Marathon Week – The Do’s, Dont’s & Everything in between!

So if you have made it this far, CONGRATULATIONS! This means that you have probably been working extremely hard for the last 12-16 weeks, and your marathon date has gone from months, to weeks, to a matter of days!

At the time of writing this, I am just 5 days away from my 6th marathon, and my 3rd of the year, and whilst I am no expert, I have picked up some handy hints & tips over the last couple of years, and especially over the last few months on how to stay sane on these final few days.

So whether this is your 1st marathon, or perhaps you have already done a lot but always struggle with these last few days, I hope you find some of these tips useful! And of course, if you have any of your own pearls of wisdom, pop them in the comments below!

Tapering.

Now this can depend on the individual, some people love the idea of winding down ahead of a big race whilst for others it feels them with dread! The idea of reducing miles and training can put people into a panic. Visions of losing fitness and all the progress you’ve made disappearing before your eyes is completely normal (so if this is you, don’t worry!) but it simply is not true. Tapering (alongside rest & recovery) is a key part to any marathon training plan, and should not be ignored. The idea of tapering is that you get to the start line feeling fresh, the last thing you want to do is get on that start line already feeling exhausted (save that for the finish line!)

taperingA marathon taper tends to be anywhere between 2-3 weeks before the race, but the last week is especially crucial. Please remember that you will not gain anything from going out and smashing a really tough training session the week of a race, your body will not have time to adapt, and in fact it could have the exact opposite effect of what you were hoping to achieve.

Now, here is where some people do get a little bit confused. Tapering does not mean just stop completely, it just means that you reduce your mileage, intensity and level of activity. For me personally, I still keep active during my final taper week, I still run & go to the gym, but just make sure I take it a bit easier! Here is what I will be getting up to this week…

Monday – Easy Paced 6 Miles & Gym (Upper Body – I reduce the weights during taper week)

Tuesday – Track Session – 8 x 400m + WU & CD – This was a ‘feel good session’ not 100% all out, so the aim was to make sure I felt comfortable on every rep, which I did!

Wednesday – Easy Paced 5 Miles

Thursday – 1.5 mile warm up, 1 mile @ marathon pace, 1.5 mile cool down & Gym (Lower Body – again, I will reduce the weights/number of sets) 

Friday – Rest Day + Travelling to Switzerland

Saturday – 2/3 mile VERY EASY run/shakeout

Sunday – RACE DAY!

Maranoia.

maranoia

Following on quite nicely from point number 1 – MARANOIA! Yes, it may be a made up word that people joke about, but it can be a real thing that can really affect people (and sometimes quite badly) ahead of an important race.

The reason why this follows on quite nicely, is that maranoia tends to kick in once you start tapering. As I touched on briefly above, people tend to panic that because they are reducing the number of runs/miles they are doing in the week, that somehow their body is miraculously going to forget how to run (no matter how long you have been running for – this is something I have been guilty of in the past!) But trust me, our bodies are pretty clever, and you will not lose aerobic fitness over this short period of time, especially if you are still keeping active.

Another common maranoia symptom is convincing yourself you have picked up a brand new injury or illness just days away from the race. Sneezed 3 times in a row? You have the flu! Legs aching slightly? Probably a stress fracture! I will admit, it is hard not to panic that something could go wrong and ruin the one thing you have been working towards for months on end. But worrying causes stress. And stress is the last thing you need on top of everything else. It can affect your sleep, your eating habits & your general wellbeing. Remember, as well as feeling physically fresh for the day of the race, it’s also important to look after your mental health too.

So my best piece of advice to try & deal with this, is try to keep busy and not let yourself have lots of time to think about the ifs & buts. Make plans to go and see friends, go out for lunch, go to the cinema, go for a walk, spend time with family – perhaps all the things you neglected when you were training!

Nutrition/Carb Loading.

Now, before you get too excited & have visions of being able to have mountains of pasta, unlimited amounts of bread and the local pizza delivery number on speed dial, carb loading does not mean just being able to eat whatever you want because you are running a marathon. I know, it sucks. And I am sorry.Huge Pile Of Spaghetti On Plate and Twirled Around Fork

BUT, ensuring that you are fuelling your body correctly (which does include more carbs, wohoo!) is important, and this doesn’t just mean cramming lots in the day before, but instead making sure you are eating well leading up to the race, especially in that final week.

The three key macronutrients are Carbohydrates, Fat & Protein – a healthy and balanced diet should include all three of these things, and on the final few days before a marathon the key is to just adjust the amounts of these macronutrients, rather then increasing your calories dramatically (still with me?!) Unfortunately there is not a ‘one size fits all’ way to do this, as every single person is different & will potentially require a different macro nutrient split & a different number of calories. To give you an idea, this is my Calorie & Macronutrient split for marathon week. But please, please, PLEASE remember that this has been calculated specifically for me, and will not work for you! This is purely to give you an idea on how to adjust your own diet

Monday & Tuesday – Calories – 2600/ Protein – 29%/ Fats – 33%/ Carbohydrates – 38%

Wednesday & Thursday – Calories – 2500/ Protein – 19%/ Fats – 27%/ Carbohydrates – 54%

Friday & Saturday – Calories – 3300/ Protein – 22%/ Fats 17%/ Carbohydrates – 61%

If you follow me on Instagram, I am keeping a week long food diary via my stories to give you some meal ideas, but here are a couple of quick & easy snack ideas which are perfect for getting those carbs in!

  • 1 x Cinnamon & Raisin Bagel with 1 x Banana
  • 1 x Trek Bar
  • 0% Greek Yogurt with Strawberries, Kiwi, Apricot, Grapes & 1 x Banana
  • Fruit Juice

I would highly recommend ordering the following book from Renee McGregor – it is packed full of useful hints & recipes to ensure you are fuelling yourself correctly during training & ahead of races. Click here to get your copy of Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success.

I would also not recommend trying anything new on the days leading up to your marathon, you want to be sticking to foods that you know work for you and are tried and tested! I would also hold off on anything too creamy/spicy/cheesy on the final days – basically you don’t want anything that could risk an upset stomach!

Hydration.

Whether you run or not, good hydration is important. It has been proven that the human body can actually survive for longer without food than it can without water.. so if you then throw running 26.2 miles into the mix I think its obvious how important it is you keep yourself hydrated properly!

Now again, similarly to carb loading, this doesn’t just mean downing gallons and gallons of water on a daily basis. Firstly, it will probably mean you are running to the toilet every 20 minutes, but also by drinking too much you can basically wash out all of the good things (salts mainly) that your body relies on during a marathon.

One way to ensure that you are not only staying hydrated (but also not over doing it) is by adding Electrolytes to your water. There are many different brands & products available, but for the past few months I have been using Precision Hydration for all of my pre race hydration needs. I was lucky enough to meet the team back at the Solar Boost Training Camp in June, and got a personalised sweat test, along with a batch of products & my own tailored hydration plan. Again though, you do not need to over do this, simply add one electrolyte tablet to one of your bottles of water on the days leading up to a race should be sufficient. As a rough guide, you should be aiming for around 2-3 litres per day (but please remember, this can depend on activity levels/gender/body weight) and if you REALLY can’t get past the idea of drinking plain water, then add squash – it all does the same job really!

Sleep.

Now you don’t need me to tell you that marathon training is tiring, and that is no different during the tapering weeks. In fact, you will probably find that you feel MORE tired during this time (which again, is completely normal and it doesn’t mean you have become super lazy over night!) so sleep is something you really shouldn’t skimp on.Sleepy1.png

Sleep is where the magic happens, it’s where fitness adaptations are made and also when your muscles can repair and recover… and it is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of training. But don’t take my word for it. Tom Goom aka ‘The Running Physio’ has put together a fantastic resource to explain the importance of sleep for runners, click here for loads of hints and tips to help you get into a good routine.

If you are anything like me, then pre race nerves may make it difficult to drift off to sleep, but don’t panic – if you have slept well the week leading up to your event, a night of slightly broken sleep will not be too detrimental. Here are a couple of hints & tips I find help me get to sleep a bit easier the night before a race –

  • Drink a peppermint tea
  • Listen to some relaxing music – I personally love piano music! Spotify has some great playlists! 
  • Watch a film or read a book – distraction techniques! 

 

Get Organised.

‘He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice….’ – go on, admit it, you started singing right??

Yep, thats right, if it’s good enough for Father Christmas, its good enough for us! I am not going to lie & say I am the worlds most organised person, but I like to pretend I am, and one thing I like doing to organise myself is make lists! Whether it’s my food shopping, a list of blog ideas, or just random things that pop into my head, the Notes section on my phone is full of them, and it is exactly the same when I am getting ready for a marathon!

