Your Pace or Mine? book review

Your Pace or Mine?

Last year I challenged myself to read more. After getting through eight books over the course of the year, I’m trying to keep up the good habit and continue reading regularly. Charlie launched her Runner Beans Book Club with the idea that we would vote for a book each month, read it and share our thoughts on social media or blogs. It sounded like a great idea to help me find interesting books and keep on track with my reading goals.

The book which was selected for January was ‘Your Pace or Mine?: What Running Taught Me About Life, Laughter and Coming Last” by Lisa Jackson. I got started on it over Christmas and have just finished reading this week.

The author is a self-confessed “champion chat-runner”- she may not be the fastest person on the course but she is certainly the best company! Lisa’s run over 90 marathons in destinations all over the world, frequently finishing last. For her, the joy of running is the people she meets and the stories she hears along the way. This book is a reminder of why we run- the camaraderie, the community spirit, the experiences, the triumphs and the tragedies.

‘Your Pace or Mine?’ is filled with stories, quotes and photos from other runners who Lisa has come into contact with on her journey. They come from all backgrounds and abilities, but are united by their love of running.

Your Pace or Mine?

Lisa’s sense of fun really comes across as you read. She never takes herself too seriously despite running some of the most prestigious races in the world. Running in fancy dress is Lisa’s trademark, even at the esteemed Boston marathon she wore a teapot-shaped hat. There’s plenty of funny anecdotes and comical moments, especially the chapter about running completely naked through London Zoo!

In contrast, the chapter about running as a tribute to lost family and friends is very moving. The author lost her Mum and Aunt within the space of four years- both were keen runners and influential in Lisa’s own running journey. She says “being able to share our love for a loved one with hundreds or even thousands of other people in a race is a way to keep their memory burning bright”.

The final chapter of ‘Your Pace or Mine?’ is a workbook to create a personal record of your running achievements and memories. There are spaces to write in your reasons for running, goals and personal best times. It’s quite thought-provoking to reflect on your own running journey after having read Lisa’s experiences. Personally, I realised how much I appreciate the support and friendships I’ve found through running and triathlon.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who is taking the first step to becoming a runner. It’s positive, inspirational and fun without any judgement or superiority. I almost wish I’d read this book six years ago when I began running.

Next month, we are reading ‘This Mum Runs‘ by Jo Pavey.

Have you read ‘Your Pace or Mine’- what are your thoughts?

Great Edinburgh Winter Run

Great Edinburgh Winter Run

The first weekend in January is often a pretty miserable time of year with the post-Christmas comedown. Having a running event pencilled in the diary is a great way to get the New Year off to fantastic start, particularly if it is a destination race.

I had the opportunity to combine a trip to Edinburgh with a 5k run to kickstart my 2017. The Great Edinburgh Winter Run is part of the Great Run series, which offers mass-participation events across the UK in a range of distances for all abilities. Simplyhealth have recently become the new title sponsor of Great Run series and this event in Edinburgh would be their first as a partnership.

I was joined in Edinburgh by Jayne and Bibi from Veggie Runners, Helen from Too Fat to Run, plus journalists Hannah and Dominique. We listened to a presentation from Simplyhealth on their ethos of helping people to make the most of life through better every day health. The new partnership with Great Run allows them to help even more people to get active by running, jogging or walking together.

On the morning of the race, we arrived at Holyrood Park and saw Arthur’s Seat rising up above the city and knew we were in for a hilly run. Despite only being a 5k, it was still set to be a challenging course with a steep elevation and descent. The circular route travels up Queen’s Drive around Arthur’s Seat, passes by Dunsapie Loch before returning to Holyrood Park.

After a few pre-race photos, we slotted into our starting pen ready for the warm-up. It was pretty crowded so there wasn’t a great deal of space to move, but the atmosphere was fantastic with 3000 people gearing up to run.

Great Edinburgh Winter Run

We were set off and before long the climb began, getting gradually steeper and steeper. I kept plodding away, focusing on keeping my body upright and eyes straight ahead. Around me I could hear the laboured breathing of the runners and the encouraging cheers of supporters. Each kilometre was marked by a bagpiper to give that authentic Scottish experience.

