January 24, 2016
by michelle

The latest challenge – Beyond the Ultimate Jungle Ultra 2016

If I could run anywhere in the world where would it be?

I am expecting the Jungle Ultra to test my endurance like never before, there are so many unknowns that I am feeling a little overwhelmed in how best to prep for this one. This is a multi stage event, which I love but I will be running in next to 40 degrees heat and 90 to 100% humidity, at that level maintaining core temperature is so tough and makes hydration crucial. As I run the 230km through the tough jungle trails, mountain roads and village tracks, making my way from Cloud Forest and down 10,500ft to the Amazon Jungle below I’m expecting to experience some pretty amazing stuff in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. For the race itself I will be self-sufficient carrying my own hammock, sleeping bag, food and supplies for the entire race.

Race day 1 is a 9000ft descent from Base Camp at Cloud 9 to the Amazon basin through breath taking vistas, waterfalls and tunnels to Cock of the Rock camp, its total of 38km, an easy distance for me but by no means am I underestimating how tough this is going to be!

Race day 2 is called Amazonia and described as a first taste of the Amazon Rainforest, using little known trails through thick vegetation with the likelihood of meeting some of the Jungle’s exotic wildlife. Jaguars, Monkeys, Tapirs, Parrots are some of the species I could encounter. I am desperately hoping the Anaconda isn’t particularly interested in meeting me, this is one guy I’m really not that fussed about seeing.

Race day 3 with river crossings and extremely tough logging roads before entering into primary Amazon Rainforest this will be tough on the legs, whilst this is the shortest daily distance of 30km, I am under no illusion this is going to be easy or deemed a half way recovery day! I just do not think that can happen in this race.

Race day 4 The Lull, described as ” don’t be lulled into a false sense of security”. The route passes through Manu National Park and its primary rainforest, with some extreme inclines and declines, creeks and river crossings, this is supposed to be the toughest test yet.

Race day 5 and hopefully the final straight, it is the longest distance with a 5am start, we will be covering 92km. It is 92km that stands between me and the ultimate goal of being a Jungle Ultra finisher. The problem is, this is the Jungle, it is race day 5, my legs with be shot, my body will be so fatigued, I will be suffering from de-hydration as well as all the other Ultra distance niggles I pick up along the way. This race stage has 50 river crossings, 1500ft of incline, 20k of thick jungle and a timed cut-off to ensure runners safety. What a fitting way to end one of the worlds toughest foot races!

I have decided to run the Jungle Ultra for BLESMA the limbless veterans society and this is where I am hoping you guys will help. You can sponsor me and in turn support this understated forces charity that looks after our troops and their family, as they have sacrificed so much for us. Often returning from warzone with life threatening, life changing injuries, read Mark Omrod’s story and please sponsor me.

Text: MBJU99£5 to 70070

I thank you all for your continued support (especially my folks, because I know how much they worry when I’m off on my adventures) and welcome any words of wisdom, advice or guidance from any running buddies out there! x

May 5, 2015
by michelle

If you’ve not tried and tested it…. Don’t do it on race day!

Nuffield_HealthHalf Marathon preparation and race day advice.


I’ve come home today from work to my Chester Half Marathon race number, all of a sudden it dawned on me that next weekend I will be running another half marathon. It has been an absolute pleasure training with the Nuffield Health Chester Runners and not only has the group grown in numbers over the last 5 months, everyone has achieved so much, I would say we are all ready for race day now! I thought this would be a good time to share some little gems of advice that will hopefully help you all achieve was you set out to do 5 months ago.

The week run up to race day should focus on the following- taper your mileage to simply tick over the legs, pay more attention to your stretching routines, consider your diet and what works for you and most importantly start getting hydrated early.

By now you will have done the long the runs and nothing you do now will affect the big day, at this stage the muscles are tired, tight and at a greater risk of injury, you may even be experiencing a  few niggles. The mileage should be no greater than 6 miles at this point and over the next week you should be tapering it down to 3-4miles, instead consider stretch routines, foam roller sessions and sports massage – please book in with one of the personal trainers if you need a little more help with this.

You should have an idea on what food worked well for you on those training runs and start to plan your pre-race meal. Check out a GI nutrition plan for those slow releasing carbohydrates, about 3 days before the race start to increase the intake this will ensure the glycogen stores are fully topped up. Hydration is by far the most important aspect in endurance running, going into a race dehydrated can be dangerous, will definitely result in a not very enjoyable run and is too late to put right during the race. Making sure you take in adequate fluid also needs to start 3 days before race day – aim for between 1.5-2ltrs a day if you can, if you tended to suffer with cramp on your longer runs a sachet of Diorylte or 1 hydration tablet in your last drink the day before may help.

