Thursday, June 29, 2017

Who Likes Short Shorts?

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write (or even say)... the length of one's running (or cycling) shorts is a critical decision. The primary issue being just how short they are- traditional loose fit shorts and the  tighter but no less short type favoured by many an Insta-Gym-Bunny are hella short. Not only are some people uncomfortable with having that much flesh on show for a multitude of valid reasons, but I'd wager that there are also many who find that the chafing problem is REAL!

I know, don't tell me I'm not writing about the hard hitting stuff right here. But seriously, shorts are a big thing as an active woman, and even though we're experiencing some shall we say.... variable summer weather, for me, it's warm enough that I've put my full length running tights into summer hibernation and it's (not so short) shorts all the way. There are companies out there making performance running kit that doesn't induce wince-worthy blisters, in fact you might have noticed a specific pair via my Instagram feed in fact...

My new favouritest favourite running shorts, meet performance women's sports brand, Threo!

I stumbled across Threo at the beginning of the year on social media. They're committed to female sport at all levels and they make some beautiful cycling and triathlon kit but what really caught my eye in the summer collection preview was the perfect pair of shorts, albeit horrendous to try and take pictures of.

Long enough to avoid the dreaded inner thigh chafing that plagues me so, zip pocket at the back (big enough for keys & debit cards/ID cards), performance fabrics, high waist, flattering shape, sensibly placed seams AND they pretty to look at. Initially I was a bit apprehensive that there was no drawstring, but after 2 months, 3 races and a lot miles, I can confirm they do in fact stay put. The waist band is super soft and all those seams you can see- they're all in places that don't chafe!

You can buy the Battersea Park shorts directly from Threo for £55 - be wary of the size guide however- the measurements suggest I need a large whilst the size equivalents suggest a medium. If in doubt, I'd be inclined to follow the suggested dress size equivalent instead of the measurement based on the fit of my own shorts.

And a final note, I haven't been paid or sponsored to write this post, I purchased my shorts with my own hard earned cash, but I do think the ladies behind Threo have created something brilliant- their message on empowering women through sport is strong and relevant and the kit they are producing features no compromise on performance and style.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Clue Is In The Name: Endure24 Q&A Review

You know when you sign yourself up for something and think to yourself- am I really going to do this? Endure24 was a bit like that.. I got roped into a team by my PT who has taken part before and really, the clue should have been in the name, Endure. 24. For those sensible enough not to know what the race is  all about... allow me to enlighten you with my mini race report.

The start of the Race Village area

So, 24 hours, a single 5 mile loop through the woodland surrounding Wasing Park (near Reading) and a whole bunch of solo runners, and mixed teams attempting to get in as many laps as they can. Yes, some people really do this as individuals (and you thought I was the crazy one....). Part of the park is set out as a camp site, part of it is the event village, and then there's the route itself, They call it 'Glastonbury for Runners' with a sort of festival vibe and every kind of runner you can imagine. It's certainly a sight to behold.

So I ended up being roped into a large, mixed team of 8, I knew only a couple of my team mates a little from other events and I've only ever camped a couple of times with Guides when I was about 11. To say this was outside of my comfort zone might be a bit of an understatement but I duly borrowed Tom's sleeping bag, found a waterproof rucksack in the cupboard and bought a spare pair of running trainers after rain looked like a very real threat.

And then I ran quite a lot. the way my laps fell and the timing meant I got through 3 laps, that's 15 miles worth of running. I'm not a natural trail runner either- however good for you it may be, it's really hard work. But it doesn't end there...

It's not just the 5 mile loops, what do you do for the rest of the day (and night)? Well you wander between base camp and the start/finish area to cheer people on and get a sports massage and eat stuff, which is how in about 28 hours, I travelled 49.47km or if you prefer, 29.5 miles.

So let's talk about sleeping. Even with a max sized team of 8, you're unlikely to get much more than 6.5 hours in between laps, and then it's another half hour to get from base camp to the start line in plenty of time, and catching something to eat, having a quick shower and changing kit... that bleary eyed picture of me at 4am, yeah, I had been trying to sleep for about 3 hours between laps. Whilst it rained.

I have no intention of editing this picture, it is a good thing you cannot see more of my tired, tired little face! 

So, Endure24....