The climb was worth it for the panoramic views. Although misty, we could see across the city and out to the Firth of Forth. It’s quite unique to be able to climb a mountain (actually a dormant volcano) in the middle of a city.

The course seemed to level out around the shoulder of Arthur’s Seat allowing for some recovery. Around halfway, I saw Jayne and Bibi who had stopped to take selfies in typical blogger style! Of course, I ran straight over to get involved in the photo.

Great Edinburgh Winter Run

What goes up, must come down! Around 3km the steep descent back to Holyrood Park began, making for a fast final section of the race. I tried to shorten my stride and quicken my cadence as I went charging down the hill letting gravity do the work.

Great Edinburgh Winter Run

We were welcomed across the finish line by the uplifting voices of the ‘Sing in the City’ choir. I finished in 30:41, not too bad for a far-from-flat course! We cheered in the final runners from the Simplyhealth team as they each crossed the finish line to receive their medals.

Great Edinburgh Winter Run

Later that morning, Holyrood Park hosted the Great Edinburgh XCountry race which saw elite athletes competing in four separate events. I stayed to watch the action as teams from Great Britain, the United States and Europe battled it out. Coverage from the race was broadcast on the BBC, so I tried to get myself in front of the camera but unfortunately they were more interested in the elite athletes. Mo Farrah actually walked right past me as he arrived for the race- very exciting!

Great Edinburgh Winter Run

The Winter Run really whet my appetite to take part in more events from the Great Run (or even Great Swim) series. They have loads to chose from but the Great North Run in particular has been added to my bucket list, being the world’s largest half-marathon.

I visited Edinburgh and took part in the event as a guest of Simplyhealth and Great Run, but all opinions are my own.

Have you ever visited Edinburgh? Have you taken part in any of the Great Run series?

My Year of Running 2016

Year of Running

This is my third year taking part in the ‘Year of Running’ link up hosting by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC. My 2015 and 2014 posts are still up if you fancy reading them.

It’s been a year of two halves for me in terms of running. I began the year easing back into running after a long period of injury, I had to re-learn how to run and adjust my technique. It didn’t come naturally to me and I found myself frustrated and making little progress. There came a turning point in the summer and I began to enjoy running again. Finally I was able to run pain-free and start making some improvements in my times.

I love to race and 2016 has been a particularly busy year, I’ve completed 17 events…

1x Half-ironman triathlon
2x Olympic distance triathlons
1x Sprint distance triathlon
1x Aquathlon
3x Swimming events
4x Cycling sportives
2x 10km runs
2x 5km runs
24 hour relay race

Best race experience?
My best race experience has to be the Cotswold 113 middle-distance triathlon. This was my goal race for the year which I trained towards and thoroughly enjoyed. The weather was terrible, but I look back on the day with happy memories and a feeling of achievement. Also, I have to mention the Spitfire Scramble 24 hour relay race, whilst my running wasn’t particularly strong, it was an incredibly fun weekend hanging out with friends.

Best run?
I started going to a track session with a new running club at the end of September. I’m amazed at how fast I’m able to run at the track compared to my normal pace, it’s very satisfying seeing 7 min/miles on my Garmin. The sessions are tough, but I’m buzzing at the end and notice improvements in my overall speed.

Best new piece of running gear?
The MilestonePod I reviewed in September is a really useful little gadget. The data is collects is really useful if you are looking to improve your form and technique. However, it still doesn’t seem to be available for purchase in the UK unfortunately.

Running running advice you’ve received this year?
My coach Jon was full of helpful advice when I was working on improving my running technique earlier this year. He explained how shortening my stride and increasing my cadence would put less stress on my joints and reduce injury. It was difficult to re-learn how to run and it is something which is a work in progress, but the drills and exercises he showed me really have helped. I’m looking forward to working with Jon in the New Year on my 2017 triathlon goals.

Most inspirational runner?
I’m always inspired by every day people, who fit running in around work, family, social life. Watching elite athletes compete at the Olympics this summer was incredible, but I relate more to my friends, family and club mates for inspiration.

Favourite picture from a race or run this year?
My finish line photo from the Cotswold 113 makes me smile. Covered in mud, soaking wet and exhausted after 6 and a half hours of swimming, cycling and running, it was amazing to finally see the finish line!