That brings us to race day… Do not change anything!

No new trainers, no new socks, no new shorts, no new vest – the most seasoned runners have all made this mistake, so if there is one thing that you take away from this make sure it is – Do not change anything on race day!

Position yourself at the right start point for your desired time or preferably a little quicker, this will make sure that you don’t get carried away with runners faster than you but will also stop you from having to duck and dodge the slower runners in the first few miles.

Finally “Run Happy!” be proud of what you have already achieved and what you are going to achieve on Sunday 17th May, you have worked so hard to get here…. Enjoy it!

If you would like anymore advice do not hesitate to ask.

February 4, 2015
by michelle

“Help! I’ve fallen off my fitness bandwagon!”


With January fading into the distance and taking those New Year Resolutions with it we have put together 5 top tips to get you back on track.

1.      Turn a Setback into a Comeback!

Setbacks happen to all of us, injury, illness, family crisis, loss of job, broken relationships. How we react to the curve balls and setbacks that we face everyday defines our path and affects our long-term goals. The key to your comeback is to stop, reassess, reset your goals and start again.

2.      Diarise Your Gym Visits

Before your working week begins to eat into your workout times, a sure fire technique is to book your sessions in your weekly plan. Ad-hoc training times are often forgotten about or not prepared for, instead diarising your training sessions will ensure that nothing gets in the way and you come to your session primed.

3.      Track Your Progress – Health MOT’s and HealthScore

As a member of Nuffield Health Chester, you have access to the best health MOT’s as well as Wellbeing and Lifestyle tracking app in the industry. Your progress can be monitored by one of our Personal Trainers to improve your results and keep you motivated.

4.      If You’re Bored—Your Body is too!

You need to keep challenging your body with different activities. Your body will adapt to any new exercises incredibly quickly, so we need to keep changing your programme to ensure progression.

5.      Get Personal

One of our Personal Trainers can take control of every aspect of your training to ensure you achieve the results you are looking for – in the shortest time possible. A Personal Trainer will perform routines that you simply can’t do on your own and you will see your goals become a reality in no time.

To book a Health MOT, find out more about Healthscore, get your programme updated or to give Personal Training a go, please speak to one of the Fitness Team

Introductory personal training packages are available

January 30, 2015
by michelle

Nuffield Health Chester Half Marathon Training Advice

Are you one of our members that has decided to take part in the Chester Half Marathon in May? If you are, in almost 16 weeks we will be joining you on that 13.1 mile route around Chester.

Training for a Half Marathon is hard but it will be so rewarding when you cross that finish line, there is a lot of work, miles and occasional pain you will need to go through before you reach this goal.

It’s a great goal, but are you really ready for it?

I thought I’d share with you some things you may not have considered…

1.      Build a base.

One mistake new runners often make when preparing for a half-marathon is thinking that the 12 or 14 week plan takes you from the couch to the finish line. All half-marathon training plans assume that you’ve already built a weekly mileage base of at least 15-20 miles and your longest run should also be at least 5 miles. To jump your mileage up quickly quite often results in injury

2.      Get a Plan

A training plan is a sure fast way of keeping you on track and motivated as you build up your mileage and speed over the weeks. When putting a plan together or selecting a plan, you want to consider the following:

  • What level is it pitched at? Often labelled Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert.
  • Make sure the weekly mileage and number of training days is realistic for your current situation.
  • Look for a programme that varies the type of training, Intervals, Tempo, Fartlek are all important aspects of endurance training.
  • A good programme will always focus on conditioning training and flexibility.

3.      Conditioning is Key 

Running specific strength conditioning & flexibility training will ensure you get to the start line in one piece and reach the finish. These exercise should focus on joint mobility, balance, muscle endurance and core strength.

4.      Ice Baths and Sports Massage

With all this mileage you’re putting on your body, you’d be silly not to start taking ice baths and having sports massage after those long runs. Believe me, your body will thank you the next day.

5.      Invest in the Best Footwear 

13.1miles is a long way, the main reason people fail to reach the finish line is blisters, hot spots on the feet will cause you to change you gait or running style and before you know it that’s a sore knee, hip or back. All for the sake of having the right footwear and socks. Remember this… every 500miles or 6 months (whichever comes first) you need to change your footwear.

For more help, advice and guidance come and speak to me or join us on a Thursday at 18:45 for Running Club.

Half Marathon Personal Training Packages are available, for more details email

Is this your first half marathon? Are you running for charity? Do you have a specific time in mind? Let us know we would love to hear from you!

