Sunday, 13 March 2011

“Running:No half times, no time outs, no substitutions. It must be the only true sport".

This was a quote that I saw on the t-shirt of a girl that was running in front of me during the Paris Half Mara and it made me smile. I've never really thought about it before but I guess there is some truth in it and I was grateful for something else to think about while pounding the streets of Paris.
I will be honest, running is tough. I went out yesterday for a 6.5k run. It was beautifully sunny and I really enjoyed it but it was really hard. You’d have thought that after 13 miles last weekend, 6.5k would have been a breeze but that was not the case. I’m not saying this to put anybody off because the reward of running and the feeling of achievement each time I run totally outweighs the struggle when my breathing is heavy or my legs hurt. Each and every time I run I get a sense of achievement and I think that is the reason I am hooked though I’m still not sure I would consider myself to be a runner just yet.
Running is most definitely popular. I’d never really noticed before but since I have been running I have noticed just how many others are out there with their trainers on whether it is hot or cold, wet or dry. Whenever I train it is guaranteed that I will always cross the path of another runner with the friendly knowing runners nod.  So what is it that motivates all of these people to drag themselves out of bed on a Sunday morning? I decided to do a little research into some well -known running quotes and the ones I have included below are the ones that have really struck a chord with me.
"I run because it's so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can't. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you're capable of so much more than you thought."
Arthur Blank
"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."
Steve Prefontaine( US Athlete)
"Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."
Oprah Winfrey
"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run."
John Bingham

So I guess if John Bingham’s opinion counts for anything, I can consider myself a runner.I am certainly not the best and there are plenty of other better runners out there but each time I run I try my best and I am improving so I guess that is what is important. I have learned a lot about myself while I have trained and I have also learned a bit about the right and not so right things to wear so I thought I’d share some of this with you.
Before going out for a this morning, I asked my boyfriend to take a few snaps of me in various states of dress. Don’t worry, there is nothing inappropriate here here, just a selection of shots of me sporting various items of of running kit that have been essential during my training.

1.       This shows me in my Amazing Shock Absorber Run Bra. From a lady that has her fair share of boobs, this sports bra is a serious lifesaver and makes a huge difference to my comfort when I run.  The designers have thought of every little detail. The hook and eye clasp is padded so that it doesn’t dig in to your back and the various adjustable fastenings mean that you will get the perfect fit.

The first day I wore my Run bra, when I got home from my run I realised that I hadn’t thought about my boobs the whole time as they had stayed firmly in place the whole time. Even better, I was left with no strap chafing like my old sports bra used to cause.

However, to make sure that you get the best from your bra make sure you purchase the correct size. The Team Bangs Ladies were lucky enough to get given a Run Bra by Shock Absorber to keep our boobs in check in Paris and the feedback from the rest of the team has been pretty damn good too.
A decent sports bra is an absolute must-have. I cannot believe the amount of females I see when out running that just let their boobs hang loose. Not only must it be painful but it is also a disturbing sight to subject another being to. Please look after your boobs ladies. A normal everyday bra is just not enough for when you are running!

In this picture you can also see my Adidas Supernova brushed running tights which were a birthday gift from some of my girlie friends. These have been a true blessing on the days and nights that I have had to train in the freezing cold. The inside of the leggings have a warm furry kind of fabric to make your legs feel snug. This doesn’t sound like a massive plus point but believe me on freezing days I was extremely grateful for this toasty feature. The leggings have a snug fit but are easy to get on and off as they have an elastic adjustable waist and zips at the ankles. The tight fit actually gives additional muscular support which can aid performance and help to prevent injury too.

2.       One of my biggest fears when I started running was that I was going to end up with grotesque toenail free trotters. Nobody really talked about it until I started asking questions and then the horror stories all flooded out. There were many stories of huge blisters and blackened toenails that eventually dropped off. This was definitely not an option for me. I invested in a pair of Hilly Twin Skin socks to prevent blisters and I am pretty sure they have also helped me to look after my toenails too. The double layer construction means the socks rub against themselves rather than against my tootsies and the reinforced toe and heel area means that my feet have had extra protection when I’m out running. You will be pleased to hear that my feet are absolutely fine.

