Friday, 27 February 2015

Birthday Running (or not) - Crandon Runs Friday Photo #22

This week I celebrated my birthday! Sadly I didn't have the genius to organise a Birthday Beer Run like the brilliant Laura Fountain aka Lazy Girl Running -  birthday, beer and running, er yes please! Instead I celebrated with a parkrun PB on the Saturday and shunned running altogether on the big day, opting instead to celebrate with lots of food, wine and well, more food. It was amazing.

I did however get some delightful running gifts, including this rather appropriate gift from one of my sisters.
I love running food
I also received some wonderful running books which I can't wait to get stuck into... 

Which brings me nicely onto this article which I found last week from Runners World about a group of runners who set up a running book club. Add this to Lazy Girl Running's beer run and I would be basically in running book beer heaven. That's next year's celebrations sorted then.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Free Running in Manchester

Are you finding it hard to keep up with your New Year resolutions now it's February? Are you training for the Manchester Marathon and sick of pounding the streets alone? Maybe you just want to get your trainers on and get outside? Whatever your reasons for hitting the streets, there are social running groups you can join in Manchester almost every day, for absolutely free. Running with others gives you more motivation, helps you discover new places in your city and lets you be a sociable whilst getting your exercise in, all without spending a penny.

And don't worry if you're not Paula Radcliffe or Mo Farah, these runs cater for all abilities and most have back markers so you will never be left out in the cold alone no matter how slow you go. So what are you waiting for Manchester?

Monday - Still Waters Run Deep MCR
Meet at 7pm Stevenson's Square (M1 1DN)
Kick off your week with Stills Waters, the Manchester based creative community and running crew who focus on interacting with the Manchester city landscape. They promise an alternative to the traditional runnning club and avoid the same old repetitive routes in favour of exploring the city streets. Runs tend to last 45 mins and are about 5-10K.

Tuesday - Sweatshop Running CommunityMeet at 6.45pm Sweatshop, Manchester ArndaleSweatshop believe that running should be free, fun and for everyone and offer incentives to keep you coming back including a free t-shirt after your first 5 weeks. If you make it to 50 weeks they reward you with a free pair of trainers - motivation indeed. Choose from either a 5K or a 4-5 mile route which change weekly and by season. They often go for a drink or a bite to eat after the run too. 

Wednesday - Manchester Road RunnersMeet at 7pm next to the Wharf Pub, Castlefield
Manchester Road Runners are a social running group based in Castlefield. They offer a 5 or 8K route and the advantage of meeting next to the Wharf pub means a post-run pint is actively encouraged. Excellent rehydration tactics.

Thursday - Nike+ Run Club MCR
Meet at 6.15pm at the Nike Store, Market Street
Nike+ Run Club head out every Thursday night and like to vary their routes and distances. Sometimes they do alternative sessions rather than just running, like tackling hill sprints. They encourage their members to suggest new routes which can result in anything, like a run to take in both of Manchester's football stadiums. They love a group photo to record their achievements so make sure you take your best pose. 

It's Friday and you've been running around Manchester all week. Give yourself a day off.

Saturday - parkrun9am Saturdays at various parks in Manchester
Parkrun offer free weekly timed 5K runs all over the world. In Manchester you can choose from Heaton Park, Platt Fields, Worsley Woods, Oldham and further afield Lyme Park, to name but a few. All you need to do is register online and take your barcode so that your time is recorded. They are all run by volunteers and promise a warm welcome. They often go for a post-run coffee nearby and the early weekend start means you have the rest of your day to revel in your achievement. 

Sunday - Sweatshop Running Club / Nike+ Run Club MCRSweatshop Arndale and Nike+ Running stores both offer longer runs on a Sunday morning, starting at 9.15am or 9.45am respectively. The Sweatshop runners tend to go out for 10 miles whilst Nike offers a variety of runs. Check their Facebook page as before, for updates each week.

This blog post originally appeared on Time Out Manchester. Discover more things to do in Manchester with Time Out.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Parkrun tourism - Crandon Runs Friday Photo #21

A weekly round up of Crandon Runs in one Friday Photo

After accidentally running 11 miles after work on Thursday, I decided that instead of my usual long run, this weekend I would do a spot of park run tourism while at home in Cardiff and do a steady paced 5K instead. 

Parkrun was one of my New Years Runolutions and I am absolutely loving the atmosphere there. It's so good and the fact that they are everywhere means you can do them almost wherever you are that weekend! After Katie wrote about it recently, I thought I should definitely try out the one on my home turf in Cardiff.

Cardiff parkrun

I'm not entirely sure why I'm looking so serious, I loved it! The 'taking it easy' part didn't go too well though when a guy running slightly ahead asked me my PB and told me to stick with him as he was pacing 23 mins and was well ahead of that time. I didn't WANT to race, but I couldn't seem to stop myself trying for a PB when I knew it might be in sight. So the easy run soon turned into a reasonably hard effort for me and I ended up with a new PB of 22.20. 

