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!

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!


My Non-Training Plan

IMG_2272I’ve been thinking long and hard about how I’m going to train for my races this year and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to throw all conventional ideas of training plans out of the window and just trust my intuition and do whatever I feel like. Reckless, perhaps. But I suspect more exciting.

Last year I was very lucky to work with a coach and have my weekly training plans provided to me, knowing that I didn’t have to think too much and just had to follow the instructions written down. In theory, that sounds lovely and the most straight-forward way of training…you know, trusting the professionals. However I’m stubborn and difficult and whenever someone tells me to do something (even when it’s in my best interest), I tend to take great delight in doing the complete opposite. So you can see that being coached wasn’t necessarily a good match for my personality as I tend to trust myself more than I trust others, and I definitely know my limits better than anyone else. I also started really intense training at the beginning of February which left me feeling burnt out by the time my A race arrived and I found myself keeping injuries from my coach because I didn’t want her to adjust my training. I really am a nightmare. Then add to that the fact that I had 6 training sessions per week (this turned into 7 usually because I always wanted to run on my rest day) which I felt like I had to always complete, even if it meant cancelling plans with friends because I prioritised my training over them. Bad friend, I know. Although I also put off my yearly dental checkup for an entire 8 months because I couldn’t fit it in to my training schedule, so I guess I also prioritised my training over my own wellbeing too.

This year though, it makes sense to do things my way. After a bit of a setback with some health issues which has affected the quality of what I’m currently doing, I feel comfortable in trusting my gut instinct with what I should be doing and when. Of course I’ll push myself to train when I probably should be listening to my body and sitting out, but luckily I have plenty of people around me who are more than happy to give me a lecture on that when needed. And despite tears and tantrums, they usually win.

But why else will my non-training approach work better for me? Because having fun will be the number one priority.


Cycling probably became my one true love during last year’s training and whilst I always made sure I took my bike out after work on a Friday evening, it meant that I also had to do an indoor cycle once a week too – and I hate turbo-ing because, for me, my love of triathlon stems from the fact that I love to be outdoors. Slaving away in a gym? Not for me. But getting to the top of an almighty hill, taking a breath in and knowing you’ve cycled up it faster than usual? That feeling is exhilarating and makes me feel alive. I have big and heavy legs which have a lot of cycling potential, but I didn’t get to exploit them enough last year. So this year I want to be cycling more. As soon as the evenings are light enough I plan to cycle to and from work a few times each week – for my mental wellbeing as much as anything else as I know that will help me to feel calm, but is also a nice challenging route which I can extend on the way home and turn into a proper training ride. Why couldn’t I do that last year? Because I’d be cycling to work on days when I would be running or swimming too and then I’d get caught up in how many calories I would need to be consuming in order to sustain that volume of activity, and as someone who still struggles to fuel properly it just created more problems than it solved. Therefore I could only really cycle and run together on days when I actually had a brick session planned. And so I had to hold back on my cycling which made me a bit unhappy at times.

Swimming was also one of those activities that I absolutely loved but had the fun sucked out of it at various points during the year. For the most part, I was swimming before work which meant being in the pool at about 6.30am, saying a quick hello to the people in my lane, and then getting on with my sets. It was quite lonely. Now I tend to spend the majority of my swim sessions swimming with friends or people from my club, and whilst I’m not an overly social creature, the people I swim with are full of personality and we always have a fabulous time and are full of giggles (we do work hard too, I promise). Whilst I may not be working on my drills so much anymore, the work I am doing in the pool is benefiting me enormously and fits in with my ‘non-training’ perfectly. I also plan on doing more sea swimming this year because, again, that is something I really love and as I live at the beach it would be silly not to seize this opportunity.

Running was the area I struggled with the most whilst being coached last year though – I’ve been a runner for as long as I can remember and I don’t really know who I am without running (cue the violins, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and tears have been shed). Unfortunately my feet really started to deteriorate during the summer which meant I wasn’t hitting the times I was supposed to be hitting in my training sessions, and in one of my triathlons I even had to walk part of the run route because I was in so much pain (to be fair the night before that race my husband did have to dislocate my feet for me so I could ‘put them back together again’ so the walking was understandable…but it left me feeling like a bit of a fraud). So my feet aren’t getting any better, and I know surgery is on the horizon which means again my running will be slow this year and it’ll make me tremendously sad, but trusting my instinct and running the distances I know I can manage whilst trying to worry less about times will hopefully help to keep the fun alive and will keep me running for the entirety of the season. But you know, running whilst managing chronic pain is really not easy so I need to cut myself a bit of slack here if things don’t go to plan.

And of course, I have my new found love of Barre and am attending three classes a week. Last year I simply could not fit any exercise classes into my training plan because it was already too full. Whereas this year I know I can tailor one of my runs to run commute to Barre on a Wednesday evening, which will involve hill work on my run home too and will be great for my run fitness. I’m considering Barre to be the strength training element of my ‘non-training’ because I really do have to work hard in those classes and instantly feel the benefits, but Barre is also really useful for me to tune into my body and figure out what isn’t working in the way it should be and what needs to be stronger, which makes it the perfect accompaniment to the swim, bike and run.


