About Me

28acaf1f-37e0-4246-baae-a0ceca425934I’m Jordan, a 27 year old runner from Cambridgeshire, who is just working hard everyday to achieve my goals.

I still find it weird to call myself a ‘marathon runner’, but hey – I run marathons so I guess that’s what I am now! And I am not ashamed to admit that running defines me, and makes me the person that I am.

For me, running is what motivates me every single day. It keeps me sane, it keeps me healthy & it has given me so much more than a few medals. I honestly could not imagine my life without it, and I hope I never have to experience a life without it.

the big halfI have always struggled with self confidence. I constantly compared myself to others, would never believe anyone when they said how well I was doing, and would try and shy away or belittle my achievements. But recently, something in me has changed, and with the support & encouragement from the fantastic running community, I have realised that I have got something to give to the world of running, and as well as now achieving goals I would have never even dreamed of before, I now want to share it all with you guys. The ups, the downs, the highs, the lows, and everything in between. If I can inspire just ONE person to get out and go for a run, then I will be happy.

I hope you all enjoy my ramblings, and I can’t wait to share my running journey with you all.

Jordan xx

The Altitude Centre

So it is safe to say I have been pretty busy recently! Rewind to a year ago, I was a slave to the road, chasing faster marathon times and not really making much time for anything else. I have spoken quite a lot now about how I have lost the love for chasing times and I have now fallen into the world of trail, ultras & mountain running! Back in June I took on perhaps my biggest challenge to date, a 60km mountain run as part of the Adidas Infinite Trails Race.

As much as I love living in London, unfortunately it can make training for a mountain race quite difficult, yes we have some pretty tasty hills but it isn’t quite the same and there are so many other factors to think about, including altitude. Races that are altitude are a completely different ball game, once you reach a certain level of altitude (approx 2700m) the percentage of oxygen in the air drops significantly (from around 21% at sea level, to 15%) which will have a big affect on how your body uses oxygen when you run and means that you will feel like you have to work harder than usual, but not necessarily seeing this reflected in your pace/times.

On the short notice I had for Infinite Trials, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to get ready, and after reaching out, I was very fortunate that The Altitude Centre invited me along to their clinic in Bank, London to use their facilities and help me to prepare. I have no doubt that the sessions I did made a difference and not only helped me to adapt to altitude better, but also helped to improve my aerobic endurance in general. I was in there 5/6 days a week, taking part in classes, recovery cycles and using the POD to expose my body to different altitudes. I will be honest, it wasn’t the most structured plan, but I was just doing what I could in a short space of time, however.. we have partnered up again, and this time we have more time to prepare and have put a proper plan in place!

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that recently I announced my next challenge for 2019, and that is that in October I will be heading to Jordan (#JordanInJordan) to take on my first multistage, 250km ultramarathon with Ultra X. Now, although I will not be climbing mountains or running at altitude, there have been a number of studies done now about how training at altitude can have a significant improvement on your overall aerobic fitness. This is why Olympic athletes spend months of their training blocks at altitude camps, so they can reap the benefits when they are back at sea level.. but unfortunately for most of us we don’t have the time or money to disappear off for weeks at a time, which is where The Altitude Centre comes in!

So, this week after a well deserved break post Infinite Trails & Race to the Stones, I headed back to the centre to get a plan put in place, which hopefully alongside all my other training will get me in the best shape possible ahead of my next challenge. Unfortunately as with all good plans, you need to know where your starting point is, which meant for my first session back I had to do a fitness test, GREAT!

 

To begin with, we ran through a series of health tests (you know, to make sure I wasn’t going to keel over on the treadmill) 

**Full Disclosure – I am still in recovery from my last two ultra marathons, I know that my body is tired, my HR is higher than usual on runs and my fitness levels have dropped. So perhaps if I had done the test when I was fully fit, the results would have been slightly different, however this is where I am at currently so its still a good base to work from**

Health Test Results

Blood Pressure 

Systolic blood pressure: 132 mmHG – Pre-Hypertensive 

Diastolic blood pressure: 79 mmHG –  Optimal 

Systollic – Pre-Hypertensive: Systolic blood pressure represents the highest blood pressure your system is exposed to. As such, NHS guidelines recommend systolic blood pressure should be under 120 mmHg. Your blood pressure, as measured today was higher than optimal, known as pre-hypertensive. Whilst this could be transiently caused by stress or caffeine** , you may wish to have this checked by a medical professional. Remember that at altitude, it is likely your blood pressure will rise further due to the low availability of oxygen. 

Diastollic – Optimal: Diastolic blood pressure represents the blood pressure when your heart rests between beats. As such, it is the lowest blood pressure your body is exposed to, and NHS guidelines recommend diastolic blood pressure should be under 80 mmHg. Your blood pressure, as measured today, falls within the optimal category. Continue to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Remember that at altitude, it is likely your blood pressure will rise due to the low availability of oxygen.

**definitely blaming the caffeine, whoops!

Resting Heart Rate During your blood pressure test, we also measured your resting heart rate. Today, your resting heart rate was: 

78 bpm Normal 

Normal: Generally a low resting heart rate is a good sign of high fitness. Following a block of altitude training your resting heart rate will fall as your fitness increases. A heart rate under 60 bpm is called Bradycardia, or “Athlete’s Heart” and is a sign of good fitness. Your resting heart rate measurement today was in a normal range.

Breath Hold Response

You were able to hold your breath for:  51s

Very good: the breath hold test is used to assess your tolerance to carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. A very good result indicates that you are very tolerant. Those who can hold their breath for over 45 s following an exhalation are said to be in very good health, and this indicates you breath well. Continue to breath from the diaphragm.

Fitness Test

Then it was on the the fun (I use this word loosely) part, the fitness test! There were two parts to this, and involved two identical tests on a treadmill, with the only difference being one was at sea level, the other at altitude.

As my goal for Ultra X Jordan is not speed, the aim of this test (and my future training) will be to see if we can make any improvements to my aerobic endurance, so thankfully I didn’t have to run at a max speed, instead a comfortably hard speed.. with some inclines thrown in too. The test was a basic ramp test, the aim was to be able to keep the treadmill at the same speed, and then every two minutes increase the incline by 1% for 12 minutes. During this time my Heart Rate & sp02 (Blood Oxygen Saturation) were both monitored and recorded throughout.

Normoxic Test (Sea Level) 

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Hypoxia Test (Altitude)

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Average difference in heart rate between sea level & altitude (bpm): 6

Maximum difference in heart rate between sea level & altitude (bpm): 9

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Average difference in spO2% between sea level & altitude: -11

Maximum difference in spO2%  between sea level & altitude: -13

During the test, altitude had a modest effect on your spO2. This indicates that you have good oxygen efficiency, and that even where is little oxygen available to you, you are able to extract it from the air and get it into the blood to your working muscles. You will still benefit from training at high altitude and from intermitted hypoxic exposure to further improve your efficiency with oxygen, and in turn your performance. 

Strength Tests 

After the treadmill run, I then did two basic Strength Tests – Glute/Hamstring Bridge & Wall Sit – in my opinion I think this was a little mean to make me do after the treadmill runs, or that is the excuse I am using anyway that my results weren’t great!

Undertaking strength training at altitude has been show to result in greater increases in strength than the same training at sea level. This will be reassessed during my retest in 6 weeks time and hopefully we will see that my strength has improved alongside my endurance, and therefore making me a stronger, more resilient runner.

Glute/Ham Bridge

Weight: 10kg

Time Held: 75s

Wall Sit

Weight: 10kg

Time Held: 57s

I now have 8 full weeks until I fly out to Jordan (minus 1 week where I will actually be in the mountains when I head to Chamonix for UTMB week!)  To maximise my results, I am planning on training at the centre 3 times a week, with a combination of classes, POD sessions and doing recovery runs/cycles in the chamber.

I will be posting regular updates on my Instagram page, and once I have had my retest at the beginning of October I will share my results in another blog post, and fingers crossed… it will show some improvement!

If you are currently training for an event at altitude, or perhaps just want to explore how it can help your training in general, then head to the website by clicking here and booking either a consultation with the team, or straight onto a class!

And if you use my code PMG15 you will receive 15% of any of the products & services they offer.

Jordan xx

**Sessions have been gifted as part of ongoing partnership with The Altitude Centre.

 

 

 

Ultramarathon Tips & Tricks

Let’s rewind quickly back to March/April time this year. I was in the final weeks of marathon training ahead of the London Marathon, and I was just not enjoying it at all. I was really honest on the lead up that I was struggling with the training block, a combination of burning out earlier in the year and putting a lot of pressure on myself to get a PB meant that running just wasn’t giving me the same joy any more. I knew that I needed to give myself a break from the mental strain of marathon training after London, I didn’t want a break from running as such, but a break from constantly worrying about times & pace… so clearly signing up for two ultra marathons in two weeks was the logical thing to do! First up was the epic Adidas Infinite Trails, and then just this last weekend I completed my first non-stop 100k Ultra marathon at Race to The Stones (race review coming soon!)

When I announced my plans on Instagram, I got asked a lot of questions and it was mainly how I was going to train for the events and how it would differ from marathon training. So I thought would put together a post with the most popular questions, what I have learnt over the past 8 weeks, and everything in between!

