Tag Archives: running

Fast Fuel – eating for success… and a giveaway

11 Oct

Even if you’ve not been following my blog for long, you’ll know that nutrition is important to me. I’ve successfully managed to lose weight by eating a healthy balanced diet and have only put on 7-8lbs by Week 39 of pregnancy by eating well, so I’m always interested in learning more about nutrition.

Training FoodAs we saw in Rio, the world’s greatest athletes have an entourage of professionals behind them to ensure they’re properly prepared for the games. Elite sports nutritionist and author of Amazon’s #1 best-selling book in the fitness training section, Training Food, Renee McGregor is one of the people who works with Olympic and Paralympic athletes to get them fully fuelled for the big games. Renee is a hugely respected registered dietician and sports nutritionist who works with both amateur athletes and those at the very elite levels of competition. She is a performance and clinical Dietician/Nutritionist, accredited by the Health Professions Council, and The Sports, Exercise and Nutrition Register, and is a member of The British Dietetic Association, and The Sports Nutrition Group. Renee works with individual athletes, and runs workshops for coaches and squads, alongside guest lecturing on sports performance at The University of Bath and appearing at sports conferences.

This month Nourish Books is publishing two new books by Renee to help everyone, from amateur athletes to those standing on the Olympic podium, to properly fuel their fitness:

I’m really excited to have been sent an advance copy of each of the books for review. As you may be aware, I adhere to a vegetarian diet, but I appreciate that this isn’t for everyone (and I think my own life might be easier if I could bring myself to eat meat/fish!)

Food for Running Success

Fast Fuel - Food for Running SuccessThe first half of this book focussing on giving the reader information about how to fuel properly with chapter on the basics, training and fine-tuning; the second half of the book features recipes that are divided into five sections:

  • breakfasts
  • light meals
  • main meals
  • snacks and portables
  • desserts

There is a single recipe on each page and each recipe includes nutrition information per portion as well as information about the number of servings, preparation time and cooking time. This information is essential for any time-pressed athlete. I think my only criticism would be that there are no photos of the food, which is what I like to see in a recipe book!

In the first section of the book, there are sample menus made out of the recipes that have been included, so it is easy for a runner to put together a nutrition plan using the information. The advice that is given is clear and practical, but I was reassured that it was backed up by science. Some of the recipes have clearly been developed by someone with similar tastes to mine, such as the Black Forest Porridge. I also particularly liked the rosemary and paprika vegetable and bean hot pot… so much so that I ate it before thinking about taking a photo – oops!

Food for Triathlon Success

fast Fuel - Food for Triathlon SuccessThis book follows a similar structure to Food for Running Success, so I won’t explain it here. Also, many of the recipes are the same, so it’s probably best to decide whether you are predminantly a runner or a triathlete, rather than investing in both editions. My favourite recipe so far in this book is the Tofu Pad Thai. I have to admit that I modified it slightly (coriander is the food of the devil), but I’m sure most people would love the recipe exactly as it is.

Both books include a detailed bibliography, so if you want to read more about the research behind the recipes, it’s easy to follow it up.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed reading these books and intend to try out many of the recipes over the next few months. There are sound scientific principles behind all of the recipes, which are explained in an accessible way. Also, although the benefits of specific foods are explained, Renee does not advise faddy eating or cutting out entire food groups.



I have one copy of each of Renee’s new books to giveaway to UK residents.

Fast Fuel giveaway Terms and Conditions

These books are for anyone and everyone with an interest in fitness and in keeping their bodies properly going, so if that sounds like you, why not enter?



The books were won by Michelle Dorrington and Norbert-Daniel Acatrinei. I hope they enjoy them 🙂



Monday Morning Motivation: Candace Hill

22 Feb

It’s a few months old now, but this video shows why Candace Hill is one to watch for the future:

Candace turned 17 just a couple of weeks ago, but in June 2015, she became the first high school aged female to break the 11 second barrier for 100 metres on the track. This result (and her great performance at 200m the following month) mean that she now holds the world youth best times for 100m and 200m. It’s also sobering to think that her time of 10.98 would have been fast enough to win the gold medal at every Olympics prior to 1984!