Of course, even though I’m calling this a ‘non-training plan’ I do have an idea of what days I will be doing what, and actually with all of the above my entire week is taken up with training once again. However, in my head I feel a bit more comfortable with what I have come up with because I know that now it is only me who is in control of what I’m doing; I can be flexible if I want to be and in theory I will be able to prioritise other more important things over training if I need to…because, you know, missing a swim session won’t kill me. I know I will still struggle to deviate away from the routine I have in my head, but I suspect I’ll be able to figure it out and have a very happy season.

So, here’s to 2017 and the year of non-training!

Training in Winter


I am a child of the Mediterranean. I like warmth. I like sea swimming. And I like to spend most of my days wandering beaches barefoot in nothing more than a bikini.

I also really like sport, and as much as I would love to hibernate in the winter months and re-emerge late spring looking tanned and lovely and ready to run my races, that approach unfortunately does not bode well for a good race performance. And so, in the depths of winter, I have to continue with my training.

But here’s the thing, have you actually tried running or cycling in winter before? Because it’s fun. Really fun. Don’t get me wrong, it takes me a good 15 minutes huddled by the radiator after getting changed into my kit before I can motivate myself to brave the icy weather. But once I’m out there I have the best time. It’s just easier training in the colder months, you don’t overheat quite so much, you see the world with fresh eyes and you get to experience the magic of twilight.

Here are a few fairly standard tips to make winter training easier:

  1. Get Google Nest (or one of its competitors). My husband is a big fan of anything Google…to the extent where the majority of our home is powered by by the brand (and I’m not allowed an iPhone, sob). Nest is ingenious – at about 4pm from the comfort of my office or a meeting I reach for my phone and turn my heating on via the Nest app. This means that when I arrive home my kit is already warmed through which makes heading straight out for a run or bike ride marginally easier (and no, this post isn’t sponsored by Nest – I’m just a huge fan of anything that keeps me warm).
  2. Invest in good kit. I think top layers are extremely important to get right in the winter and if you don’t already have a running jacket, buy one immediately. I also think you can’t underestimate the power of a good pair of gloves – I tend to use the same gloves for cycling and running and they always take the chill off during the first part of my workout. Midway through gloves are a really easy layer to take off and tuck away in your pocket too. Oh, and make sure you have a decent hat to wear.
  3. Hydrate properly. Don’t think that because it’s winter you can get away with drinking less water. Training when you’re dehydrated is horrible and will have a severe impact on your performance. I also like to make sure I have a cup of tea as soon as I get back from a winter training session as I need something to warm myself up with (a sweet treat helps, too).
  4. Stay visible; see and be seen. Make sure you’re wearing appropriate reflective kit to keep you out of harm’s way, but also make sure you have a head torch or some other light so that you can clearly see the path ahead. Being visible also means you’ll receive a few more friendly greetings when you cross paths with someone – I find the people I come across whilst out on cold and dark evenings are much friendlier than those I come across in summer.
  5. Ensure you warm up and warm down properly. I’m not keen on stretching before a run but I do make sure I take the first mile at an easier pace than the subsequent miles. I also have a stretching routine that I do once I’m back home and never ever skip it.
  6. Sign up to an event! Nothing is more motivating than having something to work towards. My first event is early January which is a coastal trail run along the White Cliffs of Dover. It’ll be a challenge but hopefully a lot of fun too. There’s nothing more motivating than having a goal to work towards.

It probably won’t be easy mustering up the motivation to get outdoors, but once that work out is done and you’re safely tucked back up in the warm you will feel so much better for it.

Advent Running 2016


For those who have been following this blog for a while now, and indeed those that know me in real life, you will know that I cannot have a conversation about running without mentioning Advent Running. Last year, Advent Running was quite possibly the running highlight of my entire year – sure, it was challenging and exhausting, but it was also incredibly rewarding and made the lead up to Christmas all the more fun.

The aim of Advent Running is to get as many people as possible running, or doing some kind of activity, for 30 minutes a day for 25 days from 1st December. Last year I ran every day of Advent Running and made a whole new group of friends along the way. This year, I have already decided that I don’t have to run on the days that I swim, as activity is all about enjoying yourself rather than pushing yourself to fit in as much as possible, but I will run on those days I do barre or body pump. That being said, I know I get caught up in the Advent Running hysteria so who knows if I will actually be able to resist on swim days.

But the best thing about Advent Running (aside from super inspiring founders Claudia and James), is the online community that goes with it. If you want to give Advent Running a go this year make sure you join their Facebook group, and make sure you post photos along the way. Thirty minutes of activity is not a huge burden to fit in each day, although during the festive season it becomes a lot more challenging than other times of the year (we were fitting in our runs at 11pm some nights last year!), but come Christmas Day when you complete that final run you will feel incredibly proud of yourself…and you’ll probably find that you want to continue your run streak into the New Year.

Happy running!