September 20, 2014
by michelle

Amy Hughes & her 53:53 Marathons

Amy Hughes

Amy Hughes

Today I had the opportunity to run with the inspirational 53 marathon challenger Amy Hughes and decided as I was running to take time tonight to share the experience…

If I take you back nearly 6 months ago, when I first heard of Amy’s idea to challenge not only the current female world record of consecutive marathons but in fact the male record sometime in 2015 I thought to myself ‘Wow! that is going to take some commitment’, a few weeks later Amy dropped the bombshell that she actually planned to bring it forwards 12 months. I stood there in disbelief with a flashback of my experience of running the Shrewsbury Marathon with Amy and I thought to myself ‘Not a Chance!’… see with a few hundred yards to go Amy hit the wall like I have never seen before, people talk all the time of the horror of the marathon wall, well Amy actually looked like she face planted into it and with the clock ticking on her London Marathon ‘good for age’ qualification time it was all I could do to get her to cross the finish line and fortunately with a minute or 2 to spare.

53 marathons in 53 cities in 53 days? why?

I do not believe this is about the world record, I believe this is about creating a platform to raise as much awareness for a charity that is obviously so close to Amy’s heart, the Isabelle Lottie Foundation. Following Isabelle’s experience, her family launched the Foundation with the aim of supporting other children and their families following the diagnosis of a brain tumour. Even beyond the 53, Amy will endeavour to work hard for this charity, knowing her target is £53,000 ( it did sit quite nicely with the whole 53 theme after all!) she is already toying with new ideas to continue to raise both awareness and funds. If anything comes from this blog I sincerely hope, if like me you are inspired by Amy, you are compelled to check out her website and make a donation.

After taking time out to run with her today, I saw another key reason Amy is putting herself through this and that is her mission to inspire the nation towards a healthier lifestyle. If a young, fit, motivated individual like Amy can selflessly give up her entire summer to not only run 53 marathons but to logistically arrange them in 53 cities throughout Britain and to share them with others who may want to just run a mile, or a 10k, a half marathon or a full marathon no matter how long it takes, then there can be no excuses. I would like to share a special well done to an amazing gentleman known as Nick and a fantastic lady, Jess, for both completing their first ever marathons today  – would they have had the inspiration and support to do it themselves, who’s to say? Nevertheless, they have both achieved an incredible thing and no doubt have gone home feeling immensely proud if not a little tired too… and this is only 2 in a huge list of people who have already been touched by Amy’s energy and enthusiasm for health and wellbeing.

PR Opportunity @ Aston Villa

PR Opportunity @ Aston Villa

I must say Birmingham, you were great! With great running company, a quick pitstop at Cadbury’s World and then an amazing PR opportunity with Aston Villa (arranged by fellow runner Gavin Tedstone), we could not have asked for better. It started out a little wet and misty but it did not dampen spirits as we set out on the Scrummy Brummy canal towpaths. We all finished with a little bit of sunshine and some big smiles.

Next stop?

Amy is off to Wolverhampton tomorrow and then the girl will finally be arriving on home turf with Shrewsbury on Monday, Wrexham on Tuesday, a very emotional Wednesday in Oswestry and Llangollen on Thursday. The final Marathon will be in Manchester on Saturday followed by the biggest bloody party ever! I think it is important that this girl gets a hero’s welcome as she hits our local towns, what she has achieved already is difficult to comprehend and what is more amazing is that she is completely humbled by the generosity of all who have donated and those who have achieved their first marathons running with her.

Amy Hughes has achieved everything she set out to 46 marathons ago and what she will continue to achieve in the next 7 marathons and going on from the 53 is limitless. I hear so many people saying to themselves ‘Well, if Amy can do 53 marathon I can do this!’ I even found myself thinking it on a tough training run at the end of a tough week ‘Come on Michelle get a grip, if Amy can run 53 marathons, you can get your arse up this hill!’ (just don’t tell her I said that…)


The Best Support Crewman Ever!

The Best Support Crewman Ever!

I know she would want me to make 2 special mentions firstly to Dave Keighley who has remarkably achieved the title of ‘The best support crewman ever!’ giving up an incredible amount of time to ensure her journey has been as smooth as possible and a lady called Lynne Mitton, who has supported Amy in many ways, logistically making the near impossible possible!

Amy, I wish you every success in completing the next seven marathons and every opportunity that comes along from this, you have worked so hard and have given so much to so many, you should be proud of yourself as we are all proud of you!










September 7, 2014
by michelle

Clif Bar 10 Peaks Brecon Beacons

I have decided to write this blog tonight whilst the feet are still warm, the quads are still tight and the shoulders are heavy.

