New Balance 1080v10: the Cadillac of shoes

I might be a bit late to the party, but still – I have always been a NB 1080 fan. Last year, I went through four pairs of the previous version (v9), while patiently waiting for a decent discount on v10 (I do love a bargain!). So on 2nd January, I broke my New Year’s resolution to stop spending money on running gear and got myself a pair of NB 1080v10 for Β£95 which is an excellent price given the fact they still go for Β£135 on New Balance website.

I instantly fell in love with them as my (slightly embarassing) video debut documents. So why do I love them and what are their key characteristics worth noting?

  • They are ultra comfy

I swear they are the comfiest shoes I have ever run in. This is primarily due to two factors: Fresh Foam midsole really makes them ultra-cushioned, while the heel cup (called Ultra Heel) gives your heel a gentle hug. The Ultra Heel deserves a special mention because it was the element that I was the most unsure about, but once experiencing its comfort, it is the element that I appreciate the most and that really makes this shoe stand out amongst its competitors.

  • They come in different widths

Do you have wide feet? You are in luck! This shoe comes in different widths, so besides standard, you can get wide or extra wide fit (or even narrow fit for ladies). I have v9 in both standard and wide fit, so I went for standard fit in v10. The upper is really stretchy, so while I should have probably gone for wide fit, the standard fit does not bring me any discomfort whatsoever.

  • They are light

You will notice immediately that for a cushioned shoe the 1080v10 is surprisingly light. It makes a noticeable difference. While they don’t give you that spring and bounce racing shoes do, running in them feels somewhat effortless so they are perfect for those long easy run.

  • They seem fairly water resistant

I normally get my shoes soaking wet as soon as I get out of the door, but my 1080v10 seem to manage water really well. I intentionally ran through deep puddles and while they got wet inside, they never felt like I’m running with an entire pond in my shoes (which often is the case with other shoe types). Also, I just ran on snow and ice, and they had a very good grip which is an unexpected bonus because who wants to land on their backside. right?

  • The design

While they look good overall, the design is okay…just okay. I have absolutely nothing negative to say, it just feels like they lack a little bit of oomph, something that makes them extra special and memorable. (Arguably, the Ultra Heel is the one feature that stands out.) But since mine are already covered in mud, who am I to complain? πŸ™‚

Finally, some specs:

Type: Neutral

Heel drop: 8mm

Surface: Road

Weight: 280g (M) / 238g (F)

My size UK 7.5 B (standard lady fit) was 258g. (I am very much tempted to start an investigation into what sizes is the weight data based on and whether this is standardised across shoe types and brands…)

Cushion: maximum, Fresh Foam midsole

Price: Β£135, but available cheaper on Amazon and websites like SportsShoes or Wiggle.

Overall verdict is that this shoe is a real mile-cruncher that keeps you going while making sure your feet are comfortable. (I tested them on recent a half marathon.) I will definitely run all my easy long runs in them and am confident that they can take one comfortably through a marathon.

Hmmm marathon….that reminds me I haven’t run one for a few months. *Starts planning a marathon route.*

Thanks for reading and pop your NB 1080v10 opinion in the comments below or let me know on Instagram!

So long, 2020

The next person who says they can’t wait for 2020 to be over will get slapped. (Worry not, I’ll sanitise my hands beforehand.) Now, in all seriousness, I am tired of hearing “I just wish this year was finished already”.

First of all, why would anyone wish away the time that was given to them? To me that is an insult to those who do not have such gift. Time of being alive is the most precious thing given to every single one of us over and over again, yet we all take it for granted and only when we are at the end of the road, we realise that there wasn’t enough of it to do all we wanted. We have to stop wishing time away and start appreciating every second of it, whether it is a second of joy or sadness or pain, because quite often, pain is better than no feelings and no sensations whatsoever.

