Can I Go Sub 60 For A 10km Again?

I think I've written this post in my head a million times over the past few months but subconsciously I knew that if I wrote it down, that would make it more real. It would mean I'd have to actually do it. I'd have to run 10km faster than my usual "comfy" pace (around 6:30 per km).

Image Credit: Fabric Forward

Then an email landed in my inbox from Julie Creffield of Too Fat To Run about her goal to run a sub 30 min 5km and I realised it was time to share what's actually been swirling around in my head. If you've run with me over the past few months, you'll know my goal for the London Winter Run which takes place on Sunday 5th February.

As soon as I signed up I knew I didn't want to do what I normally do... not run, suffer on race day and then wonder why I never bothered to train. So I set a goal to train and started Winter Run Club to make sure I got out at least once a week. Then chatter about times made me realise that if I was gonna train, I might as well set myself a goal time. Cos I know I could run it comfortably in around 1 hour 6 minutes... but what if I pushed myself?!

So I've taken inspiration from Julie and set myself the following three goals:

1. Best Case Scenario
2. Will be Happy with
3. Worst Case Scenario

She says "This is really useful for a 10K or half marathon, as it gives you something to focus on and work towards both in the training and in the race."

...so how have I been getting ready for this challenge?!

Image Credit: Fabric Forward

Firstly, I had a few sessions at The Running School in London. My first session was an assessment of my running style and technique. I was videoed running from the side and also from behind so I could see what I was doing (...think about it, we never see what we look like running!). Then they took me through what it would look like when I run the way they would teach me to. It definitely took a couple sessions to get used to the changes but running felt immediately less effort and I became comfortable running at faster speeds than I would ever choose to run.

I would literally come out of my Running School sessions feeling like superwoman when it comes to running. However, this didn't immediately translate to running on the road but with time, I've learnt to use proprioreception (yeah, you remember this from the Skins post?!) to check if everything is where it should be and get back to the right technique especially when I get tired.

So if I look like I'm thinking a lot when I'm running all that'll be going through my head is:

Arms... Breathe... Heels

Arms... Breathe... Heels

Arms... Breathe... Heels

My biggest take aways from the sessions were that we always started with a thorough warm up including walking (briskly) on the treadmill and a series of exercises to activate the glutes. Both of these are things I never, ever do before a race but will implement for the London Winter Run.

I've also been dipping in and out of Julie's new book - Scream If You Want To Run Faster - which features 7 techniques to help you shave a little time of your running and create some new PB's. The book is specifically aimed at plus sized runners and Julie says " [it] ...helps you to understand that speed is relative and plays no role in defining you as a runner, but it also gives you the mindset tools and practical techniques you need to grow in confidence and improve your 5k times." ...what more could we want?! The book is available as an ebook and in paperback on Amazon (let's help Julie get the book into the top 10, eh?!).

...what else?!

Apparently, I'm the last person in the world to know that the insoles in your trainers are removable in order for you to replace them with more suitable ones. Did you know?! ...so I got myself a pair from Enertor, the insole brand Usain Bolt wears cos if they're good enough for him, they're good enough for me! They are billed as having improved shock absorption, greater energy return whilst being thinner than other brands yet still providing more protection.

Image Credit: Fabric Forward

I've had them in my Brooks Ghost 9 Galaxy since the day I got them and seriously cannot complain. I've run in Ghosts before and never had any real issues but having the insoles have made the shoes more how I like them (I think it's the energy return which I love). So right now, it's looking highly likely that I'll be running in the Ghosts (with said insoles) on race day.

That's it. My running goal confession post! ...and while I have your attention on the subject of running, check out my Race Prep Guide which I recently updated (I pulled together a number of popular posts from the blog into one comprehensive guide!). It's perfect to get yourself ready for any race day and ensure you don't forget anything! ...if you think I've missed anything out, reach out to me and let me know so I can add it!!

Do you run for times?! Or is running your me time?!

Elle :)

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January: New Year Challenge Update

Well, it's like I blinked and all of a sudden we are well on our way to the end of January! Where is the time going?! ...it's been almost two weeks since I shared with you my goals for January so I figure it's time for a little update and also a chance to share what I've learnt!

Lesson No. 1 - Make Plans But Don't Be Afraid To Switch Them Up
One of my goals for the month was to run three times a week in the lead up to the Winter Run 10km. By the time I'd posted my goals I'd already smashed that for week one and all the plans were in place for me to smash it again on week two. I was all set to head to Adidas Runners on the Monday evening when the tube strike was announced and quite frankly I did not want to get stuck in London Town when I had no other reason to be there. Then, as fate would have it, it decided to snow on Winter Run Club day and pretty much every single person signed up contacted me to let me know they wouldn't be attending. Believe me, I know I could've still run as I was still at the venue at the time of Run Club but I chose not to. I did make it to parkrun as planned on the Saturday though which felt super tough but at the end of the day I got it done.

My week ended up being full of indoor cycling and a little workout at the Run For Your Buns cafe!
As for week three, I'm on target for two runs but have also spent some time on the bike and even made it to a candlelit yoga session (which felt like a workout seen as I barely do yoga these days!).

Lesson No. 2 - You Choose Your Priorities
This one also kinda ties in with learning to say no, if I'm honest. It's something I've banged on about a fair few times especially in relation to blogging itself and the opportunities that are presented. But this month I've realised that if I set myself a goal, if I want to achieve it, I need to make the steps towards that goal a priority. It's only a month so surely I can make a few sacrifices; and quite frankly, are they even sacrifices if they are helping me to achieve a goal I've set for myself?!

Lesson No. 3 - Believe In Yourself
...then others will too! This one relates to both my indoor cycling goal and my running goal. As I get closer to race day, I seem to be losing confidence in myself to run this race under 60 minutes. I'm well aware that you can't predict how you will feel or perform on any given day and that leaves me feeling just a little uneasy. At my Running School sessions, Nick and Joe suggested the best strategy to run the race would be negative splits (increasing pace for each kilometre); but I just wasn't sure I could do it mentally. So I decided to try it out in Winter Run Club and programmed an out and back route for our week 12 session. Leaving at 630pm, we'd run as far as we could until the clock reached 7pm at which point we would turn around and aim to run back to our starting point faster than it's taken us to reach the halfway mark. I felt like I pushed myself a little and tried to push even more as I got closer to the end of our distance but was a little disheartened when I uploaded my tomtom data which looked like I'd run as slow as ever. When the data uploaded to Strava though, it removed all the stationary time (from traffic lights) and it seemed I hadn't run as bad as I thought I did and had in fact managed to pick up my pace for the second half of the run! ...there is hope after all!

In terms of indoor cycling, I went away after the training with mixed feelings. I felt like I could give what was being asked however it's really difficult to practice when you don't have access to a indoor bike at your disposal anytime you wish. With a busy week, and limited studio access it mean I only got to practice my audition tracks about 10 minutes before the auditions started. It was a great experience to get to teach (for the first time ever) but I do realise that my confidence will come with more experience of teaching. Currently, I need to finish planning the rest of my session and practice it. My feedback / advice from other instructors is to not over complicate the routine as that makes you overthink it, to practice cueing the moves for those in the class and to know my music. Pretty sound advice if you ask me!

Lesson No. 4 - What You Wear Can Affect How You Feel
During the month, I've been treated with a new workout outfit every ten days and have been loving it. I'm use to kit that is 100% functional rather than being particularly fashionable but I opted for some pieces which looked like they would be both. Donning a new outfit even if it's just a new sports bra or pair of leggings alone has literally made me feel like superwoman at some points! This month I loving blues, especially navy along with muted tones (grey, black) with pops of colour (like yellow), different textures (like mesh) or the monochrome look. My current favourites are this hooded mesh sweater, this black high neck sports bra (which is also now on sale!) and these black leggings all available from the women's activewear range at Debenhams.

The only thing I haven't covered now is swimming. That wasn't a massive goal anyway; more of a way to keep iron my radar and I still have a little time to hit the pool. I'll be looking to make sure I still feel comfortable now the water, practice my drills to work on front crawl and then work on building up my endurance in order to create some more specific swimming related goals in the year.

What have you been focusing for January?! ...have you had to be flexible with the goals you set yourself?!

Elle :)

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How To Get A Good Nights Sleep

Somehow, I thought that sleep was a topic I covered often on the blog but when I looked back, I realised my last post about tips for getting a good nights sleep was in May 2015! ...That's how time flies when you get a good nights sleep!

How well I sleep is something that's always on my radar (along with how much water I drink each day) so I thought I would share what I've been up to over the past couple of months. At the start of January, I started my New Year, New You Challenge, which I've been tracking using a FitBit Blaze. As with most fitness trackers these days, the Blaze automatically tracks your sleep (so I can't lie about the afternoon naps I sometimes need! haha!) and allows me to set a goal of how much sleep I want to get each night (currently set at 8 hours 45 minutes).

Photo Credit: @FabricForward (IG)
I've decided to share 3 (short lists of) tips with you here today, one for before bed, one for the night itself, and one for the morning!

What To Do Before Bed
* Fresh bedclothes sprinkled with lavender oil can work a treat
* Avoid caffeine too close to your bedtime (my DNA results suggested a minimum of 6 hours)
* Gentle exercise such as Yoga, or a short meditation
* Remove technology (iPhones, TV's etc) from the bedroom
* Keep a notebook by your bed to write down anything which may keep you up / be on your mind
* Read a chapter of your book

What To Do In Bed
I watched an Adjustamatic video that each of us spend a total of  25 years in bed so it should really be a priority to make sure we are comfortable! Some things to think about are:
* How many pillows do you sleep with?
* Do you fall asleep cuddling a pillow?
* Do you ever put a pillow between your knees?
* When did you last change your mattress? Is it comfortable?

You can check out the video [ here ]

What To Do In The Morning
* Use a wake up light to gently rise; they help to keep your sleep cycle on track, boosting mood, energy and productivity levels all day.
* Get up at the same time each day (or at least within 30 minutes)
* Try not to snooze your alarm
* Create a morning routine for yourself

Do you have any other tips for ensuring you get a good nights sleep?! 

Elle :) 

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The #KProChallenge with Skins

Image Credit: @FabricForward (IG)
February sees the launch of what might possibly be the ultimate tights - the KProprium Compression tights from Skins. I was lucky enough to be one of the very first people to get to try out these tights so have literally been living in them for the past six or so weeks.

I've run in them, cycled in them, squatted in them, trained in them... I think I proved that this product is definitely for me!

What makes these tights different to any others? ...I can hear you asking! It's all about proprioreception. Proprioception is the unconscious perception of motion and spatial awareness. It’s the body’s ability to sense movement in the joints, so you’re aware of where your limbs are without having to look. It’s important for everyday activities like standing and walking, but it’s even more important during physical activity where dynamic movements and co-ordination are vital for optimal performance. When you’re active for long periods of time, the body’s ability to perform at a sustained intensity drops as the muscles become fatigued. This reduces the joint support that controls normal motion effectively, and can lead to poor form and increased risk of injury.

And this is where enhanced proprioception can help in that the KProprium tights comes in with strategically placed Proprioceptive Power Bands (PPB’s) to fight fatigue, reduce the risk of injury and improve performance by enhancing proprioception. The bands are embedded in the tights and wrap the body’s prime movers – the lower body muscle groups used most for running, jumping and rotating – giving them the support they need to stay activated and able to control motion for longer periods of time. This helps to delay the rate of fatigue so you’re able to work for longer at a higher intensity.

Added to that are the regular benefits of compression gear which helps improve your performance by getting more oxygen to your active muscles and removing waste products from the body faster.

Image Credit: @FabricForward (IG)

I absolutely love the fit of the tights, especially the waistband which is ergonomically shaped to provide additional lower back stability and core support. Other features include reflectivity, factor 50+ UV protection, moisture management and technology to optimise body temperature.

All this means that the KProprium tights are made to be the ultimate long tights for endurance training and high load, high intensity workouts... and I think I might agree.

Depending on the weather (as long as it's not freezing temperatures) these tights should make the cut for my London Winter Run race day kit. I'm counting on them to keep my legs in check for the 10km event and help me to perform as best I can on the day... they are after all now tried and tested in my book...

Image Credit: @FabricForward (IG)

If you wanna find out more about these tights, or compression gear in general, then check out the KPro page on Skins.net ...

Check out my post on The Benefits of Compression Wear  

Do you use compression wear when you workout?! Have you tried any SKINS products before?!

Elle :)

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Free Desktop Calendars January 2017

Over the past few months, I've become a little addicted to updating my desktop wallpaper with a calendar which I've downloaded each time Charlotte of Berice Baby has shared them!

This month, I've branched out and done all the work myself (Charlotte is a little busy - go check out her blog and see what she is up to!) ...I did this mostly for myself but then it made sense to share it seen as I had already done all the work! I've only created desktop versions, but if they're popular (or requested) I'll be happy to sort some iPhone / iPad versions for February! Let me know!

Happy January peeps! Please pin and share them too so everyone can save themselves a little extra admin this month! 

Download: Desktop

Download: Desktop

Download: Desktop

Let me know if you use any of them or have any particular requests for February!

Until next month, 

Elle :) 

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