Why I Run With Music

Sony Walkman

I can’t remember if my very first run was done to music. If it was, then considering I only ran about three feet before stopping to have a massive coughing fit, I wouldn’t have got very far through a track (although, possibly approximately twelve Lawnmower Deth tracks). I know I ran with music when I started blogging about my running though, as at the end of each post, I listed the tracks I listened to.

The only time I run without music now is if I’m running in a group and the only time I run in a group is for a speed session as that’s over quite quickly – I’m really not a social runner; I want to be on my own and zone out and listen to music, not chat or be able to hear the sound of my feet thumping the ground or my inelegant heavy breathing.

However, one day in 2008, after reading a debate on the Runner’s World forum, I decided to have an experiment and run without music, and you can read about it here (sorry for the broken links to pics). I concluded my experiment by concluding I don’t like running without music.

I’m also one of those runners people get wound up about by running races listening to music. Seriously, people actually get annoyed by this and apart from them being a touch uptight, I have no idea why this would be something to get annoyed about (unless they can hear music leaking from other runner’s earphones, which would wind me up something chronic). I know some people say you can’t hear the marshal’s instructions if you’ve got music on but I’m not blind and the marshal’s instructions are usually more in the form of pointing, not talking and if they’re your usual happy smiley clappy marshal, they’ll get a happy smiley ‘thank you’ back, as listening to music doesn’t actually affect my ability to speak.

As a back-of-the-packer, I really couldn’t bear to be stuck at the back listening to a load of women chatting to each other and I need my music on to drown them out so, these days, I check race websites carefully to see whether MP3 players are allowed or not. Luckily, MP3 players are welcome at the Dymchurch Marathon I’ve *gulp* signed up to do at the end of November (it doesn’t matter how many times I say I’ve signed up to do a marathon, it hasn’t sunk in yet and according to my calendar, I need to start training for it soon).

When it comes to what music I’ll play when I’m running, I’ve got to say, it’s usually Audiofuel. Audiofuel keeps me running at a somewhat consistent pace, whereas if I’m listening to my own music, I’ll probably end up stopping to skip tracks or I’ll decide I really need to hear a certain song RIGHT NOW and stop until I find it and some of my music just isn’t great to run to in the first place (have you ever tried running to Cardiacs?)

In the gym, however, unless I’m in the mood to hear something specific, I’ll just keep my iPod on shuffle and listen to whatever it throws up. One thing I discovered when I joined Fitness First in London years ago though is that you need some noise-cancelling earphones so you only have to hear your music, not theirs too, otherwise you’ll end up with some weird dance/indie combo. Well, in my case, anyway. You may well end up with a dance/dance combo and not notice any difference.

So, yes, I’m definitely in the pro-running-with-music camp. How about you?

 

Review: KS Active+ Bluetooth Remote

KS Active+ Bluetooth Remote

If I’d owned my iPhone when I first started running, I wouldn’t have run without it. Like most phones these days, it can play music, run GPS fitness apps, has maps in case I get lost and a camera for any cow-based photographic emergencies. However, I didn’t have my iPhone when I started running so I used to take out with me my massive Garmin 301 (I think it was a 301 – the one that took up half your arm), a massive video iPod (which promptly broke as I don’t think it liked being run with) which took up half my other arm, a little camera tucked into my back pocket and a printed paper map if I was trying out new routes. I can’t remember what phone I owned at the time but I didn’t take that out running with me as it was a weird phone that could only be used for making phone calls *shudder* and sending text messages.

I still don’t usually run with my iPhone because a) I don’t use any running apps; b) I’m happy with my iPod Shuffle for music; and c) they’re impossible to use through those armbands no matter how much the blurb for them says you can, so if, for example, an unwanted U2 album that was FORCED on to your iPhone against your will comes on, I’d have to stop and take the phone out of the armband to stop Bono from squawking down my ear.

But then Three Mobile sent me the KS Active+ Bluetooth Remote to try.

As you’ve probably guessed, the KS Active+ Bluetooth Remote is, um, a Bluetooth remote. It’s compatible with all stereo Bluetooth devices though, not just iPhones, despite me banging on about my iPhone in the previous 250 words.

