Running is Mental

As I am currently tapering for a Marathon, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to discuss the mental side of running and building on mental strength.  Life is busy sometimes and it can be tough.  It can be tough to balance life, work with numerous hobbies!  When I look at the women that surround me, they are not only physically strong, they are mentally strong…

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I am such a mental runner and recognise the signs of when I start losing my head, usually when my inner voice is telling me ‘everything is hurting’, ‘slow down’, ‘you’re too old for this’, ‘give up’, ‘stop running’. This is where mental strength kicks in, when the little voice in my head gets shut down and I keep pushing.

If you are a runner, you are stronger than you ever know. When your alarm wakes you up for Parkrun or a training run on a weekend morning and you choose to get up rather than snoozing your alarm, ran in the wind or rain or you have swapped gin for a soft drink, you have built on your mental strength.

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Pushing on with the training when you don’t want to, one more rep, one more hill, 10 more minutes, one more mile all help develop your mental strength and grit.  Running is tough, we run through all weathers and despite obstacles of what is going on in our lives. Running allows us to forget, to be strong.

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Some of my friends use mantras to get them through tough races.  My good friend Emma (@Vegangirlthatruns) counts whilst going up a tough hill. (I’ve tried this but end up swearing and forget what number I was on)   I’ve got other friends who have motivational quotes that they repeat in their head on a loop.  Some even say their mantras out loud.  A fellow runner was running a marathon and shouted out her mantras to herself and found she had quite a following.

Running isn’t always perfect, sometimes our body just doesn’t want to. this is where positive thinking comes in and remembering all the good runs you have had.  Its easy to feel let down when your body doesn’t want to… and during this time it’s good to remember the runs where you have smashed it, felt strong and it all felt effortless.

There is so many ways of developing on your mental toughness – mostly by varying your runs so they provide different paces, efforts and locations.  These all build on your mental toughness by making you physically stronger and more confident.

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Its important to remember that your mind is designed to scan for danger and so any areas that throw you into an area of discomfort is where the task of developing mental toughness begins. This is when it becomes a case over body versus mind! Tolerating the brain to deal with the uncomfortable moments will take you to a whole new level of mental toughness! Perfect for race day!

Tapering is always tough on the mind – I am currently worrying about whether I have done enough training, whether I should be getting some junk miles in (just in case) but it’s just my mind playing tricks on me.  A good friend of mine recommended that I read the Chimp Paradox to help me with any mind demons https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chimp-Paradox-Management-Programme-Confidence/dp/009193558X  I have this on order!

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What exercises do you undertake to ensure you are mentally strong for race day and training runs.  What has given you mental grit to keep going? I would love to hear all about it!

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Just Breathe…

I’ve had a pretty bad month this March.  Last week I discovered that my poor Marley had a tumor – he has since had this removed and I can only pray that it hasn’t already spread.  I also found out that God made my knees on a Friday.  During my 16-mile run in early March, my knee decided to give out and was excruciating (and has been ever since).  I am yet to get a diagnosis for this and think I am on the 8th diagnosis which is not only frustrating as it is disappointing. Next week I have a scan to find out what’s going on, once and for all….

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Since the beginning of March (apart from a couple of short runs), I have not been able to carry out any long runs.  I am absolutely gutted at the thought that I may not be on the start line for London next month and the longer time goes on, the more unlikely this prospect is.  Needless to say, my mental health has taken a bit of a battering.  I’ve been keeping a low profile from social media as this is doing nothing for my anxiety.  On the positive side, I have raised a whopping £1600 for the Rowan’s Hospice which they are extremely grateful for.

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Sometimes its good to reminded that we can’t control everything. Our society promotes the ability to have it all and to do it all, if you can’t, you’re a failure. You’re not, its ok not to be ok. Its okay to let friends know that you’re not in a great place.

I have been filling my time with Marley cuddles, and lots of Cross training.  Yoga has also helped, to enable me to just BREATHE…. And mostly, I’m trying to be kind to myself.