Chances are, that if you are running a marathon, you will be travelling for it, whether its somewhere else in the UK or perhaps you are lucky enough to be going further afield, you still want to make sure you have everything, because whether you are 50 or 500 miles away from home, it would be pretty annoying to wake up on race day and realise you have forgotten your trainers!

Again, if you are like me, I also get pretty overwhelmed if I have to do loads and loads at once, so I like to break it down. This week ahead of my marathon, I am lucky enough to be on half term, which allows me to spread things out over the week and not panic pack/buy everything I need in one go! I started off with just creating my list, literally writing down everything I thought I would need, including things I knew I needed to buy… and that, well is pretty much as far as I have got so far! Here is an example of how I have broken down my list & the things I have included (some of it may seem obvious, but it really helps me having it all written out clearly!)

Race Day

Pre race – Trackies, Hoodie, Spare Trainers & Socks (incase its wet)

Race –  Trainers, Compression Socks, Caffeine Bullets, 4 x SiS Gels, Sports Bra, Shorts, Long Sleeve Top, Running Gloves, Buff, Running Vest, Heart Rate Monitor, Sports Armband, lightweight jacket. – and then you obviously need to do a flat lay picture and post it to Instagram to make sure you definitely have everything 😉 flat lay 2

Post Race – Oofos flip flops, compression leggings, buff

Misc – Power packs, headphone charger, Garmin charger, iPhone charger, travel adaptor (important if you are going abroad!) small backpack, pain killers, resistance band, PASSPORT!

General I wont bore you with this, but things like making sure you have your toiletries, enough underwear, socks, general clothes etc.

It is always worth keeping an eye on the weather forecast too, for example over the last few days the weather forecast in Switzerland has changed dramatically, which has resulted in me having to rethink what I am going to wear for the race, and also meant I had to go and buy an emergency jacket because it is going to be a lot colder than I expected! 

Race Logistics.

As mentioned above, if you are running a marathon, it is usually something you have to travel for, it might be somewhere you have never been before, and in some cases, travelling somewhere where English is not the first language, which can make things even trickier!

charlie and i

I recently went to Berlin for the first time to take part in the Berlin Marathon, and I will be completely honest and say that if it wasn’t for Charlie (@whatcharlierannext) I probably wouldn’t have made it out of the airport, let alone the start line to the race! She was an absolute star and had EVERYTHING sorted – from what trains we had to get, how to get to the hotel & how we were going to get to the start on Sunday. I honestly would have been lost without her!

So this tip is something I need to definitely get better at myself! Here is a list of things I would make sure you know before setting off on your trip

  • Familiarise yourself with the journey to the start line from wherever you are staying – if you can do a ‘test run’ so you can relax about the journey logistics & how long it takes.
  • Have a Plan B to get to the start line – just in case!!
  • If you are driving, make sure you know if/when roads are closing & possible diversions.
  • Make sure you read through the race day information provided & know what time bag drop closes, what time you need to be in your start area etc
  • If you have friends & family coming to support, arrange where you are going to meet them at the end of the race.
  • Or, just go and do a marathon with Charlie and she can look after you! Loveeeeeeee you xx

 

RELAX

Okay, so this might have been a bit of information over load (sorry about that, I get carried away) but really it all just comes down to this… RELAX! 

You have done the months of hard work, and in these last few days there really isn’t anything you can do that will dramatically change the outcome of what happens on race day. So to summarise, here are the key things to remember.

  • REST IS BEST – YOU WILL NOT LOSE ANY FITNESS BY SCALING BACK FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS
  • EAT A HEALTHY BALANCED DIET (WITH MAYBE A FEW EXTRA CARBS)
  • SLEEP – EARLY NIGHTS, LIE INS, NAPS!
  • DRINK WATER
  • DON’T FORGET TO PACK YOUR TRAINERS!

Good luck to anyone & everyone that has an upcoming marathon. It’s one hell of an achievement and you should be very proud you’ve got to this point! Just remember, the training is the tough part.. the race itself is the sprint finish!

Jordan xxx

 

Top 10 Tips for Beginners

I asked you guys what you wanted to see more of on my blog, and a lot of you have asked for hints & tips on how to get started with running! So, here are my Top 10 Tips of what I think is the best way to kick start your running journey!

I hope that you find these useful, and please feel free to comment below if you have any questions, and finally GOOD LUCK❤️

1) Parkrun.

Personally, I am a very goal orientated person. Whether it’s running related, or other areas of my life, if I set myself a tangible goal I am a million times more likely to stay motivated and work towards it.

For most new runners, the first goal they usually set themselves is to be able to complete a 5k. In fact this was my first running related goal a few years ago. Now I get it, the thought of running 5k (3.1 miles) non stop when you have never ran before can be daunting, but by setting yourself small, mini goals along the way, it makes it seem so much more manageable and achievable.

Most of us are very lucky here in the U.K to have a Parkrun on our doorstep (if you haven’t heard of Parkrun before, it’s a free, weekly, timed 5k run every Saturday morning that is ran completely by volunteers – it’s incredible!) and I personally believe that for a new runner, this is the perfect opportunity to not only immerse yourself in the amazing running community, but to be able to build up to running a 5k.

Parkrun is for absolutely anyone, from super speedy elite athletes to the complete beginner and whether you want to run, jog or walk, everyone is welcome and encouraged to take part.

Here is a session idea to get you started on your Parkrun/Running Journey.

Walk/Warm Up – 10 minutes. Try to steadily increase the pace to a ‘power walk’ towards the end of the 10 minutes.

Jogging – 30 seconds. Do not worry about pace, anything faster then your quick walking pace is fine!

Walk – 90 seconds. Use this as recovery and try to get your HR/breathing back to a normal rhythm

Repeat x 10

Walk/Cool Down – 10 minutes (or until completed) Try to keep a good walking pace and slow down steadily to get your HR back down.

As the weeks progress, you can then increase your running time, reduce the recovery time or increase the number of intervals.

2) Trainers.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers being dragged along to a well known shoe shop on a Saturday afternoon and getting measured and fitted properly for shoes when they were little… every kids worst nightmare right?! But our parents wanted to make sure that the shoes we were getting fitted us properly, were supportive, comfortable and weren’t going to wreck our feet as we grew up! So my advice for running trainers would be to take the same approach as you would when you were buying school shoes as a child. Get fitted, try on lots and speak to a professional.

There are SO many different trainers out there, it almost seems impossible to know where to start! But something I would really recommend is going to a running specialist shop and getting a Gait Analysis done. In simple terms, a gait analysis can give insight into how you run, whether you are a neutral runner, over pronate, a forefoot runner, whether you need support, cushioning etc etc (don’t panic about this, the shop assistant will be able to talk you through everything!) and depending on this, can determine what trainers would suit you best!

For me personally, I know that I do not need an over supportive shoe, so shoes with a lot of cushioning don’t work for me. I much prefer a lightweight, minimalist trainer. So just remember, even if everyone is raving about the bestest, newest most supportive shoe from ‘Brand XYZ’ make sure you know what works for you!

3) Running Buddy.

I am pretty sure that at some point in your life you would have had to rely on a friend, or family member to get you through something tough – whether it’s a break up, a bad day at work, finding out someone ate your leftovers you’ve been looking forward to all day… but basically, we all need support from time to time! And running is no different!

Starting your running journey with a friend will make the experience a whole lot more enjoyable & motivating. Whether it’s arranging to go for a coffee & cake after Parkrun together, or even just having someone to run with on the dark winter nights could make a huge difference.

Also, I don’t know about you, but when I have made plans with someone I don’t like letting them down. So perhaps if you are the same, one way to guarantee you get yourself out the door is if you promise that you will run together. So even if you’re tired, or had a bad day at work you’ve still got that motivation to get out there!

And finally, you can celebrate not only your own, but your friends achievement too. Which is a pretty great feeling!

4) Social Media.

Now, hear me out. I know that at times, social media gets a lot of negative press, BUT it can also be a hugely positive tool for a lot of things, including running!

For me, I personally love Instagram (99.9% of the time) and love scrolling through daily and seeing people’s posts – whether it’s a PB, smashing out a training session, a cheeky #transformationtuesday or anything running related it can really help to motivate and inspire me to get out there & run or workout!

When I first started running and following other runners on Instagram, I was in awe of a lot of people (and still am!) and the incredible things they were achieving, and at the time I never believed that I would be able to do what they were doing, but.. now I am! I am no longer looking at marathon runners thinking ‘how do they do that’ but instead thinking ‘yes! I can do that too’!

So yes, if used correctly social media can be a fantastic way to keep yourself motivated and inspire you – it’s also a great way to meet like minded people! I would now class some of my closest friends as people I have met through the online running community, which is crazy seeing as when we’re younger we are always told to never talk to strangers on the internet 😂

N.B. Just remember though, do not compare yourself to anyone. Every runner has been/is on their own journey, and what may look easy to some may be down to years and years of training! Also, remember that people don’t always post the bad stuff! So use it to help motivate you, but always take things with a pinch of salt!

5) Track Your Progress.

I don’t know about you, but unless I write something down there is about a 100% chance I am going to forget it! I find keeping track of my runs very useful, and especially for beginners it can be really good (and motivating!) to be able to look back and see your progress & how far you’ve come!

Now days it couldn’t be easier to track your runs, and don’t worry, you don’t need to splash out on a running watch straight away, there are many different apps that you can download straight to your phone! My personal preference is Strava, and this would be the one I would recommend to anyone (and it’s completely free!)

If you are looking to treat yourself (or maybe fancy asking Father Christmas for something!) then I would recommend at some point investing in a GPS watch. Again, there are hundreds on the market which vary in price & what they can do, but you don’t need to spend a fortune!

I am a big fan of Garmin, and until I recently upgraded I wore the Forerunner 230 for over two years. It did everything I needed and was a great, easy to use watch, I would definitely recommend, plus it comes it some really nice colours (obviously this is important!)

6) Listen To Your Body.

This one is a biggie. Failing to do so could put a stop to your running journey, and potentially put you off from ever trying it again! If you’re anything like me, when you start something new that you enjoy, you will want to throw yourself in 100% and just keep going! This is what happens a lot of time with new runners once they have got through the initial ‘everything hurts and I’m dying’ phase. And I get it, it’s exciting! But there is no rush to do everything at once!

Getting your body to adapt to running takes time. I remember the first time I ran a half marathon, I couldn’t walk properly for the next 3 days, now days, I’m able to go out the day after a race and do a light recovery run. And although I don’t always get it spot on, I know my body well enough by now to know when to dial it back and take an extra rest day.

So when you are starting, please don’t feel like you have to be out there running every single day, or increasing your mileage too quickly. Running does put your body through stress, there is no getting away from it, and if you do too much too quickly you could be at risk of your body just saying NOPE and then you won’t have a choice but to take a break.

For a beginner, I would say there is no need to run more than 3 x times a week to begin with, and giving yourself at least a days rest in between each run.

7) Recovery.

Following on quite nicely from number 6, this is another really important factor that a lot of new runners might not consider. Rest and recovery is a key part of training, I know this might sound strange, but sometimes doing nothing is the best way to progress!

Our bodies are pretty amazing things, and whilst we are resting (this includes sleep!) it’s busy working away at repairing the muscles we have temporarily damaged during exercise, pretty clever right!

But unfortunately we cannot let our bodies do all the work, and there are a few key things we can do to help aid recovery, including;

  • Stretching
  • Foam Rolling
  • Massages
  • Epsom Salt Baths

Now, I could pretend that I am the perfect advocate for this and that I stretch and roll after every run, but the truth is, I don’t. And it’s something I need to get better at. But I cannot stress at the beginning how important it is. When you first start running, your body isn’t going to have a clue what’s going on, so the chances are once you start running, your legs are going to hurt a little! All of the things listed above can help to ease the pain and help your muscles recover quicker (although sometimes you can’t get away from the DOMs no matter how much stretching you do!)

8) Strength Training.

I know what you’re thinking… ‘I thought this was a blog about running?!’ Don’t panic! It is, and I’m not saying you need to be in the gym 5x a week pounding the weights, but adding 1 or 2 strength sessions a week can really benefit any runner, no matter what level.

Strength training does exactly what it says on the tin, it makes you stronger! And guess what, the stronger you are there is less risk of injury, you will feel fitter and personally I find hitting the gym a great way to relieve stress!

If you have been following me on Instagram, you will know I’m a big fan of the gym, and it’s one of the things I believe has been key to my progress over the last year. I have said it many times, but there is so much more to running, than running!

I have previously done two strength training posts for both an Upper & Lower body workout, which will hopefully help you if you’re a bit stuck with what to do in the gym!

9) Take Your Time.

Okay so I am just going to come out and say it… YOU DO NOT NEED TO RUN A MARATHON TO BE A RUNNER!

This might sound like I am contradicting my earlier point about social media, but if there is one thing that is negative about it, is that people (especially newer runners) can get caught up with the idea that they HAVE to run a marathon to be considered a ‘proper runner’ – which is nonsense!

There is nothing wrong with having goals and aspirations, but feeling like you have to commit to something as big as a marathon so early on can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. When I started running, the thought of a marathon never even crossed my mind, in fact it wasn’t until I was two years into my running journey I considered it, and by this point I was already comfortably at half marathon distance and this felt like the next challenge.

Too often I sadly see runners rushing to get to marathon level, which unfortunately can sometimes end in long term injuries or perhaps even having to stop running for good.

So my advice? Take your time! And enjoy the victories along the way! There will ALWAYS be marathons, and in fact there seems to be more and more happening all the time, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity! But training for and ultimately running a marathon, is not only a huge commitment, but can put your body under a lot of stress, and if you try and cram it all in too quickly, not only will it take all the fun out of it, but you could also really hurt yourself.

10) Enjoy it!

It really is as simple as that! Running (especially at the beginning) should not be something that causes you stress or makes you unhappy. Run because you enjoy it and how it makes you feel. Enter races because your friends are going and you’ve already planned an epic post race treat. Treat yourself to that new pair of trainers or watch because you deserve it. And just remember, progress is never linear! So enjoy the journey, embrace the highs & the lows and look forward to a new quality of life (sorry for the cheese, but it’s true!)

Jordan xxx

VITLHealth.

A little while ago, I was contacted by VITLHealth and they asked if I was interested in receiving one of their DNA Health Kits. Over the last year I have taken my health a lot more seriously,  and have become really interested in knowing how my body works (and making sure it is working as best it can!) so I was happy to accept and I offered to share my results with you all.

Before you can be sent a kit, you need to set up an account on their website. It was really easy to do, but do set aside some time to answer some general health & wellbeing questions (this is important for later on!) Like most things now, there was also an option of downloading an app for your phone, which again makes it really accessible and user friendly! Once you have set up your profile, your DNA kit is then sent to you! I am a sucker for cute packaging & presentation so I absolutely loved the box (before I had even opened it!) The instructions were very clear & simple to understand, and they even provided a paid postage bag for you to send your sample back in.

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 16.18.04

And now all I had  to do was wait for the results! They do advise that results can take approx 3-4 weeks to process once they were received. Personally, I did not see this as an issue as the results weren’t something I was depending on, it was just something I was interested in knowing! But soon enough I got the notification that my results were ready (and there were certainly a lot of them!) so when I finally got the chance, I sat down with a coffee and went through them…

So, I mentioned that when you sign up you need to answer a few Health & Wellbeing questions, this is because alongside your DNA results they are then able to paint a greater picture of your overall health.. so make sure you are honest in your questionnaire (especially because DNA doesn’t lie!)

Here are some of my results which I personally found interesting and are things I have questioned in the past before too.