Year of Running

Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat?
The Thorpe Park triathlon was great fun, so much so that I’m signing up to race there again in 2017. The location is really unique and I enjoyed the course, it’s perfect for a PB!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
Technique, progress, fun!

Eat Pray Run DC Year of Running 2016

Wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy year of running 2017

How was your year of running?

Kit Review: MilestonePod

Improve your running cadence and form with the MilestonePod

Earlier this year, I wrote about working with my triathlon coach on improving my running technique. I was aiming to transition to a more efficient running cadence and shorten my stride to decrease the force on my hips and knees to help prevent injury.

To determine your running cadence, you can simply count the number of times your foot strikes the ground in a minute. However I know I would probably lose count fairly quickly, so I began to look into devices which can monitor running metrics. My Garmin 920xt does track cadence, but I always wondered about the accuracy of the data since the watch is worn on my wrist, not my foot!

The MilestonePod is a new running gadget which captures a range of performance metrics. I was lucky enough to try the device before it was officially available for the UK market and found it a useful tool as I continue to work on my running form.

MilestonePod

The pod is clipped onto your running shoe and starts to capture data as soon as it senses any movement. After a run or walk, it syncs to the MilestonePod App via Bluetooth to display the data. Once set up, the pod is very straightforward to use, there are no buttons to push, no need to run with your phone and nothing to re-charge. The data is presented in an easy to understand format and all previous activities are stored so you can go back and compare results.

The app displays all the standard running metrics for each run including duration, steps, distance and calories. But it also gives a deeper insight into HOW you run with the following metrics:

Foot Strike
Foot strike is where your foot first makes contact with the ground. The App will display your average percentages between heel, mid-foot and toe. I’m aware that I have a tendency to heel-strike, so I was not surprised when the MilestonePod confirmed this. According to the data, my heel strikes the ground first for 87-94% of the time I am running.

Cadence
Cadence is the average number of times your foot hits the ground in one minute. My cadence falls naturally around the 168spm mark, but recently I’ve been able to increase it to 170spm. The ideal number is considered to be 180spm, so I still have a way to go before I get there!

MilestonePod

Ground Contact
Ground contact is the average amount of time your foot spends on the ground, measured in milliseconds (ms).  Elite runners have a ground contact time of under 200 ms. Personally, mine varies from 268 to 300 milliseconds.

Rate of Impact
Every time you land, your foot impacts the ground with a certain amount of force, which is counteracted by an equal and opposite force applied by the ground to your foot. Rate of impact is the amount of time your body has to deal with that ground force. A lower rate of impact is considered optimal has it means that your body has enough time to spread the force out evenly. I was pleased to see that all of my runs have had a 100% low impact.

Stride Length
Stride length is the average length of one full stride. A stride is the distance between your left and right foot touching the ground. As your stride length increases, your speed increases. Mine falls around 38-42 inches- apparently the most efficient stride length is what comes naturally and feels the most comfortable to you.

MilestonePod

Leg Swing
Leg swing is how high you get your foot off the ground and towards your bum following push-off. A higher leg swing means you are keeping your body movement closer to your center of gravity. Mine is generally on the lower side for the majority of my runs- this is where my high knee drills will help.

Runficiency Score
Runficiency Score is a calculated by an algorithm of cadence, ground contact, stride length measurements. The best possible Runficiency Score is 100, with the global average currently at 73. Mine varies between 65 and 85.

MilestonePod
Shoe Odometer
The MilestonePod tracks every single step you take in your shoes, whether it’s in a workout session or not. The app displays the total distance of the shoe in correlation to the suggested life mileage for that type of shoe. I started using the MilestonePod at the same time as I began running in a new pair of Adidas Response Boost, so I know that I’ve run approximately 35 miles in these particular shoes. It is suggested that I should look to replace them after 400 miles.

MilestonePod

I’ve found the data interesting and useful, but as with all technology it’s important to not become too reliant on it. The downfall is becoming obsessed with analyzing every workout, instead of training based on how your body feels.

The MilestonePod will be available via Amazon UK (soon I’m told) at a price of £25, which I feel is very reasonable for amount of technology in this small device. I received the product free of charge for review but all opinions are my own.

Do you track running metrics aside from distance, pace and time? Have you ever used a footpod?