The Boring Part

Now, I hate to be that boring person but as a running coach, I have to give the sensible advice first. If you are considering running an ultra marathon, please please please understand the challenge you are taking on. Whether its a 50k, 100k or a 100 miler – it will be a HUGE effort on your body, and going into it under prepared will not only mean you probably won’t enjoy it as much as it will be even harder than usual, but you are also risking potentially seriously injuring yourself and putting yourself out of the running game for a long time.

Ultra marathons are not for everyone. Not everyone will enjoy them, or have the desire to do one, and that’s absolutely fine (and that’s the same with marathons, half marathons, 5ks etc) We all have different things we want to achieve with our running and just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to as well!

You don’t have to have run a marathon to do an ultra, but in my opinion it certainly helps! Marathon training is hard work, and if you have already followed a marathon training plan you will have a better understanding of how training for longer distances work, and it will also give you a great base to build upon.

If for some reason you want to skip the marathon and head straight to the world of ultras, thats fine but just make sure you give yourself long enough to prepare and can sensibly increase your mileage week on week. The length of the training plan will obviously be determined by what distance and your experience, so I cannot give a ‘one size fits all’ answer, but if you would put yourself as a beginner, I would give yourself at least 6 months to prepare for the event.

All The Gear, And Some Idea! 

I get it, it is really hard to know where to start with kit, there are SO many options out there! From trainers, to hydration vests, to watches.. it can all get a bit overwhelming! Also, it is really important to remember that what works for one person, may not work for you, so always take recommendations with a pinch of salt.

Here is what I used during my training, and on race day.

*and just to be completely clear & transparent, these products were gifted to me by the companies linked below, but the opinions are completely my own and I have not been asked or paid to review them.

Shoes – Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2  

I started using these shoes back in June, in fact I got them just before I went to the South of France for a trail running holiday so it was the perfect chance to try them out over different terrains and getting used to spending lots of time on my feet.

On first impressions, I really liked the shoe and was surprised at how light they were, and comfortable. Trail shoes I have used in the past tend to be a lot more bulky and feel very hard underfoot but these were not like that at all. They have also been designed so they are suitable for all terrains, which can be really useful in any ultra distance race as it can sometimes be a combination of road, trail, gravel etc.

If you, like me are a neutral runner that doesn’t need a lot of support & cushioning I would recommend trying out this shoe, or similar from Salomon.

Hydration Pack – Salomon ADV SKIN 5 SET 

For the majority of ultra marathon or trail races, it it quite common that you are required to carry your own fuel, hydration, kit etc whilst out on the course. So finding the right bag is crucial. Being comfortable during an ultra marathon can be the difference between a great race, and a terrible one so its really important you find a pack that fits you properly and works for you. As a petite woman, finding a bag that fits me has always been a struggle. I have a small frame and narrow shoulders, so when bags are just a standard fit (and by standard fit I mean designed for men, obvs) even the smallest sizes are too large and can cause some pretty interesting chafing!

I would highly recommend this pack (or another from the Salomon range) as they really are one of the best in the market. Although it looks small, you can fit a lot in there. For Infinite Trails there was a pretty hefty mandatory kit list and I managed to get all of the following in the pack, and it didn’t feel uncomfortable or budge at all.

  • 2 x 500ml Soft Flasks
  • 8 Gels/4 x Energy Bars
  • Mobile Phone
  • Wateproof Jacket
  • Leggings
  • Spare Socks
  • First Aid Kit

GPS Watch – Garmin Forerunner 945 

For the last 4 years I have worn a Garmin GPS watch, for me there is no other option really when it comes to GPS watches. I recently upgraded to the new 945 as for my latest challenges I needed to make sure I had a watch that was going to last the distance! The 945 battery life is insane and can last up to 60 hours in UltraTrac mode.

The watch has so many great features, and if I am being completely honest I probably haven’t even made the most of half of them yet! But some of my favourite features that I use regularly are;

  • You can download your Spotify playlists straight to your watch (you do need a premium account for this feature to work & bluetooth headphones)
  • Performance monitoring features include VO2 max and training status with adjustments for heat, altitude acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects
  • Loads of different activity settings including; trail running, hiking & climbing! Which is perfect for what I have been up to lately.

Of course I am not saying you need to invest in this watch specifically, this is just what I have been using. There are lots of great models out there, but my best advice is if you want to use it for ultras, make sure you check it has a decent battery life!

Headphones – Jaybird Sport Tarah Pro 

I have been working with Jaybird for just over a year now and I am proud to be part of the Jaybird Runners team! This does mean that I have been lucky enough to try a selection of their products and for the last few months I have been solely using the Tarah Pros.

The unique thing about the Tarah Pros is their battery life, once fully charged they last 14 hours, which is perfect if you are looking to take on longer distance races! I don’t always listen to music when I race, but I knew for Race to the Stones I was going to be out on the course for a long time, potentially on my own and there were going to be points where it got super tough, and for me personally, listening to music really helps me to just get my head down and dig deep! It was great to not have to worry about my headphones dying mid race or having to take a spare pair out with me – you have enough to worry about when running 100k so anything that makes it slightly easier is a bonus!

Fuelling – Training.

CARBS – this food group will really become your best friend during your training, race and recovery. Carbohydrates are what gives us the energy to be able to push harder, run further and last longer, and they also play an important part in recovery too.

I am sure you have all heard of ‘carb loading’ too, but unfortunately a lot of people seem to get this wrong. Carb loading does not just mean eating twice as much as you usually do the day before the race, or eating an entire family size lasagne. It simply just means on the days leading up to your event you increase the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, whilst lowering the other macronutrients (fats & protein and limiting fibre intake) It may be that your calories do increase slightly too, but there is no need to go over the top, as this is what causes the uncomfortable bloated, heavy feeling that people tend to experience and blame on the carbohydrates. Choosing carbohydrates with a higher glycemic index during your carb load can also aid in loading the muscle with glycogen, while minimising these feelings of fullness or bloating.

Here are some of my favourite carb heavy foods & snacks that are a staple in my diet.

  • Wholewheat Pasta
  • Rice/Lentils/Quinoa 
  • Bagels 
  • Porridge
  • Wraps
  • Bananas 

I then make sure I always add a protein source & fats to the majority of my meals too.

  • Chicken Breast
  • Tuna 
  • Fish – Salmon, Cod etc 
  • Cheese
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Peanut Butter 
  • Olives
  • Pesto 

And then finally I will add a good amount of fruits & vegetables (also carbs FYI) to my food.

  • Spinach 
  • Blueberries 
  • Strawberries 
  • Red Peppers 
  • Cucumber 
  • Salad Leaves 

For me personally, on the day before a race I like to keep my food quite plain so I avoid anything that is too creamy, cheesy, spicy etc. My go to pre-race meal is Pesto Pasta with chicken breast, olives, peppers & spinach.

Fuelling – Race Day 

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This is perhaps one of the most popular questions I got asked when it came to ultra marathon training, and rightly so! Nailing your fuelling strategy (before, during & after) can be the difference between a great race, and a terrible one. But with so much information out there it can be hard to know where to start. The one thing I will say is that this will be different for everyone. Like most things with running, there is a rarely a ‘one size fits all’ plan, so its super important you find out what works for you. For some people during a race that’s gels, whereas others will swear by cold pizza. But the most important thing is that you are getting calories and carbohydrates (energy) back into your body frequently, keeping your glycogen stores topped up.

On the lead up to Infinite Trails & Race to the Stones I worked closely with Ben (lead Nutritionist for Science in Sport) and together we came up with a fuelling strategy to prepare me for the races.

Ever since I started running longer distances, I have used Science in Sport gels during my training & races. For me it is the easiest way to get calories and carbohydrates back into my body on the move, and I suppose I am fortunate I have never had an issue with them! During a marathon I will solely just use gels, but I knew for the ultra marathons I was going to need to include other fuel sources too.  And together we came up with the plan that I was going to try and use a combination of gels, energy bars, Beta Fuel and then also take on real food at the aid stations during the race. The overall goal was upwards of 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour, planning this out in a by-hour strategy so to ensure that energy intake started early enough into the race.

Here is what I ended up using during both Infinite Trails & Race to the Stones. I personally felt that I got my nutrition & hydration spot on. In neither race there was no point I felt really low on energy and I seemed to avoid that ‘hitting the wall’ feeling despite the fact that for both races I was out for 10 hours in total.

Infinite Trails 

8 x SIS Gels

1 x SIS Beta Fuel Sachet 

3 1/2 x SIS Energy Bars

Aid Stations – I didn’t eat a huge amount at the aid stations as I didn’t feel like I needed it. I mainly just took watermelon (as it was refreshing) and on a couple of occasions a handful salty peanuts or pretzels and made sure I refilled my water bottles.

Race To The Stones 

9 x SIS Gels

1 x SIS Beta Fuel Sachet

3 x SIS Energy Bars

Aid Stations – Again, I didn’t take a huge amount as I felt I really didn’t need it (which was a shame as the aid stations were AMAZING) I mainly just use the aid stations to refill my water bottles, obviously I had watermelon (just the best!) but apart from that I just stuck to what I had in my pack. At one of the last aid stations I did have a mini malt loaf though which felt like a great little pick me up!

