Sunday, 11 August 2019

10 WAYS DIETETIC PLACEMENT IS LIKE AN ULTRA-MARATHON…




Whilst this title sounds dramatic, I’m someone who enjoys ultra-marathons…if you’re looking at studying dietetics, please don’t let this put you off. Placement is a huge part of the degree that helps you develop and put your knowledge into practice, and is a fantastic experience. I just couldn’t help but find a few comparisons, so here are my musings…

1.    All the gear and no idea...okay, some idea. I often feel like a rookie when I turn up to ultras and never really feel like I truly know what I’m doing, a bit like imposter syndrome I suppose. I felt very similar during week 1 of placement, arriving in my tunic, with my pocket calculator and requirements booklet in hand…I felt quite scared and had no idea what laid ahead of me. Truth is, you never will. We can’t predict the future, but with repeated exposure and practice we can learn along the way.
2.    Having a support crew. In an ultra, if Dom or a friend can’t make it to the race then I always ensure I can at least phone them. Just knowing I can talk with someone when things are going wrong or getting tough, or equally when I’m feeling good…It’s always great to have that support.
3.     Regular snacking will help get you through. Just like with any endurance event, you are burning through energy and need to keep refuelling to keep on top of that energy. Well on placement you are constantly learning, and I found my brain would often feel fatigued at the end of a shift. Regular snacks may not be feasible when you’re on the wards, but ensuring you have good meals to get you through certainly helps (as does the odd homemade flapjack my colleagues would sometimes bring in)
4.    The community around you is pretty awesome! I personally find the running community to be incredibly helpful and inspirational, and I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a fantastic team of supportive dietitians’ on my placement. I learnt a lot from them, just like I do with you guys with running!
5.     Pit stops – during an ultra, you may visit numerous pit stops to refuel and perhaps rest for a while. During placement, your weekends are your pit stops. This is your opportunity to revive yourself, take a bit of a break and perhaps reflect on your week.
6.    You can train all you want, but there will be some situations you just can’t prepare for. Just like in a race, some things are out of your control. You can study and research everything under the sun…but you will still face new situations which text-books can’t prepare you for.
7.     You will reach a point where you're not sure you can finish. Fatigue sets in, perhaps it feels like you’re not making any progress and you just cannot picture that finish line. FYI this is when your support crew comes in handy ;)
8.    Equally, you will reach a point when you realise you can and will finish. Similar to the final 2 miles of a race, the final 2 weeks of placement you discover new energy. Sure, you’re tired, but something carries you through and you give it all you’ve got for that final push!
9.    The finish feels extremely rewarding – you have been on a journey, a journey where you have probably learnt a lot about yourself. You may not get a medal at the end of placement but just the feeling of passing feels great and you know that your hard work paid off.
10. There is always more to learn – I feel with every race I learn something new. On placement, this was daily. Even after 12 weeks, although I feel I have developed professionally and personally, we are forever learning. Knowledge has a beginning but no end.

I could have probably written another 10 comparisons… Placement was definitely challenging, but in a brilliant way (much like an ultra-marathon). I decided to take on 2 ultras within the first 6 weeks of placement and have had a wedding to plan, so whilst I felt incredibly busy, it has gone so fast and I’m actually going to miss it. Nevertheless, I’m ready for a summer break (and to get married!) to come back fresh and ready for the final year!

Monday, 17 June 2019

RACE TO THE TOWER 2019


Race to the Tower 2019 – My second ultra-marathon, but this time an extra 18 miles!

My first ultra was an endurance life event along the Jurassic Coast. It was a brutal 35 miles I took on solo in relentless stormy weather. I learnt so much about myself during that race, mostly how determined I can be as I still look back and wonder how the thought of quitting never actually entered my mind… the weather was so unforgiving and miserable, it made the climbs and descents into a theme park of slippery mud slides and running all that way alone was a challenge in itself. I decided this ultra would be different, threshold events are busier so I was going to socialise with other runners and it was going to be more about having fun than about ‘getting it done’.

