The National Running Show 2019

Before you start this one, grab yourself a cuppa and get comfy, it’s a long one! 

On 18th January my husband and I headed to Birmingham for The National Running Show 2019. We’d booked in to the Hilton Hotel on the grounds of the Birmingham NEC. We were ideally placed as it was only a 15 minute walk to the show from there.

On the Saturday morning we got there early. Not anywhere near early enough though as there was already a huge queue of people waiting to get in. There was a jam packed schedule for the duration of the show. There were guest speakers on two stages throughout the day, workshops as well as all the vendors there ready to sell you the latest offerings.

When we got inside we headed straight to the main stage. As soon as I realised how busy it was I knew I needed to stay where I was to keep a seat as once I stood up there was no way I’d be sitting back down!

Susie Chan and Ben Smith

Susie Chan and Ben Smith

The show was opened by Susie Chan and Ben Smith (of the 401 challenge) they both gave a brief description of who they are and what we could expect at the show. Then the guest speakers started. The first speech we watched was by Jordan Wylie. I’d never heard of him if I’m honest but ended up being amazed by the work he has done. He runs in war-torn countries and helps buy them educational aids. He’s also one of the hunters on Hunted!

Jordan Wylie

Jordan Wylie

We then watched Jo Pavey. Now, I’m a huge fan of Jo Pavey and have been for quite some time so I was keen to hear her speech. She spoke about how her career has progressed and how she manages to run as well as being a Mum. She showed footage of her getting her gold medal at the 2014 European Championships. It gave me goosebumps seeing it again, just like it did in 2014.

Jo Pavey

Jo Pavey

Next up was Roger Black who actually hails from Gosport! He spoke of his running career and how he was part of the gold medal 4x400m at the 1991 Tokyo World Championships. His speech was quite funny. He’s a natural in front of an audience.

Roger Black

Roger Black

Next was a lady called Alex Cook. To be honest, I was only there to watch Iwan Thomas who was on after her but her speech was actually quite interesting. It was about how to fuel for a marathon and how to plan for this. If I ever run a marathon (probably won’t) then I feel like I now have some knowledge on how to equip myself with fuel for this.

The last speech of the day that we listened to was Iwan Thomas. Iwan lives semi-locally to me. He runs at one of the local parkruns and when I see him on Instastories I often know where he is. It’s a bit surreal. He spoke about his athletic career. He was naturally gifted as a sportsman and did lots of different sports at school to a good level. It was nice to learn a bit more about him.

Iwan Thomas

Iwan Thomas

After this we went and got lunch and then headed back in to look around the different stalls. I managed to find the guys from runr and bought a hat and a hoodie. It was almost impossible to look at many more stalls though. It was so overcrowded we were trying to look at stalls but just couldn’t get near them, sometimes it was just people trying to get past themselves and sometimes it was people all trying to look at the stall too.

Day 1 Purchases

Day 1 Purchases

There was another talk I wanted to go to but you couldn’t get anywhere near the main stage so we ended up leaving a little earlier than I’d thought we would. We went back to the hotel and then went and had a look around a small shopping centre that was on the grounds of the NEC too. We then went to the cinema to see Mary Poppins Returns which was a very cute movie.

On Sunday we went back for day two. We got there a little earlier than the day before but we were even further back in the queue. When we got in we ran to get a seat at the main stage, along with lots of others. It was madness. Susie and Ben opened the show again and then the mighty Paula Radcliffe did her speech. I actually can’t remember much of what she spoke about but I remember she spoke about her foot injury, running the London Marathon with the masses and her asthma.

Paula Radcliffe

Paula Radcliffe

During Paula’s speech Ben Smith came and sat right beside us so I snapped this picture and obviously he caught me!

