Sunday, 13 November 2011

Biscuit Nikki...Come in!

The Rhythms of life, the deer and the queen.

Ok ok, it's been a while and I've been practically ignoring you all.  I'd like to say that I've not had anything interesting to write about, but that wouldn't quite be true. I'd also like to say that it's because I've been doing so much running, which is sort of true and I'd like to say I've cut down on the biscuits, but that would be an outright lie.

So I am back running again and back into a reasonably steady training rhythm.  I'm trying to get out several times a week and am also trying to remember to rest at the right times and know when to take it easy or train hard (which is the tricky thing).

It's amazing to be out plodding the pavements again and every run seems to have something worth learning from it. The great circle of life has also come back around to the winter joys of cross country (update to follow).

Whilst out on my long run recently I came across the most beautiful deer in a nearby wood.  You're probably thinking of a serene movie scene, where the main actor has some kind of moment of realisation and complete tranquility before the stunning deer leaps away into the woodland.  Real life is rarely like this.

As I strove out through the woodland I heard a shuffling noise and I quickly flicked my head round, expecting to see a squirrel.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a large shape and being out in the wood with a ridiculous imagination I immediately thought it was a robber (normal reaction of course). This caused me to shout out in alarm and the deer bolted. I can't blame it really - I'd have done the same.

So this taught me that no matter what is around the great corner of life, it's probably best if you don't stop and scream at it.

This brings me nicely onto cross country!

At the time of writing this the Sandhurst Joggers team have completed the second event in the season, having won the first.

Everyone is running really well and I am so pleased to be back racing with the team.  On the topic of screaming and being startled by passing deer I though I'd take this moment to take my hat off to Jim Casey. Jim caught me completely by surprise as he went surging past towards the end of today's race.  It spurred me on to push a bit harder and I genuinely believe that if Jim hadn't needed to stop to 'get his bearings' he'd have beaten me. Keep trying Jim and I'm going to be a lot more careful to keep a look out over my shoulder in the future! Apparently I am scared by imaginary robbers (given the deer experience) so maybe you need to catch me by surprise again...certainly worked for that deer!

Last weekend was the Sandhurst Joggers running weekend. I had to miss it to go and see a performance of 'We Will Rock You' directed by one of my best friends Laura.  For those of you that don't know, 'We will rock you' is a musical based on the top hits by Queen. 

The play was amazing, but I have to say that ever since watching it I have been completely unable to run without one of the songs cropping up in my head.  This could be brilliant if I was crossing the finish line with 'We are the champions' or 'Don't stop me now' running through my mind, but all too often it seems to be 'Radio GaGa'.  Oh well, real life is rarely like the movies!

Keep letting life surprise you,

Biscuit Nikki x

Oh and as a treat - here's a picture of a smiley biscuit! (I know I spoil you) Special thanks to Lou for spotting it on the treats table!

Happy biscuit time (Thanks Lou for spotting it)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The two simple rules to weight loss

Greetings Biscuit-fans,

At Biscuit-Nikki towers it is well documented that we have a slight weakness towards biscuit based confectionary(slight weakness being an understatement) and as of 2 mins ago there's still not a biscuit based diet plan in circulation (patent is pending).

I think this weakness is largely genetic. My family has a rich and wonderful history with food (biscuits especially) and those of you that know me well, will know that little Biscuit Nikki (aka my sister) is a fantastic cake/pastry chef.  She follows in my Granddad's large footsteps, as he was also a chef and I am sure there's plenty more hiding in the branches of the family tree.

With this in mind my family as a whole, have lots of experience with dieting. My Nan has tried everything going - including acupuncture and hypnotherapy. And I think it is now safe to say that my generation (mainly me and my sister) have nailed it! Let me reveal my secret:

1. Eat a BALANCED diet
2. Exercise more

I'm calling it the common sense diet (patent also still pending).

You can imagine how shocked I was to find that this idea is not original and has been recycled many many times before (see latest government health campaign). You would also think that with all the 'join this site to learn one weird tip for a flatter stomach' websites around that no one knows my 2 amazing rules for a more healthy life.

I'm always blown over by how many people always want a quick fix for everything (see X-factor) instead of the tried and tested reliable route. There is no quick fix, every diet fad (yes I said it - FAD) is essentially based on those two tips - eat less and do more.

And it's with this in mind that I just want to talk about 'The Lemonade Diet'. I could easily substitute it for the Atkins diet, the cabbage soup diet, the chocolate diet and the soon-to-be-famous biscuit diet (book in process). I have chosen the 'Lemonade diet' because it is the sole most stupidest thing I have heard about all week - and that includes the conversation I had with the self-scan check out a few days ago!  (Unexpected item in shopping basket - how can it be unexpected when I scanned the bread moments earlier - I think that constitutes a fair warning).

Some of you may be blissfully ignorant of the lemonade diet - let me just take a sledgehammer to your naivety.



When life gives you lemons - don't go on the lemonade diet

The lemonade diet involves spending up to 10 days eating NOTHING (see point 1 - eat less) and drinking only salt water, laxative tea and "lemonade". Which will largely make you vomit and poo a lot more (for the hell of it see point 2 - do more).

 Oh and it's not what you probably think of as lemonade (various fizzy brands available) but a lemon drink that you add hot pepper to. If you are unsure about how to make your lemonade (see: lazy) then you can pay lots of money to have some delivered to you (but you are kind of cheating on point 2 - do more). There's several recipes available for this lemonade - I wont write them here for fear that someone may actually try to make it. Oh and also if you're worried about being laughed at when saying you're on the 'lemonade diet' you can also call it 'The Master Cleanse' - but you will sound like you've joined a cult.

Do this and you'll loose an arbitrary amount of weight and probably die from not eating anything.

Where to begin on how stupid this is...

Your body needs food. There's several scientific reports and millions of years of experience and anecdotal evidence that prove this one, so it's not up for argument. If you don't eat, your body goes into 'starvation mode' and the next time you do eat your body will convert the food largely to fat, in order to support your body for any potential lack of food that might arise in the future (like if you decide to try some other stupid diet). This is why a large portion of people will immediately put back on any weight they lost (and more in lots of cases) when they come off their FAD diet.

To be honest I can't even be bothered to write any more about this, as this argument alone proves it: You need food - this diet suggests no food = stupid diet. I'll take an extra point for showing my working out.

It's occurred to me that I might have offended some people who are on this diet, but if you really think this is a good idea then you should probably have supervision whilst using the internet.

Thank you - I'm here all week.

Please send any complaints to me and I will provide you with a free copy of my latest Biscuit Diet Plan (normal price £50) as a way to say sorry.
On another train of thought if you're genuinely thinking of doing that then don't. I haven't finished writing the plan in biro on the back on my mouse mat yet (ok I'm lying - I only have a Crayola Crayon and it's red for those of you interested).

The Happy Biscuit Diet Plan

Love and hugs to all my running friends!

- Latest foot news -
X-ray came back as healed and I've been allowed to start running in small doses again. Some of you may have seen a rare sighting of me at the Runneymead Relay last month and it's true, I am back up to small races. Let the training commence!

Keep using common sense!

Biscuit Nikki x

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Tickled Pink

The inability to run has clearly not affected my ability to want and purchase new running gear! We may be entering the summer of discontent, but I am keeping calm and carrying on by doing my bit for boosting sale numbers and attempting to purchase more pairs of trainers.
I never used to like shoe shopping and generally found that all my outfit combinations could be completed by my vintage boots. Those of you that know me well will know exactly what pair of boots they are, as I'm generally either found wearing those boots or wearing trainers. I've yet to find an outfit that my boots don't go with, regardless of what a few certain mum's think (they do go with dresses I tell you!).

So this weekend I found myself in Alton Sports buying a new pair of trail trainers - (Adidas Kanadia TR3's WITH gore tex for you running geeks out there!) Oh yes - no wet feet for me come the cross country season! I'm slightly miffed actually, as I have since come home and found them on sale for almost £10 cheaper on their website...grrrrr!!!! Lesson learnt there - don't trust Saturday shop assistants!

Anyway - where was I?
I have slowly been edging towards the stage where I have more bits of running gear and shoes than 'going out' and evening outfits.  I can co-ordinate running outfits for a full week (including head bands) but am stuck for nice outfits after just two evenings out. This has all been put on hold whilst I've been on the bench and it's given me a chance to try and right the balance a bit. Which of course I didn't do and continued to scorer the internet for things to buy when I am 'back' to form.

