Top 10 | On-the-go Running Snacks

Since completing my first ultra-run back in May at the Dukeries 40 Ultra, and whilst training for the Race to the Stones 100km a key focus has been figuring out which foods I can enjoy whilst on-the-go. Considering for both of these races I am required to carry the food myself, I was keen to ensure nothing was too heavy so they all tend to be snack size (i.e. mars bar size or smaller). I had a big reality check at the Dukeries Ultra having ill-prepared. With a complete and utter sweet tooth I packed an abundance of sweet treats, but hitting mile 30 all I was dreaming about was a packet of ready salted hula hoops – lesson learnt.. you need to prepare for every craving.

Over and above this, I am slowly learning that the key is to eat when you’re not hungry and drink when you’re not thirsty, sticking with the classic ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ motto that is very often drummed into me! But seriously – whilst I know more than most how difficult it can be to take fuel on board whilst running, and not feeling a big appetite, it’s the key to keep you ticking over and ensure you get to the finish line in one piece! There’s a mix below, whilst for an ultra gels and jelly sweets just aren’t going to cut it, indulging in a protein bar for a 5km might be a tad extravagant! So I’ve tried to help out and suggest when I think they could be best, but ultimately your body will tell you what it needs!

1. Coconut Almond Butter Filled Clif Bar


​​RECOMMENDED FOR: Half-Marathon to Ultra-Marathon
WHERE TO BUY: Protein Pick & Mix

2. Tribe Cacao Orange Energy Bar


​RECOMMENDED FOR: Half-Marathon to Ultra-Marathon
WHERE TO BUY: Tribe

3. Clif Blok Shot Energy Chews


​​RECOMMENDED FOR: 5km – Ultra-Marathon (not going to cut it for more than a quick energy boost during an ultra)
WHERE TO BUY: Wiggle

4. Torq Rhubarb & Custard Energy Gel


​​RECOMMENDED FOR: 10km – Marathon
WHERE TO BUY: Wiggle

5. Pip & Nut Peanut Butter Squeeze Packs


​​RECOMMENDED FOR: Half-Marathon – Ultra-Marathon
WHERE TO BUY: Pip & Nut or Ocado

6. Good Health Filled Salted Pretzels


​​RECOMMENDED FOR: Marathon – Ultra-Marathon
WHERE TO BUY: iHerb

7. Optimum Nutrition Watermelon Amino Energy Drink


​​RECOMMENDED FOR: 10km – Ultra-Marathon
WHERE TO BUY: Optimum Nutrition

8. Ape Crunchy Coconut Bites


​​RECOMMENDED FOR: Marathon – Ultra-Marathon
WHERE TO BUY: Planet Organic

9. Tribe Infinity Choc Salt


​​RECOMMENDED FOR: Marathon – Ultra-Marathon
WHERE TO BUY: Tribe

10. Clearspring Seaveg Crispies


​​RECOMMENDED FOR: 10km – Ultra-Marathon
WHERE TO BUY: Planet Organic

The Habit Hunter x

Insight Into | Race to the Stones – 100KM Non-Stop

Surreal… the only word that summarises how I am feeling right now. Having completed the Race to the Stones yesterday in 11hours 5mins – and coming home as 2nd Senior Female it’s unsurprising that it hasn’t all quite sunk in yet.

The Race to the Stones has been voted as the Number One Ultra Marathon in the UK and I can totally understand why. The organisation was phenomenal, from picking up race numbers at 6:30am to crossing the finish line 11 hours later everything ran incredibly smoothly. The pit stops were impeccable, from the staff running them, to the choices on offer, there really was nothing to fault! The encouragement from everyone (in particular my support team) was overwhelming throughout, even when the weather was super bleak! So a massive thank you goes out to all those who were on the course!

Now to the nitty gritty… the race itself. Everything became a little bit real before heading to be on Friday night, when it sunk in that just over 15 months ago I had never run a marathon, and now I was about to run two and a half of them all in one day! What was I thinking. I have read many a time that running an ultra-marathon is ‘mind over matter’ and nothing rang more true yesterday, I’d even go as far to say its 90% mental strength that will get anyone through this type of feat.

Apprehension was inevitable, but standing on the start line I was actually strangely looking forward to what was ahead – something I hadn’t quite expected! Surrounded by those planning on completing the race in sub-12 hours I felt extremely out of my depth, and being the youngest female to ever take on the Race to the Stones was adding the pressure. However, 1km in and all these thoughts were banished and the aim of the day was just to get the finish line in one piece.


 

The first 50km brought a great bought of rain, something I was not quite prepared for, and spent most of the pit stops being patted dry and trying to warm up by my support team! (ps.. ALWAYS PACK A RAIN JACKET) — something I read many a time, and continued to ignore. Prior to the race I was expecting the half way point to be the toughest mentally, crossing the ‘Finish’ line, yet knowing I wasn’t heading to the relaxation tent like the majority of the other runners. (In the Race to the Stones you can opt to take on the challenge over two days – the sensible choice. Or you can throw yourself in at the deep-end and take it all on in one day – no surprises as to which option I opted for). But surprisingly the half way point was a blessing in disguise, I took on some fuel and got going again.

