Tag Archives: running

10 Things I Have Learned at the Beginning of my Marathon Training Journey

For years, I have promised myself I would one day complete a marathon. Yet life has a habit of getting in the way, and the commitment of training for months to complete such a long distance always made me put it off. With a milestone birthday approaching in 2019 however, I decided that this was the year.

After a few disastrous runs in the past, not to mention completely avoidable injuries, I was keen to do this marathon training malarkey the right way. Cue two months into the training schedule and 25% of the way through, and I have learned several valuable lessons for making marathon training successful and equally, enjoyable. Continue reading

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The Brainwave Centre London Santa Dash Review 2016

If you have ever been to London in December, there’s a good chance you would have seen hundreds of Santas running around the city. Each year various charities promote ‘Santa Dashes’ to raise money, and after spending several Christmases in the capital and thinking “I wish I could do that” as be-robed St Nicks breezed past, I finally got my opportunity when my workplace organised its own Santa Dash in support of Brainwave. Continue reading

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A couple of months ago in the last fading rays of summer light, I made a resolution to maintain my summer cardio fitness levels year-round. No more excuses of evenings getting dark too soon, or Christmas festivities getting in the way, this year I was going to make sure I stayed at peak, all-round fitness 365 days a year. And in that spirit, I signed up for the Osteoporosis Society’s 10k run around Hyde Park on Saturday. Continue reading

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Back 2 the Trenches, a punishing obstacle course that combines steep, hilly terrain with over 70 military-related obstacles, advertises itself as a tough, yet achievable race. With runners offered the choice of 5km, 10km and 20km routes, the event offers something for almost everyone. Continue reading

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#take12trips challenge five: Running in Rome’s Borghese Gardens


Things have been slightly quieter here the past week, and I apologise for not giving you your regular updates – but I do have an excuse that you might like! I spent last week on a slightly impromptu trip to Rome for my work, the British School at Rome. While I spent much of the week in front of the computer, I managed to sneak out in the evenings for wanders around the city and early morning runs in the Borghese Gardens. It was the first time I had ever visited the gardens, and around every bush and turn, there seemed to be some folly or statue peeking back at me.

Like everything else in Rome, the Borghese Gardens were grand, colourful and filled with history – it’s no wonder my runs were so short, I kept stopping to take photos of everything! In fact, I enjoyed the Borghese Gardens so much I decided to bring my morning run to you. Continue reading

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BUPA 10000 London Review

bupa run back (1 of 1)

This past weekend my friend Anya and I decided to spend our bank holiday Monday running the BUPA 10k for Save the Children instead of sleeping in, having a BBQ and knocking back a few drinks. While you might doubt our decision-making, the BUPA 10000 turned out to be a great event filled with a fun atmosphere, a beautiful route past London’s great architecture and lots of entertainment for runners and spectators alike.

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Outdoor Gear you Want to Wear in Public….Sweaty Betty’s Athlete Workout Vest


Bright splashes of pink, blue and sea-green promise to be a big hit from the runways this season, and with Sweaty Betty’s new season Athlete Workout Vest, you can combine several of those colours in one top.

With sweat wicking technology and soft fabric to prevent chafing, the Athlete Workout Vest is versatile enough for any form of exercise. It’s racerback design provides a more ergonomic fit, plus the breathable fabric makes it a good choice for intense workouts.

Of course, the real draw of this vest are the colours and designs! Sold in either a faded purple, blue and yellow combo, or geometric black and blue patterns, it was reminiscent of the bright geometric trends found on the runways of Alexander McQueen and Vanessa Bruno in Paris this season.

With spring in full bloom and summer just around the corner, this top is the ideal workout piece to make you feel cheery for the new season and get outdoors!

The Sweaty Betty Athlete Workout Vest is £35, can be ordered online here or in their store.

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Ten Fun Tips to Motivate People to Keep Running

Although running is one of the most common sports, and with the approaching holiday season will only grow in popularity, many people fall into a rut when it comes to getting outdoors and hitting the trails. Perhaps it is raining, your busy schedule or you feel you lack the energy; whatever the reason, read the tips below and choose one to get you back on your feet.

1. Find a new route

This one might seem obvious, but with careers, families and other commitments all fighting for space in your weekly schedule, many people find themselves lucky to find the time to run, let alone plan a new route. While it might be convenient, stomping on the same ground day after day can leave your head feeling bored and your body unmotivated to get outdoors. If finding the time to map out a new route is impossible, check websites like www.mapmyrun.com or www.walkjogrun.com, where runners map contribute their running routes for others to try. Otherwise, set aside the normal amount of time you run, but go somewhere different and choose your route on a whim.

