Monday, 31 December 2012

What a year!

2012 for me has to go down as my best year for sport ever. Personally I competed in the London marathon in Olympic year. I met one of my sporting hero's and like many was totally blown away by the Olympics. To actually be there at two major events and to be in the stadium for the Paralympics will be memories that last with me forever. Below is my sporting year in pictures, some of inspiration some of self achievement.

My 6 races of 2012 that I competed in (from top left to bottom) Surrey Spitfire 20 miles,Denbies Vineyard 10 mile, Dirt Challenge half marathon, (from top right to bottom) London marathon, Love life love running 6 hour endurance, The running show 10k. I managed PB's at the marathon and 10k 

Happy: Me collecting my number from the London marathon expo

Anticipation: Start line of the London marathon

PROOF I ran the marathon!

Done: The other side of the finish line. Happy and relieved faces.

View of the embankment, one of my favorite moments and brilliant crowd support 

West Byfleet: The men's Olympic road-race, blink and you miss them! 

The Women's Olympic marathon. Amazing to be up close to the elites.

The Women's Olympic marathon: The top three finishers.

Inside the Olympic stadium for the Paralympics. One of the best stadium crowd atmospheres I've ever experienced.

Panoramic view of the Olympic stadium

The Olympic park by night.

The amazing Olympic stadium.

The privilege of meeting Paula Radcliffe.

A great year for Trail running.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

New Balance 1260 v2

Once in a while I'm lucky enough to receive trainers to review. Today I received from New Balance a pair of their latest 1260 model.

I've had New Balance trainers in the past and been happy with them. The only reason I reverted to try something new, was to see if the grass was greener on the other side. I tried the Nike lunar glides, the grass was greener and I've stuck with them ever since.

Other trainers have been tried and reviewed but alas nothing has come close to the Nikes....until now!!!

The 1260 v2 looks stunning and has been put together well. The welded seams mean no stitching to cause rubbing, just one of the many well designed features of this trainer.

Putting the trainer on for the first time, I noticed how comfortable the shoe was. The toe piece is roomy but keeps the forefoot in place, the upper then hugs the foot nicely up to the well padded tongue. The heel is held in place well and felt secure on the run.

One minor comment I do have is that when lacing the trainer the last eye holes are very high up and to the side of the ankle which means when tying the trainers up the laces feel very tight across the top of the foot, and I had to loosen them off.

Once out the Tarmac I was impressed how fast the trainers felt. With new materials being used for the soles of trainers now, trainers are getting much lighter. The 1260 v2 is no exception, and to date are the fastest support trainer I've worn. The low profile of this model was something I was not used to but really liked.

The ventilation mesh on the forefoot was really noticeable. The evening was cold and I could feel the cold air moving through the trainer.

Gone are the days of the prominent medial support posts in heavy stability trainers. The medial support is there but designed perfectly in a very comfortable sole.

The trainers are listed as a stability trainer for mid to moderate overpronators but due to the low profile of the shoe it's hard to believe this is not more of a neutral shoe. That's not to say there is a lack of cushioning but as someone who suffers from tight calfs and Achilles it will be interesting how I get on with the 1260 v2.

Overall a brilliant lightweight fast road trainer for the lighter runner requiring some support.

Cushioning - 8 out of 10, Not as much cushioning expected from a stability shoe
Comfort - 9 out of 10, Very comfortable especially in heel area
Flexibility - 8 out of 10, Good Flexibity.
Responsiveness - 9 out of 10, Very responsive with the low profile

Overall 34 out of 40

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Run with Paula Radcliffe

Thanks to the O2 sports priority app and being on the 02 network meant I got to meet one of my sporting heroes this weekend; marathon legend Paula Radcliffe.

Catching the 6:39am train to London on a cold winters morning is not something I am used to, especially after getting up at 5:30 the day before for my Friday run to work. But when meeting sporting legends its a small price to pay.

After reaching Waterloo and the short tube ride to Oxford Circus, I queued along side other like minded runners as we waited to go into Niketown and meet Paula.
Now I do like my Nike sports apparel, so to be in one of the biggest stores before opening time felt like being a kid in a sweet shop! As we waited for the introduction of Paula we were able to pick up a breakfast bag and mingle and look around the store. I got chatting to another runner who had made his way from Stoke for the event before I met up with fellow `Tweeter ` Simon. It was great to finally meet Simon after following on Twitter and we had a good chat exchanging stories of running.