Well that's probably why I'm looking so serious, my body is trying to keep up with my brain.

Maybe I'll take it easy next week.

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Friday, 13 February 2015

Pool-side Yoga - Crandon Runs Friday Photo #20

I'm back from holiday! Huge thanks to the mighty Katie Chappelle for holding the fort while I've been gone, and giving us lots of lovely recipes, ideas and running chat!

Like running, yoga is a great way of exercising without needing much, if any equipment so you can really do it anywhere. If you've been going to class and instructed properly, after a while you might feel confident enough to try your own sequence.

After a cramped 6 hour flight and a new bed my back was all out of whack, but I knew a little yoga would help. Especially when you can hold your yoga practice in the morning sun on your own pool-side veranda.

morning sunshine yoga

I have never done my own practice before without at least a YouTube video to instruct me. But I really loved it and made sure I did some of the poses I hate but would be good for me, as well as my favourites.

After just twenty minutes my back felt much better and I was raring to take on the day. A busy day of lying by the pool and going to the beach that is...

Happy Friday folks!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Running with a podcast - Crandon Runs Friday Photo #19

Unlike Sarah, I'm not a natural runner. Although I recognise the benefits (it's free, it's a great way of getting outside and I always feel fab afterwards) but like many people I find it hard to motivate myself.

I ran a half marathon many years ago (in 2hours30 - no I'm not fast, but hey, I bloomin' did it!) but talking myself into actually getting out and running is often the hardest part for me.

That's why I love podcasts.

Podcasts are a good way of getting you motivated, while also helping to improve your running technique, speed, stamina, or whatever you want to work on. There's bound to be one that suits your needs.

I first started using the free NHS choices Couch to 5k programme last summer. I had been going to the gym and doing yoga, but hadn't run properly for ages and thought it would be a good way to get back into it. The podcast was a little too easy to be honest (it's aimed at people who have literally never even been for a jog) but knowing I had to do three set runs every week as part of the programme was excellent motivation.

Now I've graduated to the 5k Plus podcasts, which are also free and focus on improving your speed, stamina and running technique. The music is also pretty good, the songs are completely unknown to me (I think they've used royalty-free tracks) but the tunes have a good beat so it's easy to ensure you're keeping up the pace.

Simply search 'running podcasts' in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts from and you'll see there are plenty to choose from. Give it a try!

This is a guest blog from me (Katie Chappelle) while Sarah AKA Crandon Runs is on holiday.

If you're in Cardiff, you might want to follow my blog 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Cardiff Parkrun

Parkrun is an amazingly simple concept; Weekly, free, timed 5k runs around parks across the UK. Perfect for people who want to beat their PB, are looking for a social run with like-minded people or just need a reason to get out of bed and get their trainers on at the weekend.

Parkrun is a not for profit event, run by fantastic volunteers and it's completely free to take part, just register online. Print off a barcode (you have to print it, they can't scan smart phones) and they'll log your time and email it to you. Simple. 

Cardiff Parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am, starting on the Taff Trail at Blackweir (next to the giant Tesco on Western Avenue) and running along the River Taff, looping back through Bute Park.

Cardiff Parkrun along the beautiful River Taff
After eating my homemade energy ball and downing a smoothie, I turned up ready to race alone with a podcast to keep me company. But while standing at the start line, trying my best to keep warm, I bumped into two of my old work colleagues, Nicola and Beth and Beth's sister. 

Hooray! It meant that my solo run became a lot more sociable and we jogged round the course in 34 mins, while managing to catch up on a good bit of gossip. And that's really what Park Run is about. Not gossiping (unless that helps motivate you, in which case gossip away) But Parkrun is about taking on a challenge with other runners, feeling that comraderie, with perhaps a dash of competitiveness thrown in. It would've been a huge mistake to do it alone with my iPod!

Finish line selfie with my fellow Parkrunners!

So to the course itself. The Taff Trail is absolutely beautiful anyway so to run around there is always lovely, no matter the weather. With more than 650 runners taking part, the path is a bit tight at the start, but it soon opens up with plenty of room for all speeds and levels. I do think there's an opportunity here for another park run in Cardiff though - further along the Taff Trail at Forest Farm or around Pontcanna and Llandaff for example. The demand is certainly there. 

I didn't record a PB at this weeks race, but I wasn't far off and a surprise catch up with friends while enjoying a scenic run made for a lovely morning. 

Chuffed with my time of 34:33 at Cardiff Parkrun
The timing of Parkrun meant I was home by 10am, plenty of time to enjoy a well-deserved breakfast of spinach, avocado and poached eggs on toast with an Americano. Heaven! 

My well deserved post-run breakfast

You can find out more about Cardiff Parkrun on their website.

From 8 February, Cardiff Parkrun will also be holding a weekly junior event for 4-14 year olds.

Sarah AKA Crandon Runs is currently on holiday.

If you're in Cardiff, you might want to follow my blog