Test driving with Running Buggies

I was initially unsure as to whether or not I wanted to run with Oscar when he is a little bigger.  (The advice is to not run with a baby before they are able to hold their head up on their own – at approximately 6 months old.)  However, although I would like to keep running primarily as ‘Me-time’ and the thing that I do on my own/with my friends, I am definitely coming round to seeing the benefits of purchasing a running buggy so that I may bring Oscar out on my runs…

  1. I will be able to train during the day, whilst it is still light so no need to pull out my headtorch each time.  (Oscar will turn 6 months old just before the clocks change next Spring so it will still be fairly dark in the evenings when I’m able to start running with him.)
  2. I won’t be restricted to running only when Dan is around to look after Oscar.  (Work meetings and football training on weeknight evenings and football matches on a Saturday afternoon mean that I’m pretty limited to when Dan can have him at the moment, and if I get an opportunity to run I’ve just got to go with it!)
  3. I’ll be able to train whilst spending time with Oscar. (Even if he does end up sleeping through the run!)
  4. Oscar and I will both benefit from being out in the fresh air each day.
  5. I will hopefully be setting a good example to Oscar in that exercise is good for you but can also be fun.
  6. Running without the buggy will be so much easier than running with it and, therefore, hopefully Hello PBs come race season!

The week before last a friend messaged to ask if I was aware that Wendy, of Running Buggies would be visiting Stanwick Lakes with a selection of running buggies and a wealth of knowledge regarding the different models available.

I hadn’t been aware and, at a time when I had only driven with Oscar in the car once before, I quickly added the event to my calendar and messaged Wendy to find out further details.

She immediately messaged me back asking what my requirements for a running buggy would be.  I told her that I would like to be able to run long distances and off-road with ease and that it didn’t need to be a buggy that I could have for every day use.  Wendy informed me that the key to off road running buggies is suspension and big wheels, and suggested two models for me to test drive based on my requirements; the Out n About Nipper Sport V4 and the Thule Glide.

Thule Glide and the Out n About Nipper Sport V4I got out of my car on that Friday morning to what felt like the first proper cold snap of the season.  The wind was brutal – really ice cold.  I’d layered Oscar up as best I could.  He was wearing a vest, sleepsuit, trousers, super thick cardigan, hat and was wrapped up in a blanket.  Despite being 9 weeks old now (7 weeks at the time), the majority of his 0-3 clothes still hang off him and he’s still wearing newborn size with ease.  Everybody said it would only be a matter of days or weeks before he would grow out of newborn outfits, although we didn’t find that happened for us.  I know some of my friends’ babies weren’t able to fit into newborn sized clothes at all!  (Luckily the smaller of his 0-3 snowsuits now fits without losing his legs so I have been able to put him into this for walks in his pram over the past couple of days.)

As it happened Wendy was more prepared than I had been for the sharp cold snap and pulled out a spare fleece blanket enabling me to double-wrap Oscar, and holding him so that I may try out the buggies she had suggested.

There were a couple of other parents there, all with children much older than mine who they were able to test out in the buggies.  As Oscar wasn’t big enough to go in one yet, I just had to pretend that I was pushing a child around the path at the lakes as I jogged backwards and forwards testing them out!

Before trying the running buggies out I had no idea how they differed from regular buggies and would have not had a clue where to start looking for one if I had been left alone in the shops.  I wasn’t aware that running buggies should have a fixed wheel (so that if you hit a bump which lifts the wheel up off the ground whilst running, your wheel doesn’t spin off into every direction upon coming back down to land) and that you actually steer by pushing down on the back of the buggy to lift the front wheel up.  It sounds like it should be really hard to steer but in actual fact, when I tested both buggies with 90° turns, it was much easier than I expected it to be.  The buggies all have handbrakes within grabbing distance of your hands for downhill running as well.

The Out n About Nipper V4 comes with a smaller price tag but Wendy pointed out that the sun could often become a problem at certain times of the day and she had often hung muslins over the front of the canopy to try and resolve the issue.  The Thule Glide comes with a higher price tag but consistently seems to help runners break records and definitely felt much smoother to drive.

