A Little Bit Less Than Jantastic

It’s been an odd year.

Even though that phrase only covers 12 days so far, a really most strange year.It’s begun with an illness, which is fairly abnormal for me. Ever since I started running, my sick days have generally been after a long night at the pub, or the occasional cold which I soldiered through. Running has really raised my tolerance to bugs, infections, minor ailments and even depression. This time however, a nasty bout of flu hit me straight between the eyes. Or maybe nostrils is a better way to put it.

Yes, it’s the old flu. This is definitely something most people are or have experienced- going back to work after some lovely days off work quite naturally raises the stress levels and makes us more prone to disease. I was one of those affected (or infected?!), by my grandmother who then said ‘she hadn’t been this ill since 1943’. Thanks Nan.

Illness also raised the age old question ‘when am I too ill to run?’ As personal a question as this is, everyone has a limit, and even a runner is breakable. Let me start by saying there is absolutely no point in someone dragging themselves out of bed spluttering and sneezing just to do a few miserable laps around the field. General running advice dictates that, when sickness hits (by this I mean flu- colds are part and parcel of running in winter for me), it’s time to hide under a duvet and wait for the body to do its job. Sounds sensible. Did I do this? Of course not.

On the 1st January, starting as I meant to go on, I left the house for a 5k. I was already feeling a little bit of scratching behind my tonsils, a rising temperature and lack of appetite, but I was ready to compensate for missing a parkrun earlier on in the day. I headed out well, but after a mile and a half, I stopped. Physically stopped. I was wheezing, sweating unnaturally, just generally feeling out of my comfort zone. I walked a little, then jogged on. It was a miserable experience for me, and although I got back home feeling a little bit better for showing motivation and going out there, I wasn’t very convinced it did me any good.

The next morning was like a scene from a war movie in which the whole platoon contract malaria or typhoid fever and there’s not enough medicine for all of them. Young G.I’s crying for their mothers, the heroic, stoic types lying apart with sweat glistening on their chests. I woke up aching, a real temperature going through me, and wheezing like no tomorrow. I was tired (rare), not hungry (very rare) and my tonsils felt as though they’d turned into chainsaws. A dry, hacking cough reverberated through my whole skeleton. The prognosis on the NHS website was clear: man flu. And don’t bother a GP with it.

As I lay dying, I imagined the things I’d never do in 2015. The comeback I’d planned for fast 10k races. The regularity with which I would pursue my training. The added core training that was going to make me stronger. The hunt for large hills to run up and improve my cardio on. They were all beautiful, faded dreams now. In the next three days, drinking only water and tea, many things went through my mind. Not all of them in a clear order, not all of them clearly logical. On the fourth day, I dreamed of perfect trainers. On the fifth day, I arose.

I was still feeling quite weak, so I lay back down again. But on the sixth day, I felt okay, so I got up and went for a short walk. Clearly I’d been spared by the gods to carry on with my training and raise it to a whole new degree of whoopass. Rio 2016 is not far away, and my training needs a few…erm…adjustments to make sure I win some medals. It is time to start making those dreams a reality, they seemed to say.

(On a serious note, I don’t think anything makes us realise the worth of something except when we have it taken away from us. Not having run for 11 days now is making me literally itch with anticipation).

If there is ONE good thing to take from this experience, I have lost such an immense amount of weight that I’m sure I’ll be flying once I get running again. Christmas is always a heavy foodie experience for me, so I’m glad I actually managed to get the bulk of the weight off relatively painlessly. Not that I would recommend getting man flu to do so. But weight is one of the core targets I identified as needing work on, and I have a concrete, realistic, and healthy plan to achieve my goals through monitoring and observing a healthy diet.

Jantastic

I’d signed up for Jantastic hoping I’d run a mile every day at the very least. This hasn’t materialised, and I’m really not happy about it. If I had an injury, I would have no problems running on it, but the flu really got to me as a whole. I’m now modifying my targets for February, hoping to use the motivation from others to keep me carrying on. Tomorrow is my first day back in training, so I’ll assess the damage and hope for the best. My only worry is that my lungs may be weaker from the flu, but I just need to hope for the best and believe it’s not going to be so bad.