KS Active+ Bluetooth Remote

In the box you’ll get the KS Active+ Bluetooth Remote, earphones, 3 sets of earbuds (although mine only came with one), USB charge cable and a user manual.

Setting it up is easy – the remote and my iPhone paired quckly, then all I had to do was plug the earphones into the remote, clip the remote onto my waistband and shove my phone into my Roosport Fitness Pouch (these pouches are great – so much better than an armband for carrying your phone), then I was ready for my run. Well, I would have been if the earphones had a better sound quality but I’m afraid to say I hadn’t even made it as far as the front door before turning back and swapping them for my usual Sennheisers.

KS Active+ Bluetooth Remote

Once you are out on your run and you’ve got used to knowing where the buttons on the remote are, play/pause/fast forward/rewind/volume control are all within easy reach without you stopping what you’re doing. You can also take phone calls with it but no one ever rings me so I didn’t get to test that bit.

I’m not sure it’ll take over from my iPod completely but if I did want to take my phone out running or walking with me to use music or apps or just so I’ve got my phone with me in case of emergency, I’d be happy to use the KS Active+ Bluetooth Remote. Just not with their pretty yellow but pretty rubbish earphones.

The KS Active+ Bluetooth Remote is available in black, pink or blue at various prices from Amazon.

Review: Boot Camp Body Wrap

Boot Camp Body Wrap

I didn’t start running to lose weight, I started running because after I stopped smoking I had an immense amount of energy to burn and as I had a little park at the end of the road, I thought a little jog round there now and again would do the trick. Soon after stopping smoking though, food – and in particular Twixes – started to taste really nice and I started eating my dinner instead of smoking it. This in turn led to me think I was putting on weight, so I bought some scales. Please don’t hate me but when I got on the scales I was 8 st 8 (I’m 5′ 6) and decided I was a fat bloater and needed to lose some weight. I got down to 8 st 6 but then the weight kept creeping up – despite me running regularly – until I averaged around the 9 st 2 mark for a couple of years until I moved to Kent, turned into a country bumpkin and put on well over a stone (don’t ask me how I felt when I reached the dreaded double figures).

I have managed to lose about half a stone recently after a) going on a Bodychef diet for a week (which I blogged about here); and b) having the lurgy (there’s nothing like the lurgy for putting you off your grub) but, like most women, I wouldn’t mind losing a few more inches, so when Slimming Solutions asked me if I wanted to try their Boot Camp Body Wrap which claims to get rid of a few inches in just an hour (and not even an hour in the gym, but an hour of dossing about in your dressing gown, whoop), I thought I’d give it a go.

I’d put off trying the Body Wrap for a while because it seemed to involve covering myself with gunk, and covering myself with gunk sounded like a messy, inconvenient faff, plus I didn’t believe it was going to work anyway. But I’d bought a new dress I was planning to wear at the weekend and thought the thinner I look, the better and so I gave it a go. While you can use it on any parts of your body you’d like to shrink, I only wanted to shrink my belly so I decided to use it just on that area.

Boot Camp Body Wrap Clay

After measuring myself with the supplied tape measure, I went to work on gunking myself up. I thought the clay would be thick and gloopy but it’s surprisingly thin and smoothed on my skin easily without me covering the bathroom with it like I thought I would.

Boot Camp Body Wrap bandage

The instructions recommend warming the bandages before use but… you know… extra faff… so I used it cold (I only needed one as I was only doing the stomach area) but it went on easily and clipped up with the two supplied clippy things (I think that’s the technical term) which kept it in place. You can then cover the bandages with the supplied cling film, but this is optional. Yep, you guessed it – I went for the ‘won’t bother with that bit’ bit.

Boot Camp Body Wrap bandage

After you’ve applied the clay, you sit around for an hour and let the clay do its work. After an hour, you can unwrap your bandages and unearth the new you. You don’t even have to wash the clay off – in fact, the instructions say it’s best not to as leaving it will enhance the effect of the wrap.

