#Sub50project: Meet the participants (2) and social meet

So we met the first batch of guinea pigs willing participants last week and word has spread through the blog vine such we have a few more people who want to get involved (the more, the merrier if you ask me!).

In no particular order, please welcome…

Katy

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With the big 3-0 looming I started running again seriously this year, having not run a race since the Great Scottish Run back in Sep 2011, when I clocked a 56 minute 10K. After that, for some reason, I just stopped running, After months of nothing, I decided to start blogging in July 2013 to have some accountability and to motiviate me to keep going. I won a place in the Run to the Beat half marathon in September with just 4 weeks to train!! Hard work and determination got me round the course in just under 2 hours, so was pretty pleased. I then ran the Teach First 10K in October in just over 52 mins and now I’m determined to get sub 50! Oh, and I’m running the london marathon in April so every little bit of training will help…

Bibi

Bibi

A lover of running, tea and yummy healthy food, I founded the blog www.veggierunners.com with my mum, to natter about all of the above. Spending my teenage years on the granola-loving West Coast of Canada, I learned to support my running with plenty of yoga practice to keep myself injury free. I now live in the North of England, where I am trying to buy a house with room enough for all of my trainers and good light for my food photos.

Helen

Helen

I started running in Summer 2012 and blog at www.pixietrails.com. I was initially hampered by gait-related blisters, which took over year to diagnose & fix), and prevented me from running more than 5k without pain. My usual runs are still normally 5k, sometimes a bit further up to 10k. I don’t have the patience to run much further on roads, preferring trail runs, although I have completed two half marathons.

My PBs to date are: 5k: 25.34, 10k: 53.52 (both on my local hilly training route, August & October 2013 respectively), and half marathon: 2h07 (Bristol half 2013 – a lack of long training runs showed in the second half of that race, although the result was a 23 minute improvement on last year’s race!).

I’m therefore quite a way off having a sub-50 10k in my sights. Sometimes it’s a challenge to find the time to prioritise improving my running speed while also enjoying other sports such as cycling, and also doing a lot of travelling around the country for work, so my training for the #sub50project definitely needs to be focused on quality, not quantity. Looking forward to sharing tips, advice and the journey.

Lisa

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I’m Lisa and I’m a 35-year-old mum of two mainly seen running round East London.

Technically I have done sub 50 – just 49.46 at pride 10k in 2012 (did same race 2 yrs earlier in time of 67 mins) but in run up to Brighton half in Feb 2013 my right hip started playing up. I ran Brighton and surprised myself with knocking 8 mins off previous half and completing in 1.50.59. Stupidly I didn’t rest or go and see anyone and kept on training despite being in pain. Ran Bupa 10k and came in at 50.25. I pulled out of RPH as hip so bad and stopped running for the summer. I have appointment at sports injury clinic at beginning of November so once got all clear will get training again. Currently running 10k in 54ish mins. I ran London marathon in 2012 in 4.22.23. Other running aims are sub 4.10 marathon and sub 1.50 half. Here’s hoping physio can fix me.

Josie

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Hello, I’m Josie. I’ve been running for just over 2 years, I started with a women’s only 5k in Hyde Park and haven’t ever really looked back! I’ve done loads of 10k’s and 2 half marathons since then, and this summer saw me take on my first triathlon; the Super Sprint at Blenheim. I loved it so much I entered another one at Eton Dorney, and finished the season off with a 2.5km open water swim race in the torrential rain. I’m a super-temp, actor, yogi and recent ParkRun devotee with a 52 minute 10k that I would LOVE to get down!

Charlie

Charlie

I’m currently training for my second marathon, the New York City Marathon that I’m running on Nov 3rd (check out www.therunnerbeans.co.uk to see if I can beat my last marathon time!). I’m hoping that post-marathon, transitioning from long runs to short, fast runs and focusing on speed will mean my min mile pace will drop.

My current 10K time is 53.39, achieved during a very busy, overcrowded 10K. After running a 1.52 half marathon a few weeks ago, I know I can run a faster 10K, and I want to earn an elusive sub 50 10,000m!

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http://london-greenwich.mo-running.com

I other news, we are having a #sub50project meet at the Mo Running 10k at Greenwich park on 30th November. It’s just a bit of fun not about PBs (unless you want it to be) and a chance for me to hand out some Beet It Sport for you to try out for a mini #sub50project experiment later in the year.

If you want to run, just enter as an individual here or if you want to come along and support instead (“come on mo fos”, etc), please do. Tashes at the ready people!

sian

What’s on your 2014 race calendar?

I know we’re still in 2013, but given that I have only a handful of races left for the year, I’ve been actively planning what races I’m going to do next year.

The remainder of this year I will start my marathon and ultra training for next April and May, respectively. I want to get in there early and mix in some leg strengthening, primarily glutes and calf muscle, exercises through weighted squat and lunge repetitions as well as the usual speed work and long runs.

So what’s on my race calendar for next year then?

February (A race)- back to my home town to take part in the Brighton Half marathon again. I love this race and my favourite part is running along the seafront.

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March (A race) – I’m looking for a good flat 10k to do to test out the results of the #sub50project – any suggestions (preferably London or South East)? I’ve also entered my first stair climb – Vertical Rush where I’ll be running up 42 floors to the top of Tower 42 in London.

April (A race) – I’m running in the Brighton Marathon for a second time, this time the objective is to finish around 4h15mins rather than just get around the course.

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May – I’ve had a hankering to do a proper destination race so I’ve entered the Edinburgh Half Marathon. I’m really excited about this one as I’ve never been to Edinburgh and I hear the course is mostly down hill. 🙂

June – I’m running in my very first ultra – the Northants Ultra, 35 miles in total. I’m excited and a little nervous about this I have to say, but it’s something I’ve wanted to have a go at for a while and I’m feeling pretty fit at the moment so no reason why I can’t eh?

July – I’m hoping to take part in the Adidas Thunder Run – a team relay event where team members run a 10k course over 24 hours. It looks like a lot of fun and is more of a running festival than an event.

August – Perhaps a rest? 🙂

September – After hearing all the good things said about this year’s London Duathlon, I’ve entered next year’s event.

October – I ran in the Blenheim palace 10k and loved the undulating course so I thought I’d enter the half marathon next year instead.

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November – It’s on the maybe list, but I would love to combine a trip to Crete with a stop over in Athens to do the marathon. Now that would be a proper destination race!

What’s on your race list for next year?

sian

Sneak peek at Adidas’s SS14 collection

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Last Wednesday I was invited along to get a sneak peek at Adidas‘s SS14 collection. I jumped at the chance because I’m a big fan of fashionable, but technical workout wear so I was really looking forward to what this new collection had to offer. I was not disappointed! I adore bright colours and patterns and the new collection included fabulous pieces with almost an African-inspired theme. Block colour and black is so last year!

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It wasn’t all about the pretty though, a few of the tops also include Adidas’s innovative ClimaChill technology, which keeps you cool whilst exercising – good for me as I’m always boiling hot whilst running!

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I loved this running jacket – it’s it stunning and I’ve been dying to try out the new Adidas boost trainers now that my other beloved trainers are coming to the end of their life.

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What do you think?

sian

Beachy Head 10k: The one with the jelly legs and the reality check

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Yesterday I ran in the Beachy Head 10k – the first year a 10k has been added to the Beachy Head marathon day. I decided it would be a good taster of what the marathon would be like and an ‘easier’ introduction to what looked to be extremely challenging terrain.

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I knew there was going to be a massive hill (450 feet; 140m) at the start, but when we arrived and saw the hill – nothing could have prepared me for that! You see, when a lot of people say ‘hilly’ (those from Chamonix or the Lake District excluded) they really mean undulating! I love an undulating course, but this was something else! The race started at 9.30am – I wished Rich good luck and I tippy toed up the hill, which was quite slippery after the marathon runners who set off earlier had created a muddy path! It was so steep in fact it was impossible to go above 12 min/mile, I was breathing ridiculously heavily and by the time I got to the brow of the hill I was done, finished, kaput! My legs had turned to jelly and I lost any kind of pace. In fact, I did the first kilometre in a paltry 9 minutes!

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After a relatively flat section between 2 and 5k though, I was able to regain the feeling in my legs and completed the first 5k in 30 minutes. However, there were cross and head winds of 40 k/h, which were so strong they made my cheeks flap around like spaniel’s ears! Then came the second hill – not as steep, but just as much of an elevation gain. I was more in my comfort zone here as steady inclines are more something I can cope with. By this point we had turned back from the lighthouse near Birling Gap and started to head back towards the finish at the foot of the very same hill we started from. A tail wind pushed us up the hill and was so strong I swear I could have leant back and it would have held me up right!

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This section was so exposed that the sun was burning into my face and I was so hot that I really regretted wearing my long-sleeved top!

The home straight (8 to 10k) was thankfully flat and downhill – I cautiously headed down the giant hill, which, by this point, was quite treacherous.

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I saw my dad in the crowd and heard someone shout out my name – to my astonishment it was Rich who had beat me by over 2 minutes, when I normally beat him on the flat! What a legend!

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I was pleased to finish dead on 1h, but, even though the course was utterly beautiful, I found the whole thing so tough and I was so far out of my comfort zone, it wasn’t as enjoyable as it should have been. In fact, I found the race quite painful at times and I can’t tell you how many times I heard myself say “whose idea was this?’, “why am I here”, “someone please make it stop!”.