As we all gathered around Paula was finally introduced to us as we stood and listened to her being interviewed by a Nike representative. Most interesting was listening to Paula describe her comeback from injury that sadly kept her from competing in this years Olympics. But it`s good news and sounds like Paula is not far from getting back to running again in the new year.

Q and A with Paula at Niketown

Sadly due to recovering from her injury, Paula could not run with us today but instead would come down to watch the core workout we had at Regents Park and then meet us back at Niketown for some photo opportunities.

We were all given a Nike white technical T-shirt before we head out along Regent street and to Regents park. We were split into 3 groups with a couple of pacers per group, it was strange to be swapping the quiet trails with running down one of London’s most famous roads, and as you would imagine there was a lot of start stopping to get across some of the roads leading to the Park.

When we reached the park we done some core workouts for about 15 minutes. After this it was a run back to Niketown. Before heading back Simon and myself spotted Paula along with a few others and got the chance to have my picture taken and a very brief chat with Paula. Simon being an ultra runner asked Paula about running ultras and running with Kilian Jornet, I added that Kilian was in fact not human to which Paula agreed!

Can I upgrade my current running partners for this one please?

Once back at Niketown, I quickly changed before joining Simon in the queue for another photo shot with Paula.

I felt a bit guilty as we were at the cut off point in the queue, as Paula had to leave and I was to get my second photo with Paula. The guilt lasted about a second as I grabbed another photo and returned the favour to Simon and got a photo of him and Paula as well.

2nd Photo with Paula back at Niketown

Paula was great in the Q and A session, informative,happy and laid back and so down to earth when chatting to her in the middle of Regents park.

A great day and well done to O2, Nike and of course Paula for making it memorable.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Running Show 2012, Sandown 10K

One week on from my half marathon and time for race number two. This weeks race was at Sandown race track and was part of the 2012 running show. Around 400 folk turned out for the race on second day of the event. After the horrendous weather that we have been experiencing of late, it was nice to awake to clear blue skies.

The show opened at 9:30 with the race start at 10:30. I attended the show with friend and running buddy Brian (@bsmithy100).We arrived in good time and had a relaxed time pre-race collecting race numbers and goody bags and a sit down before leaving the warm building and venturing out to the start line. Despite the sun shining the morning was quite cold a very windy.

Now in my head when I think of a racecourse I think...Flat! But the course which took us around the track, surrounding grounds and stables was anything but flat, and surprisingly undulating.

We found ourselves at the front of the pack at the start and typical of me I flew out the traps way too fast with the first two miles at 7:23 and 7:01 minute/mile pacing. In fact all my mile laps were sub 8 bar one. I knew I needed these kind of laps to achieve my PB.

The toughest part of the course was in fact a long straight on the tarmac at the bottom of the race track. It meant running along one way with the wind and then loop round and back again with the strong wind against you and the low Winter sun in your eyes.

Twice round the 5K course done and I came in with a Sub 45 minute 10K at 44:07 and a new PB!

After the disappointment of missing out on a PB last week it was great to bounce back with one today.

Brian also ran an amazing race finishing sub 40 minutes and a new PB beaten by a whopping 13 minutes!

Once changed we had the running show to look forward to. Before we walked round we enjoyed a nice cup of tea and good chat with Twitter friend Lesley (@lilbeeloo67) who was at the show with her husband.

The event was brilliant this year, we chatted to some great people and was looked after throughout the day. Highlights were the informative chats given to us by Compressport and Cherryactive

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Dirt Half Challenge 2012

So I finally got my racing shoes on again, this time for a trail half marathon. The race was the dirt half challenge in Leighton Buzzard. I quite fancied something a little way from home and in new running surroundings. As it turns out, half the course is on the canal towpath of which I spend a good portion of my training on back home on the Basingstoke Canal. The rest of the course was great though with some good interesting woodland trails with testing undulations, tree roots and muddy terrain underfoot. The route was fantastic along with the organisation, but it was a bad day at the races for me.

