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Book review- Fat Girls’ Guide to Marathon Running by Julie Creffield

Book cover

You all know already that I love running. Most of you will know that I love reading books. Books about running combine two of my passions and are my favourite thing! So when I was kindly offered a pre-print copy of Julie Creffield’s book – Fat Girls Guide to Marathon Running for review, I was one of the first in the queue.

You might think that the book is not all that relevant to me as I am not overweight. I have been at the top end of my healthy BMI on occasion but could never be described as a plus size runner. However, regardless of your size, you will find that we are all runners here and a lot of the advice is true for all runners. Having done my first marathon this year, I was curious to see if there was anything in there that I would have liked to have known before I raced (the answer is yes, how does it really feel after mile 20?)

Running a marathon is not easy as we all know. If you are plus sized, it seems to be even more of a difficult task due to the comments that such runners have to put up with. Thankfully I have never been subjected to any of that (other than the usual: isn’t it bad for your knees? *eye roll*). Such a revelation that people can be so blinkered and prejudicial. Wouldn’t we be better using that energy to applaud anyone who gets off the sofa and decides to do something about their health?

So let’s talk a bit more about the book itself. Julie’s refreshing honesty is what makes this book special. It’s a bit like sitting down and having a chat with a good friend or a wise sage from your running club. Someone who has been there and done that and got the race T shirt to prove it.

Julie covers things to think about before signing up to the marathon – discovering why you want to run this marathon and discusses some of the logistics of actually signing up. She talks candidly about the training that will be required. Then you need to “sign up or shut up” to the marathon. Give yourself plenty of time to train, especially if you are starting from scratch.

Training and creating your own running plan is also covered and, if you are new to running, a guide to running terms is very handy. What on earth is a Yasso 800? Julie covers it.

I found it interesting to have a view from the back of the race, dealing with the dreaded sweeper bus. Most marathons have a cut-off point to allow the roads to be re-opened. Julie provides some very sensible advice about planning your pacing to make sure you aren’t caught by the sweeper bus. There is no sugar coating it: you will need to run a fair proportion of the race to ensure that you are not scooped up by the bus.

If you are expecting detailed marathon training plans, this is not the book for you. It is probably best for beginner runners or for those making the transition up to marathons. Where this book excels is covering the kind of detail that no-one else does, what does a race day actually feel like, what goes on your head while running, how to deal with others and their reactions to your running.

It seems to me to be a great motivator to be the best runner you can be, to help you adopt an athlete mindset and to help you ignore the naysayers, regardless of the size of your body.  Add it to your Christmas list and make 2018 the year you finally take the plunge towards fulfilling any long held marathon dreams.

 

Mad Dog looking for Winter Fun

When I was invited via a fellow blogger Elle (who blogs at this stylish blog http://www.keepitsimpelle.com) to take part in the Manchester Winter Series Run in Manchester, I didn’t take much persuasion. Some friends who had already done the Liverpool race had a great time while I was slogging around the hills of the Helsby Half Marathon. The prospect of polar bear hugs and a shiny snowflake medal was enticing.

Being allocated the early wave at 9.30am meant an early start from my home on the Wirral.  I used the postcode in the pre-race email for my Sat Nav which led to the only hiccup of the day. I drove round the Ethiad Stadium and carried on with the Sat Nav which took me to a terraced street!  No sign of an event car park.  I decided to head back to the stadium and this time, I saw the signs to the event and still parked up in good time. The car park was only 200 metres from the start as advertised thankfully.

At the start of Manchester Winter Run

The welcoming party – is there any brandy in that thing round your neck?

Having worn my Mad Dog T shirt, I had to get this photo with the St Bernard at the beginning. I then had plenty of time to look round the event village and join the relatively small queue for the toilet. I watched the kids 2.5km race go off and then it was time for us to line up and get warmed up. It was quite sobering that when the race announcer asked if anyone knew someone touched by cancer, everyone put their hand up. Some people there had cancer and were currently undergoing treatment so they got a huge cheer. It was a good reminder why the Race series was taking place.

AM at start  of race

Sunglasses! In February! In Manchester!

With the snow machine pumping out snow and “Ice Ice Baby” playing, we were off. I knew the race was two 5km loops around the stadium but I hadn’t really paid much attention that the Ethiad Stadium is the home of Manchester City FC and that it was the venue for the Commonwealth Games in 2002. So when I rounded the corner, I had a jolt of recognition followed by a flash back to a beautiful summer’s day when I attended the Games. It was the night that Paula Radcliffe won her Commonwealth gold medal for the 5,000m.  I remember being hugely inspired by that and really getting into running at that point.

I decided there and then to channel my inner Paula and make this my best shot at a new personal best for 10km. It was a largely flat course with no wind with only a few U-turns to slow you down slightly so I figured I would go for it. Part of the course involved a running track so I had fun imagining the crowd going wild as I crossed the finish line!

Batala Mersey drumming troupe, who had been at Mad Dog 10k, were out in force and provided a boost at 1 and 9 km. There was also a penguin party in the running track with lots of enthusiastic penguins cheering on (not real ones you understand – that would be too weird and/or ground breaking.)

AM and St Bernard puppy

Running and dogs – what’s not to love?

All my training for the upcoming half marathon In Liverpool on 13th March felt like it was paying off as I felt really strong. I did wonder if I was going too fast and was going to fade towards the end but my Garmin stats show that the last kilometre was my fastest. I managed a sprint finish much to the surprise of the race announcer (who also thought I was a man, go figure!). A personal best of 52:04 was in the bag! This is a whole minute off my previous best.

At the finish, I was drawn to the podium with a picture of the Alps in the background. As I got closer, I realised that there were two real St Bernard dogs. The puppy was adorable so I got in there for a photo opportunity. One of the volunteers took this great photo for me. As a dog lover, this was the icing on the cake of a great race experience.

Medal of Winter Run

Lovely race bling

All three Winter series Runs in London, Liverpool and Manchester  were inaugural races. Manchester attracted 3,000 runners and clearly the organisers are hoping to expand on this next year; watch their web site for details of the race in 2017 being announced. I would recommend it as a race for all the family to attend; there was a lovely atmosphere and the loops meant it was spectator friendly. I will persuade Adventurous children along next year. It’s obviously a good one for a personal best too with a nice flat course and the sight of the Ethiad stadium in my case providing inspiration!

Thanks to Human Race for inviting me via Elle to take part. I didn’t have to pay for my entry but all views are my own.