Messy-ness · Why I run

The return of Sensible Badger

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#nofilter

I’ve a confession to make. (it’s this big <–>.)

In the end, I didn’t do the Great West Run.

These four weeks since starting up in Bristol has forced me, after many months of hibernation, to embrace the return of Sensible Badger.

With her fearsome nose of polished coal, furrowed grumpfbrow, and growlsome demeanour, she’s quite a beast.

I’ll explain. I am (largely) compos mentis. The Badger thing is a throwback to me aged nine in a small Warwickshire village. My sisters and village mates, stuffed-full of Blytean visions of the Famous Five and Secret Seven, decided we were going to form our own awesome club to trump all clubs: The Badger Club.

(Aaaaaaggggggghhhhhhhhh TRUMP. It’s all getting a bit close.
*Crosses chest and prays for reprieve*)

So if you were nineish in 1996, loved the Spice Girls and know anything about club ettiquette, you’ll not be surprised to hear that every Badger Club member had a nickname. There was Sporty Badger, Scary Badger (uh-huh), Baby Badger, and yes, Sensible Badger, because, aha, I was the sensible one. Iron-clad logic.

Sensible Badger in her 28 year-old incarnation meant two big things. I stepped back a bit to figure life and health stuff out, instead of my normal trick of lunging into everything like a hyperactive Dalmatian who crashes and burns after too much stimulation.

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My  Sensible Badger days.

I’ve got a three hour all-in commute door-to-door, so I’m prioritising sleep instead of 5am runs, using my walk to and from the station to keep my step count up. So when it came to it, I didn’t have the lead-in to the Big Run I would’ve liked, so I passed it up, because I didn’t want to do myself in.

That same day I managed a strong 8-miler, then a 4.2mile the day after (which was two weeks ago tomorrow), when I got a nasty winter virus that had me too drained and wiped out to do anything at all for a few days. I was blue as hell, which isn’t a fun place to be.

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When you’re feeling blue, eat blue porridge

I am getting better (faster-stronger); breaking back into it with walking and small pelts, eating well, sleeping, and a lot of tea. Feeling more myself again.

Yesterday was a great day, dotted with rummaging for vintage stuff in Bristol Textile Recyclers‘ warehouse, revisiting our new flat in grown-up fashion, topped off by tomato bacon at Brew, and a long-awaited trip to Moti running shop on Whiteladies Road.

Up on the treadmill they took a proper look at my running technique, and I got, I think, the best result, because the guy reiterated the podiatrist’s analysis. That is, my form is pretty sound, and any imbalance is not in how I strike the ground, but from my hips. He prescribed me neutral, not mega supportive shoes, which felt like a victory after conscientiously changing my landing style.

So I picked up some beautiful new springy Saucony shoes that are 1.5 sizes bigger than my actual shoe size, which’ll hopefully mean the end of black toenail gate. Though my big right one still looks a fright:14939562_10154165000849538_5639260818377916706_o

The lesson of all this? That when you need to step back from this stuff, do it. Embrace your grumpy Sensible Badger and sit on your pesky running pixie for a bit.

I’m as determined to find my way to longer distances, but it’ll have to be on my terms.

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On the Run! · Training and motivation

Form-ula Run*

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Blimey, it’s been a little while, hasn’t it? A lot’s happened since we last spoke – tomorrow I start a brand-new job (So I’m a spike of excited-nervous energy); H and I’ve started the hunt for somewhere new to live (that isn’t an airing cupboard); there’ve been Mont Blanc-style highs and some real sadness to take on, so a busy old time. A lot of life admin filling in the gaps, all necessary and ageing. But the house is less scruffy.

Anyway, I’m digressing before I’ve even begun, because I am here tonight to fill you in on the merry dance I’ve been having with that e’er elusive runner’s idyll; the runner’s very own Room of Requirement –

– Yes, I’m talking about the imperfect search for the perfect running FORM.

Type ‘running form’ or technique into your search engine and you’ll find lots of articles on the subject with swathes of differing advice. In short, the more you read, the more confusing it becomes to know what you should be doing.