Race HQ

I'm probably being a bit hard on myself because I went into this race believing I could bag a PB...I was a minute off! My previous PB though was at a road race so I guess I should not expect to be as quick on the trails.
On your marks...
The first half of the race is quick. I managed to get towards the front and although the route picks up the narrow canal towpath soon into the race the pace was quick at the front. Actually for me the pace was too quick as I clocked up the first three miles with 7:15 minute mile pacing. I stopped briefly at the first water stop to take a gel early to fuel me later in the race. I slowed a little for the next few miles but kept a good pace going on the flat terrain. The towpath is well maintained and consists of a narrow tarmac path with grass verges either side to allow for overtaking.

The second half of the race was more demanding as we headed into the countryside. The terrain changes to muddy paths and woodland trails and gets more undulating. There is also a steep hill to get up. It was this hill that cost me. I hate when I'm forced to walk in races or even in training but that was  what i had to do today. My thighs were burning, I'd set out too fast and now I had thrown the towel in. I managed to run part the hill but lost a couple of minutes, it was then I thought 'sod it' I'm just going to slow down and enjoy the rest of the race. The next stage of the race was great, some quite technical trails with fast down hills and tree roots to mastermind and the route continued to be undulating. There were also muddy fields to run through which continued to sap the energy of my legs.
Muddy fields ahead
 The route then picks up the canal towpath again for the last couple of miles. I got chatting to a fellow runner which was great to distract from the tiredness as we exchanged stories and times of previous races. Nearing the end I asked her what the timing was (my endomondo app on the phone shut down after the first few miles) We were at 1:43:00 with a quarter of a mile to go. With this news I instantly sprinted off with my PB of 1:44:50 still an outside shot. I fell short by a minute and my fellow runner deservedly sprinted past me to the finish. I congratulated her for a great finish (Grrrr!) collected my medal and headed straight to the fine spread of cakes that had been laid on by the organisers.

Rather than beating myself up about missing out on the PB, I tried to constructively learn from the experience.
l  I had not given the course enough respect.

l  I had not done enough hill work recently ( Something I used to spend a lot of time on.)

l  I need to work on strengthening my quads and core, both of which felt weak and were tested on the trails today.

I've not had a bad race before. Every race I've run I continue to improve on my times but for the first time I haven't. From that point of view its been a great race as I've learnt a lot about myself.

I will definitely be back next year, the organisation, facilities and race staff were great. The course was great and so to was that table of cakes waiting at the finish line!




Thursday, 8 November 2012

Two races in one week

I have not entered a race since the London marathon earlier this year, unless you include a parkrun, but there is no shiny bling to collect when you've finished so that's not a race!

Unbelievably London is now seven months in the distant past, so it was about time that I had something new to focus on. I didn't want the training intensity that comes with a full marathon so opted for a half marathon, or as they say across the pond a 'half mary'.

Without thinking I went straight for a trail race, which in hindsight is probably not the best option if, like me you are looking for a course to bag a PB. The race I've entered is the Dirt Half Challenge in Leighton Buzzard a mixture of canal path and woodland trails, and a rather nice spike in the middle.

Apart from hill, the course looks fairly downhill but with narrow canal paths I'm not sure what my chances are for a PB.

My PB to date is 1:44:51, which was pretty much 8 minute miling. My thinking was to match this but on the downhill sections try to get some sub 8 minute miles in and then grab a PB...Simple!

Training has been going well for this event, last week I managed to get my weekly total of miles up to 35. I've started doing a back to back run on a Tuesday which has helped bump up the miles. This consists of leaving my car 5 miles from work, then running to the office and then back to the car in the evening. I've also been trying to do a bit more speedwork on my shorter lunchtime runs.

Following on from this race the following Saturday I will be at the running show and taking part in the 10K race which is around the grounds of Sandown race track. I have not run a 10K for a few years now, so it it will be good to race at that distance again.

It's been really enjoyable training for the half marathon and takes some of the pressure of fitting in those long Sunday runs required for marathon training, but I definitely want to run another marathon next year and I am pencilling in the Loch Ness marathon. This one is on my 'to do list'.

So thats the next couple of blog post's sorted out...Race reports! Until then enjoy your running :-)

Monday, 29 October 2012

The search for the perfect running diet

You may have gathered from my last couple of post's that the subject of nutrition has been filling my brain at the moment. I've considered everything from the vegan diet, to the fruitarian diet and the Paleo diet. Arghhhh! so much confusion. So this post is as much as clearing my mind as it is to sharing with the reader.

I've now become a fairly serious runner, not in quality but in that if I'm not running then I'm thinking about it or talking about it a lot of the time (oh, and reading and blogging about it too!)...I'm not boring, honest! When I first started out running I never really thought much about the nutritional side of things, it was all about increasing miles and competing in 10K's, but in the last couple of years where the miles and races have increased up to marathon distances, suddenly nutrition becomes a whole new and important ball game.

I remember hitting the wall so hard in my first marathon that I was determined to get to the bottom of this nutritional malarkey!

The fruitarian and Paleo diet are very much based on what are ancestors could get their hands on (No M&S ready meals in other words!) very much berries,fruit, nuts,vegetables and meat is the Paleo diet and er...fruit for the fruitarian diet.

Now I can relate to this concept, especially the Paleo diet, I believe strongly that as humans we were meant to eat meat (sorry vegetarians!) We have teeth, some sharp front ones for biting the meat and the rear teeth for chewing. We are in a food chain and meat is full of essential vitamins, minerals and protein, if we were not meant to eat it then it would not be so good for you and when have you ever met a vegetarian Tiger?

I agree we certainly eat too much meat in our diet as it is readily available, our cavemen ancestors would only eat meat sparingly when they could catch the damn stuff. More importantly we eat far too much processed meat, and this is something I'm trying to eliminate from my diet.

For a great interview related to running and the Paleo diet listen to episode 19 of the Talk Ultra podcast. There is an interview with Barry Murray at about 1 hour and 4 minutes into the show that is well worth a listen.

The fruitarian diet is raw fruit and vegetables...blah! How dull, I love my fruit but for every meal 365 days of the year? I tried it for a day last week, on a day I was running 5 miles in the morning and 5 miles in the evening. On the evening run I felt drained and close to stopping after a few miles with no real source of carbs to fuel my day. This was only a day and I understand you have to train your body over months and months before it starts adapting to any new fuelling system.

I love listening to The Fruitarian on You Tube, I like picking out the best bits of what he has to say and applying it to my diet. The Fruitarian (Michael Arnstein) is an ultrarunner you has achieved many successes in racing based on this diet. Check out one of his videos below:

One question I do often ask myself is "What about Evolution?" We've got less hair on our bodies now as we have evolved. We no longer need a a thick covering of hair on our bodies as we no longer live in caves and have clothes and central heating. So what about our diet, can that evolve as well?
Bread was not around when we were cavemen but we now have been eating bread for hundreds of years. Surely from generation to generation, years upon years our bodies change to the way we process this once alien food? The same with milk?
Now I'm a fairly trim lad, but I do tend to have a bloated and swollen belly area most the time. I once went to see a physio who recognised straight away that this was not fat but due to digestion issues. I believe I need to avoid gluten and dairy for this reason. When I do manage to steer away from these foods for a day or two, I do recognise a reduced bloating to my belly.
So my quest for the perfect running diet goes on, I'm trying to pick the best bits out of all the diets and work out what's best for me, but still treat myself to that chunky KitKat! Hopefully this post gives 'Food for thought'.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The real bears

OK,we're all suckers for a bit of sugar, but today's society consumes way too much.

Research has proven a direct relationship between consumption of sugary drinks and an increase in obesity, which promotes diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and many other health problems.

Watch the plight of The Real Bears below.

Real human families should know about the risks of drinking too much soda. Watch below, show your kids, your friends, family, share and spread the word.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Eat and Run, Scott Jurek

I've finally got around to reviewing Eat and Run by Scott Jurek. It's taken me an age to read and I'm not sure why because it's excellent. The trouble is I've had too much else to read at the same time (magazine subscriptions, blogs etc.)