Until next time…

Kezza x

Self Love

‘But what are you doing for YOU Kerry?’ This was the burning question my PT asked me not so long ago..  The answer was probably absolutely nothing.  I was caught in a working 40 hours per week, socialising, marathon training, leading at club, organising a 5K for charity and strength training at the gym.  I work in HR and I’ve got to be brutally honest, I was a bit ‘peopled out’.

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Sometimes you burn out before its too late and I had lost a bit of my spark.  I was just mentally and physically exhausted. I can’t remember the last time I sat on my sofa and just did nothing and relaxed.

It’s essential at times to remember that we all have choices and it’s OK to be selfish sometimes.  I try to lead running groups at club at least once a month.  This month, I’ve just not been able to manage it. Do I feel guilty – absolutely.   It’s so easy to feel the tug of war on expectations, challenges, commitments, technology, family, friends and work. But do you need it all to just STOP for a moment?

Dr Seuss summed it up beautifully: “How did it get so late so soon?” he wrote ” It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

This Friday night, I have a date, with myself. I’m going to watch a good film, have a bubble bath, light some candles and incense, turn off all social media and just RELAX.  When was the last time you did that?

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I’ve thought about how I can slow my pace down whilst juggling all these balls in the air and from next week, I’m going to attempt the following;

  1. Breathe – There are a variety of breathing techniques that can help you slow down and enjoy your life. Just by breathing in your nose, hold and breathing out of your mouth
  2. Marley cuddles – There’s a reason why my dog is my best friend. Marley brings me so much joy to my life as well as unconditional love and companionship.

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3.  Just ‘be there’ – being in the present. Having gratitude, listening, being  appreciative    – this can be achieved by yoga, and meditation.

4. Less is more – Spring clean anyone?

5.  Drive Slower – I constantly race from A to B and need to slow down and become less  frustrated with other drivers. We are all guilty of it.

6.  Saying ‘No’ – sometimes having more time for you means saying no from time to time.

What do you do to relax? How do you know when you just need a ‘time out?’

May your miles be long , your weekend relaxing and your injuries few.

Kezza x

 

Things Runners shouldn’t talk about (but do)

It’s been a great couple of months for me running wise.  I’ve felt fit, strong and above all, confident.  I have been working hard with my PT with strengthening my body and so far, so good.

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I have been struggling with the early morning sessions (yes I am prone to an 11 hour sleep) on a Sunday for training runs so decided to put the training back until 10am and this is working much better for me.

I’m still incorporating Body Balance into my training which is working well for stretching and doing so by using the Les Mills Interactive monthly plan. 

That’s enough small talk, let’s get down to business! There are a few things that most runners don’t like to talk about (I do, because I am gross and brutally honest). I run as a Fareham Crusader, so I get to chat to other runners A LOT!  Running isn’t glamorous (only if you spot the photographer in time).

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‘Quick, look happy, there’s a photographer!’

Things you’re not supposed to talk about as a runner…

Snot Rockets

I’m so sorry Jane (my marathon training partner), I am awful at this.  You don’t know what this is?  Yeah right!!! So you can only do this when you are running outside.  If you try it in a gym on the treadmill, you may get thrown out.  It’s pretty much when you are bunged up and you clear one nostril at a time, you get my drift.  Don’t be that guy (yes you, runner at Fareham Parkrun) who did this whilst running and I was running behind you.  It’s very antisocial. There are actually videos online to perfecting the perfect snot rocket.  Fill your boots.

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Instructions for the perfect ‘snot rocket’

Runners Trots

My running friends all know how delicate my stomach is.  I have been known to have ducked into pubs, public loos and even bushes on particularly awkward runs.  When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go.  Funny for me, but not so funny for others who have suffered or perhaps for new runners; this may come as a bit of a shock.  I also know some runners who have really weak bladders and have had to go mid race as they’ve not got to a loo in time… a taboo topic..but it’s more common than you think.

Paula

Even elite runners get caught short..

Bra Rub / Chaffing

I wasn’t blessed with vol-au-vents for boobs and so I get serious bra rub, regardless of what bra/s I wear (Vaseline is my friend).  I’m actually scarred from the number of chaffing wounds I have.  I’m still on the search for the perfect running bra. The longer the run, the more this force begins to stalk its victims. For some, it presents as a slight discomfort, for others, it can be really quite uncomfortable and can really affect your run..