Meanwhile, keep an eye out for Emelia Gorecka. That is great future British talent right there.

Anyway, I wish you folks a great year of running and active lifestyle, no matter what. It gets better every year, or so I’ve heard. Take care yo x x

Adventure running!

And another pretty decent long run. This time, totally unscripted.

I headed out for my traditional long run today, thinking that it was not going to be much to write home about. I’d arrived in the early hours from a trip to Regensburg in Germany and was feeling tired and a bit burnt out (I blame the weissbier…and…dunkelbier…and- well, whatever other bier I had drank that night!). So I climbed back into bed and slept for another few hours followed by the essential social media catch up (if you have twitter, my addy is @domsrunning). My feet and ankles were rather painful, evidence of some of the hard sessions I’d put in this week and the fact my tolerance to high effort levels was not quite as high as might be desired. Nevertheless, I wanted to do some kind of run. It didn’t matter if it was just a few miles, I knew I’d put in a fairly good shift once I got started.

For that reason, I did my run into uncharted territory. For this you need:

some money
lots of time
water
jelly babies

Do you love adventure? Do you love finding yourself in totally unexpected places at odd times? I do!

The uncharted run is really a reconnaissance mission aimed at finding new running routes in the vicinity. They appeal to the adventurous. Last time I did one, I ended up in a marsh  and had to make a painfully long re-routing to get back to civilization! That kind of constitutes fun for me.

Yeah.

I honestly feel like running in the same laps and routines is counterproductive and actually not much fun, so doing this kind of unpredictable session jazzes it all up a bit. Finding new terrain- hilly, downhill, muddy, straight- is also a really good way to train the body in different scenarios and make yourself a better all round runner.

I headed off and was initially rewarded with three miles of boring suburbia, tenements, concrete. Great, I really love running in all three of these.

But the explorer in me told me to join up on a small dirt track leading into a local forest. Made some mileage here by running beside fields and hedgerows, which then backed down to an empty asphalt road. Now asphalt isn’t the best surface to run on, but it’s a darn sight better than concrete, so I took the option and carried on through a downward direction. I was surrounded by tall trees and undulating fields- easy going but still a bit too civilized for my taste.

I was secretly hoping I’d emerge near the Prague General Hospital. Not because I wanted to be looked at by a doctor, but because that would show me the route to another large park which interconnects with the city centre. The reason why this would be good is because I’d then be able to link all of the major parks in the city together, creating a really awesome long city run set purely in parks. That would be a pretty awesome 16 mile trail from one end to the other, with lots of stops if I didn’t have the energy and varied terrain. A nice run to take my running friends on. Above all, no cars.

Unfortunately, this did not happen. I emerged in a part of town called Košíře, a semi-urban suburb with an awful transport infrastructure. But I did note the possibility of extending the run further east, where I might just be able to connect to Strahov and then get through Petřín, Hradčany and eventually, Šárka. Might make an orienteer out of me yet! I will definitely carry on trying to find a way through.

Running without a plan however also involves dead ends and backtracking. Halfway through my run I appear to have ran into someone’s back garden. Backed away silently and stealthily in ninja mode.

So I’d been out there for about an hour and fifteen and considered wrapping things up. The run had devolved into a pavement-type jobby and we do not love these.* I headed back in the general direction of home and put a really good uphill session in towards the final stretch. I feel in such a better shape than a month ago, when I would make the top of one of these in a real state. This time, I made a strong finish. And the effort would just become better and better, as even though I was pretty tired, I just kept on pushing for home. It was a fantastic mental exercise.

I looked at my watch and noticed I was tantalisingly close to 13 miles and feeling pretty good to top it off! So I ran around the tenements near home where some crack-addled maniac lady nearly killed me with her out of control dog. She laughed when it ran in my path and I considered smiting her, but felt too tired after about 20 kilometres of running, so I just headed on. It would have been SO funny had I just tripped up and tore a ligament, or got a stress fracture. And maybe hurt her animal as well. A six foot four guy with extra pounds on is going to cause some damage after all!!