In December 2015, Candace turned professional with a 10 year contract with Asics, but she’s still studying hard and maintaining a 4.9 GPA (impressively high!)

Candace Hill

© Steve Strother/ MyTrackPix

Candace only started running competitively 4 years ago, which is one of the many reasons why her current form is so impressive. To read more about her story, read this article:

16-Year-Old Sprints Right Into Professional Track

Monday Morning Motivation: Catching Kayla

16 Feb

This short film (<13 mins) brought a tear to my eye. Kayla is a young woman with multiple sclerosis, but that has not stopped her from pursuing her dreams. If she can continue training and achieving, what’s stopping you?

Read more:

Monday Morning Motivation – A nation that runs

9 Feb

OK, so the data’s getting abit old now, but I still think this is interesting:

A Nation That Runs

by JessicaDraws.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Stubbington 10k race recap

18 Jan

I’ve run Stubbington 3 times before, so I knew what to expect from this race. It’s held on a fairly flat course and being early in the year, the weather can be a bit unpredictable. Two years ago, it snowed during the race (which is unusual for this part of the UK). This year, the weather was fairly cool, but not unbearably cold. As you can see from the group photo, most of the runners in my club had opted to wear full-length or capri tights and many had long-sleeved base layers under their club vests.

I chose to wear calf guards as my legs were a bit achy, but I chose not to wear any other ‘unnecessary’ clothes – no head band, no gloves, no base-layer etc. Fortunately, this was the right decision as I felt really warm by the time I’d run 1km.

Stubbington group photo

Lordshill Road Runners at the start of Stubbington 10k, 2015 © Emily Smith

Stuart, Jez and I arrived quite early, which gave us a chance to chat with lots of other runners. I saw Jan from the tri club and then noticed Steve, one of the tri club coaches. Steve and I had a chat, and I jokingly suggested that I would draft Steve as I had done at the track earlier in the week, but he was starting in an earlier wave than me.


I really enjoyed chatting with a few runners who I haven’t seen for a while, but the time passed quickly and before I knew it, it was time to check in my bag and assemble for the group photo.

After the photo, I realised that I had checked in my bag, but forgotten to drink anything or put on any lipsyl on. Curses! Emily kindly offered me some lip balm, so that was one problem resolved.

We then lined up up on the road ready for the start… and I realised that I had forgotten the most important item in my bag – my inhaler. The last time that I tried to ‘race’ (at parkrun) without an inhaler, I really struggled and had to keep slowing down as I was worried that my wheezing would get worse. I decided to start the race and that if I felt unwell, I would slow down.

I had set several goals of increasing difficulty for myself for this race:

  • Beat my Stubbington 10k 2014 time (55:17)
  • Beat my Stubbington 10k 2013 time (55:14)
  • Beat my Stubbington 10k 2012 time (53:03)
  • Beat my Eastleigh 10k 2013 time – my second fastest 10k time (52:02)
  • Beat my Eastleigh 10k 2012 time – my PB (51:06)

Despite the asthma worry, I was feeling quite confident about this race. My build up hadn’t been perfect – my eating is not on track, mainly as a consequence of a family situation – but I’m running better than I have since 2012. I knew that beating my Eastleigh times would be hard as Eastleigh is a flatter course, but I wanted to try.

One of my worst running habits is to start off far too quickly, so I tried to rein myself in a bit… but I also tend to rely too much on my watch, so I decided that I wouldn’t allow myself to look at it until I was 2km into the race and that it would then only look at it when I saw a km sign.

At about 2km into the race,  I was passed by Lauren and Alison from my running club. I couldn’t catch up with them, but hoped that I would be able to keep them in sight and thought that maybe I would be able to use my endurance strength to my advantage later in the race.

Shortly afterwards, at about 3km, I saw Steve from tri club. He seemed to be running strongly, whereas I was unable to speak. he asked me what happened to my drafting plan, but I was only able to give him a little wave as I went past.