Things I learned about myself during this race:

– I suck at running up hills (strike that, mountains!), but rather than avoiding them I need to look at why I can run a sub 2-hour half marathon, yet have zero pace up a hill and work that into my training plan.

– Rich totally whooped my butt on this race, despite me on paper being faster over 10k and I think I know why – he does a lot of dead lifts, weighted squats and lunges and has amazing core strength (not forgetting the fact that he is 6’3 and I’m 5’4!). I do none of these and it shows.

– There is no way I am going to enter the marathon until I have addressed the above and can do it any kind of justice. Run/walking it isn’t an option for me – if I’m going to do something I need to give it my all.

– I have much more mental strength than I thought – apart from taking a quick picture and asking a fellow competitor if he was OK after taking a nasty rolling fall, I didn’t stop and walk once despite every fibre of my being screaming for me to stop.

Will I do this again?

Absolutely – purely out of dogged determination to come away at the end feeling good, and feeling as though I put in the work and did the best I could.

Diva rating: 4/5

rating 4 of 5

– Great bit of bling

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– Fabulous views and a great, if extremely challenging, course

– Well organised (although I think they could work on the chip collection more – my poor dad and Rich had to hand mine back after returning home and finding mine still on me!)

– Lots of space to run

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Big thanks to my dad for taking the amazing pictures. x

sian

#sub50project: Running technique

Another guest post from John Wood who coaches for Tri-Coaching, a Bristol-based coaching company that specialises in technique and training plans for athletes of all abilities from beginner to international – and all levels in between!

No one teaches you how to run. It’s just something we all do, right? So how come some people just float while others seem to get injured all the time?

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Depending on how crunched for time you are, working on your technique and making subtle alterations could make changes to your speed. If time is your friend, and you have a good solid period before you think about racing, this could be something to look at. Equally, if you find yourself chronically injury prone, then this might be something to work on to minimise the impact on your body.

This isn’t to say that there is one rule for everyone, and that we should all be identical of course – just watch the Olympics, any running event and compare all the runners. Yes there are similarities, but there are also differences between each individual – and potentially with one athlete running different length events! All we are looking at here are little cues to focus on to move a little easier and a little faster!

Running ability and technique is potentially limited by various different factors – but they all interlink and have a combined effect on running as a whole.

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Some runners for instance, might find that they can get a full range of movement through the hips, knees and ankles, but may be lacking in strength and control. Whereas others might find plenty of strength in calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes – but are limited by minimal flexibility of the hip girdle and lower spine. A good warm up for hard sessions is necessary to loosen up the body – the harder the session is going to be (for instance like the speed intervals mentioned last week!) the longer and more comprehensive the warm up should be.

Running speed is dictated by the following equation: Speed (or economy) = Frequency (cadence) x Stride Length

So to improve our running speed and economy (i.e. get faster or go easier) we need to work out how to preferably increase both in some way shape or form.

Stride length is governed by the distance between foot strike and toe off. However a longer stride does not mean necessarily pushing out further in front of you – in fact quite the opposite. The further in front of your body that your foot hits the ground, the more shock will go back through your knee, hip and lower back. This also acts as a kind of braking force, slowing you down as well. The closer you can land to under your hips, the less force you put your body under; also the more stable you are. Obviously both of these factors will help minimise injury. From here you can push out behind you to drive off.

To change cadence, first of all find out what you normally run at. Count your steps for a minute. The number bandied around as the ideal is 90 – but that’s a little too general – depending on pace, strength, mobility etc, a good number would be between 85-95 (or 170-190 for both feet together). Before I started looking at my technique, I was around 72-74 strides per minute! The first thing to think about with cadence is standing up nice and tall. Pull your core in and lift the hips up and forward. Might sound odd but try it jogging for 20seconds – it should help shorten contact time on the floor and minimise the chance of your feet stretching out in front. If you do any running on a treadmill, do spells where you count your strides for minutes at a time, looking to increase your cadence incrementally.

You can do drills like fast feet and heel flick drills with high turnover – essentially working the front end or the back end of the running stride at speed, the heel flicks help activate a knee bend which is very useful in getting your foot forward nice and quickly. By using your hamstrings to bend your knee once you have pushed off the ground, you have a far shorter lever to lift forward (from the hip; see YouTube video for more information).