THE LEAD UP


The lead up to the race was mainly spent of evenings building up irrational fears in my head. Will I finish? Will I be broken by 14 miles? (Which had happened on my previous 2 long runs). Will I incur an injury? Will I be alone the entire way? Will I recover in time to attend work on Monday? All this anxiety pushed me into telling myself I would run to basecamp (halfway) and call it a day. I was okay with this decision too, because I knew I had another 2 ultras ahead of me to have another go.
I honestly felt so worried and scared because all I was thinking about was the total distance and elevation. Other experienced ultra-runners told me to stop thinking about the total challenge, and to think about it pit stop to pit stop. So in 10-20k chunks. This is the best advice I have ever been given! By switching my thought process to this, I immediately felt more positive. I spoke to my fiancé Dom about it, and agreed I would just play it by ear and see how the race goes, but if I wanted to stop after the first marathon then I would.

THE START

It was a 6am departure from Bristol to drive out to the Cotswolds. The weather was wet and windy and so flashbacks from my first ultra started to build up fear again. I really didn’t feel I had the mental strength to endure stormy conditions for 53 miles. On arrival, it had calmed down and was just a bit drizzly. So on the waterproof jacket went and I hunted down some running pals from Instagram – Carly (@girl_run_the_shire) and Katie (@katie_jayne_the_runner). We all decided we would set off in the first wave at 7.30am so we weren’t hanging around getting cold. Threshold aren’t strict on starting waves and you can change on the day. We ensured we stayed right at the back so that we weren’t in the way of any speedy runners.



The race started off going downhill…. How lovely! But I think we all knew that going down meant we would have some big ‘going ups’… however we were using our ‘pit stop to pit stop’ mantra, and so all I was thinking was I just need to run 10k through the glorious Cotswolds. Easy right?!
It was pretty slippery underfoot and I was grateful I chose to wear my trail shoes. We approached a big incline, which we thought must be the first ‘big’ hill (there are 7 large climbs throughout the course). This turned out not to be one of the big ones though…
The first big climb did soon come around, which rewarded us all with stunning views and then we were at pit stop 1 where Dom decided to meet us (and every pitstop thereafter!) Quick banana and a pack of sweets in my pocket we were back to running.



PIT STOP 1 TO 2

Pit stop 1 to 2 was another 6 to 7ish miles but I remember it going quickly.  Katies Dad popped up en route and ran alongside us all for a bit with words of encouragement. Carly’s knee was giving her some jip going downhill, so Katie’s Dad stuck by her into pit stop 2 where we all regrouped and refuelled. 

The next pit stop wasn’t very far away, however I was very aware we had another big climb coming up so I made sure to refill my water bottles and eat some food (I munched on some salt and vinegar crisps and had a couple of slices of orange). At this point, Carly told Katie and I to carry on without her. She was still going to keep going but decided to walk the sections causing her any pain. This was a hard decision, and Carly knew both Katie and I wanted to finish between 14 and 15 hours and so told us to go and chase that.

*side note…times really don’t worry me too much, especially in ultras. But I wanted to finish at a reasonable hour so I could get back to Bristol for a good night’s sleep and so that Dom didn’t have to be waiting forever. Also by setting myself a realistic time goal, it gives me something to work towards and keeps me going mid race!

PIT STOP 2 TO 3

I really wish I could remember more of the climbs to describe here. But in all honestly, with every hill I just got my poles out and we marched up them without stopping determined to just get to the top, and then we would appreciate the views. They have all kind of blended into one giant hill now…but they were steep. A lot of them were also narrow so you were in single file. I remember one in particular being very humid and hot because it was extremely overgrown and jungle like! None of them felt as tough as what I endured on the Jurassic Coast, but the conditions were kinder and my poles became my best friend! Tough and challenging, but stunning rewards and doable!
Pit stop 3 saw me make use of my collapsible cup and I had a cup of flat coke. I munched on a wedge of watermelon and a flapjack in my pocket I felt ready for the next section. The next pit stop would be basecamp….half way. I was feeling good and at this point knew I basecamp was not the finish line for me.