I hit 5km in about 26:30. I was disappointed as I think that when I got a PB at Stubbington, I also got a 5km PB. However, I also realised that I was feeling good and I didn’t want to give up too soon, so I pushed on.

The race goes along the seafront and afterwards, I was told that there was a good view of the grounded ship (the Hoegh Osaka), but I was so focussed on my race that I didn’t see it. The only thing I noticed was the absence of my favourite race photographer Paul Hammond… but I knew that he’s currently taking photos somewhere more exciting than the South Coast!

When I got to the final incline of the race, I was amazed at how good I was feeling. At this point in the race last year, my friend Kate had tried to motivate me to keep up with her, but I had absolutely no strength or energy left. This year, I saw my nemesis (Adrian) from WADAC, so I decided to try to push on and pass him. He said hello (well, actually, he swore a little!), but wasn’t able to pass me again. The series of photo taken by my club mate Emily show this moment!




I didn’t want to be passed again and I knew that I was only a couple of km away from the finish, so I started pushing harder.

I glanced at my watch and could see that I was doing quite well. I knew I wouldn’t be able to beat 51:06, but I thought I might be able to get my second fastest ever time…

Unfortunately, this made me keep looking at my watch. I knew I had to ‘suck it up’, but I just wasn’t able to push any harder… 51:59… 52:00… 52:01… keep pushing… 52:02… I can see the finish line… 52:03… missed another goal… 52:04… 52:05… 52:06… 52:07… 52:08… 52:09… 52:10… It was over 🙂

I didn’t beat my Eastleigh times from 2012 and 2013, but I did beat all of my previous Stubbington times and achieved my third fastest 10km ever 😀 My only other scheduled 10km race for 2015 (so far) is going to be off-road, so it’s not likely to be a PB course, but I’m not too worried about that.

I was congratulated by Adrian and as I replied to him, I realised something amazing… I felt OK. For the first time ever at the end of a race, I didn’t feel light-headed and I wasn’t worried that I would faint. This probably doesn’t sound like much, but to me it was amazing. I’ve blacked out a couple of times at the end of races and I usually have to walk around in circles before someone can remove the chip from my ankle. (This race had chips in the bibs, but even so, I wasn’t worried about stopping). I was delighted that I had run well, but to feel that my asthma truly is under control and that it shouldn’t hold me back is so exciting.

We were given a commemorative drawstring bag, a banana and a bottle of water. In previous years, we’ve been given a mug and last year we were given buffs, but I’m not really in it for the goodie bag. I have quite a few bags already, but as I often have to carry sports kit to work and lots of my trainers are dirty, another bag is always handy to have.

When I got home, I analysed my pacing for the race. As usual, I started too quickly, and then ran the next two kilometres (which were uphill) too slowly to achieve my goal. To get a PB, I needed to average 5:06/km, but I’m not quite there yet.


Overall, I think my pacing has improved and although it’s not as consistent as I’d like, once I’d warmed up it was OK. I thought I was flagging in the final km, but the data shows otherwise.

A friend is currently running a 1km ‘double negative split challenge’ where the aim is to run 3x1km getting progressively faster. I managed it in kms 5-7 of this race 🙂 I also managed to run a negative split in this race. Success!

Finally, I thought I’d share a news item about pacing: Women are better than men at marathon pacing, says new research.


2014 race awards

18 Dec
For this post, I’ve linked up with Montana at Pretty Lil Mudder  and a few other fab fitness bloggers – be sure to check out their posts. Here are my 2014 race awards… drum roll, please…
Most Scenic Course
For me this award has to go to Lanhydrock parkrun It’s in a beautiful location, but as the course profile shows, it’s not an easy route:
Lanhydrock parkrun course profile
The event takes place on a National Trust property, which is a stunning old country house. This photo of the gatehouse shows just how magnficent it is.
Most Challenging Course
This was a difficult award to decide on. The profile of Lanhydrock parkrun made it a runner up, but overall, I decided to present it to Adidas Thunder Run. This event is a 24 hour relay on a 10k cross country course. It has lots of different sections: uphill, downhill, short grass, compact ground, mud. The weather conditions were also quite warm.  I ended up running 50k as part of a 7-person relay team.
Best Expo
This was a tough choice as the only races that tend to have expos in the UK are marathons, and I only ran one this year (Brighton). In the end, I decided to award it to the Triathlon Show with Primera Tri Expo as runner up.
 IMG_1966 IMG_1965 IMG_1964
Best Post-Race Food/Beverages
Braishfield 5 mile beer race – beer, cake and water – what more can I say?
Best Swag
This was another tough category to judge. The goodie bag at Brighton Marathon was good, but the prize has to go to Good Fri Tri, where finishers were not only given a medal, some dried fruit, a drink and their choice of free gift (mug and coaster; bike bottle or buff), but also a lovely Cadbury’s Easter egg 🙂
Good Fri Tri finishers

