Little Runner Gal

Running, eating, sleeping and all the bits in between

TomTom Runner Cardio: LRG meets Chuck

If you’re on twitter you may have noticed that I’ve got a new gadget! The lovelies at The Running Bug generously sent me a TomTom Runner Cardio to test out on my runs this last couple of weeks.

Now, I’ve been running with a running watch and heart rate monitor (HRM) since the beginning of the year, so was very interested to see how this one compared.

I’m currently putting together a full comparison, which has seen me undertaking all my runs with 2 watches (and some funny looks – ‘she knows she has two watches on, right?!’) so the comparison article will be with you soon, but I didn’t want to leave you any longer without giving you a bit of feedback on my experience with the TomTom Runner Cardio so far.


Firstly, it looks fab, don’t you think? It’s beautifully packaged and a nicely designed watch. It’s very easy to get going with. I don’t have a PC or laptop at home, but I was able to switch it on, program in my vital stats and get running without having to plug it in first.


The screen options were easy to select. I like to see time, pace and distance when I’m running, so setting that up before the first run was simple. I did play around with the screens during the run, so that I could check out my heart rate (actual) and zones while I was doing a continuous hills session, which made for very interesting viewing.


Having the HRM on my wrist, rather than a chest strap, is great. It’s one less thing to remember to put on before a run (which most of the time is done in an early morning or after work daze!) and a lot more comfortable. Plus it appears to be just as accurate at the chest strap I’ve been wearing.


After my run it was quick and easy to download the TomTom MySports app on my iPhone and download the run to my phone (via Bluetooth) to analyse the data further.

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Since then, the watch (when I finally got round to plugging him in to my work PC I was asked to name my watch and he is now called Chuck) and I have been out for a number of runs and it’s really accurate, the pace (which is the most important data for me) is very quick and seems to be pretty spot on. Where other watches might drop out and see you running a 11 minute mile then a 6 minute one, for example, when you’re really running a pretty continuous 8:30 just with varying signal, the TomTom is a lot more accurate in real time.

First impressions are great.

As I got a bit injured after a few runs with Chuck (through no fault of Chuck’s) I have been cross training, and because the TomTom MySport app links up with I’ve been able to log my bike rides, using the mapmyride app, and manually enter my swims, so that all my workouts are in one place, easy!

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As I said, full comparison coming up, but all in all Chuck and I are getting on fantastically so far!


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Inactive legs lead to overactive brains!

When I’m running, or rather when I am able to run, I know where I’m going. Not literally (well yes literally too, although I have been lost on a handful of occasions) but I know what my goal is, what I’m aiming to achieve and theoretically what I need to do to get there. Therefore my brain has its main topic of focus nicely covered and spends the rest of its time wondering what to eat next. When my ability to run, albeit for a short period of time, was compromised, my brain found itself a little lost. Even thoughts of food went out the window (momentarily) and that’s when I really had to question things!


This blog post started as a summary of my thoughts and musing during my injury, but as I started writing I realised what had happened….I had actually been through some sort of grieving process. Now this is not to say that my injury is akin to grieving for something lost, not at all, but just helped me to draw parallels with a process that was understood, and make sense of why I was feeling as I was and how I could get myself through it in the best way possible.

The recovery process is a mental one as well as a physical one, so whilst this post will still address my musings during injury, it might hopefully help me makes sense of why my brain behaved as it did.


Denial – running for a week pretending there was nothing wrong with me and it was actually down to poor fuelling, when my calf muscle (and, so it now turns out, most of the other muscles in my legs…yes both) was gradually getting more and more painful until the moment I woke up and couldn’t even walk. But I’d be OK tomorrow right?!

Anger – in my case this came coupled with upset. I was inexplicably upset and annoyed at my leg, my boyfriend who was trying to calm me down, the local leisure centre for having aqua aerobics on in the pool when I wanted to swim, my car just because, the stairs to my flat and the ice pack for my leg which wasn’t making it any better and definitely had it in for me. And I cried, lots.