Here’s where you expect me to say, ‘Whoop, I lost 16 inches off my belly!’ isn’t it? Um, unfortunately, I don’t think I lost a millimetre, let alone an inch. I don’t know whether this is because I didn’t use enough clay, didn’t massage it in enough, didn’t wrap the bandages tightly enough or should have used the clingfilm but, I’ve got to admit, I was a little disappointed even if I didn’t really think it was going to work anyway. But, there’s loads of clay left (and I mean ‘loads’), the bandages can be washed and it was so easy to apply, I’ll give it another go and see if I can do it right this time. I will report back!

The Boot Camp Body Wrap costs (at the time of writing) £39.95 and is available from Slimming Solutions.

 

 

Entries are open for Juneathon 2015!

Juneathon

Juneathon: A yearly festival of activity and excuses

I know it doesn’t seem long since Janathon but, yep, it’s that time of year when I pester you to sign up for Juneathon.

In case you don’t know what a Juneathon is, it’s a month of daily exercise – running, cycling, gymming, swimming, extreme sunbathing, whatever and after you’ve done your exercise, you blog about it or if you can’t be arsed to write a whole blog post, you can just tweet your efforts (using the #juneathon hashtag) or post about it on the Juneathon Facebook Page.

New for 2015! Because Louise said on Facebook she wasn’t Juneathoning this year because a) it’s hard; and b) it’s not on Strava and if it’s not on Strava it doesn’t count, I created a Juneathon Strava Club. You can join the Strava Juneathon Club here but it only appears to count running, not cycling or anything else, so if anyone knows how I can change that, please let me know (and not just because I don’t want to be bottom of the Strava leaderboard. Okay, it’s because I don’t want to be bottom of the Strava leaderboard).

Juneathon is fun and it’s free and it’s a great way to make new friends/followers and we even meet up in real life after it’s all over and done with to stuff our faces then go to the pub to drink like the finely tuned athletes we’re not.

Sign up now at the Juneathon website and, remember, slacking is not an option.

Dammit, I’ve Gone And Entered A Marathon!

Dymchurch marathon

Photo credit: http://www.saxon-shore.com/dymchurch/

Don’t laugh, but I’ve entered another marathon. I realise this makes it sound like I’ve already run about 16 of them but, as you’ll know, I haven’t actually ran any and apparently running four half-marathons doesn’t equate to two full ones, no matter how much I argue this – in my mind, perfectly valid – point.

Those of you who knew me in the days before I lost the jog in my blog will know I entered the Kent Coastal Marathon in 2008. I was all geared up for training for this. I was running consistently, I’d done a few 5ks, 10ks and a half-marathon and knew I had a marathon in me if I trained properly for one. But then I realised ‘training properly for one’ meant doing longish runs mid-week. I did one eight mile run mid-week, tacking a bit onto my 6 mile running commute then I found out MP3 players weren’t allowed in the marathon and I also found out the first half was hilly and so I thought, ‘sod that’ and that was the end of my first marathon.

The next year I got caught up in the excitement of the London Marathon when a lot of running friends got ballot places and so I entered the ballot, got rejected but continued trying and finally got a place the year before I would have got one of those ‘five rejections and you’re in’ places (that they no longer do).

I ended up deferring that place because I didn’t do any training (I’m sensing a theme here) but the next year I’d completely lost any interest I had in doing the London Marathon after going down to support and finding the crowds – to be blunt – did my fucking head in.

And there ended any interest I ever had in doing a marathon. Ever.

Until I saw the goody bag the Saxon Shore guys provide. They pride themselves on having unhealthy goody bags, mostly containing food and drink beginning with the letter C, e.g. cookies, cider (or Carling or Carlsberg), chocolate, cheddars and crisps. They even do a vegan version. And also, as anyone who’s taken part in one of their races can confirm, they do the coolest medals ever. Take a look at this beauty.