Since my debut ultra-marathon in August last year I have squeezed in a few races, I have loved everyone and yet there was something special with the Clif Bar 10 Peaks. I think it was a combination of the close community of volunteers and marshals and this race being one that truly tested the heart and mind as well as fitness and physical capability.

I made a few mistakes in my last race – Race to the Stones, whilst still happy to finish 6th lady, I found it hard going from the 30 mile mark as a result of poor preparation. I was determined to get back on track with the preparation for this race, namely my race nutrition. I recalled the Berghaus Trail Team presentation by TORQ specialist Ben, 3 units of TORQ product per hour (energy drink, gel and/or bar) and whilst your mental and physical ability will get you to reach the end, not enough can be said for adequate fuelling of your body for such endurance events.

#Team J=Ollie my support crew

#Team J=Ollie my support crew

Me and my support crew, #Team J-Ollie, made our way to YHA Danywenallt in the Brecon Beacons to set up camp on the Friday night as it was a 5am start. We met some crazy guys from Nottingham, namely ‘Whack’ the ex-para who was great fun and the camaraderie I love about the ultra-running community was there from the onset. Most of us were bedded down quite early in expectation of the gruelling course ahead.


Race prep with the ultra-box

Race prep with the ultra-box

It was a 4am rise for most, in the dark you could hear and feel the anticipation as everyone finished their race prep, had breakfast, dressed and talked through their thoughts on what lay ahead. It was already warm at this point, a far cry from the Brecon’s Ultra I did in December.

The long course set off at 5am and had 2 mandatory peaks to hit before we began the 10 peak countdown… does that technically mean it was the Brecon Beacons 12 Peaks? To the first dibber it was a nice long steady climb enough to warm the legs up and to spread the field out a little, another 1.5km on from here I made my usual navigation error, not paying attention and following the head torch of the guy in front we picked up the return leg for about another 1km or so before realising. A quick off route detour, we came down a steep descent to pick up again on the right track, unfortunately losing a little ground. I figure it would not be the same if I didn’t nav wrong at some point.

I hit the climb up to Twyn Mwyalchod hard to try and pull back some places and then onto checkpoint one, which was a really long intense descent down to the road. This was the first point I saw #Team J-Ollie patiently waiting for me to arrive, all too excited I failed to notice the bridge and ran straight through the stream!

It was about another 10km to Checkpoint 2 and hard work as there was a lot of unmarked track over moorland. There were 2 dibber points along the way, Fan Fawr (734m) and Fan Lila (632m). Due to the kind weather of late, the ground was quite firm and I only manage to lose my trainer once.

Again another descent followed into the carpark for Checkpoint 2, I was feeling a few hotspots on the feet already at this point so went for a sock change before they developed.

Checkpoint 2 to 3 was relatively flat along a marked track, good to get the legs going again and to make up some ground. At this point there were 3 of us that were chopping and changing positions, I got the feeling that my ability to get past them on the climb was a waste of time when it came to the descending and they both just coasted past. We all hit Checkpoint 3 around the same time, quickly taking what I needed from my drop bag, I set off with the others to continue the cat and mouse game. After a few more climbs I called back “No doubt I’ll see you half way down”…

It was now a long way to hit the next 2 peaks, Fan Brycheiniog (802m) and Bannau Sir Gaer (749m). A head for heights was required at this point as we ran along the ridgeway, the view was spectacular and just below you could see Llyn y Fan Fawr.


On a dreaded descent

On a dreaded descent


The route to Checkpoint 4 was similar to 2 to 3 there were rolling hills through marked and unmarked moorland. I was eager to get to the checkpoint as I had been out of fluid for about 30 minutes now, it was really warm and I was sweating a lot. At the checkpoint, I took on 200ml of rehydration salts and refilled my Camelpak with TORQ energy. It was a good job too as the next climb was so severe, I think was by far the hardest. Fan Gyhirych (725m) climbed almost vertical from the road, it was relentless and in my mind I was counting 20 steps upright followed by 20 steps forward pushing off my thighs. Just when you thought you were nearly there it became obvious this was going on for a bit longer as it increased from 600m to 725m. I remember at one point I was literally on hands and knees pulling on the grass to pull myself up, I had to take a few minutes breather before pushing on to the top.

Still with the same running buddies, we had worked well together on the climbs and descents but unfortunately one dropped off on this climb.

We hit another smaller peak, Fan Nedd (663m) before coming onto the roman road, which although was incredibly difficult and painful to run on at this stage it was a relief to get on some flat ground for a while. Another smaller peak to hit Fan Frynych (629m) before we descended down a tricky path to checkpoint 5, the Storey Arms. At this point my quads we shot, the balls of my feet were on fire. A slightly longer but much needed pit stop allowed 2 other runners to come up behind us unfortunately for me it was lady number 3 and she was looking fresh.

We set off in opposite directions, lady number 3 and her pacer set off according to route and took the longer but slightly less intense climb up to the infamous Pen-Y-Fan, we under the recommendation of a marshal took the more intense but shorter Beacons Way. With not enough power left in the legs, the heat and sore feet, this proved to be the wrong decision and they made it to the top before us. Dibber points 8, 9 and 10 were close together and rolling ascents into descent, from Pen-Y-Fan to Cribyn to Fan-Y-Big being our last checkpoint.

The journey back was long, the descents had taken their toll and whilst I still felt strong on level ground any slight decline was hurting now. Me and my new running buddy (Jonathon) kept a good pace to track the long 6km to the finish, keen to get in before the sun went down, the final descent to the road I never thought would end but miraculously the pain subsides temporarily as you’re overcome with adrenaline at the thought of completion.


Jonathon... 10 Peaks running buddy

Jonathon… 10 Peaks running buddy

As always my support crew were there when I needed them, I definitely feel like I got back on top with the preparation. I said before I ran I would run hard but not race, it’s very difficult to keep the competitive spirit at bay. Every time I complete one of these amazing endurance events it highlights my weaknesses but weaknesses that can be worked on and improved, more importantly it highlights my strengths. This one tested the legs and lungs, without doubt it was physically tough but with a strong mind and passion for what I do I proved to be unbreakable one more time.

I lay in my tent that night – after a very cold shower and copious amounts of hot sweet tea, listening to the runners coming back at midnight, 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am and my hat is off to you, the Brecon Beacons at night is not a place I would like to be. Around 5am, I heard there was still one guy out, I wonder if his navigation skills are as bad as mine or whether he simply came to exhaustion. The Brecons are an amazing place; there is a reason the SAS our elite force uses this as their training ground and I sure as hell found out why!

Brecon Beacon 10 (12) Peaks there is only one thing left to say “Good god it was a toughie!”


Amazing view from the car as we left

Amazing view from the car as we left



…Next year? Not sure yet?

August 3, 2014
by michelle

Weight Training for Women

woman exercising fitness ball workout


Q: “Cardiovascular exercise on machines such as treadmills and exercise bikes burns more calories than lifting weights, so is it just a waste of gym time to add strength training to your workout?”

A: The simple answer is no. Working your muscles as well as your heart and lungs can improve your health and help you drop a clothes size faster.

Cardiovascular exercise is a great way of burning body fat, adding a little strength training to your workouts will earn you extra calories every day. You’ll even be burning extra calories while you’re sleeping or sitting on the couch watching your favourite soap!

Aerobic exercise may burn a few hundred extra calories for dinner, but for every additional pound of muscle you gain, your body burns around 50 extra calories every day of the week. Do not be disheartened if initially you seem to be staying at the same weight or gaining slightly. Muscle weighs more per square inch than fat, so whilst your weight might not be dropping very quickly, your clothes are feeling baggier and you are feeling healthier and seeing a slimmer and better toned you in the mirror. That’s far more important than what the scales say.

Weight training is just as suitable for women as it is for men. Many women are wary of taking it up for fear that increased muscle means increased masculinity and size, this is not the case. Testosterone is a very important factor in the development of muscle shape, so as women have very low levels of this hormone their muscles develop differently, meaning a little resistance training will not lead to a bulky, butch physique. Building a little extra muscle can also actually reduce the risk of injury.

Weight training is an excellent way of fighting several symptoms we all face as we get a little older. Resistance exercise can reduce bone deterioration and build bone mass, preventing osteoporosis.

Weight training can greatly reduce a number of health risks. It has have a positive effect on insulin resistance, resting metabolism, blood pressure and body, factors that are linked to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Start slowly and work your way up. Even using tins of baked beans as makeshift dumbbells or using light ankle weights is a good start.

Over the course of your sessions, use exercises that work all the muscle groups and do 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions. Be sure to use a suitable weight so that the last rep really feels like hard work. Don’t overdo it and make sure that you leave a day or two to recover in between sessions. Muscles grow while resting, so pushing yourself as hard as you can everyday won’t get you results any quicker.

June 20, 2014
by michelle


Silhouette of an exhausted sportsman at sunset


That voice in your head that says “I can’t do this…” is a liar

All of a sudden the legs feel like concrete, your breathing becomes raspy, you start to shuffle and your mind is now flooded with negative thoughts – is this that dreaded #DNF?

The science – the wall is scientifically known as Nutrient Related Fatigue

Here’s how we work…

As we eat our meal, our glucose level (otherwise known as blood sugar) increases, the pancreas then secretes insulin to reduce the level of glucose by aiding the transportation of glucose from the blood to the cells.

The glucose can then be utilised from the ready use storage of the cells for immediate energy whilst surplus to requirement is converted to glycogen and stored in either the liver or the muscle tissue as a reserve supply.

The body can generally store enough glycogen for a day of normal activity, so a regular intake of carbohydrate is necessary to maintain glycogen stores throughout intense prolonged activity. When glycogen stores are depleted the body will look to serve its energy requirement by the breakdown of fat, however the power output required to maintain performance cannot be met because the breakdown of fat for fuel takes too long. For endurance athletes glycogen depletion will inevitably spell D.I.S.A.S.T.E.R!


Just like a car engine our bodies will likely conk out if we have not fuelled adequately for the journey ahead, endurance athletes who compete for 75minutes plus of intense activity should be looking to increase carbohydrate requirement to around 80% of their overall calorific intake.

It is not likely that you will be able to carry enough ready use glucose and stored glycogen in the body to see you through a marathon or further; therefore you will need to rely on gels, energy drink or other sources of quick absorption carbohydrate in order to maintain your performance.

In order to strengthen the muscles and ensure the body is prepped for the activity, incorporate one long run into your weekly training schedule. This should be around 25% of your weekly planned mileage. Remember LSD, long & slow equals distance, in other words do not race pace this run. Use this run to experiment and get used to your race nutrition plan.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, condition, condition, condition!

Target the large muscles groups with Squats, Lunges, Deadlifts and Woodchops

Focus on balance with the use of Bosu’s and balance boards or single leg exercises such as single leg squats and single leg deadlifts

Build strength and prep the body for prolonged impact with plyometric explosive exercises, jumping lunges, squats jumps for instance

Strengthen your mind; visualisation is key in those dark miles, spend time visualising the race, consider those negative thoughts that flooded your mind on your last race and develop a mental strategy that will empower you to deal with them. Be rest assured it is normal to hurt, be confident that you will overcome and survive.

During the race, avoid getting dragged along by others, have you ever looked at you watch and thought “Wow, I’m on fire….” Be mindful that you could pay for this in the later stages.  Be relaxed from the start and stick to your race plan, the beauty of long distance running is you have plenty of time to get it together.

The last and final point for race day is do not change anything, from socks to trainers, from gels to drinks, if you haven’t done it in training do not do it on race day.

It would not be normal not to hurt during endurance events, in fact there would not be much point in showing up if it was not going too, be confident that the body can cope with a lot more than we give it credit for. So long as we have trained for it, there is no injury, we are adequately fuelled and hydrated be confident that you will hit the wall and TEAR IT DOWN!


June 15, 2014
by michelle


3d rendered illustration - painful runner joints


“Pain is nothing compared to what it feels like to quit.”

Injuries always happen at the worst possible time; no doubt you will be feeling at your peak and likely 4-6 weeks before a major event for which you have spent the last 12 weeks training so hard for.

Generally these injuries fall into one of two categories:

Acute– Traumatic injuries which happen suddenly due to an external force or internal stress

Chronic– Repetitive strain or overuse injuries that develop over a period of time

Running is an exercise that uses many muscles, predominantly the lower half of the body and some more intensely than others. Frequently and intensely used muscles tend to tighten up and tighter muscles generally become shorter muscles.

Every muscle in the body has a job to do, for instance let’s look at the lower body, the quadriceps extend the knee joint and flex the hip whilst the hamstrings act in the opposite way by flexing the knee and extending the hip, the ITB (Iliotibial band) is crucial to stabilising the knee particularly during running.

When everything is in balance the 2 opposing muscles (the quads and hamstrings) work together to create a fluid forward motion and the ITB provides that all important knee stabilisation. If however the ITB becomes shorter the tracking of the knee is thrown out of alignment and additional stress is also placed on the hip, now the quads and hamstrings are desperately trying to flex and extend the knee and hip as they are designed to but the movement is no longer a fluid forward motion, an imbalance has occurred. Instead of working together they are starting to pull against each other.

Quite often we have had days, weeks and even months of warning that something is not right, it could be described as a pain in my bum, tight hip, a sore knee, a dull ache down the side of my leg. These are the signs you need to look out for, inflexibility and imbalance of the muscles will without doubt result in injury. Runners knee, bursitis of the hip, Achilles tendonitis are all chronic injuries caused by overuse of certain muscles and take a long time to recover and that is only so long as it does not turn acute – ruptured cruciate ligament or torn Achilles for instance.

What can be done to avoid these chronic injuries?

woman runner jogger

Effective and consistent therapy routines.

Flexibility is vital to a distance runner, the repetitive contractions of these muscles required to produce forward movement can create weak points. Stretching must become part of your training plan not just as an afterthought on the door step following your 10 miler.

Developmental stretches are to be held for a period of 30 seconds, with the stretch first held where you feel the muscle ‘stretching’ and hold for 10 seconds, once the muscle eases slightly the stretch is increased further, and held for another 10 seconds, repeat this once more for a total time of 30 seconds.

A foam roller is every runner’s best friend, this will enable you to stretch, massage and self-myofascial release. They’re not expensive and there are plenty of physio based apps for the smartphone to demonstrate some great exercises. The key to the foam roller is “relax” – do not fight it! And again this needs to form part of your training schedule.

A golf ball is another great little tool that can be used to release off tension from the base of the foot or ankles, start off massaging very lightly as you start release off the soft tissue fascia.

Sports Massage, I know can be expensive, by ensuring you have an effective and more importantly consistent therapy routine that you maintain yourself, you will not need to have weekly massages. However a therapist’s assessment may highlight an issue on the horizon, they likely will be able to pin point the origin of the problem rather than treat the symptoms and a good therapist will certainly be able to release what the foam roller could not.

Cross-training helps strengthen your non-running muscles and rests your running muscles. You can focus on specific muscles, such as your inner thighs, that don’t get worked as much while running and may be weaker than you’re running muscles.

Conditioning training is vital in ensuring balance within the muscles is maintained, working core focused compound exercises are a great way of improving running strength and muscle balance.

In the short…

Listen to your body

Stretch & Roll

Adopt a consistent self maintained therapy routine

Cross Train & Condition

For more information, help or injury advice please drop me a comment

Twitter: @RunBowenRun

May 21, 2014
by michelle
1 Comment

Apocalypse 100 – Conquest, Famine, War & Death Race Report

Storm Sky

Apocalypse 100 – Conquer Conquest, Feed on Famine, Wipe out War & Defeat Death

This race come round rather fast and with it taking me out of my comfort zone and testing my body and my mind further still, I definitely felt that nervous apprehensive excitement.

I loved the concept of this race, based on the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I found the route interesting. The four 10 mile loops represented the Horsemen, Conquest, Famine, War and Death  and were joined up by a long 10 mile straight which when brought together navigated around the stunning Shropshire Hills.


The race start and finish was at Carding Mill Valley, Church Stretton, which has a majestically somewhat Jurassic feel, at this point I am now feeling quite calm and know in my heart I will keep moving forward through this 100 miles – failure is not an option.

The race registration and brief again was calm and relaxed with a little weather warning to reiterate the importance of hydration in the heat we were about to run in. For 2 days prior to race day I had increased my fluid intake considerably and also took on some Diorylite sachets throughout. I knew I was well hydrated pre-race meaning my focus during the race was to take on small amounts regularly in order to remain hydrated. My race nutrition came from a combination effort of TORQ fitness and my Mum, for the first time I decided to do as I was told (rarely happens!). At the Berghaus Trail Team Weekend, we were given an insight into the TORQ philosophy, what their products are and how to use them in order to achieve maximum performance. I know this worked for me, well, this combined with my Mum’s fantastic sweet potato savory rice anyway.

So 9am, race start and it was already feeling warm…

Conquest: I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer…

After completing the initial 10 mile climbing up from Carding Mill Valley, the Conquest loop began, its focus being the climb up to the trig point a Corndon Hill, with its amazing views you were forced to stop and take stock… I love it when that happens!


Check point 5 was amazing, it was my first sighting of Andy & Team J-Ollie my support crew, as they spotted me the pair of them came running up.

On completion of the Conquest loop, feeling fresh, it was time for the long drag up and over the Stiperstones, I would say technically the hardest stretch. It was virtually impossible to run this section, the stones are so unforgiven on the feet and ankles.

Famine: I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

Checkpoint 7, approximately 30miles in and we reached the Red Lion pub at London Common and there they were Team J-Ollie, what a lift. This was a drop bag checkpoint, at which point I was starting to get hungry. So I took on so sweet potato savory rice (thanks Mum!), a TORQ gel and cups of juice. Still feeling fresh legged and in high spirit, I was eager to get off again.

The focus of Famine was the climb to the trig point at Pontesford Hill, a short but very sharp climb and then a very intense descent before a short route back to the Red Lion pub and again a quick cuddle with my babies. This time as I reached the checkpoint it was obvious to see the impact the heat was having on some of the runners, strewn across the grass were the bodies of melting runners trying to replenish and rehydrate.

