Race Report: Monaco 10K


Ah, the Monaco 10K, my favourite race that I run each year. I love being back in Monaco as I have such fond memories from my childhood spent there and this year I knew that I had a PB in me so was even more excited than usual to race. My (non-runner) husband also does this race each year, and usually we run the course together which always feels pretty special…this year however, I felt like I had something to prove to myself and so we decided to each run our own race (after a few funny exchanges where my husband was pleading with me to run with him and when I asked why his response was ‘to ruin my race’…love you too, G-man).

The day before the race we walked down to the expo which had moved to Le Stade Nautique Rainier III and was far more convenient and well organised, collected our bibs, and had a really great time catching up with Blue Coast Brewing. At this point, I felt great – I had fuelled well, I had rested, I had trained properly and I was feeling happy. Sunday arrived and I still felt great so knew I had the potential to have a good race – although the weather was truly atrocious – I’m talking biblical rain, which is something we don’t experience too often on the Riviera. Whilst the weather wasn’t going to deter me, it did mean I had to add a jacket to my race kit which I was really loathe to do as I don’t like to race in anything that makes me feel bulky. I knew that the ten minute walk to the start line, and potentially hanging around for about 20 minutes at the finish line would mean I would benefit from the extra layer though.

We arrived at the race start and went off to the toilets where we bumped into Paula Radcliffe. Dream come true. In terms of inspirational female runners, you don’t get better than Paula – we had a brief conversation about the race and said good luck to each other before parting ways. At this point my husband and I decided to say goodbye to each other so I could work my way closer to the start line – I actually found this quite an emotional moment. I was so proud that he had chosen to run the race again and I really wanted to be there to encourage him throughout, but this was also my first race of the year and I had something to prove to myself and knew I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t give this one my all.

The race started and I went out fast – faster than I think I have ever run, but I felt good and the pace didn’t feel unsustainable. I reached the first gentle incline at around the 5K mark and started to fall into a negative and very critical head space, I also took on too much water at the 6K mark and felt like my race was about to fall apart. And in a brief moment where I was really suffering, Paula Radcliffe ran past me (she was running the second leg of the relay race) and shouted ‘well done – keep at it’…which was just the boost I needed. That moment taught me that the discomfort I was feeling within my body was perhaps psychosomatic – something to bear in mind in future races. Eventually the finish line came into view and I knew I was on target to achieve a good time, my official time was 46:43 and 13th lady (previous 10K PB was 50:20 and achieved quite a few years ago) which was better than I could have hoped for – I wanted to come in sub 50, but thought realistically I would be at the 49 minute mark so I really was over the moon with this result. My husband came in at 1hr 4mins which was also a PB and a great result for someone who doesn’t run.


28700932_10214213609646829_6613599846373325931_oI started to suffer post-race. I was very very cold from the rain and my hip flexors seized up whilst I was waiting for my husband – I also really had given the race my all and could tell my sodium levels were low which can make me quite ill if I don’t fix it quickly. So what did I do? Refuelled at McDonalds…I know right, who even am I?! But that Happy Meal really hit the spot after a successful morning.

I’m racing another 10K this weekend and am quietly hoping for another PB, although snow, ice and 25mph wind is forecast during the event so I think I perhaps need to manage my own expectations on this one.

Monaco run


New year, new me?

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I’m back, I think. I fell out of love with blogging last year – mostly because my head wasn’t really in the right space and because I felt very conflicted with what my goals were and the means by which I was trying to achieve them. I fell into that classic overtraining cycle which is so difficult to break out of and my health was up and down throughout the year. But things are getting better and I’m feeling happier and more focussed – I also have a great support network keeping me on the right track, but more on that later.

In autumn of last year, I finally found my perfect distance after years and years of flipping between things half-heartedly. I entered my first half marathon in September and came in at 1h55…I raced with a cold that day but the weather was glorious and I loved every minute of it. During that race something clicked in my mind that this was the distance I wanted to focus on and that actually I wanted to change my approach to running and racing (which up until that point had very much been a ‘need to be in control and punish myself’ thing – definitely not the right reason to run), so I made a commitment to myself that things would change. Of course, life then got in the way and I forgot about that commitment. I entered another half for November just to check that I really did love the distance, and on very little half-specific training due to a busy work travel schedule, I came in at 1h51 and felt like I could have easily given more. And then I forgot about looking after myself once again and my weight dropped and life just started to feel a little tougher…but I was still hitting good times (a 5 miler 38 minute PB and a 23:02 PB at ParkRun) so carried on until I was hit with the flu at the end of December. The flu was the worst, I have never felt so low, and it lasted for two weeks…not how I wanted to start a new year.