PIT STOP 3 TO BASECAMP

We had another technical and rocky downhill followed by half a big climb where Dom met us and ran into basecamp with us. Here I was ready to eat some real grub and honestly wanted to sit down…but after taking some top tips from ultra-runner Jon (@jayz_runs_and_cooks)…one piece of advice was to not sit down if possible. So Katie and I grabbed some pasta and made a PB sandwich and decided to walk around basecamp whilst eating to keep the legs moving. We stayed at basecamp for around 30 minutes and I started to get a bit cold so we made a move again to finish off the big climb.



BASECAMP TO PIT STOP 5

It was weird thinking there were only 3 pit stops left…they were ticking off so quickly. However pit stop 5 seemed to never come. A big climb led us to an incredible 360 degree view of the Cotswolds where Dom was waiting for us at the top. He stayed with us for a couple of miles and I took another sachet of tailwind and flapjack from him as well as my head torch and Garmin charger. Dom wanted to carry on with us to pit stop 5 but it just wasn’t coming so I told Dom to head back to the car and I would see him at some other point before the finish.



My legs were feeling tired and I had got through a lot of water since the last pit stop so was desperate for a refill. The ‘1 mile to pit stop sign’ never appeared and we started to think we must have missed the entire station. We climbed a slight incline and then at the top could see a pit stop flag…Katie turned to look at me looking so happy, I think we both were on the verge of tears, happy, relieved tears!



PIT STOP 5 TO PIT STOP 6

I refilled one of my bottles with the tailwind I took from Dom only to discover he had handed me a caffeine sachet and not one of the regular ones. He had been so amazing that day I of course couldn’t tell him it was the wrong one and at that moment, I didn’t have a choice, it was take it or leave it and I knew there was another big climb ahead so I decided to go for it. That and a quarter of a marmite sandwich we powered on. This climb felt like a beast. I mean, they all felt like beasts, but we were fatiguing now. A guy behind us decided to run up the hill…absolutely mad. You would think you were at the top, turn a corner and there would be more. It felt never ending. Katie looked so strong and was storming it (she stormed all the hills!) and once we reached the top I think my caffeine kicked in because I had so much energy and felt re-energised.

This was the moment I knew I was going to finish. My legs picked up the pace and I remember looking down seeing we were at 36 miles, I was running at a sub 10 minute mile pace and I felt strong. It was the most bizzare feeling I have ever felt…how was I feeling so good? I decided it must have been the caffeine. We were running through a village and briefly saw Dom but I was feeling so good I didn’t want to stop so he clapped us on and said he would see us later on.

We had to ensure we fuelled well at pit stop 6 because there were another 2 really big climbs approaching after this and pit stop 7 was 10ish or so miles away. You start to feel a little bit iffy in the gut by this point, so it’s hard to eat or drink but I forced a little bit down me and took some for the road.

PIT STOP 6 TO 7


The climb began almost immediately and Katie and I decided this was the time for our headphones. Some motivating music to get these climbs DONE! As we started the climb, Katie dropped half her rich tea biscuit and her face was a picture of sadness, like a kid dropping their ice cream cone. I then thought, if this is the lowest point of the race so far, then we really aren’t doing so bad at all! It was actually a really good push to keep going.

We stormed these hills, Katie stayed ahead and we just took it step by step and climbed away. The downhills were slippery and rocky, and I briefly remember having to cross a huge puddle where there was some foam stepping stone…I stepped onto it and my entire foot plunged into the muddy puddle. 40 odd miles of keeping my feet dry and now I manage to soak an entire foot…



It was inevitable; these two big climbs took it out of us. As we descended into another town I saw Dom ahead by a Manor house and ran into his arms and had a little cry. I don’t know what causes emotions in these long distance events…I don’t cry because I’m sad, I wasn’t in pain (well maybe a little) I think it’s more tears from the realisation that you’re completing something you once thought impossible. 24 hours before this moment I thought ‘no way can I do this’ but here I was at 42 miles, 10 miles away from finishing my second ultra.