Scott Jurek is an Ultrarunning legend and also a strict vegan which I am not. With this being the case, I was a little apprehensive starting the book and that I would be bombarded with recipes and a biased view of the vegetarian diet...but fear not, the book is an autobiography with more stories than recipes and while Scott presents his case for a vegetarian diet, he does not ram this down the readers throat.

In fact in the beginning there was nothing Scott loved more than a burger and even in the early stages of his crossover to the vegan diet still used to have the odd Chicken sandwich from McDonald's. The reasons behind Scott's change to a vegan diet are purely down to how he performed so much better on the diet rather than ethical reasons. He is very passionate about the subject though and does inspire the reader to consider some of the benefits of the diet.

The book is full of memoirs from Scott's many racing achievements from winning classic Ultra races such as the 100 mile Western States, the 131 mile Badwater and the 152 mile Spartathlon. The accounts are well written and you feel like you're running with Scott as he recites the pain and hallucinations he encounters on these races...Actually it didn't feel like I was running with Scott because most the time I was reading this from my snug bed and not going through the horrendous conditions that Scott endures.

The race memoirs are truly inspirational as also is the chronicles from his difficult childhood with a mother crippled by multiple sclerosis and a strict father. Clearly a reason Scott uses his running as escapism (Well don't we all!)

At the end of each chapter you either get a recipe or a nugget of Scott's training tips. The training tips are great, the recipes, a little fussy. As I said earlier I am not a vegetarian. I totally respect other peoples reasons and views on the subject but at this stage of my life, I will not and have no reason to give up meat.

I am a firm believer in the food chain and the benefits from eating meat, but that's not to say Scott's book does not give food for thought (forgive the pun!). Along with this book, I've recently listened to the latest Talk Ultra podcast (number 19) where there is an interview with Sports scientist Barry Murray who talks about the 'Caveman diet' or Paleo diet as it is also known. I've also attended a talk with a Premiership sports nutritionist who is also an advocate of this diet.
I'm really interested in nutrition and the Paleo diet is something that strongly appeals to me. This basically consists of eating as our ancestors did: meat, vegetables, nuts and fruit. No grains or pasta just as nature intended and not a Lucozade sport in sight!!!
I've read quite a few running books and this is right up there with my favourites. Don't worry if you are not a vegan or ultrarunner; two things that I am not, this book is inspirational and well worth a read.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Luckily I'd been sent some kinesiology tape to review, which coincided nicely with my Achilles grumbling away on both legs.

Kinesiology tape seems all the rage at the moment, you've probably seen it all over athletes this summer at the Olympics, but does it really work?

The SpiderTech tape was easy to apply, firstly you have to tear the backing paper along the perforations, peel of the backing paper on each section and then apply the tape to the skin.

The official website has video's of how to apply the tape as well as instructions in the packet:

With my 'second' skin reinforcing my Achilles, I kitted up and set off my run to work.

Can I honestly judge the tape from one 12 mile run to work? Probably not, and to be honest I didn't notice any real benefit, and by the time I arrived at work, the tape had fallen off in places from the sweat and mud on my legs. To gauge the real effects the tape would be worn over a length of time while both running and wearing it while resting to give a more accurate account.

My thoughts at present tend to lean to the 'Placebo effect'.

Below the picture, you can read the official blurb, but also take some time out and read this post: on the excellent Running Physio site about the subject of kinesiology taping.

SpiderTech has the answer with their cleverly designed “spiders”. This pre-cut kinesiology tape is a non-medicated cotton tape that is applied to the body wherever it hurts or needs support. Taping was developed decades ago in Japan. The intention was to support the body’s own healing processes with a special material utilising a particular application technique. The effect of the taping relieves pain and supports muscles and joints to ensure they are in the correct alignment or position for both exercise and recovery.
How does a ‘spider’ work?
The tape has a very specific elasticity built into the weave pattern of the cotton fabric which mimics the elasticity and thickness of human skin, allowing it to integrate, support and stabilise without adversely affecting healthy ranges of motion. This allows maximum performance ability, without pain or strain. It works in several ways to provide pain relief, reduce swelling, assist a range of movement and give structural support;


 · It takes pressure off painful areas which decreases tension through weak or inflamed muscles and tendons, therefore reducing the pain and further damage caused if the patient has to continue to use the joints, for work, day to day activities etc.