But something good came out of the beginning of the year too – I started working with Renee McGregor. Renee is a performance and eating disorder specialist dietitian, as well as a best-selling author. We’re working on a lot of things, including fixing my relationship with food and exercise, and restoring my weight. Which all sounds very simple and straightforward when you type the words into a blog post, though trust me, it’s a lot of hard work and continual effort. But still, it’s a positive kind of effort and one we’re making progress with.

And so this weekend was supposed to be my first race of the year; the Deal Half Marathon. However it looks like it’s going to be a DNS for me. A DNS is a complicated thing – ordinarily it wouldn’t be something to celebrate and I would only not be on a start line if I had a broken leg or some other horrific injury…and whilst I’m not injured, I’m not 100% well either and if I forced myself to race it would be for the wrong reasons, which is exactly what I am trying to move away from. I had been going back and forth in my head for the past fortnight as to whether I should be on the start line…deep down knowing that I shouldn’t be but also feeling like I had something to prove with my first race of the year (but this is the thing with working with Renee and starting to work through my issues…there’s now a rational voice in my head rightly questioning my motives for a particular action). And when at the beginning of last week I was comparing last year’s results for that race with this year’s names on the start line document to see where I might place if I did race and whether I would make it into the top 10, I realised that my behaviour was falling into that completely irrational space that I know so well. So coming to the decision not to race tomorrow is actually a good thing for me, and is something I will celebrate because it means that I really am making progress. Plus, my next race is back in Monaco – and quite honestly, starting my racing season in my happy place in warm sunny weather sounds rather delightful to me.

Despite the things I’m struggling with, I am genuinely quite excited for this year’s running. I have started to place a little less pressure on myself so that I can just run for the joy of running – and it’s working. I haven’t reduced my mileage, but have started to run for myself rather than for my stats…in fact I don’t think I’ve uploaded to Strava for about two weeks now (which may sound like nothing but is progress for me). I have another great year ahead being part of the ASICS FrontRunner UK team who are just a fabulous bunch of people and provide so much motivation and inspiration, and I am genuinely feeling a lot more positive than I have done for quite some time…which may have something to do with the daffodils I’ve just bought for myself, but hey, spring is on its way and self-care through flowers is a very good thing indeed.




Back in March I got ill. The kind of ill where everything feels like a gigantic effort, where even waking up and getting out of bed in the morning felt like an unbearable challenge. I hadn’t been 100% well since last autumn, but come mid-March I felt like I could barely function – although also felt like I had to keep going (note to self: next time you’re properly ill, take time off from work and exercising, it’ll make the recovery so much easier). Thankfully things feel like they are finally back on track – I’m having to take iron medicine each day which is disruptive in other ways (can’t take it with dairy, eggs or tea…how’s that for an awful breakfasting experience?), but it has seriously improved my energy levels.

I thought that my low energy was normal, I knew I was not looking after myself as much as I should be, but always assume things will just figure themselves out without needing to be addressed properly. It turns out a little bit of medicine goes a long way. In the past month I have seen the most noticeable difference and have felt so inspired with my running once again – to the point where I didn’t want to take a day for granted so ignored the need for rest days and did a 14 day streak. And then I remembered that one of the biggest challenges I face in life is striking a balance (I’m an all of nothing kind of girl) and eventually forced myself to take that much needed rest day and was all the better for it.

And whilst it’s safe to say the first half of 2017 didn’t exactly go to plan, the second half is on the horizon and filled with exciting things. I have an aquathlon in September and may try to fit in another triathlon late summer, although if I am honest all I really want to do these days is run. I have some great running events coming up with my ASICS FrontRunner team though; we have the Ealing Half in September, the Florence Marathon in November, and lots of other fun events along the way.

I haven’t run a marathon before but am incredibly excited and, actually, it is a big goal of mine to achieve. It comes with some heightened challenges for me; firstly, the bones in my left foot are slowly deteriorating (and so my rationale is to use my feet as much as possible before I have to have surgery), and secondly, I am terrible at fuelling. Truly terrible. I eat all the right things, but I don’t eat enough and this is a problem that consistently returns and is something I need to address in order to perform in the way that I want on race day. Unfortunately I cannot run a marathon on fresh air and enthusiasm alone so there are a few hurdles to overcome here – the fact that I am at the lowest weight I’ve been for a few years isn’t exactly a good position to be in, but it has been recognised and is being worked on. Once I am back from my holiday in July I will be working with a sports nutritionist in the lead up to the marathon and I hope that this will be my opportunity to get on top of everything again – for me, having somebody else control and assign what I need to eat and when should hopefully make this journey a little easier. It will be a challenge and filled with the usual ups and downs that come with trying to gain some racing weight (and just ‘living life to the fullest’ weight), but running feels more important to me at the moment than any kind of aesthetic benefit that comes with not fuelling adequately.

So running has, once again, saved the day for me and brought back a whole lot of focus and happiness. Here’s hoping it continues!