My particular fixation, along with many others’ I know, stems from reading Chris McDougall’s awesome book, Born To Run (check out the TED talk here.)

Born to Run tackles the gulf between Westerners’ fixation with costly motion-control shoes to support a wince-inducing, inherently ‘bad’ running habit, and the seemingly natural-born runner, embodied by the Rarámuri or Tarahumara people of northwest Mexico. Their kit? Leather sandals, love, a belly full of Chia and (at times) some home-brewed tequila. If that’s all these guys need for a 48-hour dart, McDougall writes, how are we making such a meal of it?

I’ve had my own fun with ‘form’. When I first started running nearly 4 years ago I wore my mum’s old squash shoes with no issues. Then I got some neutral actual running shoes, began upping my mileage, which lasted a good while. When time came to get my next pair, I paid a trip to the local running specialist, who took one look at my (unmoving) feet, and told me what I needed, to treat their diagnosis of ‘overpronation’, was the most supportive Asics on their shelves (circa £100+ a pop). These too, were fine; great even.

But when injury or illness stopped me from cracking my first half-marathon a third time, I decided to pay a visit to a podiatrist for a second opinion.

My funny legs are part of our family legend. The story goes that when my concerned young parents took me to the doctor as a toddler, worried that one of my feet were turning in more than the other,  the doctor’s reply was simply, ‘That’s just how she is’. So that’s just how I’ve been. It’s not something many people notice, but it’s there.

So when the podiatrist concluded one of my legs was longer than the other, and overpronation wasn’t the thing, things fell into place. Suddenly my shin splints, odd back aches while standing, and antipathy towards high heels made sense. I started wearing a slim orthotic in one trainer, and was hopeful things could change.

Then I discovered the arguments championing barefoot running and forefoot foot strike – that again, the Western fixation with ultra-supportive shoes is counterproductive for forcing us to land on our heels, when the most efficient, injury-free technique, is to ‘glide’ on your forefeet, bringing your knees up under your torso.

So over the last three weeks I’ve ditched my ultra-supportive shoes for my neutral pair, and hoiked myself up towards my toes. At first my calves felt the burn, and my pace slowed – but my strides per minute increased by 10 to 180-185, which I hear is a sweet spot to aim for. I’ve also read it takes a while to build pace and distance back up after making such a stark change – so maybe not the wisest move with a week to go ’til the Great West Run. Especially as I found, experimenting with fore-foot landing, that in certain shoes, my toes felt really bruised, and my shins, tender.

But I do feel lighter in my running, which has got to be the key, right? On my sage triathlonic uncle’s advice, I’ve also started foam rolling before I head out on the route, and it’s helped instantly.

Then today, four weeks after making the change; after four weeks of confusion, tenderness and tenterhooks, I glided. And I was me-quick. Whether it’s the start of a tough glide to marathon distance? Who knows. I hope.

*sorry. It had to be done.

On the Run!

13.1 miles = The Peroni is miiine!

crop peroni and protein bar

Run date: Friday 2 September 2016

Set-off time: 12.24pm

Pace: 10.24 mins/mile

Distance: 13.11 miles

Total run time: 2 hours, 16 mins, 28 secs

Terrain/landscape: One of my many, er, ‘second homes’, the Taunton to Bridgwater canal path…

Weather conditions: Like running in a giant sweat box (although no burning sun to burn it off, which I was mightily glad for); then humidity turned to sprinkler. Pretty darn nice.

The route: I Got It Like That:

02.09.2016

Music of choice: Mary Anne Hobbs on my usual haunt, BBC to the 6 to the Music. Notable highlights included… hmmm. A fresh Jamie T breaking his mould, and I can’t honestly remember what came in between in my runner’s reverie (yes I went there). But all that matters was that it ended with this. Sublime mind explosion.

Fuel? Well. Today’s been weird-as, as far as fuel goes. Harry’s been enjoying partaking in my almond milk, chia seed, banana and blueberry milkshake phase most mornings this week. It’s sweet and fills lightly, and I’m really enjoying the symbiosis with my readings about the Tarahumara runners (who really make chia a super food). Hoping some of the shine will rub off on me.

