Posted by: fitartist | September 25, 2014

Trail Running with Berghaus

It’s that time of year again, when I pull on my trail shoes and get good and muddy. For now I’m exploring new local routes (and looking forward to the Petts Wood 10k again – what a super muddy experience I had last year!). But, if you are travelling or exploring further afield, you might find these route recommendations useful. I would say the Moel Eilio route in North Wales is possibly the most beautiful, but then I might be a bit biased ;)

favourite uk trail runs infographic
Favourite UK Trail Runs Infographic

Posted by: fitartist | September 16, 2014

London Duathlon, I am a Duathlete!

I had a feeling the London Duathlon might be tough, but I hadn’t realised quite how tough. As always, I found the journey to the start almost as challenging as the event itself – I get so nervous about being there on time and, with the transporting of a bike added into the mix, I stress about everything that little bit more. As it turned out, it was an easy two train rides and a pleasant walk from Barnes station to the park.

There was a real buzz as we approached the park, but it was difficult at times to work out who was a duathlete and who was just out for a Sunday ride (I get the feeling there might have been some disgruntled cyclists who turned up to find their route closed). The event village was busy, with some of the ultra, sprint and super sprint competitors already out on the course. I could tell from my event pack that this was a very well organised affair, with wrist bands for transition, a number belt and a rather humongous timing chip strap to wrap around your ankle (we looked like we were on day release).

A number for everything

A number for everything

The transition area was closely monitored by marshals, who checked your wrist band and made sure everything else corresponded, and you were only allowed in once you had your helmet firmly fastened. The different distances had allocated areas, but you could rack your bike anywhere within this, so I chose sort of middle, since the run in and bike out were on opposite sides (I would say the signs for this need to be higher up, they were big, but were not really visible once the transition area filled up with bikes and people). Once I had racked up, I wandered through the event village to the loo (that nervous-going-to-the-loo-when-you-don’t-need-to thing) and noticed all the handy stalls around – you could even ask advice and get your bike checked over while you were there (I opted for a bit of extra air in my tyres, again, nerves).

Before I knew it I was herding into a start pen with the other Classic distance athletes and getting a little wave from Edward and Hector before we were set off in waves of about thirty people – this was excellent and so well done, with a little safety advice and pep-talk before the buzzer set you off. The first stretch was on bumpy grass, peppered with deer poo, but we were soon on a lovely smooth road, with cyclists coming at us in the opposite direction. At this point I felt good, I had been so eager to start and it was reassuring to know that everything was working properly. Not having undertaken a duathlon before, I wasn’t entirely sure how to pace myself, but I knew I couldn’t run a 10k PB with a 44k cycle and an additional 5k still to come, so aimed to keep to a 5 minute per km pace. The course was lovely, with lots of twists and turns – though one loop in particular felt like a loop too far – and I even had a magnificent stag strolling alongside me at one point. I kept to my pace and ran into transition after 50 minutes. I had started to feel a stitch in my side, but thought I would lose that on the ride. A quick change into cycle helmet, gloves, shoes and a gulp of my drink, and off I went.

It felt hard, my legs felt heavy and my breathing was laboured, but it was so good to be on the bike! My only previous experience of riding in a race situation was at the Crystal Palace Triathlon back in May and, as I knew so many other people there, this was a friendly affair with lots of ‘hello’s along the way. This felt different, with some really fast riders shouting ‘Right!’ as they overtook at speed, and a need to keep your wits about you if you planned to overtake yourself. I liked this :) It felt serious, speedy, and I found myself pushing harder as my legs got used to the new range of movement. The bike course was pretty hard really, with a quite steep climb, some fast descents and some really tight corners (I was rubbish here and simply had to slow to an almost stop and pump hard to get going again!). On the more exposed sections it was windy and I gripped tight to attempt to stay on course. This was my chance to take on some liquid and fuel, and I now know I should have been getting something inside me at regular intervals, but instead I had my head down, enjoying the ride. One of the best moments for me was going into the second lap. I spotted Edward and Hector sitting in the grass at the side of the road, holding up a colourful sign saying ‘Go Adele!’, with lots of cheers and waves, it really does give you a boost when you feel some support :)

