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!
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!
Hi, I'm Lola!
A self-confessed hair addict! On here, I share my hair journey and my inspiration.
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