At this point the 50milers and 100milers part their ways, slightly concerned now as I am running on my own, the leaders were along way ahead and yet there was a fair distance behind me to the next 100 mile runner.

As I reached Dorrington, I had come to the end of the map as I turned it over, my heart sunk, I needed the other map but stupidly I had left it in the car at the last checkpoint. This is where my support crew was amazing, a quick phone call and within 20 minutes I had the map and I was back on track…. (Thanks Andy!)

War: I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.

Reaching Checkpoint 12 I was starting to feel tired, I had run 10 miles on my own and it was starting to hit dusk. I stopped again for quick bite to eat and took on a protein shake at this point. It was time to starting thinking about the night section of this race. This I was worried about, I had been running with another 100 mile runner up until Checkpoint 11 where he decided he didn’t have enough to go the full 100 and dropped down to the 50mile instead. I was apprehensive but I got my kit together, I changed to my warmer clothes and headtorch and off I went. As the light disappeared, I became sensitive to the noises and presence around me. I am unashamed to admit I completely freaked myself out and by the time I had got lost in a corn field I was getting a little panicked. I got myself back to checkpoint 12 and considered withdrawing, everything at this point was hurting, I was tired cold and feeling vulnerable.

Within 40 minutes the next group of runners came through the checkpoint, at last someone to run with. The route along Much Wenlock Edge was great, I was running with Nick Holt, who I had met at an earlier event and he was being paced out by a friend. It was such a relief and a great pace too.

Death: I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him.

At last Checkpoint 17 the final loop of this route! We were all feeling the exhaustion now, not just exhaustion through miles but also the lack of sleep and the effects of the heat from the day but mentally reaching the 70/80 mile loop was a boost. Whilst a long loop the terrain was a little more forgiving through fields, tracks and only some minor climbing. Our pace had slowed considerably so as we reached the end of this loop I started to pull away from Nick and his pacer.

I just want to thank Nick and his team for taking me through the night as this potentially could have been the end of my race.

I made the stop at checkpoint 22 quick, back into my shorts and cap and time to off load the headtorch and jacket. Although the pace was still slow I now knew I would finish, that was until I made another navigation error at the top of Priors Holt, causing a small sense of humour failure. I had to track back about half a mile to pick up the small path forking off to the right. On this path I caught up with 2 runners which was such a relief, the day was hotting up again and I really didn’t want anymore mistakes to extend this 100 miles even further so I decided to stay with these guys for the final stretch through checkpoint 23 and back to the finish. This part of the route had potential for lots of mistakes going for short stints on road, through fields, along tracks back onto roads it was constantly changing, again there was more short sharp climbs and then a long drag back up to the top of Carding Mill Valley. As we started on the descent down to the finish I started to pull away from the other 2. I’m never quite sure what happens here, but when you know there is only a mile left the pain you have been experiencing for the last 30 miles starts to disappear, and as I came down off the descent I could now open up to finish strong.

Down on the finish, my amazing support crew were there, these guys had been with me every step of the way and I am so grateful for that. Andy, Jessie and Ollie brought a smile to my face at every checkpoint they had made it too. They saved my race on a few occasions! My folks had also made the journey to see me finish which is always nice, my Dad slightly concerned about me coming down the descent on tired legs decided to track back to help me down, as I came running down he realised there was no need and now he was struggling to keep up as I came through the finish…. Haha sorry Dad!

I am happy with a 1st and only female finish and 5th place overall, I believe there was a 30% completion rate for this race and I think that demonstrates how hard this was, no doubt as a result of the weather, distance, terrain and route or even a combination of all is why a huge number of runners dropped down to the 50 miler or had to retire from the race.

I learned so much, what I got right I was happy with, my hydration, nutrition, preparation was spot on. I made some silly mistakes like not checking I had the right map at one point and I was definitely let down by my navigation skills, once the battery on my GPS had gone it became obvious how much I rely on this.

An amazing race in the beautiful setting of the Shropshire Hills, the organisers and army of volunteers were amazing. I would love to do it again. I know it should have been quicker by a couple of hours but I think I am off to Navigation School first…

It was obvious the importance of hydration throughout this event, I believe the 2 day prep run up is was helped me here. It was also great to feel the benefit of the TORQ gels, bars and energy drink throughout, the first 60 miles I religiously took on what I should and I felt great. I will explain their philosophy in more detail on the nutrition tab on my website, you can find the information on their website


I received a fabulous medal and trophy for my efforts and a desire to enter another event.

I finished and said 100 miles is not my distance but you know what? As the body recovers, I am thinking what next? In the words of Bill Bowerman “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.”

The Apocalypse 100 … tested the heart!

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