The last lap of the ride went by in a flash, and I could feel some cramping in my calf muscles and a stitch-type ache in my side…keep going, keep going. There’s such a lovely sense of excitement as you turn off towards transition (all of the transitions were made really straightforward by clear signs and friendly direction from marshals), the sense of starting the next leg, getting going again on another adventure. This felt hard though. I jumped off my bike and hobbled in cycle shoes across the rough grass, my legs heavy and full of spin. Hanging my bike back up, I took a long drink, put on my running shoes and stumbled out to the run course, feeling slightly dazed.

*a little cheer from Hector, with Edward at his side, looking at the tracker on his phone*

I could see that I might make my goal of three hours if I ran a good time for this 5k, somewhere a little slower than I have been running recently, so not a problem. My legs were not hearing this though and before long I felt the cramp creeping up around my quads and decided to move over and stretch it out. Straight away my hamstrings seized up and I wished I hadn’t stopped…go, go, go! I hobbled on a bit further. Ahead of me I could see a drinks station and I thought maybe a few gulps of a sports drink might help, it did. Now, for the first time in a very long time, I found myself walking (‘To the next tree’), and slowly plodding along as best I could. I broke down the rest of the run, thinking ‘Just another fifteen minutes’, and saw people standing aside, also struck by cramp, doubled over and walking as if their knees were locked. Now, with just two kms to go, I tried to run again but my legs just couldn’t do it. A fellow runner asked if I needed a shoulder, saying he was hobbling too and another kind chap handed me an energy gel. I’m not entirely sure they work that quickly, but something did the trick and I ran those last two kms, with the finish in sight and the thought of a long drink to push me on.

Crossing the finish line (in 3 hours 4 minutes and 44 seconds) I took my medal and flopped down to have a little cry as Hector handed me a lovely medal he had made with ‘1st’ in silver sparkly stuff. The relief at finishing was overwhelming, it was so tough dealing with cramp and I quickly drank anything I could get my hands on and forced down two bananas before collecting my bike. Once again the organisation was excellent as my wrist band was cut off once they had checked I had the right bike, and off I went to enjoy a berry smoothie.

Two medals!

Two medals!

This was where I started to feel quite unwell. Not having taken on fuel at regular intervals, and then downing as much as I could stomach in a short space of time, I felt dreadful. Numerous trips to the portaloo, a lie down on the ground, and I felt able to start walking towards the station. We decided a stop at the park cafe might help and I watched the boys disappear into the distance as I bent over and publicly ‘shared’ my smoothie. Still, people were kind and a few asked if I needed help. On I went. It was decided that I should cycle to the station and the boys would catch me up, cycling seemed easier than walking at this point. At the station I bumped into my friend Roni, who had also been taking part in the Classic challenge, we exchanged stories of grit and determination and the colour started to gradually move back into my cheeks. In an attempt to get me back up and running and get some nutrients in my body, Edward suggested a big pub lunch…which really did the trick :)

Meat!

Meat!

You might think that someone who found themselves stopped by cramp, doubled over with stomach pain and vomiting into the grass would give such an event a wide berth, but I can’t wait until next year, I really want to do it again. This time I will work out a fuelling strategy (I have a year and other events to work this out – and any advice would be great) and I want to be able to give it my all right up to the finish line. And of course, my position of 12th woman in my age group needs to be beaten, top ten next time!

Entries are now open for next year, with early bird prices if you’re quick!

Posted by: fitartist | September 10, 2014

Summer Round-up and Duathlon Nerves

After a summer of lots of this:

Mine!