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 15.36.44

Caffeine Metabolism – Likely To Be Slow 

I love coffee. Every morning starts with a black coffee, and I usually have around 3 or 4 LARGE cups a day. I have also started to use caffeine in races which so far seems to have worked quite well? BUT, I don’t feel like I get a buzz of coffee anymore, it is simply a habit, and something I enjoy drinking. I have been thinking about cutting down caffeine (even cutting it out completely!) before a race, but I haven’t yet been able to make that commitment! I would be interested to see if it does make a difference though, so, watch this space!

vitl-health-2.png

Alcohol Sensitivity – Likely to be high

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really need an app to tell me this. I wouldn’t say I have an issue at all with alcohol, I can quite easily go weeks without a drink, but when I do drink, I drink a lot. Lately I have noticed this having a really negative effect on my mental health, as well as my physical health. I always feel AWFUL the next day, and as I have got older the hangovers seem to last for days, rather than hours. I am not surprised by this result to be honest, but it has given me the confirmation that perhaps I need to cut down. I had already considered this ahead of the London Marathon next year, in fact my plan is to give up alcohol completely for the 16 week block! And I am looking forward to seeing the difference in both my mental & physical well being!

vitl health 3

Digestion & IBS – Likely to have issues

Now, this is interesting. I won’t go into the gory details, but for quite a while now, I have had slight stomach issues, it doesn’t seem to be bought on by anything in particular but lets just say it doesn’t always work down there like it is supposed to….! At the beginning of the year I cut out cows milk from my daily coffee as I was convinced that was a trigger, and for a while, my stomach did calm down, but the issues seem to be coming back again. I have been reluctant to give up dairy completely (I just love cheese too damn much!) but it may be something I seriously need to consider. I will be speaking to my nutrition coach about this and hopefully between us we can work out what is making my stomach a little iffy!

vitl health 4

Fat & Muscle Composition – Likely to gain muscle 

I will be honest, I was a little sceptical about these results. I do understand that genetics can play a part in body composition, but really it comes down to a good diet & the right training, something that I have learnt a lot more about over the last 12 months. I will be honest and say that when my diet is 100% I do seem to be able to lean out fairly quickly, and my coach himself has called me a ‘carb monster’ on many occasions, so perhaps there is some truth behind this! And if that is the case… THANK YOU GENES FOR ALLOWING ME TO EAT ALL THE CARBS! I would be interested to know peoples thoughts on this, so pop them in the comments below!

vitl health 5

Vitamin B6 – Likely to be low

Hmmmmm, once again I am not completely shocked by this. In fact, most of my vitamins and minerals results were on the low side. I will openly admit I am RUBBISH at taking supplements, in fact, I don’t take any at all! I have tried in the past and perhaps stick to it for a day or two, then the bottles just end up gathering dust in the cupboards!

One thing I have learnt recently, is that even if you feel okay on the outside, it doesn’t always mean your body is okay on the inside. Being low on essential vitamins & minerals can be a disaster waiting to happen, and add being a long distance runner into the mix it could be even more disastrous!

I am not going to promise that I will religiously start taking supplements every day, because pretty much all essential vitamins can be found in food so it may just be a case of looking at my diet and ensuring I have foods that are high in the things I am lacking.

vitl health 7

These are just a few of the results I received from the test (I won’t go through every single one, because you could be reading this for hours!) but hopefully you get the idea of the sort of things you can find out!

If you are interested in your health & making sure your body is getting everything it needs, then you may find the test really beneficial! Although if you have any serious health concerns I would always recommend speaking to your doctor or a registered dietician first!

VITLHealth have also provided me with my very own discount code so you can get your own DNAKit for just £79.99 (Usually £199.99) – simply click here to head straight to the product page!

Jordan xxx

I have not been paid to write this blog post, but the DNA test was gifted to me originally #ad

Berlin Marathon 16.09.18

If you have never taken part in a large race before, then honestly, I don’t know how to explain the atmosphere on race morning. It’s just something else! You are surrounded by THOUSANDS of other people, who are all there to do the same thing… RUN! There’s just this buzz in the air that you don’t really get anywhere else – nerves, excitement, apprehension – it’s amazing!

I headed down to the start with Charlie and after the initial panic of not being able to find my bag drop 😬 (anyone else struggle with this?!) we were finally ready to go! We were in different start waves so we had to go our separate ways, but luckily itwouldn’t be long before I found some more familiar faces! Chris was an absolute hero and saved me a space in one of the hundreds of toilet queues (the less said about those toilets though, the better!) and I also got to see Mel!

But again soon enough we were on the move, and heading to our final positions before we would cross the start line! At this point, the nerves finally kicked in. My stomach felt like it was doing summersaults and the reality of what we were all about to take on set in… and my first thought when we got into our start pen.. ‘Bugger, I need a wee’ (more on that later 🤣)

The build up in those final few minutes is enough to give you goosebumps, and soon enough the wheelchair races were being set off, then the elite introductions, and then it was our turn.

If I am being truthfully honest, I had no idea what my plan was for the race. I had decided due to my injury that I was going to take the pressure off and just enjoy it, but I think there was always still that part of me that wanted to see what I can do. As the start gun went off, I had a decision to make, and I decided to go with my gut & just go out at what I felt was a comfortable pace and see how long I could hold on for. I was excited, but fought every urge to keep it controlled & not go sprinting off!

As I was in starting block D, I crossed the line in just over a minute, and luckily didn’t have to fight my way through too many crowds, which I know can make such a difference to a race, so although it was still busy I felt like I could find my rhythm quite quickly.

It was shaping up to be a warm day, but after the crazy temps I experienced at London, I didn’t let this get to me. In fact I didn’t really let anything bother me, this was the most relaxed I had EVER felt before and during the start of a marathon, and I think it made such a difference to my race!

The miles ticked by so quickly, it felt like I reached 6 miles in the blink of an eye. I took my first gel as planned, but then I had a problem.. I now REALLY needed a wee, I didn’t want to stop or lose my rhythm sooooo… well, I don’t think you need me to spell it out to you. If it’s good enough for Paula, it’s good enough for me 😬😂

I felt a new sense of freedom after #weegate 🤣 and felt so much more comfortable as the miles continued to tick by. I decided that I was going to try and avoid counting down mile by mile, and instead focused on getting to the next mile stone of the Half Marathon (you know, the half way point that everyone knows isn’t really half way 😂)

By this point I was getting used to the water stations. I will admit when I first heard it was cups only, I did panic, but it wasn’t actually that bad! At every station I took a drink I slowed down to take a sip, poured the remainder over me and managed to get back to my pace almost straight away. All that worrying for nothing! I still much prefer being able to drink from a bottle, but it’s definitely given me a confidence boost for future races that use the cup option!

Soon enough I was approaching the elusive half way point, and was only 3 minutes outside of my current PB. What the hell was going on?! I honestly didn’t understand how my body & my legs were doing it! I took on another gel (and yes, they were shoved down my bra – it works for me!) and was just getting more and more excited that I was potentially going to get closer to my original goal then I ever thought I would.

How was I already over half way?! In a weird way I actually felt a little bit sad (no, I don’t understand it either!) but I think it was because I realised I wasn’t really taking ANYTHING in. I don’t remember seeing any amazing landmarks or buildings, all I was focusing on was putting one foot in front of the other, even the crowds became a bit of a blur.

Usually in a marathon I break the race down completely, setting myself mini milestones to reach, but this one was different. After the half way point my next focus was to get to 20 miles – as anyone who has ran a marathon before knows, that’s when the race really begins!

Once again the miles were ticking by so quickly I almost forgot to take my gel, but at 18 miles I took another and still felt like I had so much more in me.

I finally reached the magic 20 miles, I looked at my watch and realised I had just under 45 minutes to achieve my original goal of a sub 3 hour marathon. Part of me wishes I didn’t look, because as soon as I did.. that’s when the mind games started.

It was all going well until around mile 22. I took my final gel (which I got from the aid station) but unfortunately I think it was just that little bit too late. Fatigue was starting to set in, this was now becoming a mental battle of just getting to the next mile.

The one thing that was keeping me going was I knew the epic #cheersquad led by Becca & Lou we’re waiting for me at 37km. That was my next goal, to just get there and see some friendly faces!

Just before my watch buzzed 23 miles, I took my first walk break. It was only 10 seconds, but I needed it. I just counted out loud, took some deep breaths and said to myself ‘only a park run to go’ – my pace dropped for the next two miles, my legs felt heavy & I just couldn’t seem to get my pace back. But I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. I said to myself that I would give that final mile my everything.. and before I knew it, it was time to dig deep.

It was less than a mile to go, and all I was waiting to see was the infamous Brandenburg Gate! That’s when you know you’re almost done.. or, so I bloody thought 🤣

As I ran under the gate I honestly thought I was done, the crowds were getting larger & louder and I *thought* I could see the finish line. I had a quick glance at my watch and thought by some miracle I might have actually scraped a sub 3! But unfortunately.. this wasn’t the day I was going to do it!

My watch ticked over 3 hours and the finish line was just out of my reach. Did I feel disappointed? If I’m honest, a teeny tiny bit, but that all disappeared when I crossed the line.

I was done! Obviously I had the standard leg wobble as I crossed the finish line (I wonder if I’ll ever be able to cross one gracefully?! 🤣) but I felt amazing!

I had just completed my 5th marathon, my 2nd world marathon major in 3:01:00 – a 12 minute and 8 second PB! How could I be disappointed?!

I couldn’t stop smiling, I collected my medal and then started the long walk to collect the rest of my post race goodies! I was desperate to see a friendly face, and as if by magic I bumped into Dai who had just completely smashed his own race and finally got his sub 3! Shortly after we were joined by Chris and after the looooooong walk to bag drop it was finally time to sit down, relax and celebrate what we all achieved!