Bargaining – this was mostly with my coach, about what I could, or rather should, do (or shouldn’t) and with myself about what the marathon really meant to me, could I shift my goals. Also looking for anything to help speed up recovery, which was a good thing; sports massage, acupuncture, foam rolling, stretching, applying heat, wearing compression sleeves, I’d have probably bathed in capers (my one and only food hate in the whole world!) if I’d have thought it would speed up my recovery!

Acceptance – I am injured. And I need to take time off to recover. And the world will go on turning. And I will run again.

During this whole process my overactive brain, and body, found new interests in cycling and swimming, which has obviously led to thoughts of swimming lessons, duathlon and triathlons. I’ve had a chance to read some amazing articles including this one from Dr Nick’s Running Blog about listening to your body and not being a slave to the GPS (guilty as charged!) and properly invest my time in the advice of the professionals, including this gem from Gary at Primal Movement Solutions 

I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s alright to get crabby and sad and angry and emotional and do things which make no sense to anyone but you, cos it’s all part of the process. You’ll come out the other side and you’ll probably have learnt a bit about yourself along the way.


I’m off to see where I can bulk buy enough capers to fill a bath…



Unplanned Rest….

unplanned  adj. – Not intended; unintentional.

rest   n. – Cessation of work, exertion, or activity.

Unintended cessation of activity. Or, to a runner….injury!

And so last night I sat there in floods of tears, not due to the pain, but because I was missing a run.

My calf pain has been on and off for a week or so, nothing too intense, once I got running the pain eased. But yesterday I woke up and walking was an issue. I iced and rested it at work all day knowing I had a nice threshold session planned for the evening, and quietly hoped for the best.

When I hobbled out of work I knew it was time to admit defeat.

I got home and cried. This seems ridiculous now, the following morning, but at the time it was the worst thing ever. Everything rushing through my mind; 6 weeks til Berlin marathon, my long run at the weekend, the hundreds of miles I’d put in over the last 10 weeks, my goals, my fitness, the fuelling I’d done that day…I mean, really, just over 1 missed training session.

I advise people all the time on social media when they’re injured. Rest, cross train, rest, ice, do what you can, etc etc. yet there I was and my whole world had fallen apart!


With some calming words and a hug, I pulled myself together. I knew I had the option to cross train. Plans are flexible, right?! My control freak was still rocking back and forth in the corner.

On the advice of my coach, I dug out my swimming costume and headed for the pool.

My swimming history is sketchy. My parents attempted introducing me to the obligatory swimming lessons as a child but, much like the beginning of this story, I cried, a lot. They relented. We went home.

Pool of hard knocks … swimming with kids isn't all it's cracked up to be.

(not actually me)


I enjoyed splashing around in the fun pools and on holiday, and eventually learned a basic breaststroke. On a school trip to Wales we visited the local pool and I got singled out by the lifeguard for my lack of ability. I never had the badges on my costume and couldn’t join in the chats about having fetched a brick from the bottom of the pool in my pyjamas (a feat that, for some reason, so many seem to have accomplished). Despite all that I’ve always enjoyed the water and, throughout my twenties, have visited the local pool sporadically to hone my breaststroke, normally pausing after 15 or 20 lengths to catch my breath and watch the front crawlers with great amazement. The last time being maybe 8 or 9 months ago.

Anyway, I digress. I set myself up in the ‘medium’ speed lane (I like to think I’m pretty quick at this breaststroke malarkey) and set off. This seemed easier than normal. I was powering through the water with relative ease. 15 minutes later I’d done 20 lengths, and I definitely didn’t need to stop for breath. 30 minutes and I’d completed 40 lengths, 1km, my “normal” maximum, and I still hadn’t stopped. I was even keeping up with the front crawler in my lane. So I set my sights on completing a mile. Some basic maths (which is just as hard when swimming as it is when running) and I’d worked out I needed to complete 65 lengths in total. Only 25 to go, and I still hadn’t stopped, I even thought I might be speeding up.

In 45 minutes I completed 68 lengths of the pool, 1700m. I Googled it, this is no kind of record, but it was mine! And I didn’t stop once. In my own head I’d gone from zero to hero within the hour. My calf hadn’t been affected and my arms felt like I could lift a car!

When I got home and checked Twitter I read this fantastic blog post by Carys Matthews and it just felt like it was meant for me, what great timing, give it a read.

This story has a load of lessons. My calf isn’t much better today but I don’t feel half as helpless. My marathon training will suffer, but not as much as if I tried to run through the injury. And clearly my fitness has improved dramatically since the beginning of the year.

My plans will alter and my control freak will learn to control its tantrums.


I’ll rest tonight and see what tomorrow brings. And if I can’t run, I’ll swim.

And it’s solidified my decision to get some swimming lessons after the marathon and learn to crawl, then enter a beginner tri in 2015.

In conclusion, I need to chill the heck out, get a grip and follow my own advice sometimes!

Unplanned rest isn’t a drama, it’s an opportunity.



Review: Kalenji Running Gear

A couple of months ago I had a bit of a Decathlon shopping spree…OK, it was more than a bit, and I did well to walk out without the road bike, sleeping bag, GPS and head torch!!

I was there for the obvious…yes, running gear *sky lights up, clouds part, rays of sunshine break through*!!

I’ve had a chance to get some good use out of it all now so wanted to let you know how I’ve been getting on.

Kalenji Kiprun Rain Protect Jacket £69.99


We all know the UK summer is a bit mixed, weather-wise, so I thought this would be a good investment.

The colour is bright, the fabric is light and the fit is fantastic, like a glove actually. I like that the back is a bit longer than the front so it covers my bum a bit! There’s a detachable hood (which I did detach to run with) and the side ventilation zips are great for when it’s raining but still warm…yes, you know how it does here. And it has a good few pockets, which has led me to leave my bum bag at home when I’m wearing it now.

I’ve worn it on a number of occasions now and it works well. I haven’t had to wear it in the dark yet, but it does have reflective sections.

In this country, I think a multifunctional running jacket is a must, and this is a good, versatile, quality one, for a decent price.

Kalenji Kiprun SD Womens Running Shoe – Neutral £49.99


The important bit. The trainers. I’m a big fan of trainers. I’ve spent a lot of time and money on getting gait tested and trying out different sorts of trail and road running shoes. These have been designed for short distance (5km-15km) road running, and as such are light, bright and breathable.

The sole is good and wouldn’t look out of place on a shoe double the price. The heel to toe drop is about 8-9mm I think, so pretty average, and the cushioning technology makes for a very comfortable run.

I have a very slight overpronation, so I used my orthotics in these shoes and they fit and work well with them. 

I’ve been having some great short distance road runs in these shoes and would certainly recommend them. For the price, they’re a steal.They’re on a par with something you’d pay £80+ for.

The only footnote I’d add is that I’d go and try them first if you have wider feel. Mine are, I’d say, average, and they were, towards the end of a linger distance, beginning to feel the outside of the shoe tightening on them.

Kalenji Run Intensive Socks £9.99


Now before trying these I would ONLY wear Nike Dri-Fit Anti Blister socks. I’m not awfully prone to blisters so much but they do stop the rubbing and the chaffing, so I’m more than willing to invest in a good pair of socks. And these are a good pair. They stay in place very well, they stop the feet getting too sweaty and they definitely protect from the rubbing. They seem pretty hard wearing too. I’ve worn and washed them a lot and there’s no thinning yet, which I do find is a downfall with the Nike socks.

Kalenji Kiprun T-Shirt £16.99


Now before I get down to the technicalities of this t-shirt, I need to tell you that this is the DADDY of all running t-shirts. It has a pocket and a hole for your ear phones. I haven’t found any other t-shirts with a pocket, normally it’s just the trousers so I loved this!

Along with the bright and stylish panelling of this t-shirt (the cut of the panels tapers the waist and draws the eye in so you look much slimmer – winner!) the various technical fabrics used on different parts of the t-shirt mean that you’re ventilated where needed (arm-pits and back). And the quick wicking body of the top is cooling and keeps you moisture free.

There are reflective strips as well, for safety. That along with the colour should keep you seen!

The only thing I’d say about this top is the sizing, it’s not very forgiving. In my opinion I’d go a size up. I’m a UK 10-12 which apparently makes me a S/M in the tee. I’m definitely more of an M, or even an M/L if you like your t-shirts a bit on the baggier side.

All in all a very successful trip to Decathlon, wouldn’t you say?!!

Take a look at their ranges on line here or pop into your nearest store.

Got any other kit tips for me?

 LRG x



Goal specific training

Whatever you’re training for right now, a race, a time, a PB, you know how important it is to have that goal in mind. Me, I’m very much a goal oriented person. I have my races planned out well into 2015 (with room for some additions!) and I pretty much know what I want to achieve along the way.

With that in mind I’ve had to think a lot smarter about my running. Well, actually, I’m being taught by some of the best, but it’s a tough lesson to learn.

I’m currently training for Berlin marathon, which is, as I type 6 weeks, 5 days, 15 hours and ever decreasing minutes and seconds away. With that in mind, my training sessions are focused purely on that goal. It makes it nice and simple for me, I know exactly what I have to achieve on a daily basis, but it does take away the flexibility of just being able to pop down the woods that are opposite my new house and explore, or belt it round parkrun on a Saturday morning.

Even my core and stretching routines are tailored to this one goal, meaning my weekly session throwing weights around with friends is on the back burner.

I don’t resent it as much as it sounds though, for various reasons;

  • I’m resting hard. I mean really hard. To the point of being a bit lazy really. But it’s my reward for completing my training and also my excuse to just have some ‘me’ time.
  • I’m getting better. Pace, recovery, flexibility, stamina, it’s all getting better. The stats and my body tell me so.
  • I’m going to achieve. I’m in the best possible place to achieve my goal, and having put in the training I’m confident of that.

Time on my feet is important, but it’s how I spend that time and how I recover from it, that’s most important.

And don’t even get me started on the nutrition…!

I’d be really interested to hear how you structure, or don’t structure, your running. Are you free as a bird, do you fit everything in with club sessions, are you on a specific training plan?

Best of luck to everyone aiming for that goal.



Smart rehydration with nuun

It has been noted in my office that I guzzle water like it’s going out of fashion, and that I take the most loo breaks to go with it! I think it’s important, as a runner, to be conscious of rehydration and what your body needs. This goes for any sort of athlete or really anyone that over exerts themselves physically.

Now, without painting a less than glam image of myself, I can be quite a sweaty runner, in fact my core strength routine often has me beading at times! And when you think about it, you’re losing a lot more than water when you exercise, and not just in this heat wave we’ve been having. As well as the water, your body needs the electrolyte replacement.


Welcome to the wonderful world of nuun. Over 10 years ago nuun invented the electrolyte tablet. Containing sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, the tablets, added to water (one tablet for 500ml of water) help to replace the things your body needs most during and after exercise.

The tablets come in a variety of flavours to suit most palettes, from cherry limeade to tropical. So far I’ve tried tri-berry, lemon+lime, and citrus fruit. I’m a big fan of them all and they’re disappearing from my cupboard in equal measure. I’m keen to give the grape and strawberry lemonade ones a go next.


They’ve done something which I think makes sense, in keeping the hydration and fuelling side separate. So their tablets are carb and sugar free. I prefer that as then I can regulate my carb intake through my gels alone….no-one wants to be doing Carol Vorderman type maths 12 miles into a long run working out your grams of carbs!

And the flavours, while being nice and tasty, aren’t overpowering, so you can drink them during your run without them repeating on you, if you catch my drift!

So rather than just supping on H2O, I’ve made nuun a part of my routine, taking it out on longer runs, and always having a full nuun bottle afterwards.

Oh, and by the way, the bottle’s a really decent too. For a fiver it’s really good quality and the spout is nice and comfy.

So give your body what it needs to recover after exercise and rehydrate properly. And if you’ve tried any of the other flavours, let me know which ones I should be trying next! Get your nuun here 🙂


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