Itch, Skratch and Roar

Tomorrow, I’m leaving Cyprus to spend the summer in England. 

This last two weeks I’ve been squeezed in a tiny apartment in Paphos surrounded by suitcases and if it hadn’t been for my trusty packing cubes my running would have never happened; I’d never have found all my stuff amongst all the mayhem.

I plodded through an easy couple of 5Ks by the sea. The weather is hotting up and so am I. I soaked a flannel in cool water and draped it around my neck. I had a bottle of water with me but I’m starting to think I’ve got this bit wrong…

Currently I’m reading the book Roar by Dr Stacy Sims who is often quoted as saying “Women are not small men. Stop eating and training like one”. Sims devoted a whole chapter to menopause (yeah!) 

“WOMEN ARE NOT SMALL MEN”

I was engrossed by her stance on fuelling during a race. She loathes gels and says eat real food instead (figs, dates, tiny homemade sandwiches or bites) and also says we’ve got our hydration all wrong. Sims claims that plain water is not enough and that many sports electrolyte drinks are poorly formulated. Incorrect hydration can (amongst other things) make us nauseous. As this is one of my recurring issues I decided to take her advice and invest in some sachets of one of her recommended formulas; Skratch labs. They have just arrived in my porch and I can’t wait to try them when I reach England. 

I’ve also suffered from very itchy skin this week.  All over. I covered myself in any moisturiser I had to hand but am on a mission to find the most effective one so I’ll let you all know what I find.

Plus I needed emergency dental treatment-all part of my continuing MENOPAUSAL FALLING APART.

But as soon as my feet tread UK turf, I HAVE PLANS. 

  • I’m going to do a parkrun. 
  • I’m enrolling for swimming lessons-I’m getting slowly pulled into the idea of some wild swimming and although my front crawl is passable my breaststroke is non existent. I can do the froggy arms and legs for as long as you like… trouble is I stay completely stationary in the water-there I am on the surface, not moving forward in the slightest. I need lessons. 
  • I’m doing the Cancer Research Race for Life in Bristol with my daughter. We will wear pink, drag ourselves around Clifton Park then drink pink champagne and eat pink iced cupcakes. 

Off to sit heavily on my suitcases now.

Review of the On Cloudflow

It’s been 3 months now since I tapped the code into the Amazon locker at my local mall which sprung open to reveal the parcel; my On Cloudflow shoes were awaiting. I’m a sucker for trying out new running gear-any of it. I spend hours researching, comparing and debating before I’m done and I hit that BUY button. This past few weeks I’d been weighing up the On Cloudflow and Brooks Glycerin 16.

The Brooks would have to wait. 

Did I allow myself to be influenced by the fact that the On Cloudflow was the shoe used by British Triathlete Tim Don to run the fastest ever Ironman Triathlon? Course, I did. Faster is always my goal.

After reading a few reviews and checking On’s sizing chart I decided to go for half a size bigger than my normal shoe size. I’m a UK size 7 so I plumped for 7.5s. Unless you’ve had a shoe before and are reordering it’s so difficult buying running shoes online. The fit all over is so crucial.

I grabbed the parcel, desperate to rip it open but a tad worried as it was SO light. Were they even in there? A few minutes later, sitting before a glass of wine in the pub, I set to. Ahh my beauties…

First impressions: very lightweight, as I said. As a pair my size 7.5 shoes weigh only 448g. The laces were much silkier to the touch and thinner than I was used to and I was a little worried that they might easily come undone as I ran. The shoes looked quite narrow but the upper was so soft, I hoped it would have some give.

And flipping the shoe over there were those famous clouds. Little cushioned pods dotted all over the sole. Intriguing…

Slipping them on, they felt soft and comfortable and definitely didn’t feel too narrow. The toe room was great. A walk around the room was enough to reveal that my heel slipped a little, although by the toe test I was pretty sure I’d bought the correct size. I threaded the laces through the extra eyelets, laced them up and that did the trick.

Now to the run test; to be honest the first time I set foot outside I didn’t really notice any effect from moving around on those pillows. What I did find though was that during a run my feet felt light and responsive if that makes sense? The shoes were so comfortable I could hardly feel them.

Now lots of folk have expressed concerns that the design of the sole would be a magnet for collecting pebbles. I found that the lugs on the bottom of the Cloudflow are spaced wide enough apart to avoid gathering debris as you go most of the time.

