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This girl can?

12 weeks ago I sat and wrote about the journey I was going on to come back from injured to runner, to embrace a challenge of the #peakrunners LadyBower Trail Marathon. Given the last 12 months it was going to be quite an achievement: my long runs were only 7-8 miles. Not going to lie – there were some days I thought, ‘what have I done’?

I took advice Austen and Stu at Accelerate on training schedules and we developed a plan. Key thing here, I was involved in developing that plan AND I stuck to it. No diversions with the tempting local races, no sneaking in extra sessions. I stuck to it!

So, with just 4 long runs under my belt (20, 18, 20 and 21 miles), my holiday in Ibiza coincided with week 1 of taper. Morning runs exploring the trails, followed by lots of lounging around and the odd G&T/ Aperol Spritz (all inclusive hotel, plus I’m sure it helped me relax).

Friday night, before race day, panic and nerves set in. Self doubt city! Saturday morning, I woke before my alarm, still nervous. I struggled to drink my coffee…that never happens. I had a word with myself: enjoy the race, be proud you’re at the start line, you’ve achieved so much already: you got this!

Mile one done, feeling good, mile two….hmm, maybe I’m going to quickly? I reigned it back and from there, steady as she goes, enjoying the scenery on such a beautiful morning. Mile 10 appeared before I knew it and with a water refill, happily plodded on. I let a couple of people overtake me, telling myself ‘run your own race Cazza, leave them be’. Mile 14.5 and yikes the ascent loomed. Actually, this was my favourite part, scrambling in the woods! After the descent, I realised I had caught up with the two women ahead of me, then overtook them, with 7 miles to go. My race strategy worked, I was a power house, feeling great and overtaking.

At mile 21 I had a goosebumps moment. I’m going to do this and in under 4 hours. And I did! Finished 3rd lady, 3:52 and I felt amazing. I was buzzing at the end.

I’m still in shock. I achieved my goal and more, through hard work and discipline and I am so very proud of myself. HUGE thanks to the #Accelerate team, especially Stu and Austen, for believing in me and he lovely Dave at #Peakrunners and #Mountainfuel fo the event.

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Ibiza chills – Marathon prep

Sitting on my sun lounger in Ibiza, tough life! Week one of taper on holiday comes highly recommended 🙂

One week to go until @peakrunners @ladybowertrailmarathon and I think I’m looking forward it. Think!

Loved the trails and exploring San Antonio and managing to avoid that last minute “oh god I haven’t trained enough” thoughts. Back Saturday so with a week to go so there’s plenty of time for that.


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Ladybower return

There are so many things that I love about racing. Big races, fast races, hard races, beautiful races. The opportunity to put yourself to the test and prove to yourself that those hard hours of training have yielded the results you hoped for.

Some of my favourite races have not necessarily been the big ones, but rather those situated in stunning locations. The Cortina Skyrace, the Dorset Coastal Trail Race, Alpe D’Huez Triathlon, Ashbourne Duathlon etc. However, one particularly sticks in my mind.

Many years ago, I was allowed, as an ex-Steel City Strider, to race in their annual club championship 10k. On a beautiful Wednesday evening in mid-July, I persuaded my Dad to make a rare return to racing and come with me.

We drove out to the picturesque surroundings of Ladybower Reservoir. With not a ripple on the water, it was the perfect evening for running in this magnificent part of the Peak District.

I have wonderful memories of running that night. One of those great days when the body is perfectly tuned up and moving gracefully – a rare thing for someone who spends a lot of time hunched up on a time trial bike for large parts of the year. Probably my favourite part was jogging back up the course afterwards to find my Dad and run the last 2km with him. Enjoying a sandwich and beer at the Ladybower Inn afterwards as the sun went down over the reservoir will live long in my memory. There is something about the shared sense of endeavour with running racing that bonds people in a special way. It makes running very special for me, and will sustain me in running long after my speed has gone.

With this great memory in mind, I’m excited to be coming back to race the Ladybower Trail Marathon. It’s shaping up to be a great event with a full field ready to put themselves to the test. Training and racing has been going well for me of late, so I’m looking forward to putting myself through my paces on what looks like a fantastic course.

Best of luck to everyone who will be racing in a couple of weeks’ time. It’s shaping up to be a super day.

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‘The Basics’ – Outsoles.


‘The Basics’ – a regular look at the simple elements which make running gear useful to the runner. Explanations for those who don’t yet know, along with some facts to cut through the marketing nonsense out there, of which there is plenty!

Part one was Midsoles

This time – Outsoles.

The strip of material which makes contact with the ground.  Often refered to as the ‘Sole’ or ‘Grip’ of the shoe.

Its purpose…. Traction.