PIT STOP 7 TO THE TOWER

Dom was waiting for us at pit stop 7, neither Katie or I were very talkative. We just needed a bit of fuel, refill and toilet stop and we just wanted to get this done. I thought we had only 4 miles left to go, but we in fact had 5. Finding out we had an extra mile was a little disheartening  but a mile in the grand scheme of 50 odd I guess really doesn’t make a difference by that point.

We both wanted sub 15 hours, but all the time spent at the pit stop although short, had started to catch up with us, that and the inevitable slowing down in the second half. I didn’t think at this point we would make it because it meant maintaining some faster even splits and we were both pretty beat by this point. I knew how much Katie wanted it though, and knowing someone you are with wants to chase a goal makes you more determined. I thought back to leaving Carly and how guilty we felt, we didn’t leave her to bumble our way through, we left and said we would chase our goal as best we can. 

So the shuffling commenced. I tapped Katie and said come on… I know you have a shuffle in you. I decided I was running to the finish line now, well, until the last big climb (they put the finish at the top of a huge hill!) Katie and I took it in turns to pace each other, and would just follow the lead.
We spotted the Tower about 3 miles from the finish and could see how high it was, it began getting dark so out came our head torches. Running through Broadway was lovely, people were coming out of restaurants to clap us on and it made you feel like a superhero!  This really helped and my legs started to speed up some more. I couldn’t feel much at this point, I remember everything just being a bit numb and not allowing myself to stop until I reached the hill.

We got to the hill where a sign read ‘Bragging rights ahead’. Out came the poles for the last climb and I think it may have been my fastest climb. I wanted to see that tower so bad. So many false promises where you thought you were the top, so many gate and stile crossings. A lot of cursing and some serious heavy breathing…there it was!



When I saw the Tower I let out a few more happy tears. Dom was at the top, I threw him my poles and I called to Katie behind me to come and cross the line together. I had forgotten about time by this point. I grabbed Katie’s hand and we crossed in 14.57.57! We had done it!

53 miles, 162 gates/stiles, 7454ft!



I have to thank Dom my fiancé for being absolutely amazing that day, and Carly and Katie for the epic company and making this race one to remember. I also am shouting out to my poles! I am so glad I chose to invest in these, after a hip injury post first-ultra I have an inbuilt fear that it will return. It was a repetitive strain injury from all the stairs climbed and also from an on-going weakness which I still have to work on… but I was advised to give poles a go to take some impact off my joints for climbing and descending and they really helped! I have the black diamond  Z poles which I purchased from Amazon…they aren’t the cheapest but in my opinion are a worthwhile investment if you plan on using them multiple times.


I also thought it might be helpful to show you my packing list! So here it is below, the green tick means I actually used it but everything below is what I packed.


Here is also the pit stop food list Threshold provided us with which might be useful to some of you planning any of these races. The pit stops also had gels and energy powders to mix with water. Basecamp had sports massages, and I was hoping there would also be some available at the finish but there wasn’t. There was however, a lovely warm shower I made use of! Also another side note, food at the finish line was fairly limited and not included with entry, so be sure to have some cash or your card at the finish if you want to eat something (I grabbed a pizza to have with my chocolate milk!) All the food at pit stops is included though, as are your pictures which I think is great!


If you're thinking about taking on the Tower next year...I highly recommend it! It is up there as one my favourite races I have taken part in! Thank you Threshold Sports for an unforgettable experience.



*my race place was gifted by Threshold Sports however this is in an honest account of my experience!

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

LONDON REVOLUTION TRAILS - 2019 MARATHON


With exam season upon me, the 3 weeks leading up to the race felt hectic. I had no time to mentally prepare for the event and to be honest, I kind of forgot it was happening as I pushed it to the back of my mind whilst I studied. I also hadn’t found much time to train on the trails, so although I had some good mileage in my legs, they were mostly road miles and I just didn’t feel well prepped. Nevertheless… it was just a training run; it was never going to be a ‘race’ for me and was just good training practice for Race to the Tower.

It was a weekend full of driving (for Dom… thanks my love!) as we broke the journey up by stopping by Dorset, and then Kent, and then we drove up to Marlow the morning of the race. We had a few hold ups and so I was running a little late. My wave was due to set off at 9.30am, and I arrived at 9.15 and so just missed the wave before. Most people actually left in that first wave, so it felt really quiet when I set off.



