Guest Post: Winter Fuel: How to Maintain a Healthy Diet Whilst Training

Hi folks,

I have a guest post for you today about fuelling running in the winter time. So, enjoy:

When winter comes around, we can all be forgiven for wanting to put on our sweats and cosy up with comforting food. I’m particularly partial to something of the gravy description. However, it’s just as, if not more, important to maintain the right nutrition whilst running in the colder months.

The weather outside may be frightful, but your diet can still be delightful. Follow these few simple food tips to ensure you stay on top of your winter diet, and even if you don’t run, the healthy snacks will still be of benefit.

Be sure that you’re buying ethically sourced and organic foods. If you have a local health shop then great – if not, companies like Traidcraft have a lot of Fairtrade foods perfect for winter stockpiling.

The first thing I’ve done is buy in a few bags of Fairtrade Almonds. Almonds, are an excellent source of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant and runners are advised to eat a small handful about five times a week. They also make for a great baking ingredient and work wonders in a brownie mix; however, I’m trying to eat them more on their own as a power snack than as part of a gooey treat.

Another classic runners’ best friend is the whole-grain as it serves as an easily digestible carbohydrate, rich in fibre and vitamin B. Trying sticking to whole-grain pasta, cereal and bread rather than cheaper, sugar-laden white versions.

Make sure you’re getting your recommended daily balance of fresh fruit and veg. I understand in winter it might be more tempting to go for roast potatoes, but try replacing it with sweet potato mashed together with carrots and toasted cumin seeds. Very comforting but packed full of vitamins. To make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin C, always have fresh oranges and frozen mixed berries for an energy boosting smoothie.

Now, we all deserve a treat, and whilst I in no way intend to give up baking this winter, I’m going to try to use and eat more dark chocolate rather than milk. Dark chocolate has cholesterol lowering properties, as well as an ability to help prevent blood clots, so is an all-round healthier alternative. 

I totally agree with eating sweet potatoes- I think they are such a lovely comfort food and make the most amazing soup as well as lovely baked potatoes. And big points for the dark chocolate too- I much prefer it anyway and baking with it makes things much more intense, so you are satisfied with a smaller amount.

What sort of foods do you enjoy at this time of year? How do you make sure you still get your 5+ a day? I love things like veggie chilli, or soups, and they are all packed with vegetables.

*Contains a sponsored link

Blenheim Palace half recap

(It is a full recap, but it was a half marathon)

So we headed off on Saturday to a few National Trust places, and then went to Oxford for a bit of shopping and some dinner. We went to Pizza Express and I had a new salad- it was delicious- spinach, lettuce, roasted squash, lentils, cucumber, mozzarella, avocado, pine nuts and balsamic- yum.

When we got to our hotel I got my kit out- it has been so warm recently so I didn’t have to decide- capris and a vest it was. I checked the pacing for 2.15 (10.18 miles) which I thought would be realistic- I knew the course was not flat so wasn’t aiming for a pb.

This morning we got up early, had some malt loaf for breakfast, and then I had to drop Andy off at the station (he was originally meant to be running too, but then the football changed to Sunday so he couldn’t) and then drove to the start. I had plenty of time, well, I thought I did. I was about 2 miles away with 40 mins to go, but then the traffic was solid. I drove in to the grounds at 10.28 am, and heard the starting horn as I was being directed to park my car. I had a bag of things for the donation station, but had to leave them in the car and sprint to the start. Luckily they were still letting people start, and I think I was about 7 minutes late when I got there.

I took this at the end!

The run itself was gorgeous- the grounds were so pretty and the sun was shining, some of the leaves were turning and there were plenty of people out walking and supporting.

Just before 2 miles the 10 mile marker was out, which I think was not good psychologically as it started me thinking about the end, plus I hen knew any tough uphill bits would have to be done again.

But, I found it tough. It was undulating, but some of the ups and downs, although short, were pretty steep (I find it hard to run normally on steep downhill sections). It was also very very warm indeed.

The first couple of miles were fast, I think as I was panicking about nearly missing the start. I was also thirsty (I was going to have a drink in the car before the start, but it was in the boot and there was no time)- at the 5 mile point I had some water from a station, which helped a bit. Up until 7 miles I was on target for my finishing time, but then I started to get really tight legs and felt quite tired. I had half a pack of jelly beans with me (left over from the St Albans half) so I had those, but then that left me with a horrible sugar taste in my mouth. By the time I reached the next water station at 11 miles I was gasping, so I walked and made sure I drank quite a few sips before carrying on.

For the last mile and a bit I could hear the tannoy from the finishing area, but it felt like I was a long way away. The final part was uphill- right through the finishers arch and beyond, so I had no hope of a sprint finish. I stopped my Garmin on 2.16 something, so I am pretty pleased seeing as it was so hot. I saw so many people being treated by paramedics, and several ambulances went past. At the finishers area there were more people being treated too- I think the warm weather took people by surprise.

I sat on the grass for a bit and admired my medal.

After half an hour of the half marathon, a 10K race started too (took me a while to work out why there was k markers as well as mile markers) so when I was finishing, so were some 10K runners. The medal it just a plain one-it doesn’t say the date or race or anything (although the ribbon does).

The Palace looked so impressive in the sunshine.

And the grounds looked lovely too.

But I was conscious that I had a long drive back home. I was going to change in the tent, but because of being late I had not left my clothes with the bag check. I picked up my t-shirt (no time before- they wanted people to wear them whilst running but they were cotton). I was wandering around the fields for a while before I found my car, so by that point I couldn’t be bothered to walk back to the village. A group of runners stopped me to check my medal as they had also run the half marathon and were miffed that their medals were the same as the 10K ones!

My car was away from the path, so I changed my clothes then (the big cotton t-shirt came in handy then, as did my baby wipes) and sat in another traffic jam on the way out! I had packed a clif bar, so had that and some nuun in some water while I was in the queue.

At about half 3 I was so hungry, so stopped off at Starbucks for some food, but in the end it was so busy I decided to just take it home with me.

So, this was my post half-marathon lunch, at 4pm! So delicious though- the icing on the cinnamon roll had orange peel in it (I am sure they used to have lemon peel??).

Then I showered, put a wash on, and lay on the sofa catching up on Strictly.

Andy just got back from the football and we are having a pizza for tea. Phew.

And thank you to everyone who has sponsored me- don’t forget to email your address to me so I can send you a thank you.

Supporting the British Heart Foundation

Hey folks,

So, as you guys all know I really enjoy running races, training for them, and trying to beat a target. It all started with me training for a Race for Life, and I really love that runs raise so much money for charity.

Once a year I choose one event to collect sponsorship for, and this year it is the Blenheim Palace half marathon. Their chosen charity was the British Heart Foundation, and recently a family member had a few heart issues, so I chose to raise money for them.

In order to persuade my workmates to sponsor me I made some fudge for them- two huge batches of white chocolate and peanut butter fudge, and some cherry fudge.

I also made a double batch of brownies- these were chocolate brownies with a salted caramel chocolate drizzle. The drizzle was a cheat really- I had some caramel flavoured chocolate drops (Silver spoon ones) which I melted and then added a little pinch of sea salt to.

Anyway, if we had a blog staffroom then I would happily make things for all of you guys to nibble at. But, I don’t even think that 3D printers work that well yet. However, I would love it if anyone would sponsor me. So, if you do, then I promise to send you a little thank -you in the post. It will be a mystery but I promise that you will like it.

The fundraising page is here– just email me with your address once you have donated and I shall add you to my list.

Thanks so much in advance!! <3

CherryActive and beyond

I was sent some products from the folks at CherryActive to review:

BeetActive (concentrated beetroot juice).

BlueberryActive (concentrated blueberry juice).

And some CherryActive (concentrated cherry juice) to help with muscle recovery– I was most excited about this! They also sent me some glasses which had 30ml marked, as that is the suggested serving size- so handy!

The BlueberryActive was lovely just diluted with water- very refreshing.

I also had it as an iced tea- I made up some black tea with cherry, and then once it had cooled topped it off with the juice and some ice.

I also added it to a breakfast acai bowl (frozen banana, cherries, blueberries, acai powder, soya milk and a little BlueberryActive all whizzed up)- this was really good as it just added to the fruity flavour.

The CherryActive was not as sweet as I thought it would be. I really liked it, and apparently cherry juice can help with muscle recovery so I have been having some after my long runs.

It did go very frothy though! The little bottle contains the juice from over 650 cherries! Very impressive.

I was not too keen on drinking the BeetActive (I tried it once for scientific purposes) but I loved mixing it with some balsamic for an earthy salad dressing. Today I had this lovely warm salad- I cooked some beetroot, tomatoes and figs, served with some salad, Cheshire cheese, some salad topper seeds, and this dressing. Delicious and a meal I am sure to repeat.

On their website they have some information about how they can help with recovery from exercise. I was saying to Andy the other day that I feel like I am starting to recover more quickly from long runs at the moment. There is a 10 mile race that I wanted to do, but it is the week after my half marathon, and I was not sure how I would feel a week after. But although I have been tired on the day of my long runs, the next day I have been feeling pretty good, so I signed up for it the other day. Of course this is not a scientific trial, but I am feeling good and perhaps the drinks are helping. At least they are totally natural products so they can’t be doing any harm.

The lovely folks at CherryActive have also set up a discount code for you. If you enter the code MARIA10 at the checkout you can get 10% off, and this is valid until the end of October.

Do you do anything in particular to help recovery after exercise? I am recent convert to Epsom bath salts, although running a bath takes a while so I don’t really bother that often!