Little Runner Gal

Running, eating, sleeping and all the bits in between

I feel the need, the need for SPEED!

As is the case for many of you, this summer I’m focusing on speed work. I’m back to parkrun every week and I’ve got a good few 10ks lined up.

To be honest it has petrified me. Yes, I can run a marathon, the miles don’t scare me any more. I don’t know if that sounds big headed or crazy or what! But I trained so long and did so many long long LONG runs at the weekends, plodding along, I know I can do it.

This speed thing is something else. Pushing my lungs and legs to the absolute limits. Sprints, hills, sprints, hills, the metallic taste in my mouth and lungs bursting from my chest! The inevitable ‘breathing like I’ve been underwater for three minutes’ gasps as I slump to the floor just a couple of steps from the finish line. And who knew you could sweat so much in such a short distance?!! Oh the glamour!

Saying that, the training is paying off. In the last month I’ve smashed my parkrun 5k PB three times, and my 10k PB too. And here’s what I put it down to;

Speed – sounds obvious, but to run fast you need to train fast! Not just trying to up your pace on your normal route by a few seconds, but by adding intervals and fartlek type runs into your training. Getting in some sections with real bursts of maximum effort speed. Training your body to feel the way it’s inevitably going to feel gasping for air a few kms in. An example might be to do 400m reps with adequate recover. Start at 4 or 5 and build it up weekly until you’re doing maybe 8 or 10. Using lamp posts to sprint one, jog one, is a popular one.

Hills – they are a great way to build up your endurance, strength, form and power. They flippin’ hurt but the sense of achievement is incredible. And you’ll see yourself progressing week on week. Either by doing more reps, or getting a bit further each time. Again you can start at 4 or 5 reps running 30-45 secs up a hill then jogging back down (don’t choose anything that resembles Ben Nevis ideally!) and up the reps over the week.

Challenges – whether it’s events, parkrun, time trials, personal goals or racing others. Whatever gets you going! For me, it has been trying to catch up with the fast ones at parkrun and training with the top club runners to attempt to narrow the gap between me and them when getting to the top of the hill.

Rest – all of this fast work is gonna hurt! Make sure you take time to rest your legs, take recovery runs and such like. Eat the right things to aid muscle recovery too. As with any running, the rest is just as important as the training.

Stretch – get a good stretching routine in place as those hills and such like are going to work your legs, glutes and various other bits in ways you might not be used to. So get into the habit of stretching everything out after the run, just so that you can walk the next day without muttering “ooh” every other step!

Strength – you know I love a bit of strength training, and I’m SO glad that I started this months ago as the investment in my glutes is paying off big time! Rather than dragging myself up these hills, my glutes are pushing me….much easier! Not easy, but easier. Here’s the link to my core and glutes training that I hope might help.

I’m off to run the Westminster Mile tomorrow. I’ve never run a single timed mile before so this is going to be an amazing start to a new challenge for me. Then on Sunday it’s the big one, the Bupa London 10,000. Let’s see if all of this training has lined me up for another PB.

We have a parkrun PB ‘medal’ a can of Rio….so here’s to many more Rio’s this summer, a ton of medals and maybe even a time or two to beat the ‘fast ones’ I’m chasing down.


I don’t know if it’ll ever feel any easier, but a change is as good as a rest, right?!!


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Deuter running backpack review

I’ve never had a running bag before, just never had the need. I’ve got my little Camelbak but it only fits my 1.5l reservoir in it (with space to chuck a couple of gels in if needed) and that’s about it. I don’t run commute (sadly) and with marathon training I was used to practicing fuel and hydration using a gel belt and makeshift water stations (shops, friends, etc.) along the way to minimise weight.

But with all the nice weather, upping my trail running and the promise that I would gift myself something lovely for my run of PBs (any excuse) I bought a Deuter Speed Lite 10L rucksack for myself and took it out for a test run….then a few more!

So I packed up all my stuff on a rather changeable day, and headed for the trails.

I managed to cram in gels, energy bar, 1.5l reservoir, waterproof, water bottle, phone and keys with a huge amount of space to spare.