The first half of the race saw us run through the hilly Chilterns. It was truly stunning! I walked the steep ups and ran the flats and downs and felt pretty strong. I didn’t bother stopping at the first pit stop as it was only 6 miles in and I just wanted to keep going. The group became very separated after the first pit stop and all of a sudden I felt very alone. I think most people were doing the ultra, so they headed up for an extra loop. I was running through fields and there weren’t any people in sight at all! The signposting was so fantastic though that I never once got lost… there were arrows every 100m or so to follow. As I was getting towards pit stop 2, the super speedy ultra runners were overtaking. Dan, fellow ASICS FrontRunner, sped past me and actually ended up winning which is amazing! Seeing a friendly face was nice, and everyone who then passed me said hi or well done, which is really needed on these smaller trail events when you don’t have any spectators etc.



Pit stop 2, about 14 miles in, I saw Dom. He filled up my water and topped up my Tailwind whilst I munched on a wedge of watermelon. The staff were so friendly and motivating too, I still felt strong and so didn’t stop for too long. I then ran past the start line again, where the half marathoners were just beginning their race. I heard Vicky shout my name, a quick hello and hug and I had a great burst of positivity that I powered on. It was all flat from here following the Thames Path to Windsor, so I thought I would be able to get back into a good pace and buy some time back lost on the hills (although I wasn’t chasing a time, I still thought in my head I’d like to do it in under 5 hours). Mile 15 came and I just felt exhausted. My legs ached, my heart rate felt high, and I just couldn’t get into rhythm. A slow pace for me was feeling tough and I kind of just wanted to head back to where I saw Dom and call it a day. I started to feel mad at myself for arriving late, because maybe if I’d started in the bigger wave, I would have had more company. But then I remembered if I finished, the colourful medal I would get and the cuddles with the Dulux dog. Not even joking, this thought is what convinced me to carry on.

Music on, head down, I carried on plodding. I was greeted by my Dad, Stepmum , Dom and Teddy (the lab) at 21 miles. I stopped for a while to chat with them and I was right by pitstop 4 where I was ready for a much needed water top up, orange slice and rich tea biscuit. Again, the staff were so lovely and helpful, they helped me refill my bottles and gave some words of encouragement. With just 10k to go, I bumped into Anna, who looked so strong, a quick hug and she was off to come in 2nd lady! 


Once we turned into the Windsor racecourse, cyclists were whizzing past also congratulating us which was just lovely. As soon as I saw the coloured flags I picked up my pace and went for that sprint finish, only for Dom to hand me Teddy to cross the finish line with him! I clocked up 27.2 miles and once again had that euphoric high of finishing a race. Turns out I came 9th female which I was pretty pleased about. I got my colourful medal and cuddle with Willow, the Dulux dog. I then proceeded to sit in a deck chair by the finish line for well over an hour refusing to move. All in all it was a lush day! It was quite mentally tough, just because I don’t think I was mentally prepped for it. But the views were amazing, organisation fantastic and we were very lucky with the weather. I’ll be back next year for more trail fun!



If you are tempted to take part in the London Revolution Trails half marathon, full or ultra next year, then you can follow this link to sign up

Those who sign up using this link before the end of May'19, will automatically be entered into a competition to win entry into another Threshold Trail event either this year or next year (up to you!) You can choose from Race to the Tower, Race to the King or Race to the Stones J

*I am an ambassador for Threshold Sports and was gifted entry to this race. I only work with brands I believe in and would only ever promote something I actively use/enjoy myself J

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

CHASING GOALS IN MANCHESTER - RACE RECAP


After my shortest marathon training cycle yet due to coming back from injury, I wasn’t sure how Manchester would pan out. However I was coming back stronger, hitting new PBs in training and so decided Manchester could still be my A race of 2019!