Would I run it again? Yes, but with a team of people I knew and possibly a smaller team, you don't get long in between laps with 8 of you, but it's long enough for fatigue to set in and to not want to get started again. As a result, I started to struggle with knee pain which probably wouldn't have been an issue with less 'stop' time.

Is it just for 'proper' runners? If by 'proper' runners you mean people who enjoy running, then yes. I wouldn't recommend going along to this if you've never run an event before, running 5 miles is one thing, doing it multiple times in a 24 hour period requires a bit of understanding as to what your body is trying to tell you, when to push on through fatigue and what type of food works best for you. I met a hen party, running clubs submitting multiple teams, people who wanted to walk some or all of the laps and the occasional pr*ck who wanted to elbow others out of the way on a tricky bit of the trail for the sake of a few seconds on their lap.

Is this an ultramarathon? Technically, an ultra is anything over the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles, so if you run 6 laps or more, yes. I did not, so for me it is an endurance event and it should be respected as such. We are all capable of incredible things with the right training and encouragement, but just because someone else can throw out a marathon every single week (or whatever it is that floats their boat...) it doesn't necessarily mean you can- we're all on our own journeys with our own motivations and ultras/endurance events take a lot of physical and mental courage, energy and focus.

What about eating, showering and bathrooms?  I have never seen so many portaloos in my life. I never queued behind more than one or two others to use one and although they were a bit grim by 1130 on Sunday morning, until that point, they'd been regularly emptied and cleaned and my experience was perfectly adequate. See also the showers- portable event blocks with individual shower cubicles are provided, I wore my flip flops in them, but they were perfectly passable. As for eating, eat what you like, I went with little and often and chose not to utilise the food tents selling predominantly bread-based carb loading goodies on site because I have a complicated relationship with dough, but there are options, and there's a bar!

But seriously, WHY? One thing sports have taught me is if you never try, you will never know. Taking chances on new things and trying them out is good for the mind and the body. I find doing new things in large groups of people quite stressful, but it has become much less stressful since I made myself do it more often. Then there's the medal.... It's MASSIVE. I'm generally not that fussed by a medal, they get shoved at the back of my wardrobe and I move on, but this one is so ridiculously heavy, it's sort of hard to ignore. And because often, life is what you make it, and that goes for experiences too. There were plenty of people running Endure24 for competition, which is great, go for your life. I went to have some fun whilst trying something new and of all the things to worry about for the entire weekend (where's the bar, when is tactically the best time for a shower, is this tent watertight...) how fast or not my lap was or someone else running faster than me was something I wasn't prepared to get stressed about. I had a pretty good time. I wasn't feeling so good at about 0330 on Sunday morning having not really slept and realising I couldn't find my timing tag, but we're all entitled to a grouchy moment right?

Any hot tips? 
-Multiple pairs of trainers, especially if it's been wet, putting wet trainers back on is not the one
-Take as much kit as you can carry. I was due to run 3 or 4 laps and I took enough kit for 5 complete changes including full length tights and a long sleeve top, it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and have to suffer without it.
-Spend money on a decent head torch. I wish I had, it is probably a miracle I didn't break an ankle on my 2230 lap.
-Practise running on trails if you're not an experienced trail runner. I am not, and foolishly thought running on a few country tracks would be enough preparation, it was not preparation for the sneaky tree roots, mammoth dips and never mind running uphill, downhill is the scary bit
-Remember to eat before you first lap. Yeah, I know. Blonde moment much.

So, um... 2018? Probably not next year, I have other plans for putting my marathon demons to rest in 2018... 26.2 I'm coming for you!

And if you enjoy my mini Race Reports/Reviews, standby for the next one coming soon- DeadDrop Fitness & the Prosecco Dash.... prosecco before, during and after a race, what could possible go wrong?


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Month in Review: May 2017

So I started writing this post last week, before the vicious attack in London on Saturday night. Having spent the late afternoon sat on the terrace of the Southbank Centre with a glass of fizz in hand to celebrate my birthday, enjoy the summer sun and soak up a bit of London at it's best, it seemed all the more brutal. I don't discuss politics on my blog and rarely on my social media. I won't be commenting any further on the attacks happening across the UK and further afield by people who think the indiscriminate taking of life is acceptable. I believe we should think before we speak, that we should reserve judgements until more facts from reliable sources can be found, and that in an age of 'instant', we run the risk of marginalising so many people because we could not resist the temptation to push the button on a post, and whilst terrorism is in part perpetrated to create fear, I feel that more often than not here in the UK, it is mistrust, marginalisation and bigotry that often comes to light in the aftermath that does so much more damage. I don't want to be part of that kind of problem, so my final words borrowed from the most poignant social media post I've seen in a while, a question to ask yourself before you speak (before I talk about how my month of May went) are:

Do you need to say it? Do you need to say it here? Do you need to say it here right now? 

So,  the fifth month of the year. I always find May a bit of a funny month. It's often a time where I end up working more than not due to business demands and holiday cover, it's also the month in which Tom has his birthday just a couple of weeks before mind and it has 2 bank holidays in it. This year came the added runner calendar- that meant the end of the spring marathon session and some listless runners in the club and it's been warm for the last few weeks too so do I dare think summer is coming?

So let's talk about running first because that's how it started. On May 7th, I toed the line in Cambridge ready to let David Coulthard (yes, the former F1 driver) chase me out into the villages. I know.

Wings For Life World Run was a blast and you can click if you missed my race report & see my photodiary from the day!

There was another big running achievement for me in setting a new 5k PB as well. We have a summer Intra-Club championship which is placed on age-grading which inevitably means I'll be fighting it out for the bottom spot on the table but that doesn't take the sine off a 1m19s reduction in the time it took me to run 5k on a warm and humid Tuesday night! I talked about my PB a little bit in a post which the stats tell me lots of people really liked reading about regaining confidence and showing body image who is boss because sport should be empowering for everyone. Click if you missed it. 

And food. There was a lot of freezer food this month. Notably because I used a discount to try out Everdine which provides balanced healthy meals that you keep in the freezer and bash in the microwave whenever you're ready. An indulgent convenience but worth it for a hectic month and one where I would have had to cook for one a whole lot. Click if you missed my full review of Everdine or if you fancy skipping straight to the good bit (£30 off your first box) click HERE for my discount code...

I have worn some awesome kit this month too. The shorts pictured below I'll be talking a bit more about as June rumbles on, but the ladies at Threo design and make high performance running, cycling & triathlon kit especially for women, and it shows. These shorts are basically life-changing. The tights were a frivolous sale purchase from MyProtein, but they have rubberised trims to help them stay put and who doesn't love a digital print?

And that leaves one final thing in May to chat about. My favourite running event of the year, the London 10,000. I love this race because it's an amazing course on closed roads through central London. It's also got a great finisher's area, the t-shirts & goody bags are great and the crowd support is brilliant. Oh, and I set my PB here last year, wanting come in at anything below 59:59, I ran 57:27 and had an amazing day. It's fair to say I had to work hard not to set my expectations above and beyond for this one.

I think it would be fair to say it wasn't my day. My legs felt tired and heavy and my breathing wasn't right and my stomach was really very upset about something. I had tried not to set too much store by another PB, because quite aside being fast and flat, it really is a great day out, so at the 6km mark, when I realised I wasn't going to 'settle into my race' I decided to kick back and enjoy the ride, because that's what #FinishLinesBeforeFinishTimes means and it follows on from my post about regaining a bit of confidence this month. Click if you missed it. 

It was still a great day- very humid, but enjoyable, the crowd support was even better than I remember, the t-shirt is great, if medals are your thing, this one is weighty and at £28 I think it's pretty good value. I'm already waiting for 2018 registration to open!

So that's May done and dusted. June is my birthday month, so I'm now already another year older, never wiser it seems though? I'm doing Endure24 with a team this weekend which is 24 hours of relay style racing (some crazy people run solo, 5 mile laps for 24 hours), and then it's off to Spain for a couple of weeks of much needed sunshine and R&R. There will still be some new bits and pieces cropping up here, but if you want a few things to read, these are a few bits I loved in May:

Women's Health Magazine are giving away a New York Marathon place, and I want it. why wait until 2018 when I can show 26.2 who's boss this year?  

This video of flowers blooming via Facebook is incredible and reminds us how incredible nature is.

This post about breaking a 2 hour half marathon resonated with me

I am an ambassador to the #RunningDownDementia campaign by Alzheimer's Research UK which went live in the same week I attended a family funeral for someone who had early onset Alzheimer's. Could you run 20 consecutive parkruns? That's 100km and that's the challenge over 20 weeks. Click if you missed my post all about it and for details on how to join Team Chloe Likes To Talk