Wendy was incredibly knowledgeable about all of the running buggies she had brought with her for people to try and was able to answer all of the questions that I had.  When asked which ones she had chosen to use with her children she informed me that depending on what she was doing, she had used them all, which definitely makes her qualified enough in my eyes to advise on the pros and cons of each buggy!  She also recently shared her knowledge with Women’s Running magazine on things to look for when buying a running buggy.

I shall be looking to purchase a buggy at some point in the New Year but for the next few months at least, whilst he’s still so small, if Oscar has to come with me to parkrun it will be in his regular pram and we will be walking around, having a good old gossip with others at the back!

Dan, Me and Oscar at his first parkrun at 4 weeks old

Here he is at his first parkrun with Dan and I when he was four weeks old.

What are you wearing to run in now that it’s so cold out?  My tights and long-sleeved tops have definitely made it to the front of my drawers!

I will run 500 miles

Over the Christmas holidays I received an email from Strava to say that two of my pairs of running trainers had reached the 500 mile guideline for miles that I should run in them.500 miles in your trainers warning from Strava

I do track my runs pretty religiously on Strava as I think it is a great tool.  I also still use Garmin Connect, as I think the times and paces displayed there are closer to what I am actually running.  For some reason, Strava always assumes that I want just the time I am running to be calculated, not any time spent walking, moving slowly or any rests at aid stations in a race.  All of which frequently happen as a trail/ultra runner.  Strava appears to be much better with the social side of running and it is easy to follow, like and runs my friends make.  Strava shows up whether or not any of my runs have been with other Strava users, and on the fly-by part of the site it also displays whether or not any other runners ran close by whilst I was out on my run.  Whether I saw them or not!  This makes for finding out some great new routes in my area!  I also think the shoe miles which you are able to log for each run is a great feature to have.Shoe mileage on Strava

Unfortunately, both pairs of running trainers I purchased/had bought for me this time last year have topped the mileage I’m supposed to safely run in them without incurring injury.Nimbus 16s after 500 milesYou can really see in that photo just how much the tread has worn town across the ball of my foot.

Fortunately, this, combined with the birthday money I was given specifically to put towards new running trainers back in October, meant that I had a great excuse to buy some new shoes over Christmas.Brand new Asics Nimbus 16sJust look at how super shiny they are in comparison.  And how much tread is on the bottom of those shoes.  I am always very wary about overusing my shoes and ending up injured.  When I first put my new pair on last Winter, I can remember them making my feet feel so springy out on a run.  Not so much after 544 miles though!  At least, if I am getting through my trainers at round-a-bout the same time each year, it means I will always be able to stick them on my Christmas list!  😉

My new trainers are the exact same model of shoe, in the exact same size.  (If something works, why change it?!)  The Asics Nimbus 16s.  I don’t understand how my old shoes appear so much smaller though?…Any suggestions?!  Did they shrink to fit my feet?  I do wear massive flipper-feet-sized shoes.  *cough* size 10.5 *cough*

Brand new Asics Nimbus 16sI like to have a couple of pairs of trainers which I can rotate, especially during the wet Winter months.  There have been a few days I’ve had to head back out on a run in still-soggy trainers, even when I’m rotating two pairs, and that is never nice!

I’m less strict about sticking to the 500 mile guideline when it comes to trail shoes, as I think often it is the impact of the tarmac surface which causes trainers to wear down quite as quickly as they do.  I shall continue to rotate my two current pairs of trail shoes for a little longer, even though the trail shoe sale at Sportsshoes has been calling me just lately…

I shall relegate my old Nimbus 16s for gym/cross-trainer work.  No longer fit for running on the road.

How often do you buy new running shoes?
How many pairs do you own?

Busy teaching times

This week seems to have rushed by so quickly.  I can’t believe a fortnight has already passed since I ran Mablethorpe Marathon.

The biggest and most depressing thing about this week is that it seems the Winter darkness has quickly started settling in.  Runs always happen by the light of a headtorch now, unless I can squeeze a run in at the weekend.  This is because when I get up for work, it is dark.  Within an hour of being home from work, it is also dark.  Depressing times!

First night out in a headtorchI’m actually on the hunt for a new headtorch at the moment, – ready for Dusk ’til Dawn at the end of October.  Although mine is usable, and I did indeed use it last year at the same event, I would like something with a stronger beam so that I can place more trust into where I am putting my feet whilst out on the course.

I do love the Winter though – there is something comforting about getting home from a walk in an oversized knitted jumper and sitting in front of a fire with a cup of hot chocolate to warm up.  Shame we no longer have a woodburner in our front room. :(

The darker mornings have meant that I have lost 45 minutes of potential marking time on my way in to school each day, which is my biggest annoyance of the Winter months.

Too dark to mark on the commute to workThat is the view I now get in the mornings on the way to work.  So, for the time being I’ve turned my attention to Twitter in the morning and for another week at least I can still mark on the way home.  That will change at the end of next week though once the clocks go back.

Too dark to mark on the commute to workYou can see how dark it is on arrival at school now.  This was taken at 7am in the week.

I don’t always spend every morning marking, but I’m currently at the point in the year when marking is rather high.  This year I have six sets of year eleven students and two sets of year tens.  (Approx 230 kids)  All who are working on coursework this year.  The year elevens will each have ten pieces to be marked and returned before Christmas, and the year tens probably four or five.  They will be given a chance to improve and then I shall have every piece back to remark again over the Christmas holidays.  I’m trying to stay on top of things!

As well as my GCSE core students and a handful of younger classes (which thankfully involve much less marking!) I also have three classes of sixth form students this year, although they are much smaller in number, and a class of year 10 Optional GCSE students who I adore.  I’ve built up a really good relationship with the group and they are so excited to check their coursework marks when I put them online.
I’m knackered each evening at the moment though, and other areas of my life seem to have slipped by the wayside right now and I am so looking forward to catching up with things over the half term holidays again.

Today, in between tidying, cleaning, marking and hopefully a bit of blog reading, I shall mainly be refreshing the live results page for the Autumn 100 and following the Twitter hashtag.  Two members of our club are out there, with a third planning on helping them run through miles 50-75 in the early hours of tomorrow morning.  There are also several lovely bloggers working their way around the 100 miles, including Sarah and Louise.  I would love to tick a 100 mile race off my bucket list, although I need to improve my speed first, as I would never make the cutoffs at the moment.
One day…

Dan is off at football this afternoon so I knocked up something at lunchtime for just me.  I realised that I had enough ingredients in to make a similar take on the ‘Oven baked chicken with an orange and sesame quinoa salad’ I had made from my Hello Fresh box a few weeks back.  I had no chicken, but I did have a ball of mozzarella.  I had no pepper, but I did have a pack of fresh mushrooms.  I didn’t have the rice vinegar or spice paste, but I lived without those, and was brave enough to throw my kale and veggies in with the quinoa, soy sauce and orange juice to create this beauty…  A concoction I would never have thought of before my Hello Fresh meal arrived.

Mozzarella and quinoa kale saladSuper tasty, and I made two portions, so I will have enough for my lunchbox on Monday as well.

Have the darker mornings made a difference to you lately?
Do you have any headtorch recommendations for me?

I am an Asics girl

When I first started running I pulled out some old trainers from the back of my cupboard that had been kicking around for several years.  They didn’t have a lot of support and were the same size as my feet which I soon realised was a size and a half too small for running long distance.  Several toenails were lost in the lead up to my first marathon in 2012!

In 2013 I was lucky enough to win a place on Operation Ultra as part of Women’s Running magazine, and as part of my prize I received two pairs of Asics trainers.  I fell in love.  I rotated and looked after those beauties (well, Dan did the cleaning of them!) and they saw me right through to Christmas just gone.  But by that point I knew I was desperate for another pair.  The trainers I had received as part of my winnings were trail shoes, but also competing in a lot of road events I saw the benefits of having a pair of road shoes as well.  I’d just never spent so much on a pair of trainers before.  I was used to previous pairs costing me £19.99.