· It relaxes muscles. Depending on how it is applied, the tape is thought to activate stretch receptors in the skin which feed back to influence the control of the muscle tension under the skin or activate muscle spindles within the muscle. This increases the activity and endurance of the muscle.

· It promotes recovery. When applied to the skin with stretch, the tape naturally wants to recoil. As a result it lifts the skin and fascia to allow blood flow to increase which is thought to speed up the recovery process.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Adidas miCoach Game, starring Jessica Ennis. Learn the individual techniques of globally recognized athletes, whilst they help you to reach your fitness and training goals, miCoach delivers a feature-rich, sports-specific approach to home console training systems.

miCoach features 18 of adidas’ athletes across 6 different sports on-disc and via downloadable content; including Kaka, Manuel Neuer, Jessica Ennis, Ana Ivanovic, Will Genia and Ma’a Nonu for you to train side by side with.
In addition to training alongside players, every athlete presents a master class specific to their sport and there’s a special bonus master class from the manager of current La Liga Champions, Real Madrid’s, Jose Mourinho...

miCoach is available on Kinect for Xbox360 and PS3 Move.

 ...and I have a copy of the Xbox Kinect game to give away...Competition time!
 For your chance to win a copy of the game all you need to do is answer the following question:
What sport did Jessica Ennis win gold in this year's summer olympics?
Was it:
a) Triathlon
b) Pentathlon
c) Heptathlon
Email your answer to with subject miCoach before 12pm (GMT) 8th October 2012
For further information:
Link to trailer
Link to the miCoach Facebook and Twitter profiles

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


...I repeat I am not an Ultrarunner!

A couple of weeks ago I declared that I was going to run a hilly marathon and then my first Ultra of 32 miles, all within 4 weeks from my declaration. I announced it on Twitter, to running partner Brian (who planted the original seed in my head) and was itching to get things booked up.

Brian had been taking a little time out due to a knee injury, he's back running now and we agreed to see how his knee went before committing to the races.

I was literally going to sign up there and then but would wait it out. Trouble is though while waiting on Brian's progress I had a run to work, a 12.5 mile run, that's 12.5 miles of thinking time, that's 12.5 miles to bloody come to my senses!!! What was I thinking!

The marathon that I had planned was last weekend and is no stroll in the park, I ran it last year and it's bloody tough and I mean super tough. It takes place on the North Downs Way, including St Martha's hill (If you know the area, you'll know what I mean) and then two weeks from now the small task of running 32 miles.

I am in no way physically or mentally prepared to run an Ultra and probably a good 8 weeks to get into reasonable marathon condition.

I have said in a previous post on the subject that I am, and continue to be in awe and inspired by people who complete these ultra marathon's but it really is not for me at this stage in my running life.

It probably doesn't help that I'm reading Scott Jurek's latest book at the moment 'Eat and Run' (review coming soon). It's quite easy to get lost in the Jurek's tales of ultrarunning and fantasise on attempting these distances myself.....No, No, No and No!

Reading the book has influenced me make a few changes in my diet.
Although Scott Jurek is a strict vegetarian (which I could not be) I'm now trying to cut back on processed meat, and cutting out bread and as much dairy as I can and get some more plant base foods into my diet

My working week diet is now something like this:

Porridge is just as easily made and tastes the same with soya milk with a drizzle of honey and sprinkled with some flax seeds.

Elevenses is now usually a banana and  handful of seeds and nuts (M&S do a nice mix flavoured with soya sauce)
Lunch is pretty much a tuna or mixed bean salad followed by a 9bar or Carmans cereal bar

Mid afternoon an apple and handful of nuts and raisons.

Dinner with the family in the evening is generally reasonably healthy but I don't mind too much what I eat if I've stuck to my new daily menu and got out for a run that day.

So that's where I am at the moment, in the wilderness of running with no planned races. I'm no longer running 'naked' (see last post) the stat's are back in the form of the Endomondo App on my phone. The goal now is to keep a good base fitness going through the Autumn and Winter before ramping up for a spring marathon.....that's 26.2 miles and not a yard more!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Sweet potato shepherds pie

I was fortunate enough to spend 45 minutes listening to a sports nutritionist from a Premiership football club this week. Although a lot of things were common sense, there were a couple of eye opening facts that I didn't know about and some old myths blown out the water.
When I ran the London marathon this year I carb loaded on pasta everyday the week before...tut..tut..OLD NEWS! Pasta and bread are now OUT!
Carbs should now come from natural sources such as potatoes and butternut squash. Sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants, and help to prevent inflammatory problems. High in potassium (good for us runners) which helps to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Sweet potatoes are good for alleviating muscle cramps. Potassium deficiencies are a cause of muscle cramps. Making sweet potatoes a regular part of your diet, you can expect an energy boost and fewer muscle cramps and injuries.
Below is my take on the classic shepherd's pie but using sweet potatoes instead of the familiar white potato.
Serves 4

  • 1.25kg Sweet potatoes
  • 500g Lean Beef Mince
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 'glug' Worcester Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 50ml water
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Grated cheese
Serve with:
  • Baked Beans
  • Brown Sauce
  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees C
  • Peel the sweet potatoes, cut into halves and boil until soft and cooked
  • Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion until soft.
  • Add the mince and brown.
  • Add the grated carrot and combine with the onion and mince.
  • Crumble in the stock cube and add the water and Worcester sauce and stir
  • Season well and simmer until the sweet potatoes are cooked.
  • Mash and season the potato with the butter and cheese.
  • In a large ovenproof dish spread the mince covering the base of the dish
  • Spread the sweet potato over the mince, and place in the oven and bake until golden.
  • Serve with baked beans and a good squirt of brown sauce.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Out of time

For the first time in over a year I'm actually not training for any specific event. Hill training, Tempo runs, Long runs...not required...I can just run.

In the last few weeks I have been running when I want, where I want and more importantly without any pressure of times and distance, because I took the big step of RUNNING NAKED!

Running naked is a term in running meaning - No gadgets, so no watches, GPS etc. The first run was tough,very tough, for 8 years I have been running with pretty much every run recorded. By the third run though I was beginning to except and even quite enjoy my new found freedom and it was quite refreshing.

After the first week, I then had a week off from running. I was away to Cornwall with friends and family. The first things I packed were my trainers. All I could think about was the chance to be running the coastal paths everyday. After two nights of lousy sleep in a tent the thoughts of running went out the window, and I resigned myself to actually taking a break from running, let my hair down and enjoy some good old Cornish pasties and give the legs a good old rest. What did it matter, I wasn't recording any runs, so enjoy some time out.

At the weekend I hit the North Downs Way. The plan was to run roughly an hour, I drove to one of my favourite spots in Puttenham to pick up the path. After a couple of miles of climbing, the path tracks through an open area with some beautiful views. When I got there, there was not a soul to be seen, I stopped to have a quick slurp of my drink before continuing..."Hang on a minute" I thought, "I'm not timing this, what does it matter if I sit down and enjoy the views for 10 minutes" and that's exactly what I did with the world to myself. Had I been running a set distance and timing this run, the obsession with figures would have had me glimpsing at the views but this day I had spent a wonderful 10 minutes taking in the beautiful surroundings.

Time Out
In the back of my head I still know roughly what distances I'm running. I know if I'm out for an hour I'm going to be running about 7 miles, and if I'm running to work I know I've done near on a Half Mary. But it's nice not having the pressure of times and always looking at the watch. I've planned to do this for a month, but I'm feeling so relaxed and care free about my running at the moment.

I'm not sure what I'm planning next, I'd like to train for another marathon, and when I do this I will probably follow a structured plan but until then I may continue with running naked for a while.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Ben Allen Interview

Ben Allen is a World Class Professional Triathlete. He specialises in the non-drafting format from 70.3 Ironman, Long Distance and the Xterra World Off-Road Triathlon Tour. Ben is based in Wollongong, Australia and from April through to October he joins the World’s Elite Endurance Athletes in Europe, basing himself in France.

·         Your European base is France; does that feel as much home as Australia?

BEN: I really enjoy living in France the culture; people & style of living is very unique. I try and make it feel as much, my home in Australia as possible, but nothing can compare to my hometown of Wollongong, Australia where I have access to beautiful beaches and mountains.