For me, this was a near perfect race. The weeks leading up to it, I had no expectations and I think it just made the experience that whole lot better. I honestly didn’t think anything would top how I felt after the London Marathon – but, I think we have a new winner 🤩

Berlin, you were amazing! And it was made even more special that I was a part of the world record breaking race! This will certainly be a day I will never forget ❤️

Medichecks.

If you have read my last couple of posts (Honest Post #2 & Blessing in Disguise) you will know that I have started to take my health a lot more seriously, and as well as my actual training runs & gym workouts, I am looking at the bigger picture – rest, recovery & making sure my body is working correctly, as no matter how healthy you look on the outside, how do you really know whats going on inside your body?

medichecks (2)

Thats where Medichecks come in. Medichecks are a private medical company who provide various blood tests with a full medical report (including advice on what to do next) without the faff of having to get a GP appointment or wait for weeks for your results. After speaking to their Customer Service team (who are very quick to respond & helpful!) we decided that the Endurance Check Elite  was the most suitable test for me to ensure that my body was coping okay with the stresses of marathon training.

Endurance Check Elite  – Key Info

  • This test is for endurance athletes of every level who want to optimise their performance and gain insights into their training, nutrition and recovery. 
  • 55 tests included
  • Our Endurance Check Elite has been formulated in consultation with top endurance coaches to check the markers that can make the difference between success and failure. This profile includes a full blood count, liver and kidney function, tests for inflammation and muscle damage, cholesterol for cardiovascular risk, hormones which can be affected by training such as testosterone, oestradiol and cortisol as well as markers for fatigue such as a full iron profile and vitamin B12. Includes key vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, magnesium and zinc as well as a comprehensive metabolic panel including an insulin resistance test. 

Setting up an account with Medichecks couldn’t be easier. You need to complete a simple health, lifestyle & medical questionnaire and once this is complete your testing kit will be sent out to you. The kit arrived very quickly and was presented in a lovely pink box with really clear, simple instructions (I am very sorry about the poor photo quality!!) and everything was included that was needed for the test.

The test requires a blood sample, so unfortunately it is not something you are able to do yourself. There are many different options – you can visit your GP and they may be able to do the test for you (although they are not obliged to as its a private blood test), you can visit a local clinic that works with Medichecks (they will be able to let you know where your nearest clinic is) or you can get a home visit from a nurse if you do not live near a clinic (this is the option I went with.) 

Soon enough it was the morning of my appointment, for my test I needed to make sure I didn’t eat or drink anything 8 hours prior, so an early morning appointment was essential!! I had a really lovely nurse called Jacqueline come round to take my bloods, luckily I am okay with needles/blood tests, but she was so reassuring and friendly I am sure if I was a nervous patient she would have totally put my mind at rest! The test itself took less than a minute, and she quickly filled 3 tubes with my blood – and that was it, my work was done! Jacqueline disposed of the needles and took my bloods away to be sent off, it really couldn’t have been easier! Now I just needed to wait for my results.

The fantastic customer service continued as I received my results just 3 working days later. Before receiving them I wasn’t really sure what to expect, I am not a medical professional so I was a bit concerned if I got a report just with a load of numbers I wouldn’t have a clue what it meant. But alongside the lab report, you also get a full written report from a GP who goes through each result & highlights any areas for concern.

I am pleased to say, that my results were all pretty spot on! I am going to include a full copy of my results report below.

There was only one area of concern, and that is that I have high levels of ‘Creatine Kinase’ – this can be down to a number of factors, but the fact I recently injured my hamstring could be an underlying factor. Medichecks have suggested I have a follow up blood test for this in one months time, so this is something I will be following up to ensure these levels do not get any higher.

Hi Jordan, I understand you are an endurance athlete and have recently come off the pill and so have had your first period for some time. 

This is an excellent test today. Let me go through it for you:

You have normal red cells.  

Your neutrophils are a little low, a common cause for this is recent infection. Yours are only slightly decreased and are not a cause for concern. 

Your platelets are reported as clumped which usually indicates difficulties in taking your sample. 

Your slight high urea is not an issue given your levels of exercise. 

Similarly the raised alanine transferase is not concerning based on your exercise levels. 

You have a markedly elevated creatine kinase level. This is a breakdown product from injured muscle. It is a common finding in a bodybuilder or athlete, however yours is at a level that starts to raise concerns about a condition called rhabdomyolysis. The threshold at which we start to consider this is 520 in a female of average build.
There are a wide range of potential symptoms. The classic example is dark brown or tea-coloured urine. Other symptoms that would cause concern include muscle tenderness, swelling, stiffness and cramping, accompanied by weakness. There are also some non-specific symptoms, such as malaise, fever, abdominal pain, and nausea and vomiting. If any of these affect you then I recommend attending your local emergency department today. If you are feeling well then I recommend repeating your CK test at least 48 hours after any intensive exercise to establish what your baseline is. 

The rest of your liver function is normal. 

You have normal protein and calcium levels. 

Your uric acid level does not place you at risk of gout. 

Your diabetes screen is normal indicating that you do not have diabetes. The low insulin is not an issue given the fact your are an endurance athlete in training. 

You have healthy iron levels. 

Your cholesterol profile is excellent with healthy levels of protective HDL cholesterol and normal levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol.  

Your CRP level is normal, suggesting low levels of inflammation within the body. 

Your thyroid stimulating hormone and thyroxine are both normal which suggest healthy thyroid function. 

Your testosterone and oestradiol results are within the normal range. 

Your serum cortisol level is within normal limits making a disorder of your cortisol production unlikely. 

Your magnesium level is normal. 

Your levels of vitamin B12 and folate are normal.  

Your vitamin D level is normal. 

In summary, Jordan, this is a very good test today, although it would be worth finding out your baseline creatine kinase. For a female endurance athlete this test is also reassuring as there are no discrepancies that might indicate that your body is struggling to recover from your exercise regimens. You are well optimised for sport. ‘

Overall I am really pleased with my results, and it has definitely reassured me that my body is working the way it should! If you have any concerns about your health, or like me just want to have a bit of a body ‘MOT’ – then I highly recommend Medichecks & the service they provide.

If you have any questions about how it works, my test & my results, then please drop me a message.

Jordan xxx

 

 

 

 

Blessing In Disguise.

On the 9th July 2018 I tore my hamstring playing a game of rounders at school. At first I was devastated, I cried, I panicked and I thought all of my hard work had gone to waste. Now? Well I am not saying I want to get injured again, especially not anything more serious, but in a strange way, I am actually glad this has happened. hamstring

There is no getting away from it, this year has been hard work. My 16 week plan for the London Marathon started on New Years Day, and its been pretty much non stop since. After London I had a week off, and then went straight back into racing, completing three 10k races in the space of a month (and beating my PB at each one!) there were local 5k races and then before I knew it my training plan for Berlin had begun! I won’t lie, the effects of marathon training kicked in a lot quicker the second time round, although my runs were going well, I was constantly feeling tired. My sleep wasn’t great and I just felt like I was always on the go, but I kept pushing on because I wanted to give my plan everything!

watt bike

Anyway, back to #hamstringgate – so yep, everything was going pretty well, and then before I knew it, I was going from 18 mile training runs, to struggling to walk and sit down without pain. Luckily I managed to see a physio the day it happened – he assessed my leg and we did everything we could – ice, heat, massage, and then I was told the words that NO runner ever wants to hear – ‘You’re going to have to take a week off running’. I won’t lie, this set me off and I cried. I cried because I had been working so hard. I cried because I set myself a huge goal for Berlin and I just saw it slipping away. I cried because I was so angry that I got an injury from playing a game of rounders! To be honest, I just felt shit.

Over the next couple of days the pain did ease, but I behaved myself and didn’t run. Instead, I made friends with the watt bike! I got some seriously sweaty sessions in, and actually started to enjoy it, and it didn’t cause me any pain at all. After about a week, my coach said I was allowed to do a test run. I was so excited and part of me was thinking that everything was going to be fine and I would be back to running normally again. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case! As soon as I started running my hamstring just ached, I have been running for long enough & know when something isn’t right, so I stopped and just accepted my leg wasn’t ready to go again!