So from this, my best advice would be to make sure you take everything you think you will need for the race, and do not rely on the aid stations. I knew that the gels, bars and beta fuel worked for me, and I felt confident that I had enough to see me through and keep me going between the aid stations.

Training

This was probably the most popular question I got asked – how my ultra training differed from my marathon training. Anyone that has trained successfully for a marathon knows that it’s hard work. It’s early mornings, its long runs, speed sessions, easy runs, strength training – and for me, my ultra training was NO different! The only difference was that it was so much more enjoyable as on 90% of my runs I put no pressure on myself in terms of pace! I ran lots with friends and just chatted the miles away, or sometimes I just stuck my headphones in and tried new routes, but it was so nice to not have to worry about hitting ‘marathon pace’ or beasting myself on multiple runs a week.

When training for an ultra (especially if its you’re first one) the most important thing is getting your body used to spending a long time on you feet. But I get it, not everyone has 5+ hours on a Sunday afternoon to dedicate to a run, and to be honest not many of us would probably want to do that!

Everyones training will be different, and if you are looking to seriously train for an ultra marathon I would suggest investing in a coach to devise a training plan, but here are some hints & tips to help get you started

  • Hills – chances are, if you are doing an ultra marathon and it is on the trails, there will be hills! Include hills wherever possible in your training – in your long runs, easy runs, hill sprints etc. They are a great way to help strength train during your runs, and it just means on race day you will feel a little more prepared!
  • Back to Back Long Runs – most of us don’t have the time (or the desire!) to head out for multiple 6+ hour runs, and that is absolutely fine and in my opinion not essential for ultra marathon training. Instead, break these runs down into shorter, manageable sessions and just do them on back to back days. So for example, on a Saturday head out for a 2 hour run, and then followed by a 3 hour run on Sunday. Not only will this help to make the runs seem more manageable, but it will also get your body used to running on tired legs.
  • Cross Training – Strength & Conditioning should always play a part in training, and training for an ultra is no different! I included two S&C sessions a week and focused on the whole body and included lots of big compound movements such as; deadlifts, weighted squats and lots of core too. One big difference I made is that I invested in my own S&C coach who created workouts specific for me and my goals.
  • Get a buddy – as I mentioned earlier, I did a lot of my long runs with friends, which really helps just to make it so much more enjoyable! It can also be great motivation too for those days where you really can’t be bothered to get out and run. And plus you can always plan to go for a coffee/brunch/drink after which is a great incentive!
  • Get Exploring – if like me you live in a big city, it might not always seem easy to get out into the trails, BUT there are ways around it! Check out your local parks, follow a river/canal path or sometimes you may need to just jump on a train for an hour to get out of the city and into the countryside!

Final Points

Whilst writing this, I have realised there is SO much more I could say, and over the next few weeks/months I will 100% share more tips and tricks about how to train for an ultra marathon.

But one of the most important things to remember is… ONLY DO IT IF YOU REALLY WANT TO, NOT BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE ON INSTAGRAM IS DOING IT! Training and running an ultra marathons is hard and isn’t something that should be taken lightly. If you want to run well and ultimately have a positive race day experience than you need to put in the work leading up to it.

So give yourself time to train, time to adapt and time to fully learn to respect the beauty of long distance endurance running!

Jordan xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adidas Infinite Trails – Part 2

 

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

So this was it, all that stood in the way of me and the finish line was 60km & 12,000ft of elevation… easy right?! I won’t lie, the whole race felt pretty daunting so I tried to follow the advice I have been given from Timothy the day before and just not think about what was coming up and just try to enjoy it and take it all in!

I knew that one of the most important things I had to do for the first part of the race was pace myself, I had a long bloody way to go and I couldn’t go tearing off like a mad woman over the first few miles, which would have been really easy to do! The first 7 miles of my race were pretty flat, which was a good way to get some steady miles in and get my legs warmed up ready for the climbs.

Almost as soon as I set off, it was like someone literally flicked a switch and turned the sun on. It was ROASTING, and it was only 9 in the morning! Again though, there was nothing I could do about it so I just kept telling myself I was going to get a cracking tan, and made sure I kept taking on water & fuel regularly.

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

Soon enough though, it was time to leave the road as I started the loooooooong climb up the first mountain of the day! I knew that Lewis & Jon were going to be at the first aid station on the way up, so that really helped to keep me going. I will be completely honest, on the uphill climbs there was pretty much ZERO running. I had got advice from lots of people who were a lot more experienced than me who all advised the same thing, to hike the hills.. so that is exactly what I did! I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and slowly made my way up the first big climb of the day. I also really regretted not having poles, watching people glide up the hills with them made more really envious so it’s something I’ll definitely invest in for the future!

I finally reached the first aid station and it was so good to see the guys there and have a chat (it was pretty lonely out on the course!) I refilled my water bottles, covered myself in water and grabbed a handful of salty pretzels and then carried on my way up the mountain.  The views were absolutely incredible, and there were many points throughout the race I actually made sure that every now and then I just stopped to look around and make sure I was taking it all in!

 

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

 

It was at this point that I realised how hard this race was actually going to be – I had gone from running, to hiking to now actually mountain climbing and scrambling along a ridge! I will admit I am not the biggest fan of heights, so I did take it pretty slow and steady and really concentrated on where I was putting my hands and feet – I definitely didn’t want to slip and fall at this point! It was a bittersweet moment when I finally got to the summit, I was relieved that the climbing was over for a while, but all I kept thinking was that  had to do this ALL over again once I got back down – mentally this was pretty tough to get my head round!

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

I didn’t hang about at the top, I still had a LONG way to go and I wanted to just chip away at the miles and get to the next aid station, mainly because I knew I was going to see some friendly faces. Running downhill is definitely a lot more fun than climbing, this is definitely where my strength is, and I really enjoyed getting some speed back into my legs as I made my way down. I stopped briefly at the aid station again, refilled & refuelled and carried on (you might be noticing a pattern here!) 

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

The next few miles were a dreaaaaaaam, it felt so good to actually get some decent running in on the road, and the miles went by so quickly before I knew it I was almost coming up to the half way point of the race! By this point I had been out on the course for about 5 hours and I was starting to just feel really hot, and tired! The sun was relentless. There was literally no cloud cover or shade out on the course, so the whole time it was just beating down on me! I wouldn’t usually run in a cap, but I have to say I was so pleased it was part of the mandatory kit list, it may sound dramatic but I think I would have really struggled at points if I didn’t have cover on my head (so if any of you have a race coming up and its going to be hot – get a hat!!)

I made it, I was over the half way point! Which was a great feeling, but also a little daunting as I knew I still had another mountain to climb and a lot of miles left to do.

As I started the next climb of the race, unfortunately this is where it started to go a little downhill for me (pun absolutely intended).  I was struggling. It was now early afternoon and after being out in the sun for over 5 hours already with barely any shade, I was starting to feel the effects of the heat. Between miles 21-27 there was hardly ANY running, the first few miles were a gradual climb – which normally I would run but I was finding it really hard. It was also pretty lonely out there, due to the format of the race everyone set off at different times, so sometimes I wouldn’t see another runner for what felt like miles, and I definitely think that made it that little bit tougher too. By now, all I was focussing on was getting to the next aid station. I kept checking the route (we were all given transfer tattoos of our loop) and thinking about getting a cold drink, some shade and salty food.

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

After what felt like FOREVER, I finally reached the aid station! I grabbed myself a drink and then asked the volunteers if they minded if I sat down for 5 minutes in the shade – it felt SO good to be out of the sun!! To be honest at that moment I could have quite happily stayed sitting in the tent, but luckily another runner (and yes I feel terrible I have forgotten her name!) asked if I was okay and if I wanted to run with her for a bit, which was enough to make me get out of my chair and back on the trails! It was so nice to have some company for a couple of miles, both of us were finding it really tough but she was definitely a lot stronger than me on the climbs. We agreed that we wouldn’t hold each other up, so once the climb started getting really tough again I let her go on as I was a lot slower. For me, this was possibly the hardest part of the race. I was back on the mountain, back to scrambling across rocks and my legs felt like they were made out of lead.

Like in any race, no matter if its a 5k or an ultra, once you lose it mentally it can be really hard to pull yourself back together. I messaged the boys and said I was struggling and finding it really tough, and honestly if it wasn’t for them telling me that they were waiting at the summit for me I probably would have come close to giving up. It was slow, it was painful, I had a little cry on my Instagram stories, but slowly and surely I made my way up through the snow (which was so bizarre when it was so hot!) and across the final ridge to the peak. It was so good to see the boys up there – and I couldn’t quite believe they had made it all the way to the top (they were the real heroes of the day – they were out on the course from 4am until midnight, god knows how many miles they clocked up!) 

Now that I had reached the second summit, I finally felt like I could get excited about finishing the race! All that was left to do was get down to the bottom, easy right?! I made my way to the next aid station where the boys were and also got to see Rich who came out to meet me on the course, it was great to see him. .. although admittedly the first thing I did when I saw him was shout ‘I HATE YOU’ (he was the brains behind the whole trip and the reason I was running the 60k) but luckily since then I have forgiven him!

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

I spent a bit of time at the aid station this time, I refilled all my bottles, got water poured over me, and ate perhaps the best, saltiest chips I have ever had in my LIFE! I hadn’t taken on any ‘real’ food in a while so they honestly tasted like the best thing in the world! We were all buzzing that I was almost at the finish, but the race definitely wasn’t over yet, I still had about 10 miles to go until I was done… so once again it was time to get my head down and crack on.

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

Actually being able to run and go downhill again felt amazing after a pretty miserable few hours of climbing, it was nice to get some speed back in my legs, and to my surprise once I started running again and got back on the road, my legs actually felt pretty good!

The miles started ticking by nicely, then all of a sudden I was going back uphill?! Ummmmm, this wasn’t what I wanted 55km into the race! It turns out that just because I was coming down from the mountain, they still threw in a few cheeky ‘undulating’ sections. And trust me, my legs felt every single one of those inclines!

But finally, as I made my way off the mountain for good I knew I was close! I could hear the music from the event village in the distance and that was literally what kept me going as I made my way back into the town. This race wasn’t about time, but I had set myself a goal (of course I did!) of wanting to finish in under 10 hours, and although it was going to be a close one, I realised I was going to do it. I text the boys to tell them I was on my way in so that Sum could get ready for his loop and just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

The music was getting louder and louder, there were people out cheering on the course and I was actually starting to feel pretty emotional, I was just so pleased it was nearly over! As with any long distance event, the last mile is always one of the hardest and the final loop of the park seemed to last forever, but I eventually turned the corner and the finish line was in sight! Crowd support & adrenaline can do amazing things, and with everyone cheering and clapping, even though I was exhausted I somehow managed to pull a sprint finish out of the bag! I could see Sum waiting and raring to go… I crossed the line, pretty much ran into him, wished him luck and then collapsed into a heap on the floor!

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

The next few minutes were a bit of a blur, one of the volunteers placed a wet towel over my shoulders which honestly felt like the best thing in the world. And then all of a sudden I became very aware about how much my feet were burning – I needed to get my shoes and socks off, pronto! They weren’t battered, blistered or bruised – but I think they were just suffering after being stuffed in a pair of trainers for the best part of 12 hours!

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

We then made our way out to the main finish area, and straight to the paddling pools filled with ice cold water. It may as well have been a luxury spa! It felt so good to finally be able to sit down, knowing that I didn’t have to get back up and climb a mountain! But our race wasn’t quite done there – the rules of the race stated that to officially finish as a team, once your 3rd loop runner was back in, as a team you then had to complete a 0.5km victory lap and all cross the line together. Luckily, we knew we had a few hours before Sum would be back in – so we went back to the hotel, got cleaned up, FINALLY HAD A BEER and grabbed some food!

We headed back down to the finish area just before Midnight and were constantly checking out phone for updates on how Sum was getting on – he was running strong but it was a tough out there and the Loop 3 runners also had the extra challenge of it being pitch black! Jon & Lewis finally joined us again after being out on the course themselves for 18 hours, and its safe to say we were all feeling pretty exhausted!

Soon enough though, Sum gave us the nod he was heading back into the centre, so once again Rich & I got ourselves ready in the start zone and as soon as Sum got to the line, we grabbed his hand and set off on our victory lap!

We crossed the line with a total time of  20:50:55 and made it back before 1am and were just so pleased to have completed it within the tough cut offs (which saw nearly half of the other teams get disqualified) And although we all raced separately, it was great to be able to all cross the line and finish together!

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

The race, and the whole trip to Austria is something I will never forget. I had the most amazing time, met some incredible people and I proved to myself that I am a lot stronger than I think! It has also opened my eyes to what else is out there, and made me realise there is a lot more to running then getting a faster marathon time! I have already started to line up my next challenges… one of which I will hopefully share with you VERY soon!

The best advice I can give to anyone who is reading this and thinking ‘I would love to do something like this’ is… JUST BLOODY DO IT! (Okay, well maybe don’t jump straight into a 60k ultra mountain race… but there is no reason why you couldn’t one day!) I honestly do believe that we never truly know what we are capable of until we try.  So here is to saying YES and all the amazing adventures along the way!

Jordan xx

Race Stats

**I was invited to be a part of Team Pro:Direct Running and to go on the trip by Prodirect. Race entry, travel, accommodation & kit were also provided**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adidas Infinite Trails – Part 1

 

I guess the best place to start is right back at the beginning… So let me take you back to about 6 weeks ago, when I randomly got a message from Rich (boss man!) on Instagram asking if I would consider being a part of Team Prodirect Running for the upcoming Adidas Infinite Trails weekend. I had never heard of the event before, but after a quick look on the website I just had to say yes! I am ALWAYS up for a challenge & looking for ways to push myself out of my comfort zone, and this looked like the perfect event to do this!

img_6180I was really excited, but as the event drew closer I also started to feel incredibly nervous, especially as I had been given the task of taking on the biggie.. Loop 2! 60km with 3800m of elevation! Craaaaaap, those hills at Richmond Park seemed pretty insignificant now! Luckily, completely by coincidence I also had a trail running/mountain holiday booked for the beginning of June in the South of France which ended up being the perfect training week (I still need to blog about this too!)

Soon enough, race week was upon us and we were all getting really excited about what we were taking on! As with any race, I spent most of the week leading up to it frantically checking the weather, and it was looking like along with the rest of Europe, Austria was also having a heatwave (30+ degrees forecast everyday!) BUT unfortunately, the weather is something we cannot control, you just need to make the best of the situation and I’m extreme conditions just be sensible (note: I do not class running a 60km mountain race during the middle of the day as sensible!)

Day 1

Our journey started on Tuesday evening where we met at the airport hotel for dinner and to plan the week ahead. This was actually the first time I met the team so it was nice to spend some time with them all before we embarked on our crazy adventure! The following day it was up early doors for our flight to Austria where we already had an action packed day ahead of us!

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

Our first task was to get some content for Social Media which meant our first trip up the mountain (We did the sensible thing though and saved our legs by getting a cable car up & down) The views from the top were truly something else, we managed to get some pretty amazing photos but as always I don’t think a photo can ever really do something like this justice! There is also something incredible humbling about being on a mountain, and it makes you realise just how small we actually are!

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

The main realisation we all had from this was how bloody hot it was, even late in the afternoon and at the summit! There was no cloud, and even the wind was blowing hot air. Normally I am not one to complain about the hot weather, but all I kept thinking is that it was going to make an already tough race, that little bit tougher!

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

Day 2

This is where the real fun started! The small town we were staying in started to really come alive as athletes from all over the world arrived ready for the events.

Adidas Terrex had well and truly taken over! In the centre of the town was the ‘House Of Terrex’ which was their version of the event expo – there was food & drinks, massage, exhibitors, panel talks, massage, registration etc. It was great to be able to wander around and soak up all the atmosphere. This is when it all started to feel more real and reminded me I wasn’t just there for a holiday!

Thursday was also the first race of the weekend with the 15km Prologue event taking place that evening. This was essentially a warm up for the main event and your teams average finish time determined your start time on Saturday. We decided to use the race as a way to get some experience with trails and not completely trash our legs before our main race.

We set off as a team, alongside another 600+ runners and soon found ourselves in a single file queue making our way up the first climb. There wasn’t really any option apart from to walk, but to be honest we didn’t really mind (and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to run 99% of it anyway!) and we still managed to keep a solid walking pace to the top! Once we started the descent though, I will admit that Rich and I maaaaaaaay have got a little carried away with the downhill! It was super steep and it just felt so good to get some speed back into my legs! I wouldn’t say it was running… it was more just falling with style, and trying to keep my legs from going underneath me!

As a team we finished in just under the 2.00 hour mark, which we were super happy with! Out of about 180ish teams that put us in 139th position for the race on Saturday, which we were quite surprised at! But I think that just goes to show the level of athletes that had turned up to event, I mean.. it was the world championships after all!

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

Day 3

Today was all about relaxing, eating and trying to prepare ourselves for race day! My day started with another quick trip up the mountain (via cable car! and I had my first experience of being a footwear model) before I headed back down to chill – well, as best I could in 33 degree heat!

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Photographer – Jon Roberts http://www.jonroberts.co.uk/

I headed back to the House of Terrex which was now absolutely buzzing with athletes and people getting ready and excited for the event! This was also where I casually bumped into legendary Adidas Athlete Timothy Olson! What he doesn’t know about mountain running, isn’t worth knowing! So I obviously had to ask if he had any advice for the race, and then get a photo of course!

1️⃣ Start SLOW (obviously all relative to the individual as his ‘slow’ pace would probably be my max effort 🤣)

2️⃣ Hike the hills! Don’t try and run it all, and use this time to take on lots of calories and water.

3️⃣ Think less! Don’t be constantly thinking about what’s coming up or what you have to do. Enjoy it, take in the views and just run!

The afternoon was pretty busy – we had to attend the mandatory Athlete Briefing where the RDs went through all of the loops and health & safety, then it was final kit checks before we headed to a local restaurant and stuffed ourselves with pizza before getting an early night! Oh, and of course I had to do a flat lay! I don’t think I’ve ever had so much stuff for a race before!

It was then straight to bed as we had a looooong day ahead of us on Saturday!

Day 4 – RACE DAY!

I actually got a really good night sleep and woke up feeling raring to go at 4am! Now all I had to do was fuel myself and wait for Rich to finish his lap.

