Brighton half 2016- believing in myself

So for a long time now, years in fact, I have been working towards a sub 2 hour half marathon. The reason for this is stupid. I know it’s stupid. But I have still been wanting to achieve it. Back in 2008, when I started running, I bought this book after following a run/walk programme in Zest magazine:

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(I still can’t flip images any more…)

I found it very useful in my beginner days- it had tips on what to wear, training plans, what to eat, race guides…. But one sentence stuck with me:

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That sentence about how long a half marathon should take: “about 2 hours is respectable”. Now realistically reading that, it’s probably true. But I did my first (albeit hilly) half in 2.32. And yes I was near the back. So near in fact, that some of the marshals were packing away and I nearly missed the turning to the finish. But some people did it in 3 hours so I wasn’t really that close to the back.

Anyway, since then I have run 2.19, 2.27, 2.20, 2.12, 2.10, 2.16, 2.06, 2.42 (this was a trail one), 2.04, and 2.11. And do you know what? With my rational head on, I should be proud of every single half marathon. Running one is no mean feat, and from each one I have taken away something. But there has been a little voice in my mind about achieving a sub 2 hour half. I want to be a “respectable” runner. I like goals to aim towards- I managed a sub 30 minute 5k, and a sub 60 minute 10k, and then a sub 5 hour marathon, so  the sub 2 hour half seemed similar, and the next goal to aim for.

So, with that in mind, I signed up to the Brighton half. I had already run it twice, so I knew the route- it’s lovely and fairly flat (apart from a gentle hill near the start, which you then get to run down), it has great crowd support, nice views of the sea for most of it, is easy to get to…

Because last year I felt so good running it, I tried to replicate some of my marathon training. I often struggle between miles 8-11, so I decided that adding in a few longer runs, and some over the distance, would help me get through those miles on race day.

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We travelled down on Friday evening (listened to the Film Podcast on the train), and then the next morning went to Cafe Coho. I love it there, and was sad that the pancakes with nutella and banana was no longer on the menu, but this beauty was- pancakes with fruit compote and Greek yoghurt. It was delicious.

We had a lovely walk along to Hove.

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It was gorgeous out there.

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We went out to Food For Friends for dinner- this time we shared the tahini dips to start, and then I had a lovely salad with roasted sweet potato, hazelnuts and avocado.

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Staying hydrated with a pear juice, strawberry and elderflower drink.

We had bought a slice of carrot cake from this amazing cake shop, and so shared that later whilst watching Trapped (take me back to Iceland!).

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The next morning I had a clif bar and some water for breakfast, before getting dressed and walking down there. I had my flipbelt on with tissues and a pack of yo-yos (just in case) but no phone. Our hotel was close to the start, and Andy walked with me so I could hand him my jumper instead of using the bag drop. I was actually in the sub 2 hour pen, which made me feel very inadequate indeed, so I went right to the back. I had copied down the pacing I would need to achieve 1.59- (the Lucozade website only does minutes, not seconds, and I thought at least that way I have a bit of leeway). It was 9.05 per mile, but I was hoping to see a pacer. 9.05 per mile does sound fast to me, but I reasoned that I ran 10 miles at pretty much that pace back in November, and I have been increasing my long runs since then, so I was trying to be positive! The 2 hour pacer was in the pen behind me, so once they removed the tapes I walked to the start line and let the pacer go ahead so I could watch him.

The first mile was so congested. I have never felt so claustrophobic in a race before. My legs got clipped so many times (through no fault of anyone, it was just very busy) and at one point I tripped on some road paint (the thick lines I think) and just caught myself before I face-planted the floor. Not a good start! I suppose I should have realised that it would be busy, and of course if I had started further back it would have been clearer, but I wanted to see the pacer as I think that helps so much.

Anyway, the first mile (flat through the town) was bang on 9.05! It felt fast, but OK. The second mile heads back to the seafront, and we sped up then, doing 8.59! Someone said “maybe he is going fast in the first half so we can slow down in the second half”, but I think it was just because of it being so busy.

The route then heads up the coast, and I was glad that I knew the course because I was expecting it. I don’t find the hill too bad- it does go on for a fair way (until just past the 4 mile marker) but it’s fairly gentle. There was a point where it narrowed to about the width of two runners, as the fast runners were heading back down on the other side, and here we had to actually stop. The water station was congested too with people running across to grab a water- I had no idea where I should go to avoid it. I had only written down the times for 3, 6, 9, 12 and 13 miles, because I didn’t want to be looking at each mile, but also I could get a fair idea as it was so close to 9 minute mile pacing. Anyway, mile 3 was a 9.12, and when I checked my watch and post it note I was only behind by a few seconds which was fine with me because of the hill.