All this sportaholic shopping puts me in a pretty good position for the next rant - what's with all the pink?

Seriously - there are other colours out there! Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with pink - I just don't understand why 99%* (*numbers not representative of any real statistic) of all women's kit is in pink. Is this a supply and demand thing? Because when I'm out at events I see just as much of every other colour - so where are all these runners buying the pink?
Look at all the professional elite athletes - when they're not wearing GB colours they're not usually in pink either. It just drives me mad. When the winter season comes and we're back to reflective coats again I guarantee the men will have a choice of fluorescent yellow, green or orange whereas in the women's clothes racks it will be yellow or pink.
Karrimor Wmn's Hi Viz Jacket
Karrimor Hi Vis Jacket (Pic from Sweatshop)
Trainers as well - look at the latest 'On running' Cloudtech shoes. You can have black/green or blue/azure if you're a man and the women's shoe comes in...well pink/pink. Good. Well Done market research team.

Nike Wmn's 4 Inch 2-in-1 Tempo Short
Nike Running Shorts "Oh what a nice pair of black shorts - how can we make them better? I know - let's add a pink underlayer for the hell of it."

So if any sports companies are reading this then firstly - Adidas good work on the Kanadia's (they're not pink) and to everybody else: I'd really like to be able to buy compression gear in yellow - "Kill Bill" style (I'm looking in your direction 'Skins') and have you ever thought about all the poor men out there that might want to be visible in pink reflective jackets?


Of course - at the end of the day the colour doesn't really matter and it's how hard you race and whether you achieve your own targets, not what you're wearing.

Can you imagine being beaten by someone looking like they've fallen out of Kill Bill  film though? Seriously? Genius.

Keep hiding your credit cards!

Love Biscuit Nikki x

P.S The above gear (apart from the Kill Bill pic) can all be purchased from Sweatshop. I'm not advertising them, that's just where I got the pictures from. Oh and also I am joking about the Kill Bill thing (unless you've found somewhere that sells yellow compression gear then please inbox me)

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Please hold caller: I'll be right with you...

Whoa - so I've been a bit AWOL lately. You could say I've been neglecting my blogging duties, or you could say I've just been hugely busy...read on:

Firstly, Mr Biscuit Nikki has passed his PhD! We had a few weeks of him being inseperable from his laptop and books but he had the final test last week (viva for all you fluent in academic lingo) and passed!!! As a treat I then whisked him away to Prague in the Czeck Republic and we spent 4 days trying to not look like ignorant English tourists.

I highly recommend Prague, it's a beautiful city and if you stay off the pub/club streets you can largely avoid the copious amounts of stag groups that are attracted to the fact that in many places, beer is cheaper than lemonade. We even went on a three hour tour of the city on Segways. If you ever get the chance to ride a segway I recommend them. They're really easy to get the hang of, as they are incredibly intuative and our tour guide insisted they are very hard to fall off of. I did prove this wrong slightly later on in the tour but wasn't hurt. Oh and Jon (aka Mr Biscuit Nikki) nearly fell off a cliff (no exageration). Again I suspect this was more down to our lack of skills than the segways, or our guide's ability to teach people (or the cheap price of beer).

We left deciding that we need to learn to speak the basic langage before our next Eurpoean trip. Letting everyone speak English to us just became embarassing when we knew so little about their native tongue. This was even more apparent when, after several attempts to point and gesture at the item or service we wanted, the shop assistant or waiter would simply respond with 'how can I help you madame?' Oh and we're also going to learn the art of packing everything into hand luggage to get one over on Easyjet (if you've travelled with them you'll know what I mean).

So we quite fancy Sweden and are now looking for a good way to learn Swedish. There are several bits of software around so we'll see how we get on!

After all the travelling excitment, catching up with work has been tricky. We've also had the first of the Yateley 10k Road Races, which went successfully and we're already gearing up for the next one. So I've not had a chance to get typing.

My next foot consultant meeting is coming up in a couple of weeks and I eagerly await his update on the old foot situation. Four days stomping round Prague gave me achy feet (really achy feet!) but didn't irritate the old injury - So that's pretty promising!

Anyway I am well and truly back! Updates a plenty and hopefully a bit more foot related excitement in the following weeks!

Finally a chance to sit back with a cup of tea and a good biscuit. Things have been hectic!

Or you could just say that I've been neglecting my blogging duties!

Keep Running and communicating using lots of pointing!

Biscuit Nikki x

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Simple Bare Necessities!

Oh hello there, thanks for dropping by. Gather round and get comfortable because this could be a controversial post...

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...

*Disclaimer: The following post is purely my opinion and based on very little/no scientific fact

There is a craze sweeping the running scene at the moment. I have used the term 'craze' but have also heard it described as an 'epidemic', 'revoloution' and 'fad'. All or none may be correct, but I chose craze just because the topic does seem to make people go a little coco-loco at the moment. Do you know what it is yet?

Barefoot running.

It's often heralded by the barefoot running community as the answer to eliminating a lot of injuries and the book 'Born to Run' is credited with helping to give it the hypothetical 'leg up' on it's way to public awareness. Before I get stuck in, let me just explain to all our non-running friends what I am talking about:

Barefoot running is pretty much what it says on the tin - running without shoes. However in the running world it also covers people who run in extremely minimalist shoes, a common brand being the Vibram five fingers (refered to as VFF). VFF's are like gloves for your feet, providing the feeling of runing barefoot without the pain of treading on sharp stones. Try treading on an upturned plug/stickle brick for an idea of why VFF's are a very good idea if you want to grin and bare it.

File:FiveFingersKSOside.jpg
VFF - taken from good olde Wikipedia

It is claimed (note the claimed) that running barefoot is in fact better for us and there would be far fewer foot/leg injuries in the community if we didn't have such supportive shoes. The logic kind of makes sense. When you have your foot in a plaster cast for several months the muscles weaken and people often require intensive physio to get back to 'normal' again. The same is believed by the barefoot brigade about overly supportive and cushioned shoes, by providing all the extra support the muscles do less work and hence we get more injuries. (Simplistic view). If you are really interested in the philosophy behind it just google barefoot running and you will be bombarded with information.

In fact, it seems to be making a lot of headway. Many shoe companies have now launched more minimalist shoes to cater for the demand. I should know - I've brought a pair of Nike Free +2 and  have to admit they are extremely comfortable - although being injured still I have not run in them.

Then there's the 'anti' barefoot gang. It's difficult to know exactly how to describe the 'anti's' as I have yet to meet someone who genuinely hates/disapproves of barefoot running. I think it's more a case of people either being sceptical or deciding it's great for others but not for them. So we'll call them the sceptics.

From my trawling of various forums it does seem a little like the barefoot brigade think that everyone is out to get them and anyone questioning the barefoot revolution is automatically part of the 'anti' gang, when in fact they are just sceptical.

The reason for all the scepticism? Well there's not actually any solid scientific proof that barefoot running is actually better for us. In comparison to running shoes it hasn't been around nearly long enough to obtain any valid or concrete results. There have been a few minor studies carried out and printed in low impact scientific journals, often quoted on barefoot running websites, but when looked at in detail (rather than just the abstract) they only provide 'snapshots' of running and none have really been big or thorough enough to make any real conclusions. One study I looked at actually discounted two barefoot runners from it's results, as they had to drop out half way through the tests due to injuries - doesn't really seem right does it?

Ok so now I sound like a skeptic. Let me balance the books - whilst there is no scientific research done to prove barefoot running is better/worse for us, there's also no scientific research to prove that running shoes are better/worse for us. The barefoot running community is still a very small percentage of all the runners out there, so it's very difficult to compare injury rates etc. and barefoot running isn't helped by the fact that you can't just go out and run without shoes. After years of shod feet it takes many months to build up to being able to run distances like you can in trainers and many barefoot 'wannabes' fall at the first hurdle by attempting to run 6 miles in just VFFs on their first outing.

In my opinion it's just like the races we run. Some people love short sprints and others excel at ultra distances. What appeals to one person may be considered hell for another. It's exactly the same with barefoot running. I have no doubt that it does help some people, just like i have no doubt that trainers help some people too. I have great admiration for those that make the 'transfer' but I am not convinced that barefoot running is for (or will benefit) everyone. I do believe in giving everything a go before poo-pooing it though (sorry for the term). Before jumping on either bandwagon, think about giving it a try and deciding for yourself. So if you fancy trying out a bit of naked feet I have this advice:

Don't just go for it! Get some advice from some of the very detailed barefoot websites and communities that are brimming with tips and tricks to start making the transition. This will keep you (hopefully) free from injury and make the whole process smoother and more rewarding. Remember: Stay safe kids!