But then, there was the small matter of my waking up completely shattered after a restless night, to contend with. My dreams have been more vivid and bizarre than usual, lately. One of which involved my getting rapped on the knuckles for causing political chaos by issuing a press release about Jerry Corbyn having a spare room he wanted to let out. In this same dream my office was a tiny scrappy cardboard affair reached by a twirling rickety staircase that was also made of cardboard. Who knows what’s going on in there.

ANYWAY, what this meant was that I accidentally asked for a 100% mortgage at the bank today (which apparently they’re reluctant to give out) because of my dazed sleep-deprived confusion. I then drank all the coffee, wandered a bit quakingly with furrowed brow into Superdrug to buy hayfever relief, and what shall forever be known as a manbar, because I’d got to the point where I had decided the only thing that was going to get me through was one of those mutant laboratory PROTEIN BAR creations I’ve always steered clear of. I was not feeling good. Yet I had set my mind on doing a long run, dagnammit. So I crammed the protein bar into my mouth, nabbed a bottle of vitamin water, and found myself a new, leopard print (ooh la la) Nike sportsbra in the sale! at Tony Pryce, and didn’t buy some amazing running shorts with stag beetles on.

Awful as it was (the manbar, not the run), between the manbar and stubbornness, I made it through my second ever half-marathon.

To sum up: The Peroni is mine!! Mine!!!!

On the Run!

Fffrrrrrrrmmm road runner: 22.08.2016

Run date: Monday 22 August 2016

Set-off time: 7.23am

Pace: 8.47 mins/mile

Distance: 3.11 miles

Total run time: 27 mins, 21 secs

Terrain/landscape: Pavement, gravel, grit and grass

Weather conditions: On the cusp of muggy, white cloud

The route: My Monday love, a 5k round Longrun to start the running week:

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Music of choice: A veritable mash of Rudimental (1st album, awesome running accompaniment I used for the first time running in the summer in Croatia along the seafront, so figured it would be good pep) and some Craig Charles on the ol’ BBC 6 Music blower.

Fuel? I wanted to try for a quick one (for me, anyhow), but I was really struggling to get out of bed this morning after my week/weekend antics. So nu-thin’.

To sum up: I was fast! I think I’m going to make Mondays my bust-a-move days from now on. Building myself up to Fartlek so-called “speedplay” training: a prospect as alarming as the concept is hilarious.

Also, I’m shattered and starving – following a 10.2 miles on Saturday, three more runs between 3 and 7 miles before that, and too much general excitement, methinks.

Training and motivation

The Kid v Adult price gap: The Great Shoe Rip-Off?

Me in shoes

My name’s Daisy Bee, and I have funny feet. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no Cyndi Laupera fair few of my favourite people do too.

What it means when it comes to running, is that I’ve been through quite a few pairs of shoes in my quest to find the ones that are right for me.

I’ve worked up the ranks from my mum’s battered gym trainers (brassic times), through cheap and cheerful neutrals, and then, when I arrived in Taunton and discovered Tony Pryce, onto Asics. So the past couple of years I’ve flitted between two ranges: the Asics GT 2000s and 1000s to be exact.

Now, these shoes don’t come cheap: we’re talking around the £100 mark a pop, but as an investment that would keep me (in my experience) colourfully cushioned against injuries spanning shin splints, sciatica (gah), hip and knee pain, I never questioned it.

But when time came around for my next purchase, I decided I was going to do something revolutionary. I decided to shop around online for my next pair of Asics GT 1000s online. And not got to a real-life physical shop.

What I found was – obviously no shocker – is that you can rip a lot of £££ off the RRRRRRRP by doing this. And even more if you’re stumpy like me with size 5 feet by opting for children’s shoes.

This is where the bone of contention started sticking its calcium-ated nose in, because:

RRP for the women’s Asics GT 1000, size 5 is £100:

Asics 1000 women's shoe

While, the child’s Asics GT-1000s, size 5, come out at £40 RRP:

UntitledKids GT Asics 1000

Por qué? Is this just a cynical commercial tactic to charge people more for the same product defined differently? Certainly that’s an easy conclusion to jump to.