I was watching the other runners head down the hill and saw another 2 hour pacer on the other side- I had time to think to myself “they must have more than one” before I reached the traffic cone- yup, we were turning around and heading back down! Whoops!

On the downhill I tried to keep the pace going, and enjoyed looking out to sea too. It seemed more blustery here, but of course this was when the runners seemed to thin out a bit- no-one to act as a windbreaker!

Miles 5, 6 and 7 are downhill and back towards the start. I was on course at the 6 mile point, and could hear the winner being cheered home (around 1 hour 10 I would guess- some very speedy time anyway)- at least you can’t see the finish line as you run along the top road, and the finish is on the promenade below. Miles 6 and 7 were run in 8.57 and 8.49- I’m pleased with that speed at a parkrun so I was hoping my legs would last the course.

This is where it began to get tough. Mile 8 and 9 were OK (9.09/ 9.06), and I was pleased that my training had meant I still felt strong for these miles (too far from the end to be “just a parkrun to go”). There were loads of crowds cheering- especially as we were with the pacer lots of people were going “go on two hour runners” which was lovely. One lady shouted in my face at the top of her lungs “OH” (down to my Old Hatfield OH top)- it was funny but also a bit intimidating! I am sure she meant to be supportive as she was cheering all of the runner names and club vests- our OH is a bit weird if you don’t know what it stands for! At the 9 mile point I was still OK, but when I glanced at my watch a few times I was below the 9.05. I wished that I had also typed in 2 hours straight (it’s 9.09- I just looked) as that would have helped settle my nerves. I was getting warm too- I only had on tights and a vest, so I decided to have some water at the final station. It’s at the turnaround point past the Hove Lagoon, just before the 10 mile point. I had to stop to pick up a bottle, and then I had a few sips but that made my stomach ache, so I left the rest of it.

Here I lost the pacer group a bit- I could still see them but they were inching further away and I had no energy to sprint- I still had a parkrun to go! The final 3 miles are along the promenade, so I occupied myself with looking out to sea, thinking about the walk we had yesterday, thinking about the parkrun I ran along there last year, and a lot of counting up to 100. At the 10 mile point my watch said 1 hour 29 (which is my fastest 10 mile time, even though Strava thinks it’s my second fastest- possibly down to a mix up), so I knew I had 31 minutes to run a 5k= 10 minute mile pacing. Then I just had a battle in my mind:

Why not just slow down and enjoy it? You are meant to enjoy running after all? Why not stop and walk for a bit?

No! You have wanted a sub 2 hour for so long! The pacer is still in sight. You can run 10 minute miles. Keep going!

But if I slow down, I will still get a pb, just not a sub 2 hour time. I could still get a pb. My legs hurt a lot.

Come on- you have done the hardest part! You’ve kept up with the group the whole way up the hill, for the first 10 miles- you can do this final bit.

Those final miles were my slowest- 9.20, 9.18, 9.27, and even as I passed the 13 mile point I looked at my watch and looked at the finish gantry and that doubting voice crept in saying “you’ve missed it”- I actually said out loud to myself “No, you can do it- don’t give up”- hopefully no-one heard! I could see the time on the clock ticking closer to 2.05 (I think I crossed the start line at 5 minutes) so I gave it all I had for the final “sprint” (9.06 pace!) and was so elated as I crossed the line and saw 1.59.11 on my Garmin (but of course I had to wait for the chip time). I thanked the pacer as he was stopped right by the line- I really don’t think I would have kept going for the final 3 miles if I could not still have seen him and the group.

Then I felt a bit dizzy, so quickly got a foil blanket and drank some lucozade. Then it all got a bit stressful. I had arranged to meet Andy by the ferris wheel- he was going to bring me tea and my jumper. I hurried (as best I could) past the yoghurt raisins (no thanks), cereal bars (thanks, took one for later), carrier bag (it’s empty- well I guess it’s worth 5p!), water (take one for later), medal (hooray! I love my medal) and t-shirt (yes, finally a technical t-shirt from Brighton!!!!!) which I put on. I tried to get out of the finish area, but it was jammed, and the bit outside with spectators was only wide enough for 2 people, so in the end I went back through the medal area as I had seen an exit further down. I actually ended up running a bit here, as it had already been 20 minutes- I didn’t want Andy to worry but also we had to check out by 12! I finally met up with him half an hour after finishing- just due to the huge crowds. The tea was lukewarm but it was amazing!

