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