This September I did a 10K race at Dorney Lake. Initially, I was really excited about it, because it was my first race since lockdown and also my first 10K race this year. It didn’t go well. (I was on a second course of antibiotics and only just getting to back normal after a minor running injury.) The race was extremely painful and felt incredibly difficult, and the result was so disappointing I cried at the finish line. Still, it was a positive experience of a sort, because as I was running (and suffering), I thought of all the people who couldn’t run; all the people who consider conquering 10K a lifetime achievement, no matter the pace; all the people who would love to experience my pain because it is nothing compared to the pain they are feeling… So if this race was 2020, I can put my hand on my heart and say that, although it was crappy, I gave it my all, achieved the best I could given the circumstances, and grew a little stronger and wiser.

I appreciate that everyone’s 2020 represented different challenges and pitfalls. I have to admit that introverts like myself found social distancing and restrictions much more manageable than extraverts. (No social functions to attend, yay!) Although I cope quite well with not seeing my friends and family, I am still heartbroken after leaving a job and company I loved. So yes, everyone had different challenges to overcome, but the bottom line is, sitting around and dying for 2020 to end is no productive use of one’s life.

Also, why do people think that 2021 will be any better than 2020? We have absolutely no guarantee of that. It can be just as, or even more horrendous than 2020. (And there is a pretty good chance that it will.) But what if 2021 is our opportunity to stop waiting for good things to happen and for the world to return to its old self. We cannot just sit around and wait for outside conditions to be favourable in order to start living.

Frodo (sitting in a dark cold tunnel of Moria, probably hungry, with no spare clothest and all sorts of nasty creatures trying to track him down to kill him) said: “I wish none of this had happened.” Gandalf’s reply was: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

So while we might not have the power to change the current circumstances, what we have is the ability (a gift and an obligation) to decide how we spend our time.

Let’s stop wishing the world was different. Instead, let’s search for that silver lining and make the crapmost of the current circumstances regardless of what they are. Use that time. Achieve something. Make yourself proud. Inspire others. Be thankful no matter what. And by doing all that, you will play your own little (but important) part in changing this world and making 2021 better for yourself, for those close to you, for everyone.

So long 2020 and happy 2021!

Christmas gift ideas for runners

Only 10 days till Christmas! And you do not yet have a present for that special runner in your life!! Don’t panic. Get your heart rate back down from the tempo zone. The Runnerd is here to save the day. Actually, if I’m being honest, runners are easy folk to shop for. Here we go:

  • Carbs

Buy them carbs. They need carbs. Carbs are great. How about Christmas themed pasta to help you get into the festive spirit? And someone should seriously start making running shoes shaped pasta. Or medal shaped pasta. In the worst case scenario, pop to your local supermarket, buy alphabet pasta and remove all letters except P’s and B’s. To spell PB. Obviously.

  • Protein shakes

Carbs are covered, so we can now move onto protein. Protein shakes and recovery shakes are always needed. Stay away from boring vanilla and strawberry. There is a whole protein shake world out there with indulgent flavours like cookie dough, blueberry cheesecake and salted caramel. And vegan options are available!

Edit: Although I already have salted caramel protein powder arriving tomorrow, I didn’t resist and just bought the cookie dough one. Please stop me shopping!

  • Running clothes

No runner ever has enough of running clothes. Socks. Gloves. Base layer for cold days. Tops. Vests. Hats. Buffs (to double as a face mask in case of an unexpected need to stop in Starbucks). Shorts and leggings. Christmas themed leggings are popular this year. (I’m trying to resist the urge to buy a pair for myself.)

  • Anything fluorescent and reflective

Dark, long nights and grey days require bright and fluorescent gear. Runners L-O-V-E bright colours. Hi-viz vests always come in handy. Or head and body torches for the truly hardcore runners who are courageous enough to go out and conquer the darkness.

But do not feel limited by the obvious fluorescent choices. How about fluorescent underwear or perhaps fluorescent nail polish?

  • Free Train vest

This handy running vest holds your phone, keys, bank card, and I manage to shove a gel in as well. It’s way less obtrusive than running belts and arm bands. I personally love it.

  • Personalised medal holder

You can never go wrong with anything personalised and a personalised medal holder is one of the coolest presents ever. Just make sure you hurry up ordering it, because personalised items generally take longer to deliver.