OCD

Oh you’ve only ran 4.89?!  You had better run up and down your road at least 6 times, just enough for the neighbours to think you have finally lost the plot.

Dry Skin

My face has been like sandpaper this winter. I have been using emu oil and vaseline to lather my face from the elements which have been harsh. Runners are prone to skin problems due to the damaging elements like cold, sunlight, and infection. As I am a sufferer of skin cancer, i have to wear a really high factor in the summer.

Asthma in the cold / warm months

I have had my asthma under control for the last year probably because I didn’t end up with pneumonia again for the third time.  You can find out more about running with asthma here

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Black toe nails / No toe nails

Us runners take pride in showing off our manky feet.  Yep, we’re damn proud of how calloused, rough, and mangled our feet are. It just goes to show how much time we put into training. Our feet wouldn’t be this ugly without all the miles we put in. You see, it’s our badge of honour! I draw the line at putting pictures up on social media of a missing toe nail. Too much information people! 🙂

 

Relationships

Goodbye all night raves and barhopping – unfortunately these do not work well with your training plan.  Any runners is aware that they are lucky for any support that they get.  Its really important to thank those supportive, awesome people who are watching your race, waiting for you at the finish line, or for me, looking after Marley Moo (my dog).  My parents are just around the corner and are really supportive and so I am very grateful for that.

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Marley Moo – ‘She’s off running again’

Blisters

Sometimes, they form because of too much sweat. Sometimes, it’s because there’s something in our shoes that’s causing unwanted friction. It may be because of new shoes.  Chances are, if you’re a runner, you have had a blister of some sort.  Us runners like to brag about our blisters, hell, sometimes it turns into a competition – who has the largest and most disgusting blister.  No doubt, there will be that runner who has taken a picture of their blister.  Us runners can be dirty buggers..

Of course, there are lots of positives about running which we DO talk about! A lot! These really do outweigh the above, though I’m yet to find a man who will give me a foot rub..

May your miles be long and your injuries few

Kezza xx

Running with Skin Cancer

This is a bit of a brave post and I have debating for all of the summer months about posting it. In 2012, I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) and Actinic Keratosis (pre-cancerous skin cancer). Whilst basal cell carcinoma is one of the easiest skin cancers to treat, I had let is fester under my eye for too long and it had grown deeper.  If left it any longer, I was in danger of it spreading and it affecting my eye sight, and I required Mohs surgery.  I’ve never really blogged about it before.  I guess I’ve treated it a bit like a dirty secret.

So far, I have had 5 treatments on my face, and one on my arm – most of the treatments have been for Actinic Keratosis (pre-cancerous cells that turn into Squamous cell carcinoma’s). For these treatments, I have had to apply an anti-cancer drug to the area before sleep. The cream burns out and kills the cells which gave me terrible burns to my skin including open wounds.  At the end of the treatment, my skin was burnt and red raw. Yes, I have good make up for running (don’t judge me! 😊) so it’s difficult to spot unless its pointed out. I am also lucky to have had a fantastic consultant and have to regularly go back for checkups.

Unfortunately, the cream hasn’t worked on many occasions and I have had to have Photodynamic therapy which consists of initial treatment of cream to kill the cancer cells, this is then followed by a special light treatment which reacts with the cream to kill the cancer cells. This treatment was excruciatingly painful (think about the shuddery feeling of putting your foot in a boiling hot bath  – but leaving it there for 15 minutes).

Skin cancer is real, but it is preventable. Roughly 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultra violet radiations from the sun.  I lived in Australia for a year and didn’t think skin cancer would happen to me, and would regularly sit in the sun without any sun factor.  Shamefully, as a teenager, I used to lather myself up with baby oil and just bake until I was burnt to a crisp. I naively thought I would eventually end up with a golden tan like my friends.  Half of my family are pale, Scottish and freckly so this wasn’t ever going to happen!

Cancer is scary and unpleasant, it’s also really emotionally draining. This hasn’t been an easy post to share but If this post has just reached one person in using sunblock and using sun preventative measures, I have saved one person some sun damage.