·         Why and how did you get into Triathlon?

BEN: I started in the sport of Surf life saving winning numerous State, Australian and World Championship medals. I was targeted by Triathlon Australia’s in the High Performance program when I was training for my third Coolangatta Gold Ironman Race as having the potential to be a World Class Triathlete.
Now in my third year of triathlon, I have successfully raced in Europe, America & Asia on the ITU Triathlon World Cup series, Oceania Cup races, Continental Cup circuit and race in the Division 1 Triathlon Grand Prix French League. As well as racing the Ironman 70.3 and the World Xterra Championships Tour, which covers 16 races around Europe, 7 USA Championships Races and the World Xterra Championships in Maui, Hawaii.

·         Do you spend more time training on one discipline more over the others?

BEN: I come from an Ocean Swimming/Surfing background, so I focus more on my riding and running. Riding my Giant 29er on fast downhill single tracks and running on endless trails with my On Cloud Surfers.

·         If you could only compete in one discipline which one would it be?

BEN: Having competed in the Xterra Off-Road World Tour series, has really made me think I would love to try and be a Pro XC mountain biker. If that didn’t work out, definitely a trail runner… Especially running with my On Shoes, they have created a new feel that I search for, ever time I run
·         Do you train on each discipline every day?

BEN: No, I don’t do as much swimming as when I was a Surf Ironman athlete, but I try and keep a balance of all three disciplines so I can maintain my fitness and feel for each discipline.

 ·         You are nicely positioned 3rd in the Xterra tour; are you happy with the way things are going?

BEN: I started the Xterra World Tour, winning 4 World Tour Races and the 1st round of the Xterra European Tour in Italy with a second place finish. I was unlucky to be struck down by a virus in the lead up to this year Xterra France World Tour Championship race and fought on to finish inside the top 10. There are three races left on the European Tour (Czech, Germany & Switzerland) and I will be doing everything possible to finish on the top of the podium.

·         With back-to-back weekends coming up on the tour how will you spend the week training in between?

BEN: After the race I will have a couple of days of rest & recovery and then 1 or 2 days training over the next race course to familiarise myself with the terrain & demands to be able to maximise my perform during the race. 
I will do a little bit of training on all three disciplines the day before the race to check all my equipment and get myself in the right fame of mind…

·         How many miles running do you cover in a week’s training?

BEN: I look at running 62 to 74 miles a week in training. For a big block of training with no races I would run around 74miles and in the lead up to races anywhere from 50-64miles.

·         Do you follow any special diet?

BEN: I try and eat a healthy balanced diet of Carbs, Fats and Proteins. But I treat myself every now and again. ;-)

·         I’m reviewing the ‘On’ Cloudrunners, how do you find them? They are certainly an interesting design, do you wear yours to compete in?

BEN: I love my On’s!
On has created a unique feel like no other running shoe. The evolutionary new cushioning and outsole technology called CloudTec is mind blowing. The faster you run the more you feel like the shoes are propelling you forward.

·         I do a lot of trail running, how do the Cloudrunners cope with the terrain?

BEN: Perfectly! I have run in rivers, up grassy mountain, steep technical descents, down waterfalls & icy trails and never encountered any problems. I love my On’s perfectly suited to any Off-Road Terrain!

·         How do the trails compare in Europe compared to back home?

BEN: The trails in Europe are some of the most challenging in the World. Back home in Australia, I would call my mountains, hills compared to the some of the Mountains I have encounter in Europe.

 ·         What’s your mantra when the going gets tough?

BEN: I like it tough. I have had to deal with a lot more up’s and down’s compared to most travelling athletes coming all the way from Australia. But I always try and stay positive and focused on my goals and dreams. My family and friends back home are the backbone to my success.

·         Who are your sporting hero’s

BEN: I really admire, Stuart O’Grady. He has a heart of a lion and a never say die attitude. He is a family man and an inspiration to many Aussie kids.

·         What advice would you give your younger self, with the benefit of experience?

BEN: Give yourself time to develop as an athlete and don’t try and rush your development within the sport. You wont become World Champion over night. Always try to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Love the life you live and enjoy the journey.