The bag was really easy to adjust and fit. I’ve never had one of these bags with all the chest straps but it was simple to work out, do up and adjust myself, while it was on my back. I had to stop a couple of miles into the run and adjust the height of the strap up my chest, which was really simple.



The Best Bits
• The accessibility of everything whilst it was still on my back. I put all the big stuff in the main body of the bag, jacket etc. as I’d need to take the bag off to put that kind of stuff on anyway. But my phone and keys were in the ‘valuables pocket’ which was super safe but I could still reach while it was on my back.
• Gel loops and side mesh water pockets are very easily accessible whilst running, which is perfect.
• Very comfy and hardly moved. It’s a ‘short back’ system, which is a tapered shape so there was no wiggling about while I was running, it was surprisingly sturdy.

The Bad Bits
• I honestly haven’t found any yet. No, honestly. I’ll report back if I find any.

There are loads more technical details on the Deuter website

I had a great trail run with the bag and I’ve had a few more since. I can’t wait to spend a summer packing up my gear and running (or walking) into the great unknown safe in the knowledge I don’t need to have a pocket full of change and a knowledge of the local supermarkets!



Anyone want to put money on when my first Ultra will be..?!!!

Let me know if you think there’s anything else that might be good for me out on the trails this summer.


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Multipower Nature’s Power bars

I attempt to be relatively good with my fuelling for runs and recovery post workout. I also try and eat quite healthily and eat natural and fresh ingredients where possible.

As runners, we know it can be hard to fuel on the go, and we’ve probably all played about with our pre race meal and snacks attempting to get it down to a fine art. I have my pre race breakfast sorted (oats, banana and honey) but, being the ravenous little sausage I am, I always end up eating it too early and getting hunger pangs on the way to the event.

So I’ve been trying these Multipower Nature’s Power bars. Made with natural ingredients and aimed at before and during activity (I can’t eat during, but beforehand I’m happy to trough like a horse!) the 40g bars come in the following flavours:

Honey & Seeds – 155 kcal, 26g carbohydrates, 3.8g protein

Cranberry & Strawberry – 145kcal, 28g carbohydrates, 3.0g protein

Salty Cocoa – 150kcal, 25.2g carbohydrates, 5.2g protein


First Impressions

I like the packaging and being able to see the bar through the clear window so you know what you’re getting. So many of these energy bars just have a picture on the front, which isn’t always representative of what’s inside, well labelled and says clearly what it is and what it does.


The Salty Cocoa bar is slightly firmer than the others, which I prefer, but they all have a nice soft, oaty texture with plenty of the flavour on show.


As a self confessed chocoholic I’ll always go for the chocolate flavour of something before anything else (slightly contradicting my earlier ‘healthy’ statement, but we all have our vices!) and this one didn’t disappoint. Salty Cocoa is actually the perfect name for this one and it’s delightful. The Cranberry & Strawberry is full of fruit and flavour, a very yummy combo with the oats. The Honey & Seed has slightly less flavour, in my opinion, but I actually found it easier to digest closer to the start of a race, when you don’t want any strong flavours making a reappearance.


I’ve had a few of these before long runs and events now and they go down really well. Great energy, no digestion issues and they’ve kept me fuelled up so far up to a very challenging 10k race. I’m yet to try anything longer post marathon!


  • Great ingredients with excellent nutritional content.
  • Yummy flavours packed full of fruit, nuts, seeds and most importantly, chocolate!
  • Good carb content for running fuel.
  • Easy to digest before a run.


  • Primary language on ingredients, nutritional info etc. is German, so found it a bit difficult to pick out the English, but the info is clearer on the website.
  • A honey one went a bit squidgy in my run bag on a hot day!

I’ll definitely be buying more of these. They’re working well for me and keep me going up the hugest of muddy hills!


Get yours here and check out the other fab Multipower products while you’re there.



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There’s no limit!

We all have our limits and we know them, right? Probably wrong.

I can’t run. I can’t run that far. I can’t run that fast. You may have thought those exact things, or something very similar. I know I’ve thought every single one of those things. Then it dawned on me that not only can I run, I’ve completed marathons, and I smashed my 5k and 10k PB times in consecutive days this weekend! So do I really know my limits? Can I honestly say that I know what I am capable of? And if I’m truly honest, the answer is no!

Last weekend I went and watched a group of parkrun friends finish a half marathon, each pulling in a PB, not the first of the year either, that they may have doubted they’d see, despite the training. This was inspiring in so many ways. So running with them this weekend at parkrun and a local 10k gave me all the oomph I needed to reassess my limits.

I’ve been training hard, both solo and with the club, but sometimes I just can’t push myself beyond the comfort zone. I started to think it was something to do with being a distance runner, that in the back of my mind I subconsciously think that there are so many more miles to come that I need to control my pace, so I constantly run at a comfortable speed. Or is it just that I don’t particularly like the feeling of my lungs being ready to burst, my legs quickly solidifying and the taste of iron in my mouth (and that’s without touching on the copious amounts of sweating)?! Whatever the reason, it was becoming my “limit” and it needed to stop.

So, with all of the above happening (the sweating being the most prominent feature) I pushed harder and harder than ever before, with the help and encouragement of some amazing friends, and smashed out a 5k PB, beating my previous time by 30 seconds. And I was still standing at the end!

The real race was the following day, the local 10k. I should really have rested for that but instead my hamstrings were aching from yesterday’s efforts but I was still feeling positive. Knowing I was going for a PB (49:07 to beat!) I’d chosen a 47 minute friend to pace me. Well I lost him about 4k in and somewhere up a killer hill. Everything was aching, my legs were like lead, I could barely breathe, but I made it round that course, pulled out a sprint finish (it was honestly, pretty epic!) and shaved 10 seconds off my PB. Now, I did have to have a sit down at the end of that one, but I’d done it. Pushed that limit even further. And, it turns out, my maximum heart rate!

(I honestly don’t know how I managed a smile here!)

And now I realise, that’s not it. My limits are off limits, they’re limitless!

So far in 2014 I’ve bettered my 10k PB twice and my 5k, half marathon and marathon PBs once so far. I think I’m finally coming to accept that my capabilities are ever changing!

They’re not defined. They’re not set in stone. They’re constantly pushed and challenged, not just by myself, but by others.

So find something, anything, which makes you re-evaluate your limits. Make your peace with the fact that you can achieve more than you currently think is possible.

And go and achieve it.



Mud, sweat & rave sticks!

Since the marathon my feet have barely touched the ground! I picked up training again a few days after and I’ve had some amazing ‘fun’ runs which I’ve been able to throw myself in to without the irrational maranoia that comes with 40-50 miles and week and the fear of not making it to the start line.


So an amazing day of double events was on the cards, and here’s how it went..

Brutal 10, Bagshot

I’ve done a couple of Brutal events before. Famed for the mud, hills and copious amounts of water, these off road events test your endurance, strength, glutes and personal hygiene! a fantastically organised 10k through the trails of Bagshot (this time), physically clawing my way up hills, practically swimming through “puddles” (OK, wading) and, oh yeah, some running in there too.


All the obstacles are natural and the course was fantastic. A great race, and to top it all off I got to finally meet @thewayiseeit who also ran an amazing race. Top morning all round, and a nice challenge for my shower afterwards!


So all cleaned up and with my brightest running gear on (including Run Mummy Run argyle compression socks) I set off for London with my cousin.


Electric Run, London

A 5k run come rave around Wembley stadium, at night, with thousands of light up, neon, fluorescent things! Beth and I picked up our glow pack and set to work on making ourselves as bright as possible!


Yet another amazing tweetup, I met @digdeepdolly and @ansternator and we headed to the start area for the pre race rave.


Great music and a fantastic atmosphere, the race went off in waves around the stadium. I say race, it definitely wasn’t the most serious 5k of my life, and we were not heading for PBs, what with all the photo opportunities and entertainment along the route, but it really didn’t matter. It was a fantastic fun time and a totally different experience. We had a bit of a run, bit of a dance and a huge load of fun, and that’s what it’s all about.


So now back on with some “serious” training, in order to get a few speedy PBs in the bag for the summer. But I’ll most definitely be chucking a few more fun runs in there!



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