I kept Lloyd (my coach) updated constantly with how my leg was feeling and he was absolutely fantastic at adjusting my sessions and trying to keep me calm. But then, there came another blow. When you are cycling, you predominately are working your quads and hamstrings. So although I wasn’t feeling any pain when I was cycling, Lloyd advised that it could be halting the healing process as I wasn’t giving it enough rest. Once again, I felt devastated. Cycling kept me going, I was still getting my heart rate up, I was working my legs, and it didn’t feel like I was losing that much fitness. But that was it – no cycling, no running, and I couldn’t even swim as that pulled on my hamstring too! So the last resort? Aqua Jogging! Click here to watch some great tips from GB athlete Eilish McColgan.

aqua jogging

I was willing to give anything a go, so as soon as I could I ordered my Aqua Belt from Amazon and then got myself down to the pool! If you have never Aqua Jogged before – then let me tell you, it’s bloody hard work! I only did a handful of sessions, but it really helped me mentally as I felt like I was still getting a good work out, and technically I was running – just having to work a hell of a lot harder & not putting any pressure on my legs!

During my time off running, I also went to the gym a lot to do my strength training. I avoided doing any lower body for the first couple of weeks, but instead focused on my upper body, core, and then spent a lot of time with my resistance band (post will be coming soon, I promise!) 

Once again, I was given the green light to run again. I was buzzing, I had been really sensible, done everything I was told to do, so I was certain the run would go well. Did it? Nope! As soon as I started I felt pain in my hamstring, I lasted a mile before I decided to call it day and not make it any worse. I was gutted. Berlin was 7 weeks away, and I couldn’t even run a mile. So it was back to square one, another week of absolutely no running, instead I was a slave to the pool & the gym! bad run

If you read my last blog post, I gave an open and honest account about whats been happening with my body over the last 15 months, and how finally it was starting to work normally again, and one thing I put this down to was how my training had reduced over the month, but also that I was getting a lot more sleep. There is a lot to be said for sleep. You can spend all the money in the world on expensive recovery treatments or the newest ‘must have’ product, but really the best thing we can do for our bodies sometimes is something we have been able to do since we were babies – get some shut eye! I do honestly believe this has also made a huge difference to my recovery, alongside being off work, I have just felt so much more relaxed & chilled out!

Soon enough, it was time to test out my leg with a run. This time I wasn’t excited, I was nervous. What if it still hurt? What if it hadn’t got any better? What if I had forgotten how to run?! I had a million things running through my head when I laced up my trainers and got out there, but finally – I WAS RUNNING PAIN FREE! There was no aching, no pulling – I was over the moon! But we weren’t completely out of the woods yet – rather than going back in 100%, we took it a day at a time. One day running, one day aqua jogging and so on, it was a tad frustrating, but I was just so happy to be back running!

Earlier on in my training block, I had booked a half marathon which I was using as a benchmark to see where I was with my training, I had done the same on the lead up to London and it worked really well as a massive confidence boost. The race was fast approaching, but it was only days after I had started to run pain free again. I was really stuck with what to do. I thought about not doing it, but I had already missed so many races & key training sessions I really didn’t want to miss anymore, so I decided to just use it as a way to get some miles in. Completely take the pressure off and just see if I could run 13.1 miles pain free. On the morning of the race I woke up feeling strangely confident, I usually suffer with really bad pre race nerves & anxiety, but this time couldn’t have felt more different. I had no expectations, no aim to push for a PB, I just wanted to run! I decided that as I had nothing to lose, if I went out at my ‘race pace’ and felt good, I would continue and see what I could do. I had nothing to prove and I made a promise to myself that if I had to slow down, I wouldn’t be disappointed. To get straight to it – the race couldn’t have gone better! I felt strong & in control the entire time, and I finished in 1.26.31, which was only 3 seconds off my PB! I couldn’t believe it, during my time off running I had convinced myself I had lost a lot of endurance & cardio fitness, but yet I just managed to almost match my PB time! newark

The race, alongside my returning period, has given me a massive wake up call. If I am being completely honest with myself, before my injury I think I was at the risk of over training. I wasn’t listening to my body, I was getting up early to fit sessions in, working all day, training again in the evenings and some nights not even sitting down till gone 9pm, and it was starting to take its toll. I definitely used to underestimate the power of rest, and now that I am going to be back to training normally, I am going to make sure that it is a priority. There is now just under 5 weeks until Berlin Marathon. There is nothing I can do about the last 5 weeks, except to take on board what I have learnt and use it. I will train hard, and I will give it my everything, BUT I am also going to listen to my body. So if it means missing an early morning gym session for an extra hour in bed, then so be it.

I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, and although it wasn’t ideal, I honestly do think this injury was a sign for me to take a step back, give my body a break and to learn (the hard way) that I am only human & not a machine. And it has also proved that by cross training, eating right (well, most of the time!) and taking the pressure off can do wonders for your running and racing.

So there we have it, I hope this is proof that you can come out the other side of an injury with a smile on your face! Just make sure you listen to your coach, or any professional advice you seek out,  and most importantly, to your body – because it knows you better than anyone!

Jordan xx

 

 

Honest Post #2

I am just going to get straight to it… This week I have had my first proper period since May 2017. There, I’ve said it.

I will be honest, I have been very nervous about writing & posting this. I have also felt embarrassed, and worried what people will say, but after speaking to someone who has also gone through this, I know that is important to share my story, in the hope that if someone else is going through the same thing, they know they are not alone and that they can talk to someone.

To give some background to this story, last May I decided to come off of the contraceptive pill, not because I had any intention of falling pregnant, but after being on the pill for most of my teenage & adult life I decided I wanted to give my body a break, and try to get into a normal and healthy cycle, as one day I was planning on starting a family of my own. I did read online that after being on the pill for a while it can take a little while for your body to adjust and that your monthly cycle may be a bit all over the place for a few months. So weeks passed, and I didn’t get a period, but I wasn’t worried. Soon, those weeks turned into months, but I just kept telling myself it was normal and that my body would start working properly soon. And if I am being completely honest, I didn’t miss them at all! No period pains, no bloating, no crazy hormones – it was a bit of relief.

But soon, those months turned into almost a year of no periods. But still, I was in denial that anything was wrong. I only spoke to a handful of people about it, and brushed off any concern as I didn’t want to admit anything was wrong with me.

If you have been following my blog & my Instagram, you will know that at the beginning of the year I upped my training significantly as I was training for the London Marathon. I was running more than ever, going to the gym 3/4 times a week, I lost a considerable amount of weight and was following a tailored nutrition plan. On the outside I looked healthy, and to be honest I felt it. I was the fittest I had ever been and was seeing so much improvement in my running I didn’t really care about anything else.

I chose to tell very few people about what was going on, but those that did know, were concerned, probably more concerned than I was, which is worrying in itself. I continued to brush off comments with a typical ‘I’m sure it will be fine’ response, which is very irresponsible but sometimes you need to realise these things on your own, and luckily, I now have.

A couple of months back, someone very close to me gave me some information about a condition known as the ‘Female Athlete Triad’ as they were concerned that this may be the reason why I wasn’t having periods. At first I completely brushed it off, this obviously wasn’t what I was suffering with. In my head I wasn’t an elite athlete, I wasn’t small enough, I ate a healthy diet, so I couldn’t possibly be affected by this. In all honesty, I was just majorly in denial that my issue was something that I could do something about.

Triad

Whilst I was training for the London Marathon, although I was training hard & eating right, one thing that I really struggled with was sleeping enough. Although I was tired, I was rarely getting more than 6 hours sleep a night. As an athlete our bodies need sleep to recover and to give our bodies a chance to rest & repair, and I wasn’t doing this. I was making myself get up early to go to the gym or do a session, going to work all day and then training again in the evening. I got so used to doing this, I just considered this normal, and what I needed to do if I wanted to improve and become a better runner. But in reality, I was probably just causing more harm to my body, and that extra hour in bed in the morning would probably been a lot more beneficial then forcing myself to get up and go to the gym.

After some persuasion, I eventually booked an appointment to go to the doctors, I was starting to realise that something wasn’t right, and that I needed to speak to a professional. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the help, nor advice that I was hoping for. I am no way putting down the NHS and the services they offer, but after my appointment I felt like I was just making a big deal out of nothing. I explained to the doctor that I hadn’t had a normal period for over a year, I told her how frequently I exercised and my concerns about the Female Athlete Triad, but unfortunately she wasn’t really aware of the condition and could offer no advice. I was weighed in the surgery, and as I am a healthy weight and my BMI is normal there wasn’t any concern. I had my bloods taken, and they came back as normal, so that was the end of that. I had no answers, no advice, and still no period.