Mine!

and enough running, swimming and riding to fend off ice-cream belly (just), I need to get myself back into a routine and back in action for some autumn race fun. I had hoped to keep to my routine, but holidays, chickenpox (Hector, not me) and a lack of time meant things went a bit off-course. I did plenty of running on holiday, with sand-dunes and rocky paths to keep me on my toes, and even squeezed in a parkrun in Barnstaple…

Hero

Hero

I was delighted to discover that one of my heroes, Chrissie Wellington, was running at Barnstaple, so we made an extra special effort to get there (which involved a very rushed sprint along the river to find a footbridge as cheers rose up on the opposite bank – eek!). I also climbed elegantly into a wetsuit to make the most of the Devonshire sea…

Tight fit

Tight fit

Erm, I found the wetsuit excellent insulation against the roaring Atlantic, but I am at a loss as to how people jump in and out of these at a triathlon. More practice needed I think! So, many Adventures in Open Water Swimming took place in the North Sea, the Atlantic and also the Bude Sea Pool. Brrrr.

Now, of course, I’m back in action and getting my head down for some serious training. How lovely to be back at the running club, grinding up and down hills at Hilly Fields parkrun and also heading out solo for a brick session.

Quick change

Quick change

Because on Sunday, I will be gathering together a collection of running and cycling attire, my bike and various drinks and snacks and heading over to Richmond Park for the London Duathlon. I’m very, very excited and maybe a little bit nervous about this! 10k run, 44k ride and 5k run. Gulp. My session at the weekend really helped my confidence. I rode out into Kent (avoiding almost being crushed by idiot drivers on two occasions :( ), rode 42k, parked my bike in the hall at home and swapped to my running shoes to head out for a quick 5k. My legs felt surprisingly good at first, with a nice spin to them from the bike leg, but I soon started to feel a cramp setting in…I wonder how things will feel with an additional 10k in my legs this Sunday. There will be various distances being covered on the day, from Super Sprint right up to Ultra. Richmond Park is a great place to spend a day admiring the athletic prowess passing by, ahem. Watch this space next week for a full report on my own experience of my first duathlon.

Posted by: fitartist | August 7, 2014

Loxley Sports Kinesiology Tape

In the past year I have had some ‘knee trouble’, which the GP diagnosed as ‘runner’s knee’ after I told him I ‘run a bit’. I was then referred to a physio who worked on an imbalance in my glutes with various squats and physio-band exercises. Eventually things started to improve (thought the squats initially made things worse) and he suggested using a foam-roller to ease out the tightness in my ITB and now, whenever I feel a twinge, I get myself on the foam-roller and it seems to help loosen things out. Sorted. I do, however, have ‘an ankle thing’ going on. When I get up in the morning, my right ankle feels unstable, weak and a little painful to walk on – my first trip down the stairs always looks slightly comical. I have a feeling I am sleeping with my foot in an awkward position, causing my ligaments to stretch and create an imbalance. In an attempt to correct this, I have tried wearing compression socks to bed (too hot in this weather), I have tried wearing a support bandage (rubbish, partly because it’s a knee support, so doesn’t fit properly) and have had little improvement.

Kinesiology Tape

Kinesiology Tape

I was delighted then, to be asked to try out some rather colourful Kinesiology Tape. You will have seen these bright strips on the lithe limbs of the professionals as they tested their athletic prowess at the Commonwealth Games recently. This made me wonder if tape was something the recreational athlete would find useful but, having tried it out, I think it’s a great alternative to the bandage strips that often lose tension quite quickly and also move about during activity, lessening their efficacy. The tape can be used to support joints during activity, but can also promote recovery and reduce muscle soreness, and I see it can also help reduce cramp, something I have been having problems with recently. I notice also that the tape has a water-resistant coating, though I am yet to try it out in the pool. The tape does not contain latex and is also hypoallergenic – yes, I am one of those people who is left with a big, plaster-shaped red mark when I use some dressings :( The tape is easily applied and you can find instructions here (I am assured there will be illustrated instructions soon, to make application easier). You can see that some applications are easier than others and some, such as the back or shoulders, would require a second pair of hands to make sure you  get it right.

I am going to be testing the tape on my ankle over the next couple of weeks and will report back on any improvement. I might also try some post-activity taping to see how effective it is at easing soreness and cramp. In the meantime, you can check out the range of tapes and other products here.

Posted by: fitartist | August 4, 2014

Fast and Hard

This getting faster is really, really hard work. A few weeks ago I took part in the British 10k London Run and was absolutely delighted to sneak under the 50 minute mark and get myself a PB. It had felt hard, and I thought I ought to fit in another 10k race before my duathlon in September, so signed up for the British Heart Foundation Victoria Park 10k, which took place yesterday. We decided to head over there by bike and overground, so we could ride around and the boys could enjoy the park while I ran, unfortunately Hector picked up a puncture as we arrived in Haggerston, so I headed along the canal to Victoria Park while they tried to sort out the puncture :(

The atmosphere at the park was relaxed and friendly, with people milling around, collecting t-shirts, putting bags in the baggage area and taking selfies.

Chillin'

Chillin’

The junior race was started, then we were called over to join in the warm-up. Erm, I just swung my legs about at the edge and tried to look serious while people around me jumped around. We were then ushered into a very narrow funnel to face an arch that had ‘finish’ written on it. And we were off. This was a three lap race and very flat, with nice wide roads and paths to overtake the many walkers (yes, lots of people were walking. I did feel like calling cheerily ‘Give it a go!’ but didn’t have enough breath). I had really wanted to run under 50 minutes again and hoped to achieve a similar time to the other week, but I wasn’t feeling amazing and had to give myself little pep talks and work out how much longer it would take me to finish. My energy and enthusiasm was lifted when I saw Edward and Hector at the end of the first lap, smiling and waving: ‘I fixed my puncture Mum!’

The run was largely shaded by trees, but it did feel hot and my stomach was not feeling very happy, so it was push, push, push, head down and teeth gritted to get to the end. I had noticed that my Garmin was measuring short and, as I entered the finish funnel (as you did on each lap) I was confused about whether or not I had actually finished. Some runners had another lap to go and were heading left, spectators were blocking the way to the right and I walked right past the drinks and medals. I spoke to a marshal though and he kindly went to get a medal for me. When I pointed out that the course seemed short, he reassured me that they had measured it accurately with a wheel…

So, my official time is 46:42! This is getting silly!

I then got on my bike and headed over to the playground, where Hector had found something fun to entertain him:

Sand fun

Sand fun

The playground at Victoria Park really is great, even if you’re a bit bigger…

Post-race play

Post-race play

Posted by: fitartist | July 29, 2014

London Duathlon Brick Session

Only seven weeks to go! Seven weeks until my first duathlon! *I’m a bit excited*

I recently had the opportunity to try something new alongside the London Duathlon Ambassadors, ITU Duathlon Champion, Ryan Ostler and Junior Team GB silver medallist, Charlotte Harris: a brick session involving a thirty minute spin class followed by a 5k run, something that can easily be replicated in your weekly training. This did require me to get to central London after doing that child-care-relay thing then negotiating rush-hour transport and resulted in me arriving after the Q&A session, all hot, sweaty and a bit grumpy.

I was at least ready to go when I got there, all fired up and eager to put on some cycling shoes and clip-in to my bike. In the dark. This was a bit odd. This particular spin session was very different to any I’ve been to before, and I can see why it would appeal to lots of people, with its pumping music and club-like feel (low lights, enthusiastic instructor, motivational talk…). Personally I found it made me feel a bit old – I used to be addicted to spin, attending about four or five classes a week and coming out glowing, ready to take on the world, but right now I find myself a bit more serious and a bit less hands-in-the-air. The class was held at BOOM Cycle, which is ideally situated in the centre of Holborn, perfect for a post-work session to set you up for the evening. As I had arrived just as the class was due to start, I found myself at the back, just behind Charlotte Harris, so took the opportunity to check out her technique…as I thought, absolutely still in the upper body, with all the effort happening in the legs and glutes, must remember this on my next ride…

Charlotte and Ryan

Charlotte and Ryan

The class flew by, and we were soon glugging back some water and putting on some rather (large) fetching hi-viz tops to head out on our run. This leg of the brick session was led by personal trainer Mollie Millington (what a great name!) and saw us weaving our way as a group in and out of the evening drinkers and homeward-bound commuters of central London. This gave me a chance to chat to Kate Carter from the Guardian, who I met previously at a New Balance event at the London Marathon. I also chatted to Charlotte and asked her about how best to train for two runs and if she herself uses indoor cycling classes as part of her training. She told me that she does use these classes, but mostly in the winter and she prefers to use an endurance class, which is better suited to the kind of distances she is training for. She also told me that I should think about heading out for a run after I go cycling, this doesn’t have to be a long run, just a short round-the-block to get my legs used to the feeling of running off the bike. I’m definitely going to give this a try over the next few weeks because I am going to have to find something in my legs to see me through 5k after a 44k bike ride!

I can’t wait!

Brickies

Brickies

 

Posted by: fitartist | July 21, 2014

A Weekend of 100s

What a great weekend! On Saturday we celebrated our 100th Hilly Fields parkrun. It’s hard to believe that 100 runs have been and gone, it’s flown by! So that’s 300 times up The Hill!

The Hill in Lego :)

The Hill in Lego :)

We don’t have anyone who has run all 100, but we do have many of our regulars reaching their 50th parkrun and receiving their 50 t-shirt (I’m one of them, with just four runs to go until I reach 50, more celebrations!). On Saturday I headed up the hill with Hector and we helped to set up the course. We took some chunky chalk with us and set about writing some motivational messages on the downward slope that heads towards one of the hardest parts of our course. As we put cones out we heard rumbles of thunder, saw flashes of lightning and found ourselves sheltering from the rain under the trees as it poured down, washing away our chalk :( There is something magical that happens at parkrun though…at about 8.55 the clouds part and the sun comes out, or at least the rain stops long enough for people to run 5k! Once the runners had set off, I quickly re-wrote the chalk messages and cheered people on.

To the finish

To the finish

As people pushed on in the humid conditions, we gradually cheered runners across the finish line and were delighted to present a spot prize to our 100th runner Jez, who has been supporting us almost since the start. Jez is (sadly for us) heading off on an adventure with his family in the next few weeks, I wish Jez all the luck in the world and hope to see him crossing our finish line when he visits in the future.

100th finisher!

100th finisher!

As is usual at our celebrations, people were very generous in sharing their baking skills and we were able to offer a choice of truly delicious cakes.

Refuel

Refuel

One of the best things about being involved with parkrun has been the friends I have made. I love the feeling of community I now have in my area, stopping in the street to chat to people I hadn’t met before parkrun. This friendship now extends to meeting each other at running events, racing together and also enjoying our other shared interests. Yesterday I found myself spinning through the Kent countryside with Sally, Siggy and Stephen. We have been on long rides together before, and I wanted to make sure we fixed a date in our diary for another, which happened to coincide with a challenge on Strava, the Rapha Women’s 100k Challenge. This challenge aimed to encourage as many women as possible around the world to cycle 100km on Sunday July 20th, so we had to join in!

We met early and took the train to Hayes to cut out the grim bit at the beginning. We then pedalled hard, pushed up steep and steeper hills, whizzed down the other side, paused to enjoy the view and counted the kilometres as we went. Stephen had very kindly worked out a route which – amazingly – turned out to be spot on, he had included some pretty tough hills though, so it certainly wasn’t easy going! I love a hill and can happily zoom up them but, on a 100km ride, even I was starting to feel it. The wonderful thing about these rides is having time to chat and get to know each other better, getting to know each other’s strengths, supporting and encouraging and also the amazing things you see along the way (we were taken aback when we turned a corner and were greeted by fields covered in lavender in full bloom – the smell! – and were also somewhat surprised to see a field of rhea (they’re a bit like ostriches) fluffing their feathers and showing us their splendour). I’m not sure how I would manage on a solo ride of this distance, it certainly makes a difference having friends around you, and we pushed, cajoled and boosted each other on the way round until we arrived back home with a hefty time on our clocks (my longest ride ever!).