“these old things still have plenty of wear left”

The facts:  The Outsole should only outlast the midsole, so at most it will have been tested to withstand 500 road miles.  You may well find that the outsole still looks effective, long after the midsole has given up and no longer protects the foot from impact and potential damage.

The job of the outsole is gripping the floor enough for us to land, then push without slipping and losing drive.

There are various styles for traction over all kinds of surfaces, but no outsole can grip on everything as well as a specialised sole for a particular environment.

Sticky outsoles which grip brilliantly well, usually wear out the quickest.  Harder wearing types will usually lose some traction in favour of greater lifespan.

A flat outsole will grip a flat surface brillaintly well, due to the maximum amount of friction.  Broad flat studs will maintain a lot of contact, therefore a lot of friction.

Deepen those studs and you might find that they sink a certain way into softer ground.  And the narrower they become, the better they will sink into the ground and therefore provide traction in wet ground and wet grass, which is one of the hardest surfaces to stick to.

There is, in all cases, a trade off between grip and wear resistance for any given surface.

So road shoes (below) employ a fairly flat outsole design with a lot of contact.  They wear very slowly and evenly (unless you run on one part/the wrong part of your foot all of the time*).









Trail shoes (below) have a series of broad lugs with a variety of depths and in a lot of cases, multi-directional lugs that grip in all directions.  They too will wear quite slowly, although the studs will grind down when used on tarmac, concrete or rocky trails in particular.



Fell shoes (below) have the most aggressive, spread out, narrow, long lugs which will dig into soft and loose terrain in order to allow people to claw their way up and down steep wet hillsides.  The wear might be very slow if they’re used only on soft ground, such as mud or bog.  Wet grass at the least, if not cross country on occasion.  But on anything hard, the thin pieces of soft, sticky rubber will begin to tear and shave themselves flat in no time, leaving a healthy midsole perhaps, but a complete loss of traction where it counts.



There is of course no better way than to have a collection of footwear, allowing the choice between types, according to where you might be spending the most time on any given run.  If it’s been wet, the studs will help on off-road routes.  The wet road should still allow traction, but if it seems safer than aquaplaning, take the trail shoes and have the studs press through the surface water, with space between them for the water to escape.  For outright prevention of unwanted slips ‘n’ slides, on steep ground or anything soaking wet and/or muddy, then the fell shoes ought to be the weapon of choice.

But there are a great many ‘hybrid’ shoes these days, with depth of cushion on top of a multi-directional outsole full of fairly deep lugs.  These will never be a match for the speciality shoes in their appropriate environment, but they’ll allow the ‘explorers’ out there a freedom to run anywhere within reason and get away with it.

While buying one pair of ‘do-all’ shoes might seem a cost effective move, it’s our personal and professional opinion that owning a number of pairs allows a better choice of shoe for the task in hand.  Twice as many last twice as long, if not longer for not damaging them on surfaces for which they were never intended.  Not to mention, you’ll more often come away in one piece!

If you think you might need more traction, better value for money or more confidence in your footing, then feel free to call in to Accelerate to talk footwear.

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How did that happen….?

Caroline French runs for and represents the Accelerate ‘Community’.  As part of Team Accelerate, she not only blogs, but also attends events, group runs (well, coffee & cake afterwards) and sessions in the Accelerate store.  She’s about to focus on completion of an event supported by Accelerate, the Peakrunnrs Ladybower Trail Marathon.  This is part two of a series, recording her progress, with an eventual race report for good measure.












So how did that happen?

I wrote a collection of thoughts and ramblings after entering the Peakrunners Ladybower Marathon 3 months out and it seemed ages.

– It’s now 4 weeks to go. Eek!

In the last 2 months I’ve been practicing this crazy thing called focused, sensible training.

For those who know me well, you’ll appreciate that this is impressive.  I have a brightly coloured ball of wool habit: of getting excited by the prospect of entering races, you know the one “ooh this is happening, ooh friends are running this…” I’ve run to plan.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve had to have words with the excitable me, but I’ve done it.

I’ve transitioned from long runs of 7 miles – to 3 hours, focused on building endurance, loving the development and sheer joy of long runs again.   I’ve gone back to heart rate training, which I know is a touchy subject for some.

For me it’s actually been amazing during this training schedule, as it’s given me justification to slow down in the long runs and keep it easy on recovery runs.

Results: not felt drained and/or over trained!   Got to say a huge thanks to Austen and Stu at Accelerate, for coaching, being a sounding board and having faith in me.

So with 4 weeks to go, the right combination of eating, sleeping and training are all important.  Not sure a week in Ibiza mid June is the ideal training plan – but will force me to start my taper!

The distance and timing since injury mean Ladybower isn’t going to be a race for me.  What it will be (to finish comfortably), is an achievement.

That’s still something that feels strange, but by no means makes it any less to be proud of.

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