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

After Paula’s speech I jumped up so I could go and speak to Mary from A Healthier Moo. It was so nice to finally meet her as I’ve followed her blog for quite a while and we chat on various social media. I wish we’d had longer to chat though, or an easier place to chat! I did snap a quick selfie though. The woman in the background of the picture I ended up speaking to about 4 different times through the day. She was so lovely and I never even asked her name.

Mary and I

We then headed over to the other stage and listened to two men from Fitness First talk about strength and conditioning exercises. This would have been aided by demonstrations of some exercises for each area they spoke about. Then we listened to Paul Addicott talk about pacing. I’ve seen Paul around on Twitter many times and I knew he did a lot of pacing for some of the popular British marathons. His speech was really interesting and when he opened it up to the audience to ask questions I went ahead and asked one. I asked how he handles pacing when the weather doesn’t play ball. We get really bad winds down on the South Coast and I wondered how he’d handle that. He said people still rely on you regardless of the weather so you really just have to try and keep at it. Harsh!

Paul Addicott

Paul Addicott

I then listened to the next speech which was billed as “A Runner’s journey from inactive to Run Leader Mentor”. I’d never heard of Sam Mollaghan before but as soon as she told us who she was I knew her. She’s the first poster girl of the This Girl Can campaign. The lady running with the slogan “I jiggle, therefore I am” Her story was probably the most inspirational speech I heard all weekend. Her story really resonated with me and I could see myself in a lot of what she was saying about how she built up her running, how she overcame injuries etc. She even has her own running group now. Absolutely amazing!

Sam Mollaghan

Sam Mollaghan

After Sam, we then listened to a question and answer session with Jo Pavey. Her name wasn’t in the itinerary for this one. I only found out she was there because the lady I kept bumping in to told me.

Jo Pavey Q&A

Anyway this was my chance to grab a selfie with her and then, I couldn’t believe it, she wanted to chat to me! She asked me about my running and what my next race is. Gobsmacked!

Selfie with Jo Pavey

Afterwards we went for lunch and then went round the stalls again. It was much quieter on the Sunday so I managed to have a good look at some of the stalls I wanted to. I went and bought a flipbelt. I’ve seen so many good reviews about them but have always worried I wouldn’t fit in to one. Well I did so chose a reflective one since it’s winter and dark night runs are a thing. I also got a bottle that fits in to it. Then we also bought a box of flapjacks from Flapjackery. They were really good.

Day 2 Purchases

We headed off after I’d made my last purchases. I wanted to hear Nell McAndrew’s speech but it was 4 hours and I’d pretty much done everything I wanted to already so decided to head back to the South Coast early to get ready for being back at  work on Monday.

Overall it was a brilliant weekend. I heard so many people speak who I admire, I guess the only downside was the crowds on the Saturday. It didn’t put me off that much though as I’ve already got tickets for next year.

Have you ever been to The National Running Show?

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Barry Island parkrun

A kind of unofficially have set myself the goal of trying to do one tourism parkrun a month. I’ve set it unofficially because you never know what’s going to crop up so I might not always succeed with this goal. However, in January, I nailed it.

I’ve been wanting to do the unofficial Gavin & Stacey parkrun challenge by doing Barry Island parkrun and Billericay parkrun since I read the story about the people of Billericay parkrun travelling to Barry Island when their parkrun was cancelled for Bonfire Night. The news article is HERE if you want to read it.

So on Friday 11th January we drove up to South Wales. I was apprehensive about it all week as I’d been full of cold, luckily it seemed to be subsiding by the Friday so I was pretty confident I could still run it. When we arrived at our hotel we got the friendliest welcome from the two ladies on reception who asked us what had brought us to Wales. When we told them they told us about them filming near one of their houses and how she could never get home as everyone had to wait whilst they finished filming in the street.

After dropping off our bags in the room we walked to Barry Island promenade. Our hotel was ideally placed at only a 10 minute walk away. When we got there I started thinking about where the parkrun course might be. I’d looked at their course page so I knew where it started but that was it. I presumed it was simply along the prom like my local parkrun is but looking from one end to the other I realised it probably wasn’t as it was such a short distance. After having a look around we went back to the hotel and I looked at the course and soon realised it was going to be a hilly run as you go up on to the cliff tops! Oops! I was not expecting hills.