The Gift


‘To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.’
‘Redefine your impossible.’

I cling to inspirational quotations as a way of getting through life, and often have them scribbled over my body on race day too. Those two above are the mantras I reliably turn to year on year as a way of getting through things and keeping myself motivated. Recently though I’ve been repeating them more and more whilst my health has taken a bit of a nose dive, forcing me to pull out of a few events and making me re-evaluate where I place my ‘self’ in my list of priorities (turns out it was pretty far down on the list…which I’m sure is something we can all relate to on some level).

There have been days recently where everything has felt like a struggle, and I think when your body is at that point where it feels broken and heavy, it begins to affect your state of mind too. I could see the warning signs but chose to ignore them until I hit a wall; I’ve been travelling too much, I haven’t eaten three meals a day for longer than I can remember, I’m doing way too much in my day job, I’m getting far less than seven hours sleep each night, I’m still heavily reliant on caffeine to get myself through a day and on top of it all, up until last week, I was still trying to train just as much as usual. So it wasn’t much of a surprise to find out that once again I was low on sodium and potassium, and was suffering from anaemia. Poor life choices really do equate to poor health.

The problem with getting yourself into that kind of rut is that it’s very difficult to crawl back out of it, because generally, the other pressures don’t stop existing. It takes real effort to make positive changes to improve your health and I just haven’t really been keen to do so, or rather I felt like I couldn’t do so because in my head I still consider certain things to come before my health…I’m under this naive assumption that my body will just adapt and learn to cope with feeling like this. Because, after all, I like to think that I’m invincible and that my body really can do anything. As it happens, being forced to slow down has helped a little bit and I’m beginning to really focus on fixing these issues…because I really do love it when my body and mind feels strong. And that’s a state of being I want to be back at as soon as possible.

And so that first quotation about sacrificing the gift, that’s quite important to me at the moment because by not taking care of myself in the appropriate way I am wasting that gift of being active, effectively sabotaging myself. And self-sabotage is no good when you’ve spent years getting your body to a state where it can race well. As for redefining my impossible? Well, recently my inner self-critic has been a bit too vocal; telling me I’m not good enough or that my body is weak and rubbish and not worth the investment, telling me that life in itself is impossible. But actually, that’s just the irrational side of my brain talking, and that side of my brain can always be put back in its box…which is exactly where it’s going.

So now is the time for a bit of self-care, some good nutrition, and focussing on what I can do, rather than what I think I can’t do.

Race Report: Monaco 10K


What was supposed to be my third race of 2017 actually ended up being my first race of the year. The Coastal Endurance race at the beginning of January ended up being cancelled due to safety concerns and I then consciously decided to pull out of the London Winter Run in February as my feet were in no fit state to put in a good race, so I wanted this to be a good debut for the year. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

The Monaco 10K is my favourite race that I do each year – Monaco is somewhere I spent a lot of time whilst growing up so there’s a level of comfort and familiarity with racing there, it really does feel like home. This year my uncle and cousin were planning on racing with us too, but my cousin fell down some stairs and broke her foot shortly before the race so had to pull out (Sasha – I’m convinced you did this deliberately and we will get you racing with us next year). We were blessed with really beautiful weather once again, and after spending a few days relaxing by the pool felt in pretty good condition by the time race day arrived.

Then I woke up on race morning and felt so unenthused to run – not to the point where I wanted to pull out as there really is no pressure with this race, but I didn’t feel like I was going to put in much effort. So, we went down for breakfast and whereas usually I’d be quite strict about just eating a bowl of porridge before the start of a race, I actually decided to fill up on croissants and discard any nutritional needs my body might require for a good performance. I then got dressed into my race kit and swapped my shorts out for tights, despite the fact that it was approaching 14’c outside and I knew I’d be overheating within 10 minutes of starting. Essentially it was an exercise in self-sabotage, or so I thought…

We got to the start of the race with just a few minutes to spare, heard the announcement that Seb Coe and Paula Radcliffe were running in the relay event after our race, and then set off on our way into Fontvieille to run a lap around the Stade Louis II and then back into Monaco Ville to tackle the first of the hills. Monaco is hilly, though not ‘properly hilly’, and what I refer to as hills during this post are more steep but short inclines – but there’s a lot of them during the first half of the race and you really have to dig deep to keep momentum going. I’m the type who usually struggles on hills quite a lot but I actually breezed up these ones and felt great (I’m going to credit this with the Barre classes I’ve been going to religiously since last September), I was certainly overheating though as I had predicted and then drank far too much water at the 5K mark to cool myself down…nobody really enjoys running with a full tummy of water, but I’m greedy and never learn from my past mistakes. At this point I could tell that my husband was starting to struggle with his ITB so I dropped my pace a little so that we could continue to run together. I was still feeling very strong at this point. At 6K I had another hill which really hurt my bad feet but still didn’t slow me down as the pain was just about manageable. We then took the switch back down onto Ave Princesse Grace and took the last 2.5K in our stride before crossing the finish line at the Stade Nautique Rainier III, still feeling strong.


