a rite of passage and that all boys and girls go through this rivalry but I don’t agree that it should do unchecked. Which is probably what led to this exchange one day between my eldest son and I.

5 yo ‘J’s Dad is a really fast runner. He runs really far and he can beat loads of people’.

I happen to know J’s dad. I have discussed running many times with J’s dad. J’s dad also happens to be ex forces, in a regiment well known for physical prowess. I also happen to know the time in which J’s dad runs a marathon. My time is quicker.

Me ‘Actually I’m a faster runner than J’s dad.’

5yo ‘No you’re not because you’re a girl.’

Me ‘Yes I am. I know I’m faster. I ran a marathon faster than J’s dad’

This led on to a conversation about how far a marathon is, the time it took me to run it and comparatively how long it took J’s dad to run it. It could very well have been an educational conversation as well when you consider that we talked about what miles were and how many minutes in an hour etc. But that wasn’t the point I wanted to get home. I wanted him to understand that sometimes girls aren’t slower than boys, girls are equal to boys in many ways and that, actually, sometimes girls can be better at something than boys.

Maybe it was just be being competitive but I don’t want my boys to grow up with this patriarchal rhetoric that because you’re a boy you’re automatically better at something. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously but why shouldn’t boys see that sometimes the female role models in their lives can be just as good or even better at something than the men they know?

I want my boys to see that:

Women can be strong both mentally and physically.

Women can be powerful.

Women are to be respected for their achievements.

Women always deserve respect.

Women are equal to men.

I really hope the boys see all this in their home life, both in the relationship they see between their father and I but also in the things that they see their mother do whether it be work or exercise. Girls are obviously incredibly influenced by what their mothers say and do but so are boys. In a weird way running seems to be a way for me to show them just how strong their mother, a woman, a girl, can be.

Dear Drug Cheats, I feel like a mug

Dear Dopers and Drug Cheats

I feel like a bit of a mug. I am a huge athletics fan and for many years I’ve proabably been a fan of yours. I’ve probably watched many of your races, cheered you on and all the while not knowing that you’ve been deceiving everyone around you.

There have been many athletes testing positive for banned substances all over the world of late and I could name them individually but what I do want to is tell you, the dopers and drug cheats, is how I feel.

I feel totally mugged off. Every time an athlete tests positive a little bit of my love and respect for the sport that I love gets eroded. Athletes who cheat obviously have no respect for their fellow athletes, their federations and governing body and least of all I’m guessing their fans. Which is ridiculous because we’re the ones who pay you via ticket fees. Athletes who have been cheating will have signed autographs, posed for pictures with children and accepted accolades and dedications from admiring peers all the while knowing that they are deceiving everyone around them. It’s really rather sickening.

If it’s a first time offence you serve a two year ban and come back with no real consequences. Some athletes seem quite happy to chest bump and parade around like they’re super heroes. Athletes like them show no remorse, they’re just sorry that they didn’t get caught. It’s arrogant and seedy and it makes me angry. If you don’t think you’re good enough then why not work harder? Why not put in a little bit extra? Why risk your health and well being just in case it gives you a few hundredths of a second?

When an athlete I’ve been a fan of tests positive I always feel embarrassed. I don’t know why I’m embarrassed, it’s not like I would have known this was going to happen, but still I do. It means I got you wrong and I have to defend my love of athletics to people who already think athletics is a complete joke. So thank you for that doper/drug cheat. I hope you enjoy your ban and let’s face it, you’ll be back after 2 years like nothing happened. But us fans will remember and we won’t be cheering you on any more.

Sincerely,

Me.

Athletics Makes Me Cry

I never thought I would ever be able to say that Sean Connery and I have something in common but apparently we do: athletics makes us cry. In an interview which you can read described here, Sir Sean is asked what makes him cry and after a pause he gives his reply. Athletics. I first read that he had said this in Running With The Kenyans. I got to this sentence in the book and I re-read it a couple of times knowing exactly what he meant.

I basically cried throughout the entire athletics programme, Olympics and Paralympics during London 2012. There was a permanent lump in my throat and more often than not tears flowed. Maybe it’s because I’ve always tried to follow athletics so I’ve read personal interviews about injury heartache, lost opportunities and devastating losses. So when I watch these people do well at the event that they’ve poured their body and soul into and you can see the delight and relief all at once, it makes my spine tingle and my eyes water.

Of course there are iconic moments in athletics and it is almost impossible to pick one moment over another. They are all special for different reasons: Kelly Holmes winning double gold after all her injury problems. Cathy Freeman winning in Sydney with 100,000 people screaming her name, Jonny Peacock punching the air after winning the 100m. All of these videos can make me emotional. There is one video though that never fails to make me cry and it is this one:

What’s the athletics or indeed sporting moment that leaves you with a lump in your throat?