And if you don't fancy trying it out? Well then don't. Simples!

So will I be barefoot running soon? No. But will I be running in trainers soon? No.

So let's call it even and go and have a cup of tea and a biscuit shall we?
Now let's make friends and go and gang up on the 'Zumba' or backwards running society...

Keep debating

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy!
Just go to:
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Another official press release from BiscuitNikki Towers

Well with all the non-running related activities recently I've been neglecting the blog a bit.
In terms of a running update we're into week 10 of no running - although it really feels like week 100. I counted today, expecting it to actually be a lot more than that. The 'itching to get out' feeling has been replaced by general frustration with the whole situation. So ok, it's only been 10 weeks, but that feels like so so long (insert more moaney self moping comments).

In good news, lots of my fellow Sandhurst Joggers who marshaled at this years marathon got places for the London Marathon 2012 next year through the marshals ballot. Well Done guys!

So what have I been up to? Well with all the beautiful weather and no running orders there was only one polite option; beer festival!

Reading held it's annual beer and cider festival last weekend, the perfect opportunity to meet up with good friends and sit around in tents trying copious amounts of ciders and perrys (in my case at least). The weather was perfect and the atmosphere was relaxed and extremely chilled out, giving it a good festival vibe that made the whole site feel like a giant pub. It was great to catch up with some old uni friends that I don't see nearly as much as I'd like and be joined by my lil sister too. For the first time in ages I didn't want to be running in the beautiful weather.

In sadder news forest fires have been raging in Swinley Forest/Crowthorne Woods, my favourite place to run and walk. The surrounding roads (including the main road from my house) have been closed for over a week whilst the fire brigade do their best to try and get it under control. At last report over 300 hectares had been affected and two stupid youths have been arrested on suspicion of arson. I'm quite upset by it. I love that area and am very reluctant to go over there now as I imagine it's going to be absolutely devastated. The marsh areas usually recover well from fire but the large trees will be a different matter. There are no decent photos showing the damage yet and I think that might be something to be pleased about. I really don't want to see.

So I'm not going to be the only one trying to recover in the following weeks. Perhaps by the time I am able to run over there some of the wildlife and greenery will have started to grow and return. I'm going to try and concentrate on flexibility and core strength over the coming few weeks, putting me in the best position once I am allowed to pound the pavements again.

If you're a regular reader of my mindless dribble then you might be pleased to know I've added a new tool - you can now subscribe by e-mail, meaning that when I write a new update you wont have to wait for me to post a link on facebook. And at Biscuit-Nikki towers we hold client privacy with the highest importance so wont pass your e-mail onto any third parties or contact you about anything other than blog updates.

Fancy following in my racing footsteps? The Yateley Road Race series is starting next month. It consists of three 10k road races through the summer, on the first Wednesday of June, July and August. All money raised is donated to local charities and the organisation is top notch! (I should know - I am on the committee).
Come on guys, we need to 'right the balance' - if I can't run one of you lot will have to!
For more information follow the link below to the Yateley Road Race website:

Yateley Road Race Home

Keep running!

Biscuit Nikki x

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Sticks and stones may break my bones

Actually sticks and stones will break my bones if combined with running too much. It's official, hottest news around (aside from something in the side columns about a "Royal Wedding") I have a confirmed stress fracture on the 2nd metatarsal!

So that pretty much explains all that pain then! And you all thought I was just slacking off (only kidding!).

So what does this mean? Erm, nothing really. It was identified via X-ray, which means it has already started to heal, as this is the only way it will show up. It's actually quite a fair way into the healing process and from my point of view I can't really feel much discomfort or pain there any more.

The doctor is a tad over cautious and has made another check up appointment with me in 2 months time. I was tempted not to mention this so I don't get yelled at when I am out, but he has requested no running until then. 8 weeks! Another 8 weeks and we're already 9 weeks in! Clearly he's slightly insane (well it can't possibly be me).

I'm still in many minds about this. Healing time for a met fracture is supposed to be 6-8 weeks (a lot longer if it's a tibia). As I'm now on week 9 with no pain and only slight discomfort at times, I personally feel 8 weeks is way too long. Everything I have seen suggests that you can start run/walking once you're able to briskly walk for 1 hour without pain. I am up to 2 hours. I am going to gauge it all on feel, but as it's still a bit achy every now and then I don't intend to do anything just yet. Of course I am biased because quite clearly I have a running addiction.

Going to finish with a bit of a quote for the day, the parents of younger children might recognise it from 'The Bee Movie'

" According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly.
It's wings are too small to get it's fat little body off the ground.
The bee of course, flies anyway
because bees don't care what humans think is impossible"

From a 'Daily Mail' article about bees. Oh and it's a picture of a bee.
This makes me think about other anomalies. Scientists say that the best body type for sprinters is a muscular build standing somewhere between 5'11 to 6'3. They say Usain Bolt doesn't have the right build to be a fast 100m runner. Not entirely sure if they've said that to his face of course, it wouldn't give them much of a head start to run away (for you fact lovers: at top speed (inc reaction time) Bolt runs the equivalent of 23mph).

So who wants to help me prove that biscuits are in fact the perfect running fuel...

Keep watching Royal Weddings (and more interestingly hard core Royalist fans that turn up 2 days before the event to start camping on the pavement)

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to sponsor my recovery and (eventual) marathon for Brain Tumour UK?
 It's easy! Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley  

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tales from the front line

The Virgin London Marathon is a truly spectacular event. With over 37,000 people successfully making it to the start line the statistics only get better from there:

750,000 bottles of water
1,250 portable toilets (and 400 urinals)
6,000 volunteers (Not including start/finish and course marshals which account for another 6,000)
7,200 Blogs!
30ish Sandhurst Joggers!

and many, many cheering crowds.

With my sign safely stashed on the Sandhurst Joggers coach, I accompanied the 50 runners to the start area at some stupid time in the morning, which I wasn't completely sure existed. Lots of nervous chattering on the way into London and a brief state of madness, when my competitive side tried to encourage the bus driver to race the other coaches (it didn't work - he's good at his job) and we were there. The organisation is second to none with clear signs (and giant balloons) guiding the runners to their correct starting zones.

With my huge sign in my hand I started my own journey to my cheering point. Having only decided on the coach that morning that I was heading for mile 17, it turned out I'd made a very good decision. Mile 17 is just in front of the Crossharbour DRL tube station and is equipped with everything a spectator needs including a pub with a live band, a wall to sit on whilst waiting and an ASDA (with toilets!). I recommend it to anyone wanting a good place to watch - I was at the front and had lots of room with no one behind me (making leaving to get the tube again very easy).

It wasn't long before the elites came zooming past. A group of kids next to me didn't really understand the difference between elites and normal runners, so the world champions were cheered along with accompanying kids shouts of 'believe in yourself - you can do it!'. If they'd ever doubted that they would finish, this hopefully gave them an added boost, as well as drawing a smile to those standing nearby.

Then began the slow and steady flow of the mass runners. I take my imaginary hat off to each and every one of you. The sun had come out to contradict the UK's rainy habit and boy was it hot hot hot. Many runners were struggling to cope with dehydration, but the vast majority just kept on going, aided by the frantic cheering crowds eager to help and motivate those to do something that they themselves might never achieve.

It's a really humbling experience watching people loosing their voices and getting blisters on their hands as they cheer for strangers they will probably never meet. An old man stood next to me waiting to see his granddaughter and was doing his best to shout out every name he could read from runners' vest tops!

I found it really difficult to spot the people I knew - often to the stage where they were practically waving in my face before I noticed them. I did my best to cheer everyone and try to provide added support to those that I knew (and could see), but the sheer amount of people becomes hypnotizing after a while. Soon I was ready to do a battle of my own as I attempted to transverse London on the Underground carrying a huge sign.

For once people were helpful (a rarity on London transport on any other day) as they made room for me (although being bashed on the head by a huge cheering sign does tend to make you move) and I enjoyed the banter that usually went along the lines of "running 26.2 miles? Pah they should try spectating!" and various other jokes that we all found very funny at the time but now I think about them they were pretty rubbish.

I found a few Sandhurst Joggers lounging (nice word for collapse) in St. James Park and I set up the 'meeting point' for the return coach journey. My crowd management skills turned out to be pretty poor as I did my best to round everyone up ready for the journey back to the coach. It is probably safe to say that it's a good job I am not organising the marathon, or the start would be delayed by hours whilst I waited for people that had got out of bed late or got stuck in the traffic!

Then to top the day off I sent the majority of the group off to the coach and then followed up with about 6 runners who I then got a little bit lost. Lesson learned: Marathon runners do not enjoy walking more than they have to after a race. My bad - we all know my navigational skills are on par with a goldfish though so I can't really be to blame.

So (mostly) we all got back safely. I had a wonderful day and am so so proud of all our runners who completed the course. I wont list you all because just like coach monitoring I am bound to forget someone, but you're all amazing and I hope your legs have recovered a bit now. I also want to mention all the volunteers we provided for the finish line - good work guys! Having helped marshal before I know it's a long old day but hopefully an extremely rewarding one and I can't wait to (hopefully) see some of you at the finish line next year!

Oh and as a shameful self-plug the sign made it into the Guardian newspaper write up:
LINK

Well I wasn't just going to let that pass was I?

So how can I sum the day up?
Hot
Inspiring
Long (in both distance, time and the queues for the tube)
Emotional
Proud - for both our capital city putting on an amazing effort and for all the runners and volunteers.

So we all know spectating isn't really my thing, although I seem to be getting the hang of it, but there is no where I would have rather been on Sunday.

Here's to joining you all next year!

Keep inspiring!

Biscuit Nikki x

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Here we go!

Whoo!
Wasn't sure if I'd get this in on time but couldn't resist the chance to wish all those running in marathons tomorrow the very very best of luck.
I am so excited for you all and I hope all your races go well - whatever your personal target!

People have asked me if I'm going to be sad when watching the London Marathon tomorrow - but you know what? It's not my race and was obviously never meant to be. So instead I am SUPER hyped for the rest of you.

If you're running in London I will do my best to cheer for you - I don't know where I will be standing yet, so it'll hopefully come as a nice surprise when you hear me yelling and see this....(drum roll) THE Official Sandhurst Support team sign:



Go Sandhurst Go!

And you haven't even seen the pole it's going to be on yet! (ok ok keep calm and carry on)

Oh yes, several hours of painting, cutting cardboard and using up all the duct tape in the house and my master  piece is finished! The mug is from my 'thank god I've finished' cup of tea and should give it a bit of perspective - oh yes it's HUGE. If people don't know who Sandhurst Joggers are now they soon will!

So I hope you're all resting and good luck! Do the sign proud!

Keep running (all 26.2 miles)

Biscuit Nikki x

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Caption Competition

Well it's a caption competition in the sense that the prize is a bit rubbish!

Firstly let me say a HUGE congratulations to all the runners that completed the Brighton and Paris marathons in the blistering heat on Sunday. Well Done guys you all did brilliantly! I hope you're all getting some well earned rest at the moment and have managed to tackle the stairs at least once (to get up to bed obviously).

To all of you running marathons this weekend: Best of luck, I hope your tapering periods are going well and aren't too frustrating and just remember how jealous I am of you all!

As we all know I will now be propping up the support side of the London Marathon this weekend and taking up my responsibilities as Sandhurst Joggers Support Team. And in light of that I need your help!

I have a huge piece of cardboard at work, that's destiny is to become a London Marathon cheering sign - but what to put on it? Let me know your suggestions on here or via facebook and the best one will get to be on the board. I'll keep it a secret until Sunday to give you all something to look out for on the course!

Oh and here's a bit of inspiration for you all - let's try to get something original and funnier than this lot!




Saturday, 9 April 2011

Let's start from the very beginning.

Wow - what perfect weather! Every bone in my body, except for maybe one suspect little foot bone that shall remain anonymous, wants to run.
Run and run and run and run.
I'm actually at the stage (and Jon can confirm this) of dreaming (and ever so slightly sleep talking) about running. I've been hugely inspired by the 'Born to Run' book that Paul A. has lent me and am about half way through reading it. I am now fascinated by ultra marathons, obsessed with the Raramuri (or Tarahumaras) and ever so slightly keen on running (just slightly you understand).
I highly recommend it - even if you're not even remotely interested in running, as it's just a really really good story.

Speaking of stories - why did I start running?

As I've eluded to before, it all started when my car broke down. I drive an MG, you may have heard them referred to as Rovers. Anyway product identity issues aside, they are prone to head gasket issues and 'Prone' is an understatement, as mine ended up in and out of various car hospitals for almost 3 months. In that time I had to find an alternative way of getting to work and it was spring/summer, I worked 3 miles from home and I needed more exercise. So I started walking.

It began with just trying to walk there and back in quicker and quicker times. I then progressed to running small sections, especially when I had to get home for something. I didn't realise at the time - but I was effectively using the walk-run technique until I was able to fully run the full 3 miles home.

Eventually my car was fixed, but I carried on running. It then began to get dark in the evenings and I realised that I didn't feel too safe running alone and would also enjoy a bit of company and advice to help me progress. It was then that I joined Sandhurst Joggers and have never looked back.

This weekend there will be several Joggers runner various marathons - Brighton being one.
GOOD LUCK to you all and have a fantastic run - remember to enjoy yourselves :-)

Foot update!
Carl 'Magic Hands' Bradshaw thinks we've been progressing well on the foot injury to the stage where I am allowed to try walking (or walking for more than the 30 min I have limited myself to). You may think that's no big deal, but this weekend I've never been more excited about the prospect of rambling along walking. With the beautiful weather, the timing was perfect to amble out the door and go for a little wander. My intention was to walk briskly for 1 hour, unless anything (namely the foot) started hurting or twinging, then I would stop.

So I set out and was reminded about how lucky I was to be living amongst such beautiful wildlife. I hardly saw another soul for the first part and was even tempted to remove my trainers and walk along in socks for a while, to see what difference it would make. Around that exact moment two mountain bikers shot past, looking slightly more confused as they overtook the walker carrying her trainers. As I was approaching a gravelly section and didn't want to risk being the cause of any biking crashes, I decided to put my shoes back on and finish what turned out to be an 1hr 50 min walk. With no foot pain!
Oh yes! It was so hard not to break into a run and get over excited, but if this injury experience has taught me anything, it's how to listen to your body and not rush or push things. So I stuck to the happy walking and snapped a few pictures on the way:

Race you to the top? (Taken from my iphone)
So I feel like the end of this injury phase is close and I'm starting to build up the basic blocks towards running again.

It's like a whole new beginning...

Keep enjoying the good weather!

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy!
Just go to:
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

Sunday, 3 April 2011

It's....Mother's Day!

Greetings biscuit fans! There's not much about running in this week but I will try to add an update on the end!

If you've just read the title and had a sudden panic it's ok - you still have a few hours to get that all important call in to your Mum and even better try to send a card. It wont arrive until next week, but if you're inventive you might be able to blame it on the clocks going forward to British Summer Time or something of that like.

My good e-blogger friend Shaman Dalie, who writes fantastic running blogs, often far better illustrated than mine with inspiring photography, sent me a challenge to write 8 little known things about myself and then pass the challenge on.

Never wanting to miss a chance to talk about myself I thought I'd accept the challenge, however given that it's Mother's day I thought I'd be a bit rebellious and write 8 little known things about my mum, safe in the knowledge that only my Dad reads this!

So here we go, 8 things about my mum, Caroline:

1. My mum is a primary school teacher. She wanted to teach right from being a young child and if my Dad has shown this to her she's probably correcting my spelling as you read this. My Auntie always jokes about how my Mum would play 'schools' as a child and set my Auntie 'pretend' assignments - but then mark and grade them anyway.

2. Her favourite chocolate bar is a 'Crunchie'. This has always stuck in my mind and whenever I see one in a shop I'm always reminded of the fact. I should probably apologise for all the Crunchie chocolate bars she's received as presents over the years - we're not very imaginative with gifts sometimes!

3. She has a secret love of the 'Jordan' reality tv programmes (and possibly now 'the only way is essex') but criticises me for liking 'Take me out'. No Likie - No Lightie Mum!

4. Mum will always fall asleep mid way through a film at home (often in the cinema as well) and then wake up near the end and want to know what's going on. If someone could create a film that has as solid start and ending but a middle mostly filled with a blank screen it would save us a lot of explaining time. (Oh this doesn't apply to anything with Colin Firth in it - weird phenomenon)

5. She can't read contour lines on maps - as discovered on our many family camping holidays when a '30 min' walk has turned into a several hour ramble, as we discover that you have to scale up the side of a vertical cliff as part of the 'lovely coastal trail' she's found.

6. She cooks brilliant 'baked maccaroni' the Maltese way (she is half Maltese) and I have never been able to get it the same when I try at home. I have therefore decided that good cooking is not particularly genetic (although may have been passed on to my sister).

7. She is a bit unlucky with cars and has had several that have leaked - causing little pools of water in the passenger side which has frozen in winter and  made a mini ice rink.  There's also been several cars that have had the habit of conking out at traffic lights. We have good experience of bump starting cars in my family!

8. I owe her more than I will ever be able to repay for all the concerts, dance shows and sports competitions she's taken me to and dutifully watched or cheered on the sidelines, as I've sung out of tune, danced out of time or run around whilst she's got very cold. I don't think I can ever say thank you, or sorry, enough!

So thanks Mum - Happy Mother's Day and you can stop adding apostrophes and commas to my blog now!

A brief running update - still no running for me :-( However the foot is getting a lot better and is almost painless now. I have an appointment booked with a specialist in another two weeks - by which point I hope to be back to running again! In the meantime I'd like to give a huge thank you to all the Sandhurst joggers who responded with brilliant suggestions to my call for inspirational reading. Paul, I am now desperate to get back on my feet and Ian W - I'm so terrified of bikes that the prospect of a triathlon is still highly unlikely.

Thanks for all your updates on the car dancing - sounds like it is going well! Keep up the good work dance fans! (If you're confused please read previous blog!)

And lastly a MASSIVE congratulations to two of our bestest bestest friends Laura and Stick - well done on finally moving into your new house guys - I hope all is going well and you're not still lost in the depths of IKEA.

Keep in touch with your Mums!

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy!
Just go to:
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

Friday, 25 March 2011

The rules and regulations to in-car dancing

It's probably well known - or certainly well known by all those fitness freaks - that exercise produces happy endorphins. Yes, you heard it everywhere else first, exercise makes you happy and this is why it quickly becomes addictive if you try to stick with it for a few weeks.

So what happens when the supply of endorphins stops and you have to go cold-turkey? Well if you're me you get ever so slightly crabby...

Picture taken from here: http://www.faqs.org/photo-dict/phrase/363/crab.html
Hehe - I'll never know why you can't get 'crab calendars' - look at his little face!

Anyway back to the point; if you're like me and a generally happy person anyway then you just need to find little ways to try and top the old endorphins up. Swimming and classes like pilates help, but every now and then you might need a little lift. Here's some of the random things that make me smile and hopefully others too (although admittedly some people probably just get scared).

  • Whenever I drive under a bridge on a motorway with a jogger running along the top of it I like to wave. Similarly if I am running over a motor way bridge I like to wave at the cars. I am hoping that if I do this enough eventually one of the cars I wave at will be a jogger, who will do the same thing when they are next out jogging and I am driving under a bridge and the circle will be complete. It's a long shot but my long term business plan is to have everyone waving at each other and hopefully no accidents. Confused? Never mind. But just to warn you next time you run over or drive under a bridge this will pop up in your mind - feel free to smile and even wave a bit.

  • My friend used to receive a mobile answer phone message every week from a lady who had the wrong number and thought he was her weight watchers class leader. Every week she had a new reason as to why she couldn't attend that night. Some of them were classics and still make me laugh now "Sorry I wont be able to get weighed tonight as I've suddenly remembered my dentist appointment". Doesn't work when you call at 6:30pm and most dentists are shut by then.

  •  I am a closet raver and a huge pendulum fan. The term 'dance like nobody's watching' it practically my motto, as proven at a recent pendulum gig, where I was throwing dance moves that were even topping the pill heads. Life is too short for embarrassed shuffling movements, so rave like your life depends on it and take comments like 'you looked a bit like you were having a fit' as compliments.

  • And lastly, my current favourite game: In-car dancing! This works stunningly if like me you spend a good portion of everyday stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. We all sing along to music in the car and every now and then you will catch someone else doing it too. I like to sing at people in other cars when stuck in traffic - not so that they can hear me (windows shut - I'm not that cruel). There are several things which enhance this experience:
+ More than one person in the car - singing together is fun, singing together at other people is priceless
+ Add in some dancing! Again a whole car of dancing people cheers even the grumpiest driver up.

You generally get three different reactions when doing this:
1. The person smiles and laughs
2. They stare straight ahead in the car and try very hard not too look - even if other cars are now looking
3. They dance and sing back at you - it's a rare but beautiful moment when this happens!

Rules:
Don't have the music blaring or windows down - kind of ruins the effect if they know you're dancing to Cliff Richard
If they decide to stare forwards then move onto another car - no point in making someone scared/awkward.
Be careful with overhead arm movements when dancing. The roof is lower than normal.

Ok you're all set! Off you go and start enjoying the world of in-car dancing and hopefully soon we'll have entire car loads of people having their own mini raves in their cars whilst stuck on the M25.

Keep smiling, running, laughing and dancing!

Biscuit Nikki x

Saturday, 19 March 2011

We'll be swimming, when we're winning....

"I get knocked down...but I get up again...."

It's been a week since the wonderful Grizzly weekend. We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast (little chocolates on the bed every day anyone?), I remembered my love of scrambled egg on toast and I discovered the joy of spectating and motivating your team members around the route.

I may have to get a t-shirt printed, as it looks like I will be joining the official support team for a little longer than first anticipated. However what a perfect way to stay motivated and still feel part of the team?

It is three weeks since I first injured my foot, my GP has now referred me to a sports injury/foot specialist and I'm just waiting for BUPA to collect enough pieces of paper about me to let me pass go and collect 200 points - er I mean make the appointment. The injury is still causing me problems whenever I have to walk/stand for more than 30 min so even jogging is well out of the question. There is 4 weeks to go to the London Marathon.

With all this is mind I have made the difficult decision to defer my entry to 2012.

But wait! Keep Calm! It's a cracking idea and this is why...

When I first tried to pass my driving test (quite a few years ago) I wasn't ready. I really wanted to be but the reality was that I couldn't drive. This was proved rather spectacularly when I nearly rammed into the back of a lorry and the examiner had to slam his feet onto the dual controls. I came away knowing I had just wasted the money I should have spent on more lessons, I felt awful and I was really disappointed with myself (plus the examiner probably needed a strong drink after). Game over.
Only it wasn't. Several emergency chocolate biscuits later, a good cup of tea and a bit of a pep talk sorted me out. I booked more lessons and did a lot more practising. When I finally passed my driving test I knew I was safe to be on the road, negotiate the old reverse park and start handing over most of my bank account to the petrol companies.

Lesson? Don't rush things and as Guinness says "good things come to those who wait" (other drink slogans are widely available). Nothing worth having is ever easy to get. I have put in so much time, invested too many good pairs of trainers and sacrificed too many Saturday morning lie-ins to blow it all on a disappointing marathon race.

Even scarier is the thought that I could risk running the race to 'just get round' and end up with a more serious and long term injury - all for the sake of one race.

Let's be honest - I don't want to 'just get round' I want to smash the hell out of it and end up feeling proud and knowing I have achieved my best possible time.

That's why I am going back to the basics. I've jumped into the swimming pool and started building my fitness back up. I have put together a fitness plan to keep everything ticking over until I am able to start a 'return to running' type schedule. This whole process is potentially going to take several months - but it will be worth it.
This time off running will give me a chance to build and improve my core strength and concentrate on my running technique. I'm eyeing up some races in the autumn of this year to help aim for.

So fundraising wise? Well I have been in touch with Brain Tumour UK and have sorted out the following:
The fundraising page will remain open until the Virgin London Marathon next year and I will continue to try to raise as much as possible. Look at it this way - you're not just sponsoring me to complete the marathon - you're sponsoring my whole recovery and every race until then. I hope you wont be disappointed in me and will stand by as I aim for 2012 with better targets in mind. I'll roll over all 'Guess my time' predictions to the 2012 race and if you've already made one you'd like to change I am happy to accept alterations (as long as the new time you want is still free). I hope you're all happy for your donations to remain in the fundraising total now that I will not be running this year.