The next morning we got up and headed out to the parkrun. I’d dropped the team an email to ask if there was somewhere I could leave a jacket and they gave us a shoutout in the runners brief which was nice. The run starts under a covered area of prom, however with 208 runners we did spill out of the uncovered area, thankfully it was only raining lightly.

We were soon underway and as I was running on my own (my husband was running his own parkrun) I hoped there would be people around me so I could just follow the person in front! We ran from the covered area of the prom towards Marco’s Café and the square where Gavin meets up with Stacey when she comes back from London. We then turned right and began to climb, we followed a path that takes you up on to a bridge over the prom and then carried on climbing before heading down again, you then ran quite close to the edge of the cliff tops along a flat section before turning and heading up a very steep but short stretch. There was a marshal at the top of there giving out so much encouragement, I’m sure I’d have walked the second time if he’d not have been there. You then ran back along the path before heading back down along the prom to the covered section where you did a U-turn and did the whole thing again. I managed to run the whole thing which I really wasn’t expecting. I was very pleased though!


I finished with a time of 38:38, which is only a minute and a half outside of my PB at my local pancake flat course! This actually gave me hope for the hilly Romsey 5 mile race I have coming up in June.

Unfortunately as check out was 12, we didn’t get chance to go to Marco’s Café for a post parkrun breakfast as we still had to get back, showered and packed up.

I added this photo of me to my social media and tagged parkrun. Much to my surprise they used it on all their social media and in the newsletter for the following week! parkrun fame!

Barry Island parkrun

Did you watch Gavin & Stacey?

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First parkrun of 2019

There was a bit of chatter before this parkrun on the old Facebook. People were moaning about how cold it was meant to be (2c) however this was getting towards my preferred running temperature. I like it when it’s freezing to -2. I actually got tagged online a couple of times with people saying “Your weather is finally here”

Anyway I was finally feeling better after being ill over New Year so it was time to resume exercise and run a parkrun. I ran this parkrun alone. I’m sure I’ve said this before but when I run alone it means I can concentrate on my breathing a bit better. I tend to struggle getting my breathing right more than anything else.

The start of my local parkrun is almost always congested. Even more so with it being the New Year. It takes a good 20 seconds or so before I’m even moving let alone running. As I ran towards the first turn around point I didn’t really focus on much other than dodging benches and people! Sometimes people dash off and then you’re stuck behind them as they start to walk but you can’t get round as the faster runners have started to come the other way. It’s a bit frustrating but sometimes helps me reign it in a bit.

As we turned around at the turn around point the field really starts to stretch out and you have that little bit more space. I looked over the Solent towards the Isle of Wight and thought how lucky we are to have that view to distract us and appreciate. I also thought, somewhere on that island they’re doing parkrun too! I definitely need to get myself over there to run the parkrun there.

Running parkrun

I was soon too hot in my long sleeved running top and regretted wearing it. I rolled up my sleeves to try and cool down a bit but it didn’t really help! As the run progressed I slowly started picking off a few people. There were two women just ahead of me, who every time I approached them, would speed off before resorting to walking again until I caught them up again. At one point they hadn’t noticed me and when I overtook them they both instantly sprinted in to action haha. I hope I helped them achieve a good time!

As I was coming in to finish I had a sneaky look at my watch and thought I might just be able to beat my PB time. I finished in 37:51! I knocked 8 seconds off my Christmas Day PB which I was pleased about, especially after being ill.

post parkrun selfie

I thought I’d compare my times again from the same week in 2018 vs 2019, just to show myself how much I’ve progressed really.

2018 – 45:20

2019 – 37:51

Does your local parkrun have something unique to offer?


