Running clothes

As my running has evolved I have found what I wear and want to wear has also changed.

When I first started learn to run, a big baggy tracksuit was the go to, it covered me up kept me warm (as it was January) and it allowed me to blend into the background (something I still need to do).

I am very picky when it comes to what to wear when exercising, this will never change.  If I don’t like a brand, if it does not make me feel good I will not wear it.  If I don’t like the ethos of the brand I will not wear it.  If it rubs and chafes I will not wear it.  My charity shop drop offs are littered with failed exercise clothes purchases.  For running clothes need to move but support, look nice keep me cool and not clash with other clothing.  For weight training clothes need to be light more fitted but also keep me cool.

When I realised that tracksuits were heavy and cumbersome to run in I moved onto leggings.  Fabletics was then my go to, cheap and functional but you had to be careful not to get stung with their direct debits.

Brands like ADIDAS and Nike are great but also expensive and a recent TV programme showed that the cheaper brand such as decathlon were just as good if not better, if you want to know more about that check it out here.

Decathlon is currently my go to for tops and trail skirts and 2XU for my leggings and shorts (great compression) with CEP or 2XU for compression socks or calf sleeves.

Having tried this combination several times I find this works very well for me when completing harder events like at Ranscombe.

Running clothes are not always feminine though so I like to add something every now and again, tikiboo have some really funky feminine leggings that are also seasonable linked here. If trail skirts are your thing then I would recommend Running Afrock linked here.  I had Liz who owns Running Arock make me up a daisy skirt for Ranscombe, Daisy being my nickname but also as Ranscombe was a nature reserve I thought it apt.  I was pleased to meet with Liz at the even and many other ladies who had also had the same idea.

For the summer challenge I had a sweaty betty vest top on with 2XU shorts under my daisy skirt.  The skirt kept me fairly cool, was very floaty and flattering.  With my number pinned to it, it stayed in place.

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Myself and the fabulous Helen Cleary (the daisy gang) sporting our daisy outfits.

It was so lovely meeting Liz and others from the Daisy gang. Since Ranscombe I have ordered another outfit to break out at my next event.  If you fancy something different and made to order with colours at your request plus made in Britain please check Running Afrock out.

Cat update

I just wanted to share how the cats were doing.

We have had the 4 together for nearly a year now.  We are lucky that they all get on and there are times when they gang up on us.

They are spoilt, they can be lazy but we adore them.

Phoebe and Thor were recused by the RSPCA and we adopted them in August.  They have become cats since my last posting, their first birthday was in May. Apollo and Luna were recused by Pussy Cat lodge in 2013 and turned four in May.

Although they don’t like the heat they do enjoy a snuggle.

We are one huge happy family.


If you feel that you are in a position to have a pet please adopt don’t buy.  There are many animals out there in need of a good home.  The RSPCA local Facebook pages can direct you to the best place to adopt. Details below:


Spitfire Scramble 2017 edition

It was the return of Spitfire Scramble, its fourth year at Hornchurch Country Park and the fourth year the club had a presence there. It was also my second year in attendance and my husband’s third. This should indicate before anything else how great this event is.

Last years review can be found here and my first take on this event can be found here.

2017 heralded a slight change to the previous years, keeping it fresh but also reflecting on how much the event had grown in the four years.

Firstly, the event was a month early, normally this was halfway through August but due to school summer holidays it always meant getting volunteers to marshal and set up was difficult. This meant for me that I was reliant on others to set up the tent on the Friday and my recovery would have to take place when back at work on the Monday, not having the luxury of being able to book time off work.

Camping was in a new field that was on the route before but was very overgrown and could be quite soggy. This was initially a worry for me but as the weather had been fairly dry and hot and the grass recently cut I thought it should be ok. The field is large and this was picked due to the sheer number of people wanting to take part last year and could not get a place with plenty of room for future expansion. The next field along was used for vehicle parking and again this took the pressure of the country parks own cark parks and therefore ensuing locals and other park users could park without issues.

This camping base change meant that although the route itself did not change the start and finish changed. The start and finish was always in the same place as the camp. This now meant that the dreaded Ingrebourne Hill part of the course was now towards the end of the route instead or part way through. This change resulted in me feeling happier about the parts I dreaded last year eg the two farmers fields that were such a long drag last year were actually ok this time round and Ingrebourne Hill, always my nemesis was almost a joy now as it indicated final part of the route.

Camp set up opened for us lucky people lunchtime Friday and hubby was able to pitch our tent as he had the day off work. We set up with the rest of the club on a corner of the field by a path that was the 4 mile point of the course. We would use this as base and a cheer point to not only cheer on our own club runners but all those taking part.

T-shirt and runners pack was collected once registration was open late on the Friday and then it was time to go home, do last minute preparations before a much needed early night, knowing there will be little sleep once spitfire starts.

Packing is always difficult for this type of event. You need enough clean clothes to ensure that you have something dry to put on after a run especially if you sweat a lot or if it had been raining but, space is at a premium in a tent. For me I always like to have a change of shoes, recovery shoes to walk about the camp when not running and a choice of road or trail to meet the conditions of the route. Some people pack food and that creates more packing as you then have to take plates, cups etc. I had decided to go for the food wristband option as I remembered not eating healthily last year and I felt jacket potato or pasta would be more benefit for me therefore I didn’t need much in the way of food but packed up a cool box of various drinks and fruit. Head torch or hand torch is a must have for this event, you could not go out on the night run without one. I always pack up a mini first aid kit that contain pain killers, tape, chafing balm, plasters and other bits that are not always used but the one time you don’t pack them is the one time they are needed, lessons learned from the previous years. The nights get chilly so my dry robe and a woolly hat was also packed up (and used believe it or not).

Saturday I was woken early by the cats but nerves had also kicked in. We packed up the car and made our way over.

Time flew very quickly and although we had left early we run out of prep time before the runners briefing. Many did not get team photos done and our whole club photo was taken once the race was underway.

The briefing completed and then it was time for the race to start. Those going out first lined up at the start line, those cheering them on to the sides. So much pressure on the first lap so many people watching but such a great atmosphere and lovely way to start.

Once the race started I went back to the tent and unpacked the rest of our stuff and started to prep for my lap.

The walk back and forth from our camp to the start was quite a distance and as a result we did not walk team members to the start to send them off. For me this wasn’t really an issue as I like to go out quietly but I felt bad for the others.

My first lap started, I had decided to wear my “this girl can” Essex ambassador shirt, my decathlon skort, CEP compression socks and my road Hokas. It didn’t look pretty but it was all about feeling comfortable and making sure nothing went wrong on the first lap. The Hokas held up well but after running Ranscombe the weekend before I realised that they were near the end of their life and had actually started to rub my feet. The Hokas did not make reappearance during this event, thank goodness I had a spare pair.

Handover went smoothly and it was back to camp for something to eat, rest and support others.

My next lap was in the dark, so with headtorch on and a change of clothes I was back out there, it was fantastic running the lap with the darkness around me. No music on (I didn’t have music for any of the laps) I could hear the sounds of the wildlife in the park mixed with the sounds of the runners around me. At the top of Ingrebourne Hill I once again looked over London lit up. Feeling proud of what I had completed so far I made my way back down the hill and back to base. Handover done I went back to bed.

Lap 3 was difficult. I was woken from a not so restful sleep. Disorientated, not eaten and not hydrated enough I went out again. I was just getting my head down and getting on with it. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed this lap, it was right on sunrise and it was wonderful seeing the park come back to life with the light but I found it difficult to keep motivated. Legs felt fine it was my mind that was the problem. I was relieved to get to mile 4 alert my team mate who was out next to start getting ready. I came in handed over the baton and gingerly made my way back to the tent and tried to sleep. Not being able to sleep I just laid there and listened to the club cheer on runners as they went past, lovely to hear.

I was ready to do a fourth lap if needs be, all the team lap times were quicker than last year so I dressed in my running gear just in case. Team mate went out and it became obvious that the forth lap was not going to happen. Therefore as my team mate got to the cheer point I run the last 2 miles with her, met with the rest of the team at the corner of the field after the hill and we ran in together. All done!

Medals collected, tropies given to worthy winners and camp packed up it was time to head home. Tiredness was all consuming, it felt like jet lag and once home I realised that I had not eaten much since the last lap. A quick unpack, bath and dinner and it was time to catch up with the sleep.

Spitfire 2017 was all done. Would I do it again? Oh yes! Once again lessons learnt from this year and I will be back.

Summer Challenge

You may recall that a few months ago I took part in a Spring challenge at Ranscombe.  If not you can read all about that here

It was time for the Summer challenge so instead of back to Ranscombe nice and early for the next stage.

The week had been very humid and Saturday was no different, I knew it was going to be a lot harder this time around.  Added to which there was a slight route change compared to Spring, as a result a familiar route would now have a certain amount of surprises.

What wasn’t a surprise was the hills, I had not forgotten them from last time and they were still there to welcome us back, difference being that the colour had changed.

The rolling hills

After the usual race briefing from Traviss and the congratulations to those reaching milestones were were off.

Each loop was 4.4 miles to complete mostly trail with about 400 metres on a road to the path. 3 loops would amount to a half, 6 a full marathon and 7 for an ultra.

The hills (have I mentioned the hills?) were butt busting but the views were breathtaking, with each loop I saw something new.

At the top of the major hill (pictured above) instead of turning right light in Spring we had to turn left, through some gates and another gentle incline taking you out into a cattle grazing field with a spooky mausoleum right at the top of a mound.  This marked the halfway point of the route.

A loop around the mausoleum then back through the gates and onto a narrow path into the forest trails, thankfully downhill.

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The reward after that hill climb

A turn right and you are following the Eurostar route for about a mile, the path here was incredibly narrow with brambles and nettles alongside the path.  Making this technically difficult and needing full concentration. Peeling off from his path you come across a steep downhill followings by a steep uphill, through another forest and then back out onto the road for the 200 meters to the start/finish and aid station.

At the end of each loop I debated on whether to go out again, but the encouragement of all around me gave me the push I needed.  Ranscombe was not going to be a one loop course for me today!

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I decided that morning I wanted to do between 1 loop and a half marathon so I knew when setting off for my second I was already on goal.

The sun was really beating down now and hydration was becoming the key element for me, although some shade a lot of the course was very open too and that sun was very strong.  I made sure I had taken on enough liquid but I still needed more.

Once I completed the third lap I knew that was it, goal obtained and it was time to ring that bell and claim the bling and goody bag.

I will be back, in fact next month I am back to Ranscombe to take part in another event.


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Spring bling now with additional Summer

Stort 5

This was on the Grand Prix list last year but thanks to the feedback received from club members when I asked I felt it appropriate to add it onto the list this year.  All trail and set in beautiful Hatfield countryside I decided that I too would take part this year.

This race is either 5 or 10 miles, the 5 miles race was the GP race for us.

The morning dawned bright and sunny and I knew we were going to be in for a warm run.  The club hosting it had been very kind and accommodating, we were the second largest club in attendance but it is really the host club that can make or break a race sometimes.  This club is a friendly club and their annual race shows them at their best here are their details should you wish to join a club in that area or join in with this race next year

The one and only Frank Bruno was in attendance today, we had some photos with him, he also started the race.

My training plan meant I had to cover a certain distance as an easy run.  As the race set off I almost recorded my fastest mile, I realised pretty quickly that I was not keeping to plan and I slowed back down.  The route was pretty undulating, all on grass and trails some in the shade but a heck of a lot in the sun.  I ran with some fabulous people, some from my club but also others all doing their race their run at their pace.  I was happy with my finish time I was happy how I felt and how my body worked today.

Fabulous goody bag and t-shirt awaited at the finish no medal but the shirt far more useful.

Lets hope this is on the GP again next year, may have to ask the Race Secretary lol.

Know what I mean Harry

Celebrating & helping

Hubby had his 100th parkrun and wanted to celebrate it at Raphael Park, my home parkrun and the one more local to us.  This meant that our tourism was halted for a week.

I was due to marshal at some point, although parkrun do not enforce volunteers, without those who give up their run so others can enjoy parkrun it is always encouraged, you only really need to volunteer 3 times a year to make it all work smoothly.  Marshalling is easy, its a case of providing encouragement, cheering and pointing.  There are other jobs that can be more complex, timekeeping, results processing to name two but again training is provided and the parkrun family are completely nurturing and supportive to all so there should be no need to worry.  I love helping, I like to see others getting or keeping fit by taking part in the free weekly 5k, I like to cheer them on and create a supportive atmosphere.

We are understanding

Anyway I digress.  It was nice being back and one of my friends was run director and I wanted to support.  I didn’t want to miss out on a run so I did a gentle plod from home to the park, rather refreshing but was only 2 miles so I was not too sweaty for parkrunners.

Friends came from other parkruns to celebrate with Andy and it was lovely to see. Including club members, second club members and the runfit crew. Running buddies join together to celebrate.

It made for a great photo of runners and volunteers joining together. Some very dear friends are in this group and I wanted to cheer them on.
All smiles at the start.
The run started without a hitch, on time and everyone looking happy.

I had to change my marshal point as someone hadn’t turned up.  I didn’t mind, after seeing the start I made my way up to the top of the hill and was able to cheer my friends as they ran up and down the hill.

Once again parkrun showed how inclusive it was with walkers, sprinters, young and old taking part.  I have to say I like the ethos parkrun have shown this week with the term tail runner changing to tail walker, less pressure and the message I have from that is that as long as you are out there moving it is cool.

Next week there is no parkrun for me, I will update in due course what I will be doing.

In the meantime, keep well and again if you are inspired to take park in parkrun please check out their events.

Horndon 2017

The 10k at Horndon on the Hill is always held the last weekend of June, held the same time as a feast and fayre and is a staple on the Grand Prix. 2017 marked the 25th year the club had been attending.

A bumper turn out of 60 members ensured that we turned the crowd blue and yellow.

A fabulous turnout

My arrival was early, I wasn’t running but three in my car were and they wanted to get to the village, parked and numbers collected early. But, very soon we were joined by other club members.

The race started and myself and the cheer squad I was with cheered the club as they made their way round the course, I cheers other runners on too, always nice to support, it’s less about me and more about spreading positivity to all.

Very quickly the front runners were finishing and I was proud to cheer friends, club members and other runners through, waiting until the last one was through.

After, I discovered that one of our runners had fallen and another from another club helped him and encouraged him back up, that’s community running support right there.

I always like to think I am supporting the fastest in the group but more importantly those who are not as fast but putting in as much effort.

Runners that stick together are stronger together, divided we never gain strength.

The picture below was posted on the club Facebook and struck a chord.

Support is everything