Obviously, trainers are also key here as ill-fitting shoes will contribute to poorly feet. The correct shoes are so important when it comes to running and they deserve a post all of their own. I am going to point you in the direction of a fellow Team Bangs Blogger  as she has written a great post today on the importance of the correct shoes and gait analysis.

3.       In the winter, a long sleeved top is also a must-have. I opted for the Nike Element half-zip Running Top from the Nike Store in London. The fitted design means it stays out of your way when you run and it maps the natural contours of your body to avoid chafing without restricting your movement. It also has numerous reflective strips to keep you visible and safe. It is a cold weather running shirt made of soft, sueded Dri-FIT fabric that basically draws the sweat from your body to the surface of the fabric so that it can evaporate quickly keeping you dry. I absolutely love the feel of this top and it really does what it says on the tin.  

4.       In this picture I have two must have items on. Firstly a Nike vest which is years old so I’m not sure of the model name. I have loads of these kind of tops with additional bra-like support inside. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing this without a sports bra but I’m grateful for any additional support along the way. I have learned that the fabric is especially important, especially when running frequently and for long periods of time, to prevent rubbing and chafing. I guess everybody has their own preference when it comes to running clothing but I prefer to wear something which is tight rather than to have lots of loose fabric flapping around.

The other item that I am wearing in picture 4 is my Hilly neoprene running pouch. Ok, I admit it is a little like a bum bag but I love this thing.  The waist pouch has numerous pockets, loops, hooks, clasps for keys, zips and holes for your earphones to be threaded through. I kept all sorts in here throughout my training and on race day. I guess it could be likened to Mary Poppins bag. It’s not the coolest accessory but it keeps your things safe and stops them jiggling about in your pocket which drives me crackers. I am normally the lady with the heaviest and fullest handbag because I just like to carry stuff with me just-in case. I am the same when I run so this has been essential for me.

5.       This attractive little number is my Karrimor waterproof running jacket. Nice to keep you dry and to cover the bulging waist pouch, as described above, that makes me look a little like a kangaroo with a joey. I don’t really know what else to say about this apart from the fact that loads of other runners seem to have the same jacket as me. I’ve stopped making friendly comments to people wearing the same clothing as me after I called out “nice jacket”  to a girl as she ran past with the same one on as me. She totally blasted me. The shame!

I bought it from for a really good price. (You know, that sports shop that is crammed to the rafters with discounted sportswear. They tend to have a closing down sale and then re-open a week later as a sports shop with a similar name and the same stock). Joking aside, they do sell some pretty good stuff at great prices so it’s worth a look if you are just starting out and don’t want to break the bank.

6.       Finally, in this beautiful shot I am showing off my rather fetching hat and glove combo. Hooray for it is finally getting warmer and I no longer need these but they have been essential throughout my winter training.  I have to thank the lovely @BangsandaBun for passing on the UnderArmour hat which has been great on really cold days. When training on cold days hypothermia is a real risk so it is really important to wrap up warm. I also wore gloves when training as having cold fingers can really distract you. Normal gloves just do not cut it and it is worth paying out for some gloves designed for running, generally due to the material. Although these snug little Adidas ones have kept my digits toasty all winter I want to get my mitts on some E-gloves for next winter so that I don’t have to keep removing them to play around with my I-phone.  
Well, I think that’s about it for tonight. This is a much longer post than I had originally intended but I hope it helps to give some advice to those of you starting out. I am by no means an expert but these are the things that have worked for me.
I can’t quite believe that the lycra in my wardrobe seems to be breeding so rapidly. I never thought I would be one of those people with a wardrobe full of highly unattractive, stretchy, clingy clothes. I also never thought I’d be a social runner but I was out in the rain this morning running around Richmond Park with @AlexandraVasey for fun. I guess I really have been bitten by the running bug.

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