Rant over. Made it home and stretched and slept for an hour.

run

A man running! Massive overtstride and crossing
arms over chest. But inspiring………………………..

Weekly analysis

Above all, the run didn’t phase me, and I finished the 13th mile feeling tired but mentally upbeat. I know this week hasn’t been great for mileage, but as I’m training on lots of different areas (along with cycling and swimming), it’s quite hard to balance out the efforts- on some days I have to exercise twice a day, which is quite tiring. However, what I liked about this week was the quality of training- the 10k fartlek through chronic stomach pain- as well as the long run. The mid week 10 miler was not a bad idea, but I should have arranged the running into smaller workouts with greater frequency to build consistency. This is a real aim of my training right now, as I want to make the running a more frequent event until I have only one rest day. This is going well so far (had I not gone to Regensburg, I would have had 6 days of full on training), but we all know the real secret is keeping it up.

I was also a bit shocked with the weight gain I’d apparently put on! While the mileage has increased, the metabolism clearly hasn’t fired up yet, and winter makes me munch quite a lot. My plan of action is to add a smoothie to my breakfast list instead of a solid, and to drink more liquids in general while trying to tweak the meals I eat to smaller portions in higher doses. I’m also looking forward to pushing a really strong last week of the training cycle next week to really finish on a high.

Great week. I’m enjoying all the other blogs out there with people braving the cold and it makes me feel great that I’m not the only person freezing/dying on long runs, so please keep up with these, as they’re just the best things to read with a spare hour. Keep strong wolfpack, don’t let winter win!

* Be prepared for some disappointments with the adventure run. One friend once found himself in Edmonton, London, which is really not a place you want to be, ever. I also found a placque commemorating someone who was brutally beaten to death on my route. So yeah…a bit of local knowledge and forethought really will help.

Gnarly 10 Miles

The running streak continues as I develop a better stretching pattern and rack up some intensive workout sessions. Will stomach troubles unsettle a good routine however?

Runners are certainly no strangers to stomach troubles. It’s no secret that bouncing the stomach up and down regularly, for long periods of time, is going to create some kind of trouble.

Well, I don’t think it was the running that caused me to feel bad for the last two days. On Tuesday I went for a meal with a friend, and have felt unsettled ever since. It was Chinese food-which I love- but it may have been a bit too rich for me? I avoided all meat dishes as I’m limiting meat consumption to once a week, and the restaurant was ‘safe’, so maybe it was a mix of unusual and slightly acidic sauces.

I’d ran a decent fartlek session on the same day, so I had the assurance of at least one quality session this week. I stayed out in the freezing temperatures for about an hour before deciding to call it a day. There was more fast running than recovery, which is always good. A huge majority was also ran on inch thick ice, which could have been risky- but why stay on the boring asphalt when there’s downhill ice you can train on? Got to take a few risks or life will get dull!

I’m no pansy when it comes to stomach pain, so it was pretty much business as usual for me- even when I got up on Wednesday feeling as though acid was eating through my stomach lining. All the same, I excused myself from running and went for the non impact bike training. My legs felt tired from the fartlek as I really let rip without thinking of the consequences (then again, if I felt that good then cool, just go with the flow). I spent 2 1/2 (nonconsecutive) hours in the saddle, doing half hours of alternating fast and slow cycling. Wrapped up with some light yoga stretches and chilled out.

But today was a real struggle. I wanted to try out running on ’empty’ (I didn’t really have much choice because anything I ate was rejected by the stomach anyway). So I decided on a 10 miler and slogged it out in due fashion, feeling poorly until the fifth mile when nothing really seemed to matter. Nausea and pain were utterly irrelevant, only the next 5 miles seemed to matter.

So I’m back home now, thoroughly re-hydrated and feeling better for the run. Tomorrow I have a light 5k jog planned, then a day’s rest to prepare for the long run. Next week I’ve got some big intensive sessions coming up, which finishes my second three week training cycle. Then a little rest from cardio and preparation for cycle three!

By the way, I’d like to say a massive thanks, as the blog has now reached 50 followers. This is pretty astonishing, your support means a lot to me and I’m pretty amazed so many people found something they enjoyed in my writing, and it makes me feel great. So thanks, leave a like or a comment, it helps me out a lot!

Also, motivational song of the week: Alter Bridge’s ‘Rise Today’. ROCK!

Long Run and motivation n’ting.

The long run is, quite simply, the reason why I run. The ability to just leave all cares and worries behind, and go running for 2-3 hours is beautiful, especially if you can run in a National Park or a scenic place. And today was a real opportunity for me to amp up a bit of mileage after a fantastic week of training. It was also a chance for me to explore how far motivation played a part in my running.

Yesterday, I witnessed the Welsh Rugby team beat South Africa in a historic win. It wasn’t much to speak about as a game (and I was horrified by Jean de Villiers’ injury- hope he gets well soon), but it was the first time in fifteen year we left victorious. The Bokke are a phenomenal rugby nation and my favourites to win the 2015 World Cup, so I was obviously pleased for my team. After seeing the otherwise heartbreakingly close games over the last five years, I had finally seen them do it. It was a moment of supreme pride and motivation for me.

I thought I could use a bit of that mo to push me forward in my training today, so I donned the old jersey under my running gear, put my shoes on, and headed out. The other running motivation was quite simple. I’d drank a few beers during and after the game, and they needed working off! Long runs over 10 miles have been thin on the ground until recently, as I’ve been careful not to overdo my training. But today was different. I’d had a good rest on Saturday and gave myself a full 36 hours to recover from my previous workout, so I had tonnes of energy and felt mentally fresh. I wanted to push the boundaries a bit and see how far I could make it.

I started with my traditional 1 mile warmup, after which I performed five minutes of gradually more intensive stretches. I do a variety of stretches in my routine, but place a special emphasis on my hamstrings, as they tend to tighten up a lot during running. This in turn has a negative effect on the knee, which is really the last thing you want in a long run. I like to compare the problems of not stretching to a game of mikado- you pull one stick out, and the rest of the structure can crumble. It’s important that all the sticks are structurally sound, as even one weakness can lead to the collapse of other parts, and stretching helps do that.

Another small niggle was in my right calf, which was really an issue with old shoes. Today, my feet were clad in the new Porsche of the trail running world (for me)- the iNov-8 Trailroc 255’s. I stretched my calf carefully and stayed alert to any complaints from it-calf injuries are notoriously hard to heal and can take weeks to get better.

I ran the first three miles pretty freely, just enjoying the movement and getting warm. My first intention was to jog over to a local field where I thought I saw a running track (I’d searched my local area on Google maps satellite, hoping to find a free track to train on). I got there, but of course it was ringed by a giant fence. Never mind, I’m sure I’ll find somewhere free to run soon. On a separate thought though, why is it so hard to find a track here? I mean, no, there’s several tracks in my vicinity, but they’re all in schools, and there is no public access to them (understandably). (But still-what the heck!)

So I jogged lightly to the fourth mile marker. This is where the Hill of Doom is.

The Hill of Doom has a 150 ft elevation over about 500 metres. It’s a rocky, narrow mud trail heading straight up to the skies, and it never fails to destroy me. I usually get to the top scrambling on my hands and knees, breathing deeply and crying. And that’s just walking.

Aerial shot of where I train- where hills are hills, and runners breathless.
Aerial shot of where I train- where hills are hills, and runners breathless.

Feeling the optimism of a fantastic run (so far), I charged up it. This time, I got 3/4 of the way up before my lungs started to melt. I clambered up gingerly, not stopping, and finally won the hill with a furious heart rate (175 bpm-not quite the top range for me, but quite enough for a long run). I carried on jogging lightly, to catch my breath, before carrying on. It felt awful, but somehow not as bad as it always used to.

The odd thing is, despite running hard from miles 4-6, and with a heart rate constant of 165 , I didn’t feel bad at all. In fact, I would go on to enjoy my best running all the way up to the halfway point. There were other inclines, but none of these were as serious as the HoD. And that really helped me mentally, it was as though I could say ‘I’ve beaten the biggest bastard, the rest is easy’. It really was. The path was a soft dirt/sand track which did my legs good, and I literally flew to the top of the hill with a grand view of the city below me. It felt fantastic.

The way back was pretty much the same, except I stopped at the local shop to get myself some jelly babies and a bottle of water. Having ran for almost two hours, it was time to refuel and wind down operations. While queueing for the till, I stretched, and then headed back out again for a final 1.5 mile uphill slog. Got home, jumped in the bath, and stretched some more. And now, having burned 2000 kcal, ran 2 hours and taped some blisters, I’m eating pizza and congratulating myself on a great week of training.

run 30-11
My route- and the elevation beneath.

Minor issue with wearing the jersey-it’s heavy, made by Reebok in the 2008 season, and the chafing it produced on the man nipples was pretty grim. But there was only a little bit of bleeding so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

As to the motivation? I didn’t really need it, but I will definitely store it for harder days. I’d learned last year that mentality is crucial, and if used well, it can become a potent weapon in endurance training. But even though I was tired at the end, I had no need to dig deep on this run. The shoes have proved themselves really good on firm ground, but the heel was a bit stiff and will need wearing in a little.

My last thought comes from my injury ridden season of 2013. Yes, I wasn’t able to fulfil my ambitions for that year, and yes, I fought hard against all kinds of pains incurred through training. But that doesn’t mean that I stopped learning. During my time outside running, I was continually looking at how to improve and build on what I have, and came up with some useful strategies that are paying off now. If it all works out, winter will allow me to build up my stamina again before a summer training drive. And I suppose my ultimate moral, and the link to the Wales win on Saturday is this: sometimes it takes a lot of trying and failing to eventually get somewhere. Success takes time.

The future is exciting.

How to Make Friends and Run at the Same Time (if you’re new in town)

Okay, the title is deceptive. I can’t teach anyone how to make friends AND run, or even make friends while running! You may be an introverted sociopath in running shoes, or lack communication skills entirely (like me). Or (also like me) you may just enjoy running by yourself. In this short blog post, I will try to give a quick idea about how to locate and possibly befriend that elusive, furry and sweaty commune- the local running community.

Have you ever had difficulty trying to establish a connection with the runners around you? Especially having moved to a new town where you have few contacts?

Life has a habit of forcing transformations on us. I’ve had the good fortune of relocating three times in the last five years, and making friends anew every single time has been a rewarding and very life-enriching experience. But finding new running friends can actually be quite hard, given that they are not by nature sociable animals, or simply that they are too damn busy running to stay in one place for too long.

The truth is, we need running buddies. They are our way of coping with the loneliness of our sport, our safety net and protection from ourselves. They are our outlets to complain to about injuries, describe races to, laud and condemn equipment- in short, talk to about anything running related- things the others just don’t understand.

In my case, I relocated completely from the UK to the Czech Republic six months ago. The move has been radical and uprooting, the culture shock quite big, but I’m enjoying it so far. That said, I’ve left a lot behind. The weekly parkrun to start with, which is simply the biggest loss to me. The athletics club which I used to train with and race with, that’s gone too. The real array of different kinds of races is gone as well (there’s quite a limited variety here), and my knowledge of the local running paths in England is now pretty useless seeing I don’t live there any more!

But, I have had some great new experiences, and wanted to share these; from getting free food after a run (free food!) to finding a 10k version of a parkrun, to joining a massive random team run and signing up for my first race here. So below is a list of things you can do to make new amicos if you’re new in town.

How to Make Friends and Run at the Same Time
(if you’re new in town)

1) Find a running shop

Runners instinctively flock to running shops. They go there to find new gear and try it on, even if they then leave it in the store and buy it online (admit it, you’ve done it too). The shop assistant will normally be someone fairly well qualified to give their opinion- not only on gear, but also different kinds of running activities in the area.