Despite all the consciously-made rookie mistakes I made in the lead up and during that race, I really enjoyed myself and had the strongest and most consistent race performance that I had had for years. Considering I woke up that morning not wanting to run, I was just amazed at myself for pushing through and getting the job done whilst genuinely enjoying myself…I think there’s certainly something to be said for forgetting any external pressures and racing just for yourself. Now that my feet are slowly deteriorating and I can’t get to the times I used to be able to reach I’ve had to really adjust my approach to running, and this race really helped me to see that when I forget about everything else going on, I can still be good. Not brilliant, but good. And good is good enough for me. This is also the only race my husband will run so it always feels a little fun and special to be taking it on side by side.

So what’s next? Well, I haven’t mentioned this on my blog yet as I want to do a proper post after the launch weekend, but I am now part of the UK ASICS FrontRunner team. This is a really exciting opportunity, and we’re making our debut at the Manchester Marathon on the 2nd April…so watch this space!


Swimathon: Keeping Myself Motivated


Do you know who I admire? Those people who can just swim length after length, for well over an hour, without feeling the need to deviate and do something else. I love swimming, really I do; I wouldn’t have signed up for Swimathon 2017 if I didn’t. But my gosh, I grow bored of lane swimming. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I’m an open water kind of girl…put me in the sea and I’ll keep myself swimming for hours. But put me in the pool and I won’t last longer than an hour.

And that is precisely why I need structured training sessions – I’m currently using one of the training plans on the Swimathon website for one of my swims each week. I work well when I have my swim broken down into sections and love having drills to do before my main set (in fact, drills are my favourite part of swimming which can probably be attributed to the fact that I’m a perfectionist)…plus following a session like this keeps me motivated and focussed when in a lane with others. For my other session each week I work with my coach who really keeps my technique in check and pushes me hard when I start coming up with excuses as to why I’m low on energy (you should hear some of my excuses…luckily she doesn’t listen to any of them and makes me do exactly what she wants me to do anyway).

So yes, I’m not one of those types who can swim up and down a lane for hours on end whilst enjoying every second. Instead I’m the type of swimmer who loses focus and grows irritable, I’m also not a graceful swimmer who makes the sport look beautiful and easy – I’m all limbs which is terrible when sharing a lane with other people, though great for reaching things in inconvenient places. But despite the struggles I have with staying focussed when in the pool, I can guarantee that after every swim I feel exhilarated and happy because a good swim really does make you feel better.

So what type of swimmer does that make me? A very normal one, actually (and also one who may have skipped a session this week…mais, c’est la vie).


Swimathon 2017


After a few months of secrecy, I can finally announce that I am part of the #BlogSquad for Swimathon 2017. Swimathon is an event I really love to champion as I think it is so vital that people have the necessary skill set to be able to keep themselves as safe as possible when in or near water, and well…swimming is FUN. So I really am delighted to be on the blogsquad for the second year running.

My swimming technique has come on leaps and bounds since this time last year and I occasionally swim with my coach who keeps me on track. That being said, I still fatigue really quickly when I’m in the pool as I tend to go off too fast in my warm up (quelle surprise) leaving little energy left for when I get to my main set and drills. And, I still really struggle with getting my nutrition right for swimming. Aside from those minor problems which can all be worked on, training is going relatively well for me at the moment.

I took the autumn off from swimming whilst recovering from a busy summer of triathlon and wanting to focus more on getting out on my bike whilst the weather was still fine, and then rejoined my favourite pool in January of this year and have aimed for at least one, but sometimes two, swim sessions per week. I know that with Swimathon being only 7 weeks away I have to start getting serious about my training again so that will mean waking up at silly o’clock and being a bit more regimented with my routine…and of course, not letting silly excuses get in the way of me getting to the pool.

I’m actually looking forward to stepping up my training because I know that when I have a swim event to train for, I do put in the effort and I see improvement quite quickly. Also, my first triathlon of the year is in May so this works out really well in terms of getting me race fit.

The whole point of Swimathon is to get the nation swimming – there are pools all around the country involved in hosting Swimathon from 7th-9th April 2017, it is also a great way of raising a bit of money for a good cause by fundraising for Marie Curie simultaneously. I’ve decided to swim at the London Aquatics Centre on the Sunday of Swimathon weekend to complete my challenge so hopefully I will bump into a few of you there.

If you’re interested in taking part in Swimathon this year, visit the website to find your nearest participating pool and then just commit to it – you won’t regret it and it will give you a great spring goal to work towards!