Stuart and I before collecting our Easter eggs

Most Unique Medal
I loved the ribbon on my Brighton Marathon medal, but probably the one that I liked most was from Eastleigh triathlon:
TryTri have custom medals for every race 🙂
Favorite Race Shirt (tech tee or reg)
I’ve not received many tshirts from races this year. I quite liked the Wiggle Spring Sportive tshirt, but the one that I’ve worn the most is the  Gu Energy Classic tshirt from Bustinskin. It’s a wicking cotton tshirt that was produced in both men’s and women’s sizes 🙂
GU tshirt
Favorite Overall Race
I really enjoyed taking part in Weymouth Half. An advantage of taking part in triathlons is that the order of the disciplines is the same as my confidence levels. I started the day feeling nervous, but my confidence soared when I was on the bike and although my run didn’t go quite as I’d hoped, the crowds were brilliant. The whole event was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone.
Tamsyn running in Weymouth

It was such a relief to see the finish arch © Katherine Anteney

Best Course Support (aid stations, volunteers, people cheering you on, etc)
I loved the crowd support at Weymouth Half… but there wasn’t a huge amount of support out on the bike course. I’m awarding this one to Brighton Marathon as I desperately needed the crowd support during this race and it didn’t let me down!
14 miles © Emily Smith

14 miles © Emily Smith

Race You Are Most Proud of Yourself for Completing
This has to be Weymouth Half – as someone who couldn’t swim 18 months before the race, it has taken a lot of hard work and determination to get to a stage where I could take part in this race. I also had various health battles this year, so I was proud to make the start line and even prouder to finish!
Lap 3 © Marathon-photos

Lap 3 © Marathon-photos

I’d recommend checking out which races my fellow Girls Gone Sporty Ambassadors have presented their awards to:
Which events that you took part in this year would you give prizes to?

Monday Morning Motivation – who are you competing against?

27 Oct


Do you run for fun or are you always aiming for the next PB?


“I came across a fallen tree…”

5 Jan

Today was my second long run of my marathon training. I had originally planned to incorporate it with a CC6 (cross-country race), but the weather here has been horrendous, so I thought it might be very hard to force myself to run 9 or so miles home from a race whilst wet and muddy (and I would have had to take a change of shoes as my trail shoes would not be comfortable on the road). Instead, I agreed to meet Teri and Justin at 7:45am. Teri is training for her first marathon – she is doing the London Marathon the week after I do Brighton and she’s raising money for Friends of PICU (Southampton’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit)

We decided to run through some parks in town, across the Itchen Bridge and along to coastal path to Royal Victoria Country Park and back as I knew that would be around 20km. I also made an effort to take more photos than usual on our run, as I rarely take a phone/camera out on my runs.

We took the first 5km at a steady pace, before pausing on the top of the Itchen Bridge for some photos.

Teri, Justin and I at the top of the Itchen Bridge

Teri, Justin and I at the top of the Itchen Bridge

I’m not really a fan of selfies – I always manage to give myself multiple chins in them! My lovely sister also pointed out that I look bald, but I really do have hair!!! Anyway, the running conditions were perfect. After weeks of rain and strong winds, it remained dry for our entire run and even on top of the bridge there wasn’t even a gentle breeze. Also, despite the industrial surroundings, it was quite a beautiful run.