Many runners don’t pay enough attention to the action of their upper body. They allow the upper body to remain passive and if anything overly rotate through the torso. We need upper body rotation, not only to counter the desired rotation of the pelvis and lower body as we run, but also to help engage the core properly. However many runners display excess rotation, making life harder for themselves. With the rotation should obviously come the arm drive from the elbows. The quicker you go, the bigger the movement of the arms should be – just compare Usain Bolt’s arm action to Mo Farah (and not just in their celebrations!). The 2 similarities between them are that the elbow moves forward and back (not round the sides) and that it moves in time with their opposite foot – helping with that upper body rotation and spring loading. This is something that you can use as a cue for when you tire; as you start to struggle, think about driving the elbows back with force.

At no point have I mentioned how your feet should hit the ground (heel/midfoot/forefoot) – this is intentional! It is far more important WHERE your foot lands rather than HOW. One of the main issues we see in runners is the tendency to over stride, landing the foot (regardless of contact pattern) significantly ahead of the centre of gravity. This increases the braking forces experienced upon initial contact, as well as increasing contact time/soft tissue stress. Usually the over striding athlete will display a significant heel strike, loading the heel upon contact. By thinking about landing under the hips rather than out in front, by increasing cadence, and by lifting the hips up and forward, it doesn’t matter whether you land on your toes, on your midfoot or on your heel; either way, the landing should be relatively light, controlled and less shocking to your body.

As I mentioned, there isn’t one perfect way to run – we’re all too unique as humans. However there are some standard practises which are useful to work towards to make ourselves as efficient and stable as possible.

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Thanks John for some excellent pearls of wisdom!

sian

#sub50project: Unlocking the psychology of running

So on Wednesday we had the second of the #sub50project twitter chats on the psychology of running. This is a very broad topic so I was unsure how it was going to pan out, but we had some really interesting points raised by all. Big thank you to those of you who joined in and made it happen!

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Listening to audiobooks or nothing at all may be preferable to music

Interestingly, quite a lot of you said that you prefer to run without music to take in surroundings, listen to your body and savour the silence. Victoria mentioned that running is her ‘me’ time so she has ditched the music. Also, on race day, if you have headphones on you can’t soak up the race atmosphere, which can bolster you along. As an alternative to music, some of you mentioned listening to audiobooks and Chris suggested podcasts instead.

Would you ditch the music or do you ‘need’ it?

Running and anxiety: PB chasing and compulsive Garmin checking may be detrimental for performance and spoil the fun of running 

Can checking our Garmin’s frequently help or hinder performance, raised Helen? I for one can become obsessed with checking my Garmin and we wondered if seeing a slower pace than expected could cause anxiety and actually have a negative impact on running performance. Also, getting wound up about running all the time takes away the enjoyment of it. We all agreed that for short runs, we can leave the Garmin at home, but it’s more important for longer runs (10k and over) to ensure we are on track to meet target time. Steph suggested Parkrun as a good run to try running without the Garmin.

Could you run without the Garmin or are you surgically attached to it? How about giving it a go at your local Parkrun this weekend?

Adding your  name to your race shirt makes you feel like a rock star – fact!

By adding your name to your shirt on race day and hearing random spectators shouting your name out can really lift your mood – got to be a good thing right?

Uncontrolled pre-race nerves can be a bad thing

Steve mentioned that his best races have been spur of the moment race entries with poor preparation. John mentioned that nerves are good as thing as they increase adrenaline thereby increasing speed, but you have to be able to control them.

We need to bask in post-race successes rather than focus too much on what could have been

Lisa, Danny and I all confessed to focussing on the negative after a race – should have drank more, taken a gel, eaten more, or sprinted sooner/later etc. Shoulda, woulda, coulda! This seems to add extra stress and stops us enjoying the run as much as we should.

Are you guilty of this?

Having a mental strategy can help provide focus during a run

Lots of you mentioned breaking the race up into bite-sized chunks – eg, half marathon into 4x 5ks, making it seem much more manageable. In addition, others mentioned mantras that they say to themselves such as ‘I love my daughter’ and ‘just keep going’, etc. I visualise my disappointment at failure and that spurs me on, while others think of positive thoughts to get them through. Others picked a person to try and stick with for the race.

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Thanks again everyone for contributing and giving us all food for thought for the next run.

sian

#sub50project: Twitter chat on Wednesday at 8pm GMT

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Coming up on Wednesday 23rd October at 8pm GMT is the second #sub50project twitter chat. The topic of the discussion is “Impact of psychology on running performance”.

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We all train ourselves physically for a race, but do we prepare ourselves mentally? Do you have any mental strategies for staying focussed during a long run? How do you compartmentalise a race so that the pace seems achievable over a given duration? What about challenges and pressures outside of running, such as pressures from family and friends who don’t ‘understand’ why you run? How do you deal with mental fatigue?

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If you have the answers to some of these questions or you would love to learn more, than please do join in. Anyone with a twitter account can join in by using the hashtag #sub50project.

sian