In early July I picked up a hamstring injury. I was devastated. My training for Berlin was going so well, I was getting faster, I was getting stronger and was loving all of my sessions, and I had to just stop. Mentally its been very hard, but luckily I am now at the back end of it, it’s been 5 weeks now and I am still not back to training fully, and although its hard, I now see it may have been a blessing in disguise. During marathon training I was averaging around 40-50 miles a week, as well as 3 x gym sessions a week, working full time & teaching a bootcamp class 4 nights a week, I was always on the go and busy, but recently that has changed.  Since my hamstring injury, my training has reduced dramatically. I have still been exercising every day, but putting my body through a lot less stress as I haven’t been running high mileage or doing tough sessions. I also work in a school, so have the luxury of school holidays currently, and for the first time in a long time, I am averaging around 8 hours sleep a night, in fact it’s actually been a struggle to wake up some mornings. At first I felt extremely guilty, and almost lazy, but now I can see that my body obviously needed it.

To me, it is no coincidence that since my training load has dropped, and my sleep has increased it has allowed my body to function normally, and that is why, for the first time in 15 months I am having a proper period. It has made me realise that although I was exercising & eating healthily, my body was far from healthy. And now I am determined to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

As I was in denial that anything was wrong, I did not discuss this with either of my coaches. So to them, I was completely healthy! But I know I can’t go through another marathon training cycle and put my body through the same thing again. So something has to change. I will now be tracking my monthly cycle and will be keeping my coaches updated – it may be that my training load has to be reduced, my calorie intake will need to be increased or I have additional supplements added into my diet.

Am I scared about having to potentially eat more and that I may gain weight? Absolutely. I have talked openly about my body image issues and this is a whole other issue that I am going to need to work on as I go through this journey to get my body working normally again. But hopefully, with the support of my coaches, my amazing team mates and those closest to me I will get through it.

What I am going through is a real issue, and it shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. And I hope that now I have shared my story, if any of you are going through the same, you will realise that too.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if any of you want someone to talk to, please reach out.

Jordan xx

#TrekKeepsMeGoing

Well, it’s been a little while hasn’t it? With a combination of being busy, unorganised and sometimes just downright lazy, I haven’t kept this blog as up to date as I would have liked. But that is going to change now, as I am off work for the summer holidays! So over the next few weeks I am going to be posting a lot more, including product reviews, training & my current injured state (if you follow me on Instagram you will know that I am currently suffering with a hamstring tear, but more on that another time!) Anyway, first up.. I am going to talk about one of my favourite things – FOOD!

A few weeks back, the lovely guys at Trek got in touch and asked if I wanted to take part in a challenge. To celebrate the launch of their amazing new ‘Cocoa Raisin Protein Flapjack’ (& they really are amazing, they have even overtaken the Cocoa Coconut bar to be my number one!) they asked if I would be willing to try them out & share my week. I have always loved Trek bars, so I didn’t hesitate to say yes!

Like most of you I’m sure, I am pretty busy! Some days I can be out of the house at 6.30am and not get back home until 8pm, whether its because I am at the gym, work, teaching bootcamp or general life chores, I am pretty much on the go most of the time. And what happens when you are on the go? Sometimes convenience takes over and before you know it you’re grabbing a bag of crisps, a chocolate bar or making unhealthy choices for that quick fix (btw I am not saying I never do this, but c’mon who’s perfect!) so for me, having a Trek bar in my bag every day is the perfect way to get that quick fix you need for after a work out, a pre dinner snack or just to get you out of that afternoon slump!

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Recently I have also found myself travelling down to London a lot more frequently too – a place where you are surrounded by AMAZING food and snack options, so for the sake of my bank balance (and my waist line) I always make sure I take a couple of bars with me to get me through the day, and through the boredom of a train journey (anyone else just eat for the sake of it on a train, or is that just me?!)

As well as the perfect ‘on the go’ snack, I also like getting a bit more creative with my bars and regularly have them as part of my epic snack/dessert/whenever I bloody fancy it bowl. Whenever I post this on my Instagram I always get lots of people asking what it is, and it really couldn’t be easier to make! I even spoke to my nutrition coach and made sure that the bars were fitted into my daily calorie/macro allowance – WINNER!

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  • 200g 0% Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 100g Strawberries
  • 30g Almonds
  • 1 x Trek Bar

I have this on an almost daily basis, and the best bit is that it feels like a really indulgent snack, and for me it helps to kick those chocolate cravings!

So what makes Trek bars different so great & different from other bars on the market? The new ‘Cocoa Raisin Bar’ boasts an impressive list;

• Wheat free
• Made with gluten-free oats
• Transfats free
• GM Free
• Packed with plant-based protein (9g per bar!)
• Vegan friendly

(I personally am neither Gluten Free or Vegan, but its great that the bars are suitable for almost anyone!)

TM trek bars

….and they taste even better when you are half way round a Tough Mudder course, caked head to toe in mud & water! When you are running long distances, or pushing your body to the max, your body needs fuel to keep going, and at these types of events I always prefer to fuel with real food rather than energy gels & sweets! As well as being high in protein, the bars also contain the perfect level of carbohydrates to pick you up when you hit that energy dip (ps just to remind you, CARBS ARE FINE AND NOT THE FOOD OF THE DEVIL!) 

Thank you again to Trek for sending me the new bars – the only problem I have now is that I am nearly running out! See you in the mud!

Jordan xxx

Trek Bars are available from most Supermarkets & you can also buy them directly from their website, just click here to head straight there! 

 

SolarBOOST Training Camp

SOLARBOOST - Tom Joy [ IMG_5073 ].jpgOn the 2nd June 2018 I was lucky enough to win a competition to attend the Adidas & Wiggle SolarBoost Training Camp down at the Olympic Stadium in London, to help celebrate the launch of the new SolarBoost trainer & to spend the day getting hints & tips about all things running – including nutrition, training techniques & hydration! It sounded like it was going to be a fantastic day, and not only that I was going to be spending it with some of my Instagram running chums – win win!

SOLARBOOST

It was an early start, and by 7.45am crowds of runners were waiting around outside the Olympic Park, ready for a full on day all about our favourite thing – running! I love these events, it’s the one time that I can talk about running until my little heart is content and not worry about boring anyone or getting on anyones nerves (I have learnt to control this somewhat around the ‘muggles’ in my life, ha!) Soon enough we were being welcomed into the stadium, and headed to the first event of the day – Breakfast!

SOLARBOOSTThis was a great opportunity to speak to other runners and it was really great to finally meet Ben (@benparkes) his better half Sarah (@sarahplace1) and the most colourful woman I have ever met Hannah (@hannbeam)!

After breakfast we headed to the stands for the first event of the day, a talk all about the brand new SolarBoost trainers & finding out more about the technology they used in the shoes and what the benefits are. (Just a side note – I do not usually run in Adidas trainers, and I have not been paid or sponsored to give a review on the shoes – so this is a completely honest account!) My first impressions of the shoes were that they felt quite heavy, weighing in at 270g (this is for a UK 5.5) they are just over 100g heavier than the shoes I normally run in, and whilst that might not sound like a lot, when it comes to trainers that is a big difference! So I was intrigued to see how they would feel when we got the chance to run in them later on in the day.

 

Warm Up/Drills/Stretching

 

Nutrition with Angelique Panagos 

SOLARBOOSTAfter our warm up session, it was back in our seats to hear all about a runners second favourite subject – FOOD! Now after the last few months, nutrition is something I have started to take a lot more seriously, and I made some big changes to my diet on the lead up to the London Marathon, but it is always interesting to learn and I was keen to hear more tips & tricks that could help me to improve as an athlete.

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Our meals for the day were also specially selected by Angelique and we got to enjoy lots of delicious food – I may have put a little bit too much on my plate, but there was so much good food it was hard to resist!

 

Core Stability Training with Lynsey Sharp

Now how often do you get to take part in a Core session with a GB Athlete?! I don’t know about you, but this isn’t something I do very often!

I get asked quite a lot what I do to work out my core, and if I am completely honest it is the one area I tend to neglect, the only time I really do specific ‘ab’ work is during my weekly Circuit class – and thats only because the instructor tells me to do it!

SOLARBOOST

As a runner, core is extremely important, and not even talking aesthetically! Having a strong core can help to keep you to maintain a good posture whilst running, which can make you more efficient, and less chance of you wasting  precious energy – whether you are running 400m or a marathon!

Lynsey led two different core routines, and although short – my stomach was definitely feeling it by the end of the session! I have had requests to follow on my Upper & Lower body training posts with a Core routine… so, watch this space!