My First Ever Recipe Post! ‘Classic’ Bolognese

I haven’t written a recipe post on Running Mum before. This is unchartered territory for me but the recipe I’m sharing is one that is too nice not to share. Us runner’s need a good recipe repertoire and this pasta sauce recipe is a classic. It is a bolognese sauce recipe, a big favourite of mine and one that is always relatively easy to do. This recipe is taken from Rachel Allen’s lasagne recipe. She uses this bolognese sauce as a base for her lasagne but it’s really nice without going the whole hog with pasta sheets and cheese sauce. I was going to talk about the recipe, how nice it is and just try and link to the recipe on Rachel Allen’s site, however this recipe does not appear to be there anymore. So even if I do give Rachel Allen credit for this pasta sauce I need to apologise first to her because this is from memory and may now be a complete bastardisation of her actual recipe *sorry Rachel*.

You will need:

Lean beef mince 500g

Celery stick

Carrot

Onion

Olive oil and a knob of butter

Clove of garlic

Tinned tomatoes or jar of passata

Parsley

Basil

Vegetable stock (plus optional white wine)

1. Take a celery stick, medium sized onion and a carrot and chop them into fairly large chunks. Pop them in a blender and give them a whiz so they’re finely chopped.
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3. Heat a tablespoon of oil (I use olive oil) and a little bit of butter in a pan. Once heated pop in the diced celery, onion and carrot. The vegetables soak up the oil and butter. Cook until the vegetables are golden.
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4. Add 500g of lean beef mince (Rachel Allen suggests using half beef mince and half pork mince in her recipe). Brown the mince and add a clove of crushed garlic.

5. Once all the mince is browned off pour in a tomato passata or a tin of tomatoes. I like the texture of passata and I love a very ‘saucy’ bolognese myself but use whatever you prefer.

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6. Simmer gently and add in 2 fl oz of vegetable stock. Season to taste. I also add a sprinkle of sugar to take the edge off the tomatoes. Rachel Allen also adds 2 fl oz of white wine to her sauce but I’m not a massive fan of wine in cooking so I tend to leave it out.

6. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes so that the sauce thickens. Towards the end of cooking stir in some a tablespoon of diced parlsey and a tablespoon of chopped up basil leaves. I’m not a huge parsley fan so sometimes I leave it out but the basil makes a difference to this sauce.

Serve with spaghetti pasta or whichever pasta is your favourite. The boys love spaghetti pasta so it’s always a good reason to make a bolognese. If you’re off the carbs and going all out paleo then you could try courgette spaghetti which I saw on Instagram the other day. It looked quite yummy though I imagine it good go watery.

Plate up and enjoy!

(You’ll notice that my food pictures stop quite abruptly. I plated up and started eating. By the time I’d finished I remembered I had meant to take a picture but I’m sure you all know what a plate of bolognese looks like).

Running The Salomon City Trail

A little while ago Salomon Sports contacted me on Twitter and asked me if I had ever tried trail running. I said I hadn’t but admitted that living in Wales I really had no excuse not to (I mean, have you seen Wales? It’s gorgeous). Salomon suggested that I might like to visit one of the Salomon City Trail events, meet their team and try out their shoes on a pre marked route. So that’s what I did on Sunday. I headed to Mortlake Green in South West London ready for action in my brand new snazzy leggings (my Mum says they’re ugly, I disagree).

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I met up with Tord, Dom and Richard who gave me a warm welcome. Dom talked me through the three shoes that they had for me to try out: Speedcross, XR Crossmax and the Sense Mantra. All of these shoes are trail shoes but designed for slightly different requirements. The Speedcross is an out and out trail running shoe. The Crossmax is a door to trail shoe and more like a road/trail hybrid while the Sense Mantra is a light weight shoe for mid to forefoot runners.

To start off my Salomon City Trail experience I opted to go for the , Speedcross (RRP £95.00) the full on trail shoe. I’ve never worn a trail shoe in my life. They always look so bulky and not always aesthetically pleasing but the purple Speedcross was rather pleasing to the eye.

It has an 11mm drop so it is ideal for trail terrain rather than tarmac. I really liked the Quicklace mechanism and the little pocket on the tongue which you could tuck the laces away in. All trainers should have that little pocket. It would mean no more muddy, wet laces. I’m surprised more brands haven’t tried this on their shoes!

After lacing up I headed out on the 4.5 k route which meant running through the high street to Richmond Park, which should be the perfect trail running ground. Not the case however if it’s been dry and hot (not complaining I hasten to add). If I’m honest I wasn’t expecting to like this shoe. I perceived that being a trail shoe it would be heavy and cumbersome. Dom and I ran up to Richmond Park chatting about running and he then asked me how the shoe was. It dawned on me that I had been largely unaware of the shoes. Usually when I try a new runner I feel hyper aware of them on the first few runs. Not this shoe though. I can honestly say it’s one of the most comfortable running shoes I’ve ever put on my feet. I had expected to feel heavy footed and ploddy (is that a word?) but I felt light and bouncy.

When I arrived back it was suggested that I go from one extreme to the other so I popped the Sense Mantra (RRP £110) on. This shoe was developed for midfoot and forefoot runners as a more natural shoe. It was described to me as being a light weight training shoe which encouraged natural motion with neutral cushioning. This reminded me a bit of a road running flat.

salomon sense mantra

It was definitely the case of going to the other extreme. I’m a midfoot runner anyway but this shoe with it’s low heel drop really pushed me up onto my forefoot and I found that was the only way I could run in them. I tried to go back to my normal strike but forefoot was where I felt more comfortable. This shoe felt slightly more roomy than the Speedcross and I was told that they come up a half size large to allow for the splaying that occurs at the toes when you go into forefoot strike. I wasn’t so sure though. Even in my running spikes I prefer to be a bit snug so this shoe felt a little too roomy. If I did use it I’d be tempted to go down a half size to my regular shoe size. I’m a 3.5 and for running I either go for 3.5 or a 4.

The first version of the Sense shoe was developed by Salomon in their S-Lab where they design shoes for their elite ultra and trail athletes. The original Sense was developed for Salomon athlete Kilian Jornet. The shoe was then re-developed with recreational trail runners in mind.

After my second 4.5k lap in the Sense Mantra I moved onto the Crossmax (RRP £100) which is Salomon’s door-trail shoe, ideal for those runners who need to run along the road a bit before reaching their trail.

salomon crossmax

To test this shoe out I went out alongside the river for a 2k route. It struck me how similar this shoe was to a standard road running shoe. It wasn’t as light and bouncy as the Speedcross but definitely more supportive than the natural Sense Mantra. I did like this shoe and I wish now I’d gone on the longer route just to test it out a bit more. I can see how this would be good for door-trail as it isn’t an out and out trail shoe but if you had to stick with the roads I don’t think you’d have to worry too much.

20130609_142510So after about 11k of running I had tested the three Salomon shoes. I liked all three shoes. The Crossmax was great but very similar I think to the Nike Pegasus and Brooks Ravenna that I already run in and I wouldn’t be bothered about taking either of those on a slightly mucky trail. I did like the Sense Mantra but as I said for me I would like it to be a bit more snug, but that’s just me. I think if I had a tighter fit I could imagine racing a trail 5k or 10k in this shoe. The way it pushes you onto your forefoot almost forces you into a race stance, so it might not be a trail shoe for beginners who aren’t used to that.

salomon speedcross

Out of the three I tried I was pleasantly surprised by the Speedcross. Light, bouncy and not cumbersome in the slightest. It fitted well, had great support and felt effortless on my feet. The complete opposite of what I expected a trail shoe to be and if you haven’t tried a trail shoe before then the Salomon City Trail events are a great excuse to try them out.

Meeting the Salomon team, trying the shoes and talking about trail running has got me thinking a bit more about the type of running I do right now. I’m very much a road runner right now but this event has got me thinking about where I do my training and the types of events I tend to enter. I’d definitely like to try a trail race in the future so watch this space!

To find a Salomon City Event near you to try the shoes, meet the team and their athletes visit www.salomoncitytrail.co.uk for more information.

(This is an honest review and all opinions and views are my own).

 

Salomon City Trail

Tomorrow I will be heading to Mortlake Green in London to test out trail running with the Salomon City Trail. Trail running in the UK is growing in popularity, you just have to be on Twitter and read running blogs to see this. This summer Salomon are giving us recreational runners the chance to try trail running with their experts.

Living in South Wales I am rather blessed with the best of both worlds. I’m not too far outside Cardiff to enjoy pounding the tarmac in the city but I live in a semi rural area in a valley just outside that should give me access to some of the most stunning running routes in the UK. However I need to be honest, I tend to stick to my familiar tarmac routes. I’m hoping that visiting the Salomon team tomorrow will stimulate a curiosity for trail running and make me a bit braver about stepping off the roads and into the forests and hills that surround me. At the moment I am not convinced that they’ll persuade me to leave the roads but we shall see. Like the commentary in this video says, all you need is a pair of shoes and a little curiosity. Hopefully I come back to Wales a little more adventurous!

To find a Salomon City Trail event near you then click here.

p.s this video makes me want to visit San Francisco so badly!

p.p.s I wanted to include this second video from Salomon called Designed for Freedom because it is just beautiful. Running really is freedom.