We stopped for a quick photo, before heading back to the hotel. We got back at 11.45- I had to have a very quick shower and then spent a long time trying to dry my hair as much as I could. (In the end we checked out about 10 minutes late, which panics me but they were fine).

I then got a text through confirming my time- 1.59.09!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am still so amazed! I have finally achieved that time!

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Brighton always make fab medals- this one with the pavilion on is great, and I love the silver with a hint of pink. I wore it all the way home!

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I love the t-shirt too!

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I have lost count of the number of races I have completed in Brighton- and this is my first technical top! (I do have a cotton one from the marathon which is being kept for posterity).

Andy had also bought me a cinnamon roll, so as we checked out, I started to eat it and realised I was rather hungry, as there were no bananas at the finish and I didn’t fancy the cereal bar- then we were in such a rush I forgot. Not good!

Anyway, after that I felt a bit more humane, so we walked around Brighton and ended up going to Bill’s for lunch. I was soooooo tempted by a new item on their brunch menu (peanut butter and banana French toast- I think it was designed for me) but knew that more sugar would not be a good thing (right away…)- instead I had a lovely salad with lentils, roasted squash and goats cheese. Better re-fuelling I think.

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We bought another slice of cake (this was mint and lime) to take home, got a chai latte from Bluebirds, and then got the train home. I thought I would nod off but I was so excited still, plus a few of the OH ladies had been running the Cambridge half and the Gade Valley 17 so I was checking on our facebook group to see how everyone got on.

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Are you impressed with my cake slicing skills? I managed to slice it properly in half! After soup and sourdough for dinner we shared the cake- it was delicious!

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So the moral of the story? Believe in yourself. Not like a “if you can dream it you can do it” kind of way, because I often dream that I can fly. Like a bird. Frequently. But believe in what you are capable of.

And also sometimes not being able to walk properly the next day is very worth it! That time is mine forever!

Long run recovering

Last weekend was a good one, with parkrun and a long run (two of my favourite weekend activities). My dad picked me up for parkrun and we had a good catch up. He had been to a London one (I forget which one) last Saturday and he had enjoyed being a parkrun tourist (he has done a few before) so we were talking about maybe once a month or so visiting a different one closer to home.

He ran on ahead, and I was pleased with my time as the conditions were fairly tough, as it was quite muddy, especially in the final km which made it harder. Anyway, I looked at my token number (118)- I don’t always. I scanned it (it beeped), and then saw a few people I knew so had a little chat before we headed home. My parents had invited us over for brunch, so after a shower we headed over for pancakes (I do love my mum’s pancakes). Later my dad got his laptop out and looked at the results- my number was down as “unknown”. I emailed the people later, asking them nicely to add me to the results (and offering to send in my Strava if they needed proof- although later I was tagged by one of the run directors in a photo)- they replied really quickly and said they had updated them. But even when I checked today, I’m not on there. It was meant to be number 61, and I do understand the whole no-barcode-no-time, but I did have my barcode, and I did scan it. Anyway, I sent them another email today, saying sorry to be a pain but…, and also offering to be a marshal in a few weeks. I am hoping that one of them sees it and adds me. Otherwise did it really happen? I don’t want to be a pain as I know they are all volunteers, but at the same time I really like my page to have all my runs on there…Edited to add- they added me on Saturday morning- I got the email and everything. Thanks lovely RD team!

On Sunday I wanted to do around 11 miles, but everyone else in the club was doing shorter ones, so I decided to run to and from the meeting place, as that would add on around 3 miles. We did a new route which was fairly nice (and flatter than our usual 8 mile loop). With running there and back I managed 11.7 miles, and although I felt very thirsty when I got back (it was so mild) I felt pretty good. It has helped me to decide what to pack for Sunday too- I wore my vest and I was fine so I know I will be fine in a vest once I get going this weekend too (Brighton half).

My new favourite post-run food- slices of oranges. Which is lucky as the weekly Abel and Cole fruit box contains a huge bag! They are so refreshing. After a shower, tea and muesli I put on my festive lounge pants (which are different to pyjamas!) and my heat holder socks and ended up falling asleep listening to podcasts.