After the session Lynsey led a short Q&A session. I jumped at the chance to ask questions about her training & how she was feeling about the upcoming season! She was really down to earth & friendly.. another reminder that at the end of the day, even Elite athletes are just people that love running, like all of us!

Sweat Testing with Precision Hydration

As I have mentioned many times before, running, or at least running well is more than just about running. There are many different factors that can make all the difference on race day, and hydration is one of them.

Living in the United Kingdom we aren’t exactly blessed with the best weather all year round, but recently it just so happens that the hottest days of the year have fallen on some pretty important races (London Marathon, Vitality 10000) for me, so getting my hydration nailed is something I am keen to do so that I don’t struggle again (damn you paper cups!) 

The technology behind what Precision Hydration do is fascinating, and I was really interested to learn how sweaty, and how salty I was! Click here to watch a short video explaining how the sweat test works – this explains it a lot better than I would be able to!

After the tests, all of our results were downloaded and we were each given a personalised goodie bag full of Precision Hydration products that were best suited to our salt & sweat levels!

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I am definitely going to use all of the advice I was given during my training for the Berlin Marathon, and for the day itself! As I will be doing the majority of my training sessions over the warmer summer months, making sure I stay hydrated is going to be key so it’s going to be interesting to see how much difference this makes! I will talk about this in more detail in future blog posts and letting you all know how I get on.

 

 

Customised Sole Creations with Solutions4Feet

I hate people touching my feet, so having a random stranger have hold of my foot and putting it in a plastic bag wasn’t exactly my idea of fun, but it was totally worth it!

On the day we were all lucky enough to receive a pair of heat moulded, custom made insoles. As I have always been a neutral runner, and never had any issues with footwear I have never really found the need to wear special insoles, but ones that are fitted perfectly to my feet can’t be a bad thing, can they?!

The process was simple, my foot was placed onto an insole, popped into a plastic bag, which was then heat moulded around my foot! Now whilst this wasn’t painful at all, it was definitely a strange sensation – and I felt like my foot was being shrink wrapped like a piece of meat!

The whole process took no time at all, and within 10 minutes I had a brand new pair of insoles that were 100% customised to my feet! The great thing about them is that they are suitable for any shoe, you just need to cut them down to size (you can use the original insole as a guide) 

I have been using them in my trainers since I got back, and although I never had any issues before, I have noticed it feels like I have more support in my inner arch as my insoles now go higher and offer that extra support.

If you have thought about getting customised insoles for your running shoes, I highly recommend Solutions4Feet!

 

Running Techniques with the Nielsen Sisters 

As the day was coming to an end, it was finally time for me to lace up and try out the new SolarBoost trainers as we were taking part in a running technique session led by two amazing GB athletes – Lina & Laviai Nielsen!

Once I had (finally!) found some trainers in my size, I was pleasantly surprised that although they felt quite heavy to hold, to run and walk in they felt very light & bouncy. Plus, they look pretty which is always a plus!

 

I was really looking forward to this session. I love track work and although I am a long distance runner, it is a staple in my marathon training, so I was excited to learn some tips & tricks from the pros! One thing that I have learnt recently is the importance of warming up properly before doing any speed or interval work – and this includes a mix of easy running, strides & dynamic stretching.. all of which we went through during our session.

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After we did a full warm up, the fun really started.. and we got to try out some sprinting, and we were encouraged to try and think of all the techniques we used during our warm up – staying light on your feet, keeping upright and trying not to heel strike. The girls also explained how important it is to try and ‘relax’ when you are running – which is a lot harder than it sounds when you are trying to sprint down the 100m finish straight!

Unfortunately we only had time to do a few reps, which was a real shame as once we got started I was raring to go and would have loved to have done a full session! I was also told by the girls that I had a good sprinting form, so I will definitely take that!! Maybe once I am finished with marathons I will give track a proper go 😉

 

Thank you once again to Adidas & Wiggle for letting me be a part of such a fantastic day!

 

Jordan xxx

 

#RoadToBerlin – Week 2

Monday 04/06/18

Gym – Upper body
easy 5

Easy 5 Miles

Boyyyyyyyyy my legs were definitely feeling the effects of racing on the track! I haven’t had DOMs like that for a long bloody time, my quads felt like lead! It did feel good to go for a few shake out miles though, and I managed to keep it at a nice steady pace, result!

Tuesday 05/06/18

Gym – Bootcamp

Easy 4

Okay, so day two and my legs were feeling even worse! My quads were actually sore to touch! How can racing a 3km be more painful than running a marathon?! Anyway, I headed out for a very easy 4 miles with a friend and it honestly felt like a real struggle, I was just hoping my legs were going to feel better for Wednesday!

Wednesday 06/06/18

Grand Prix Series 5k

Every summer the local running clubs take it in turns to host a bi-weekly 5k race across various locations. It’s a fantastic race series, and one that attracts not only runners from the local area but further afield too! I went to this race with a goal, I am trying to not put as much pressure on myself but I wont lie and say there were two things I wanted to achieve at the race – break 18 minutes, and be the 1st woman to cross the line… and I managed to do both!!5k series.jpg

That was probably the best 5k run I have ever done, I managed to keep a consistent pace throughout and felt really strong, it was definitely a massive confidence boost, especially so early on in my training!

Splits 

Mile 1 – 5.43

Mile 2 – 5.47

Mile 3 – 5.45

I then went to the pub and celebrated with a massive burger and a glass of wine, result!

Thursday 07/06/18

Gym – Lower Body

3 Mile Tempo (3 miles @ sub 20 pace)

A tempo run the day after getting my 5km PB?! This didn’t seem very fair! But guess what, during a marathon your legs get TIRED, so sometimes its good to push through that pain and train on tired legs, and most of the time you end up surprising yourself!

I had a mad day on Thursday, which included a 200 mile round trip to Heathrow airport straight after work, and I’ll be honest when I got home at 9pm I really wasn’t feeling it, but I’m so glad I made myself get out there!

Friday 08/06/18

REST DAY – I had a lie in (well, if 7am counts!) had a coffee in bed before work, had an afternoon nap before teaching Bootcamp and caught up with Love Island… PERFECT!

Saturday 09/06/18

Intervals – 3 x 2 miles (3 min recovery)2 mile efforts.jpg + WU/CD

Interval training is a key part of my training plan, in my opinion it is essential if you want to improve you running times & overall fitness and definitely should not be over looked. There are two key types of interval training which work different areas of fitness;

Aerobic Endurance Training –  These sessions tend to be longer, anything from 5 minutes, to a couple of miles. They are still meant to be hard, but rather than working at your max you should be working at around 60-80% of your max HR, enough to know that you are working hard, but not so hard that you feel like you might collapse at the end! These are key for marathon training, think Mo Farah!

Speed Training – These are typically shorter distances/times and require maximum effort to be beneficial, ideally you should be working at around 80-90% of your Max HR (or basically hard enough that you can’t talk!) So think sprints/track/short distance, channel your inner Usain Bolt!

My plan includes a mix of both of these. I have track and hill sessions ranging from 200m/30 seconds right up to this session.. 2 mile intervals!

A question I get asked quite a lot is how to get started with interval training, or how to push yourself during your efforts. If you do struggle to push yourself on your own, the best thing I can suggest is look into joining a local running club. It is a great way to introduce yourself into interval running, plus you have the added bonus of a coach and lots of other runners! Failing that, if I know I have a hard session planned, I make sure I have an awesome Spotify playlist ready to go! The right music can be a great way to get your legs going and help you push when it gets tough!

If you are brand new to interval training, then keep it simple. Here is an example of a session I did when I first started and I used to love it!

*In terms of pace, this will be different for everyone. But for a benchmark aim for your 5km PB pace for the efforts*

Warm Up – 10/15 minutes easy running 

1 minute effort – 3 min jog/walk recovery

2 minute effort – 3 min jog/walk recovery

3 minute effort – 3 min jog/walk recovery

4 minute effort – 3 minute jog/walk recovery

5 minute effort – 3 min jog/walk recovery 

Cool Down – 10/15 minutes easy running 

Sunday 10/06/18

14 Steady Miles

14 milerAnd the long Sunday runs are back! It was such a beautiful day on Sunday, and I headed out early doors with a friend and just enjoyed it! We covered road, trails, fields & chatted the whole way. For me these runs aren’t about pushing myself to breaking point, its just about getting the miles in & making it as enjoyable as possible! I’m actually looking forward to the longer ones (I know, I’m a weirdo!) BRING IT ON!

 

 

Summary

Weekly Miles – 45

Gym Sessions – 3

 

Jordan xx