28 Ways To Know You’re A Runner

I’ve shamelessly stolen this from my running club Facebook page, where the question was asked and my fabulous club mates answered. Which do you agree with? Anything we missed?

You Know You’re A Runner When…

  1. You check every pair of socks for L or R before putting them on!
  2. Most of the mugs in your kitchen are race mementos.
  3. The majority of your winter wardrobe is luminous.
  4. The boot of your car is like a treasure trove for runners
  5. You can identify fellow runners from a distance by their running style / gait / attire
  6. You have a number of pairs of running shoes which you refer to as ‘retired’.
  7. You hoard safety pins….
  8. You have numbers on your calendar/in your diary that would only make sense to fellow runners.
  9. You would never spend £80+ on a pair of “real” shoes …….but these spanky new running daps…….well what a bargain, bring em on.
  10. You complain how expensive a short taxi journey is but you pay £40 to RUN 26.2 miles.
  11. You have a huge collection of race finisher t shirts that you will never probably wear… but can’t throw them out either!
  12. Open toed sandals are a thing of the long distant past….
  13. You judge people for not wearing much in public on Saturday night, then go out wearing less, much less, on Sunday morning.
  14. When choosing a route home you don’t go for the shortest / most direct route to be sure you don’t come up 0.1 short
  15. You have shoes for every occasion……Road training, road racing, off road dry, off road wet…
  16. You get nearly naked in front of perfect strangers in a tent in a field and no one bats an eyelid!
  17. You are relieved when you do a number 2 before your run
  18. You can walk past runners you know well, but no one recognises you in ‘normal’ clothes with hair and make-up done
  19. You have more wardrobe space dedicated to running / cycling attire than normal attire!
  20. When you’re packing to go on holiday, your running kit is the first thing in the suitcase.
  21. When you’re sat in your car you stare at every runner on the road with jealously and envy…
  22. Your maths has improved since you left school, especially your 8.5 times table and any division by 5, 10, 13.1 or 26.2
  23. You run 0.1 miles past your door just to run 0.1 miles back and get that watch to 6 not 5.8.
  24. You get an invitation to a wedding and the first thing you do is check which race it clashes with.
  25. You discuss greasing your nipples in public.
  26. You hated statistics at school, but now you pore obsessively over the data at Garmin connect, Strava, Power of 10, Run Britain rankings etc.
  27. You have a nemesis, who may well also be a good friend, but for 10km a few times a year they’re your sworn enemy!
  28. You book a holiday then immediately check if there’s a race/parkrun in the locality.

Thanks to members of Almost Athletes for their contributions. What should we add?

Posted in Life, Running, Training | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

A Public Declaration Of Intent

I don’t think I’ve ever done this before. I may have muttered something vaguely similar to a friend or possibly convinced myself I’d have a go, but here’s the very first time I have ever announced this…

Tomorrow I will run a 5k PB.

At 9am tomorrow I’ll be doing my 50th parkrun. That’s a big deal! My local parkrun here in Cheltenham is only 104 weeks old and was my introduction, so I’ve averaged a parkrun every fortnight for the last two years. I’ve also visited 11 other parkruns around the country in that time, I love parkrun!

So that’s the venue sorted, but why put the pressure on myself to perform when I could just relax and celebrate?

Well in the last few months I’ve been working with my trainer Catherine, and I’ve never felt better prepared physically for running. I’ve lost a stone in that time and been running injury free now for 8 months (please don’t let that be the kiss of death!). I also matched my PB a few weeks ago by mistake, I had no idea I was even close otherwise I could have found a second or two I’m sure! I’m also being joined by a lot of friends tomorrow, some cheering and some running, possibly even pacing me.

So everything combines to suggest I have a PB in me, and for the first time ever I am feeling confident about giving it a go, so let me repeat…

Tomorrow I will run a PB.

Wish me luck, I’ll let you know how it goes!


I'm amazing myself on a regular basis at the moment, with digits like this.

I’m amazing myself on a regular basis at the moment, with digits like this.

On my 50th parkrun this morning I ran a 23:43, which is a PB by 45 seconds!

Thank you to everyone who came down to support, for the applause when my 50th and PB attempt were announced and the cheers as I ran round the course. Thanks to those that offered to pace me, and Danny who sat on my shoulder quietly pushing me on or just ahead making the gaps for me to run in to. Thanks to everyone who came to ask how I’d got on after the run. Thanks to parkrun for being the most amazing community, I really do love you.

Here’s to the next 50 and some more fast times.

Posted in Events, Life, parkrun, Running, Running, Training | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Easiest Food Lie To Tell Yourself…

I’m not stupid, I know how food works. I know about the mix of protein, carbs and fat. I’m well aware of the dangers of sugar. I understand the average calorie requirement for a man…

And I try to eat healthily, I really do. Or at least I wake up every morning intending to. I don’t open my eyes at 6am and reach for the chocolate biscuits, instead I rise full of good intentions and empty of stomach.

And then at some point during the day, almost every day, something ends up on my plate, in my hand, in my mouth, that really shouldn’t be there. Whether it’s a chocolate biscuit or piece of cake (both of which are a constant feature of my working day) or a sandwich from the lunch van replacing the soup I have in the fridge, or even the pizza I accidentally buy on my way home because I can’t face cooking or only have 30 minutes to eat. It’s then that I tell myself the lie which leads to the behaviour that means I am still a stone heavier than I’d like to be…

The damage is done for today.