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Last Breakfast Club of 2018

On 30th January 2018 I went to the last Breakfast Club of 2018 with Honor. If you’ve not read a post of mine about the Breakfast Club before it’s basically a group of runners who run 30 minutes out and 30 minutes back at their own pace. Then you eat breakfast afterwards.

I’m not very good with the roads of Gosport, luckily Honor is! We took a meandering route that started along the prom, through the golf course and then off through the streets of Gosport to loop us back to the café where we start. When you look at the map it actually doesn’t look that meandering but half the time I had no clue where we were!


We chatted about our Christmases, parkrun and plans for the New Year double. The run started off really well and I was keeping up a good pace. It never feels like an hour of running at Breakfast Club as I’m so busy chatting. As we were on the return leg of the run I was telling Honor about the Davina DVD and not being able to lift my arms above my head. I then started feeling a bit odd. As we finished though I just put it down to running 4.8 miles, my longest run in a long time, and just needing breakfast and coffee. Had I have been feeling ok I’d have been tempted to round that 4.8 miles up to 5!

Breakfast Club

After I got home I still didn’t feel right so went for a hot bath to try and warm up and see if that’s what the problem was, but after not very long I had to get out as despite being in a red hot bath I was so uncomfortably cold and the water felt like it was making it worse!

Remember last year when I wrote my post: How Not To Start 2018 well the next few days panned out in exactly the same way. I don’t know what it was but I seemed to have some sort of virus that made me horribly ill, meaning once again, I missed the parkrun New Years Day double. I was absolutely gutted. I didn’t feel human again until 2nd January, just in time to go back to work on the 3rd! I have no idea what’s going wrong for me over Christmas that makes me ill for New Year! So strange! I’m determined not to get ill next year though. Two New Years ruined by illness is enough for me!

Have you had a special occasion ruined by illness?

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Last parkrun of 2018

On 29th December I ran the last parkrun of 2019. It was the first parkrun since Christmas and so I was going in to it filled with rubbish rather than filled with something that is going to fuel the run.

I ran on my own for this parkrun. As much as I enjoy a chatty run, I actually enjoyed running on my own for this one. It allows me to concentrate on my breathing. I find when I’m not concentrating my breathing is the first thing to go!

There’s not much of significance to note about this run. I plodded round. It was hard because of the Christmas food I’d consumed but when I finished I felt great and pleased I had managed to still get round in under 40 minutes and I’d managed to run all of it and not had to stop to walk.

We were nearly back at the café before I remembered to take my post parkrun selfie! Lucky I remembered haha

Last parkrun

My finish time was 39:27 so I’m ending 2018 firmly in the 30’s now. Happy Days


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Davina: Power Box & Tone

Firstly I’ll start this post by saying I bought the Davina DVD with my own money. I am certainly not one of these bloggers lucky enough to be sent stuff for free.

Davina DVD

You know what I love about Christmas, knowing the new Davina DVD will shortly follow. I like Davina workout DVDs. I own most of them, so obviously had to buy her new one.

The DVD, like many of Davina’s, is broken down in to sections so you can decide to do one, a few or them all. As I had time I decided to do them all. At the start is a little talk by Davina about how to punch properly when doing the DVD. At first I was a bit like “Pffft whatever” but actually, following her instructions actually felt like I was exercising more.

There’s lots of punching, upper cuts, jabs etc which is to be expected given the name of the DVD. Because I did all of the DVD I did feel like I repeated a lot of the same moves over and over. With this is mind, perhaps just doing a few of the sections is better but if you have more time do all of it? In between the punches there are quick blasts of cardio to keep your heart rate up too which is good and, much to my surprise, I was able to complete these for the allotted time!

The DVD has an ab section which I was apprehensive about. My core is so weak and I know it’s something I should work on but never seem to get round to it. What I liked about Davina’s old DVDs with Jackie and Mark is that Jackie would always show you a modification for those new to exercising. I usually need these on a core section but I managed to get through all of this one so that was a pleasant surprise.

