Running: Brooks Brighton 10km

Brooks Brighton 10km 2012 & 2013

2012 vs. 2013

This time last year, I entered the Brooks Brighton 10km as my first proper race. I remember being absolutely terrified, to the point where I felt almost sick with nerves and hardly slept the night before. I’d run the distance a couple of times and I knew it’d take me about an hour, which meant I was thrilled to bits when I crossed the finish line in 56:47.

Fast forward one year and a few more races (including two half marathons) and I decided to run the race again to get measure of how much my speed has improved. In training, my 10km PB was 51:49 so I was hoping to come in at around the 50-minute mark… but I absolutely SMASHED last year’s time and crossed the finish line in 48:1o – knocking almost eight and a half minutes off my course record. BOOM!

The Brooks 10km is a brilliant race to run if you’re a first time racer. Around 2700 runners took part this year which means it’s great practise for getting used to the race environment if you’re training for a bigger event. Everyone is always really friendly, there was no pushing and shoving, the crowd were in high spirits and I got chatting to so many runners who’d travelled from all over the country to take part – including quite a few who had never entered a race before.

After two years I still firmly believe that running is awesome. And I cannot WAIT to get stuck into training for my first ever marathon with my fantastic women’s running club, FitBitch – though I’m more than a little bit terrified too. If you have any marathon training advice to share, please do leave a comment below – all training and race tips will be gratefully received!

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Run lust: Sweaty Betty

I’m just about to embark upon training for my first EVER marathon (slightly terrified, if I’m honest) and have been thinking about what keeps me motivated to run when it’s cold and miserable outside. With the weather feeling truly cold for the first time since the great snowfall of March (which is supposed to be spring, right?) I’m feeling an overwhelming desire to snuggle up in my onesie with a hot chocolate instead of hitting the pavement for a few miles.

Call me silly, but I’ve realised I’m far more inclined to run when I feel good in my running gear. Having recently acknowledged that I am a serious runner now (I mean, I’m doing a MARATHON for goodness’ sake) I’ve gravitated from Karrimor at Sports Direct to Nike (still from Sports Direct, but rather  more expensive).

I made the mistake a little while ago though of wandering into Sweaty Betty and immediately fell in love with absolutely everything. Anyway. Not having the £300+ that it would take to turn myself into a head-to-toe brand ambassador, I decided to go imaginary shopping instead. Here’s my top five Sweaty Betty lust list. Oh, and my birthday’s coming up soon by the way.

1. Competitor run hoody (stardust grey marl) £70

Sweaty Betty Competitor Run Hoody

Sweaty Betty Competitor Run Hoody (£70)

The feel of this sweat-wicking fabric is absolutely lush – it’s so unbelievably soft. The slouchy front pocket would keep my hands warm while waiting to set off on a run and the funnel-shaped neck would keep that wind chill out nicely. Plus, a hood is always good for warming up at the start of winter runs. The other thing I love in a run hoody are long arms with thumb-holes. I have no idea why thumb holes are so cool, they just are.

2. Bodymap thermal run tights (asteroid purple) £90

Sweaty Betty Bodymap Thermal Run Tights

Sweaty Betty Bodymap Thermal Run Tights (£90)

When the weather gets to down minus temperatures, thermal tights are essential for getting your legs warmed up quickly. Mesh panels in the back of the knees provide ventilation for when you’re warmed up and the reflective criss-cross design makes for safe after-dark running. The colour’s great too. WANT.

3. Breeze merino long sleeve run top (hyperbola purple) £70

Sweaty Betty Breeze Merino Long Sleeve Run Top

Sweaty Betty Breeze Merino Long Sleeve Run Top (£70)

I love the gorgeous bluey-purple colour of this long-sleeve run top and the fit is incredibly flattering. The fabric is naturally anti-bacterial (I’m not sure why that’s important, but hey) as well as being breathable and sweat-wicking.

4. Fleece earwarmer (stardust grey marl) £15

Sweaty Betty Fleece Earwarmer

Sweaty Betty Fleece Earwarmer (£15)

I’m a big fan of an earwarmer when I’m running because I get far too hot in hats, but running with cold ears can be a pretty miserable experience. As is running with cold fingertips, so I should probably add these run gloves to my list as a cheeky number six too.

5. Protector run jacket (hyperbola purple) £70

Sweaty Betty Protector Run Jacket

Sweaty Betty Protector Run Jacket (£70)

And finally, a winter-running essential is a decent shower-proof jacket. I have a Ronhill one at the moment which cost me around £50 last year and the wear I’ve had out of it has been fantastic. Ultra-lightweight, these sort of jackets won’t keep you dry when it absolutely pours it down, but will give you some extremely welcome protection when it’s cold and wet.

Though these are my top five, I actually do want EVERYTHING. View Sweaty Betty’s full running range here

Images from http://www.sweatybetty.com 

Run, Fatgirl, Run: why running is awesome, even if you’re rubbish at it to start with

I was one of those kids with a permanent note to get out of PE, and the thought of willingly subjecting my body to exercise horrified me. Lessons that I couldn’t escape from usually involved me evading as much action as I could – being the goalkeeper in netball, making sure I was caught out immediately in rounders, or doing such painfully slow laps of the field that I got away with two when everybody else had to do three.

If you’d have fast-forwarded to my mid-twenties and told me that not only would I be choosing to do exercise without being held at gunpoint, but I’d actually be enjoying it, I’d have laughed and told you not to be so stupid. But secretly hoped it was true.

Last autumn, after a depressing visit to a doctor who told me I was overweight, I decided that instead of dieting – which sucks, let’s face it – I’d start running. It was something that didn’t cost anything, and that I could do on my own whenever it suited me.

The next day, I trundled along to Sports Direct and bought some cheap running leggings, a top and an armband for my phone. I did splash out on some rather expensive trainers from Sweatshop, but I’d been told that I’d do myself an injury if I didn’t have good shoes. And I’m never one to argue with the importance of shoes.

I thought it’d be best to ease myself in gently, so I downloaded the Get Running app for my iPhone. A brilliant way to get started and keep motivated, it’s definitely worth the £1.99. Following the tried and tested Couch to 5k training programme, the aim is to be able to run 5km without stopping after eight weeks.

Breaking training down into manageable chunks, week one sees you alternating 60 seconds of running with 90 minutes of walking. Easy, right? No. I had drastically underestimated not only how long a minute actually is, but my own level of fitness. Despite ten years of absolutely zero exercise, I set off at a sprint. Within ten seconds my body was screaming, within twenty I couldn’t breathe, and after a minute I felt like crying. And I had to do this SEVEN MORE TIMES? Oh God…

After a couple of weeks of intense sweating, turning beetroot purple, being unable to breathe and feeling like I was going to throw up, it started to get easier. I could feel my body becoming stronger, I bought some pumping music to run to and I wasn’t getting out of breath anymore. Within five weeks, I could run for 20 minutes solid.

My stumbling block was Christmas. Having reached 30 minutes of continuous running in November, along came December with its parties, mince pies, cakes and mulled wine. It was wet, it was cold, and it was frosty. I made up plenty of imaginary notes for PE. Old habits die hard.

Come February, I decided that I needed to get off my lazy bum and get running again. I began by testing myself to see how far I could do, starting off with ten minutes of running, five minutes of walking and ten minutes of running again. After a couple of weeks I was back up to 20 minutes – it’s astounding how fast your fitness improves.

Keeping motivated is hard when you’re running by yourself – especially when it’s dark, or rainy, or you’re hungover, or all of the above. When I’d got myself back up to running 5k in roughly half an hour, I joined FitBitch Running Club in Brighton on a training plan to get my distance up to 10k.

Despite the fact that my body feels wrecked after every training session – these ladies are seriously tough – I’m enjoying running with a group far more than doing it solo. The main difference is that when you feel like you want to die, there’s always someone that looks just as exhausted as you do and somebody else spurring you on.

Getting guidance from a running coach has also taught me how to look after my body better and prevent injury. After some serious jip with my shins and paranoia that I’d somehow shattered my bones beyond repair, it turned out that I just wasn’t stretching my calves out properly. Oops.

I’m signed up to the Brooks Brighton 10k in November – so there’s no going back now – and I’m thinking about doing the Brighton Half Marathon. I’m fairly sure that I still go bright purple when I run – drawing sympathetic yet encouraging looks from passers-by – but I don’t care. My stress levels are lower than they’ve ever been and I’ve shed an entire dress size. And I’m still drinking just as much wine as ever. Result.