(My normal checked ones were in the wash!).  I did a lot of foam rolling too

On Monday I was fine in the morning but by the afternoon one leg (sort of up to my lower back) was really sore- we had a walk in the evening and I did some more foam rolling to try and help it. Not sure what caused it- we do normally have a walk on Sunday after a long run but we didn’t have time so I suppose I sat down a lot more than I would usually. I put some of the herbal deep heat on before I went to sleep and that seemed to help a lot.

I was a bit worried and thought I might have to give my Tuesday evening run a miss, but by the morning I was fine so I went along for a nice 5 mile catch up run.

On Wednesday I got home planning a run, but I was shattered (work was just so busy and I had been doing work until 10pm on Tuesday after my run) and we needed to walk up to the shops, so I opted for the walk instead. I went to Pump on Thursday and was careful to not go too heavy on the squats or back, but again my leg felt fine so fingers crossed. Those lunges are never easy though!

Now I need to go and pack for our weekend in Brighton- wish me luck for Sunday!

Slices oranges yes or no?

Anyone else still wearing festive gear? I did buy a woolly reindeer hat last week (for £2.40!) but I feel that is a bit too much!

Happy half term!

Sometimes we book a little trip away for one of the half term weekends, but with house hunting at the top of our list right now, we didn’t. Although that is easier said than done, as most places around here host open houses, and even if you phone up on the day the house gets listed, often the slots are already full. It’s stressful!

Anyway, this week has been half term, and it has been just what I needed.

Saturday was house viewing after house viewing, a walk into town, some baking, some movie-watching. Sunday was a long run, recovering from the run and seeing family.

On Monday I went over to a friends house where a group of us met up. It was lovely and relaxed and great to catch up.

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As two of my friends can’t eat gluten I had made this orange and almond cake which was really tasty. On my way home I popped in to see my mum, before coming home and having a walk with Andy.

On Tuesday I was meeting some friends for breakfast at The Waffle House. Last week I had a problem with the tyre pressure light on my car coming on, and due to parents evening it meant I could not get to the garage until Friday. They checked, and thought it was down to cold weather (it does keep on coming on when it’s cold), but the light came back on again on Monday. So before meeting them I went to the garage- it turned out there was a screw in my tyre, but luckily they could patch it up. I then had a lovely breakfast waffle topped with chocolate sauce, banana and hazelnuts, and had a good catch up with those friends. Then I had to rush home as we had an appointment with the solicitor in the afternoon. Luckily that didn’t take too long, and after a little lunch I made the most of being home in the daytime for an afternoon run in the sunshine. I went to the fields, and really should have worn my trail shoes. Some of the paths were covered in some sort of fine gravel, and my shoes got so heavy as they just picked up the earth.

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Hard to see but there was a good cm of mud attached!

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I even braved the cow field! I was going to turn back as I saw all the cows very close to the path (the path is along the right of the photo) but some people walking their dog (not on a lead, I might add, even though there are signs on all the gates asking for dogs to be kept on leads in grazing areas…..) and so I decided that if the cows were not spooked by the dog they would be OK with me. I did run through it very quickly!

Once home I had to log on to the computer, because for months now we have been wanting to sign up for the inaugural Disneyland Paris half marathon. The US Disney races always look good fun, and have the most amazing medals, but they never fit with school holidays, so they have never been an option. As soon as the date was confirmed we booked a (cancel-able) hotel nearby, and Eurostar  tickets back. You could sign up ages ago if you booked it as part of a package, but the Disney hotels are crazily expensive, plus you only got one race entry per room so it was no good for us anyway. The date to book just a race entry was also put back once (the cynic in my says they are hoping to sell as many package deals as possible to US runners), but it was finally changed to Tuesday at 4pm (because that is the morning in the US).

After a bit of frantic refreshing we both managed to book a place for the half, and then went on and quickly booked flights out for the Friday night! It’s going to be brilliant!

After my shower I did my first bit of school work for the half term- it felt great to have a few days break from all of that.

On Wednesday I was meeting another friend for a Starbucks meet- it has become a bit of a tradition for us to have a cinnamon roll when we meet up, so I had a bit of fruit for breakfast (as we weren’t meeting until half 10) and then we spent about 3 hours catching up! This break has been so needed!

I had to get a few bits in the shops, came home and had a late lunch, caught up on some more work and then headed out on a walk across the fields. It was raining a bit, and it was very cold, but I was well wrapped up, and enjoyed my fresh air fix.

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On Thursday morning I went out for a run before breakfast. I would usually run on a Wednesday evening, but it was raining and cold so I left it until the morning.

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I ran through the fields to a park (just under 2 miles away) and then ran up and down this hill- it’s short but pretty steep- I aimed to do 10 times, but lost count, did one “for luck”, and when I got home and counted the bumps on Strava it turned out I had done 12.

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The sun was coming out and I was treated to some lovely views.

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I was being watched by some geese too (luckily the nice ones).

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All in all I did 5 miles- a good start to the day. After getting on with work, I had a walk in the afternoon and then baked some banana bread. I had booked on to pump, but they gym rang to say the class had been cancelled, so we had an evening in.

Today I briefly considered a run, but as I am going to parkrun tomorrow (for the first time in what feels like ages!) and doing a longer run on Sunday, I decided to have it off.

I know it’s very British to talk about the weather, but it has been pretty good this week, and although we have had some frosty starts, the days have been mostly sunny (and the wind has at least died down- it’s never fun getting my car out fro the garage in the wind as it blows the door back down)- spring might even be on the way!

Have you had a good week? Have you ever raced abroad? 

Also, I just signed up to a free trial of Strava premium- if anyone already has it- what do you do on there and do you think it’s any good?

Jabra Sport Pulse review

Earlier in the year I was sent some research from Jabra about 2016 being The Year of Stronger, Fitter and Faster:

It’s that time of the year again when millions of people vow to turn over a new leaf by making their New Year’s resolutions. Global research* by Jabra has today revealed that more than 40% of people are resolving to make their bodies stronger and fitter in 2016, rather than opting for more traditional resolutions of just focusing on weight loss.

With over half of people surveyed (52%) admitting that they have never made a fitness related New Year’s resolution before, 2016 looks to be the year of first-time resolutions with people focusing their attentions on a healthier and fitter lifestyle. 2015 has seen a healthy shift away from the traditional ‘thin’ celebrity images depicted in magazines, to the more favourable ‘fitspiration’, ‘real body’ trends led by social media channels such as Instagram.

This refreshing shift in attitude reveals an increasing emphasis on strength and fitness training and dispels the notion that most people either won’t make a resolution, or will simply fail to reach their goals. Teamed with growing confidence, 67% of people feel completely confident that they will stick to their fitness resolution. A determination to succeed is clearly evident with 45% admitting whilst they may take a few breaks, they will still ultimately accomplish their goals.

Finding and sticking to a New Year’s resolution is no mean feat, motivation is clearly the key to success. Over 35% are motivated by music with a further 34% saying that the buzz they feel post-workout is what inspires them most. To succeed, 68% revealed they would almost certainly consider investing in some sort of technology to keep them on track. 57% would most likely purchase new sports ear phones and 39% would invest in a fitness tracker or GPS device.

Karin Piscitelli, Marketing Director at Jabra, said “The research is clear. Globally we live in a culture where staying motivated is the key to success. Whether people opt for training apps or upbeat music, finding that inspiration to suit you is key. What is really positive is that people are already willing themselves to succeed, particularly when their goals are related to health and fitness.” 

Karin Piscitelli continued, “As we begin a New Year, more and more people are opting for fitness-based New Year’s resolutions. In order to succeed, it is crucial to retain focus whilst setting realistic and achievable steps. As a company, Jabra provides integrated training solutions to help people with motivation, personal training management so that they can keep track of their goals.”

Jabra has conducted this research to prove just how much sound and hearable technology play a part in people’s fitness and training goals. With motivation the key to success, an overwhelming 82% of people surveyed reveal that they currently use some form of technology to assist them when they work out. The majority (69%) utilise music through in-ear buds to spur them on, 33% use some form of fitness tracker/GPS device, 26% use a heart rate monitor and 27% use a running or training app. 

Jabra’s wireless sports earbud range offers superior, state-of-the-art hearables and has been developed using Jabra’s heritage and unrivalled R&D expertise in delivering audio innovation. It is designed specifically to deliver the combination of intelligent in-ear coaching or training tips and music to sports enthusiasts.