I headed down to the event village at around 7am with some of the other guys to wait for Rich and cheer on the other runners. The atmosphere was incredible, it felt more like a festival than a race! I was feeling SO nervous and I probably went to the toilet about 8 times in the space of an hour. At around 8.30 we got the update from Lewis and Jon that Rich was heading to the finish! I got myself into the handover zone and tried to get my head in the game. Minutes later Rich came storming down the finish straight to hand over to me. This was it! Now the real fun was about to begin…

I have so much to say about this race. I think it deserves its own blog post… COMING SOON!

Lactate Threshold Testing

A couple of weeks back I was invited along by Pure Sports Medicine to take part in a Lactate Threshold test at their Bank Clinic.

I will be honest, I had heard about the test before, but I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to have to do, or what it was going to tell me. But what I did know, is that it’s hard bloody work! And how did I know this? Because when I mentioned it to people I was getting it done the general response was to laugh, and then say Good Luck! Greaaaaaat, I was starting to wonder what I had let myself in for!

I received an email from Graham the morning of my test making sure that I wasn’t planning on running before or even running to the clinic (I’ll be honest, the thought had crossed my mind!) as the test works best when you are rested, and apparently us endurance runners have a habit of trying to fit runs in whenever we can (whoops!) but by doing so it can skew the results of the test. In an ideal world, I should have had a rest day the day before too, but luckily all I had done was a nice easy paced run so it didn’t have too much of an effect on the results.

I arrived at the clinic and met with Graham who talked me through what we were going to do, and then I had to sign my life away (no, literally!) The test was simple, I was going to be running on a treadmill for between 40-60 minutes, for blocks of time at various speeds, with the aim to increase the speed throughout until we found where my maximum pace was.

During the test both your heart rate (you are required to wear a heart rate monitor, but the clinic can provide one if you don’t have one) and bloods are monitored.

NB – your bloods are monitored by a small finger prick needle and then a sample is taken. This happens quite frequently throughout the test so if you have a real fear/issue with needles and/or blood then this test would not be a good choice for you!

So remember I said it was best to make sure you were completely rested? The reason for this is that lactate can stay in your blood for between 24-48 hours, so when my bloods were taken right at the start of the test, the count was a little higher than expected, but even after just doing a fast walk on the treadmill for a few minutes it returned back down to the ‘normal level’ as my body was able to process it back into fuel pretty quickly.

The test was broken up into approx 4 minute intervals. We started with just a fast walk for the first block and then gradually increased to a slow, comfortable jog. Also throughout the test, as well as monitoring my HR and bloods I also had to say how I felt on a scale of 6-20 in terms of effort (Rate of Perceived Exertion, with 6 being complete rest and 20 being maximum effort)

Graham then popped all of my results into a table which shows the speed of the treadmill (KM), my blood result, heart rate and finally my RPE score.

As you can see from my results, from around 30 minutes was where it was starting to get tough! And not only does my HR rise quite quickly, but so does the levels of lactate in my blood. Graham then made the call to stop the test during the last block as I had pretty much reached my maximum level, and I certainly don’t think I would have been able to run much faster for another 4 minute block!

I have to say, I was pretty relieved when it was finished! I had basically just done a pretty tough 40 minute progression run.. so much for it being my rest day!

Graham then briefly went over my results and assured me they were pretty good but that my full report would follow the following week, along with my prescribed heart rate training zones (the super duper important bit!). Here are my results.

So why is this important? Because quite simply, if you are working to heart rate it gives you the best idea of how hard your body is working, and how hard it should be working depending on the session you are doing and what you are looking to get out of it.

For example – the classic ‘Easy Run’ (which could be classed as Active Recovery or Endurance) Although technically it’s the simplest form of running, it can sometimes be the one that most people get wrong (and I have definitely been guilty of this in the past)

An easy run should be exactly what it says on the tin, easy! So although technically it might ‘feel easy’ for you to head out at your 5k pace every time you go for a run, if your HR is hitting that Zone 3-4 training zone during these runs, that my friend is not classed as easy! Using HR is a great way for you to know what level you should be working to on these runs so that you are not pushing your body too much when it’s simply not needed.

So what is Lactate Threshold and why is it good to know what yours is?

Have you ever had that feeling during a race or a really hard training session where all of a sudden it’s like someone has flicked a switch and your legs go from feeling pretty good to really heavy and that burning sensation? Yes? Well, that’s all down to Lactic acid!

Your body is constantly producing lactic acid whilst exercising, but when it gets to that point it’s where your body is unable to keep up with how much is being processed, and basically can’t get rid of it! Your body/brain/everything will be trying to do what it can to get you to slow down, and this can also be described as ‘hitting the wall’ – an experience unfortunately most of us will encounter during a race.

Knowing what your ‘Lactate Threshold’ pace is has many benefits. It means that during your training, you can push your body to that limit, and like with anything, if you keep working at it, you can improve it! And then hopefully you will be able to replicate it on race day and be able to push that little bit harder, or hold on for longer.

Here is my personalised report based on my test results.

“Aerobic Threshold was achieved at 14 kph and 168 bpm. This is the threshold of “mouth-closed” training. Anything above that and you are accumulating substantial lactate but are able to re-process it back into fuel. You can maintain this speed for 3+ hours and gives you a good marathon pace to be focussing on if one completes a marathon at this sort of time.

For yourself, it should be somewhat faster to achieve marathon pace. Lactate Threshold was achieved at 16.5kph (3:38min/km) and 181 bpm. This is the threshold by which you are accumulating considerable lactate and your body cannot keep up with how much is being processed. This pace can be kept for approx. 1 hour if conditions were perfect.

My recommendation for YOUR improved lactate – prescribe some of your tempo runs at 3:55min/km pace and kick to 3:30min/km for a time of 10% of total duration (e.g 60min run = sets of 6 mins). Work at a EASY:HARD ratio of 1:1.”

Since the test, I have been paying a lot more attention to my HR during training. At the moment I have been focusing a lot more on working in my ‘Aerobic Zone’ due to my upcoming ultra marathons, and it has honestly made such a difference. Although I have been running more miles than ever before, the majority of my runs have been at ‘easy pace’ – meaning that I haven’t felt burnt out and I also seem to be recovering well in between sessions.

Soon enough though, my training for New York marathon will be officially kicking off, and I am really looking forward to using this information to make sure this is my best training block yet. I won’t be second guessing what paces I need to run at, and I will know exactly how hard I need to work in certain sessions to see results. I’m actually pretty excited!!

Whether you are looking for that marathon PB, or perhaps you are newer to running, I believe there are benefits to having the test done. For beginners, one of the most common mistakes they make is pushing themselves too hard, too quickly. And it’s easily done! You feel great when you first start running regularly and it’s all to easy to head out on every single training run and try to run quicker than before, or race parkrun every single week.. but unfortunately, this will catch up with you! So if you know how hard you should be working from the start, over time you will have a much more productive (and probably enjoyable!) running journey.

I hope you found this useful, and if you do decide to get yourself booked in for a test…. GOOD LUCK!

Jordan xx

Pure Sports Medicine are offering 20% off your Lactate Threshold Test (usually £146) if you quote ‘projectmarathongirl’ when booking until 26th July 2019. To book directly please email media@puresportsmed.com

Or to find out more information you can click here to head straight to the website.

Session was gifted as part of ongoing partnership with Pure Sports Medicine.

Red Bull Quicksand 2019

‘How hard can 1 mile be?’

The answer…. VERY BLOODY HARD!

As you all know, road marathons are my thing. So a 1 mile race (on sand!) is approximately 25.2 miles outside of my comfort zone. But, I love a challenge and after the London Marathon my main priority was to just have some fun with running and events, so when Red Bull UK kindly invited me to the event, I had to say yes! (it also helped that my number 1 @whatcharlierannext lives about 1 mile so it was the perfect chance for a catch up & a sleep over!) 

Race weekend rolled around, and I travelled down to Margate on the Friday night to stay with Charlie. We decided to go for a little shake out run and used it as the perfect excuse to go and check out the course which was being set up on the beach. As we approached the site I think we both had the same thing going through our brain… ‘OH SH*T!’

The man-made sand dunes were absolutely massive, and there was a lot of them! We had a quick chat with the event team that were there setting up the event and they too confirmed that they stepped it up from the previous year and the obstacles were bigger and steeper. Faaaaaaaabulous!

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The race format was simple. There were a number of different heats (both for men & women) during which you were required to complete 2 x laps of the course, and the Top 50% of finishers then progressed to the semi final, and then again to the final.

Soon enough it was the morning of the race, and fuelled by pasta, prosecco & doughnuts, Charlie and I made our way to the event village to get registered and ready for our heats. Once we arrived we found Helen (@framefitnesssouthhampton) & Helena (@marathon_runner92) and we all felt pretty similar… excited, but nervous for what was coming up!

 

 

It is safe to say, Red bull really know how to put on an event. It was really well organised & registration was a quick and seamless process. The atmosphere on the beach was great too, and I think this was definitely helped by having Run Dem Crew there leading the warm ups, MC’ing and generally just helping to create an epic atmosphere!

After watching the last of the mens heat, it was finally our time to go! Charlie & Helen were in the first women’s heat (to which Charlie managed to finish in the Top 50% and progress to the Semi Final, as much as she didn’t want to! hahaaaaaaaa) and then finally it was my turn!

