Help needed: Ironing out the kinks

As you know I ran a bit last weekend…OK it was a mere marathon, but when I headed out for my next training run on Monday my legs felt a bit on the heavy side. This got me to thinking that it was a while since I had last had a sports massage to iron out the kinks and keep everything moving smoothly.

Unfortunately I haven’t got a regular place to go since the local place failed to call me back after numerous messages when I was last in need. A real shame as they were within walking distance and this made it quite convenient. As someone who has their own business I like to try and support local businesses, and other entrepreneurs when I can. So I thought I would give a new app I had heard about a go. Enter Bidvine!

BidVineBidvine is a new local services start-up and it has a handy iOS app which I downloaded onto my iPhone (Android coming soon). The concept is simple… you chose the service you need, enter in the relevant details and then local suppliers review this and bid for your business. You have the opportunity to connect with the bidders to discuss things in more detail if you need to, and then you chose the right fit for your needs. What better way to support local people and businesses?

The app is really easy to navigate. First choose the type of service you require from the presented options, or just type into the search box. The services are really well broken down into granular detail, so if you aren’t quite sure of the search term you can easily browse and see what resonates best with what you are looking for. There seems to be sections for all sorts of crazy stuff, including Pokémon Go Walking and Wardrobe Organising!

BidVineOnce you choose your service, you enter your post code and answer a range of questions relevant to the service. For my sports massage query, these included questions like the reason for the sports massage, the regularity that I might require it and whether I wanted someone to come to me or whether I was happy to travel (and how far). You also get to choose the level of urgency for your need.

The request gets submitted and relevant suppliers get notified of your request so that they can decide if they are able to meet your needs on the timescales you require.

Straight away I received a warning that they didn’t have many relevant suppliers for sports massage logged in my area. It was actually nice to have this heads-up (and to be honest I expected it as I haven’t managed to find a good one locally in my previous searches). They promised to drum up what they could and would forward bids as they came in, with a deadline 4 days later.

BidVineSo that was it, just a case of sitting back and waiting (or in my case doing a few more short runs with lead legs). Unfortunately on this occasion Bidvine weren’t able to find me a match, but given they are a new company and are probably signing up more main stream category suppliers more easily (cleaning, decorating etc are I am sure all well represented) I don’t see this as a failure. It gives them an indication of a need in an area and will help the team know what areas to target as they build up their supplier database.

I will definitely give Bidvine a go for other services as I need them. At some point we’ll need to get our windows cleaned, and so I think I may give them a shot for that too. It’s going to be a nice way to try and shop local without having to do all the leg work myself. It’s almost like a service concierge service and I think it will be a brilliant service as it gets more established.

When it’s not the Moonlight that’s Challenging

SVN Moonlight ChallengeWell that didn’t go quite to plan!

On Saturday I headed down to Kent for the SVN Moonlight Challenge. This was on a new course for me (and SVN) and with loops of about 10km and an 8 hour cut-off, so I was hoping to get about 33 miles done. I love running in the dark, so was looking forward to this race as it ran from 4pm to midnight, giving me plenty of time in the dark to practice running with my head torch.

SVN Moonlight ChallengeI set off and settled into a pace that felt good, I was comfortable, not pushing too hard all felt great. I got the first lap done in 75 minutes, perhaps slightly fast, but I was feeling good and after a quick pit stop I set out on lap two. Again, I was running on feel….bimbling along happily and enjoying being outside in the fresh air!

This was the first mistake! Running by feel and not following my Garmin stats…I was sticking to my planned 4:1 run/walk strategy but running faster than I should have been.  I just didn’t realise it! Lap 2 was done, I grabbed fresh Tailwind bottles and headed out for lap 3. I decided to try something different at that point (testing pace ratios for my upcoming 50 miler) and decided I would do a lap at 2:1 to see how that panned out.

SVN Moonlight ChallengeHere comes mistake number 2! Shortly into lap 3 my temperature spiked & I knew I was working too hard. Since I was only running for 2 minutes at a time, not 4, I had subconsciously picked up my pace! I dropped pace and tried to settle down but the damage was done. It probably didn’t help that I had a small backpack on, making it hard for my upper body heat to escape, but as there will be days when I have to wear a pack to carry mandatory kit, I need to find a way to balance the practicalities of racing and my internal combustion issues.

Throughout lap 3 I was struggling to keep my temperature down, and my stomach under control (lesson learned – increase in core temperature definitely causes my emergency poop reflex! Thankfully I managed to do the loop without needing to stop on the side of the trail!).

As I ran I was trying to distract myself from thinking too much about needing a pit stop. I was busy listening to my music, and for once had it on the All Songs playlist. It’s funny that there are so many songs that you have loved in the past but forgotten about, that crop up when you least expect it. It made me think that I should probably listen to more music at home. At the moment I only listen to music when I run, but I think that when we eventually get our own house I might look into getting a wireless music system put in. I’ve seen these Panasonic Wireless Speakers that look really cool, so I’ll be adding them to my list of possible purchases when we have the space and the cash! Maybe then I’ll be able to remember what music I have available and get some new playlists prepped so I don’t listen to the same 30 songs over and over again.

SVN Moonlight ChallengeThings weren’t going great and in the final third of lap 3 I did a quick check of my heartrate, it showed as being up at 200bpm…..oops!!

The Boyf caught up with me at that point (as he was on lap 4) and I brought him up to date, but let him know I was OK and would just be taking it steady on my 4th lap (needed to get the marathon distance). When I got back to base camp the Boyf was there waiting for me! He wanted to make sure I was OK and when he knew I was going out again he sacrificed his race plans and decided to do the lap with me. We set out nice and steadily, mostly on a 1:1 run walk, but at a much slower pace than I had been doing. Anytime I felt like I was struggling we slowed down and took it easy. All in all things went well and by the time we hit the last road section to the finish I was able to put in some solid running without stopping to walk. I had finally got my temperature back under control (or my body knew the end was in sight) and we managed a sprint(ish) finish for me to get in and ring the bell at 5:51:39.

SVN Moonlight ChallengeI could have gone out for another lap, I had over 2 hours to walk 10km to get my planned 33 miles, but there didn’t seem to be much point in possibly stressing my body further. Instead I got changed and relaxed whilst the Boyf headed out to get his 6th lap of the day done!

All in all, I have learned that using my Garmin IS beneficial! If I had been watching my pace then it is likely I would have slowed down straight away, I would have been running well within my limitations and not gone crazy when I dropped to the 2:1 intervals and probably would have stayed pretty cool and managed to get 33 miles done comfortably!

So note to self, if you think you’re going slow enough, slow down! And use your Garmin!! I’ll be making very sure I stay very slow at the upcoming Fowlmead 50 race…..here’s hoping it works!

Taper time!

It could be said that I am in the minority, when it comes to both training and tapering, with a large bunch of the runners that I know.  They regularly run one or more marathons a week, in the race to attain 100 marathons or more.  I am taking things a little more calmly than that this year, and am mostly paying attention to my TrainAsONE plan….there are a lot less “off plan” marathons sneaking in this year!

I really want to enjoy my running and it’s important for me to balance life, work, running and supporting the Boyf with his race plans for the year too.  So I have eased back a bit and am enjoying the way my plan keeps the balance between distance and speed work.  My running distance has been less over the last two months than the equivalent time last year.  Not by much, but it’s enough that a runner could get freaked out by it and start to panic that they were under training. 

February trainingHaving run a number of sessions with the Boyf though, he has confirmed I am getting stronger and faster (backed up by the recent increase in my training pace after the TrainAsONE assessments I did).  This is a good confidence booster, as I was feeling strong in my December race too.  I’m hoping that in my race this weekend I’ll be able to get a good leg stretch and test out my Tailwind strategy for the rest of the year’s races.  I have my fingers crossed for a light breeze and cool temperatures to allow me to keep a decent pace and not overheat (for a change).

February trainingIt’s going to be a tricky race to pace as the laps are about 10km in length and whilst we have 8 hours alllcated for running, you need to be out on the last lap 6.5 hours after the start.  If all goes to plan I’ll be aiming to complete an ultra-marathon….it sounds a lot for a first race back, but when you have longer races coming up you just have to dive in!  The good thing is that I know huge distances in training aren’t essential to complete a marathon…my trust in TrainAsONE has paid off more than once and I know that as long as I get my head in the right place and conditions allow, I’ll be able to put in a strong performance.  With my longest run in the last two months coming in at around 16km (and that was because I combined 2 sessions), I know that I am not at a disadvantage compared to those banging out 18 – 22 mile long runs because I get to rest, recover and work on my speed (the best way to improve overall performance).

So what am I going to do to beat taper-mania?  Well I might spend some time doing some yoga (I have been a bit slack recently), and I will definitely be keeping up with my Butt Builder Challenge as this is helping my power on runs too.

Do you have any tricks for not going stir-crazy when you can’t train?

An Audacious Approach to Aqua Acquisition

You may have noticed that I like running, I also like supporting other runners and that means that this year I have a few weekends pencilled in where I will be taking care of other runners rather than running myself.  I am always on the lookout for items that are going to make my life easier whilst I am out and about, so I was stoked when Audacious Rhino got in touch to see if I wanted to review one of their flasks.  I was given a free flask in exchange for me testing and reviewing it for them.  As always all views are my own (and you know I am a bit on the fussy side).

I went for their 800ml Camouflage flask because if I am going to be in a car hopping from place to place for over 24 hours I want as much hot water with me as I can, that extra 300ml could make a big difference!  It has a nice rugged feel to it, with a strong handle and an additional strap that you could use to tether the flask to a rucksack if you were on the move.

Audacious Rhino 800ml Camouflage FlaskI really like the outer design, it has some sneaky inclusions like a rhino image and a heart….but it definitely isn’t girly, in fact I doubt anyone would notice it if they weren’t looking.  The flask itself has a wide neck, which means you can easily fit ice cubes in it.  This is going to be essential for me as I plan on using it in summer races so I always have a stock on ice on hand if I start to over-heat.  After last year’s issues I want to be as prepared as I can to keep my core temperature down and allow me to get a long, long run done.

