Little Runner Gal

Running, eating, sleeping and all the bits in between

Words of encouragement for a lazy arse

So just to clarify from the off, the lazy arse is me, well it’s mine. It’s not that I am lazy, far from it, I’m quite proud of my stupidly early starts, 2 runs some days and ever increasing mileage. No, it’s that I actually physically have a lazy arse…glutes to be precise. This has been professionally diagnosed by a running coach and a chiropractor independently of each other. Basically I don’t use my glutes in any way, shape or form when I run. Nothing engaged in the bum area whatsoever. Consequently I overcompensate for my lazy arse by wrongly using other muscles and ending up with injuries from my ankle, up my leg, all the way to my shoulder. So, I’ve got all manner of exercises and a slight change of running form to implement…I’ll let you know how I get on. Glute-Bridge-Marching

The words of encouragement came from a number of members of my running club tonight. We were doing intervals and hill sprints and I was putting in the effort but they obviously knew I could be doing better. Flagging up one hill, the ladies team captain sprinted up behind me and shouted at me to really go for it, and I managed to keep up with her. Next, one of the quickest members of the team shouted “good on you Sarah” when I decided to go for the ‘optional’ extra sprint at the end of one stint, which consequently left my lungs burning for cold air…my calves still hadn’t caught up at this point, but they did once I got home! And then, in the final sprints home another one of the super quick guys ran up beside me and pushed me to keep up with him to the finish, then praised me on a great run. And that, my friends, is something you’ll never get from a jog round the block on your own, and why I am still banging on about how great running club is and how much it helps me!

And I managed to actually engage glutes while doing all of this nutty running tonight…so now I’m crazy arse runner gal rather than lazy arse runner gal. Work in progress!

More tales of the lazy to crazy glutes transformation to come…




Cross Country & Cake!

Today was my 2nd cross country event for the club. I’d been warned it was hillier than the first one of the season so I spent the morning massaging and foam rollering my shredded calves and donned my compression sleeves.

Arriving at the site in my less than adequate car (runners should NOT have sports cars, they’re totally impractical and I’m starting to resent my gorgeous 2 seater on race days) I attempted to keep warm whilst more and more people arrived. We clearly had another great turnout, cue moment of pride at us all in our club tops, such a fab bunch.

This time, you’ll be both pleased and impressed to know, I remembered to warm up! A good stretch, more calf massaging, a little jog and I was ready to go. The hoards moved towards the start line and we were soon off.

The course was pretty steady and my pace was good. My calves were holding up and it wasn’t too hilly, too muddy or too cold. There were a couple of steep climbs along the way and uneven terrain, but all in all I was making my way through it well. With the competition always in the forefront of my mind I closed in on a number of female competitors and pushed passed them, legs burning.

My watch read a mile to go and I knew I had enough left in the bag to get passed the girl in front comfortably and maybe take a couple more on a sprint finish…and I did!

OK, so I’m definitely not the fastest in the team, some of the guys there are incredible, I can only hope to be running at their pace one day, but I really enjoyed myself. The run was good and team spirit was plentiful.

And now to the cake…well, I’ve never seen a group of people love cake as much as a bunch of runners!! And that includes myself!! Queuing up for tea and buffet at the end was a great chance to catch up with everyone that had finished before me and find out how everyone had got on. And the catering didn’t disappoint! Well, we had earned it hadn’t we, and it’s part of the bonding!

So, all in all, a successful day. A good run and good cake, what more could a girl ask for?!

Hope you’ve had a fantastic weekend too.



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The Compression Question

With all the hill running I’ve been up to recently I’ve been starting to get really painful calves, both whilst running and they’re taking aaaaaages to recover afterwards.

So, along with the tremendously boring compression socks I got for the marathon I’ve “treated” myself to a pair of SKINS compression calf sleeves. I say treated myself as they were pretty pricey for 2 bits of stretchy not-even-a-sock bits of tubing, but the reviews are good and someone at running club said they were working, so I thought I may as well fork out for something that’s going to do the job. And so far so good. I’ve worn them out for a hilly club run on the day that my calves were feeling horrendous, and they seemed to keep them together. No serious pain afterwards (like the day before) and my run the following day wasn’t painful. It was just a short flat one without the compression skins. skins Along with this I’ve also gone for an amazingly colourful pair of compression socks from Not only will they look awesome, they match my Alzheimer’s Society kit for the London Marathon in April, so they’re an official part of my marathon outfit. They’ve got a great range of certified jazzy compressions socks. socks So, will it all work to stop the calf pain and aid the hill runs? I’ll keep you updated.

And if anyone has any other ideas, views or suggestions on this issue then please please let me know.