2.Get some new gear

Probably the most popular motivator, nothing beats the excitement of tying on a new pair of trainers and testing them on your favourite trails. While this motivational tip is not the most economically friendly or environmentally sustainable, if you find yourself needing new clothes or gear then choose something you want and meets all your needs, rather than whatever is the cheapest.

3. Listen to some new tunes

Listening to the Rocky soundtrack while exercising lost its humour about ten years ago; if you listen to music while running, try creating a new playlist, shuffling your collection, or adding some new songs on there to change your running routine. Has one of your favourite bands just released a new album? Promise yourself not to listen to it until you start running. When choosing music, some find it helpful to match it to their running pattern, i.e. coordinate fast-paced songs to sprinting sections, or choosing songs around the same beats per minute ratio.

4. Incorporate new fitness moves into your run

As the old saying goes, ‘variety is the spice of life’, and even the best running route can lose its appeal. With obstacle course running events growing in popularity every year, why not try to incorporate some exercises from these events into your daily running routine? Try jumping over benches, swinging from bars or pausing every so often to do some push-ups or sit-ups.

5. Give yourself goals….

Without a personal best to beat, a charity to raise money for or a gruelling event to complete, running without a distinct purpose can leave some feeling uninterested or disheartened. Instead, give yourself fun personal goals, like running a route in a record time, or reaching a certain distance or landmark.

6….Or none at all

For others, the pressure of having to achieve a certain time or the risk of not raising enough money for a charity can suck all the fun out of running. When you start to feel like that, the best thing to do is forget about training plans or personal bests and just go out for a fun run. Bring your friends, go as fast or slow as you like, just make sure you remember why you like running again when you finish.

7. Treat yourself to something afterwards

Like the old adage goes, ‘lead the donkey with a carrot’, encourage yourself to go out running by rewarding yourself with something afterwards. Just remember to make it something healthy or nourishing for your body post-run, like a banana smoothie.

8. Remind yourself why.

People run for a variety of reasons; some for the love of it, others to lead a healthier lifestyle and many to prepare for a holiday or event. Whatever your reason, the best way to motivate yourself if you’ve tripped into a rut is to place a visual reminder of your goal where you will see it often. Whether it is a picture of your holiday destination or writing your aspirational PB time on a large piece of paper, make sure it strikes a chord with you to motivate you to get outdoors.

9. Find a partner-in-crime (or preferably running)

Running on your own week after week, especially after a day spent in a quiet office, can lead to anyone feeling like a social outcast. Turn running into a social event and invite some friends to come with you. The best method is to ask someone of similar running ability, but why not organise a weekly running group with friends and motivate each other to run each week? For those that like a bit of friendly competition, websites like www.mapmyrun.com offer weekly progress reports and comparisons of your running progress and times with friends.

10. Don’t beat yourself up.

Everyone gets disenchanted with running at some point, and if you find yourself uninspired to run for a prolong period of time, take a step back, accept it, and try another activity instead. Forcing yourself to constantly run when you don’t want to will only make you dislike it more, and life is too short to spend it doing something you dislike. After awhile, come back to it, and you will more than likely rediscover the joy it used to bring you!

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

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Barefoot, Minimalist, Traditional- a Quick Guide to Different Running Styles


Back in the days of yore, running was simply running. You bought your standard trainers from the local shoe store in town, and then ran your daily route. However decades of scientific research and studies have produced a myriad of running shoes ranging from super-chunky high-tops to little more than strappy leather sandals. To help those new to running understand the mires of terminology out there, here is a quick guide to the three most popular types  and shoe styles of running out there today.

Barefoot Running

Made popular by Chris McDougall’s Born to Run, this running style rests its basis on the fact that people were originally intended to run barefoot, landing on the ball of their foot or forefoot instead of their heel. According to the barefoot hypothesis, the heel is not ergonomically constructed to absorb the shock of concrete that modern running shoes cause today, and as a result is now the main cause of injuries amongst runners.

Modern shoes are filled with lots of cushioning and thick, heavy soles which, instead of absorbing the shock on your heels and knees and supporting your arch, instead weakens the muscles in your feet. In the end, this causes an unhealthy running stride where runners put greater force and shock on their joints and muscles than they can take, and consequentially causes injuries. Instead, barefoot running shoes feature a thin sole that encourages the user to ‘feel’ the ground beneath their feet more, and contain no support or cushioning for the foot.

Does it Work?

Born to Run lists endless studies and statistics that prove barefoot running is better for runners, however the benefits of barefoot running are still being researched and verified by scientists. What makes it more difficult to ascertain the benefits is that barefoot running strides are different to each person- some people prefer the ball of their foot, others the forefoot, and even some continue to land lightly on their heel, but put greater shock and force on their forefoot. However a myriad of runners like ultramarathoner Scott Jurek have claimed to see improvement from barefoot running, and others who claim it alleviates joint pain.

If You’re Interested:

Make sure you speak to a specialist in-store about barefoot shoes beforehand, and mention any injuries you might have or have had in the past. This, along with the type of terrain you usually run on, will affect your shoe selection. After purchasing a pair, the key to successfully becoming a barefoot runner relies on patience and the gradual build-up of mileage. Run your usual six-mile route in your brand-new barefoot trainers and your feet will be sore for days; instead, start the mileage low, i.e. one kilometre, and gradually build it up. Also, remember you will need to change your running stride- land with your feet beneath, not in front, of you, knee slightly bent, to allow greater absorption of the shock impact on your legs. Most importantly however, remember that barefoot running isn’t simply changing the shoes you wear; it involves changing your entire stride, and can sometimes take years to transition fully. For more information, REI have produced several handy sheets on barefoot running.

Where to Buy:

Before you throw away your trainers and head outdoors au natural, if you live in an urban environment or typically run on rocky terrain, you might want to consider purchasing some light sole protection. Five Fingers are the most popular brand for barefoot trainers, but if you can’t fit your toes through the individual holes (or can’t face wearing them in public) most running brands offer some form of a barefoot trainer nowadays, just head to any specialist running store to see the selection.

Minimalist Running

This type of running can be the most confusing to define, mostly because runners cannot agree on what defines as ‘minimalist’. Purist barefoot runners argue anything that covers your foot is not true ‘barefoot running’ while the sports brands interchange the terms ‘barefoot’ and ‘minimalist’ to tout anything that is smaller than their own definition of a shod running trainer. Generally though, for the ease of definition, a minimalist shoe is anything that measures between four to eight millimetres of width in the heel of the shoe. Minimalist shoes are intended to help people gradually transition from traditional running trainers to barefoot running by lessening the dramatic difference in running style and feel between the two.

Does it Work?

Again, this is another source of contention between runners and manufacturers. Some people like barefoot running coach Lee Saxby argue minimalist shoes do not encourage people to change their running form, while others argue it gives people the support their feet need when they are gradually strengthening the muscles needed for barefoot running. Much like barefoot running, it differs from runner to runner- if you are looking for a slimmed-down shoe, or think you need the support for transition to the barefoot style, then minimalist shoes might be for you.

 If You’re Interested:

Minimalist shoes were designed to help runners transition from shod running to traditional running. While these shoes are designed to encourage runners to run on the forefoot or the ball of your foot in these shoes, it also offers minimal arch and heel support when the muscles tire. If you are serious about transitioning to barefoot however, make sure you do gradually choose shoes with a lower gradient in the heel each time you replace them- otherwise you could be risking injury by running in your traditional stride in shoes with less cushioning and support.

Where to Buy:

Merrell’s Trail Glove offers a good balance between shod running trainer and barefoot shoe, while Innov-8‘s running shoe range have a handy arrow system that allows runners to know what heel gradient measurement they are buying. One arrow equals three millimetres, and a mixture of road and trail running options are on offer.

Traditional Running (Shod Running)

Little explanation is needed for shod running; you land on your heel first, often with your knee stretched in front of you, with a shoe that is higher in the heel than the rest of the shoe to absorb the impact shock when your foot hits the ground. Most shod trainers provide arch support and cushioning around the ankle to support it in place too.

Does it Work?

Although there has been a lot of media attention recently about the benefits and detriments of barefoot running versus shod running, it is important to remember that not only is there a difference in the shoes, but more importantly the running form. Barefoot runners typically take shorter, yet more frequent strides with them feet landing beneath their bodies, while shod runners take longer, but less frequent strides, with their feet landing just in front of them. Many researchers argue humans have worn shoes as much as 10,000 years ago, and that shod running isn’t as damaging as current theories make out.

If You’re Interested:

If you tend to pronate or need extra support due to injuries, or run on hazardous terrain, shod trainers offer the support and protection needed. Preferences for barefoot or shod depends on the individual runner, and it is important for any runner to remember that most of the time, injuries result from a bad running stride, and no shoe will magically cure that.

Where to Buy:

Pay a visit to any specialist running store that can measure your running gait and accurately prescribe the correct style of shod trainer.  Sweatshop is the UK’s largest running retailer, but many smaller independent running retailers will offer a similar service and selection if there is not a Sweatshop close to you.


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