I finished the DVD feeling pretty good. I didn’t feel fatigued by it, instead I felt energized but like I’d done a good workout. My Apple Watch told me I’d burnt 451 active calories and 591 in total. However, how I felt the next day is a whole other story. My abs ached, you know when you can’t laugh without being in pain? That was me. And my arms! I couldn’t lift my arms above my head the next day. It was killer. I attributed this to the little speech about how to punch properly at the beginning of the workout.

All in all this is an excellent DVD, I’ve yet to pluck up the courage to do it again though haha

Apple Health Screenshot

Have you ever done a Davina workout?

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Sunrise Run

I feel like I start every blog with this: I’m so behind on blogging, but it’s true. I am behind. So, this is going back to a run on 27th December.

I headed out for an early morning run as I wanted to do a Christmas Light/Sunrise Run. I quite like running on my own in a morning. I prefer it to running on my own in an evening. My plan was to head out do a 30 minute run. I don’t know why but if I’m just going out for a run I always choose 30 minutes rather than a distance. Perhaps because 30 minutes closes the exercise ring on my Apple watch?

I soon realised when I set off no one seemed to have their Christmas lights on! A bit annoying but I did see a huge inflatable snowman on someone’s shed roof that looked like he was waving in the wind. That kept me amused for a short while.

I weaved through the residential streets near where I live before dropping down on to the promenade. I made sure I ran facing East which was also my way back home so that worked out well. The thing with running on your own is, you can stop to take photographs without annoying anyone. I snapped a couple of shots and carried on towards home. I was on 2.4X by the time I got home so I ran past home to make it up to 2.5 miles. I do this a lot!


When do you prefer to run?

Do you end up running past your house to end on a particular distance?

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Christmas Day parkrun

This Christmas, much like last Christmas Day, started with a festive parkrun. It’s so nice to see everyone on Christmas Day. Everyone is always in such good spirits. It’s also an opportunity, I find, to meet family of my friends as they’re persuaded to come along too.

I decided against fancy dress for Christmas Day as it was a rather balmy 12c! After seeing friends and wishing them a Merry Christmas I went and joined the starting pen. I soon found Rachel, who hasn’t run parkrun for a while and my friend Claire who I run regularly with. They both kindly offered to run with me. Whilst giving the run briefing, the RD made me laugh by saying “I’ll try and get the results out before I get the gin out” The results didn’t come out until 4pm so I’m guessing the gin won!

We were soon on our way. I’m often asked by who I’m running with “So what are you aiming for today?” and I always answer “Just to finish” I set no expectations on myself now. As we were running we chatted about how busy it was. At one point I actually felt like I was being held back a little, this was probably good though, as I always start too fast. We even ended up walking around the turn around cone due to the congestion. It was frustrating a little but also nice. As I’m a “back of the pack” runner it’s rare I have that much company around me!

I managed to run the whole course with no walk breaks. This is happening much more frequently now which pleases me. I did struggle a bit, partly because of the warm weather, and partly because on Christmas Eve we’d been out for a curry at a local restaurant. Curry, whiskey and Baileys do not make good fuel for a parkrun!

As we ran in to the finish funnel I was pretty blown away to see my time was in the 37’s!! Only just though, when my official time came through it was yet another PB of 37:59! That was the best Christmas present I could have given myself!

Just like in my last post I thought I’d compare my Christmas Day parkrun results.

Christmas Day 2017 – 46:00

Christmas Day 2018 – 37:59

That’s a whopping 8 minute difference! Progress has definitely been made!

Christmas Day parkrun

Did you take part in a Christmas Day parkrun?

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A Christmas Pudding parkrun

On 22nd December (I’m slowly catching up now) it was the official Christmas fancy dress parkrun at my local parkrun. I brought back my Christmas Pudding outfit from last year. I think my husband was pretty embarrassed to walk down the street with me dressed as a Christmas Pudding but I didn’t care one little bit haha.