Dymchurch marathon medal 2014

Photo credit: http://runwithemmy.co.uk/?p=404

Helen and I briefly talked at the end of last year about doing the Dymchurch Marathon at the end of this year but then I forgot all about it. But then after Helen had to drop out of Brighton because of an injury and started to look for another marathon to do, I reminded her about this one. What started off as a throwaway comment ended up in a lengthy Twitter/Facebook conversation where I ended up saying ‘okay, I’ll do it’ (I might have had a few glasses of wine when I said this) but not leaving it at that but dragging Cassie, Rachel, Carla, David, Adele and Angela into it too. Cassie and Rachel are definite yeses. We’re still working on the others BUT THEY WILL SAY YES.

My training’s going really well. I’ve paid my entry fee and downloaded a training schedule. All I need to do now is the training but I’ve been told that’s the easy bit. Also, as the marathon’s at the end of November and along the seafront, it’s going to be flipping freezing, so I’m going to need some warm clothes – maybe some gloves and a hat from e-outdoor.co.uk or somewhere similar. 26.2 miles along the seafront in the winter – I must be mad.

Wish me luck!

The JogBlog Guide to Running Injuries

It is a well-known scientific and medical JogBlog fact (i.e. even more inaccurate than Wikipaedia) that if you take up running, you’re going to get injured and probably sooner rather than later.

I know I did. I got injured after my first ever race after training injury-free for months. Thankfully, I recovered in time to train for my first ever 10k but then the dreaded runner’s knee struck while training for my first ever half-marathon. Waaaaaaa.

Although that was almost nine years ago, I’m still gutted about missing my first half that I’d been looking forward to so much. I had especially been looking forward to it because Joggerblogger was also taking part and I’d never met another running blogger before (unlike now when they’re flipping everywhere like maggots in a cat food can that’s been in the bin for weeks because your housemate hasn’t taken the rubbish out and you’re on rubbish-taking-out-strike).

Lightning may never strike twice but, unfortunately, the same can’t be said for running injuries and I’ve been injured a couple of times since then. Despite my injuries being bad enough that I could barely walk, let alone run, I didn’t think they were severe enough to go and see a specialist; for example, a physiotherapist or a chiropractor. But they were painful and persistent enough for me to get them checked out, so I went along to a minor injuries unit, where each time I was told to rest and take ibuprofen. Each time I was slightly miffed not to be diagnosed with an ailment I couldn’t pronounce or show off about, but I suppose if you want to be diagnosed with something you can’t pronounce, you’re going to have to pay for it.

One injury I have recently learnt to pronounce (and spell correctly) is plantar fasciitis. This is because Helen recently got injured while training for the Brighton Marathon and, because she paid for treatment, she got a fancy name for her injury other than ‘hurty foot’. Unfortunately, Helen had to drop out of Brighton but, being hardcore and saying ‘pah’ to her plantar fasciitis, she managed to hobble round London Marathon two weeks later and even hobble around in it an impressive 6 hours something (which, let’s face it, is probably quicker than I’d ever run it in peak foot-health).

London Marathon seems to bring out the determination in people. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s likely to be a one-off opportunity (unless you’re one of those charity runner types and go for a golden bond place) and they might not get another chance or it’s simply because I know all the hardcore/stupid people. As some of you will remember, Shaun got a stress fracture at mile 11 of London 2010 but heroically/stupidly carried on the final 15 miles with a broken leg. I saw him limp past me at my spectating/drinking point at mile 23 but when I found him crumpled against a wall somewhere not too far from the finish line, he couldn’t walk an inch. We spent the evening in A&E where he was x-rayed and diagnosed with a stress fracture (see above re having to pay for a fancy name for your injury).

Luckily, my injuries have never been too serious (touch wood) but my advice to you is, if you’re in pain, stop running and rest until you’re better – you can always cross-train by doing some form of low-impact exercise such as swimming, rowing or using the elliptical trainer.

If the pain persists or gets worse, then seek help either from your GP, a walk-in centre/minor injuries unit or a specialist such as ML Chiropractic. Just remember though, if you want a fancy name, you’re going to have to pay for it.

Review: Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach

lumo-lift-posture-activity-coach

Do you slouch? I know I do. I keep trying to remind myself to sit up straight because a) slouching is bad for you; b) I don’t want to end up looking like Gillian McKeith and c) um, let’s just stick with b, shall we? Flippancy aside though, there are more benefits to good posture than purely physical ones. If you stand up straight and walk tall, you’ll feel more confident and this should filter down into the way you act, for example, when using the phone, at job interviews and asking for a custom-made sandwich in Subway.

But what do to about it? You could stick a plank down the back of your top (please don’t do this while you’re ordering a sandwich in Subway. You’ll look weird), set an egg-timer to remind you to sit up straight, get a special chair that forces you to sit up, or you could buy a Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach. I know I don’t need much of a reason to get another gadget but buying a gadget which stops me looking like Gillian McKeith sounds like a damn good reason for buying one if you ask me (which, admittedly, you didn’t but, hey ho). I’m not sure it’ll ever give me the confidence to allow me to venture into a Subway again and relive the horror of being interrogated about what bread I want, what size I want it, what fillings I want, what salad I want and what sauce I want though. I only wanted a sandwich. I’ll stick to ordering pizza facelessly and silently online in the future.

As you’ve probably gathered, the Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach is a gadget that helps you to correct your posture.

Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach

Sensor, strap clip, Windows dongle (supplied separately), magnets, charger

 

In the box is the sensor which you affix to your bra strap (hang on, men, I haven’t forgotten about you – bear with) with the supplied strap clip or – if bra-less – hold in place with one of the two supplied magnets. Personally, I don’t like the look of the magnets (although glitzy ones are available on the website, if glitzy things are your kind of thing), so I’ve been testing the Lumo Lift with the strap clip which is easy enough to put on and has a strong magnet and doesn’t fall off. These magnets are strong; this is why everything’s far apart in the photo. Any nearer and they gravitate or magnetate or whatever it’s called towards each other.

Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach

Lumo Lift sensor

Lumo Lift Posture Activity Coach

Lumo Lift magnets

Once the sensor’s attached, it’s easy to align. Just stand up straight and double press it. It’ll buzz to let you know the coach has started. Each time you slouch, it’ll buzz to tell you. It buzzes a lot. I also found that it buzzed when I moved my arm up to drink a cup of tea so maybe I should have had it on the other side but then maybe it’d buzz each time I used the mouse, I don’t know. It also buzzed when I was making food but it’s easy enough to turn it off if you’re doing something where you won’t be sitting up straight – you just just press and hold.

I’m not really sure I got the hang of it, despite there not really being anything to get the hang of in the first place. But I get the impression it’s not something you keep on all day – just when you’re at your desk for a long period of time and want a reminder to unMcKeith yourself.

It’s also an activity tracker which will track your steps, distance and calories so if you want graphs and charts and statistics and stuff, then you can sync it with your iPhone and other iThings and find out how far you’ve walked and it’ll also tell you for how long you had good posture. Although, if you’ve got an ancient iPhone 4, like mine, you’ll need to get a Windows dongle, which is supplied separately.

Lumo Lift dongle

Windows dongle. Not actual size

 

lumo-charts

Must try harder.

 

Okay, I confess (don’t really have a choice, do I?) I haven’t used the Lumo Lift for a while but it’s a great way for those who have desk jobs and are in the habit of slouching to be reminded to sit up straight and I am going to try and get into the habit of using it.

For more information, visit the Lumo website.

 

Giveaway: Win a Case of DCOCO Coconut Water

DCOCO coconut water
DCOCO coconut water

Win a case of DCOCO 100% natural young coconut water

Coconut water has been touted as a good sports recovery drink for many years now and I’ve had cartons of it in race goody bags but, to be honest, I haven’t liked it much. But when DCOCO asked me if I wanted to try their 100% natural young coconut water, I thought I’d give it another go. Plus, as I’ve been making a lot of smoothies lately, I thought if I didn’t like it on its own, I could blend it with some fruit. I’d imagine it’d be great with some pineapple and strawberry. Or sod the strawberry and stick some rum in it and make a piña colada instead.

As it happened, I found DCOCO coconut water perfectly nice to drink after a visit to the gym. I haven’t tried it in a smoothie yet but I have, however, used it in a recipe for raw chilli crackers (which you can see on my Planet Veggie blog).

Dehydrated raw crackers

Raw chilli crackers

What makes DCOCO unique to other coconut water brands is that it’s the UK’s first 100%  natural young coconut water and never uses concentrates, preservatives or mature coconuts.

The only downside really is that the bottles are made of glass, so you probably won’t want to carry them around with you in case they break and you end up with coconut-aroma’d kit (although, let’s face it, that would be preferable to Powerade-aroma’d kit). On the upside though, at least being glass means they’re easy to recycle.

DCOCO coconut water

Giveaway: Win a case of 12 bottles of DCOCO 100% Natural Young Coconut Water 

If you’d like to win a case of 12 x 210ml bottles of DCOCO, simply leave a comment below and I’ll pick a winner after the closing date of Midnight, Saturday 16 May 2015.

UK entries only.

 

Janathon Winners Announced!


Janathon winner

Well done to everyone who won a prize and thank you for taking part in Janathon (and a special thank you to those of you who have done what must seem like flipping billions of them but keep coming back for more).

Those of you who won – you’re under absolutely no obligation to do this but if you did want to share the above image and blog/tweet your thanks to the companies who donated the prizes, that would be nice. Just saying, like.

Anyway, as you were. Here are the winners.

Audiofuel running tracks

Tim Hodson

Beer from Country Life Brewery

Lena Conlin

2 bottles of Beet-It shots

Anke

Handmade bracelet by Corinna Korrubel

Tim Hodson

Online detox class from Mission Lean & Clean 

Carla Greer

21 day detox recipe book from Mission Lean & Clean

Lucy Jiwa

Case of drinks from Everything But The Cow

Stuart Walker

Box of Ener:Gels

Julian James
Angela White
Ruth Rouse
Helena Romanowska
Stuart Walker
Keith Jenkins

A pair of Firefly knee straps

Catherine Henderson

A box of Fuelify nutritious snacks

Freya Rodger

Helly Hansen top and tights

Dave Thomas

Fat Burn Revolution book by Julia Buckley

Ruth Rouse

A pair of shoes from New Balance

Laura Dryden

Thanks again for taking part and thanks to all the generous brands and companies and people for their donations.

 

 

 

 

The JogBlog DIY Hot Soup Dash

Five years ago, I took part in the Isle of Oxney Hot Soup Dash (now called the more descriptive, but not as pretty, Tenterden 5). It was cold, wet and windy, with a never-ending hill in the middle, but they gave us soup at the end and I will always run for soup.

I had planned to do it again this year but I’ve been reviewing a Bodychef diet plan over on my Planet Veggie blog and, as well as running for soup, I also run for roast lunch and beer and, unsurprisingly, no matter how hard I studied the diet sheets, nowhere did I see roast lunch and beer mentioned.

So, I decided to do my own 5 miler here and have a cup a soup after. I told Facebook I might even make myself a medal.

My run was slow and muddy (made slower by the interruption half way by Shaun checking up on me on his mountain bike on his way out to buy some eggs but, let’s be honest, I don’t really need much of an excuse to stop running) but the weather was perfect – not too cold, sunny-ish and barely any wind.

After a shower and some dicking around on Facebook, it was time to make my lunch, which – with it being the Hot Soup Dash – had to involve some cup a soup. I made it in my new Helly Hansen mug which is black-ish when it’s cold.

Helly Hansen mug sans soup

Helly Hansen mug sans soup

and reveals a picture when hot liquid is added.

Souped up mug

Souped up mug

As you’d expect from a Helly Hansen mug, it has pictures of sporty things, like this girl out running who, if you look at it from far away and squint between a tiny gap in your fingers, could be mistaken for me running through Ashford.

Will run for soup

Will run for soup

And yes, I made myself a medal, too.

JogBlog bespoke medals are available by arrangement

JogBlog bespoke bling is available for commission

I’m going to send this off to the London Marathon medal design dudes. They’ll be sure to commission me to make theirs in the future.

Stats

Race: The JogBlog Hot Soup Dash
Distance: 5 miles
Pace: sloooooooooooooow
Interruptions by Shaun going to buy eggs: 1
Cup a soups: 1
Bespoke medals: 1

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