It was between 58km – 70km that was probably the toughest battle, the hills were relentless and I was struggling to take on any fuel – truly indecisive over what I wanted (that horrible feeling of complete and utter exhaustion) – however, I plodded along! My dad was a hero for the second part of the course, spending the majority of it on his bike following the route along and supporting me with haribo (the fuel of champions) and water as and when I needed!

Quite honestly, this was where I thought I would hit ‘the wall’. Knowing that this was the furthest I had ever run, and unsure of what would be ahead of me. But much to my complete and utter surprise ‘the wall’ was never hit, and evidently the mental preparation was clearly paying off. Don’t get me wrong, this was the toughest venture I have ever endured – and much to the relief of my friends and family it’s not something I will be entering anytime soon – think I’ll be sticking to the marathon distance!

70km – 85km were a bit of a blur, running up and down over rolling hills that quite honestly felt like Kilimanjaro. But hitting the 85km point was incredible, and something I never thought would be possible. The organisers didn’t make this quest easy, some of the toughest hills and trails came at this part of the course, and it was the sheer concentration of ‘left foot.. right foot.. don’t trip up’ that was exhausting. But then came the final 10km, something by this point I felt I could probably do in my sleep.. until I realised there were runners running the other direction – NOT A LOOP BACK! Anyone that knows me, knows that any race you have to go back on yourself is a big no-no. I can’t stand running in one direction to know I’m just going to have to run that part of the course all over again. Even more disappointing, we were running to ‘The Stones’ (the most underwhelming neolithic stone circle I have ever come across. Once you reached the stones you got your ‘photo opportunity’. and left. To head back down the same path you just ran down.. great.

But then you hit THE SIGN – 1km to go! You’d think this would bring with it a great deal of excitement, but to be honest I was overheating at this point, and just didn’t want to fall at the last hurdle. So the focus turned to counting down from 1000 backwards and hoping by the time I got to the end the finish line would be in sight. I couldn’t tell you what number I got to as the finish line made it’s appearance much sooner than expected! All in all an insane day – with an insane support crew – and something I am still coming to terms with – an insane result!


Back when I entered I had written about hoping to finish in 15hours, to finish in 11hours, as 2nd Senior Female and 50th overall, I honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more! Thank you again to everyone who came out to support. And if you’re thinking of entering – do it! But only if you’re willing to put in the mental training. Being physically fit is one thing – mentally fit is a whole different ball game!

The Habit Hunter x

Insight Into | Taking on The Race to the Stones

A couple of hours have gone by now since clicking the ‘Register Now’ button for 2017 Race to the Stones, reality has hit — and I’m not entirely sure what I’ve done. In hindsight it perhaps would’ve been better to have spent a couple of hours before entering reading others race reviews rather than leaving that until post-registration! The fear has hit and the 100km challenge is upon me.

For anyone who, just like me up until this morning, has very little idea about Race to the Stones and what it it, here’s a brief breakdown:
– The UKs No.1 Trail Run
– Covering 100km through the North Wessex Downs
– Climbing hills, stumbling trail tracks & descending amongst iron-age forts
– Needless to say.. a pretty extreme challenge

So the registration process began, and I was provided with a few options:
1. Undertake half the challenge of 50km on the Saturday
2. Undertake half the challenge of 50km on the Saturday
3. Undertake the 100km race over 2 days (50km each day)
4. Take on the full 100km in one day
— and sticking true to my competitive (and perhaps a little idiotic) nature, most of you will be unsurprised to hear I have opted for option 4 (aka… taking on death).

Whilst it’s not the first ultra run I have entered into having run the West Highland Way over a couple of days last year, it the first I have entered into as a one day event, and considering my training for marathons tends to focus on lots of 8/10km runs as opposed to the recommended ‘long runs’ I may need to up the ante over the next few months.

When Is It?
Race to the Stones 2017 is on Saturday 15th July starting nice and sprightly at 7am.

Why Am I Doing It?
Over and above just loving to challenge myself every now and then, this race is a little different for me. Whilst I support those who undertake running events for charity, many of you may have realised my lack of charitable support when it comes to entering distance races in the past. This is not due to an inert nature of lacking in sympathy, generosity or sincerity – but merely a moral belief that with running becoming more of an enjoyable hobby than anything else I don’t believe I should ask people to pay for me to complete something I love for the sake of gaining a free race entry. Therefore, up until now, all races I have ever completed have been completely self-supported & funded. However, this one is a little different (I’m not descending upon a sob story don’t worry)!

But this to me is real challenge – something that in hindsight is probably looking a taking me well over 15 hours to complete which means running through the dark of the night (most likely by myself for a lot of it) and without the support of friends and family really will be verging on impossible to complete. I have therefore opted to take the challenge in support of Cancer Research. A charity that has supported a variety of my own family and close friends as well as an abundance of others around the globe, and one which I am sure many of you will agree are more than deserving of support.

​​
Therefore, I ask of you, whether it be the mere £2.80 you’d spend on your Starbucks Coffee during your morning commute please support me in this ridiculous quest of putting my body through the works for a great cause and one which will spur me to cross the line whether it be still using my semi-functioning legs or through a mere hands and feet crawl over the finish!

Please Click to Donate Here

The Habit Hunter x