 

Hilly Fields on Tour

Hilly Fields on Tour

Posted by: fitartist | July 14, 2014

Chasing a PB at the British 10k London Run

It would be amazing to get a good, solid night’s sleep before a race, but I doubt many people do. I didn’t, and kept waking at every noise, so was ever so slightly grumpy when my alarm went off at 6.30. I had checked the TFL website on Saturday night to find that trains from my station wouldn’t be running early enough so, once I’d sneaked out of the house as quietly as I possibly could (this didn’t stop a small sleepy-head appearing at the top of the stairs…), I cycled over to Lewisham to catch a train. I hadn’t checked my entire planned route, so found myself crowded on a tube train with a mixture of sporty people and still-drunk people, all being kicked off at Waterloo. I might have been on my way to the New Balance VIP area, but I’m sure ‘real’ VIPs don’t find themselves legging it sweatily through a city to get to the start with stress levels set at number 10!

Perfect shoes for the day

Perfect shoes for the day

When I did eventually reach The Cavalry and Guards Club on Picadilly, I was delighted to be directed upstairs by a very smiley and enthusiastic concierge, taking in the sumptuous surroundings as I climbed the wide staircase. The people at New Balance had very kindly laid on a delicious-looking breakfast, but most runners were politely sipping tea or topping up their water levels, having already had their pre-race breakfast before setting off (the big breakfast was just what I needed after the race!). At this point I was thinking less about eating and more about needing the loo, that annoying ‘I’m sure I need the loo AGAIN’ thing you do pre-race. Being in such lovely surroundings, the loo visit was actually rather nice and certainly beats a portaloo any day!

For Ladies

For Ladies

Ahead of the race starting, there were a few special moments when a procession of war horses made their way along Picadilly, accompanied by poems written by soldiers and some beautiful singing by the Military Wives Choir. From our vantage point on the balcony, we could see the crowds of colourful runners waiting patiently to start. I believe the start at last year’s race had been quite congested, but this year everything seemed to have been considered thoroughly, with each wave being slowly guided into place before setting off. I headed down to the start line and rather inelegantly clambered over a barrier (I was told to do this, I wasn’t gate-crashing, honest) and found myself right at the front, with the elites and a couple of thousand Help For Heroes runners. It was at this moment that I realised my Garmin had switched itself off and I had to try and get a signal in the 20 seconds left…I crossed the start line looking at my watch and waiting for it to get itself into gear, not a great start!

The start

The start

The crowds at this point were great, lots of really good cheering from the friends and family along one side and the runners still waiting to set off along the other. I pushed hard and tried – for a while at least – to stay near the front :) In November I ran the Movember 10k in Greenwich Park and managed a PB of 53.14 (whilst wearing a knitted moustache), so really wanted to try and beat this time, with a little goal in my head of going sub-50. This would mean consistently running 5 minute kms, but my Garmin was having trouble giving me an accurate pace, so I was going by how I felt and allowing myself to be swept along with the runners and with the enthusiasm of the crowd.

I have found, through running parkrun as much as I can, that I enjoy a familiar course and knowing where I can push and where to hold back. I had looked briefly at the map of the route for this race, and I know the roads on the course pretty well, but I was surprised at how quickly I reached the next landmark. There was plenty of twisting and turning, with a long stretch along the Embankment and a slight low-point going through Blackfriars Tunnel (where my Garmin went all silly on me). I remembered this from the London Marathon, about three miles from the end…

Now we had the treat of seeing the faster runners heading back towards Big Ben and I gave a little cheer to the front runners. In no time at all I was in the same position with thousands of other runners across the barriers, still to enjoy that turning point ahead. One thing I would suggest improving on next year is the size of the KM markers, I missed a few (this is a good thing!) and it might be nice to be able to spot them ahead to give you a little push (especially as my Garmin wasn’t giving me an accurate reading). Now I was beginning to tire a little, and the run over Westminster Bridge felt longer than it had looked on the map. As I had visualised the course ahead of the race, I had seen myself take a right turn after Big Ben and sprint towards the finish, but oh no, it was through Parliament Square and a long slog out to Victoria before I could even think about finishing! What a relief to see the finish arch and to hear the crowds. I looked up at the clock and could see that, if I legged it, I might just make it under 50 minutes. This effort involved me making a lot of noise and pumping my arms possibly more than I needed to, but I just sneaked under as the clock ticked on.

At this point, walking up towards Trafalgar Square, I realised that, when you are running this sort of distance and running hard, scenery is largely irrelevant – I saw runners ahead of me, passing through the square and really couldn’t remember having done so myself! That’s how hard I was focussing! By now I had contacted the boys and it turned out they were at the finish line, looking really hard for me at the 50 minute point. Oops! I picked up my bag and medal, drank lots of water, and hoped that the official time would show what I wanted it to show…

Obligatory medal shot

Obligatory medal shot

…it did. 49.52, 43rd lady out of 8518, 453rd overall. Chuffed.

I would like to wish a huge congratulations to my friend Helen who, five months after giving birth, was back out there yesterday and run/walking the whole course with her friend Jo. What an inspiration!

Posted by: fitartist | July 8, 2014

Vitality British 10K London Run

…is this Sunday! It’s come round so quickly, as these things do: I always think, months ahead of the event, that I will focus and train hard and have the race of my dreams. I have been focussed and have certainly been training hard, but I’m not entirely sure if this has been 10k specific. My times over 5k have steadily got faster (another PB at Hilly Fields the other week, with a 23.52 finish), but I haven’t really focussed on running further – I know I can run 10k, but I can’t see myself achieving such times over the longer distance. My speed may be helped by these colourful shoes, that certainly give me some bounce…

Speedy

Speedy

You can find out all about the NB 1080v4 here. I have worn NB shoes before and really do like them, I would recommend going up a half-size though because I find the toe-box a little tight, so you need to give your toes a bit more space to spread. These shoes feel very light and the ‘no-sew’ construction means less potential for rub and therefore blisters. Oh, and they’re pretty aren’t they?!

Here is some information from New Balance about the New Balance Village at Sunday’s race:

Runners in the Vitality British 10K London Run will be welcomed to the exclusive ‘New Balance Village’ on Sunday 13th July. New Balance, which is an official sponsor of the race, is treating runners to special incentives including access to an interactive chill out area, as well as a free sports massage for runners wearing New Balance.

The ‘New Balance Village’ will be home to a host of activities including sports massage from YourPhysioPlan.com, a network of expert independent physiotherapy practices across the UK. Together with YourPhysioPlan.com, New Balance is offering runners wearing the brand a free sports massage in a space before or after the race. Those wearing the iconic brand will also receive a free New Balance T-shirt and an exclusive discount on a 12 month membership with YourPhysioPlan.com, the only physiotherapy, massage and conditioning monthly payment plan available in the UK.

All runners are invited to celebrate after the race in the ‘New Balance Village’ chill out area, where they can play crazy golf amongst London landmarks, feast on complimentary popcorn and pose for a picture in front of Westminster Abbey and Big Ben within the photo cut out boards. Visitors to the New Balance Village can also head to the New Balance market to pick up the latest New Balance technical trainers from sports retailer Sweatshop.

All participating runners will receive a free pair of exclusive New Balance union jack trainer laces and a discount voucher for Sweatshop at the bag drop areas at the end of the race.

Samantha Matthews, New Balance marketing manager, said: “British manufacturing is a rich part of our heritage, so we’re proud to support an iconic race like the Vitality British 10K London Run.

“We want to give all runners a taste of the New Balance experience, which is why we’ve created a fun interactive area for them to celebrate after the race, as well as giving away free New Balance laces and a Sweatshop discount for all runners. We also have some great incentives lined up for all runners wearing New Balance, including a free expert sports massage to help them unwind.”

The New Balance Village will all be located at Waterloo Place, London. Runners taking part in Vitality British 10K London Run who don’t want to miss out on the New Balance race day incentives can pick up an exclusive discount on a new pair New Balance trainers with Sweatshop. Head to http://www.sweatshop.co.uk and enter code NBB10K by31st July, 2014 to receive 20% OFF all New Balance footwear and apparel.

This year the Vitality British 10k London Run is supporting Help For Heroes as its lead charity partner and will honour the 100 years since the First World War with a host of activities.

Keep up-to-date with all of the latest New Balance news on Twitter @NewBalanceUK and newbalancerunninguk on Facebook.

 

 

I have compiled a list; I like compiling lists (I especially like ticking things off my lists). This is a list of lidos and open-water swimming areas in and around London. I sat and stared at Google Maps and did some TFL searching and found that lots of these pools/ponds are a bit of a trek and, as I want to swim when it’s quieter, I would prefer to fit it in to a school day. These limitations might mean some repeats and a bit of weekend early swimming. Last week I decided to visit somewhere I have heard about many times and have wanted to visit for ages, Oasis in Covent Garden. Now, in my head the pool is on a roof and I had visions of going up, up, up in a lift, stepping out and being greeted by an expanse of blue, over-looking the skyline of London. I was a tiny bit disappointed when I walked up the steps to the reception desk and there it was, ahead of me. It is still pretty special to have a public pool in the middle of a bustling shopping area, so I got over myself and headed down to the changing room (lockers 20p, not returned).

Oasis

Oasis

This pool is interesting because you have the option of heading outside to the heated lido, or staying inside and swimming in a parallel pool, under cover. I was straight outside of course! It’s a funny one, narrow, with just a few lanes, so I walked over to the fast lane and found that the steps were taped off because they were broken – I do like to enter a pool with some degree of elegance, I’m really not a jumper. This meant I sat demurely at the edge for a bit, dangling my toes in and taking a deep breath before immersing myself with far more suddenness than I would prefer. Of all the lidos I have visited so far, this is definitely the warmest, so it wasn’t such a shock to the system. In my lane were a few other swimmers, one in a tri-suit, I waited my turn and headed out into the traffic. I have noticed a subtle shift in the short space of time I’ve been swimming ‘outdoors’. On my first couple of visits I would gasp and pant for a while and certainly wouldn’t put my face in the water until I was well and truly acclimatised, but here I found myself confidently cutting through the water and breathing normally…

…until I reached half-way and the floor appeared to fall away from me. The deep end is incredibly deep! There is no gentle slope from mid-way to deep end, just a sudden drop and, if you are scared of heights, it creates a very odd feeling in your tummy! My head came out of the water for a bit while I got used to it, and I would feel the drop each length until I had been swimming for quite some time and began to almost enjoy the sensation. I swam what I assumed to be a mile, but checked the length of the pool with the life-guard, who informed me it’s 27.5 metres long and the deep end is 3.5 metres deep! So I had managed a little further than I’ve ever swum before :)

Like the other lidos, I could sense that a lot of the swimmers are regulars, and what a lovely place this would be to pop to on your lunch break! I warmed up with a cup of tea in the cafe that overlooks the pool (not as nice as the Lido Cafe at Brockwell…) and noticed the edges of the pool filling up now with men in tight speedos, everything was getting a bit posey and a bit cruisey…so, unless you enjoy being watched as you swim, then get here early!

From above

From above

(thank you to Edward for this lovely photo he took when he was at a talk in an adjacent building. He was a bit surprised to see a pool outside!)

 

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