When we got there I met up with my friend and work colleague Maria. She introduced me to her new boyfriend who is also a parkrunner. Bit of a shame I had to meet him dressed as a Christmas Pudding but there you go! Maria was wearing a Brussel Sprout hat which was hilarious. Maria had decided to run with me and soon Penny came to join us too. Penny was wearing one of those inflatable outfits which was Santa riding Rudolph! She looked absolutely brilliant but unfortunately Rudolph deflated half way round!

We had a quick chat and were soon on our way. As we all work in similar environments we had plenty to natter about along the way. Lots of children were keen to high five Penny as we ran by as she was dressed as Santa which was really cute. I think we all struggled a bit though in our fancy dress outfits. December was unseasonably warm and I, for one, was sweltering in my Christmas Pudding outfit! I did have a bit of a moan but Penny told me to shut up and keep running so I did.

Somehow, despite sweltering, I got a new PB. These are coming thick and fast at the minute to forgive me for appreciating every single one. I know they won’t last forever, so I like to celebrate them whilst they’re here. We finished in 39:04!!! So close to sub 39! I ran the same week in December 2017 dressed as a Christmas Pudding so I thought it would be interesting to compare the times.

December 2017 – 45:47

December 2018 – 39:04

I’m pretty pleased with a 6 minute difference to say I had 5 months out with injury!

And now, the obligatory post parkrun picture:

Christmas fancy dress parkrun

Do you compare your times?

Do you like to run in fancy dress?

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6am Run Club

Back to catching up with my posts! On 14th December I was going out with friends for breakfast at 8am. I knew that if I didn’t run before I went out then I’d probably not run at all that day. So I joined the 6am Run Club!

I only wanted to do half an hour which usually equates to about 2 miles. I’ve only run that early once before. I made sure I wore my Hi-Viz and off I went. I ran down the High Street. For some reason I like running down there when all the shops are closed and it’s just me plodding along. Strangely though I saw two people that morning. One was washing the windows of one of the restaurants. I presume he works there. He gave me a friendly “Morning!” and nod. The next person I saw was fiddling with a letter box to one of the flats above the shops. I made them jump as I passed them then they walked away. Odd!

I continued down the High Street and then weaved around a couple of streets before starting to head back home. Quite a few people had their Christmas lights up outside as it was halfway through December so it was nice to look at those as I ran. I keep forgetting I’m a bit quicker now as my 2 miles actually only took me 24 minutes! Mile 1 was an 11:45min/mile! I don’t pull those out of the bag too often but it seems I do at 6am! Anyway I got back home, jumped in the shower and just had time for a cuppa before my friend picked me up at 8am.

Post Run Selfie

The plan was to go to our friend’s house. She’s currently off work on maternity leave so we went and met her beautiful baby, her very excitable dog and had a cuppa before heading to The Tenth Hole for breakfast. On the way there we decided to go and do some Christmas shopping afterwards in Portsmouth. As I’d planned to have an intentional day off WW, for breakfast I had Eggy Bread. On the menu it says it comes with a choice of bacon or banana but I chanced it and asked if I could have both and they said yes! I then had a piece of their banoffee pie which is my favourite from there.

Molly the Dog

Banoffee Pie

Afterwards we headed in to Portsmouth and had a wander round the shops. I bought some Reindeer Christmas bedding and a couple of presents for people. I also treated myself to some new goodies from The Body Shop. I got the Peppermint Candy Cane Body Butter and Hand Cream. Both of which smell absolutely unreal! When we finished we headed back home and I had to rush to the local little Boots store to pick up a click and collect parcel I’d had sent there. I thought they closed at 5pm but actually I needn’t have rushed, they actually closed at 5.30pm! It was a lovely day with friends. I thought I’d only be out an hour or two but actually we were out  all day!

Christmas Tree

Do you ever run super early?