My relationship with the sun is complicated. I love soaking up its warmth and energy, but obviously have to be really careful.  The sun does like to leave its mark – age spots, tan lines, painful burns – to name but a few. There are, of course, reasons to be wary, especially if you’re logging lots of summer miles. But you might be surprised to learn that running in the sun also does your body good..

There’s something about the sunshine that makes us happy. Our mood is better, we feel more positive – making the sunshine vital to our mental and physical health, but we should also know when enough is enough. Here are a few tips to staying safe in the sun…

  1. Certain medication can make you sensitive to the sun. Most topical and oral medications, including those for acne, high blood pressure and birth control can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
  2. Wear a hat or join the #visorclub to prevent sun damage. You won’t catch me without my visor in the summer, I feel naked without it. Also UV – blocking sunglasses are a must – polarised lenses help beat the glare.
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Follow me to the Visor Club

 

  1. Use Sun protection. Bit of an obvious one but a lot of runners won’t wear sunblock due to the stickiness and how much they can make you sweat, so its worth investing in a sports sunscreen which is lighter in texture and less occlusive. I use Neutrogena Ultra sheer, dry touch lotion, factor 55 and it goes on really lightly and isn’t sticky at all.  Gents- Don’t forget to do the rim of your ears and the top of your scalp if you have thinning hair.  If you are able to purchase a travel size, you can keep this in your hydration pack or waist band.
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I can’t run without this

 

  1. Run when the sun is less intense. Generally, the sun us at its strongest between 10am and 4pm, if you train during those hours, find somewhere shady to run.
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You can always find a shady trail run

 

  1. Do your checks regularly. If you spend a lot of time outside, its important that you check for irregular moles or spots which are there for a long time, suddenly appear or become itchy. It’s always worth getting a second opinion by a Doctor if you are unsure.

Taking these small steps is a no brainer. Not only can they extend your running, they can extend your life.

May your miles be long and your injuries few

Kezza x

 

 

 

 

 

Fareham Parkrun Race Report

I was meant to be doing a bit of Parkrun Tourism this morning but I somehow managed to sleep through my alarm so decided on my local Fareham Parkrun. The weather man promised rain, but it was not to be, and it remained hot and muggy.  When I arrived, the air was already filled with excitement and I had a little catch up with my running club members (the Fareham Crusaders) before I knew it the runners briefing was already taking place.

Today there were 216 runners, walkers and joggers. One person was celebrating their 50th Parkrun.  Congratulations to Alexandra Brannigan!  We also welcomed the tourists and gave a huge thanks to the high viz heroes, for without them, this event would not be possible.

Before we knew it, the Director was counting down 3,2, 1… GOOOOOO! And we were off! It didn’t feel as busy this morning, it could have been due to people taking their holidays. I said goodbye to all my fellow Crusaders and promised a cup of tea in Cams pub at the end.  There’s always a bit of chatter at the beginning of this race, the narrow path means that all paces are thrown together, and you can hear conversations about antics from the night before, to weekend plans!

The first mile flew by and before I knew it, we were all spread out along the course. By mile two, the speedier runners are lapping and chasing for that first position.  I am proud to say that a fellow Crusader, Jon Isherwood came second overall in today’s Parkrun. What a massive achievement! Not many runners are fans of the ‘lapping’ but I think it’s a chance to see your team mates and friends again and urge them on!  Another ‘thank you’ to the two high viz heroes on the turn point and I was halfway there.

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The last mile hurt, a lot. I had really pushed myself on this Parkrun and it hadn’t gone amiss that there was a slight incline at mile 3. I looked out to the creek and thought, let’s get this done, so I can get in for a paddle later.  Neil Driscoll from the Fareham Crusaders caught me up and spurred me on with me shouting ‘when does this hill end?!’.  Finally, a high five from one of the high viz heroes and I somehow managed to remain focused on the home straight and kept my eyes on the cones and high viz jackets and I had finished.

I don’t remember taking a token… but I did. I do remember ringing the PB bell! Ding Ding!

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Fareham Parkrun welcomes all runners, walkers and joggers. What makes it great is that everyone is running for their own reasons. This is what makes Parkrun inclusive to everyone!

First home this week was Tom Needham (Bingley Harriers and AC) with a time of 18.20. First lady was Maisie Grice (City of Portsmouth AC) with a time of 18.55. There were 21 PB’s today!

Until next week!

Running with Asthma

Since running, I have really noticed how bad my asthma is in the cold. In fact, it’s been so bad that I took the time to research whether other runners were feeling the same. Turns out, they were, and I soon discovered that there was a common theme occurring. I was not alone.

I didn’t get diagnosed with asthma until I was in my early twenties and it has never posed me any issues. That was until I started running. This January I’ve come down with Pneumonia for the second time in two years. Unfortunately, I believe this has been caused by running in the bitter cold. The freezing cold air is absolutely no good for my lungs and this is a hard pill to swallow. Will I run on the ‘dreadmill’ for colder runs? I just can’t see it. I love the outdoors too much. I can’t think of anything worse than running and not seeing new things and not actually going anywhere!

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Running Free!

Will asthma stop me doing the things I love – absolutely not. Asthma UK have actually said ‘Exercise, including cardio vascular exercise like running has amazing benefits for everyone’s health. this includes improving how the lungs actually work. In fact, Jo Pavey is an advocate for running with asthma and says ‘Being fit has improved my asthma so much. When I was at University and not doing much running, I would really struggle for breath going uphill. That just doesn’t happen when I am looking after my fitness’

As well as Jo Pavey, Paula Radcliffe was also diagnosed with exercise induced asthma as the age of fourteen, so it is not impossible to excel at sports because you have asthma. Worth remembering!

For me, I am going to have to ease back into running gently. Unfortunately, cold weather does trigger asthma symptoms because cold air can irritate the airways. I have tried running with a buff – this has helped to warm the air to my lungs beforehand. Asthma UK have initiated the ‘#Scarfie’ and they are encouraging asthma sufferers to wear a scarf over their mouth -www.asthma.org.uk/scarfie

Luckily, I have never been in a position where I have had an asthma attack, but symptoms to be mindful of are;

  1. A) Wheezing and coughing
  2. B) Gasping for air
  3. C) Tightness in the chest
  4. D) Having trouble speaking short sentences

There are many things you can do to look after yourself if you have asthma.

  1. A) Take your inhalers. . You can take their inhalers before they leave for their runs to ease the symptoms of asthma
  2. B) In the summer, Pollen can trigger asthma so run early in the morning before the pollen count is high
  3. C) Warm up your lungs! Running for a few short minutes before your run will help. A few quick spurts will warm up your lungs for your main run.
  4. D) Use a scarf over your mouth to warm up your lungs
  5. E) Carry your inhaler – you know this makes sense!
  6. F) Consider carrying around an ‘ICE’ tag (in case of emergencies tag).
  7. G) Tell people about your asthma and what they should do if you were to have an attack.
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#scarfie

The key is if you are looking after your symptoms well, you can enjoy any kind of exercise including running. Unfortunately living in the UK means that if you have asthma, you must be extra cautious, especially in the winter months.

If you need further advice on asthma, its worth visiting the asthma UK official website (www.asthma.org.uk).

May your miles be long and your injuries few

Kezza x

 

All I want for Christmas….

Christmas is rapidly approaching and it’s time to start thinking about presents! Have a runner in your life?  Here are some great ideas for you. Here are a few of my fav things and some suggestions! If you are a runner reading this, perhaps leave this webpage open on the gift you would like!

PANTS!

Runderwear are an absolute must for any runner. They don’t chafe, are breathable and super comfortable. I have them in every colour! https://www.runderwear.co.uk/runderwear

 


SOCKS!

The only time it is acceptable to buy socks for Christmas! 😊   I really like Thorlo socks – these are amazing for long distance but there are cheaper socks out there. Karrimor are also very good value for money (these can be bought at Sports Direct).

https://www.karrimor.com/

https://www.thorlo.com/Karrimor socks


RACE ENTRY

There are so many races out there! Just pick your distance and choose your area. From Santa this year, I am hoping for an entry to the Lochness Marathon in Scotland. Need to choose a race? Here’s a link!

https://www.runbritain.com/races

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RUNNING BELT

I REALLY love the Flipbelt! It’s so comfortable and doesn’t ‘bounce’ like other waist bands. It’s unbelievable how much you can fit in this baby! They come in all shapes and sizes too!

https://flipbelt.co.uk/

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TRAINERS

Of course! Nothing lights up a runner’s life than some new rides. Handy hint coming* – runners are really particular about the branding and make of their trainers so worth checking the brand that they are wearing before making any purchase. I absolutely LOVE Brooks, they do so many different pairs of trainers for different running styles. My favourite are Brooks GTS – they are so generous with the padding and support and are great for long runs.

http://www.brooksrunning.com/en_gb

Brooks


SHORTS

You can’t go wrong with a good pair of shorts. My favourite are my Gore running shorts as they don’t budge and ride up. I am finding it really difficult to find another pair.

GORE shorts


SPORTS MASSAGE

You can’t go wrong with a good sports massage. Why not purchase a voucher for your runner? Perfect for ironing out those niggles and knots. I’m in Fareham and use the lovely Sharon at the Rural Retreat – she’s only little but her fingers pack a punch!

http://www.ruralretreatmassage.com

Shazzer

 


ENERGY GELS

Perfect for any runner who is marathon training or long distance training. You might want to again check which ones to buy as they don’t always suit every runner.   Personally for me, I have gastro issues with most gels but am fine with High 5 energy gels. You can’t go wrong with these!

http://www.highfive.co.uk

 

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AFTERSHOKZ

These are a really smart idea – they work by functioning on the vibration through the cheekbone to the inner ear and so therefore you can hear everything that is going on around you.     These are a brilliant idea for the health and safety element. These come in wireless and with wires and in different colours too. Top of my list for xmas!https://aftershokz.co.uk/

Aftershokz



 

Here are some other ideas from some fellow runners;

 

paul pickford

‘A GPS handheld device with maps/route planner, A race entry (tougher and longer the better) A new pair of short shorts’ – Paul Pickford, Ultrarunner and Captain for the Fareham Crusaders (Follow him on Twitter – @Pickfordpj)

 

rebecca

‘On my list I have a parkrun wristband (@parkrunUK), a RUNR hoodie (www.runr.co.uk) and some egloves (https://www.eglove.co.uk/)’ -Rebecca Wroblewski, Runner (Follow her on Twitter on @bigmugoftea).  Follow Rebecca’s blog on www.bigmugoftea.com

Nick White‘I Have been converting some slightly pricy waterproof jackets. Particularly liking the Ronhill Nightfall (http://www.ronhill.com/mens-infinity-nightfall-jacket). Because it’s called the Nightfall and at heart I just want to be Batman… too much info right? (I’ll get my coat).”  Nick White – Runner. Follow him on Twitter – @Nickswhiteter

 

 

Kirsten

‘I’d like a parachute resistance thing, trail shoes and a top to toe massage – oh and a bigger medal hanger (in case you are reading hubby and need some ideas” – Kirsten Thatcher – Runner for the Fareham Crusaders

 

I hope you get everything you want for Christmas. Be good – Santa is watching!

May your miles be long and your injuries few

Kezza x

 

Disclaimer – I was not paid by any manufacturer, distributor, or retailer to promote any of their products. All products and gear mentioned by me were purchased with my own money for my own personal use while running. My advice to you is to do the same – get suggestions (like those in this article), but see what works best for you!

Runners Playlist 2017

You’ve got to love a running playlist. I think we all have those songs that will give us an instant boost when our legs are fatigued and ready to quit! It may be the lyrics that keep us motivated and in the zone although it could be the beat – or both!  – one thing is for sure, these songs give me the extra little ‘umpf’ that I need. I love a good ‘bursting out’ into song mid run…

Title Artist
Bullit Watermat
Sunchyme Dario G
Summit Skrillex (fest Ellie Goulding)
Summer Rain Slinkee Minx
Waiting for a Sign Antoine Villoutreix
Better off Alone Alice Deejay
Pretty Green Eyes Ultrabeat
2 Times Ann Lee
Everytime we Touch Cascada
All the Small Things Blink 182
Feels Calvin Harris
Party Chris Brown
Jubel Kingande
Hello Martin Solvieg
Nobody to Love Sigma
Who knows Protoje
Gold Dust DJ Fresh
Cool Le Youth
What about us The Saturdays
Cheerleader Omi
On My Mind The Disciples
Symphony Clean Bandit
More than Friends James Hype
Havana Camila Cabello

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I do get bored after a while and switch these up every so often. What’s on your current playlist?