The earlier in the day it happens, the worse the result. If a colleague throws a croissant at me for breakfast then the rest of the day is a conveyor belt of biscuits and treats…after all the damage has been done already. If I succumb to pizza for tea you can bet it’s followed by the bag of mini eggs I also picked up because… if it’s pizza for tea the damage is done.

Working in charity I am constantly surrounded by my demons. On an average day before lunch I’ll be offered chocolate biscuits twice, a slice of victoria sponge and the opportunity to order from the chip shop. I manage to resist, then someone drops a raspberry shortbread on my desk in the afternoon…and the damage is done.

And once the damage is done, what’s the point in keeping up the pretence that I’m capable of healthy eating? Why not give up on the day, have the pizza, enjoy the mini eggs, take a hot chocolate to bed and plan to start that life changing healthy eating regime again tomorrow?

It’s a constant cycle of error and disappointment, except unlike constantly cycling it adds calories rather than burns them.

How do you avoid temptation? What’s the secret to staying healthy, even if it’s only 90% healthy? Can you enjoy a piece of cake without the day falling apart?!

Posted in Diet, Life | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m An Aural Convert

I’ve been reading a lot recently about people who don’t run with music, but listen to podcasts instead. “What a backward step for mankind” I thought, “these are the kind of people who apply leeches to cure DOMS and believe the world is flat and they might run off the edge”.

Showing my age...who else had one of these on their paper round? (who else remembers having a paper round?!?!?)

Showing my age…who else had one of these on their paper round? (who else remembers having a paper round?!?!?)

When I first started running one of the big draws was an excuse to plug in to a new album or favourite artist and have an hour of uninterrupted musical application, it’s like Savlon for the soul. I’ve discovered countless new favourites by strapping in for a whole album and committing to see it through while I run, when normally I’d give them a half listen while distractedly getting on with life and never really engage with the music. Then I started to learn how the music could influence my running; I knew about BPM affecting heart rate but I always equated it to dance music. Suddenly I realised I could make a long run easier by planning my music, and avoiding the louder harder rock that saw me picking up my pace in response. Then there were speed sessions…Prodigy, obviously.

You'd run fast if you had this in your ears.

You’d run fast if you had this in your ears.

But something different happened this weekend. Spotify released a playlist of “The Best of British Comedy” and in the early hours of Saturday morning I just couldn’t choose any of the 18,000+ tracks on my itunes to get me out the house…so I took Eddie Izzard instead. I don’t know if I was subconsciously reaching out to the spirit of Eddie that got him through his incredible 43 marathons or whether I was just in need of a good laugh. What followed was the world’s fastest 10 miles, or at least that was my perception!

By the time I’d run 6 miles to parkrun, done that and then put in a fast last mile home I’d ticked off 10 miles, Eddie Izzard and most of Billy Connolly, and it had flown by! I guess there’s something in the psyche that knows how long songs are, and breaks down your progress in to 4 minute chunks. If you get a great track you’ll fly for 4 minutes, something you’re not overly fond of and it’s a 4 minute slog.

So, I’m a convert. I intend to use the whizzy spaceage 4G around here to stream comedy from BBC Radio 4 Extra, I’ve downloaded Serial which everyone has been raving about and I’m open to suggestions for what else I could listen to…this year’s marathon training could be the most educational, amusing and music free yet!

What do you listen to when you run? Any recommendations for good podcasts/downloads/radio plays I should check out? What about audiobooks, and classics?

Posted in Kit, Life, Running, Training | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Should Marathons Be Accessible To All?

Firstly let’s be absolutely clear on something. I am a firm believer in the inclusive nature of running. I am almost fanatical about getting people to take up running and stick with it through the first few difficult months, until it clicks and they find the love. I am working towards getting qualified in order to help people start running, run better, run faster, run further…I want to teach the world to run!

However, I saw a conversation the other day that got me thinking, and the more I thought the more I got cross, and the crosser I got the less popular I imagined my opinion would be…but now I’m not so sure and so I am asking you, dear reader, for your input.

Should marathons be accessible to all?

The reason I ask is this conversation, which appeared on a marathon’s Facebook page (I’m afraid I can’t remember which and can’t find it now otherwise I would link to my source). Someone had complained that last year they had almost been swept up by the bus after 6h30m on course and with 7 miles still to go. They were demanding the course stay open later for all the slower runners and walkers who couldn’t finish inside the cut off. This got me thinking, are they right to complain? Should marathons be there for walkers and people who can’t manage more than 20 minute/mile pace? Does that undermine what is happening at the other end of the field?

I thought I might be alone in resenting those that had cheapened my marathon achievement, until I found this article from the New York Times in 2009. To précis what they say marathons have become about completing not competing (not necessarily with others but with yourself and the clock). Thousands now turn up on the start line with the minimum training and plod through 26.2 miles, finishing hours after the bulk of the field. They get the same t-shirt, the same medal and the same bragging rights as those runners that committed to a 16 week training plan of speed sessions, ice baths, clean eating and long runs.

Another point to be clear on, I am absolutely not being elitist. I’m yet to break the 5 hour mark in a marathon (but I’m doing everything possible to change that in Edinburgh this May!). I’m not suggesting marathons should become more exclusive, but I do think that they should be reserved for those that put in the work and are there to run. A 6h30m cut off is an average 15 minute mile, that’s enough even for a slower runner who’s wheels fell off at 18 miles to get in, surely?

What’s your opinion on the sanctity of marathons? Should anyone be able to walk 26 miles and call themselves a marathoner or should they be the reserve of the serious, committed runner?

Posted in Events, Life, Running, Running, Training | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments