fairweatherrunner

running blog


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Salomon Sense Mantra

After a bit of a disappointing first impression, these running shoes get better and better.

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When Fitness Footwear offered me a pair of Salomon running shoes to try I thought twice as I’d not found other Salomon models right for me in the past but a read of the Fitness Footwear and Salomon web sites I found that one of their newer shoes, the Sense Mantra might be right up my street and address some of the reasons why their other models weren’t for me in the past.

So I was excited and couldn’t wait to try them out as Salomon have a great reputation and many people swear by them for BMF classes. The Salomon Sense Mantra is part of their door to trail range, has a reduced heel toe drop and is described as a ‘Light weight training shoe for midfoot strikers who want natural motion, protection and neutral cushioning for high mileage training.’

They arrived, I put them straight on to potter about indoors and was a bit deflated. My first impression was that they felt very straight, stiff and inflexible and the quick pull lace system was hard to get a good heel fit so the overall impression was that I was wearing a lot of shoe. I didn’t run in them straight away and put them to one side for another day. Meanwhile my cheeky son borrowed them over the weekend and suggested they were great for him! When I tried them on again after this they felt much more flexible and foot hugging so I lent them to him to wear-in for me before I ran in them.

I found them more and more flexible and comfortable with wear, the 6mm drop is ideal for me and felt natural. Once worn in I also found I could get a better fit with the lacing. They are lightweight with a roomy toe box and very stable, I tested them doing single leg squats and had no ankle wobble at all! I ran on road and a bit of ‘trail’ within the park, they felt light and comfortable and had good grip on road, path and grass. I need to take them for a run somewhere a little more off-road than the park, their toe protection and stability would make them a great choice for running more challenging stony conditions.

Some running shoes feel great at the first try-on and later disappoint after weeks of running. The Sense Mantra feels better with each wear. I think by the time my son outgrows these shoes, they will be worn-in and about perfect.

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West Wight 3 Hills

West Wight 3 Hills

The second Easter race from Ryde Harriers on Easter Monday was the West Wight 3 Hills. I expected the race to be the more challenging of the two however because I was mentally prepared for it I actually found it easier in a ‘this is tough but I’m still doing it’ sort of way and was relieved to have hills and not the leg sapping ankle-deep mud.

The first two miles were a small loop up a hill and back into Freshwater, lulling me into a ‘I can do these hills’ state of mind. If only I knew! From there the course began to climb, and climb. At first on small country roads, then out onto footpaths and Headon Warren. We climbed up and up and eventually I walked (I realised I was faster walking than a few runners around me) where I could admire the view back over the Solent to Hurst Castle. Towards the top I tore myself away from the view and got running again on sandy trails through the gorse brining us out right above the Needles park, its cable car and a view of Alumn Bay and the Needles before we dropped down to road level.

I could then see a line of runners up to the downs in the near distance in front of me climbing up a pretty much vertical bank. There were actually footsteps worn into the grass almost like steps up the bank and at the steepest point I resorted to four-wheel drive. Thanks to all those bunny hops, bear crawls and squats recently my legs only felt like jelly by the top rather than being actually turned to jelly.

Once I regained my composure we ran across the downs battered by the cold wind and on to the last climb up Tennyson Down to the Tennyson monument. At this stage all I could see was cloud and grass as we were above everything else and thought that maybe I should recite a bit of Tennyson poetry if I could remember (knew) any.

Then came the best bit with a fast decent from the top of the downs into Freshwater bay before the last mile or so home. It wasn’t too steep and on nice soft grass so I stopped myself from holding back and went for it passing a few people on the way down and seeing my garmin show a decent bit of pace similar to some of my best interval miles.

Another small, well organised friendly race with 110 finishers. Possibly one of the most challenging races I’ve run and certainly the most scenic. I am surprised that more people haven’t found these two great multi terrain Easter races which at 7 and (just under) 8 miles can give you a couple of shiny new PBs and not affect your 10K/10mile/HM stats. They are certainly worth combining with an Easter break on the Island. Ryde Harriers put on a very good race and the Isle of Wight supplies some stunning scenery.

7.82 miles in 1.16.01. Elevation 820ft gain… 784ft loss. (garmin stats here)


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Newport to Ryde 7

Was it anything like I expected? No. Was it fun? Yes, once I got really stuck into the lovely mud in the woods!

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Yesterday I ran the first of the two Easter races organised by Ryde Harriers here on the Isle of Wight. It’s described as a multi terrain race and I expected that the off-road bits would probably be mainly on cycle paths and hard trails. However we were warned at the start to expect ‘everything and anything’ from marshes to mud plus fallen trees across the path. They were right. At this stage I regretted forgetting to put on my trail shoes and wondered how much grip my adizero adios would have in the mud, although I felt more sorry for the man standing next to me in brand new bright white running shoes.

The race starts from a small huddle in the middle of a road at the edge of Newport then heads out under an underpass into a dull housing estate before cutting through an alley over a stile up into a muddy field. Someone in front of me didn’t take the ‘hope you’ve got your shoe laces done up well’ seriously as he was digging his shoe out of the ankle deep mud by mile 2. From there it was on up through a farm out onto open grassy fields (marsh) with some great views back across the Solent before we climbed a serious of stiles leading us into the woods and muddy tracks where we found the fallen tree we’d been warned about.

My shoes were surprisingly ok in the mud as long as I used the slip sliding as forward movement. At least they were light for tip-toeing across the boggy sections and picking out the dryer patches along the edge of the ruts and puddles. They also didn’t pick up a load of mud on the bottom to weigh me down which my trail shoes often do.

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Then on, the race had a good variety of hard trails, small country roads, footpaths and pavement, undulating with some sharp ups and one nice long downhill. A cut right through the woods at Firestone Copse reminded me of Thunder Run and just when my feet were drying out we were treated to more churned up mud on a grassy downhill before a short killer climb to the last few hundred metres towards the finish.

A small friendly race, with 87 finishers. I was 12th out of 23 women and 5th in my age category! (ok so there were only 6 of us). Well organised with chip timing on race numbers (which to keep down costs are given back and re-used). It was very well marshalled with encouragement and directions at all the important junctions and stopping the traffic at road crossings plus a half way water station and a jelly baby from the marshal who sent us up a bank into the woods. No medal but we did get the useful yellow kit bag as a memento.

All in all a challenging (made more so because of wet conditions in the past few months), varied, fun (if you like running around the woods in the mud) small and friendly multi terrain race with some good scenery. Definitely worth a go if you are visiting IOW for Easter and at 7 miles it can give you a shiny new pb

7.09 miles in 67.21. Elevation, 516ft gain… 363ft loss

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TevaSphere shoe review

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A couple of weeks ago I went to Hampstead Heath for the launch of a new running shoe from Teva, the TevaSphere.

An outdoor cross trainer/running shoe which has been ‘designed to meet the performance needs of the outdoor athlete. With a first-of-its-kind spherical heel and pod-arch system, the TevaSphere technology delivers a more natural point of impact, efficient transition and superior stability on varied terrain‘.

Teva want to offer a minimalist style shoe for runners which will not require them to change their stride and adopt a forefoot strike.

with TevaSphere we are delivering a technology-based solution that addresses the shortcomings of both minimalist and over-supportive athletic shoes.” Participation in non-traditional outdoor sports such as adventure racing, obstacle courses and mud runs is steadily on the rise. In an effort to meet the demands of this growing group of consumers’,

001I like that they aim to give a minimalist style shoe but with protection and support for both heel strikers and mid foot strikers. As a mid foot striker who heel strikes when tired, I have picked up a few injuries running long distances in minimalist shoes. The shoes’ distinctive ‘pods’ at the mid foot act as guard rails giving support where needed making the shoe suitable for all types of runner guiding the foot into the neutral position.

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Over the past few weeks I’ve run in them many times, on pavement and road, hard paths, grass, mud and snow during easy everyday runs, British Military Fitness classes and even a speed session. They fit well and are comfortable both with my orthotics and without. The women’s model has a narrow heel and a wide roomy toe box (I have wide feet) although maybe not as wide as some barefoot shoes which let your toes completely splay out.

They have a minimalist feel with a fairly low heel toe drop so felt natural running on the forefoot and quite fast. I’ve enjoyed a few sprints at BMF in them and a reasonably fast mile during speed work. I don’t like over squishy cushioned shoes and like that these are quite firm. They are maybe even a little too firm for my taste on tarmac and wouldn’t be my first choice of shoe for many miles of pavement pounding. I did however find them really good shoes for running in mud and great in the snow.

A lightweight, low profile, stable shoe for off-road which feels secure on uneven ground and gives reasonably good grip. Great for BMF classes with lots of stopping and starting, backwards and forwards and sideways moving on grass.

You can find more about Teva’s products here.

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Hampstead Heath

I went on an outing to Hampstead Heath today.

I was very lucky to get an invitation to the launch of a new running shoe. From the press information it sounded like my kind of shoe plus the afternoon was going to include a bit of a trail run on Hampstead Heath. I’m rather partial to a bit of running shoe chat and enjoy trying new innovations and models and have always wanted to run on Hampstead Heath. Win Win!

Teva the outdoor footwear people (best known for their sport sandals and hiking boots) are launching a running shoe ,the Tevasphere, in the UK this March. We had presentations from Teva and from the independent sport science lab that helped develop the shoe. Then we put on a pair and went for a trail run on Hampstead Heath where we got up to our ankles in mud and ran up some hills. (I might be training a bit too much on the flat!)

I will post a full review with photos and all the information very soon when I’ve got the photos, had a couple more runs in them and put them through their paces at a British Military Fitness class. I also need to get them cleaned up for another photo. From first impressions I think I’m going to like them.

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New Shoes

Janathon day 10.

2.79 mile trail run plus an extra 2.2mile dash around the block because I was feeling keen after a very good afternoon.


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Adidas Thunder Run 2012

It was brilliant!

As I am writing my blog a bit later than many who participated in TR24 and having already read many excellent posts, especially those from my wonderful team mates, it is more than tempting just to post links to theirs, which between them give a complete picture of our weekend, and leave it as that!

So here you are…

Alma, Chris, Louise, Carla. If you’ve not read them already.

But.. seeing as it was such a wonderful experience I’d better add my bit…

  • Tent Envy. After slogging up the motorway on Friday afternoon I arrived about 5pm to find Alma and Chris who had bagged us what camp space was left and it became glaringly obvious that our team was seriously lacking in the tent department.

  • Atmosphere. We knew we were in for a great weekend while soaking up the atmosphere while watching the Olympic opening ceremony on the big screen with many other runners and their families.

  • Caravan Club. Thanks guys. ‘I will survive’ on the karaoke at 11.30pm accross the road from loads of runners trying to get some sleep in too small tents is not my first choice of bedtime playlist.
  • Team. What we might have lacked in the tent department we more than made up for as a team. Our line up had changed a lot since we first signed up and in the end, Lorraine, as a friend of a friend and Jon, who mentioned to Chris on twitter that it sounded like a great event and was recruited, really turned up to a field to join a group of strangers and run! But you wouldn’t have known it, sitting round our little camp drinking tea in good company we did wonder why we had to run at all!
  • Parkrun. Louise being a super parkrun tourist can’t possibly ‘sleep’ within 10 miles of an un-run parkrun on a friday night without getting up the next morning and running it! So on Saturday morning Alma and I accompanied her to Conkers parkrun for a 5K warm up. It turned out to be a really nice scenic, friendly parkrun, one of the nicest (in my small experience) that I’ve run.
  • 24 hour relay begins Jon was up first as the relay began at 12 on Saturday and we sent him off into the unknown!

  • Shock. Next up was me. Not the slickest of hand-overs in the busy pen but we learnt for the rest of the runs! The first km was falsely reassuring, I flew along at normal 10K pace downhill on grass thinking all was well. Then the course rapidly double-backed up a vertical bank onto trails in the woods. It was soon very obvious that there is ‘fit’ and ‘fit’ and I am definitely on the soft and squishy side! I was feeling the heat and could really feel the sun beating down on the stretches over open fields. I was annoyed carrying my water bottle but grateful for it all the same. I soon realised I was going to have to walk many of the hills as a good marching pace was more efficient than trying to keep running and easier on my calves. I also realised that my relative inexperience at running trails made me less confident about placing my feet where the ground was uneven or there were tree roots in the woods and therefore slowed my pace. Afterwards I was disappointed with my performance, however in hindsight I am more than happy with my time of 63 mins given my need for a lot more hill and trail practice. It was probably one of the toughest runs I have ever done and think my disappointment was more down to me having not enjoyed it.

  • Dusk. My next turn was to be a double lap of 12 miles. I was apprehensive. Alma had had an argument with a tree and cut her head so we shuffled the order to give her a little more recovery time and therefore my run was an hour earlier than planned at 8.30pm. It was to my advantage, I had a really good run which dispelled all my bad feelings. Mainly because I knew what to expect and set out at a more easy pace so my pace was more even. It was also dusk and so beautiful. Light over the open fields, yet dark in the woods to get me slowly accustomed to my head torch. The point where the course rose out of the wood onto the ridge overlooking the surrounding area as the sun was going down and the lights were coming on was just stunning.

  • Night. My double lap carried on into the dark and to my third time round the course. I was aware that the general pace of all the other runners around me was now easier in the dark and got into the mindset that it’s ok to walk! Such a great experience running around a dark wood, seeing and smelling the fires from the Marshall’s camps along the course and having a chat with an ultra runner on his 10th lap while walking round the dark twisty paths in the wood. At some points the course doubled back on itself and looking back it was an amazing sight to see rows of twinkling head torches moving up a path in the dark.
  • Friendly. It was an extremely friendly race. 99% of overtaking fast runners said thanks if I moved to the side or paused to let them pass. Most said there was no need to stop at tight bits to let them pass, although on hills I was grateful for a rest and everyone said ‘hello’ or ‘keep it up’ as they passed or asked if you were ok if stopped to walk.
  • Results. We were in it to complete not compete, but are still pretty chuffed with ourselves for clocking up 22 laps or 220km in 24hrs 50mins.
  • Next Year? Yes! And I would love to challenge myself to try and run the course in an hour and complete 4 laps.
  • Mileage. We all ran 3 laps (apart from Jon who ran 4). Louise, Alma and I added the parkrun to clock up 35K or 21 miles in less than 24 hours (in my case in 14 hours as my runs finished at 11pm!)