  • Strava Summit subscription

Did you know that when you give someone Strava Summit subscription, you will receive two months of Strava Summit for yourself? Plus, you can choose the date when the subscription is delivered (via email), so the surprise won’t be spoiled before Christmas Day.

  • Garmin Running Dynamics Pod

The pod is an excellent gift for the stats obsessed Garmin user. It accurately provides six different running metrics such as cadence and ground contact time. It’s super light and unobtrusive (unlike a chest strap).

  • Books about running

Yes, books about running, because what else would runners do on their rest days than read and think about running? My personal favourite is Lonely Planet’s Epic Runs of the World. It will be a hit with the adventurous runner who loves to travel. Also, the book is a hardcover with lovely high-grammage pages and stunning colourful photos so it has a luxury feel to it.

Okay guys, so hopefully this gives you some ideas. The list of Christmas gift ideas for runners can really be endless, but I got to go now because my other running half is just coming back from a 5K time trial in his brand new carbon-plated shoes. Oh, speaking of supershoes – those would be the ultimate gift for any runner if you have a couple hundred(ish) pounds spare. πŸ™‚ Happy shopping!

Welcome to Lockdown 2.0

It’s fair to point out that this lockdown is little less lockdowny that the previous lockdown. Apart from toilet rolls availability (yay!), the main difference is that schools are staying open so the joy of getting stuck in school run traffic is here to remain. Also this time, we know what to expect which isn’t necessarily a good thing. The financial impact aside, just like last time, the more extraverted you are, the more you are likely to suffer in the next four weeks. Socialising in pubs and cafes with friends? Forget it. Going out for a meal? Dream on! (Ahhh, remember the good times of Eat Out to Help Out scheme?) Non-essential shopping therapy? Not a chance.

For me as a busy parent and an introvert, very little has changed, but I know many people who struggle greatly with the idea of being limited by the lockdown rules for another four weeks (minimum).

Given the change of season and cold weather, it is going be so easy to give in to self-pity, TV, booze and take-outs. Besides, we have cleaned, reorganised and decorated every inch of the house during the previous lockdown, so what’s left to do other than binge watch Netflix and try to survive until the pubs open again, right?

But how about living, rather than surviving? I mean, you have nearly a month of “solitude” so why not emerge on the other end as your better self, rather than someone who earned a million Pizza Hut loyalty points and is a Tiger King expert (is that show still a thing?). This is your chance to surprise the world and exit the lockdown smarter/faster/stronger/leaner/healthier…

Let’s be realistic – it would be extremely difficult to get a six pack in four weeks, but you can start creating positive habits that will continue when lockdown is over. Go for a walk or a run (and bring a friend along because Boris allowed you to), do that online course, start cooking healthy (no, no more banana loaf!), meditate, embark on a push-up challenge…do whatever it is you always wanted to do. Because just surviving is not good enough. So many people would love to have more time in the world and they don’t. You do. So don’t you dare insulting them with this “just surviving” nonsense. Time is precious. So whatever it is you always wanted to do – start now! As in N-O-W. Chop chop!

I ran 11 miles today so if you excuse me, I shall put my feet up and enjoy my well-deserved Friday feeling. Looking forward to hearing all about your lockdown activities and if you need a kick in the bumbum, I’m here to help (=annoy you) as always! πŸ˜€ 😎

Running Miles: socially distanced races since before Covid

⬆️ Sounds like an exaggeration, but it is true.

I just had the pleasure of running “Don’t Stop Me (Running) Now” marathon by Running Miles. Technically, it was a 6 hours challenge but only a real nutter would run more than a marathon!

So back to my statement above. I have previously done a few events by Running Miles and let me tell you – the pre-Corona ones felt very much the same as the Covid-compliant race today. Why?

  • Limited entries

Running Miles have always taken pride in organising small and friendly events (West London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire). I believe the entries are limited to 50 participants. So it is very easy to remain socially distant. A huge βœ… for Covid compliance.

Fairly quiet for a marathon finish area
  • 6 hours challenge

Every event accomodates runners doing anything from a few miles to an ultra, which means they will all run at different paces and finish at different times thorough the day. So there are no crowds gathering at the finish line.

