Top 10 | Runners' Gifts: spoil your loved one!
It's that time of year again! Christmas is on the way.
Time to show some love for the runner in your life - in gifts, of course!
Here are my top picks from what I have personally tried and tested over the last few years:
1) Running Socks - £9-12
As a wise man recently told me, you can't go wrong with SOCKS! Start with the right foundation and you can't go wrong. Besides, we always need another pair of running socks! Look for brands like Hilly and Stance for stand-out colours with superior cushioning for all those miles!
2) SPIbelt - £20.99 - £24.99
Short for Small Personal Items belt, these are indispensable for carrying your phone, cards and even attaching your race number when out running! Pockets on trousers usually only fit keys and a card but arm-bands can throw off your arm swing and are hard to reach quickly (factor in the sweaty hands to pull out said phone). Enter the SPIbelt which sits comfortably on your waist (adjustable) and tidily zips away your belongings. You can get water-resistant versions and there are ones with small water-bottles attached!
3) Gloves £1 - £12
Winter running is the true test of any runner. Make it easier on them by giving them a spare pair of gloves. These can be a very cheap pair that they can discard at the start line of a race for charity pick-up. In training, they can wear more fancy gloves with a hidden palm slot for their keys and or running mittens with finger-less gloves beneath!
4) Headphones - SoundPEATS £22- £35
Having initially run for many years without music, I found myself pleasantly diverted on Easy or Recovery runs. This is because I would be running to a certain time goal (45 minutes, for instance) and am not allowed to speed up the run to finish it earlier. To prevent mind-numbing boredom, I listened to few songs. This quickly moved on to Podcasts ranging from the running-related to expanding my world view with TED Talks. The SoundPEATS in-ear headphones are sweat-proof and bluetooth connected to help lighten your load!
5) GPS Watch - Garmin £99 - £299
Admittedly, you can get by without these for a long time - I did for five years. However, a runner's inner need-to-know takes over and a GPS watch captures and runs away with it! Okay, enough with the puns. You can start with a simpler model and build up to those that have wrist-based Heart rate monitoring and measure your fitness as it (hopefully) improves. The vivoactive and Fenix ranges cater for multiple sports.
6) Race Hydration Vest: Nathan Women's VaporAiress £85-£120
I honestly don't know how I managed long runs - especially in the Summer - without this! Suffice it to say, these are a game-changer. Plenty of water carriage and pockets for the million-and-one things that just have to come along with you! And if you have a trail runner or budding ultrarunner in your life, this is a must! Other brands to try are Salomon and Ultimate Direction.
7) Foam Roller - £15 - £30
For the uninitiated, this is an instrument of torture.
To the initiated, this is an instrument of torture! Lol!
Seriously, though, not all runners can afford regular sports massage. Hence, the use of the foam roller for myofascial release at home. I got one of these to prevent so many ice baths in the middle of winter. Yes, winter training long runs kicked my butt! Your runner will thank you - probably.....eventually!
8) Running Shoes - £40 - £115
Running is often seen as a minimalist sport in that "all you need are your running shoes". A good pair can set you back a pretty penny though! With so many different styles of shoe - minimal, stability, racer, to name but a few - I suggest you look for the pair that graces the feet of your runner most frequently. If they have a well-worn pair, that's often a good choice to replicate.
9) Runner's Journal £10.99
This provides a great way for a runner to really get their sessions tracked. I first bought this for a friend. After leaving it lying around for months, I opened it up and found myself hooked! It allows you to track your running shoes (how many miles have I run in them, again?), your key sessions and also record your race results. Runners are creatures of habit and the habit of recording the day's workout really is cathartic. Your runner will definitely thank you for this one!
10) Gift Card - Runners Need
Stomped and unsure about the detective work some of these gifts involve? Solve it with a gift card - the gift that keeps on giving - in my humble out what they want, with your financial backing. It will almost feel like they are being sponsored to keep up their habit.
Hope these give you a jump-start with present selection.
Now go forth and make those runners feel special!
And spare a thought for me this Sunday - running yet another marathon - California International Marathon! So nervous already!
Later, ladies and gents!
Recipe of the Week | Egg Cups | Healthy Fuel
8 eggs (you could get away with 6 large eggs)
1/2 red onion diced
2 small vine tomatoes diced
Handful of spinach/curly kale - sliced
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
1) Pre-heat the oven to 180oC or 360oF and line a 12-cup muffin tin with either silicone muffin cases or traditional paper ones.
2) Crack the eggs into a bowl and add your seasonings of choice (I like a bit of dried chilli pepper, oregano and all-purpose seasoning).