I can honestly say, that first lap was the hardest mile I have ever ran. I *maaaaay* have got slightly over excited at the start and went out far too quickly for the first lap, but I was feeling good! And then it happened, it was almost as if someone flicked a switch in my legs and they went from feeling strong, to feeling like two blocks of wood! That final lap was a slog, and after taking the lead for the first lap, I slipped back into second place, and I just had nothing left in me to push on.

I was interviewed pretty much the second I crossed the line, I am surprised I even managed to talk as I honestly felt like I was going to throw up.

‘Speaking after the first heat, she said: “Right now, my legs are like jelly, I feel sick and my lungs are burning – and I just don’t feel like that at the end of a marathon. Because you’re working so hard for a short amount of time, it completely kills your body.”

It was a bittersweet moment, I was pleased I finished 2nd and progressed to the semi final, but now I knew what I had let myself in for, at that moment I wasn’t really sure I wanted to run it again!

Luckily, there was about a 2 hour break before the next stage, so I got myself something to eat and started to prepare myself to run it again. Now I knew what to expect I knew that I couldn’t race off like a mad woman on that first lap, I needed to run smart! I also decided to run the next lap barefoot, I had seen others do it throughout the day and as the sand was soft and loose I thought it would be worth a shot, plus anyone that has run on sand before will know how annoying it is when your shoes and socks are full of sand!

It was time for the semi-final, and this time it was different, as we all knew what to expect from the brutal course. I attempted to hold myself back for the first part of the course, and hung back in around 4th position, but my plan worked! I felt stronger as the lap went on and managed to push on for that second lap and once again finished in 2nd position! And I even managed to run it around 40 seconds quicker than the first heat.

So that was it, I was in the final! And this time, we didn’t get much of a chance to recover as the Final was only 30 minutes later. I grabbed a can of Red Bull as I needed that quick energy fix (and all the help I could get!) and got myself ready to go.

Although it was the final, I knew I still needed to be clever. My legs were cooked by this point and I knew if I went out too quickly I would suffer towards the end of the lap. Once we set off I purposely held myself back again, and although I was in the front pack, I hung back in around 4th for the first few climbs. Everyone was suffering by this point but my competitiveness was greater than the pain in my legs! I managed to get myself comfortably in 2nd position by the time we were on the final lap, and at one point I even caught up with the Andrea but she wasn’t giving up that easily and managed to push on once again.

By the time we reached the final climb, my legs were completely done. The final ‘sprint’ to the finish wasn’t pretty, I can’t really explain how tough it is to try and run quickly on ground that moves beneath you, but just believe me when I say.. it hurts! But I did it.. I grabbed my flag and crossed the line in 2nd place, and only 8 seconds away from 1st! Everything went a bit wobbly, from my legs to my head and I felt a bit out of it for a few seconds, but I was just so happy it was done… and that I didn’t have to do it again!!

To my surprise, my final lap was quicker yet again! I don’t really understand how my legs still worked, but it just showed how poorly I paced myself for that first lap!

Heat 1 – 10.34

Semi Final – 09.54

Final – 09.16

Shortly after we finished, there was the winning presentations for both the Men & Women. The trophy was absolutely epic (and weighed a tonne!) and then we also got given a bottle of champagne… which we had to open and spray all over each other (don’t worry, I made sure I saved some to drink after!) 

I mentioned it earlier, but Red Bull really do know how to put on an event! I will 100% be returning to the beaches of Margate next year, and its made me want to sign up to more of their events just because I know it will be an incredible experience (Redbull 400 anyone?!)

If you are looking for a new, fun, tough challenge for next year, I highly recommend this event! The 2020 event hasn’t been announced yet, but keep your eyes peeled on the website. You won’t regret it!

Jordan xxx

 

 

London Marathon 2019

Now that the dust has settled on the 2019 London Marathon, I thought I would finally get round to writing a blog post all about it. I will be honest, at first I just wanted to forget about it, I have made no secret that I was disappointed with how the race went, but I know that it is important to not only share the highs & the wins, but also the lows and those races that don’t always go to plan. So here we go…

The days leading up to the race were pretty fully on (perhaps one of my many mistakes?) I had committed to lots of events, which at the time I thought would just help to distract and relax me, but looking back now, perhaps being so busy on the days leading up to the marathon wasn’t such a good idea….

But, I can’t change that now, and I did have fun! The events included visiting the London Marathon Expo with the New Balance Team, a special Secret London Runs with Team Runderwear and attending the 2019 Running Awards! The best bit was getting to see & catch up with lots of friends, and meeting lots of great new people too.

Anyway, I digress! Saturday finally rolled around and it was time to relax. I was feeling oddly calm, and it honestly didn’t feel like the marathon was only one sleep away, it was definitely a world away from how I felt the year before! This actually made me feel quietly confident, I felt this was before Berlin & Switzerland marathon and they turned out pretty bloody well, so who knows… maybe London was going to go better than I thought?! I got an early night, and actually slept really well, and before I knew it I was up, stuffing myself with porridge & black coffee and making my way to the start line.

I met some friends at the tube station, and we travelled down together – and I don’t know if anyone else thought this but everywhere just seemed so much busier compared to previous years?! We arrived at Blackheath and started to make our way to the start zones, as standard I was suddenly absolutely desperate for the toilet so finding a portaloo was my number one priority! Luckily this year I was in the Championship Start, which thankfully meant shorter toilet queues! And I just want to say thank you to the two girls who let me cut in front of them as they could clearly see I was desperate – the heroes of the day! Another stark difference to last year was also how bloody cold it was!! Again, due to being in the Championship Start I was very grateful that I had a tent to hide in and get changed in.

A few days prior to the race, I received a message from Paul (who I knew from back home) offering to run with me for the first 20 miles of the race and to help pace me. I have never been paced during a marathon before, but due to how the last couple of months had felt, I jumped at the chance. It was one less thing to worry about, and I thought the distraction of running with someone might give me that slight edge.

I managed to find Paul in the start zone, and then it was time to go!We started the short walk to the start line, and rather than doing a warm up I decided to try and just hide in the middle of the crowds and steal everyone else’s body heat. Paul and I discussed our strategy and it was then I decided I was still going to try and attempt my 2.55 goal. I suddenly started to get very nervous, I honestly had no idea if I was going to be able to run that pace, it had felt like a lifetime since I had run that fast and I was feeling the pressure that if I couldn’t do it, I would be holding Paul back too.

We crossed the line after approx 20 seconds, and it was a lot busier than I expected! The problem with being a female in the Championship Start is that the mens qualifying standard is a lot quicker, as is Good For Age which started directly behind us, so for the first 1km or so of the race I had a lot of fast men flying past me wanting to get nearer the front, but I put my blinkers on and just concentrated on running next to Paul.

I actually couldn’t believe how good I felt running at 2.55 pace, the first 5km flew past and we were bang on target, I was trying not to get too carried away as I knew we still had a loooooong way to go, but it certainly gave me a boost! I took my gel on as planned at 5.5 miles and was still feeling strong as we were approaching the 10km mark. And once again, as we reached the timing mat, not only were we on target, we even had a few seconds in the bank (mainly thanks to the slightly downhill start)  I also saw my coach at this point who shouted out that I was ‘bang on’ which was a really good boost!

As we approached Cutty Sark, this is where the crowds really came into their own. It was SO busy and loud, it can almost be a little overwhelming. When I am running marathons I like to break the race down, and once we passed Cutty Sark I just focused on getting to the next big landmark, Tower Bridge, which is also the half way point and where I knew I would be seeing friends & familiar faces! This is my 4th London Marathon, and turning that corner onto the bridge still gives me goosebumps, it’s so hard not to get carried away when you have thousands of people cheering and shouting, but I tried to keep reminding myself that I still had a long way to go!

I was still feeling strong, I had taken another gel on at 11.5 miles and was taking small sips of water as and when I felt I needed it (although looking back now, I think maybe I could have taken on more) We crossed the bridge and reached the half way point, and again we were pretty much on target with a half marathon time of 1.27.37, which meant as long as we kept the same pace for the second half (with a cheeky sprint finish) I could still be in with a chance of getting my sub 2.55, or at least a PB!

The next couple of miles ticked by nicely, I took on another gel at around 15 miles, and then unfortunately everything started to go a bit Pete Tong. I all of a sudden got this shooting pain in the side of my stomach, it honestly felt like someone had stabbed me just underneath my ribs. My pace naturally slowed down, and I tried to control my breathing but nothing was working. Every time I tried to speed up, the pain got worse and I was struggling to catch my breath. Paul was checking in and asking if I was okay, but I think my face said it all. I had slowed right down, I was clutching my stomach and just trying to breathe normally.

I was hoping it would pass, but unfortunately the stitch lasted for around 3 miles. I desperately just wanted to stop and walk, but I knew that once I did that I would lose it mentally so I kept plodding on and trying to ignore everything else around me. I was heartbroken, and feeling pretty miserable. I even turned the pace off my watch as I couldn’t bare to see the miles getting slower, and my goals slipping away.

Friends started to pass me on the course, friends that technically I should have been ahead of, and then the 3 hour pacer glided past, which felt like another stab in the stomach. I will admit, for those few miles not only did I lose it physically, I also gave up mentally too. And when that happens in a marathon, its game over.