Or is it actually – as I found reasoned in one Runner’s World forum thread – a fair reflection of the simpler supportive mechanics required for the shoe of a child who is soon going to burst growth-spurtily out of it, compared to that of a grown woman who’ll be pacing up way more miles? Or even more simply, are the kids’ trainers cheaper because children’s clothes escape VAT?

Well, I have no idea. The internet doesn’t seem to garner me any conclusive answer.

But I now have my new Asics GT 1000 children’s shoes. They’re bright blue with bright orange laces (see specimen A above), and they ran well on their first outing. I am going to do the only thing I can do – see how my electric blue feet beacons fare in the weeks and months ahead, and get back to you… hopefully with my shins splint-free :-0

On the Run!

“Rio’s that way love…” 13.08.2016

Me being stylish in the shoes

Run date: Saturday 13 August 2016

Set-off time: 10.59am

Pace: 9.53 mins/mile

Distance: 7.1 miles

Total run time: 1 hour, 10 mins, 17 secs

Terrain/landscape: Pavement, gravel, grit and grass

Weather conditions: Misty! The sort that collects on your face and gradually leaves you drenched in a thick slick of sweat and, well, mist.

The route: My well-worn track, and my legs felt so heavy. My right thigh has been uber tight for a good three days, and pummeling, foam roller-ing and swearing hasn’t yet helped loosen it up, so I thought doing seven miles might. It was enjoyable to finish, but fairly hard going, and my mile pace certainly slowed towards the end. But, a day on, I’m feeling much more loose. Phew.

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Music of choice: Not a jot, because I need to stop forgetting to charge up my bluetooth headphones… which I will go and plug in now before I forget yet again…

ALTHOUGH: I did get heckled, twice, I think both times by old farts. One, a rowdy “Look at her go!”, and the second a sharp as nails, “Rio’s that way love”. Now maybe when I was just starting out it would have been enough to have me blush under my crimson hue, but now, I really don’t give a monkeys. If anything, it spurs me on! So er, thanks boys for the impromptu rallying. Peace out.

Fuel? I actually did this! Three hours before was: mini Shredded Wheat, milk and blueberries (so very super), a cup of tea, and then some of the scary ZERO X’TREME drink when I was out and about. And it must have worked, despite all the leg protests.

To sum up: All good really. Especially as I got to wear my new great good deal Asics! Which I plan to write more on shortly…

On the Run!

Lamlash leg: 10.08.2016

Me from Goatfell

Run date: Wednesday 10 August 2016

Set-off time: 8.20am

Pace: 10.16 mins/mile

Distance: 5.33 miles

Total run time: 54 mins, 44 secs

Terrain/landscape: Pavement, road, an elevation of 237 foot, then flat round the bay

Weather conditions: Perfect; a veritable mill pond.

The route: After conquering all 2,866 feet of Goatfell at decent speed, with the T-shirt to prove it – and an impromptu fell run which Harry humoured stoically – my ambition of running the hilly 6 mile+ route to Brodick and back was p’raps always going to be overly ambitious. So I started the up, enjoyed the puff, then flowed back down the hill to run the length of Lamlash. All was calm beauty: Holy Isle looked regal ‘cross the water, and there were seals along the shoreline, lots and lots of seals. Pretty damn near perfect.

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Music of choice: Nothing, again. I decided that being musicless is the best way to get to experience new running lands. And I’m coming to like it; especially now I can actually hear and appreciate the camaraderie of my fellow runners, morning hikers, togs and twitchers, and cyclists, all out to take the air.

Fuel? Nothing. But I took a bottle of water out with me, and followed it up with a hearty mugful of mini Shredded Wheat, milk and banana, and later, one of the Arran Cheese fingers. YOM.

To sum up: My run may have suffered slightly after The Goat, but it was worth it. I at the very least did what I always set out to do: add an Asics-clad touch-down on a new island to the tattered running log.

Lochranza Castle