A vast proportion of my Christmas list, such as it was, was taken up with running paraphernalia, in the hope that it would aid my transformation from a girl a doesn’t have a Scooby, to someone who at least looks the part of a marathon runner. The end result? All the gear, and, when it comes to running said marathon, still very little bloody idea!
The below image depicts exactly what said “gear” consists of, and I thought it may be useful for me to talk quickly through it item by item, mentioning a little bit about why I asked for this and why I’m hoping it will help me with my training.
Interspersed between paragraphs, you will find photos of some of my Christmas and New Year training runs! Training has taken up a significant part of the festive season, and so far appears to be, so good. Although, I keep getting sick (minor coughs/colds/bugs) which I can only assume is due to the excess stress I’m putting on my body. Did anyone else find this?! Anyway, next weekend will be the first time (EVER) I pass the half marathon (13.1) mile marker and head out on the 14 mile run, so more on my distance training then.
In the mean time, from left to right, back to front, here we go.
Two rather large boxes of energy gels – Everyone (understandably) advises to practice your long runs using exactly the same hydration and refuelling techniques as you will use on the day of the run. I’ve never much been one for taking on board food or sugar when racing up to the half marathon distance, but for the full marathon, I’m pretty certain it will be necessary. Due to a genetic condition I was born with, I have to exist on a low-protein diet, consequently, protein drinks or snacks cannot form any part of my fitness routine. Consequently, for energy whilst working out, I have to rely solely on sugar. I’ve seen this specific brand of gel handed out at races, which seemed as good a reason as any to give these a go. When I’m hitting up those additional 13.1 second half miles, I’ll report back more fully, but for my 12.5 mile jog around the Suffolk countryside, a couple of these certainly didn’t go a miss. I’ve a whole mixture of flavours, and tried raspberry and apple on this occasion. As far as these things go, they were, of course, very sweet, but not too incredibly gross!
The Complete Running & Marathon Book – Now, I’m still not convinced you can learn to run a marathon from the comfort of your sofa – But if you can, I’m certain it’s Dorling Kindersley that will lead you there! I haven’t delved too deep in to this so far, but it seems to contain considerable advice on equipment, nutrition, motivation and tactics, as well as step my step programmes to avoid injury and increase speed. Also usefully for me it shows (with images) various strength building and warm up and cool down exercises.
Perhaps most importantly, I finally have a running backpack! This one is by Rullaco and is not expensive at all. I asked for this one due to its built in 2 litre hydration system, and the fact that it’s pink, and as far as these things go, quite pretty! I realise now 2 litres of water is actually pretty darn heavy, so I’ll not be filling it to capacity any time soon. I don’t plan to use my backpack and especially the hydration system every run, but having the extra capacity (as opposed to just stuffing essentials in my pockets) will be useful for my run commute. It’ll also be great to take some water out on my longer runs. I’ve taken the backpack filled with approx. 1 litre of water out once on a 12.5 mile run so far, and it did feel a little difficult, running with something on your back when you’re used to being completely free. I found that it restricted by breathing somewhat, or at least gave the illusion of doing so, even when I loosened the straps. However, a few miles in I was feeling more comfortable. I persevered with it on my back until mile 8, when I was experiencing some back pain so past it over to my boyfriend who carried it until the end. Still, a major perk of running the actual marathon – as opposed to training runs – is not having to carry your own water!
Aladdin – My new water bottle. What can I say here really? It’s pink and purple, matching the majority of other workout gear, and it’s pretty. If I sit it on my desk at work during the day, I’m hoping it will encourage me to drink more water. Then I can take it to the gym with me during lunch-breaks or at night.
A light up running belt and slightly behind and to the left matching armbands – These are by Auraglow and are great for keeping you visible when training after dark, which you will undoubtedly have to in the UK when preparing for an April marathon! The pink strip on the belt and the armbands lights up red and you can have this as a constant red light or intermittently flashing. I tried these out for the first time tonight and felt instantly safer. The belt-bag has space for a few bits in, such as keys, phone, cards, make up for the morning, which again will be useful for the run commute.
Pink Trail Heads headband – Chosen firstly and as per usual, for the colour! Also because the temperature has finally dropped to a level befitting of this time of year, and there is nothing worse than freezy ears on a run. The other cool thing about this though is the hole in the back for your ponytail, ensuring your hair is kept in-place and off your face throughout the run.
Soundpeats Q9A headphones – I’ve been looking for a pair of decent running headphones for a while now, but always seem to have difficulties getting the buds to stay in my ear. My boyfriend has a pair of these, I tried them on and they fit great. Sound quality is good, they are easy to keep in and the buttons are easy to operate whilst on the run. I hadn’t really appreciated how good Bluetooth headphones are, but thankfully, gone for me are the days of getting my arms all tangled up in wires!
Runner’s Needs voucher – Saving the best and arguably the most important until last – The gift of new trainers, an exciting time in any runner’s life! I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’ve been incredibly lucky with running shoes so far, having never splashed out on an expensive pair of trainers, or having even done a gait test. Thus far I’ve got away with it (touch wood), aside from the odd niggle without ever experiencing significant injury. I’ve decided that a marathon does however, warrant, if nothing else, a half decent pair of kicks, so later this week a lunchtime trip to Runner’s Needs is in order.
Good luck for this week’s activities fellow runners, and an update on my training, as it starts to ramp up and get more serious, will follow shortly.