The sky over Woolston

The sky over Woolston

View from the Itchen Bridge

Skies like this make the early morning starts feel worthwhile

We carried on over the bridge, down the steps and into Weston, before following the footpath along Weston Shore.

Beautiful view of the sky from Weston Shore

Beautiful view of the sky from Weston Shore

Beautiful view of the sky from Weston Shore

It was a beautiful morning to be running.

There were quite a few dog-walkers out enjoying the break in the weather, and one older chap with Wellington boots on warned us that it was wet underfoot ahead. We thanked him and carried on, assuming that the ground might be a little bit muddy… how wrong we were! Water was flowing down the adjacent road and then right across the path and onto the beach. There was no way that we could vault the river, so we had to go through it. It was a little disappointing that we had covered 8km with dry feet and had to squelch from this point onwards, but as we were moving quickly and the air was still, we quickly dried out and warmed up again.

Further on, we found that the path was indeed quite muddy and there were some obstacles to negotiate. I let Teri and Justin run on, whilst I got out my phone to take some pictures of them traversing the fallen tree.

Teri, Justin and a fallen tree

“I came across a fallen tree…” © Keane

It was a surprisingly large tree with a distinct fork, so that there were two large branches – one that they went under and another that they climbed over.

Teri and Justin climbing over a tree

Which way now? Under then over!

Teri and Justin climbing over a tree

Teri showing off her talent as an outdoor sports model

I then put my phone away and caught up with them for the last part of the run to Royal Victoria Country Park. It is a particularly scenic park, but I forgot to get my camera out again, so unfortunately, I don’t have any photos to share. I’ve run there a few times before as it’s the setting for Netley Abbey parkrun and also an RR10 (cross-country race for local clubs). After looping around the park, we headed back towards the Itchen Bridge the same way we came.

Teri had been joking with Justin that whenever she runs with me, we always see someone who I know. I think this is probably because I’ve been quite visible at parkrun for the last few years and also know quite a few people through my running club. Anyway, true to form, as we were running through Woolston on the way back to the bridge, we saw John (one of my fellow parkrun Run Directors) running towards us. I think he’s training for another marathon and it looked like he was going pretty fast.

I started tiring as we got to the bridge, so although Teri was able to motivate me to run up the steps, I had to walk for a little bit. We then ran back over the bridge and then took a slightly different route back to the start through another park.

Overall, I did 22km, so I fulfilled my distance goal, but I think my recent cold and sinusitis has really taken it out of me as I felt exhausted and I failed to run at my long slow run pace (I was 30s/km too slow). For full details of my run, look on Garmin Connect: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/424857264 or Strava: http://www.strava.com/activities/104152032

This might be the most exciting thing has has ever happened to me…

4 Jan

O.M.G! O.M.G! O.M.G! That was what went running through my mind when I opened up laptop this morning, but I didn’t have much time to ponder the contents of the email that I had read as I was going to parkrun. Not just any parkrun, but Eastleigh parkrun, which has returned (for three weeks only) to its birthplace at Lakeside. It’s where my love for running started back in 2010. The picture below is one of the earliest pictures that exists of me running, and it was taken there!

Eastleigh parkrun August 2010

Eastleigh parkrun August 2010

Since then, I have returned to Lakeside during training runs and for open water swimming, but I’ve not often done 5k there.

Lakeside panorama

Lakeside panorama © Emily Smith

I had been hoping that it would be a dry day, not because I’m bothered about running in the rain, but because I know how easily the course at Lakeside gets churned up – it would be a shame if it is unable to go ahead for the next three weeks. Alas, it was not to be. It had rained steadily all night and was still raining when we got up. This meant that some areas of the course were under water and it was VERY muddy and slippery!