Anyone that knows me, or has seen my antics on social networking, will know that I love a good trail event. So how else would I be spending a frozen Saturday morning but running up hills, through mud and across freezing cold lakes at the Brutal 10 Long Valley?!

Brutal runs are 10km runs that use only natural obstacles such as hills, water obstacles, mud and uneven ground…sounds fun eh?!!

Arriving early, we crunched our way across the frozen ground of the “car park” to collect our numbers and Brutal t-shirts. By the time we reached the portaloo queue we couldn’t feel our feet and our teeth were chattering, so we were already pretty confident that the lakes we’d be wading through would be only slightly warmer than freezing.

To really get in to the spirit of the event, we joined some of the other competitors at the start line in daubing our faces like we meant business!
A quick military style warm up and we were ready to go, still shivering.

The crowd of people set off and we were stop start up the first couple of muddy hills, before the crowds thinned out a bit. The ground was still thick with mud so this area had thawed out nicely. Or so I thought until I hit the first water obstacle. I just had to throw myself in, it was now or never…! The thick muddy water was waist high and the ground below the icy surface very uneven, but the line of us ‘Brutaleers’ waded across at varying speeds and out the other side. Phew at least that was out of the way. Oh no, less than 100m later there was another, longer stretch of water. I emerged with all manner of bog debris lodged within my shoes and very little feeling in my feet.

Then came the hills. Rocky, muddy, steep, uneven and massively calf burning. No one was getting up them very quickly and every summit was a mini achievement in itself. At one point a niggling knee started to bother me but slowing down a bit (and the incremental icy dips) seemed to be keeping any real pain at bay.

The longest lake was next. A good 4 minutes wading across, waist deep. By the time I reached the other end I had no feeling in my lower legs. How they started to move again I still have no idea, but they had some kind of auto pilot thang going on so I left them to it. Luckily feeling returned before the steep climbs along the bog grass trenches up to the steepest point of the course. After that I was running with a good few pounds extra on each foot, but that was easily shaken off.

One of the marshals said only 1km to go and that it was easy downhill from here. My previous experience in these situations left me sceptical, but I was proven wrong and not too far down the hill and a sprint finish later, I was there with my head in a tin of finish line Quality Street! 01:19:56 official finish time, which is 26 minutes longer than my 10km PB but this event really wasn’t about that. It was an amazing, freezing, leg burning experience which left me buzzing.

If you get a chance to do any of these crazy obstacle type trail runs then I would definitely recommend them, however long it takes you to get round, it’s a character building experience!
So the next couple of weekends are cross country and then The Grim….another “character building” one! Wish me luck!




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What gets me going; hills, intervals & coffee

After running for a year, taking part in loads of events, hundreds of hours of training and a full marathon I knew I could run a fair distance, but my pace wasn’t improving at all. I was proud of all of my achievements but I wasn’t getting any quicker and a year on this was frustrating. Now I’d proved to myself I could do the distance, my next mental challenge was to better my personal best times (PBs).

With no idea where to start I did what we all do in this modern age, I hit the internet! Various forums, advice sites and twitter led me into a whole new world. I’d never realised there was more than one type of training session…I’d only ever laced up my trainers and plodded along for ‘X’ number of miles, but here I was reading about fartlek, recovery and progression runs. Many sources (friends as well as the online community!) said my performance would improve greatly if I joined a club, but I just always thought ‘well, you run as fast as you can run, so how can you run any faster?!’

I’m happy to admit I’ve been proved wrong! I’m pleased to report that only 6 weeks after joining the running club I’ve knocked a clear 30 seconds off my average mile! I’m amazed! So far I’ve done 2 hill sessions and 4 brilliantly varied interval sessions with the club, and my performance has rocketed! I’ve set a new 10k PB and I can run steadily up any incline I’d have probably just gawped at from the bottom of before! It’s not just my speed, but my recovery rate has quickened. I get my breath back quicker, my muscles aren’t quite so sore the next day (don’t get me wrong, they still ache, i’m not bionic!) and I haven’t yet sustained a single injury (touch wood) since club running. I’ll be honest, I don’t know the science behind it but it works! Whether you do these sessions on your own or as part of a club or group, I would highly recommend them.

I’ve also reintroduced coffee into my life! After a few months off of the black stuff, not for any particular reason, just because I was drinking too much (if there is such a thing!) I’m having a nice black coffee with a teaspoon of coconut oil 30-45 minutes before every run. Now, if you’re on twitter @thebodycoach has branded this ‘rocket fuel’ and it really does work! Just the one a day for me (addiction is a slippery slope) gives me a real boost before I start running. It might be psychological but it’s working!

I think I’m on to something here with the pace thing, all the signs are looking good, so fingers crossed I carry on picking up speed and am burning up the local footpaths soon!