  • Laps

All events consist of multiple laps of the same course. That essentially allows you to leave your belongings and refreshments in the pit stop area near the finish/start and refresh yourself as you go instead of fighting for a cup of water at a crowded water station. Having said that, if you run out of refreshments (or crave coke after mile 17), the organisers are always happy to provide you with drinks top ups and snacks.

So yeah, I am not lying when I say that Running Miles have always been Covid-compliant! There were a few minor differences compared to pre-Covid events:

  • No pre-race briefing. Instructions were sent in an email before the race.
  • Staggered starts – start whenever you want approach. Loved it.
  • Handsanitisers and wipes in the start/finish area.
  • Changing facilities were shut, but the toilets were open so one could change in the (clean!) toilet if necessary.
  • Finishers ordered their post-race treats (goody bag) from a “menu” instead of grabbing countless (uhm 6) chocolate bars from a goody table. I can live with that.

What has not changed in the slightest was the great support and friendly atmosphere that I have not experienced at any other race. The organisers were lovely as usual and even remembered my past PB. It was awesome to see familiar faces of some running legends while meeting new future running legends. Thanks Running Miles!

Oh, and I’d almost forgot – I ran a massive marathon PB of 3:55:50 (25 minutes off my previous PB this January). Finally a race that went well for me (Running Miles magic perhaps?). Happy!!!

NoblePro MK 5K: a socially distanced race review

I will do my utmost to avoid moaning about my terrible time (I mean I had a great time but the time I ran 5K in was terrible), and will cut straight to the chase.

My second socially distanced race! Some major differences compared to F3 Dorney 10K three weeks ago (one key difference was that the route was actually measured accurately!).

So how was it?

  • Staggered starts

Staggered starts is a Covid-times must, however, there are different ways of doing it. While F3 chose the “start whenever you want within your time window” approach. Milton Keynes Athletics Club opted for waves instead of windows. Based on your predicted time you were assigned a wave with a precise start time. There was max 12 runners of similar abilities in each wave. A wave started every 5 minutes. This system essentially meant that you were taking part in a mini-race against runners in your wave. What I really liked was that each wave was led by a cyclist “clearing” the path. No risk of getting lost (which is my biggest race fear alongside pooping my pants).

  • Toilets

Speaking of pooping, there were no dedicated race toilets. We were instructed to use the park’s public toilets….that were closed when I arrived. Luckily I found a decent bush instead.

  • No bag drop

Just like F3, MC AC did not provide bag drop facilities, so if you didn’t arrive by car you were doomed. Alternatively, your spectator could serve as your personal bag keeper.

  • Spectators

That’s right! Spectators allowed! One per person. Also, since the event was in a public park, there were bystanders clapping and cheering which is something a lot of runners missed during lockdown virtual “races”.

  • The course

As I just mentioned, the course was located in a public park on a fairly wide path with tarmac surface. It wasn’t totally flat but there were no killer hills either. The finish line was a few hundred meters away from the start which definitely helped spread people around and maintain social distancing.

  • No medals

Yes, that made me cry a little as I’m a sucker for a good medal. Instead, the organisers threw a box of random NoblePro tops near the finish line and people just helped themselves. Gotta love a freebie!

  • Overall feeling

The event had a bit of an elite feeling to it. Real fast runners galore! I was one of the slowest participants, yet generally (despite my constant complaining) I am considered to be fairly fast(ish). The amount of 14 and 15 mins 5K’s that were run on the day was enormous. One crazy dude did 13:50. That’s a kilometer in 2 mins 46 seconds, times five. Doesn’t he need a driving licence to operate his legs? πŸ€”

Compared to F3 at Dorney that was completely shut to public, MK 5K was way more fun. And the results go on PO10. What more could a runner ask for? Well…I could ask for a PB, but perhaps next time…

How to tell you might be obsessed with running

Apparently I run a lot. Some (non-runers obviously) would say I run too much. So on my recent 23 miles run I was thinking about running and asked myself “How do you know you run too much?”. Well, apart from jelly legs and various niggles, you can tell you are obsessed with running if:

  • You spend more time on Strava than on any other social media (combined).
  • You choose your holiday destination based on whether there is a parkrun.
  • Two runs a day is a standard, not anything unusual.
  • You make your career choices based on whether you can run on your lunchbreak and/or runcommute.
  • You don’t consider 10 miles a long run.
  • Your running shoes collection is so extensive (and expensive) that it should have its own exhibition in a museum.
  • You seriously start considering setting up such an exhibition.
  • You have a spreadsheet detailing how many miles you ran in each pair and what races you did in them.
  • Actually, you have an elaborate spreadsheet for all your runs.
  • The spreadsheet feeds into a monthly dashboard that contains all your running KPI’s.
  • You can effortlessly convert miles to kilometers and minutes per mile pace to minutes per kilometer using the power of your brain.
  • On your rest days, you don’t know what to do with your free time so you watch YouTube videos about running.
  • You also listen to running podcast as you run.
  • You can always spot a runner even when they are not in their running gear.
  • You talk to strangers about running.
  • Bursting into a random stretching session anywhere in public is something you consider absolutely normal.
  • When you say you fancy something sweet you mean a gel.
  • You have all the flavours.
  • You are guilty of sucking on a fruit salad gel as a dessert after your dinner.
  • Your favourite tipple is electrolyte drink.
  • You file your race bibs. Systematically. Neatly. With love.
  • Your favourite chore is dusting off your medals.
  • You can’t imagine being called anything more offensive than a “jogger”.
  • Walking is simply a waste of a good run. Walking is slow. Walking is boring. You despise walking.
  • Reading this you feel an urge to run. You start considering squeezing another run in although you have already done 10 miles today.

Does that sound like you? If it does, you probably run too much. Wait….what? Nah! There is no such thing as too much running. Anyway, thanks for reading, gotta run…. πŸ˜‰

A guide to socially distanced racing

Do you remember the times when we used to race at will? Then Covid happened and we couldn’t race at all. Now, just as everyone is getting fed up with all the virtual racing nonsense, we can participate in real races again. But things are not what they used to be…

Last Saturday, I took part in my first ever socially distanced race, organised by F3 Events. Finally, their race results now count towards PO10. Essentially, it is a guarantee that the course length is measured accurately….which in this instance it was not! Us 10K competitors had the pleasure of running 10.3ish kilometers, and the lucky 20mile runners were gifted a bonus half mile! Yay….not. For some (like me) it meant a loss of what otherwise would have been a PB (although, in my case the PB was so miserable that I am not even sad about it). But let’s cut the F3 guys some slack as this was one of the first real-life races in the country so most of us were just happy to run and get a pretty medal.

So how is it to race in a Covid-compliant setting? Let me sum it up for you:

  • No spectators

That’s right. It is a race, not a family day out. No supporters allowed. No crowds. No loud music. No terrible commentators. No ice cream vans and coffee stalls. If you need the above elements to get pumped and run fast, you are not in luck. If, on the other hand, you just want to be left alone to run, this a perfect crowd-free environment.

  • No bag drop

Ok, this might be F3 specific, but before your race, check carefully comms from your organiser. No bag drop essentially means you have to arrive by car and use your vehicle as your belongings’ storage. If you are a public transport kind of person – too bad.

  • Staggered starts

Instead of a set start time, we were given a half-hour window which made the whole experience way more chilled because the usual fear of missing the start was eliminated. F3 warned us that it might feel like being on a conveyor belt. The reality was that it was simply relaxing. A mate of mine rocked up to the start four minutes after the last window and the staff (who were nearly packed up) let him go for it. I doubt this would happen during a traditional race.

On the other hand, starting alone had a bit of time trial feeling about it. And if you need someone to compete against in order to perform, you might find this kind of racing much harder.

  • Medals and rewards

Don’t expect anyone to hang a medal on your sweaty neck. You have to collect it wrapped in a bag from a table. Also, no cups at water stations – all bottles are sealed and unscrewing them costs you precious seconds. And finally – no podium! You don’t even know if you won until the official results get published, so if you really like recognition, you will be disappointed…

  • Portaloos

I saved the best for last. Do you remember the horrendous pre-race loo queues? The terrible dilemma whether to go once or twice? The fear of missing the race start while standing in a mega long queue? The complex calculations to determine when the best time to start queueing is? All of that horror is now gone!! The toilet experience was simply delightful! Zero queue. Toilets dedicated to specific race distances. Cleanliness. Plenty of hand sanitiser. Couldn’t be better!

So my overall verdict is: Yes, I love Covid-compliant racing! I appreciate it is different to what we were used to, and if you need crowds and supporters and direct competition to enjoy/perform, it might not be your cup of tea. The bottom line is – we want to race and if this is the only way to do it, then we shall be there, at a socially distanced start line, ready to kick some bottom!

My dream job!

Day 3 of being unemployed.

Number of jobs applied for: 13. Luck: 0.

While deeply contemplating about what it is that I really want to do in my life, I wrote down a list of my strongest skills and the ideal set of responsibilities I would like to carry out in a potential new role….and realised that my dream job is:

Job title: Running Specialist

Overall purpose of job: To run as much as possible, as far as possible and as fast as possible.

Accountabilities:

  • Map daily runs on Strava, exercise creativity when planning routes
  • Upload daily runs to Garmin
  • Compile running playlists
  • Execute daily runs
  • Document all runs (selfies)
  • Greet all passingby runners
  • Maintain detailed training log in Excel
  • Use dashboards to monitor progress against KPI’s
  • Upon completion share runs on multiple social media platforms
  • Blog about runs
  • Foam roll
  • Carb load
  • Keep up to date with the latest running trends
  • Liaise with stakeholders to plan group runs
  • Motivate others to start running
  • Enter races on a regular basis
  • Explain non-running strangers what running is about

Skills and capabilities:

  • Passion for running (essential)
  • Knowledge of running suppliers
  • PO10 profile
  • Member of a professional body (running club)
  • Capable of delivering against set targets
  • PB focused
  • Excellent route planning skills
  • Willingness to run in all weather conditions
  • Systems knowledge (Strava, Garmin Connect, etc.)
  • Mild to moderate nuttiness
  • Strava segments awareness (desirable)

I’m a BA-leaver

I fell in love with you before we have even met. You swept me off my feet and charmed me with the way you made me feel: Whenever I was with you and whenever I thought of you, I was drowning in excitement equal to hundreds of butterflies fluttering around my stomach. The sense of adventure you gave me kept me awake at night. Your vision made me proud and I stood a little taller each time I realised you and I were together. All I’ve ever wanted was to be part of something big and important and exciting…and you offered me just that. And for that I will love you till my last breath.

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But now, at this time, we have to say goodbye. I never wanted to leave you. I never intended for things to turn out this way. But I have to go. I have to go because I love you. I have to go while I still love you.

We have grown apart you and I. And while it doesn’t change the depth of my feelings for you, it started changing the person I am. With each day by your side I was little more careless and ruthless, and little less kind and patient…and that’s not me. So I have to save myself. Save myself by leaving you.

I have sacrificed everything for you. My home. Relationships. Family time. Sleep. Wellbeing. Sanity. And I would do it all again because it was more than worth it. You took over my life and force-fed me thrill and excitement, and this meant everything to me because routine and peace does not agree with me.

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Whoever will come after you – I will lie to them, pretending they make me satisfied, knowing no one can ever match you. I am truly scared I will never again experience all the adrenaline you’ve let me taste. I am worried my heart will never mend, once I break it by leaving you. I suspect I am addicted to you and might cry myself to sleep every night without your presence. You shaped my life and my world for so long that I genuinely don’t know how will I live without you. But the landing gear is down and a go-around is out of the question.

I just need you to know that I will never stop going through all the wonderful memories of us; that you made me who I am and that I feel incredibly fortunate for all the adventures we have been through. So thank you and so long British Airways. Doors to manual and cross check.

I thought love was only true in fairy tales
Meant for someone else but not for me
Love was out to get me
That’s the way it seemed
Disappointment haunted all of my dreams

Then I saw your jets, now I’m a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind
I’m in love
Yet I’m a BA-leaver, it’s hard to leave you but I try…