Owning the Night

Last year Nike’s We Own The Night 10k was one of my favourite events ever.  Unfortunately, as with all good things, this year didn’t quite match 2013 but I still had a wicked night with some booze, some dancing, some pampering and some running!

The organisers had clearly taken on board feedback from last year and changed the Victoria Park course to make it wider as well as introducing guest wrist bands to allow supporters into the race village.

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The weather wasn’t on our side and Gemma and I arrived at Bethnal Green to heavy but sporadic showers – quite a difference to lazing around on beanbags in the sunshine last year!  We quickly put our names down for a manicure in the Elle tent (we could only get a post race appointment even though we were there early) but there was no free copies of the mag.

New this year was a hair section where you could sit and use some dry shampoo or styling products – we took some flower clips for our hair!

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We went to explore the other areas of the race village, where we got a back massage, before heading to the bar for a quick pint of cider before the run….well, I was under instructions to take it easy after a lot of racing so I thought what the hell?!

We did get a few peculiar looks from other runners…

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The start area was much better this year with 6 different zones rather than 3 – no one was checking the wristbands though so you could have gone anywhere really (Gemma had lost hers and had no problems getting to the front).  They had a separate VIP line at the very front so there was no starting with Paula this time but we scooted our way forwards!

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The route was 2 laps – the first 5k was fine after some people dodging in the first few minutes and there was plenty of music and bands on the way round including 2 party tunnels with flashing lights and music.  Run Dem Crew were there in force and, in the absence of a Chaser crowd, they are definitely the next best thing!

Run Dem Crew sharing the love and the party tunnels

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The second lap didn’t run quite so smoothly.  As soon as I passed the 5k marker the course became very congested.  They had obviously decided to set the groups off in waves with gaps inbetween which makes sense…unless it’s not a 2 lap course!

The second half of the race was hard work with a lot of weaving & diving and running on the grass to get through.  I’m sure it was just as annoying to have people continuously brush past you as it was for those on the second lap. Definite area of improvement.

At about 8k I had most definitely decided drinking a pint of cider before running was a very bad idea, I felt a bit queasy…  The finish line came around and there was a big sign saying ‘the party starts here!’  We were given a goody bag and there was a table of Vita Coconut water so I stocked up on a few boxes.  I saw Gemma (who was delighted with her PB – cider made her run faster!) and we made our way out to collect our Alex Monroe finishers necklace – a nice touch for a women’s only race.

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We went back to the Elle tent to have our manicure (Nails Inc, teal, very nice!) and spent the rest of the evening dancing in a festival atmosphere where Nick Grimshaw was the DJ.  Disappointingly, they issued a token in the goody bag for a glass of prosecco this year, rather than an unlimited supply, so we made sure we went back to the pub for last orders before panicking we had missed the last tube home!

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I’m not really sure about what I think of women’s only events, I prefer running in mixed races (where I can pick the men off one by one as I run past them…) but Nike do a good job with this one and, with the guest passes, it was definitely more inclusive this year even if I did have to compromise on the prosecco!

Good job Nike – maybe change the course to a single lap next year though?

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Review: Runners Need Women’s Event

This summer Runners Need are running some exclusive Women’s Running Events held in their stores across London.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but when I arrived at the Waterloo Bridge store I was greeted with champagne and Lola’s cupcakes so I was pretty happy already!

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They checked me in then gave me a free Asics’s technical run top (a really good one that I would actually have paid for) in a choice of pink or black. Pink please!  As if that wasn’t enough, I was then presented with a chunky goody bag and went off to find a seat whilst juggling all my freebies and trying not to spill a drop of bubbly or ending up with cake all over my face!

The first guest speaker was Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Running magazine, Christina Macdonald.  She talked about her experiences with running & fitness, problems she’s had along the way and her journey to becoming a marathon runner.

Secondly was Nina Anderson, Britain’s number 1 in W40 200m, 400m, & 800m, and top Running Coach.  She was very inspiring to listen to having tackled all distances from 200m to the marathon and coached people across all levels of the fitness spectrum.  She offered us 3 key running tips

Nina’s Top Tips:

  1. Every session you do should have a point – how does this run relate to your running objective?
  2. Keep a training diary – an excellent way of monitoring progress and reflecting on achievements when lacking in motivation.
  3. The importance of strength & conditioning work.  She recommends a body weight session which can easily be done at home (she didn’t specify what this included but I imagine a combination of squats, lunges, push-ups, tricep dips, dreaded planks etc)

Finally she told us that easy runs should be easy and hard runs should be hard.  If you make the easy runs hard then you can’t push yourself as much on the hard runs.  Makes perfect sense but I’m still guilty of pushing myself a bit too hard on those easy runs…I’m not entirely convinced this means I don’t push myself enough on the hard runs after throwing up on Wandsworth Common during my last interval session but I definitely understand the benefits of taking some sessions easy!

We also had talks from Mike Whitby from Asics and Nora Mulcahy from Covent Garden Physio.

Mike introduced us to the Asics 33 range (named because it considers all 33 foot joints) which promotes ‘natural running’.  Natural running is allowing the foot to run, quite simply, as naturally as possible, much like barefoot running, but still offering your foot some protection against concrete, grimy streets and the occasional dog poo.  It’s a lightweight and flexible shoe with a low heel drop to allow your foot this natural movement and strike the midfoot or forefoot rather than the heel.  The benefits of this are that you land over the centre of mass which means the body utilises its own cushioning properties and therefore reduces injury risk.  Apparently only 15% of runners are midfoot strikers and 10% forefoot.

Nora talked about her transition to barefoot running.  When she started there was little advice available so she made the mistake of heading straight out for a 5 mile run…with a backpack.  This left her calves feeling like ‘they were about to explode’ so she didn’t repeat this mistake!  She stressed the importance of going back to basics and, if you want to transition, you need to build up 1km at a time.  Sounds like you need a lot of patience!  Nora now runs round Victoria Park, completely barefoot, with her shoes in her hands attracting odd looks from the locals.  She loves it!

I’m not quite sure what I think about minimalist running shoes, and I’m certainly in no rush to go crazy and abandon my faithful cushioning altogether, but I have been considering adding a lighter ‘racing’ shoe to my collection.  I had a chat with Mike afterwards and, despite being an Asics rep, he wasn’t all ‘Asics this and Asics that’.  He advised me that I probably wouldn’t have the time to transition to something too light, like the Adidas Adios or Asics Tarther for my next marathon in October, but I could definitely switch to a performance shoe if that was the way I wanted to go (he recommended the DS for me, yes this is an Asics shoe but I told him I was an Asics fan!)

I shall most definitely be looking into it further and will aim for a lighter racing shoe for my next 10k, maybe that’s the answer!

There are still 2 Runners Need events left this year, Victoria & Southwark Bridge, so if you’re a fabulous runner chick, of any level, make sure you get down there, it’s open to all!  Just make sure you register on the website first.

Awesome Swag Bag!

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