However, I did get stones stuck in the soles on a few occasions and I soon realised that these stones were all pretty much the same size! It didn’t happen often enough to be a problem and in all fairness the On Cloudflow are marketed as road running shoes. Their trail running shoes have quite different soles.

Problem stone size compared with standard bottle top and UK penny

I’ve now put the shoes through their paces with intervals, fartlek, hills and my long slow road runs and they have served me well. Three months later and I have no injuries or blisters to report … and my laces have never once come undone.

Happy!

When Things Don’t Go To Plan

Well, that didn’t go as planned.

I’d entered the Limassol 10K and set the alarm that morning for the disgusting time of 5am as the race started at 8am. I was going alone this time so needed to think more about parking and you always need more time than you think to faff before a race. The night before I’d read that several of the roads would be closed in Limassol for the race and would stay that way until 1.30pm. Not wanting to hang around for long after I’d finished my run I decided to park a few roads inland from the start at Limassol Marina and just walk in. All went as planned except I found I was a little tight on time so I quickly parked up, popped on my running belt and cap and set off following a few bunches of runners obviously headed for the same destination as me. The walk to the start took 15 minutes (this fact becomes important later). There was the usual snaking queue for the ladies loos (how do the men do everything so much quicker?!) so I popped into Haagen Dazs and begged, promising I’d come back for ice cream later (I didn’t).

Soon we were shuffling towards the start line and what a stunning morning it was. The sea was on our right for quite a way and was incredibly still and tranquil. Blue skies and a sun just starting to feel warm on our skin. I wasn’t going for any special time, just wanting to enjoy the experience but after 6K I realised I was a little ahead of where I’d normally be timewise. I decided just to carry plodding on and see what panned out. As the 7K marker appeared I began to feel a iittle queasy. By 7.5K I left the course in search of a suitable bush and was really sick.

Once I was back upright I knew there wasn’t long to go (the relief!) so I set off walking, tapping three or four times on the board held by a little boy which read ‘TAP HERE FOR EXTRA POWER’. I was beginning to feel better so power walked a little. When that felt okay I decided I could slowly jog the final kilometre to the finish line which was visible by now. I sprinted over the line like a looney, grabbed a banana and a bottle of water and set my sights on my car.

Within 20 minutes I was totally disorientated. I was sure I’d retraced my steps of earlier that morning but obviously I hadn’t. I spent another 20 minutes trying to input data into my phone map but it just didn’t seem to recognise anything I put in. And I couldn’t remember much anyway. It wasn’t long before I was attracting attention.

A chap on a motorbike drew up…

‘Are you lost? In the marathon?’

I guess that’s what you might think by the sight of me wearing running gear and a race number and frequently turning in various directions and peering at my phone.

‘No. I just can’t find my car!’

He spent 10 minutes trying to work out where I’d parked before offering to drive me round on his bike to try and find it. Before I could answer he beckoned me to follow him.We headed towards a kafeneio where a group of old chaps were enjoying coffee and playing tavli.

After a rapid exchange in Greek I finally realised he was asking if anyone had a spare helmet for me to wear. No-one did so the ride was out. Just then a couple of cyclists came over to see what all the fun was about.

‘Where did you leave your car?’ they asked.

‘Outside a bakery’.

‘Okay…was there anything else near the bakery?’

‘A roundabout’.

Someone thought to translate the exchange to the old chaps who thought this was hysterical.

If you’ve ever been to Limassol you’ll understand their mirth. There are hundreds of bakeries and hundreds of roundabouts. Eventually I thanked everyone and went on my way. I can’t tell you how glad I was that I carry a little tube of suncream in my running belt. I still had the water I grabbed at the end of the race but it was getting hotter, my muscles and feet ached and my hair was stiff with salt.

Then… with a sudden rush of excitement, I spotted a roundabout ahead, just the size of the one I’d navigated this morning. As I reached it and looked left, joy-oh-joy there was my car. Outside the bakery. It had taken 2 hours to find it. As I flopped in a heap on the seat, the bakery owner rushed out. I thought he was going to complain about me taking up the space outside his shop for so long. But he grinned and handed me a doughnut. I’ve no idea if it was a kind thought to congratulate me on getting through the race or if I looked as if I was about to keel over and he didn’t want the mess to deal with outside his shop. But whatever the reason, it was a lovely gesture.

Lesson learnt. Waypoint your car!

Taking On Too Much

If last year was my dip into the world of running, then this year is all about entering races-10Ks at first and who knows where that will lead? Last month I had four lined up and as I signed up for them I was hoping I hadn’t overdone it. When I find a hobby I love, I always do this.

With an increase in running frequency and duration there’s always a greater chance of suffering some sort of injury. The thing is with me I don’t tend to suffer many muscular injuries but I do always get more respiratory infections. And the last one was goddamn awful. Granted I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and picked up a nasty strain of flu virus that was just about doing the rounds in UK and honestly I am still in shock about how bad I succumbed. I don’t think any part of me escaped being affected in some way but it did force me to make a decision as I lay coughing my lungs up and clutching on to my chest to try and minimise the pain. I vowed to find out if there was anything I could do to stop being floored by these things. 

But first I had some races to get through. So how was I preparing? 

I honestly have a ball running with my girlfriends in Cyprus. Three times a week we run 5K then head to a cafe for hot chocolate with marshmallows or iced drinks depending. Reluctantly I realised that however much fun this was, it was not going to get me ready for a bunch of 10Ks.

I had to go it alone. And here’s the thing-do you just run 5K and love it and all the social stuff? Cos once you aim for more you gain the excitement of progress but you lose something too.

So I headed out by myself. One day I ran 6K and two days later, 8K. 

With no training plan at all I just kept nudging up the distance. After a few weeks I pushed myself to aim for 15K and I so nearly made it. I reached 14.5K and suddenly felt incredibly sick. Hands on knees and dry heaving into the nearest hedgerow, I realised that nothing was forthcoming and sat on a nearby rock quickly feeling shivery and lightheaded. I hadn’t eaten before I came out ( I never do) but maybe I should have? Next time I’m going to take a couple of jelly sweets or maybe a date. I didn’t carry a drink with me either; it was a coolish day and I thought I could hang on til I’d finished. I honestly haven’t found the best way to carry water yet; I don’t like carrying it by hand-it’s amazing how heavy and awkward a little plastic bottle becomes after 10K-so I’ll try one of those water bottle waistbands next. I don’t run far enough yet to think about investing in a hydration vest. That would be overkill, a bit like the time I won a blogpost completion run by Berghaus. They sent me an enormous rucksack to test out and I wandered up and down Bournemouth prom with the thing clinging to my head, back and half my legs. People were asking:

“Ooo are you going far?”

“No. Just to the pier”

As a sweetener for having entered the Cyprus Logicom Marathon (10K bit for me) I’d registered for a wine run around the village of Kathikas. It’s hilly and I was so blasé when I entered I didn’t even know how long it was and the distance was worryingly missing from the info email. (It turned out to be 5K).

The morning of the race broke with a bang. Literally. Roaring thunder and the heaviest rain we’d seen for a while. Weather patterns here can change in a heartbeat though so I set off, windscreen wipers working overtime. The road to the vineyard was a flowing stream of water… I did feel for the organisers; what a great idea to offer a wine run to entrants of the Cyprus Marathon and associated distances. A fun jaunt around the vines, a bottle of wine at the finish line then a wine tasting with plates of nibbles. As I entered the winery the mood was really upbeat, runners just accepting that there’s nothing anyone can do about the weather. One chap was obviously a bit peeved;

‘I didn’t come all the way from bloody Manchester for this.’

Next up I’ll be pounding along the coast in Limassol 🙂

Paphos 10K

This post is a little overdue in going live but you know what they say – better late than never! It was an 8am start for this 10K so I was up early to greet the day.

My daughter and visiting son-in-law were running too.

We set off from Paphos castle and headed behind the harbour restaurants and into the town. My second 10K in a week – I was feeling so chuffed and my goal was to try and come in just under last week’s time of 1hr 14 minutes. I set off cautiously, letting most runners disappear into the distance as usual. I’ve learnt that it’s really important not to ignore the compulsion to keep up with them; if I do that I’ll just end up crashing out of the race before long. I deliberately focus anywhere except on the departing legs in front of me.

As I reached 3K a chap ahead appeared to be struggling and pulled off the road to lean into the bushes. As I drew level with him he suddenly straightened up and jogged off but a kilometre on I came across him hunched on the side of the road again.

I stopped. ‘Are you okay? What’s up?’

He waved me on, ‘Go, go…Too. Much. Beer.’

I hesitated but decided to go on. I wasn’t quite sure what to do; I’d never leave anyone who needed help but he was very keen for me to go on. Basically, he just wanted to empty his stomach with no fuss.

My watch buzzed 7km and shortly after my energy level plummeted and it was all I could do to keep shuffling along. Why do I always feel an overwhelming urge to stop at 7-8km? Nearly there and I seem to lose all focus. Hell, from here I could even hear the strains of the band at the finish line. Of course, once you spot your family and friends you have to dig deep and just keep going. Just so they don’t realise you’re about to keel over.

1 hour 9 minutes.

Would You Run Wearing MakeUp?

Bit of a prior warning here-you might not agree with this post; it’s about make up. Make up designed to stay put when you work out. I’ve seen women crossing the finish line wearing just a light coverage of make up and whilst I completely understand that this is not for everyone, it piqued my interest.

If you’d have asked me a few years ago I’d have insisted I’d never go there. But although I know it’s an amazing privilege to grow older, I’m heartily sick of ending every run looking loose faced and dribbly, like a moose chewing ice. It would be a tall order for any beauty product to eradicate that but the Clinique Fit foundation caught my eye and that’s where this little project began.

The range also includes a moisturiser, hydrating spray, cleansing wipes, post workout face powder, lip and cheek flush, dry shampoo and mascara.

To start off, I bought just the foundation and decided on trialling some different brands of eyeliner, lipstick and blush (though goodness knows why I need that as I’ll be bright red and gasping after the first kilometre). I also fancied a sweep of brow gel to keep those wiry little buggers flat and groomed.

But not all at once. I knew I’d be really tight on time getting to my race and I’d need to practice speedily applying all of this make up. Also, I did a LOT of research before choosing which products to go for and although I’d made my mind up about the foundation and lipstick, I hadn’t fully decided on which eyeliner, blush or brow gel to use. So then for my first test, I ran a 10K wearing two products; the Clinique Fit foundation and some Maybelline Superstay lipstick.

I don’t need to wear mascara anymore as I have lash extensions done by the amazing Karen Hall at The Lash Lounge in Paphos.

Here’s the foundation lowdown: Lightweight, sweat- and humidity-proof foundation that keeps up with your highly active life. Medium coverage, natural-matte finish wears for 12 long-lasting hours. Protects with SPF 40. Won’t clog pores or cause breakouts. Oil-free.

As a runner and particularly as I’m often in the sun, I LOVED the addition of an SPF. The foundation comes in four shades; light, light medium, medium and deep. I bought light medium.

I found that it’s really important to give the bottle a really good shake. Shake, shake and shake some more! It’s very watery-I’d rename it milk, not foundation.

As it’s such a thin consistency it’s easy to apply but you do need to blend it quickly as it dries fast. I used a beauty blender sponge. It felt really light on my skin, definitely didn’t look as if I was wearing foundation BUT my skin fely very soft and dewy and when I glanced in the car mirror as I left, my skin tone was nice and even. When I arrived at the race one of my friends commented that I was looking well rested 😉

Now the lipstick. I chose Maybelline Super Stay 24 Color in the shade ‘In The Nude’ You apply the colour to your lips, allow to dry and then smooth on the accompanying balm to set the product. Often I find that long lasting lip sticks feel really dry on my lips but with this one the balm leaves your lips lovely and soft.

Race day was hot. Obviously as I dragged myself around the course I forgot all about the make up so accepted the drinks at all the stations giving the lipstick a good test. I’m sure that at some stage I wiped a paper towel that someone handed to me all over my sweating face too.

My face is still very sweaty in these medal photos so I didn’t base my opinion of the products on these.

So-the verdict? I took these pics below as soon as I could after finishing the 10K (that’s why I’m in a restroom!) Apologies for the odd, staring eyes-don’t know why I do that…

I was no longer sweating but my hair was completely soaked under that cap. The hot day was a good one for testing the foundation. I’m pretty pleased with the result; my skin looks a lot dewier and smoother than it would normally.

As for the lipstick-I’m probably not being fair here as I choose a nude colour as I didn’t want it to be hugely noticeable but that means it’s not easy for me to demo to you how well it stayed put. It was a very pale pink, not disimilar to my natural lip colour. So you’ll have to take it from me that it stayed in place well.

Next time I’m up for a 10K, I’ll try out an eyeliner, blush and brow gel too 🙂

The Larnaca 10K-My First!

As my keen runner daughter was visiting, I’d registered us onto three 10K races on the island. It was just the boost I needed; I’d resisted running more than 5K races and just kept avoiding making the jump. So I hadn’t run an official 10K before and-to be honest-wasn’t sure that I could run the whole thing without a few walking breaks. I’d also just had a cardio check and my blood pressure was really high. Now, I do suffer from white coat syndrome whereby my blood pressure has always been too high when measured in a clinical setting but is absolutely fine whenever I’m asked to monitor it twice a day at home for a week. With the race coming up my doc was concerned but after a few more tests and me again measuring my blood pressure at home he gave me the go ahead to run.

The first 10K was in Larnaca and with an early race start I’d booked us into accommodation for the night before. I only had a vague idea of the race start point but the next morning I was woken to blaring loudspeakers and a band and opening the shutters I looked down to see the arch of the start/finish line right there. We could hardly have been any closer.

We watched the marathon set off whilst munching on bananas from the comfort of our balcony.

Then it was our turn. I always get nervous at this point; my stomach was churning and I could feel my heart thumping in my neck as we headed for the start line. I distracted myself with a few selfies.

I waved my daughter off and she disappeared into the mass of runners ahead. Not for the first time I wished I’d taken up running when I was younger; just to experience a bit more stamina and speed. Just for once. I know the important thing is that I’m doing it at all and I do see runners my age and older achieving faster times than me but I have this weird feeling that it’s not possible for me. I know what it’s like to shave even a minute off your usual race time and it’s so hard.

But maybe I’m wrong? Perhaps next year with a super structured plan I could actually nudge up my speed a little? I’ll have a think…

We headed for Larnaca’s salt lakes where I hoped to distract myself by looking at the flamingos who are regular visitors there. I couldn’t see any and learned later that I was a week or two early.

Of course the blood pressure was on my mind and I was super vigilant to any headache starting or any unusual aches and pains at all, in fact. Well, it beat focusing on leaden legs for once!

I was so thirsty during the race I accepted some bright blue hydration drink from one of the stations. Twice. I’d never had it before and my tum definitely didn’t like it. It felt like a washing machine in there and I could never adequately describe to you just how loud the gurgling was. Luckily, I didn’t feel any cramps til after the race was over and I was too euphoric by then to care 🙂

I started to hate the run by 6km. It was all just taking so long. I have the utmost respect for people who run marathons. Today was one of those mainly there and back runs and by now the leaders were on their way back, breathing hard and visibly shaking off beads of sweat.

A familiar little voice started whispering inside my head “Time to walk now for a bit. Time to stop.” I ignored it but of course it’s a persistent little ****** I couldn’t stop the negative thoughts tumbling through; my breathing is all wrong, wow my calves are starting to hurt, I’m really far too hot… I focused on a bright orange bollard in the distance: I’ll just run to that before I stop. Just before I reached it I found something else ahead to aim for: a parked ice cream van; I’ll just run to that. And basically I did that until the object I was aiming for was the finish line. I’ve used that technique in training but never in a race before. I’ll definitely be using it again.

I cannot tell you how happy I was to reach that finish line-I was hoping for a final sprint but as you can see I shuffled across! 1 hour 14 and no walking breaks (though at times I was truly desperate). Happy as Larry.

All in all a fun, scenic run and I did it.

Pampering and Soothing Gifts for Runners This Christmas

When we pile in after a run at this time of year we need all the pampering and brow stroking that we can get, so much of my gift wish list this year is all about the feel good factor. So although I couldn’t do without my running belt, sports watch and all the host of gear and gadgets, I mainly want to be pampered and soothed this Christmas please.

Oolala thong flip flops

How about these super cushioned flip flops to take the stress off tired feet and joints? Yes please. I’ve tried some on (like walking on marshmallows, seriously) but I don’t own a pair-yet. They’re just the sort of thing I’d like to pad around the house in after dragging off my trainers. And of course I’d live in them all summer long.

O’Keeffe’s Healthy Feet

I do neglect my feet. I expect them to just keep doing their job with no attention at all and few things in life will put up with that. So I could use a nice foot balm. I’d definitely go for this foot cream from O’Keeffe’s because I’ve just squeezed the last bit out of a tube of this and it’s just amazing. It’s packed with glycerine will give you the softest feet ever. Next time I want to opt for this tub packaging as I find it easier to scoop up just the amount I want.

Lemon Sole Shoe spray

Now for a bit of tlc for my running shoes themselves. I have just sadly parted with my beloved worn out Brooks and I’m wearing a lovely bright lemon pair of Asics at the moment, so in the interests of continuing the theme, this spray is a perfect match. I am complete. Well, if it’s sticking out of my stocking, I will be.

A lemony fresh blast into the dark interior of your shoes.

doTerra Breathe Respiratory Blend

My love of essential oils knows no bounds so these are always high on my wish list. I spotted this respiratory blend (what could be better in a runner’s stocking?) which promises to promote easier breathing by clearing your airways. Even reading the list of ingredients steadies my breathing.

Ingredients:

Laurel Leaf, Eucalyptus Leaf, Peppermint Plant, Melaleuca Leaf, Lemon Peel, Cardamom Seed, Ravintsara Leaf, Ravensara Leaf essential oils

It can be added to a diffuser but I plan to rub a couple of drops together in my palms and inhale…

Doterra Deep Blue Rub

Another doTerra product I’m lusting after is this muscle and joint rub.

A run, a dip in the bathtub then massaging this cream on to my overworked leg muscles sounds just heavenly. A blend of Wintergreen, Camphor, Peppermint, Ylang Ylang, Helichrysum, Blue Tansy, Blue Chamomile, and Osmanthus essential oils.

Balega Unisex Hidden Comfort Socks

As I’ve got older, and with the words of my podiatrist ringing in my ears (“Remember, your feet age just like your face does. Thinner skin, looser muscles and less padding.”), I’m always searching for the ultimate cushioned sock.

These socks pride themselves on ‘cushioning for impact resistance’, with extra cushioning mid-foot and at the heel so I’m eager to give them a try.

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos

I’ve chosen this pressie as it’s something that, as an older runner, I know I should be doing and would definitely benefit from but…I don’t want to do it. So if I could reframe it as ‘pampering’ and some kind soul could buy me one I’d feel more inclined to use it. Foam rolling is a kind of self-massaging technique which loosens muscles – sort of smoothing out the kinks – thereby reducing any pain from tightness and promoting all those other lovely things that come with more relaxed muscles such as increased flexibility and reduced risk of injury.

2019 will see me foam rolling.

Philip Kingsley Preen cream

I first bought a tube of this cream a few years ago, intrigued by the suggestion that it simulates the effects of ducks preening their feathers. It’s been repackaged now but I’m ready for more – it’s great at giving a smooth finish and adding shine and silkiness to my frequently ravaged hair.

I wash, condition and towel dry my hair then comb through a pea-sized blob of the preen cream. It doesn’t feel greasy or weigh my hair down – just adds a nice sheen and smoothness.

Nivea In Shower Body Moisturiser

My skin drinks up anything I put on it and still feels dry (well, I guess that’s the price I pay for running in a warm climate) so I’d love an in shower body moisturiser. Doesn’t have to be super expensive – though the packaging can be to die for, I honestly don’t think that the more you pay, the better the product. That’s not my experience, anyway. This will do the trick nicely thank you…

I’m a big fan of Nivea products. They’re so affordable, the smell is heavenly, it reminds me of my mum and THEY WORK.

Instant Pot

My main present, please. Not exactly a pampering gift but a ‘less time in the kitchen’ gift and that’s not far off being the same thing in my book. Initially I ignored the avalanche of rave reviews for this pot but the devotion continues unabated so I eventually caved and spent an afternoon researching its many virtues and now I want one. The thing is, as you get more into running and longer distances you need to carve out more and bigger chunks of time. And annoyingly there always seems to be mouths to feed and as a few of the company’s taglines are “Make more time for other stuff”… and “Easy to use, just press a button and walk away!” then how can I resist? PLUS it keeps it all warm for you…

Instant Pot is a multi-cooker that apparently does the job of seven different kitchen appliances. It’s a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and warming pot.

What say you, Santa?

What Running Over 50 Taught Me About Life

Nothing lasts forever

Everything ends eventually – as if at my age, I didn’t know that!

Even the biggest hills will have a downhill at some point. Life will forever have its ups and downs so always be ready for the next climb.

Achievement is actually quite simple

It all comes down to putting one foot in front of the other and not stopping until you get to where you want to be. Tiny steps.

Stick with it and you’ll see results. Don’t chop and change. Good things take time to show up.

Take time to appreciate the small things

Now more than ever. Soak it all in. Just stop awhile and enjoy your surroundings.

The best days running are the days when I make a point of focusing on the beauty around me.

Don’t put happiness on hold until you cross the finish line. Enjoy as much as you can along the way, even when the going gets tough.

Age is NOT just a number

I completely understand that much of the ageing process is about how you feel, and most of the time I still think like I’m in my twenties. But physically, you can’t and shouldn’t ignore the other stuff going on.

I see little point in pretending aging doesn’t exist, but we can work with it – the key now is to train smarter, listening very carefully to your body’s signals (it will soon let you know if it’s struggling!)

 Get up. Dress up. Show up.

Beginnings are hard. Starting anything new in life is be hard and it’s often especially difficult later in life if your experiences so far have not bolstered your confidence much.  You will need to invest lots of time and energy, and so many times you will want to give up.

Showing up is the most important part. As long as you keep showing up and taking action, you will get better.

It’s okay to be different

It doesn’t matter if everyone around you is sleek, young and fit – if you’re the oldest and perhaps likely to be the slowest on the field – you can still join in.

You don’t have to be Picasso to enjoy painting.

Work on your mind, as much as your body

You are not too old, too slow or too ‘rubbish at this’ as your little internal voice will insist on telling you. Your mind can be so cruel and will certainly quit on you before your body does.

Awhile back I was doing some hill work; running up the short hill as fast as I could and then slowly jogging back down. I was aiming to repeat this eight times but as I raced up on the sixth go, I honestly felt incapable of running another step. My legs and lungs were screaming and so was my mind: ‘I have to stop – no more, just no!’

I was about to quit when a couple of other (older!) runners came jogging down the hill towards me. And guess what? I found I did have a little extra to give after all!

My mind had convinced me that I absolutely had to stop, when there was obviously still fuel in the tank.

Be the master of your mindset.

There is no perfect time

There is no perfect time to do anything in life.

There is no perfect day to run. Every day you’ll encounter obstacles; rain, heat, tiredness, internal resistance.

Do it anyway.

At any age, your body is capable of much more than you imagine

Giving birth! I rest my case.

Seriously though, once you put your body to the test mentally or physically, it will astound you by pulling off more than you ever thought possible.

Who was it that said: ‘I thought it was impossible for me to run a mile, until I ran a mile’ ?

You have to run your own race

If you’ve been a runner for some time, you may feel that now you’re older, you’re falling behind and not performing as well as you used to, and perhaps that’s true. Never worry that folk seem to be overtaking you and hitting the finish line way ahead of you. Accept that things have changed. Learn to race against yourself, better what you’ve done before or if things aren’t working, aim to do something different.

Rain is AWESOME

After all those years of wrangling with blown out umbrellas and sweaty rain hoods, I’ve had an epiphany. Don’t fight the rain. Relax and embrace the storm. It’s liberating.

Breakfast is overrated

Just because everyone says you must, it doesn’t mean you should. Question things in life.

Remember to have fun

Running has brought so much laughter into my life. The Gorilla Run over London Bridge (google it, hilarious), a baby in a nappy, the legion run which is mud, mud and more mud. Have fun and laugh hard.

It’s never too late to start.

And when you do, you’ll find your tribe – a huge community to support you.

Homemade Energy Bars

Since I got into running I’ve become much more aware of how I fuel my body. I like to make my own energy bars to give me a boost pre or post running as I know exactly the kinds of super nutritious things that I’ve packed into them! I always put 3-4 in the fridge and freeze the rest. These bars were made by blitzing dates with 5 different types of nuts (use any you like) and a big handful of mixed seeds plus cocoa powder. Doesn’t everyone love a hint of chocolatey taste?!

These are UK measurements… into the food processor I put 250g pitted dates, 250g nuts (I used a mix of cashews, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and a few brazil nuts I had). Then in went around 60g mixed seeds (I used a pack labelled ‘mixed seeds’) and 2 big spoons of cocoa powder. Then I blitzed it for a few minutes until it all came together and I could lift it into my hands to form a ball. I used a rolling pin to flatten it into a square then put it in the fridge for around 40 mins before cutting it into slices. I think it made 20 slices but I ate a couple as I was making it.

For a nut-free version try adding some oats or dessicated coconut (if you can eat that) – just something to bind well with the dates. Adding ginger could be great too. I’m always experimenting! Dates make such a good chewy base you could easily leave out the nuts and add something you prefer.