The weekend was a busy one. It was the first ASICS FrontRunner meet-up of the year – I had found out that I made the team 3 weeks prior and was so happy that Manchester was the weekend planned for it! I flew up on the Friday afternoon and met the other new female runners (Rachel, Hadeel and Chimzy) at Piccadilly station so we could all head over to the hotel together. We all felt the same – nervous and excited! I was more nervous and focused on the FrontRunner aspect of the weekend that I pretty much forgot about the part where I had to run 26.2 miles…


The Friday and Saturday flew by with meeting lots of new faces, taking part in some team challenges, having photo shoots, learning all about ASICS and eating lots of important pre-race carbs! Becca, Kelly, Matt and I headed back to the hotel early as we were all pretty tired and wanted to prep ourselves for the marathon. As I headed back to my hotel room all my emotions came at once. I felt overwhelmed, grateful, tired and nervous for the marathon ahead. I took a breather, prepped my kit and the moment my head hit that pillow I was out like a light!


The morning rushed by, and before I knew it we were heading to our start pens. It was extremely busy, and by the time we had done our bag drops and last minute pre-race loo visits we didn’t have much time before we were off! My race strategy was to try and stick to 9.20 – 9.30 minute miles and reach the half marathon point by 2:05. I had set myself a gold, silver and bronze target and I knew this would give me a bit of a buffer in the second half as inevitably I knew I would slow down a bit in the later stages. I have to admit, I didn’t feel fresh from the get go. My feet felt achy and 3 miles in my left hamstring started hurting. Not how I wanted to feel so soon, but I ploughed on hitting my paces spot on and it still felt achievable.

Myself, Becca, Rachel, Aaron and Charlotte about to head to our start pens!

I loved all the welcome signs into each district and the residential areas had amazing support as everyone came out of their homes to cheer, high five and pass out water and food. I have never raced with headphones before, but I chose to for this race and I’m really glad I did. Don’t get me wrong, the support was awesome on the course, but I needed that extra boost! My playlist consisted of all sorts of music, but I made sure to include my first ever running playlist from when I took up running in Hong Kong. Songs that I would listen to as I ran lamppost to lamppost trying to break my first mile really helped remind me of how far I have come and took me back to those rewarding moments. In the sections with the crowds I could still hear them and absorb the atmosphere which was also great motivation!

Around 10 miles in, there were runners on both sides of the road. This was my favourite section! I saw those who were ahead of me like Becca who looked so strong and I knew she was smashing her goal. It was so motivating as you knew those on the other side were heading for the half-way point and that it was just around the corner for you! I hit that point bang on target at 2:05 and just kept thinking positively. I hadn’t yet walked, and kept telling myself the next mile take a walking break but I just kept going.

Mile 16 came and I started to get really fatigued and hot. So I took the walking break and took on some water and a gel.  My legs were not happy. They felt tired and heavy and this is the earliest point in a marathon that I have experienced this fatigue. My pace had now dropped and at 17.5 miles I had to ring Dom (my fiancé) as I didn’t know if I wanted to finish it. I had stopped enjoying myself and really was in a world of pain. As always, he gave me a pep talk and told me to push on. I did some math in my and told him that my A and B goal had slipped away from me and my only chance now was beating my London time. He assured me that was still amazing and that he could see I was so close to the 30k mark. 30k?! That meant only 12k left! That seemed so doable and somehow my legs picked up the pace. The next 7k were tough. I won’t sugar coat it, I’m giving my honest account of my experience. I started to let myself think that I am not made for these endurance events. I really let the negative thoughts take hold of me and started needing to walk for a bit during each mile.

The crowds were getting bigger and that really helped, I was then staring at all the amazing dogs on the course (crazy dog lady here!) and I spotted a German shepherd that looked like my Murphy who recently passed away. At this point in a marathon (23 miles or so I think I was at) you can become very emotional, and I burst into tears! People started yelling my name and telling me to push on. I kept running and saw the amazing ASICS cheer squad at mile 24… their energy was just what I needed to keep going! Mile 25 I saw my coach Jordan who came and jogged alongside me, just a mile to go she said and she asked what time I was on. My watch said I had been running for around 4 hours 10 minutes, I realised that all the math in my head was wrong and that actually my B goal (Sub 4.30) was still sight!


I decided no more walking, just bear the pain for another 10 minutes and it will all be over! I crossed that finish line in 4:21:07, over a 24 minute PB with the last 5k negative splits! I was initially disappointed, as my A goal was 4.15, but I only came up with that a few nights before the race and definitely put too much pressure on myself. Had my legs been fresher, I really do think I could have done it but do you know what, this is a huge PB for me and I am so proud to have pushed through that pain! 

Check out the beast of a medal!
Winning doesn’t always need to be about your time or pace. It’s about the struggle, facing it head on and not giving up. I won the long run at Manchester and it was an amazing end to a brilliant weekend!

Would I do it again? Absolutely! If you’re after a fast course with great organisation, great support and a great medal… Manchester is a great option!



Sunday, 13 January 2019

FLIPBELT - PRODUCT REVIEW




Before I start this review I just want to be clear that Flipbelt have not paid me and have not asked me to write this. They kindly donated a prize for my charity raffle and also asked if I wanted to give the product a try myself – to which I have done and now want to pass on my thoughts.

SO…what is it? The Flipbelt is a running belt, probably the most simplest of them all…and that’s what I love about it. The simplicity of the design is practical and allows the product to do its job…hold your belongings and not bounce!


Essentially, it is a tubular belt with slits as pockets. Inside I put my keys (which there is a special hook for), my phone, maybe a gel depending on the distance and my favourite part…a water bottle! This was the most exciting aspect for me. When I’m on longer runs, I like to sip on water, but sometimes I don’t want to run with my big hydration pack or with 1 litre of water. Flipbelt sell their own bottles, curved to fit to your body inside the belt. I got the smaller bottle, so 150ml, which is perfect for those middle distances. I was sceptical about how it would stay in the belt or how bad the bounce would be…but this is my honest report to you guys and there is ZERO bounce.

The belt has no buckles, and so you order according to waist size. I went smaller than I thought I might want, and got the Small, but it’s perfect. I can wear it around my waist or hips. If I have more inside it then I tend to stick it around my waist so I know it won’t ride up, but it also sits comfortably on my hips with my phone and keys inside.

I didn’t use it for my ultra as I wore my hydration pack for that because it was a really long endurance event, but I will be turning to Flipbelt for my next marathon. I will be purchasing another bottle and will carry them both with my Tailwind nutrition inside so that I don’t need to run with my vest.

I really appreciate that Flipbelt have kept it simple. No frills are needed! They also come in a variety of colours...check them out here.

It’s a thumbs up from me!

Livvy

Friday, 14 September 2018

RUNNING SAFE

I have personally had a few encounters running when I haven’t felt safe or have felt threatened, and being a natural worrier, quiet paths or dark winter runs can make me feel on edge, which takes away the enjoyment of my run. I now take a few precautions to ‘run safe’ and wanted to share them as I have had a few people message me about their concerns of taking up running because of safety…so I really hope this motivates you and gives you a few ideas to make you feel more at ease!


DON’T SHARE YOUR REGULAR ROUTES ON SOCIAL MEDIA

If you run a particular route regularly, don’t tag that location on Instagram or on Facebook. I am also against sharing regular routes or runs where I start from my home on Strava. I decided a couple of months ago to make my Strava private and only have people I know and trust follow me. Even still I won’t share those runs which start from my house because I just don’t want that information shared.

SWITCH UP YOUR ROUTINE

Are you a creature of habit? I found during the winter months when I was training for London, I would run the same places for the same workouts. So Monday was speed, and you would find me at the same place at the same time doing that workout. I now make sure to switch it up! It can be hard to switch up times, because of work commitments etc but change up your routes on different days. It keeps it fresh and interesting for you too!

CARRY A SAFETY DEVICE

Wearing my Rung Angel in yellow

I have met runners who carry a whistle when they run alone…which is a great idea! I now run with my run angel though, which has been a game changer for me! Run Angel is a safety wrist wearable which you can sync to your smartphone and in an emergency, activation of it will sound (extremely loud!) and those you select as ‘guardians’ will receive emergency alerts by SMS and email detailing the time, date, co-ordinates and map-link to your location.  So not only do you send out a sound so you can be heard…your chosen ‘guardians’ will be able to see exactly where you are. I now wear mine for all my runs alone, but even when I trail run with Dom. We are often on isolated paths where there is little phone signal, if one of us were to twist an ankle or take a tumble…I have the comfort of knowing I can sound an alarm to hopefully capture attention and send a signal to a friend of our whereabouts.