I went to a dedicated trail run store in town today, trailrun.cz, and left with some Inov-8 Trailroc 255’s and socks. The guy gave me a Christmas discount, signed me up to an email newsletter, humoured me, and told me about a cross country race which I will definitely do. I’m also hooked up for a team run should I want to go for one.

Most (dedicated) stores will also have a board on which flyers, leaflets, posters and other general information about upcoming events is posted. Keep an eye on these and see what grabs your fancy.

Lastly, the visit to the running shop also allows a look at running gear which can’t be bad!

2) The internet is your friend

The internet is the harbinger of running information pretty much anywhere in the world. Last week, I identified three running events- the Prague Barefoot Running Festival held yearly at a park not far away from me; a free 2 mile spring race organised by Sri Chinmoy; and a monthly 10k track race which costs about 200 krona to enter (that’s about a fiver), all thanks to the www. Who’d have thought there’s a proper cross country running league cup at a park 20 minutes away from me? Or a 30k trail race in Southern Moravia?

Turns out there is, sponsored by Salomon, for a series of terrain and trail races. What a shame I’d missed out on it!

The Sri Chinmoy race offers free pancakes after the run (yes, FREE PANCAKES!) and promises to be more of a sociable event than anything (although 2 mile sprints will be great for the 5k and 10k distance training).

The 10k race led me to find a running track in Prague, after months of searching. I was reduced to searching for these on Google maps (satellite mode). I’ll need those to do my interval training in January.

I also found the Czech Athletics Association page, which has guided me to many interesting events and concessions advertised on their page. The calendar has also allowed me to attend meets as a spectator, just to see some professional athletic performances, and also supplied an index of clubs which operate in my area. Not bad!

My point is, information leads to more information, and if you’re dedicated enough, you’ll come across lots of leads and links.

3) Volunteer

Is there a local race that needs volunteers? It needs no saying that most people organising running events have a direct connection to runners in your area, and will be grateful for your time. Chat to him or her on the day of volunteering, and if they seem willing, ask them about how to get connected. It’ll save a lot of pointless searching and learning the hard way.

Race volunteering is also a good way to be seen, especially if you loudly support other runners. It creates common ground-talk to marshals or water stop suppliers on the course, share some banter. Be friendly and comment on the race, and try and gather some intelligence on other races, or team runs.

There’s also many peripheral running events and exhibitions. Pasta dinners before marathons, sports launches, expos, memorial runs, they’re all there to help you connect.

4) Surf race results

If you are seriously considering joining an athletics club, the sense of trepidation can be hard to overcome. Firstly, there are some clubs (even in the UK) which are just downright unfriendly and difficult to get on with. I was lucky, when running with Crawley AC, to get into a group which was mutually supportive and very inclusive, but there are stories of people going to track training and getting snubbed by the crowd of old timers. Such an experience can not only be degrading but also put runners off joining a club forever.

I know the dilemma. The questions. “Will I be good enough?” “Will I be asked to compete in races and feel too obliged to refuse?” “Will xyz embarrassing running event (insert imagination here) occur?” There is a way to tame the panic, by coming in well researched. Here is a useful tip for checking which club might be right for you.

I went to the latest race result page for a long distance running event, and looked for results comparable to mine, filtering through the clubs for 1) convenience and 2) fun factor and 3) results. I’ve found two or three potential candidates and look forward to trying the training out a little bit with them, and seeing what it’s like.

It really does depend on what kind of training the club goes for, of course. All I really want is a track to practice interval and pyramid training. But the search gave me an idea about finding runners ‘at my level’, people I knew were matched to my abilities, and who then might be willing to train with me.

5) Patience is a virtue

It takes time to make friends, and sometimes running mates can be too absorbed to actually socialise. From my experience, runners can also be reclusive and shy. But if you make a regular appearance and hang out after races, people will generally get used to you and maybe start up a conversation. Sometimes, friendships can develop from the unlikeliest combinations, and being part of a team- training and occasionally competing together- can be incredibly rewarding. So be patient, stick to standard friend-making procedure, and persevere.