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Not enough hours…

There just aren’t enough hours in the day! There you go, I’ve said it. We’ve all got so many demands on our time, so how do we go about planning our time to fit in everything we want?

  • I work 9-10 hours a day in an office
  • My total commute is 1 hour (both ways)
  • For muscle recovery, weight loss and general sanity, I should be getting at least 7 hours sleep a night (8 would be preferable, but something’s got to give)
  • I need to meal prep and I need to eat, and I need time after that eating to let the food go down…any rigorous exercise at this stage won’t end well.
  • I need to achieve a weekly mileage target
  • I want to continue to keep up my HIIT and weights workouts
  • I want to spend time with my loved ones and continue some sort of social life
  • I like to wind down before bed, otherwise the sleep thing won’t happen
  • I need time to maintain personal hygiene and get myself into a state that doesn’t scare children when I leave the house.

So knowing what I want/need to do I’ve had to get a serious plan together to hit the mileage targets, fit in my workouts and eat the right things at the right times.


I’ve got timetables all over the place, the fridge is littered with them – food, running, workouts. Because of my marathon commitments I have prioritised running above my regular workouts, at this stage, so everything works around my weekly mileage plan, then I slot in the other workouts I want to do and finally the food that will fuel me for said appropriate exercise. Then a nice shopping list of the food needed….damn haven’t factored in shopping time!

It’s likely that this might involve some morning activity, so be strict with yourself and get to bed when you need to. I only train 2 or 3 weekday mornings a week so that I still have a couple of later nights and lie ins (if 6:30 counts as a lie in!).


I try to do a mass food prep (chicken, salmon, salads, quinoa…) once or twice a week. If you can do it all on a Sunday and have it ready to run out the door with every day then that’s one less thing to worry about.

I get my morning workout gear ready the night before, especially if it’s going to involve a cold run with lots of layers! Look up the weather in advance.


This has been the hardest part to grasp, because despite my control freakiness, there will always be things that don’t go to plan or times when I’m risking a speeding fine just to fit in an extra 5 minutes of hill sprints.

Injuries, illnesses and plain old ‘off days’ do happen. Don’t beat yourself up. Contingency planning, emergency planning and even resting are allowed!

Remember, stress weakens the body!


And if it all goes belly up, well it’s just one day, it’s not going to set you back.

So it’s not rocket science. I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary and sadly I don’t have the answer to time travel, I just do what I can in the time we all have….which is never enough!



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The Dirty Double

After a long, hideous week at work I could have done with a lazy weekend. The old me would have had a couple of lie ins and some sofa time. But instead I was looking forward to a weekend of running, of course!

Saturday morning was a training session for the Brutal event that my cousin and I are taking part in next Saturday. The Brutal 10 is a 10k natural obstacle course off road. So with the driving rain and winds we’ve been having we knew this was going to be a muddy one…and we weren’t wrong!

Even with the layers, waterproofs and headgear I was soaked to the skin before we left the car park, but I couldn’t get any wetter, so that was a bonus! Beth and I set off with the 30 or so other ‘Brutaleers’ through the mud, puddles, up hills, up more hills, through waist deep water, up more hills and through more mud. And just as we thought we were done, we were sent through some more water to do push ups, sit ups and mountain climbers in marsh grass!! Brutaleers

It was a good laugh and for a free training event it was a fantastic run. Most of all it was great to be running with my cousin again, and great to be doing some more off road running. With all the marathon training the roads can get a bit tedious, so I’d really recommend mixing it up with something different. My calves weren’t thanking me after all the hills and water though. Brutal Training

So the sensible thing to do was obviously to take part in my first Cross country event for my running club the day after!!

In contrast, the weather was glorious. Cold with clear blue skies and an abundance of sunshine. A group of us travelled to Windsor together for the first of the Thames Valley series of Cross Country runs this winter. I had no idea what to expect, so it was good to chat on the way about what would happen. Reaching the site we saw our team flag and headed over to the rest of the group. Our club had a really good turn out, being that it’s only our second season and the first of the series. At that moment I felt really proud to be with this group of people. The ‘real runner’ feeling came back to me…in my head I think it’s definitely a ‘club’ thing. We posed for club photos and moved to the start line for the Remembrance Day silence. WVR Shortly after, the starter shouted GO and we were off!

I hadn’t prepared myself for how muddy the route would be (first error!) or how much my calves were still suffering from yesterday (second error….oh, there are more!) but I kept a good pace round the first field and along the water’s edge. I could see various members of our team bobbing off in the distance and I felt another wave of pride to be in with such a good bunch.