So ladies and gentlemen - please give a warm welcome to the lean mean recovery machine.

2012 sounds like a nice year for some running...

Keep positive

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy!
Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

Monday, 14 March 2011

It's the Grizzly fest!

Welcome to my bumper bonus edition of 'Will Run for Biscuits' (Title of this blog in case you were wondering).
I have had a super charged weekend being part of the Sandhurst Joggers Support team. Now I could spend ages writing about the 20 mile off-road (extremely off-road) race that occured in Dorset and how we got first and second place.
But hey! Who wants to listen to me when you could be watching this...

Just for you I bring you 'Sandhurst Joggers Do the Grizzly'
Enjoy - and imagine how many times i have had to listen to this song to get it right!

Keep running. resting and smiling for our camera!

Biscuit Nikki x

video

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Socks mean comfort!

On my way to work on Monday I was stuck behind a big dirty white van. I was feeling the usual Monday blues after a wonderful weekend of cheering all my good friends in Sandhurst Joggers along the canal run and then I noticed someone had written the following statement using their finger in the dirt on the van:

Socks Mean Comfort!

I have no idea what made someone write that (it's hardly your usual van-dirt message) but it made me smile a bit and then laugh at the complete bizarreness of it all. This got me thinking about the things that make me smile and then the reasons why I like running. Bemused friends and family have often asked me why I run and this period of rest seems a good time to reflect on that and finally attempt to answer the question.

I haven't always been good at or enjoyed running. So if you're out there thinking "oh it's ok for you, you're quite good and you love it" then let me assure you it took a while to get to this stage. I started running initially because my car broke down (a story for a different day) and after a month or two of walk-running I began to make progress and become a jogger. This was probably around the time that I got hooked. So, why do I like running?

1. Running makes me feel good about myself
I feel healthy and fit when I am running. It is well known that exercise releases happy endorphins and it's probably why all the runners I ever meet are always very happy and good natured people.

2. I like the feeling of achievement
Nothing quite beats the feeling of crossing a finishing line and knowing you have just achieved something great, whether it's a 5k parkrun or a marathon. Hell, it's why we all drag ourselves out of bed on cold frosty Sunday mornings for cross country!

3. Friendships
Many of the people I consider to be very very good friends I met through running and the running club. Whilst achievement is good, being able to share it with people and in turn share their achievements is fantastic. It promotes an environment of motivation, support and encouragement. It's often the only thing that makes me leave the house when it's raining and in this time of 'no-running' I appreciate the support, advice and encouragement even more (thanks guys - I can feel you all pulling me back onto my running feet again)

There are so many other factors as well - seeing how amazing your body can be to adapting and improving as your speed gets quicker and distances get further, not worrying about how many cakes you eat (within limits) and having a perfect outlet for stress release when you're feeling really wound up.

Everyone has their own reasons for running and hopefully this explains mine a bit!

Foot update!
I am still seeing Carl for sports massages and it seems to be working! Still in early days but I am seeing definite improvements. Maybe not quick enough for my impatient mind but it's taken some of the unnecessary worry away.

This weekend is the Grizzly 20 mile race. Unfortunately I wont be taking part but will instead be joining the Sandhurst Joggers Support Crew and giving my lungs a bit of exercise as I cheer from the sidelines. Best of luck to everyone taking part and keep an eye out for me on the course.

Feel free to suggest any good chants and cheers you would like to hear to give you a bit of a boost! Suggestions so far include:

* The faster you run, the faster you're done
* Run like you stole something!
* Race them don't pace them
* You're running like a girl! - Good for you!

Keep resting everyone!

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy! Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

Friday, 4 March 2011

So you're injured, what now?

Hehe sounds like an 'injury-lawyers-for-you' claim advert! However as this is pretty much self induced and I can't sue myself it's a genuine question facing many runners in training out there right now.

The last few days have been a bit of an eye opener for me, so if you're reading this and are also injured I hope it gives you some useful advice and then I won’t have gone through it all for no reason. For the rest of you regulars I apologise for the lack of an update but I've been trying to figure out exactly what's going on myself. Essentially only two things matter:

1. I am injured
2. Life carries on when you can't run (*a well kept secret by all those non-runners out there! Very sneaky!)

No.1 was pretty obvious to me. A lot of articles talk about 'denial' when you're injured - it was quite hard for me to ignore the lack of being able to walk properly so I pretty much skipped the denial part. It took me a couple of days to figure out No. 2 - I'm still shocked by it now!

The Injury

I wasn't pushing it, I have been careful with my mileage increase and at the time I wasn't on a hill, uneven surface or sprinting with everything I had. I was in fact calmly jogging along at a moderate pace when my right foot started hurting. By the time I had got home it was aching quite a bit and the next day I woke up to find I couldn't put any weight on it and had begun walking like an extra in a 'night of the living dead' movie.

Staying Positive

It's no secret that I panicked. What I should have done is follow RICE: Rest Ice Compression and Elevation. What I did was hit the internet with every ounce of typing skills and try to self diagnose myself. Mistake number 1: The internet can only tell you about other people, other people can only tell you about other people and web dictionaries can only tell you about other people and how to spell complicated Latin ailments that mean your legs going to spontaneously fall off.
It's hard, trust me I know and you just want answers but DON'T DO IT. When you find yourself on Google about to describe your injury in minute detail stop and go and watch YouTube videos of cats instead - seriously it's great : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTasT5h0LEg Plus you'll get more work done. So try to keep positive - you're still alive, and refer to point 2: There is life after running.

Diagnosis (aka - what the hell's going on?)

So after a day the pain didn't go. If yours has and you can walk briskly, lightly jog and only then run with no pain or even slight twinges then congratulations - you're not injured anymore (although you could still be in denial). Finally paying attention to all my caring friends I started to follow RICE. This helped reduce the pain and swelling. Plus I was able to walk around normally and tackle stairs in under 20 mins - imagine the benefit if I had done that straight away instead of studying 'webDoc' for hours. However with the pain still there I decided to go and see two people - firstly Carl 'Magic Hands' Bradshaw (sports therapist) and then my GP. These two together are my best weapons against injury.
Your GP is one of the few people that can genuinely tell you what's wrong - or can send you to the person that can. In my case he sent me for an X-ray - which didn't show anything. I've been told not to run for 2 weeks and then have a return appointment to try and figure things out from there. Until then, and this is shocking - follow RICE.
Carl has been a lot more helpful from a runner's point of view. I have poor biomechanics and my muscles on my right side relating to my foot are tighter than the new government budget (haha a political joke! check me out). So I had an intense sports massage that has reduced the pain by at least 75%. Oh and surprisingly no running. But instead of just icing (as part of RICE) Carl suggested alternating between hot and cold therapies for a more effective way of reducing the swelling and getting the circulation going.

So no definite diagnosis - but does it really matter? Let's refer to point 1 - I'm injured. I can't run even if I wanted to and any attempt to will just hamper my recovery. Why would I want to do that? Regardless of the diagnosis the treatment is essentially the same -REST and NO RUNNING. So giving it a name won’t make the mildest bit of difference to the outcome. So let's skip the diagnosis and just accept the fact that I don't NEED a definite diagnosis to start recovering...which leads me on nicely to...

Recovery

Firstly if you haven't got the gist yet the idea is RICE with lots and lots of rest and zero running. There's no point in rushing things - you have to wait for your body to catch up and rushing a recovery just risks longer time ‘on the bench' or pulling a more serious injury. So how long will it take? Well that depends on so many factors, some of which I can't control such as how quickly my body heals or what I've actually damaged in the first place. There are things I can do to 'speed it up'. Mainly rest properly and I'm also seeing Carl once a week for sports massages to try to correct my biomechanics. Keeping a healthy diet is important too to make sure my body gets the building blocks it needs for repair.
Whilst it would be nice to be told how long it will take this is another 'how long is a piece of string' question. It will take as long as it takes and in the meantime there is life outside of running.

The Future

Carl believes I will still be able to run the marathon - the question on everyone's lips. But there's no guarantee and it all depends on my recovery. There is a good chance that if I can run it I won’t be as fast as planned and I also have a backup plan should it turn out I've injured myself more seriously than first thought and am not able to take part (but we'll keep that under wraps until the time comes).