Thankfully as we passed the 20 mile mark, the stitch had disappeared, but now it was my legs that were giving up. Due to slowing down and changing my running style due to ‘stitch gate’ I lost all of the drive and power in my legs, and in fact – I slowed down even more! I am extremely grateful that Paul decided to stay with me until the end (think he must have felt sorry for me!) and helped to push me through the final few miles.

All time goals were gone. I was no longer chasing a PB, the only thing I wanted to do now was get to the finish line. I took on another gel at around the 21 mile mark, along with a Caffeine Bullet and just started focusing on getting to Mile 24 – where I knew Becca and her legendary cheer squad would be. Somehow, I actually managed to get a little bit of speed back for those final couple of miles, I mean it was still WAY off pace, but I felt a lot more comfortable and like I was actually running again!

Seeing the guys at Mile 24 gave me a massive boost and really gave me the motivation to dig in and get to the finish. The crowds in general down the Embankment were just incredible, so if you are reading this and you were there that day – THANK YOU!

Paul was trying his best to push me, we tried to target runners that were in front of us with the aim to catch them, but my little legs could only do so much! But finally, we turned the corner and were approaching Birdcage Walk. I knew that James was going to be there, and as soon as I saw his little face I was gone, I was trying not to cry but I was absolutely done! Although original time goals were now out of the window, our new aim was to push for the final KM and cross the line under 3.10. I knew I didn’t really have anything in the tank, so I waited until we got to the final corner before really giving it my all and attempting a sprint finish.

We crossed the line, and as standard I had my finish line wobble – in fact I think this was my best one yet (luckily Paul was there to catch me!) I stopped my watch and then burst into tears. I just felt empty & disappointed, I wasn’t even that bothered about getting my medal. I cried some more, I then looked up and saw a crew member filming me (and they then ended up using the clip in 3 different videos later that day, greaaaaaaaat!)

Luckily I then spotted Chris & Matt, who had finished a few minutes before me, they came and gave me a big cuddle, which resulted in more tears! I couldn’t even pretend I was happy, or proud of myself that I had just ran a marathon. All I wanted to do at that moment was get my bag, and go home.

I met up with some friends and my Dad at the finish – and although they all tried to say how well I did, I wasn’t having it. I was being a complete misery guts. I had been looking forward to this day for so long, and I was just so gutted it didn’t go to plan. I tried to pull myself together and made my way back to Birdcage Walk as I wanted to cheer – but with a combination of being emotional, the crowds, being cold and my legs hurting I decided to just get away from the madness and made my way home.

Once I got home, I just couldn’t believe it was all over – the day I had been counting down to for a whole year, working towards for months was done. And it went so so wrong. It was tough to process. But luckily – a long hot shower, a massage, pizza & lots of gin helped to ease the pain slightly!

It’s been 9 days since the marathon, and if I am honest I am not in the best place right now. A combination of disappointment, post marathon blues, lack of training & weight gain has left me feeling low. But I know that feeling sorry for myself isn’t going to make me feel any better! So instead I am now focusing on my next goal – the 2019 New York Marathon! I am going to be a lot more selective about what I share during this block, and I will be keeping goals close to my chest, but I look forward to sharing the journey with you all.

Jordan xxx

 

 

 

London Marathon Training Update

Okay, so I hold my hands up.. I have slacked majorly with my weekly training updates. I have no real excuse apart from the fact that life got in the way, work was busy, I have other stuff I have been trying to deal with and to be honest it has felt so up & down there have just been times I haven’t really wanted to write about it. BUT, I want this blog to be open and honest, I don’t just want to share the good stuff, so here goes.. a little over view of the last 5 weeks.

Looking back as a whole, you could say that the last 5 weeks has been a success. I raced the St Valentines 30k back in February, got a huge course PB and finished 1st Female. I raced well in two tough Cross Country races, and then last week I ran The Big Half and although I didn’t get my original goal, I did get a PB (81.31) in tough conditions and off the back of a tough week (more mentally, rather than physically) So I get it, what have I got to moan about? It’s hard to explain, and although I have raced well, everything in between has just felt a bit crap. I have struggled in multiple sessions, missed runs and then just this weekend came down with a cold, which is always a sign I have overdone it.

If I am being completely honest with myself, and with you guys. I think I need a break.

2018 was a HUGE year for me. I ran 3 marathons, and consecutively got a PB at each one. I also raced a lot in between, and didn’t really give myself any down time. And on top of that I set up my own business & moved to London. And I think its finally all catching up with me.

I have also recently shared my diagnosis and journey to getting my periods back and being told I have RED-S which I think has had a bigger effect on me that I first realised.

For the first time, in a very long time, running is feeling like an effort. And I am finding myself slipping back into old self destructing habits. Social media can be amazing at times, and I am forever grateful for the opportunities it has given me and the people it has bought into my life. But recently I have found myself almost actively looking for things that I know are going to make me feel bad (stupid right?!) Comparing myself to those that are faster than me, leaner than me, obsessing over what mileage other people are doing and then getting angry that I am unable to run as far or as quick without completely breaking myself. And then on top of that, I then feel guilty. As I know that people probably look at what I am doing and feel the same. And then it just becomes a vicious circle of anger, guilt and sadness.

Marathon training is hard work. And anyone that says any different is lying. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a plan and structure to my week, and I love the feeling of working hard to achieve my goals. But this is my 4th consecutive year of marathon training, and it has been by far the most emotionally and mentally draining. London Marathon is still my goal, and I have 6 weeks left to work hard and give it my all on race day. But after that… I have already decided I am giving myself some time off, and not just the first few days after the race. I need a proper break. Not working towards anything, not racing for PBs, just pressure free running before the training for New York Marathon begins later in the Summer.

Thankfully, this week I am getting a break away in the sun as I head out to Cyprus on Thursday to pace the Limassol Half Marathon – and I cannot bloody wait! I am going to use it as my reset – lots of beach runs, lots of relaxing & just getting some sunshine. And the cherry on the cake will be hopefully helping lots of people get their PBs on Sunday! I am hoping it will be just what I need, and I will come back refreshed and ready to tackle the last few weeks of marathon training.

If you are currently training for a marathon, and finding it tough, please remember that you are not alone! Running should be something we do because we enjoy it & love it, and it certainly shouldn’t be something that causes us to feel stressed & unhappy (which is something I am having to tell myself a lot at the moment!) And if you are feeling like this, it may be that you need a break too. Are you booking race after race? Constantly training with no down time in between? If so just remember that not only is this a massive physical strain on your body, but just as much mentally. You may not notice it straight away, but trust me.. it will catch up with you if you don’t look after yourself and give yourself a chance to recover.

There we have it – from the outside it may look like its all PBs and smiles, but remember you don’t always know the full story behind the little squares we see on Instagram.  So as always, be kind, and if you think someone is struggling, reach out, as they may just need someone to ask if they are okay.

Love,

Jordan xxx

 

RED-S: My Recovery Journey

‘You 100% have REDs’

Oh, shit.

This is what I was told when I visited a Sports Doctor recently and opened up about EVERYTHING. My training load, my diet, my mental health and my (lack of) menstrual cycle. Was it a shock? To be honest, no. But was it still scary? Absolutely.

I have known something wasn’t quite right for a while. Since May 2017 I have had a grand total of 3 natural period cycles. My periods returned for a short time last summer when I was injured but apart from one very light day in November, they have completely disappeared. Now don’t get me wrong, I totally get the idea of not having a period sounds great – no bloating, no pain, no feeling uncomfortable, but unfortunately for females, periods are so so so important, and without them you can really be putting your health at risk.

I am going to be sharing my recovery journey with you. As always I am going to be brutally honest. I have no doubt this is going to be tough, but I hope that in sharing my story it will not only raise awareness, but hopefully if any of you are going through this too, it will help you with your own recovery.

So, here’s to getting my periods back, to getting my body working normally again, to being happy & healthy, and to becoming the best athlete I can be.

In this post I am going to give an overview of what REDs is, my own experience & where you can seek help if you need it.

And just to confirm, I am not in any way qualified to diagnose or offer professional advice. If you are at all concerned about yourself, or a friend or family member please seek professional help by either making an appointment with your GP, a Sports Doctor or a dietician that specialises in working with Athletes.

For more information & resources you can also visit the fantastic Train Brave website by clicking here. 

What is RED-S?

RED-S stands for ‘Relative Energy Deficiency Syndrome’ – This was previously known as the ‘Female Athlete Triad’ 

In really simple terms, it basically means you are not giving your body the calories it needs to function properly. But this doesn’t always mean you are starving yourself. I eat a lot of food, but compared to the amount of exercise I do, it is obviously not enough for the rest of my body to keep working properly.

The diagram below shows the various risks that can be associated with RED-S. But please remember, even if you don’t have every single one on the list, it doesn’t mean you don’t have the condition.

It is also important to note here that RED-S can affect both female AND male athletes, but it is somewhat easier to first diagnose in females as one of the biggest warning signs is a lack of periods.

train brave red s

 

Warning Signs

I have taken these directly from the Train Brave website, again if you have any of these signs please do not ignore them & seek professional advice.

Physiological

  • Lack of three consecutive periods in females or a change to a previously regular menstrual cycle
  • Decline in morning erectile function in male athletes
  • Poor development of muscle mass
  • Difficulties staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer months
  • Downy growth of hair all over the body
  • Constipation or feeling bloated

Behavioural

  • Pre-occupation and constantly talking about food
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Restricting or strict control of food intake
  • Overtraining or difficulties taking rest days

Psychological

  • Irrational behaviour
  • Fear of food and weight restoration
  • Severe anxiety
  • Becoming withdrawn and reclusive

Performance

  • Poor recovery between training sessions
  • Digestive issues –athletes often become constipated and bloated
  • Recurrent injuries, including stress fractures

 

My Experience

As I said, you do not need to have every single sign or symptom to be affected with this, I certainly don’t, but there are quite a few on the lists I can tick off, including;

  • Lack of periods
  • Difficulty in controlling body temperature
  • Constipation & Bloating
  • Poor Sleep patterns
  • Restricting & control over food intake
  • Fear of gaining weight

And here are some other fun ones that I can also add to the list which I am sure are down to hormonal imbalances (I’ll warn you, they aren’t pretty!) 

  • Irregular bowel movements (similar to IBS)
  • Night sweats
  • Binge Eating (due to restricting & guilt around food) 

I feel very fortunate that up until this point, I have not suffered any serious injuries, but I know this if I continue down this road, I wont always be this lucky. As a runner, one of my biggest fears is getting a stress fracture, and this is one of the biggest risks if your body is not producing the hormones needed to keep your bones strong & healthy (so if you hadn’t realised, periods are SO much more than just about having babies!) 

Next Steps

My diagnosis is technically unofficial, so the next steps for me is to get various blood & hormone tests to really get an understanding of what is going on inside my body.

We are very fortunate to have the NHS in the UK, and I have already got my follow up appointment booked to go through by blood results in two weeks time. And after that? I am not so sure. Depending on the results I may then be referred for a DEXA Scan (to check my bone health & density) which personally I am really going to try and push for.

In the mean time, I have been advised that I need to eat more. A lot more. Now I know this sounds like the dream, but it’s not as fun as it sounds. More food = more calories = gaining weight.

This is going to be a whole other step to my recovery, and something I am also going to be seeking professional help for. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the actual eating side of things, I bloody love my food. But the guilt that comes after, and the idea of gaining weight and my body changing is something I don’t quite know how to accept yet. BUT I am determined that I am going to get better. I love running so much & I want it to be part of my life for as long as possible, and unless I start looking after myself properly, that is not going to happen.

So, there we go! I have no idea when my next update will be (or what it will be!) but heres hoping it will be a good one!

Jordan xxx

London Marathon Training – Week 5

This week was definitely a little more exciting than my average week, highlights include running with a GB Ultra Runner, my first XC race with Herne Hill Harriers & putting my pacing skills to the test at the first ever Olympic Park Half Marathon!

Week 5 – WC 4th February 2019

Monday

AM – Easy/Recovery 3 Miles

PM – Steady 7 Miles

Gym – Strength Training 

I always get asked a lot what is one of the most important things about marathon training. I think people often get surprised by my answer… Consistency. So yes, these sessions might not be the most exciting, but its working. It sets me up for the week, the easy run in the morning shakes out any hard weekend runs and I genuinely enjoy getting a good gym session in before I crack on with work and life admin!

So my best advice, find a routine that works for you and your life – and stick with it!

Tuesday

PM – Club Session

Urgh. I wish I could say this session went well, but it was horrible. Why? Because I was a greedy pig and decided to stuff my dinner down me BEFORE my evening session. During the warm up I realised this was a big mistake, I felt bloated, heavy and my stomach was churning like a washing machine. The most annoying thing though was that my legs actually felt great and if I hadn’t messed up my food I would have really enjoyed it! The session was 8 x 3 minute efforts with 60s recoveries. I basically wanted to quit after the 1st one and got progressively slower as I was trying not to be sick in between reps – just keeping it real 😉

I got really frustrated on the way home as this was the 2nd week in a row my club night went tits up. These sessions are really important to me, and when they go well it always gives me a massive confidence boost, so similarly when they don’t go well, it just makes me feel a bit pants! As always though I was probably just being way too hard on myself, as my friend pointed out I did get a 10k PB only two days before, but thats me – always quick to forget the good stuff and focus on the bad! This is definitely something I need to work

Wednesday 

AM – Easy 6 miles 

So I did something a little different today – no #doubledayz for me, but instead I hopped onto a train and ventured out of the city to the COUNTRY SIDE! I was really excited to be spending the day with Redbull UK, GB Ultra Runner Tom Evans and some other legends from the ‘gram!

We got the train down to Sussex and headed to Tom’s house to meet him and the rest of the team and we were greeted with tea, coffee & a breakfast buffet all put on by his lovely Mum (I almost felt guilty I had already eaten and couldn’t make the most of it!) Tom then gave us a quick presentation, which included talking about his epic CCC win, his average training week & also his plans for this year (which are pretty bloody exciting btw!). Then soon enough it was time for the fun part – running, and we didn’t have to travel far.. we literally ran around Toms back garden, which just happened to be miles of beautiful trails – Not. Jealous. At. All! It’s been a long time since I ran the trails and just really enjoyed running with no pressure on time, pace or distance, its definitely something I want to do more of in the summer!

After a nice muddy run, it was time to clean up and head for some food and then a quick gym session where we went through some basic strengthening & mobility exercises, and finished off with a nice stretch before jumping on the train back to the city.

Normally I completely freak out about missing a run on my plan, and usually on a Wednesday I run twice, but by the time I got home (after missing our original train!) I was knackered, so I made the decision not to head back out. Now I know I said earlier that consistency is key, but so is listening to your body and accepting that sometimes things don’t always go to plan!

Thursday 

PM – Club Session (Hills)

Gym – Strength Training 

I was determined that tonights session was going to go well, after messing up my last couple of club sessions I really wanted to have a good one as a confidence boost! I didn’t want to make the same mistake again with eating too much so I had my lunch as usual and then an hour or so before I had a banana with some peanut butter and a red bull, and it certainly seemed to do the trick!

The hill session was a tough one, it was short, but that isn’t always a good thing! In fact normally the shorter the reps & sessions… the harder it is! The session was 4 x Hill Reps, with the main difference being you had to run hard up AND down. Say Whaaaaaaaaaaat! No recovery what so ever, this was pure evil! The hill was around 300m and it was bloody horrible. but I felt strong and actually quite enjoyed running fast down hill…. and the good news is I have the perfect race to practice this on next week!

Friday  

REST DAY 

Repeat after me, rest day is the best daaaaaaaaaaay!

Saturday

Surrey League XC (5 miles)

Ahhhh… This was such a fun day! My first official race for my new club Herne Hill Harriers and it did not disappoint. It was great to have such a good turnout for our club, and as a team we did really well, with 5 of us finishing in the Top 16 (and I even managed to come 7th!)

If I am completely honest, I would choose a flat road race over XC any time, I always get a little nervous before, but always end up enjoying it. Unfortunately it is coming to the end of the XC season, but there are still a couple of races left, including a big team trip up to Leeds at the end of Feb, although I think everyone is more excited for the night out afterwards!

Sunday

Run Through Olympic Park Half Marathon

I had been looking forward to this race for a while, not because I was racing or going for a PB, but because I was having my first attempt at (unofficially) pacing a 1.30 half marathon in preparation for Limassol Half next month!

I headed to the Olympic Park a little earlier then I usually would as I wanted to get a few extra miles in (and also check out the course)  before the race. One thing I love about the RunThrough events is how well organised they are, and the races at the Olympic Park are no exception – it was well signposted, lots of marshalls & volunteers helping to direct, and also a nice big cafe to hide in and keep warm at the start! Another thing I love about these races is how many familiar, smiley faces you always see!

The course was, um, interesting! It certainly wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be when I first saw the course map, but there were a lot of twist and turns, and also who knew their were so many hills in East London!? If I was racing this or going for a PB, I probably wouldn’t have been a big fan, but it was definitely a good course to test yourself on, and I personally really liked that you could always see runners on the course, I saw loads of friendly faces whilst I was running around!

The miles ticked by nicely, which was helped by having the company of Alex (@quinnphysio) for the first half – before he then sped off and ran a quicker second half and left me! But I was feeling good, the pace felt comfortable and I was managing to keep it pretty consistent. My only little moan about today was that the mile markers between 10-11 were waaaaaay out, which can be a real pain when you are trying to pace. Luckily, I decided to just trust my watch and stick to the pace I knew I was doing and thankfully the course evened itself out as we approached the final mile.

As my watch buzzed 13 miles I realised I had achieved my goal of sneaking in just under the 1.30 mark, as I was on my own I couldn’t help but pick up the pace a little bit for a sprint finish (obvz) My final time according to Strava was 1.29.48, I’ll take that – also, guess which numpty forgot to take the timing chip out of the envelope, whoops! Good job it wasn’t a race I wanted to PB at!

So overall, it was a pretty good week! 57 miles in the bank with some quality sessions fitted in too. I definitely don’t feel as exhausted as I have over the last few weeks, my mileage has been slightly lower, but I am also hoping that it means my body is starting to adapt to all this training?! 5 weeks down already, 11 more to go!

Jordan xx