I haven’t tested out the claim that cold drinks stay cold for up to 24 hours, but based on my heat tests I have no reason to doubt it.  I’ve been using the flask in an “in office” test as I haven’t had any races in the last week.  This has meant I have been filling it up in the morning and feeding my herbal tea habit over the course of the day.  The fact that it has a pop-up top means that you can pour the hot water without fully opening the flask.  This must help keep the water hot for longer as you aren’t letting cold air in all the time.

Audacious Rhino 800ml Camouflage FlaskI also did a test where I filled the flask before bed, and then used the water in the morning.  It wasn’t boiling, but it was certainly warm enough that if I was tired and needed coffee that it would be hot enough to drink!  All in all I was very impressed with its heat retention properties!  The cup that comes with it is also sturdy and holds a decent amount of water (something that can’t be said for my 500ml flask which would barely make an espresso in the lid).If you want something a bit more subtle, or don’t need such a large flask, you’ll be pleased to know there are also smaller, more understated designs in their range. You can check them all out on the Audacious Rhino Amazon store.

What are you waiting for?  These are great flasks, perfect for use on the move, or at home…I can now happily keep myself supplied with tea throughout a day of back to back conference calls!

Audacious Rhino 800ml Camouflage Flask

Assessment Week aka TrainAsONE Torture Time

It’s been a hectic week on the running front with two TrainAsONE assessment runs.  The team regularly check on your progress, and ensure the magic plan is getting the most out of you via their assessment runs.

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First up was the 3.2 km assessment.  I hate this, 3.2km is a long way when you are running as fast as you can!  Not only is it hard to pace (don’t go out too fast, you may regret it), but it just goes on FOREVER!  I was actually quite pleased with Tuesday’s attempt, and hit the 3.2km mark in 18 minutes and 13 seconds.  Not my best, but not my worst either.  Unfortunately, due to stomach issues, I had to walk, rather than run my 10 minute cool-down to avoid a #codebrown moment.  This confuses the magic plan….you’ve done well, but then you fail to do the last section as expected.

So what does this mean?  Well it decides to add to the pressure and schedules a 6 minute assessment instead of the planned economy run.  This time it requires a 6 minute, flat-out interval!  This is tough too, but in a very different way. Six minutes feels manageable, so you go out fast, you push hard and the dizziness and feeling of sickness kicks in.  You want to do your best and you push hard….get it right and it pays off, wrong and you’ll quit early…not ideal!

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My 6 minute assessment took place yesterday, with Storm Doris in full flight!  Luckily I avoided the rainy period, but had to deal with the high winds.  I had to plan my route so that I was running with a tail wind not into the mega head wind.  I didn’t manage to get a full 6 minutes wind assisted, but I did get most of it without feeling like I was running up a very big hill! Result!

It can in with an average pace of 5:04mins/km …..my reward? Well I now need to run faster on my training runs as the magic plan seems to think I am getting fitter.  As I have to trust the plan, I guess I’ll be stepping it up in advance of my next goal race on the Moonlight Challenge in a couple of week’s time.

How do you assess your fitness?  Do you do times challenges?  Or do you just blindly follow an off-the-shelf plan that insists you need to run 20+miles in a training run just to complete a marathon?

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For those interested in more detail, here’s what the TrainAsONE team have to say about the assessment runs.

3.2km Assessment

This is a structured workout incorporating a specific workbout where you are asked to run 3.2 Km in as quick a time as you possibly can.

The 3.2 Km assessment run provides extremely valuable information and insight into many aspects of your running and physiology. You are commonly asked to perform these at regular moments during your training. It is recommended to always perform them in the same place, ideally a straight and flat area that you can run fast and without any obstacles or interruption is obviously desired. In this way, you are more likely to perform at your best and each repeat of the assessment is directly comparable.

If you are new to speedwork, please take care running the 3.2 km workbout – we don’t want you straining anything… Whilst the instruction is to ‘run in as quick a time as you can’, for the less experienced runner walking is permitted – the key thing is to travel the 3.2 Km in as short a time as you can.

6 Minute Assessment

This is a structured workout incorporating a specific workbout where you are asked to run for 6 minutes, during which you should get as far a distance as you possibly can.

The 6 minute assessment run provides extremely valuable information and insight into many aspects of your running and physiology. You are commonly asked to perform these at regular moments during your training. It is recommended to always perform them in the same place – a 1 to 2 mile, ideally straight and flat area that you can run fast and without any obstacles or interruption is obviously desired. In this way, you are more likely to perform at your best and if you remember the place you got to you can use it as a target for the next time…

If you are new to speedwork, please take care running the 6 minute workbout – we don’t want you straining anything… Whilst the instruction is to ‘run as fast as you can’, for the less experienced runner walking is permitted – the key thing is to travel as far in the 6 minutes as you can. The gifted and experienced runners should start to feel sick with about 1 to 2 minutes remaining – if you don’t, you’re probably not trying hard enough… 😉