Tag Archives: Friday Five

Friday Five – 5 simple post-workout snacks

1 Jul
apple and peanut butter

“Apple Peanut Butter Stack” by Tower Girl is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If I’ve done a workout, but it’s a while before my next meal, I often have a snack, just to take the edge off my hunger. I quite like to have a protein shake, or some yoghurt with protein powder, but sometimes, I fancy something different:

  • apple and peanut butter
  • porridge with ground almonds and dried apricots
  • dark chocolate
  • dark chocolate coated almonds
  • chickpeas, broad beans and cashews

What are your favourite post-workout snacks?


Friday Five – Five ways to deal with illness when you’re training for an event

4 Mar

No-one wants to be ill or injured, but it can be especially frustrating to spend several months training hard for an event and then find that you fall ill. Injuries happen and how you return to training after an injury will depend on its severity and how close to your event you are.

A week before we were due to do Ironman Dublin 70.3, my husband and I each went out for a gentle training ride. I went out with two friends and he went out alone as he’s much faster than me. After 25 miles of cycling, one of my friends had to go home. We stopped and posed for some photos and then my husband arrived. At first I was pleased to see him… until I realised that he was covered in blood. He had swerved to avoid a pothole, hit some gravel and crashed, tearing his calf muscle. His race was over 😦

With a scenario like that, there isn’t much that can be done, but what if you have a cold or other illness? What steps can you take to get back on track?


1. Get well

It’s really important that you don’t try to push on with your training through illness. When training for my last marathon, I thought I was fatigued because of my volume of training and had no idea that I had glandular fever (mono). I felt exhausted all of the time and struggled to do all of my training runs. On the day I also suffered and it put me off from doing any more marathons.

Many people argue that it’s fine to train with a head cold, but that if your symptoms are below the neck (throat infections, chesty coughs) then you should rest. Also if you have to take antibiotics, then you should take things easy.

Treat yourself kindly – drink plenty of fluids, eat well and sleep as much as you need to.


2. Don’t try to make up for lost time

Many people try to ‘catch up’ what they have missed, but fitting in extra long runs or rides, which can lead to injuries or severe fatigue.

Consider the sessions that you have missed. Anything that is relatively easy was probably on your schedule to keep you ‘ticking over’ and to help contribute to your overall mileage/training hours for the week, so don’t worry about those sessions. The hard sessions are usually progressive, so it will depend on how far you are into your build up as to how essential these were.

If you are an experienced athlete (training consistently for six months or more) then your VO2max (fitness) will not change significantly with a week (or slightly more) of inactivity, so you may be able to pick up where you were before you were ill.


3. Ease yourself back into training

When you are ready to go back to training, you may feel that you are able to function at your previous level, but you need to consider the frequency, duration and intensity of your workouts, otherwise you may get ill again. No-one likes a yo-yo illness!

It’s a good idea to leave your Garmin at home and just run by feel, so that you don’t push yourself too hard. If you can’t bear the thought of running naked, try training on heart-rate rather than pace.


4. Review your remaining schedule

This links on from point 3. If you fall ill during the base building section of your training plan (rather than the competitive) section then you may be able to pick up where you left off. However, if you are ill during the competitive second half of your schedule then you may need to drop back a little and then re-plan the final few weeks of your plan.

Remember not to increase your training by more than 10% a week.


5. Adjust your goals

If you are ill early in your training schedule, then it may not have an impact on your race, but if you are ill for an extended period or very close to your event then you may need to readjust your goals.

Can you safely make it to the start line? If so, consider what a realistic goal is. It may be completion rather than a personal best.

Remember that finishing a race with a smile on your face, feeling inspired to set yourself a new goal is much better than giving everything, missing your goal and making yourself so fatigued that you can’t get back out and train.

Finally, you may want to minimise your chances of getting ill in the first place – ‘Don’t let colds and flu stop you training‘ (from 220 Triathlon) gives some tips on strengthening your immune system.

Have you had to deal with illness in the run up to an event? How did you deal with it?

Friday Five – Five lovely places to run in Southampton

22 Jan

I’ve now been living in Southampton for 20 years, so although it’ll never feel like my true home (Cornwall), I’ve lived here for long enough to discover some lovely running routes (they’re not quite far enough off the beaten path to count as hidden gems).


Technically, not all of these locations are actually in Southampton, but they’re close enough for me to run to them.

  1. Southampton Common has to be first on the list as it’s the main location for runners in the city. It’s a 326 acre site that’s less than a mile from the city centre, and is the venue for the incredibly popular parkrun that regularly boasts over 600 runners. There are lots of different paths, so you can choose whether to run on tarmac, compacted gravel or grass. There is also plenty of parking by the Common and a lovely cafe at The Hawthorns that is really welcoming to runners.
  2. Testwood Lakes. This was the first location that I ran to when I joined Lordshill Road Runners, and I did a lot of my training for my first marathon there, even when it flooded in 2012:

    Testwood Lakes

    Tim checks the depth of the flood water at testwood Lakes back in 2012 © Irene Moreno Millan

  3. Riverside Park. I don’t run here as often as I’d like, but it’s a staple of my long training runs, whether they are half marathon or marathon training runs. This park is where Southampton Junior parkrun takes place and it’s also got a large pitch and putt area.
  4. Lordswood trails. It’s easy to get lost here and apart from the distant sound of the motorway, you really do feel like you’re in the countryside.
  5. Weston Shore. I love running from my home, over the Itchen Bridge and along Weston Shore to Royal Victoria Country Park. (It’s exactly 10km from Foyes Corner in Shirley to the start of parkrun in RVCP, which is helpful to know if you’re marathon training).  There are some early modernist tower blocks on one side and on the other you have the Itchen and can see the cranes and towers of the refinery, so it might not be everyone’s idea of beautiful, but it’s a great run route.

Where are your favourite places to run that are near to Southampton?

Friday Five – Five things I remember about PE at school

15 Jan

This week’s Friday Five is ‘5 things I remember about Physical Education classes at school’.

1. The PE kit

I went to an independent girls’ school, so we had a truly hideous PE kit – yellow aertex t-shirts with brown PE knickers – urgh. To make matters worse, we had to store our PE kits in red drawstring bags that weren’t easy to carry, so most people only took them home at the end of term (or possibly half term), so a lot of people had really stinky PE kits – yuk!

2. Picking teams

Apart from when my best friend was selected as Captain, I can’t remember being picked first, but I can’t say that I was scarred by not being selected. There were only 21 people in my class, so after 14 people had been chosen to play netball, the remnants got to play a version of netball on the other court. As the only person who hadn’t played netball before secondary school (there were only 3 other people in my class at primary school), I had no idea of the rules, so it didn’t bother me that I rarely got to play properly.

3. Two laps of the track as a warm up

This felt like such a punishment. I have no idea just how slowly I ‘ran’ at that stage, but I’m sure the warm up took longer than the lesson. (We only had 35 minutes, which included the time it took to walk to and from the main school buildings and changing time).

Southampton Athletics track

4. ‘Standards’

Miss Lucas, the PE teacher, had a file of ‘standards’, which is the level that she expected us to reach for each track and field discipline. These were modified slightly for each year group, but were based on the ESAA Standards (for county and national championships). I think I failed to meet every standard, which was very demoralising. I did try to remonstrate with Miss Lucas on a couple of occasions as I was ‘up a year’ at school and some of my classmates were 18 months older than me, but she seemed entirely unconcerned. I sometimes looked at the standards for the year below and felt slightly heartened by the fact that I could actually achieve some of them.

5. Carefully selecting a role that meant I didn’t have to interact with a ball

I hate ball sports – I just don’t have the required coordination to catch a ball and am always afraid that I’m going to get hit. I quite enjoyed batting in rounders matches, but when it came to fielding, I tended to be put in deep field where no-one ever hit the ball. Hockey was the sport that terrified me the most. We didn’t wear shinpads, so getting hit by the ball was painful. My chosen role was Right Back as it meant that I didn’t really have to engage with the game and could spend my lessons chatting to Lizzy, who usually played Left Back.

What are your memories of school PE?

Friday Five – Five ways to measure your running success

1 Jan

Alice the pug ©Julia McGovern

Many of us measure our running success with numbers – most often, our personal bests. Improving your time over a measured distance is the easiest way of recognising success, but it’s not easy to get a PB and it can be demotivating when you keep training and trying, but that PB eludes you. However, it’s not to only way to measure your running success. Here are five alternative ways of feeling good about your running…

  • Running by feel
    Mentally take note of how you feel whilst out running and compare it with how you felt last month or last year. Maybe you can run further than before without needing a walking break, or perhaps you are able to complete a longer run without feeling tired. You can also try to mix it up a little by trying out some new terrain – leaving the Garmin at home and challenging yourself to a trail run can leave you feeling invigorated. Keeping a training log that records how you felt after each run can help you to see your progress… and can help you to guard against over training by making you aware of when you are fatigued.
  • Number of events completed
    Instead of worrying about your race times, consider focusing on the number of events you complete each year. You can also work on collecting the three Ms, if that’s your kind of thing: miles, memories and medals. Maybe sign up for one event each month. It can also be fun to try something completely different, such as an adventure race, multisport event (duathlon, aquathlon, triathlon or swicle/aquabike) or an endurance race based on time not distance. If you live near to a parkrun, then you could aim for your next milestone, whether that’s 50, 100, 250 or 500.
  • Completing a running streak
    Perhaps you should try a running streak, where you run every day for a period of time, regardless of the weather. Your runs can be as long (or as short) as you like, as long as they are at least 1 mile. This can have some disadvantages, as you may be ill at some stage or have other commitments that make it difficult, but you can set your own rules about what you can achieve – maybe a 30 days streak is all it will take to get your mojo back. An alternative, is to aim to complete a certain mileage by the end of each month or by the end of the year.
  • Consider your time logged/years running
    Look back on your running history. For how many years have you been a runner? There may be times when I feel like I’m not achieving anything, but I started doing parkrun in 2010 , so I’ve been able to call myself a runner for over 5 years. I’ve had short periods of time when injury has got the better of me, but I’ve always returned to running.
  • Find out your age grading
    This is one of the most magical of stats for me. Each birthday does not need to be treated with gloom as for runners it’s a chance to receive a better age grading without doing anything different. parkrun tells each runner their age grading, but if you don’t do parkrun, you can calculate it for yourself. This way, even if you are not beating old PBs, you may still see progress as your age grading for specific distance may have improved.

How do you measure your running success? Do you even feel the need to measure it or are you happy to run for the sake of running? I’d love to hear your thoughts.