Features such as heart rate monitors (Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless) and motion sensors (Jabra Sport Coach Wireless) combined with the Jabra Sport Life app, can significantly enhance any workout. The free app which has been developed by Jabra, offers the ultimate all-in-one solution and contains optimised tools to help plan and monitor your fitness. Whether you’re a casual gym goer or a seasoned triathlete, there is a headset to cater for your workout needs. Designed to US military standards and leading the market in audio fidelity, Jabra’s innovation enables you to hear more, do more and be more.

As a result of this research, Jabra has initiated a new online community (the Jabra Fitness Community) to further support those that have set a fitness or training goal for the New Year.  In addition to their portfolio of products, Jabra will be offering motivational and inspiring tips for success from fitness and training professionals, as well as highlighting “real” updates from those in the Community who share their progress and highs/lows.  The Jabra Fitness Community can be found at: and posts can be made to #thisiswhereitstarts.

 The website has some articles about working out as part of a group, making goals manageable, as well as photos submitted by users (and the chance to win headphones too), so it’s worth a look.

They also sent me some Jabra Sport Pulse headphones to review:2016-01-30 13.34.01

The set up was simple enough (this may sound silly, but I am not very good with technology and often have to get Andy to help me with setting things up)- they work via bluetooth, so after turning the bluetooth on my phone, and entering the code on the pack, they connected (and if you put the headphones in, you can hear a voice telling you “Jabra sport pulse connected”).

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They charge by a little USB wire, which is hidden behind one of the ear buds- the light goes green once charged. I have never had headphones that need charging, but according to the app they will last for 4 hours, and I took them on my accidental 15 mile run last Sunday and they were still going when I got home, so for me they would last plenty of time for my longest run.

I had to download two apps- one was the Jabra music one, and the other was the Jabra sports one, but these were easily done via the prompts on my phone screen. I am not 100% sure I needed the music one, because I mainly listen to podcasts via the Pocket Cast app (which is amazing by the way), and it connected fine via that app.

At first I used them as I use my normal headphones- on a walk, or on a run, just to listen through. I turned on the bluetooth on my phone, turned on the headphones (there is a little button on the wire) and then played my podcasts. I had to take the headphones out to check it wasn’t coming out of my phone too, but it wasn’t. Clever stuff! I do love the lack of wire- on my walks I just had it the small wire in front of my neck, but on runs I have tucked it behind, under my ponytail, and it’s been really good. I didn’t get particularly annoyed with the long wire on my old ones, but it would get caught on my arm sometimes, plus when using my flipbelt I would have to flip the same way otherwise it would get wrapped around and around the belt.

I did swap the earbuds for a smaller size after a few wears- they come with 4 different sizes (although the small and extra-small looked the same to me!)- the fact you have so many sizes is great and although I was worried about swapping them, they were easy enough to pop off and swap over.

After a few times, I used the Sport app to track my heart rate. This was so clever! When you start the app, it detects your heart rate and the voice in your ear tells you your heart rate, and once you press “start” it counts you down to go. You the start the app, and it runs while you are exercising. I tried it on a walk first, as I didn’t want to have to stop and fiddle on a run if needed. When I set it up, I selected metric (as you add in your age, height and weight), but I need to go back and change it, because it is now set to kilometres, and I prefer miles.

At each km a voice would tell me heart rate, distance, pace, speed, cadence (steps per minute)- it was interesting hearing my heart rate, although the first one was a walk to Tesco so it slowed a lot as I wandered around inside the shop. I think it tracks using the location of the phone, because when you get home and stop it, you can open the app and look at your history, and it shows you a map of where you went, and gives you detailed splits for each km, what your heart rate was and so on. As my Garmin does not have a heart rate monitor, this is really interesting information to have. You can even see a graph of your heart rate, and not surprisingly it went up for me when I had to run through a field of cows!

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Some of the cows were very close to the path! I took this once I was safely through the gate at the other end!

The one drawback is that the voice is very loud, and it does take time to get through the list of stats after each km, and at times when I was listening to podcasts it would be a bit frustrating as I would be trying to hear what was being said, but all I could hear was my heart rate, distance, pace and so on. But once I got home I looked in the settings and turned off the “on the go readouts”, although you can just turn off some, and keep some (for example I might sometimes keep the heart rate one as I find that interesting, and I could not get that information from my watch). Once I tried them again, I didn’t have any audio updates, but was still able to look at the map, graphs of my heart rate and so on once I got home, so for me I will probably leave it like that for most of the time as I prefer to look at the data once I have finished.

It does occasionally drop out too, I think when my phone is updating or doing something else, as it tends to happen at the start of my run, but it pauses the podcast for the split second of drop out so that I don’t miss anything. Not having used wireless headphones before I imagine that this is to be expected every now and then.

Also although I have swapped the earbud size over, I am not sure that I have the correct fitting just yet (they also have ear-wings to hold them in place, and again include 3 or 4 size options)- but as it’s been so cold I have been wearing a headband over my ears, or a hat, so that has held them in place.

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I was trying to work out how best to show the earphones- you can see the headband is sort of holding them there for me.

I think they are great though- the fact they can measure your heart rate is just so clever, and if I didn’t already have a GPS watch for running, this combined with the app does pretty much everything a watch does.

So thanks to Jabra for letting my try them.

Do you measure your heart rate when you are training? Do you think that technology can help with motivation and keeping your goals going?

If you are a podcast listener, which are your favourites?

*Sent to me in exchange for a review. As always, all opinions are my own.

How far is too far?

So as I have mentioned before, I am trying to imitate my long runs from last year in the build up to the Brighton half, as I felt good and strong during that race. I think often for a half I might go up to 11 miles in training, but do often struggle at around mile 8 or 9 (still too far for “just a parkrun left”), so running longer helped.

This past week didn’t have much running- I had a 5 mile club run on Tuesday, but then I had parents evenings on Wednesday and Thursday, and got a bit of a cold, then I had car troubles so had to go to the garage on Friday after work, so in the end just came home and relaxed.

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I have been sent this lovely cereal/ cereal topper, from Two Birds, so I enjoyed some for breakfast on Saturday, with an apple and muesli. It’s a mix of chia seeds, buckwheat, hemp hearts, bee pollen and cinnamon (they also do a berry one)- you can mix it with milk (like a sort of chia pudding), or have it as a topper.

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I love the cinnamon flavour and the chewy crunch that it adds to muesli.

On Saturday morning we had three house viewings booked, so I could not even parkrun, although we had a walk around town after, and I walked up to the shops later.

So Sunday came and I had not had much running, but I had planned a 14 mile run. My plan was to run out for 7, turn around and come home. I had a route in mind, but didn’t quite know where the 7 mile point would be.

After running out for nearly 7 miles, I realised I was quite close to one of the houses we had looked at, and I wanted to look at the driveway again as we were not sure it would park two cars, so I looked at maps on my phone and had a bit of a detour there (also getting lost because of not realising the map was upside down). This meant that I had done 8 miles before I started heading home again, and then my cold, which had gone, came back. I thought I knew a shortcut, although it had a bigger hill in it, but in fact looking at the map once I was home, it was no shorter, and in fact was possibly a bit longer. I had a pack of yo-yo’s with me, so at around mile 13 I walked for a bit while I ate them, and got up the energy to get home. I was so shattered when I got home, as I had ended up running over 15 miles! That may not sound like much more than what I was aiming for, but when you are running that far every mile counts.

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I found out earlier in that week that I had won a prize on Danni’s blog– porridge plus a fruit box delivery. The first fruit box arrived this Friday, and contained some blood oranges, so as soon as I got back on Sunday I had one of those- I needed something juicy right away and they fit the bill perfectly.

After a shower I had the energy to make some French toast, but pretty much felt wiped out for the rest of the day, and also really cold. It was so cold and even though I put on many layers I was shivering for a while. I did manage to make a cake (an easy one, using my food processor) this one -using more oranges (plain ones, not the blood ones) as I was seeing some friends on Monday and we needed a gluten free recipe. But that was about it. We went to tea at Andy’s parents house and his brother (who is a police officer) commented that he had seen me out running twice that morning, about 90 minutes apart! I think then I realised quite how far I had run!

So, two weeks until the half, and this weekend I don’t have to run quite as far! My legs were very sore on Monday and I did a fair bit of foam rolling, and had a bath with epsom salts, so they felt a bit better after that.

It did remind me that marathon training is just so tough- I could never be someone who runs several a year, or even one a year- I think half marathons are far enough for me right now. And on that note, I signed up to the inaugural Disneyland Paris half marathon today! I love the Run Disney medals, but the US ones are never in my school holidays, or they are the Sunday before school starts on Monday, leaving no time for a transatlantic flight, so having one in France is amazing! We had booked a hotel and train months ago, but today was the day bookings opened and we both managed to get a place- phew!

Which distance do you like to run the most? Do you plan your running routes or just head out? What sort of toppings do you like on cereal?