The course got sloppier and my trainers were caked in mud and grass. It felt like I was running in 10lb shoes at one point! Luckily I’ve shaken off any ounce of girliness I ever had when it comes to running, and I knew running through the huge puddles would clean my shoes…a key lesson learnt from Brutal training. About half way through the almost 6 miles course I realised I hadn’t warmed up at all (third and daftest error)! In the excitement, uncertainty and desire to keep my layers on for as long as possible (it was about 5 or 6 decrees Celsius) I’d done about half a stretch. I wouldn’t be making the mistake again but there was nothing I could do about it now so I had to ignore my burning claves, screaming at me for the abuse I was giving them, yet again, and carry on.

A steady stream of people ahead of me in multi-coloured vests, I was keeping up with the masses in single file along the tracks. As we reached the final mile the tow path became familiar and I knew the end wasn’t far. I’d kept a bit in the bag to try and bust out a sprint around the final field, and managed it! Crossing the finish line, lungs and calves burning, it was great to be greeted by team members and cheer the rest of them in.

We’re still waiting for the results but I’m really pleased with my efforts. I ran at an average pace of 8’33” per mile, which is about 45-50 seconds per mile quicker than my average. Proving that I really can push myself at these events if I try….well we’ve all got a competitive streak when it comes to it, haven’t we!

Great weekend of running with some fantastic people. The running community really are a great bunch. I’m looking forward to the Brutal 10 next Saturday and the next of the Thames Valley XC series the following Sunday. Meanwhile my calves have politely requested some flat training runs this week!

So now I’m off to wash my trainers…I know, the glamour! Soggy and muddy but they serve me well! Trainers

Hope you’ve enjoyed a lovely weekend too.



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What’s a Real Runner?

I’ve finally got to the stage where I feel like a real runner. But what does that mean? I‘ve always been able to run, even enjoyed it. At school I was pretty good at 100m and 200m, I’m sure there are some bent certificates out there still to prove it. On the handful of occasions I had used the gym memberships I’d signed up to with such good intentions (see, the intention was always there!) I’d always head straight for the treadmill.

Since starting my training for that first half marathon I’ve completed a number of running events, sustained a number of ‘running’ injuries and even been on a course with a running coach. So why now do I only just feel like a runner?

I think it’s because I’ve joined a running club. I’ve always seen club runners and thought ‘those are real runners’, either when driving passed them or out running on my own. I always imagined it to be something that I wasn’t good enough to do, like there was a benchmark to be able to wear the vest. But there’s not! It’s fantastic. And I am good enough. I would have been good enough a year ago. There’s no tick list of achievements or qualifying 10k time, just a mutual appreciation of running.

And therein lies the answer. I feel like a real runner because I just love running. Doing it, talking about it, watching it, reading about it (I now have 2 running books!) and bombarding my social media with it. It’s no longer about the attainment, about dragging myself out to complete my normal route, it’s about wishing my working day away so that I can lace up my trainers, and about scouring the internet for events to sign up for at the weekends. It’s about how animated I become when talking to people about it.

Yes, we’re all competitive. Obviously I want to better my PBs, compete in more events, and increase my medal collection (I do love the bling!) but I truly feel like I now have a proper appreciation for running, and I love it.

I’ve still got a long way to go, who knows when I’ll ‘peak’, and I’m learning all the time, but I’m loving being a real runner.

So just remember, it’s not about what you’ve achieved, but how you feel.


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Today I received some unexpected news – I’ve gained a place in the 41st Berlin Marathon, taking place in September 2014! I now have the London Marathon in April and Berlin later in the year, I am beyond excited!

I’m hoping to plan in a few half marathons at the beginning of the year to get me limbered up, but the preparations are already taking place. I’ve devised a full training schedule (something lacking in my training thus far) and am cramming in a lot more background reading (no, not ‘German for beginners’!) so that I can up my pace and decrease my likelihood of injuries.

LOTS more marathon updates to come, for sure!


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So far…

I’ve always been the sort of person that needs a deadline, something to work towards. So on 1st November 2012 I registered for a half marathon. Luckily I already had a pair of trainers and my naivety told me this was all I needed. I’d participated in long distance events at school. This was a just a target rather than a challenge. I can now tell you that my trainers were the best part of 3 years old, PE lessons were at least 13 years ago, and although I’d been an active participant at these compulsory long distance lessons, I’d actually been a sprinter and distance running was certainly not my forte. I can also tell you that this WAS to be a challenge, but only the first of many.

Since that half marathon I’ve participated in a 10k road race, an off road (which basically means hills, dirt and puddles) series of 10k runs and an off road (see before!) marathon . I’ve been through 5 pairs of trainers, hundreds of miles of training, various injuries, recruited one phsyio, one chiropractor, one technique coach and developed an expensive running gear shopping habit.

Most recently I’m an active participant at ParkRun and have joined my local running club.
So that brings you up to date. Anything else is brand new information!


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