3) Mix well with a fork and ladel into the muffin cases using an ice-cream scooper. Fill each only to 2/3rd of the way up (I found 1 and a half scoops did the trick for each).
4) Into each egg cup, sprinkle a few pieces of diced onion and tomatoes and a leaf of spinach or kale. The liquid will rise closer to the top of the muffin cases.
5) Put the tray in the oven for 20 minutes or until they have risen and are lightly browned on top.
I tried these and made a dozen which I have been making myself not eat all at once.
I just had two with a side dish of grilled vegetables and it was delicious!
Let me know what you think when you try this.
Thanks again to Tina Muir of www.tinamuir.com for this recipe!
Later ladies and gents!
Journey to Ultra: Race to the Stones 2017 - Part 1
Sometime after completing the London Marathon, I had a moment of *temporary* insanity.
I figured, I didn't want to miss out on the chance to run with my running friends from Instagram - Jemma @thisgirlcanrunfar, Martha @martharuns and Charlie @leancleancooke (now @whatcharlierannext).
I had already missed Jemma at the London Marathon due to her crushing (pun intended) metatarsal stress fracture. And somehow, I had completely missed Martha and Charlie completely - different starting pens, different timings and of course, my mind in the zone to prove myself!
So I quite casually signed up to run 100km in the middle of July. Over two days. No big deal. I had about 2 months to train right? I did this in the week after the marathon. The post-marathon blues is a real thing!
Thank heavens, my coach is a trouper (shout out to Victoria Phillipi of Run4PRs) and she took it in her stride that I planned to run TWO ultramarathons of 100km distance about..... oh, FIVE weeks apart!
See, I had already signed up to run the Norththumberland Coastal 100km in Late August. I just figured I would use Race to the Stones in July as my introductory and tester 100km.
Surely, it would be easier than running the whole thing at once, right?
A brief mention of my training:
Firstly, I bought a book. Actually, I bought two but I didn't like the first and returned it for an exchange for the Running Strong by Dr Jordan Metzl. I used the latter for improving my functional (read, running specific) strength-training. The first book did use bought said I would need like 20 weeks to prepare - I had like EIGHT, at best - so that was out!
The book I devoured - that's the only word for it - was The Training Essentials for Ultrarunning by Jason Koop.
It was everything I needed to get my head in gear. It laid out the basics of training but also comforted me that specific runs geared at the altitude profile of the race would come closer to the race. All I had to focus initially on was building an endurance base! And I could do THAT! (See marathons before).
My coach also expertly blended these elements and added back to back long runs that progressed over the training period to allow me to get used to running high mileage back to back without my legs feeling stiff or dead. This was crucial to the race - and I didn't even realise it whilst doing it.
Now to the race!
The London Marathon 2017 | Race Re-cap!
So I ran my second London Marathon on Sunday 23rd of April 2017.
It was my third marathon. And it was a beaut - we thank God! (Grab a cuppa, let's get into it!)
Last year, I towed the start line with so many questions in my head:
I was taking a big risk it felt: pushing my body to its limits (possibly) and making my mind up about this whole long-distance running thing.
Well, at the end of that race, I was hooked! I had run throughout and I was so carried by the crowds that I made 3:42 and some change! I was estatic! And of course, I wanted another chance to do it again.
Imagine my delight to find out that my time was "Good-for-age" for my age-group and I could enter without relying on the ballot (read, very unlikely) or charity places (I'm not so good at fundraising). The fundraising is something I have to work on but...not for now! lol!
So I booked my next marathon after a few more half-marathons and went off to Athens. You can read that amazing race re-cap here - it is the Original Marathon after all.
This year's marathon training was not a walk in the park!
I also had something to prove - to myself, really. I wanted to beat my last time but also push it down closer to the 3 hour mark! Yes, I am that crazy person!
Time to Run!
It's been a while, so I thought I'd pop in to say hi!
And of course, remind you to stay glued to your television sets to catch a glimpse of me on the London Martathon route this weekend.
This year, I'm not running for a charity. And no, I didn't get a ballot place either.
I'm running to improve on my racing time from last year (by God's grace) and keep getting better at this thing called Marathoning.
Now, I'm no professional (not by a long shot) but I really do enjoy running. The longer distance races have hit on a part of me that really makes me incredibly happy to be a (small) part of them. I enjoy the actual day and I want to see if I can push myself each time to even better performances.
Marathon Monday just went by - Boston Marathon for those who are still wondering - and I am inspired afresh to keep pushing and keep aiming to be my best. This year, I have tapped into the Instagram running community and found many friends whom I would love to run with. They vary from being in the UK (a few hours drive away at the most) and the US (not so close!). And each one of them keeps believing, keeps grinding and keeps aiming for better for themselves and for each other. The inspire me to run up mountains (12 miles of uphill in Athens marathon was a good start) and run further than I ever have - 100K anyone? So I can't wait to take 5 million selfies with other IG runners on Sunday.
With all that said, come out and cheer this Sunday: for me and the 40,000 other runners who are literally running our hearts out across the Capital.
I really appreciate every wave and cheer and I do look out for good signs along the route: "Run like you stole something!" was one of my favourites.
In other news, I am running the Hackney Half Marathon the weekend after, God-willing. Mainly because I really enjoy that route and would love to be a part of it again this year. Maybe next year, they can take it back to being two weeks after London? Just saying.
Have a good week folks!
PS: I will post my race number up this weekend so you can track me as I run!
Ahhh! Why so much hair fall after braids?
A question I have been asked in person a few times is a variation on the above. Looking at recent google searches bringing people to this site, I found:
"Why does hair fall out a lot after undoing braids?"
"Why am I shedding a lot after taking down my sew-in?"
I remember being distressed when I used to have my hair done in braids by haircare professionals. In fact, it was one of the reasons I learnt to install braids on my own hair. Yes, I learnt how to apply extensions to my hair. It was that serious!
Like many women, I would leave braids in for a couple of months (three at the most) and then find that my hair was coming out in clumps as I removed the hair extensions. When I started installing the braids myself, this improved somewhat because I was making bigger parts and not putting on very heavy extension pieces in comparison to my own hair. However, what really allowed me to not lose so much hair - and allow others to do my hair without fear - was learning what was at the root of the hair fall.
There are three things to consider.
1) Was it shedding?
Shedding is the natural process of the hair completing its growth cycle and the root being extruded (pushed out) from the scalp. The hair grows over 3 to 6 years, going through Anagen (growth), Catagen (resting) and Telogen (shedding) phases. On any given day, 80% of hair are in the growing phase, 5% are resting and 5-10% are shedding. With around 100,000 hairs on each head, this can be between 50-150 hairs a day!
Now, in a braided up style lasting a few months, that shed hair cannot be combed down and removed daily. Hence, shed hair is the majority of what you will see when you take down the style. Phew! Wait though, what if the hairs are breaking off?
2) Was it breaking?
Breakage is when the hair strand splits and cracks at points of weakness. This can be because of harsh grooming practices (like using a fine-tooth comb on tangled hair) or weak hair strands (protein loss from daily wear and tear, heat styling or chemical processing). Another point of weakness is between chemically-processed ends and naturally curly/kinky roots. Whatever the cause of the weakened hair strand, it breaks off and thereby shortens that hair strand. The higher up it breaks, the shorter the strand becomes! Now, if you installed your braids without having treated your hair to a good protein treatment beforehand, your hair may be limp within the style and come take-down day, it will split and break off.
Now, how do you distinguish broken hairs from shed hairs?
That's actually quite simple. A shed hair will have a white bulb (from the root of the hair that was pushed out) on one end of it whilst a broken hair won't. A further clue will be looking at the ends of that hair strand: broken hairs tend to be thinner at one end as these have often split in two before breaking!
3) Was I looking after my hair in the braids/ sew-in?
This is the main step I was missing after learning to install my own braided hair extensions. Without a daily moisturising regime, my hair was dry and felt like straw when I took down the style. I often found that I had matted roots because I let dirt build up during the style.
A simple routine for caring for braided hair is simply spraying the roots and length of the hair daily with water or diluted conditioner. If you have hair that is chemically processed (coloured or relaxed) or regularly heat-styled, you may want to add an element of protein to your spray mix. I used Infusion 23 to keep my hair strong but moisturised each day.
The second part of your routine is your wash day. You need to clean your scalp (and hair) from the debris that builds up from the week (working out, product build up and lint...let's be honest here!). I recommend using a diluted sulphate-free shampoo to clean your scalp and hair. You can then use a conditioner for a few minutes to soften your roots. Some people use diluted Apple Cider Vinegar to clean their scalp and hair: this also seals the cuticle of the hair by bringing it to the optimum pH of 4.0- 5.0.
The final piece of the puzzle is being patient on take-down day! Yes, give yourself plenty of time and use the right tools to take down that hair. The only part of a fine-tailed comb that should come near your hair is the point! Use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to detangle your hair. Furthermore, diluted conditioner or aloe vera juice (image below) sprayed onto loosened sections for 5 minutes before detangling, works to smooth the hair strands and helps the tangles (shed hairs) slide out.
So there you have it. Your hair is not ALL falling out! It is mostly the shed hairs that have been trapped in your braided style that are making their way down.
I hope you found this helpful. If so, say hello below and share this post.
Later, ladies and gents!
Algarve Spring Training Camp 2017
By most pure string of serendipity, whilst searching for a fall marathon for 2017 after an awesome race in Athens (yes, I'm well and truly addicted!), I stumbled across 209 Events. They are one of only TWO tour companies that offer all-inclusive entries to the New York Marathon. Since at the time it was WAY too early to be checking for such entries, I clicked on their website and spied the "Spring Training Camp" with running, sports massages, yoga and one-on-one coach time! Add that to the fact it was in Algarve, Portugal - I was sold.
Of course I mentioned it like 500 times to my friends, whilst bookmarking and emailing the organisers about possibly getting a lift to the hotel a day early (yes, I'd checked flights - £39.98 return with RyanAir!). Sadly (for them) my friends were not as keen. And you didn't have to ask me twice before I'd booked my flights and paid my down-payment for the week!
I know you're curious about it. Too bad, I'm telling you anyway!
Running a Half-Marathon | My Top Tips! *Requested*
This is a requested blog post. A couple of weeks ago, someone asked if I could share some tips for running a half-marathon. So I thought I'd do a post to get others started.
First off, let me say: I am not a qualified coach, nor am I a running guru! I am just a woman with a passion for running that has allowed me to push past my preconceived boundaries to achieve SO MUCH MORE.
Now that those house-keeping bits are out of the way:
A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to run a half-marathon. Why? A friend of mine who had only started running very recently at the time had run one and she raved about it! I was shocked as I had not even thought of such a thing before that. I'll be honest, I didn't even know a half-marathon race distance existed! I thought it was 5K, 10K and those crazy Marathoners. Imagine my surprise when she danced over to me saying she'd had a blast finishing one and wanted to do another!
Well, my competitive streak had been held under for the last few years (we'll excuse medical school as we were all just pushing each other to do better, yadi yada) and I was able to pretend I was just curious to see if I could do it too. So I did the only logical thing I could think of: I ran a 10K to get that out of the way - I had only run a 5K race previously so I wanted to step up the distance.
It was the worst 10K race EVER! And oddly enough, I am so thankful that it was.
I started off too fast, (deleted sentence) and my feet were on FIRE by the halfway mark. Not in the good "Oh she's so fast" way - in the "I think I am going to combust from the soles up" way! I was at 16th position at 5K and decided (deleted word) to SLOW DOWN and let others pass me! I was (deleted word) praying for water (unheard of for me up till then) and found myself stopping and starting for the remainder of the race!
I actually ran a PB that day, but it taught me the difference between running the distance on my own on a Saturday and really RACING a 10K! As I crossed the finish line, I was thinking, "I'm never doing that again!" I only finished because I'd raised £400 for charity for which people had already paid me. I didn't want to feel like a fraud!
Guess what? A whole FIVE minutes later, I was saying to myself, "when I run the half-marathon, I have to raise more money or have someone cheering me on!" I realised then how much the crowd and marshals telling me I was “doing well” really helped me. I must have looked truly horrible but I'll take any encouragement I could get.
Why did I share this story first? It brought home to me the fact that to run a race, you have to TRAIN for it! This was what I took with me to the half-marathon distance.
That is where you must start: you must be prepared to TRAIN for your half-marathon. No causal jogging along shorter distances will suddenly make you able to run the whole thing in an amazing time! I know that adrenaline can do amazing things - see my first horrendous driving test (actually, let’s not) - but it won't make up for the fact that your body and mind are not prepared for the distance.
So that will be my first tip! I will expand on all of these below.
1Be prepared to train well.
2Long runs are important.
3Know your limits!
4Find a training plan you like.
5Stick to the plan!
*Bonus* Have fun with it!
Be prepared to train.
By this, I mean you must understand that, like all worthy endeavours, your goal will take some work. You need to run more regularly or use your current number of sessions per week more wisely. They must all be geared towards your goal of running a good first half-marathon. This is crucial for crossing the finish line without injury, complete exhaustion or losing your breakfast - trust me, I regularly see all three!
Long runs are important.
You will need to commit to at least one long run a week. This will need to be from the range of 7 miles to 11 miles. You can run a bit slower on these, but you need to make sure you are doing one a week so that your body is ready. It's also important to train your mind to manage running for that long.
Know your limits!
If you haven't run more than 5K before, don't sign up for a half-marathon in less than 8 weeks. You need time to build up to the race distance. I ran 10Ks and more on Saturdays for quite a while before venturing to that distance. The shortest training for people doing such running beforehand is about 4 weeks: I've asked around - even many guys (who often seem more (deleted words) able to do these things at the drop of a hat) have to do 4 weeks of more focused training.
The same goes for goal-setting: don't expect to do it just a little slower than the elite runners! You need to have an achievable goal that you can work up to! Something that makes you push THAT bit harder during the race.
Find a training plan you like.
Don't just pick the one your friend does. Especially if it doesn't appeal to your inner training voice - does it speak your language? To clarify, I mean do you feel at ease doing exactly what it says? I know myself, I don't like not knowing the exact distance I'm supposed to run. So those plans which speak in terms of minutes run were not for me. What if I ran for 2 hours and was still several miles short of what I should have covered in training? I pictured the nightmare of not being able to finish, let alone achieve my time goals.
However, I know my friend loved knowing how long to run for so she could just turn round at the halfway time-stamp and run home! Everyone is different. And there are plenty of plans out there! (Links to some of these at the end!)
Stick to the Plan!
Here I must add, "within reason". Allowing for unforeseen life and scheduling difficulties, you need to stick to your training plan. That seems to be what makes the difference between runners who do multiple races versus those who may find their inner racing "chip" well and truly fried after running a half- or full marathon! By ensuring that you carry out the key workouts for the week, you will be gearing yourself up for a greater chance of success: be it finishing the race or running it better than you dreamed.
Lastly, have fun with it!
This is a journey. A saying that always struck me as a child and probably made me fear marathons inordinately was, "Life is a marathon, not a sprint!"
You see, I'm more of natural sprinter - big surprise I'm Nigerian and played Hockey in secondary school. However, I've always been intrigued to see if I could also be as good a long distance runner. When I found it was all a matter of my thinking, I started chipping away at the wall I'd built in my mind.
You may be familiar with the building blocks of this wall: "I can't do it" or "I'm not built for distance" and "It's too late to start this now". Well, it's never too late to learn new tricks (see what I did there?). And you are the master or mistress of your own destiny. No one can tell you what you can't do. Only you can do that to yourself!
So above all, start believing that you can complete that half-marathon, and you're halfway there.
Thanks for reading my ramblings!
Below are links to training plans that I have encountered:
If you want my first training plan, it's from the book: 'Road Racing for Serious Runners. Multispeed training: 5K to Marathon!' by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. I followed Schedule A (under 30 miles a week at the start).
Fitness Magazine's 10-Week Half-Marathon Plans: here
Shape Magazine's 12-Week Half-Marathon Plans: here
NSPCC Beginner's 14-Week Half-Marathon Plan: here
Runner's World Half-Marathon Plans (10-14 Weeks): here
Later, Ladies and Gents!
Ps: Special Thanks to Steve for casting an expert eye over this write-up!
Travel with me | VIENNA
At the end of September, I went to Vienna.
My main excuse was a work thing - a Symposium.
In truth, I had wanted to go to Vienna for a very long time - for at least the last decade! Here are my thoughts on my brief time there - better late than never. I'll start with the flight, then our hotel stay and sightseeing before ending on the food- a high note as always!
I would be remiss if I did not firstly regale you of the drama that occurred in the air!
Athens Marathon 2016 : the Authentic!
I know you are all ready to re-live the experience with me. (Photos of actual race by Marathon Photo!)
I'll set the scene.....
Pre-dawn: found my way down to Syntagma Square (central Athens) and caught one of many air-conditioned buses to Marathon with my friend, K! Whilst enroute, we were reminded of the historic importance of this route and to drop off our bags promptly on arrival by a pre-recorded message in English and Greek. My friend and I ate some of our snacks on the way (Natural Energy Bars by Tribe and some fruit) whilst we took note of the gradient of the roads. Just how hilly was this going to be?
As the Sun peaked its head over the horizon, we arrived in Marathon and started making t-shirts out of waterproof plastic bags as we had to give up our long-sleeved jackets and trousers. The bag drop vans (by DHL) were ready and waiting to relieve us of our burdens.
The next order of business was to take numerous pictures: of the Marathon signs, the stadium, our national flags and with other competitors of note (see below). The latter included the Spartans from Poland who marched (and ran) as a troop with their spears, shields and swords!
Finally, it was time to get into our respective starting pens and take the Athlete's oath (first in Greek then English). Soon we were toeing the starting line and ...we were OFF!
Hi, I'm Lola!
A self-confessed hair addict! On here, I share my hair journey and my inspiration.
I' m more than my hair though: I will also share food and body product recipes that I love!
Ps: you'll also find the occasional product review thrown in!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictures: I do not own the copyright to all the pictures. Hence, I will credit the source.