May your runs be long and your injuries few…

Kezza x

Running & Iron

Up until recently I have been really struggling with my running. I really noticed it this year when I was training for a marathon; I would literally be so exhausted, and having 12 hours sleep most evenings. When running, I felt like I had absolutely nothing left in the tank and was always short of breath.  I was also training more, but wasn’t ever improving – I just couldn’t understand it. Girls I ran with at the club were suddenly overtaking me at Parkrun’s and I would be scratching my head wondering why this was happening.

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One fateful day, the lovely Nick Anderson from the Company ‘Running with us’ paid a visit to my club. Nick spoke a little bit about iron and a light bulb went off in my head.  I bravely approached Nick at the end of his presentation and presented him with my dilemma – I think it went something like this ‘Seriously Nick, am I too old for this shit?’  Nick laughed and explained that as I had only been running for 3 years, I hadn’t even hit my peak with my running- regardless that I was a ‘senior’ runner.  Nick pretty much said that he thought I was iron deficient and said I should call the GP for a blood test.  He also said I was sleeping and eating like a teenager, but moving on….  I got home and researched how on earth iron would help me improve and was startled to learn that the red blood cells are transporting oxygen to your working muscles when you run – basically if you have low iron levels, you generate fewer red blood cells and your hemoglobin levels decline – hence less oxygen to your muscles – hampering performance, or in layman’s terms – leaving you bloody knackered. Trying to improve with low iron would be like trying to flog a dead horse.

Iron deficiency in female runners is very common. In a 2000 study, 26 per cent of 126 female endurance athletes were iron deficient. (Source – Women’s Running Magazine, 2017). Shocking stuff!

I also learnt that runners are losing iron all the time and it needs to be replaced. This is through;

Through your Feet! Yep, crazy huh? When your foot strikes the floor red blood cells are damaged which reduce your hemolysis levels.

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Sweating – I’m not a lady who ‘glows’ and ‘glistens’. Apparently, the amount of iron loss isn’t huge, although if it’s hot and humid, the iron losses can add up

Through the Intestines – a problem for most athletes.

Female ‘time of the month’ – For obvious reasons

Nutrition – If you aren’t stocking up on your iron enriched foods, this is going to have a massive effect on your iron levels. I am not a massive red meat eater- I just hate the smell and the taste. Foods high in iron are green leafy veg, dried fruit, whole grain cereals / bread, egg yolk, lean red meat, lentils and chickpeas.

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My GP provided me with a blood test to check my ferritin levels (iron stores) and they were at 17mcg/L. An athlete’s ferritin levels should be much higher than this – obviously these levels are different for males and females.  An ideal score should be above 50mcg/L.  The Doctor did confirm that my score was really low and was surprised that I was able to train and run a marathon with such a low ferritin score. The Doctor prescribed some high dose iron tablets (Ferrous Sulphate 200mg) which had a really interesting effect on my stomach.  My doctor then placed me on Ferrous Fumarate which are gentler on the gut.  I am still having issues with the tablets and have had to adjust the time I take them to ensure no awkward moments. I have been taking my tablets with a glass of orange juice and a Vit C tablet to aid the absorption.

Since taking the tablets, I must say, my running has really improved and I’m feeling amazing.  I am also not having a nap at my desk at 3pm. I have been obtaining more PB’s and have even gone up a group at run club! I am also craving less sugar as I am not as tired.

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It’s important to say that I am not a medical expect in any way shape or form, but I think it is important that people know how a lack of iron can influence your sports performance.

May your miles be long and your injuries few.

Kezza x