I ran with Lynda for a few hundred metres, which was good, as it was her 50th event. Then I met up with Ellie and ran with her for a while, before doing the last lap with James. That’s what I love about parkrun – it really is a social event that encourages runners of all ages and abilities to run together. However, for many people it is a weekly chance to push themselves and this week was no exception. The Lordshill boys battled it out for the first six places. LRR marshal, Neil, managed to snap the speedy chaps part way round the lap:

Lakeside speedies

The fastest runners © Neil Garton

I didn’t want to push myself as I’m still struggling with sinusitis and I need to do a 13 mile run tomorrow, so I was happy to finish in 73rd place in 30:48. Afterwards, we went to the cafe to warm up with a cuppa. It’s been a while since I’ve had time to stop after parkrun, so I enjoyed catching up with a few other runners/triathletes.

LRRs enjoying a cuppa after parkrun

LRRs enjoying a cuppa after parkrun

I’m trying to avoid ‘junk miles’ this year, but sometimes it’s good for the soul just to get out and run with friends. I’ve signed up for Jantastic again this year, but I’m not setting myself hard targets as I don’t want to ruin my training by forcing myself to run when I don’t need or want to. I’m trying to educate myself to be a better runner and coach. One of the books that is helping me with that aim is ‘Triathlon Science‘ by Joe Friel and Jim Vance – I’ll be sharing what I learn with you. I’ve also been reading ‘The Ghost Runner‘ by Bill Jones, which was one of Stu’s Christmas gifts (he’s a fast reader, so he finished it over a week ago). It’s a really interesting biography of John Tarrant, an amazing runner from yesteryear.

So… the news you’ve all been waiting for. This is what I saw in my in-box this morning:

Congratulations! You have been selected for the SOAS Racing 2014 Brand Ambassador Team.

How exciting is that?! I applied a while ago and am absolutely ecstatic that I have been selected. It’s a brilliant opportunity for me to work with a brand whose values I identify with. I’m also looking forward to connecting with some of the other team members this year.

So what does it mean for you? Well, I am hoping to be an even more conscientious blogger, as well as being more active on Twitter. I’m also going to make an extra effort to take my camera/phone with me to events (and use it)! Oh yes, and you’re going to be seeing me wearing some awesome kit that is comfortable and attractive… and it all matches 😀

If you haven’t heard about the brand before, please visit their website: http://www.soasracing.com/ and their blog: http://soasracing.blogspot.co.uk/

The Ironman that never was.

9 Aug

This morning, I felt shattered, so I decided not to get up and go for a swim. Then I made the radical decision to ignore my schedule entirely, so instead of rescheduling my swim for after work, I decided to have a rest day. This is quite unlike me,but I felt that my body needed a break.

Anyway, since I don’t really have any exciting (or even vaguely interesting) tales to recount about my day, I thought I might got back to something that happened in May that I didn’t blog about at the time.

On 23rd May, I received the following email:

Understandably, I was a little shocked and surprised… especially as it gave me NINE WEEKS to train. I’m not even really sure why I entered the competition. I honestly never thought that I’d be chosen.

Here’s my response:
Facebook message about Ironman Facebook message about Ironman Facebook message about Ironman  Facebook message about Ironman

Deciding what to do was one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever had to make. I desperately wanted to do it, but I knew I had to be realistic about my chances. I was willing to give up my social life for the following couple of months, but I knew that even giving up every waking hour might not be enough.

The mandatory cut off time for the 2.4 mile swim is 2 hours and 20 minutes. Whilst that might be easy for many people, I had only been having swimming lessons for three months. I had braved swimming in the lake at Eastleigh, but my longest ever swim had been 3 laps of the lap (1050m), which is a long way off the 3.8k swim in an Ironman! I had also never cycled even half of the the distance and only owned my hybrid bike.

So, in the end, I emailed SportPursuit and declined the place. I am confident that I will do an Ironman one day, but I want to go into the race as well prepared as possible having covered the full distance of each leg at some stage before the event.

Whilst it’s not always obvious, it does seem that everything happens for a reason in life. One of the amazing coaches at Embrace Sports (Graeme Buscke) was hoping to qualify for Kona this year. He had already completed Ironman South Africa earlier this year, but his race didn’t go to plan. After I rejected the place, SportPursuit chose Graeme as one of their representatives. Graeme had an amazing race, finishing first in his age group and 13th overall, thereby qualifying for Kona. What a legend!