Luckily Dan recognised my fear of spending and knew how much better for me the proper running shoes had been, as well as how much longer they had lasted and on Christmas day I received a shoebox containing a brand new pair of Asics Gel Fuji Trabuco 3 GTX trails in a size 10.5. (Ahem, yes, I have rather big feet and wear a size 9 shoe normally.  No comment please!)

A few people had given me money for Christmas and put together I worked out that I could afford a new pair of road shoes.  I tried a few on in store and fell in love with the red Asics Nimbus 16s.  Two days later, they arrived on my doorstep and my feet were super happy.

Asics collection! Nimbus 16s and Gel Fuji-Trabuco 3 GTXs

Imagine how excited I was to receive an email from SportsShoes last month asking if I would review a pair of their Asics trainers in return for getting to keep the pair.  What does every runner always need?  A supply of beautiful trainers!  So erm, yes please!

Asics Cumulus 16s

I deliberated for ages over which ones to choose.  I could go for some more Nimbus 16s, although I already had a pair of those.  I thought it made more sense to test out a different pair and after a few days of going backwards and forwards, checking out the spec of each trainer on the Sports Shoes pages I decided to go for the Cumulus 16s this time.  In green obviously, sticking to club colours.  They arrived quickly and I was super excited to tie them up and compare them to the other trainers.  Therefore, although my review is only required for the Cumulus, I intend on reviewing all three of my ‘new’-ish trainers.

Gel Fuji Trabuco 3 GTX:

I wore these for ten miles of trail the first time I took them out and they felt so comfy!  No blisters or rubbing although on the first two runs I could tell that they were new and hadn’t yet moulded to my feet.  They felt a little tight across the bridge of my foot but I have the fattest feet out of everyone I know.  By the time it came to my third run in them they fit like a glove.
Obviously to test the trainers thoroughly I had to take them through thick mud…

Muddy trail run…and they kept me surefooted during the cliff-climbing sections of South Devon marathon last month.All three of us at EnduranceLife South Devon marathonHaving run quite a lot of off-road over the past year I need shoes which I can comfortably throw myself down the hills with some degree of trust and these fit the bill.

Nimbus 16s:

The first time I put my Nimbus 16s on I felt like they went up a long way at the back of my foot towards my ankle.  Although, when I’ve seen pictures of myself running I can’t say I’ve ever noticed this is the case!  Again, there was no rubbing and I haven’t had any blisters.

Asics Nimbus 16s

I haven’t run any races since buying these shoes, but the first thing I noticed about them whilst on a run was how incredibly light they were.  After being weighed down in a pair of trails covered in thick mud all Winter my feet felt they were flying on the first (supposed-to-be-) easy four mile run I took.  It was so easy to pick my feet up high and the base of the shoes sprung powerfully and almost automatically across the tarmac.  I couldn’t resist throwing a bit of fast fartlek in along a flat stretch of the route and enjoying my legs really picking up the speed.  They do feel roomy inside.  Running long distances I need a shoe which lets my feet expand as I run over time to avoid the dreaded black toenail and I like that these shoes have a lot of space in the front as my feet get warmer over time.  P.S.  They look hot!  I like to imagine that the Asics symbol down the side is actually a lightning bolt as I speed past everything in sight.

Cumulus 16s:

My feet felt very cushioned and well supported in these and unlike the other two shoes I never felt the tightness across the bridge of my foot during the shoe’s first couple of outings so these are potentially slightly wider.  Even though the Cumulus feels a little more weighty than the Nimbus model, these have become my day-to-day running shoe that I use in all training runs as I find the support I gain during turns and mixed pace sessions is spot on.  As someone whose entire body seems to sweat up incredibly quickly when running, the mesh over the toes allows my feet to experience some fresh air and keeps my toes from overheating during a run.

Asics Cumulus 16sThese shoes are a little less pricey than the other two but equally as high in quality.

I do feel as though there is no moving away from Asics for me now as far as trainers are concerned.  I am very happy with the quality of the three pairs I currently own and I have a different use for each pair.  The Trabucos for trail runs and trail races, the Nimbus for road races and the Cumulus for everyday training.

I think I’m all set for the 2015 race season now!

Do you own any Asics items?
What trainers do you run in?
What trainer size are you?  
Is anyone as big-footed as me?!