Let me entertain you with my mad running challenge

The Runnerd (or simply “me” if you think that referring to myself in third person is a sign of mental disturbance) is thrilled to announce a 13 x 13.1 in 13 days challenge starting on 1st of June!

I will (attempt to) run 13 half marathons (13.1 miles) over 13 consecutive days. All of them with a buggy. Let’s just call it the 13×13 challenge, shall we?

Before you ask, yes, I might be mildly bonkers.

Now, why am I doing it?

Trust me, this is a question I will be asking myself several times per day over the next two weeks. So I better write it down while it still makes sense to me:

Occasionally, people tell me I inspired them to do something cool (usually studying or exercising). We live in crazy times and we all seem to be getting a little bit mad (which is only natural) as if having our freedoms limited brings out (on occasions) the worst in us. I strongly believe that exercise is the answer to that. So I want to kick your bottom and energise you! Get up! Get moving! Go for a jog! You’ll experience endorphins rushing through your body which will make you feel happy; you’ll inhale some fresh air which will make your brain work better, and the sense of achievement you get will make you smile for the rest of the day. And if you lose a few grams of your lockdown weight (not that you need to) – well, that’s just the cherry on the cake. So yes, I am doing this to inspire you.

Secondly, I want to show everyone that excuses are lame and totally unnecessary. I am a single mum and have no childcare which means I cannot run, right? Wrong! I’ll shove the wee monster in a buggy and off we go. Whatever excuse you throw at me, chances are that there is always a workaround. Unless you are in a wheelchair and if you are, well, then I will run for you, friend.

If you have never jogged and/or are feeling self-conscious, then join me! If you are close enough to meet me in person, we are “open” between 07:30 and 10:30 7 days a week. I am happy to jog even the shortest distance in your company, no matter how slow, or just go for the (stop/start) first run attempt with you. Get in touch! And if you are not from the Windsor area then join me virtually and share your experience on Insta @the_runnerd or Twitter @JetJenny747. You don’t need these flipping £200 Nike shoes and crappy electrolytes drink to run your first mile. Just get out and do it!

Finally, if you are an experienced/regular runner and don’t need my silly attempts to motivate you, then I am here to entertain you! It’s going to be a laugh. 🙂

Look out for daily updates on this blog and @the_runnerd Instagram, or alternatively my Facebook. And if you don’t know what to do with your cash, feel free to buy me a gel or Lucozade here. Now get off your bum and put your trainers on! Chop chop!

The (small) two rivers loop

I do most of my buggy half marathons in Windsor Great Park, mainly because there are plenty of almost-traffic-free tarmac roads that make buggy running considerably easier. Today, I fancied something more challenging and therapeutic (I love water!) so I embarked on a lovely “two rivers” half. Starting from Slough and running by Jubilee River all the way to Taplow, then crossing over to Thames, following it to Dorney Lake and finally crossing back to Jubilee River. See below ⤵️

Jubilee River path itself is an excellent buggy running grounds as it’s wide and moderately easy to run on. But if you are an experienced(ish) buggy runner and fancy something a bit more challenging why not try the 6 mile loop from Dorney Lake up to Taplow Bath Road and back (see below⤵️).

The small “two rivers” loop

  • Why small? Because there is a much longer one that I shall map for you in the near future.
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Difficulty: 7/10 (with 1 being a stroll on a perfectly flat concrete with a topless waiter serving you chilled coke every other mile, and 10 being a requirement to lift your buggy over a fence while escaping from angry cows)
  • Key points: single buggy only, one set of steps.

Obviously, since it’s a loop, you can technically start anywhere and run either clockwise or anticlockwise. On the map ⬆️ I marked a paid-for carpark at Dorney Lake, but you can park for free at a carpark by Marsh Lane/Jubilee River or Lake End Road (B3026)/Jubilee River. Please note that due to lockdown the two latter carparks are currently shut.

Whether you run clockwise or anticlockwise probably depends on whether you prefer to go up or down a set of steps with your buggy. I went up (anticlockwise) and it was manageable. A great way to get some muscle training into your cardio 😉

Either way, you can split the run into two different sections:

Jubilee River – As I mentioned this is the easier bit. The path is wide, fairly flat, with a decent surface (little bumpy at places but your buggy occupant is probably used to it already).

Jubilee River path

Thames path – This section is a bit more challenging. The north part is fairly wide and easy, with a great view of some ultra-posh houses. Going south it gets gradually narrow and traily – tree roots and uneven surface. Don’t expect to move fast. But it is stunning so it’s worth the effort. You can’t pass someone without one of you getting out of the way, so I would recommend less busy time than a Sunday afternoon. I ran there around 9 am on a Friday morning and bumped into a handful people only.

Lock at Thames path

So when you are fed up with running in a “civilisation”, crossing the road for a hundredth time on a 5 miler and constantly apologising everyone for blocking the pavement, ditch the town jog and come to run by my rivers ❤

Sod the pace!

I am traditionally fairly sensible / strict when it comes to my everyday life. Even on furlough, I get up at 05:30, aim to learn something new every day, watch what I eat, exercise…

Speaking of exercise, apparently about 80% of our training runs should be at an easy pace. I suspect I am not the only “criminal” out there who does most of their training runs closer to “tempo” rather than “easy” pace. The other day, a hot fast runner was telling me how he should try slow down some of his runs because apparently he does them too fast.

My response was: “Just have fun, sod the pace!”

I mean it sounds crazy trying to consciously slow yourself down when your body is ready to perform (especially since you won’t be racing for another few months). Equally, why would you be killing yourself to achieve the pace you’ve set yourself, when you are just not feeling it? Sometimes you have to let it all go, because those runs when you don’t check your watch tend to be the most enjoyable ones.

Today I set off into chilly but sunny morning. I did 6.81 miles because I felt rebellious enough not to take it to 7. My splits were all over the place. Some areas I felt like putting effort in and was flying, while some places I just jogged casually. I stopped numerous time to take about 57 selfies. I discovered a new path by the river. It was a great fun!

So I’m telling you – sod the pace! (At least once in a while.) Don’t look at your watch. Run because it feels good. Run because you can. Run because you are grateful you can. Run because one day perhaps you won’t be able to. Run for all the people who cannot. Run and smile at strangers. Run and admire the world around. Run and feel the joy!!

How to show the world you’re a proper runner

During our delightful lockdown, large numbers of joggers-newbies appeared practically out of nowhere. Because, who would want to miss out on their entitlement of one form of exercise a day, right?

First of all, let us be clear that we (we = the true running legends *cough*) support them and encourage them to run because we love running. We want them to keep it up and do well.

At the same time, we sometimes can’t help it and tend to judge them with the same scepticism that we have for all the newbies who join the gym on January 1st every year. We know that soon their numbers will be depleted and most of them will end up back on their sofa. Sad reality.

As much as you want everyone in the world to take on running, you were doing it since before you were even born and don’t want to be mistaken for a newbie (not that there is anything wrong about being one). So how do you make sure that the world (the passing-by drivers, doggers, cyclists and most importantly other runners) realise that you are the real deal?

Here are the key points, some of which you are already following (that is if you really are the hardcore gel-eater that you claim to be):

  • Wear a race top, ideally an older one, with a year clearly visible to show everyone you’ve been doing this for a long time.
  • Lycra. Be dressed in lycra head to toe. Loose sweatpants advertise that you are a newbie.
  • Wear as little clothes as possible. Is it windy and rainy? So? Running vest and shorty shorts are still all you need. Put away that bloody winter jacket you rookie!!
  • Wear only real running brands, especially when it comes to shoes. Lonsdale sneakers are NOT running shoes. It’s gonna get expensive so whoever told you that running is a cheap sport was not a true runner.
  • Do not jog holding a bottle of water. Especially not if it’s just an old coke bottle refilled with water and you are doing two laps around the block. No! You don’t need that stuff. If you are going for a long run (long run is not 3 miles!!!) and need some hydration, use a proper fancy running belt or camelbak.
  • Do not stop and walk! It’s a no no. Just keep running. No stopping. NO!
  • Go running no matter the weather. Pissing down? Only the hardcore runners will be out – so you can show the world you are one of them!
  • Enthusiastically greet all passing runners. An acknowledgement nod is not good enough. Wave as if you’ve just spotted your best mate.
  • Join Strava. Share all your runs on other social media for those who are not Strava athletes. Running without a fitness watch is not allowed!
  • When talking to friends, refer to your cousin’s husband’s uncle as your “coach” just because he once gave you a running related tip.
  • If you really want to take it to the next level, get a foam roller. And then never use it.
  • Finally, please don’t do stupid stretches using a bench in the park. No real runner has ever been spotted doing that kind of stuff.