And apart from all that, there’s blogging. Everyone running and writing really encourages me to carry on with my sport, and I really enjoy reading the trials and tribulations of the runners of all shapes and sizes. Here is a lot of love to all the readers out there reading this. Take care yo, and leave a comment or a like!

The Death of a Shoe

We all know what it’s like when one of our favourites has gone on the long, long trail from which there is no return.

The shoe in question is the Adidas Adizero Adios v.2. I had trained, raced, sweated, bled, and blistered in these ever since my first proper break into running.

And yes, sometimes I lost a toenail to your over-long toe cavity with reinforced mesh, meaning that chafing blackened them. And yes, I blistered frequently because the inner outsole was sometimes too narrow, and the insole grated against my delicate feet because I pronated.

You were no great shakes at running on terrain. Your soul had no friction. But then again you were designed as a road shoe, and only an idiot like me would use beauties like these in fields. I remember faceplanting down many trails in muddy November training days with you. They were happy days.

But I also remember the optimal cushioning and energy return your Continental-made sole provided, and the absolutely pinpoint wonderful heel-to-toe drop which was SO right.

Your breathability. Your lightness. The sense of swagger I felt just wearing you, bright yellow and screaming for more miles. There will surely never be another one like you.

Paolo Nutini may well put his new shoes on, but when I do it just doesn’t feel right.

Your new cousin, called Boost, may well provide more energy return, may look cool and be the new kid on the block, but struggles to even approach your dignified sense of style. It’s also got a massively overhyped pricetag, for some kind of fluffy polystyrene heel filler. And I resent paying 30 quid more for something I don’t need.

No! No, just go. Leave me. Leave me standing barefoot on the gravelly path that is the rest of my running life. Victim and prey of outlandish marketing forces that somehow decreed that you cannot live any more.

No, don’t mention the Supernova range, or the Tempo’s, or Boston’s. They will never be good enough.

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

Vegetarian Running Diet Day 1: Spinach for the win!

Yes, you read the title correctly. I think I’ve unlocked a great way to get your iron needs, and running carb, in a quick and rather tasty way.

After laying it to the side, I came back to Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run last week and was convinced of the benefits a meat-free diet could offer to runners. Not only is the book full of good recipes, it’s also a really funny and well conceived runner manual/autobiography/philosophy handbook. In my own little way, I’m trying to add more vegetables to my diet, and today’s recipe is a reflection of what I got from Scott’s book and what I could actually find in the fridge. So here it is:

Pasta with Spinach Sauce

You will need:

2 onions
a little oil or 1 cal spray
seasoning
2 cloves of garlic
dried or fresh basil
400-500 grams of spinach
water
cheese (if desired)

P10006271. Chop up the garlic and onion and gently fry in the oil for about 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture is slightly browned. Take off the heat.

2. Wash the spinach in a metal collander or a metal sieve that can back up as a steamer.

3. Start off the pasta. You know the drill. Water, boiling, large pan, done.

4. When the pasta is boiling, put the collander with the pre-washed spinach on top of the pan, and cover it with the lid. Take care that the water doesn’t overboil.

5. Dance (optional)

P10006306. When the spinach is wilted (takes no time at all- 4-5 minutes max), take it off the heat and combine with the browned onion and garlic in a food mixer. I like to add basil and oregano, or pretty much anything with a smell at this point, and you can add pesto as well to make a really fragrant sauce (especially if you don’t like the smell of spinach)

P1000631

7. Blitz until fine. You may need to add some water during this point to make sure the sauce is more liquid. I also season the sauce at this point, because I don’t like oversalting food. A little salt goes a long way though, because the sauce can be rather bland otherwise.

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8. Depending how hungry you are, you may wish to eat from the bowl immediately, like a food trough. We’ve all been there after long runs.

9. I sprinkled mine with cheese, as it adds a bit of taste for me-it’s pretty good even without it though. You should have a nice sweet caramelised flavour from the browned onions, a fresh and smooth spinach taste, and if you’ve added the herbs, a nice smell too. Enjoy!

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