I feel pretty strongly about safety, which is why I became a Run Angel ambassador. You can get 15% off one in the colour of your choice via their website with my ambassador code LIV15 and they offer free worldwide delivery. Click here to view the range of colours on offer.

RUN SILENT…OR SMART

Wearing the AfterShockz Trekz Air in Forrest Green

Sometimes I love just heading outside and listening to what’s going on around me, the wind, the birds singing or the crash of the waves. However, other times there is nothing better than your most motivating playlist or podcast to get you moving and shuffling up those hills! I use to always take out my headphones on the paths where cyclists are abundant, because I had one too many encounters where I was almost wiped out….listening out for traffic is a must when it comes to safety! So consider running silent if this is something that worries you.

There are now a variety of different headphones on offer for different sports, and I have a pair of the AfterShokz Trekz Air. I have been using these for about a month now and am more than impressed. They are an open ear design, so you can still hear ambient noises and are a much safer and smarter option than other headphones to run in. They are wireless and use bone conduction technology, which feels a little different on first try but there is no compromise on sound quality and I love that I can still have my music and run safe. Many races now allow these types on headphones over the traditional ear bud design as they are recognized as safer.

JOIN A RUNNING CLUB

With the some of the Plymouth Harriers at our most recent Fell Race!

Maybe running alone just isn’t for you? And that’s okay! I love to do both, and joined my local club during the winter to feel safe running in our new town at night as I didn’t know the roads or routes very well. Turns out it was one of the best decisions I have made! You meet so many likeminded people and will make supportive, brilliant friends for life!

There are of course other things we can do to keep safe, such as wear high vis and reflective clothing in the dark, let someone know where and when you are going with a rough time of your return and watching out for things around you (I have seen a runner trip over a dogs lead!) I would love to know if anyone else takes other precautions to keep safe? I like to be positive, and don’t think it’s a terrible dangerous world out there at all! I just like to think ahead, run safe and most of all enjoy my run! After all….I do it for the enjoyment!

Livvy


Thursday, 23 August 2018

OOO LA WHAT?


JOINING THE OOOO HYPE


I know, I know…another running Instagrammer banging on about some foamy, chunky flip-flops. How good can a pair of flip-flops be? After all, they’re just a rubber sandal….you can buy flip-flops for a quid in Primark...what makes these so special?

My thoughts EXACTLY! However, after returning from holiday with bruised and blistered feet from walking 10+ miles a day in my Birkenstocks (I know, my own fault!) I decided to give Oofos a go. It took me forever to decide on a colour, I’m the most indecisive person ever and they have every colour and combination you can think of! I decided to stay subtle and go with black, so I could wear them with most things.

When they came, I was very excited and my feet fell in love instantly. My fiancé, Mum and sister however, all gasped in shock and asked “what the hell are those?!” I made them all try them on, and have been fighting to get them to myself ever since with both my fiancé and mother as they just love them so much.

They are designed and engineered to help recover your feet in ways typical footwear can't. They absorb impact which in turn reduces the stress on your feet, knees and back and they cradle your arches, allowing for natural motion as you walk. They are basically like little clouds for your feet and as you walk it feels like a small hug on each foot. After a long run or race, if I have to walk anywhere these are my go to!

If I have errands to run, or walk to the gym, or to a race, or post-race, or to the beach….you will catch me in my Oofos. I think I need to order a second pair just so I have a choice of colours! I am a bit of a sceptic when I see things being hyped about on social media, but I have to admit the hype for these is real! For me, it was love at first Ooo…

Livvy

*I have not been paid to write this review. I did receive a complimentary pair of Oofos however did not have to write this post, I purely think they are brilliant and will only rave about something I genuinely believe is worth it!
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