I hope these tips are helpful and will consolidate your status of a running legend. Also note, that it is much easier to impress non-runners who have not got a clue whether you have just completed a 10 miler or jogged up and down the street. Chances are they will tell everyone you run marathons just because they regularly see you sweaty and dressed in lycra. Take advantage of that!

Now, if you are a newbie who is trying to fit in the running community and disguise yourself as one of us, follow the tips above religiously (you are welcome). We sincerely hope that what started as a disguise will become your nature. I am already looking forward to spotting you sucking on a warm piss-flavoured gel at mile 15 of your Sunday run.

How to get away with your second run

Imagine living in a world where going for a second run is not allowed. Great idea for a sci-fi movie plot. Except it’s our reality.

If you’re one of those nutters who always used to run twice a day, or need a second jog in order not to murder a family member, here are some tips on how to make it happen:

  1. Run at night. Wear black clothes and cover your face in black paint. Tell no one. If your spouse becomes suspicious, admit a fictitious affair.
  2. Do your second run wearing your household member’s fitness watch. Ideally without them knowing so it will be them who gets Strava bollocking.
  3. Run in disguise. A wig won’t do. Be thorough. Invent an “undercover runner” persona. Think it through. What is their name? What is their comfortable pace? Do they push themselves or just jog casually? Music or no music? How do they greet other runners? Do they hate dog walkers? What is their running style?
  4. Buy a new fitness watch and create second Strava account. Under a fake name obviously. Follow your fake Strava account and comment on their runs.
  5. Ask a lazy-bum non-active neighbour if you can have their daily exercise allowance. Exchange for toilet roll if necessary. Make them sign a legal contract. Hire a lawyer not to get screwed over. Carry the contract with you on all your second runs.
  6. Run on your way to do your essentials shop. That surely does not count as exercise. Upload a picture of you with a shopping basket to Strava in case anyone complains.
  7. Pretend you are insane and do your second run with a fully equipped military bag. If someone asks, say you were told to get to the extraction point as soon as possible.
  8. Do a morning run. Pause your fitness watch. Un-pause to do your evening run. Don’t shower between the two runs – that would be cheating.
  9. Wear a nurse uniform and pretend you are run-commuting. To be prepared, watch some YouTube videos on how to give CPR – if worse comes to worst.
  10. Don’t use your home rubbish bin. Instead, run outside to the bin every time you have a piece of rubbish to throw out. Encourage family members to munch on Celebrations and offer to dispose of each wrapper individually.

Please do delight me with your ideas – I am sure you have plenty 🙂

And most importantly, do not let me tempt you – always stick to government guidelines and social distancing rules 😉

Me + run-commute = love at first stride

I’ve gone mad (ok, I might have been mad to start with) and just completed my first run-commute today!

You, slaves of the office and 9 to 5 victims, you who struggle squeezing a run in because in the morning it’s too early and in the evening it’s too late. You totally should try to run-commute. Why? If nothing else, because it’s often faster than driving or taking public transport! Especially during a rush hour…

On Monday, the idea of run-commuting flew into my funnel (if you don’t watch Thomas the tank engine, please ignore my choice of words). On Tuesday I bought the first running backpack I saw. On Wednesday, I was looking for reasons not to do this and since I haven’t found any valid ones, today – on Thursday I have done it.

First impressions: It’s hard work. It feels odd running with a bag because it changes your posture and the way you move your arms. You feel like a teenage mutant ninja turtle. A well-secured bag is definitely essential. Also, be careful what you pack in it because every pound makes it a little harder.

On top of that, people think you are bonkers. Changing into lycra in our HQ toilets and then trying to sneak out while everyone stares at me like “What’s this clown doing here?” is mildly intimidating. Also, when you are running with a backpack people outside stare at you too. Passing cars beep (if you are a female). But sod them all! Sod them because this not-so-teenage ninja turtle is on fire and will keep run-commuting whenever she can.

I cannot recommend this enough. Join the club!