But what about after that? It's important to address how this happened in the first place. If you're reading this and have got to the same emotional stage as me with your injury it's very important you figure out why it happened so that it doesn't happen again. I am not an expert in the slightest, but from what I can gather most injuries relate to either doing too much too fast or your biomechanics.
I have just started this process and working with Carl have realised how bad my running style is - the increased marathon training has allowed small inaccuracies to become big problems. And I don't want this to happen again - so it's important to try and straighten out what I can now.

It's not been an easy journey and I've only been off running for a few days (less than a week) but I'm pleased to finally be here. My aim is to be fit. Whether that's for the marathon, or for the summer, or winter or next year or even the year after. In the meantime please keep the donations coming - knowing you're all supporting me and Brain Tumour UK is keeping me motivated and with the positive attitude needed to tackle this.

So jump on the recover rollercoaster, keep your arms inside the carriage at all times and scream if you want to go faster because these next few weeks leading up to London are going to be one hell of a ride!

Keep resting!

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy! Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The fear is setting in...

I am writing this update from my iPhone in cosy Somerset so it won't be very long or very clever.
After recovering from the bramley 20 last weekend my runs were steady but slower as I shook out the excess miles. Had a good midweek run and a really good track session. Once I had got home to enjoy the excitements of Friday night tv I started to feel a slight twinge in my foot. Putting it down to the hard track session I slept to wake up and feel ok. Being a Saturday I set off for my long run. The heavens were glaring down in the fashion of tons of rain and I was not relishing the thought of the 14 miles without anyone to chat to.

However my determination ran true and I zipped up my rain jacket and hit the pavements. Possibly too hard. I reached frimley park, approx 5.5 miles from our house and my foot was causing quite a bit of discomfort. Without much choice I solidered on and got home. Today I am having difficulties putting weight on it and have driven myself mad reading diagnosis articles that range from recovery suggestions of a billion weeks rest to chopping the foot off all together. So I'm sitting here writing this in rainy Somerset terrified down to my socks that I've just pulled the game over card. The reality is that I simple won't know until I have spoken to someone that does. And no Internet reading will change that.

There are many highs and lows to trainning and this is just a low. I will run that race - I just don't know at what speed.

To cheer myself up I have been looking at the fundraising page. A huge thank you to all the
Most recent donors. You're really keeping me going. Special thanks to Ian w - I hope your training this week is going better than mine! John h and Russ from work - thank you for your support and kind messages. I promise to do my best to keep smiling regardless of the outcome of this foot thing.

Keep running (please!)

Biscuit nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy - just go to:
Http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Run, run, as fast as you can....

You can't catch me I'm the gingerbread man (woman)!

And so ends another week of training! There is now just 55 days to go (as of today's date) and I am starting to feel quite nervous about it all. Everything seems a whole lot closer than when I first sent off the application forms.

Today was the eventful Bramley 10/20 road race. Runners have the option of entering for a single 10 mile lap or the more ambitious double 20 mile lap. I ran the 20 miler, which left me very envious of all the finishing 10 milers on the first circuit. The crowd was great with several Sandhurst Joggers turning up just to cheer!

It's important to practice everything and after the Frankenstein Esq photos from wokingham half last week I decided to try a new hairstyle and plaited my hair back into 'go faster plaits', as Paul B. described them. I then made an effort every time I passed a paparazzi to try and not look like my feet were feeling like lumps of rock. We'll have to wait for the photos to see if it worked! Cheesy grins all round.

The plaits must have worked as I finished the race in 2hr 27 min and 58 seconds, which was a full minute quicker than I had been planning to run it - so very pleased! The biggest achievement was that I finally ran a race where I didn't need to use the portaloos 20 times before the start - this was a good thing as they sounded a little smelly! Aw the sweet signs of progress!

I was joined on the circuit by several other fantastic Sandhurst Joggers including Paul A and Paul B, Sarah H, Nikki F, James C, Dave B, Alan K, Graham R and quite a few others - sorry if I've not mentioned you! The super quick Pete G also came down for the weekend from Frome and was my honoured guest for the weekend. The airbed and pasta bake dinner didn't do him too much damage as he ran a brilliant sub 2hr! Pete your running is inspiring, even if I can only ever hope to see you for a second at the start before you disaper over the horizon.

The race finished with me treating everyone to one (or several) of my gingerbread random shape biscuits (gingerbread men, rabbits and cats) which showed how I earned the biscuit part of my name. Hopefully the snacks aided everyone's recovery as at that point I could barely lift my legs off the floor and I don't think I was the only one.

So now after ignoring my Satnav and taking everyone in my car on a funny detour of little cul-de-sacs round  Bramley, I am now safely home and playing my favourite game of 'not moving off the sofa' and eating all the treats in the finishers goodie bag.

Fundraising news: We're still sitting around the £800 mark so please keep the donations coming. Hopefully these blogs are showing you all just how much dedication a marathon takes (as well as a few light jokes) - but it's nothing compared to the traumatic experiences that Brain tumour patients go through. Thank you for all your support so far, your donations are going to a very worthy cause. One day, when I am not training, I will get round to making you all 'thank you' gingerbread biscuits!

Keep running!

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy! Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Paranoia, PB's and why I shouldn't be in a Loreal Advert

What an eventful week! (Warning Long Update ahead!)

With the excitement of Monday morning (see previous post) I didn't think much else would happen.

By the end of an easy 3 miles Monday night I became convinced that I had broken something. With continual achy knees and people (mostly non-runners) telling me I was running too much I began to think I really might have over done it.

So I did a further 6 miles on Tuesday just to check. I call this the 'see danger and run towards it waving a red flag yelling "Oi danger - what're you looking at"' method. If you say this with a chav accent it can enhance your blog reading experience.

Anyhow I decided to go a see a sports injury genius type chap on Wednesday, mostly because Carl had inconsiderately decided to go skiing and didn't leave me his hotel number. And he (the sports injury chap)  pretty much told me to man up. Well not quite like that, but I definitely wasn't suffering from IT Band syndrome, runner's knee, shin splints or Achilles tendinitis. I definitely had a good does of hypochondria and my IT Band is not where I thought it was (good indication that I wasn't suffering from IT Band syndrome). I just needed a bit of rest and another good sports massage, which was convenient for him because he just happens to do sports massages.

This left me with Thursday to recover from having pressure put on muscles I didn't know I had and Friday to be trapped in London wondering how anyone actually gets anywhere using the underground system.

I learnt some good lessons from these days. Rest is important, listen to your body not other people and your IT band is no where near your ankle/shin/ear region (it's somewhere round your knee/hip area - if you've come here for proper facts I am afraid I'm not in the right mood - complaints can be made it writing to The London Underground, Transport for London, Boris Johnson's House).

So we creep into the weekend of PB's.
PB = Personal Best, also sometimes referred to as a PR = Personal Record. If you've just run a WR then I'm not quite sure why you're reading this blog - but welcome anyway.

Kicked off on Saturday with a ParkRun (http://www.parkrun.com/). My local is Frimley Park and they were celebrating their 1st birthday. It's irrelevant in the grand scheme of things but congratulations Frimley park and to everyone that turns up there early on a Saturday morning. There was a good Sandhurst Jogger turn our and everyone was talking about taking it easy due to the Wokingham Half Marathon the next day. With my new 'man up' medicine and the cooped up lack of running from the week I decided to adopt my aforementioned danger+red flag tactics and bomb it round.
Super run and I took 28 seconds off my PB and clocked a 20 min 32 sec finish time. This was helped by the 'taking it easy' group consisting of Jenny G, Dave B and  Richard J pacing me round (even if they didn't realise they were). Very pleased with result!

I took a brief interlude to swan off to Birmingham to see Russell Howard live. Highly recommend if he's appearing anywhere near you. Very funny guy - who happened to run The London Marathon last year. Even my comedy is running related! I was eternally grateful to Jon for driving back at nearly midnight so I could get as much sleep as possible for the next day....

Wokingham half!
I carefully chose my cakes for maximum sugar/chocolate content and was kindly picked up by Sarah H, who I didn't recognise in the snazzy car! We dropped off our stuff and most importantly our cakes at Jenny and Graham's house, where everyone was meeting after and then I braved the cold in just my shorts and t-shirt to the start line.
Had a great opportunity to meet up with Pete J. who I had only found out was running the day before. Hadn't seen him for ages and it was so nice to catch up with an old friend before the race. Loving the fact that we've both found running since the house-sharing days. Shame we didn't discover it earlier but I suspect our student lifestyles are the main reason for that. Pete was telling me he planned to run a 2hr 10 race but having looked at the results now he completely smashed it and whacked 20 odd mins off coming in at 1hr 53. Huge congratulations mate! The sweeper van couldn't lay a finger on you. Sorry I couldn't get there in time to cheer you to the finish. Also want to mention Pete as he's sponsored me for the London marathon. Thank you so much for your support and keep up the good running work!

Race went like a dream - everything seemed to fall into place and I'm sure the vision of all the cakes at the end helped to push me round. Pacing seemed right and I did my usual trick of starting slow and then 'kicking' at half way. Crowd were great and once more I have to rave about how much I love my club. Everyone who passed me and everyone I passed said something encouraging. When we finished there was nothing but congratulations and genuine excitement for each other, those that had run new PB's and those who were just happy to be at the end. I cannot recommend joining a club enough if you are just getting into running or even if you're a seasoned record runner. You will find advice, encouragement and support - whatever your level. Whilst it might not be Sandhurst Joggers (arguably the best club in the world) it'll still be a great foundation to your running.

Anyway - for all those wondering I ran a 1hr 31min half! Dreading the finish line photos because I couldn't stop grinning like a fool - and that was before I'd remembered about the cakes!

Back at Jenny and Graham's everyone was congratulating each other and exchanging race stories whilst Jenny zipped round handing out tea (incredible after the time she ran!). And there was a conversation about hair and finish appearance states. Everyone finishes differently. Some people look like they've been for a stroll and others look like they've been dragged through hell by a pack of raging badgers (although it's the finishing that matters - not the way you look!!!!)

When I am running I like to imagine I look like a strong athlete who is bounding along with glossy hair and is the picture of fitness and health (think of some naff Gillette womens shaver or shampoo advert). After a glance in the mirror when I got back it turns out I'm probably more the 'to hell and back' type with crazy porcupine hair that's matted together like seaweed (Sarah will know what I mean!). So I don't think I will be joining the ranks of Loreal hair advert models anytime soon....but I bet I could beat them in a race!

So because I am worth it I'm going to dig out a pack of biscuits, continue being competitive with inanimate TV adverts and leave danger alone for a bit.

Keep running!

Biscuit Nikki x
Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy! Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

Monday, 7 February 2011

Rest, Recovery and Road traffic incidents

Not the normal subjects to group together as a title but the last two days have given me a (hopefully) once in a lifetime chance to do so.

After the 20 mile-o-rama run on Saturday I woke up Sunday morning with a definite lack of spring to my step, or more specifically to my knees. After a lost battle with the stairs I made the difficult decision to take an impromptu rest day and opt out of Sandhurst Joggers last cross country event. I'm extremely sorry about that because as the last race of the season I was hoping to put in a good performance. However the team still did exceptionally well and we won the season for the second year running! Well Done guys - pat on the backs all round and party ring biscuits to all of you.

So I spent Sunday shuffling around Sainsburys doing my weekly shop and being overtaken by OAPs with knee/hip replacement combos moving quicker than me (was tempted to enquire about where they got their kit from but managed to refrain!).

Waking up this morning I still felt slightly stiff but a bit more optimistic about getting a slow and easy run in this evening. Wokingham Half Marathon is coming up this weekend and I don't want to do anything silly to jeopardise the race. Depending on how this afternoon goes I may take another cheeky evening off.

So contemplating my latest running dilemma I started my journey to work. This was hindered slightly (considerably) by a man trying to take out my car on the roundabout between the A331 and the M3. Luckily the damage to my car was minor scratching but his brakes must have been broken as he failed to stop. If this ever happens to you I cannot stress the importance of getting the car registration plate. I was fortunate enough to have a pad and paper easily accessible and it's certainly something I will make sure is easy access in the future as it has made the claim a lot easier.

On a lighter note fundraising is on target and I am extremely grateful and humbled by everyone's support and generosity.

Steve D you found the page in the end! Thanks for your donation. Lisa H your running has always been inspirational for me (I remember the first park run you did when I couldn't even see you in the distance and you'd probably gone to get cake by the time I crossed the finish line!) thanks for your support and good training (and resting) advice. Christina good luck with your predicted finish times! Hopefully you'll get a free minute to watch the race on TV in April once you're a busy mum!

Lastly M&D+A - which is mum, dad and Alice for anyone wondering. I know that was your donation for the 'who's time is it anyway' competition and I love you all very much. Special biscuits for the three of you (although Alice can probably cook better ones) and thanks for listening to me moan about training on the phone all the time. See you very soon hopefully.

So stay safe, remember there are psycho drivers out there who can't see fully lit cars - let alone runners. So please were reflective gear at night and preferable leave the ipods at home.

Keep running (safely!)

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy! Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Why it's ok to feel lazy sometimes.

Ok - super fast training update.

I know I haven't updated much this week but I can promise I've been pounding the pavements with a passion - or at least trying to. I've also been really really busy!

On Monday i had my first sports massage with Carl B (after circuits). Not easy to describe the pain that comes with it or the relaxing relief after. I *highly* recommend one if you're doing a lot of exercise or have any sore muscles or achy parts. All previous aches and pains have evaporated and I am running stronger than I was before. Carl is a genius - for more info about the treatments he offers or his personal training programmes go to his website: http://www.stressfreeonline.co.uk/

After a nice rest on Tuesday (never run the day after a sports massage!) I put in a really good run on Wednesday. I'm not going to lie - everyone feels demotivated (and on this day -lazy) at times. I don't believe it's possible to *want* to run every day, we're not super human and if you're thinking 'oh these people always want to get out there and I never feel motivated enough' I can tell you we don't (or at least I don't)!

On Wednesday I really didn't want to leave the warm of the house after work and was feeling decidedly sorry for myself. However I knew I'd regret missing the training and after blackmailing myself over facebook I went out. One of the best runs of the week! I often find it happens like that - the days I don't want to run are the days I put in my best performance. So if you're wondering whether to do your trainers up or not, I'm telling you you will feel amazing after doing it.

It's ok to feel lazy sometimes, I'm pretty sure everyone does, but it's how you deal with it that counts. Take a day off if you need to but ask yourself whether you have a good enough excuse and who you're letting down in the end (only yourself if you're wondering - oh and maybe me). We're in for a marathon on this journey - not a sprint!

Thursday brought beautiful weather and a good lunch time run followed by a track session on Friday.

Finally today! Saturday. I've just come back from a cracking 20 MILE! run. Whoop whoop. Feeling very pleased with myself and I think the training is going well.

So to summarise:
1. Fundraising is over half way!!!! Huge thanks to everyone who has donated so far. Please keep the sponsorships coming
2. Training is going well - 20 miles reached which is almost my maximum training distance. Just to start the 'fine tuning' now.
3. Only 70 days left!

On that note I am going to replace the 2000! calories I burnt off on the 20 miler today with a healthy serving of biscuits.

Keep running (even when you don't feel like it!)

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy! Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley

A huge thank you to Hawkins

I am several updates behind so I'm going to try and do a few blog posts today.

I'm going to veer of the usual path of talking about running to talk about my work and what I do for a living.

Some of you may have noticed that my fundraising total is officially over half way! This is fantastic news and I am hugely grateful to everyone who has donated. The biggest contribution so far has come from my work, Hawkins, who have exceeded my expectations and donated £250. There are not many corporate companies out there who genuinely care for the wider community and I am proud to be working for one that does.

Hawkins are a group of scientists and engineers that specialise in investigating incidents with the aim of discovering what caused them. We look at fires, floods, car accidents, engineering failures and everything else in between. Due to our vast range of cases we have members of staff from all different backgrounds including mechanical engineers (me), chemists, electrical engineers, civil engineers and ex-police. If you are interested in finding out more about Hawkins our website is www.hawkins.biz.

I love my job and the people I work with. I think you would struggle to find a company with such an interesting range of people. Aside from the large company donation I have also received sponsorship from many of my fellow colleagues.

I have thanked a few in past blogs but just to thank everyone from Hawkins in the same post:
Helen C, Andy P, Ian M, Ian T, Simon V, Anna B, Rod, Ruth and Jon Emm.

I am hugely grateful for all your support and advice as well as your generous donations. Those of you in the Reigate office thank you for listening to my constant chatter about the marathon and running in general. Sorry for helping to reduce the office biscuit supplies so much!

Keep running! (And working!)

Biscuit Nikki x

Want to help out and sponsor me? It's easy! Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaStanley