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When PMA needs a little help… – by Caroline French

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.

Earlier this year (2019) Caroline suffered an injury which forced her to miss an ultra distance event she’d trained avidly for.  since then, try as she might, she’s ridden a very bumpy road.

But she has remained focused and determined.  Positive beyond all expectation.

Her attention now rests on another ultra event…







When PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) needs a little help…

Me and PMA, we’re like proper buddies. Injuries happen, deal with them, rehab, crack on….

This ankle stress fracture though, grrr. It happened ages ago and only just doing what I’d call training again. I’ll be honest, it has been tough!. A week or so after the ‘incident’ I knew something wasn’t right, but thought I could plough on. WRONG! Even running alternate days and after steady runs, my ankle was sore. It ballooned and even an easy run, I was shattered!

I nervously booked an appointment with Colin (Accelerate Performance Centre’s Podiatrist) and crossed fingers, toes and anything else I could, hoping he could fix it. Turns out that PMA thing wasn’t quite enough.

Stress fracture??????

In the cold light of day, that diagnosis made perfect sense, but being told to rest? Yeah, I know – me! No running. Not much of anything actually. The prospect of this was awful, but got to be done. PMA. PMA. PMA!

Colin Papworth, APC Podiatrist.

So what does a podiatrist do? Most of us dash off to physio with an injury, but don’t think many people get podiatry. It’s basically anything below the knee, especially the foot. If you think about it, the foot is an amazing thing and in the case of us runners, takes a heck of a lot of abuse. No wonder my entire body hurt after trying to run with my stress fractured ankle!

Initial treatment was gentle release and manipulation, gradually increasing mobility. After a couple of weeks of rest (shudder), treatment progressed, releasing the tight muscles and knots and slowly introducing exercises and easy running. Since then its been manipulation, strength exercises, rehab running schedule and a guiding ear as the weeks have progressed. I’m not fully fixed yet – need to continue the sensible progression and listen to my body. The Accelerate Dig Deep 30 has my name on it and I’m taking the guiding advice of Coach Stu and Ankle Hero Colin to get me there.

Side note to Colin: you have been ace. You’ve been a proper rock through this, physically and mentally and a heart-felt thank you!

Shameless plug from the editor:

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‘The Basics’ – Hydration

‘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

Part two was Outsoles


This one’s quick, but very important.

In a nutshell:

Hydration is the process of consuming and storing water.

It is vital for the efficient running of all our bodily functions and maintaining a healthy/safe temperature.

Drinking water is good for you, especially when exercising.  Very especially on hot days, or during intense/extended bouts of exercise.

But there’s more to consider than just taking on water.

Your body requires salt, or more precisely ‘electrolytes’ within your body in order to function.  It’s more complicated than that, but trust me it’s important.  If you’re brave enough/or insomniac – click here to read about it.

So – when you sweat, you sweat out a lot of the electrolytes contained within the sweat itself.  Just look at people’s faces all streaked with lines of dried up salt next time you’ve finished a lengthy run/race.

To illustrate the importance of electrolyte replacement when drinking for exercise:

Imagine a glass of cola (hmmm cola).  The glass is your body, the cola – your blood stream/hydration level.

 Run Run Run – Sweat Sweat Sweat

– suddenly that glass is half empty.

So you guzzle down water.  Brilliant yes?  NO!

Now that glass of cola looks a little thinner than it did before, but on you go….

Run Run Run – Sweat Sweat Sweat

Same thing again, half empty, so you drink more water to top up.  Perhaps you drink for the entire time that you exercise…?

You don’t want to dehydrate, cause you’ve heard nothing but bad things about dehydration.  So you’re rather pleased with your healthy little run routine.  Then you begin to feel tired, nauseous, crampy, headachey, all kinds of not very good.

The reason….. you’ve lost a lot of electrolytes, before effectively diluting what remained to the point of failure.  You’ve got to restore the salt as well as the water if you’re going to keep working hard and sweating.  And not fall apart.


It isn’t pleasant, but the kids who kill themselves on ecstasy do so because it makes them very hot (that and dancing for hours on end), so they drink water until they overhydrate and they fail.  Same with a few runners who’ve done likewise on great north run or similar, dropping dead at the finish line.



There are plenty of options when it comes to product with electrolyte included.  Sachets, sweets, drinks or gels.  Just look around and try things until you find something which appeals to your taste buds and leaves you feeling good during and after your runs.

I used to eat a Snickers bar or two during long runs, they contain plenty of energy, with both nuts and some salt, along with some caramel and chocolate, so all bases covered for fast/slow energy release and salt enough to stave off over-hydration when drinking.  though for drinks, I used to use dihoralyte for the blackcurrant flavour, combined with plenty of the right minerals.  They provide the basis for remaining comfortably hydrated on long events as well as acting as intended as a remedy against diarrhea.  That’s a win-win in my book.

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Gritstone Fixtures: Round Six – Salt Cellar Fell Race


Another day, another fell race….

And another incredible fixture in the 2019 Gritstone Series – supported once again by inov-8 All Terrain Running!

Without further ado…

Salt Cellar Fell Race:



Official stats:

Round 6 (Short): Salt Cellar Fell Race, Friday 2nd August, 7:00pm
Start under Dam at north end of Ladybower Reservoir, register at Fairholmes, GR SK 173893
Distance: 10.9km / 6.8m
Climb: 486m / 1594ft
£6 pre entry or £9 on day
Records: Tom Saville (2015) – 49:34 and Judith Jepson (2013) – 62:08
Race Organisers:
Proceeds to Edale Mountain Rescue


The course:

  • LK – Local Knowledge an advantage
  • PM – Course Partially Marked

Map –

and that relief map (it’ll be a relief when it’s over, chuckle chuckle) –

Doesn’t look too bad, but that’s a 300 meter climb (Hollin Clough to Bradfield Gate) inside the first 4km!  Straight back down (which will be over all too quickly), then it’s another 150 meters up, for a short (sharp) descent.  And that sharp section toward the end, grassy, with a view of the final section dead ahead – begging for you to cut straight across to the finish…. well, on a wet day, can be a slip ‘n’ slide.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The History:

Sheffield running club, Steel City Striders introduced this off-road event in 2012.  It took until 2014 for the course to reveal its true potential, as this was the first year in which the race took place in wet weather conditions.  While accessible from the picturesque Fairholmes visitor centre/car park, the route takes people up and over the Derwent Edge and past the ‘Salt Cellar’ rock formation, so named because of its distinct shape.

Race records have come and gone, with many runners establishing great times, looking hard to beat in fact….  but the wet weather provides a very difficult course to master.  Occasional dry weather can occur, particularly at this time of year – and if you’re the right calibre with the right conditions under foot….

Tom Saville of Dark Peak Fell Runners currently holds the men’s record (2015) – 49:34.  He managed that during a dry spell, the ground a lot firmer and more responsive, less likely to lose traction or take a fall.  Judith Jepson, also of Dark Peak (2013) – 62:08 is a record which was again established in dry conditions, before the race had ever been attempted in the wet, before the course had revealed its hidden horrors.

With this year providing some of the driest conditions on record, with record temperatures in fact, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of performance can be mustered by the fell running elite, given that we’ve tipped into overwhelming heat, threatening to hamper even the swiftest runner’s progress across such hilly terrain.  Keep ’em peeled come August 2nd for what might be a new course record, or just some very sweaty looking race pics for all concerned….

Should you enter….?

The basic fact is, that for a race with very little entry criteria – good light, warm weather, easy access, low cost (£6 pre-entry/£9 on the day), this one features tough climbs, not for the faint hearted and those descents, which will be hard earned and tempting at top speed, but which have and will provide a few slips, trips and tumbles for anyone not entirely on their game.  And that’s in the dry.

If you’re a keen runner, fell enthusiast, or you love a challenge, then yeah – have a go.

There’s promise of post finish cake for all who take part.  Something of a tradition and more reason to be enormously grateful to the many marshalls and organisers for the effort they put into this race.


Proceeds go to Edale Mountain Rescue, who coincidentally host their own event, the Nine Edges Endurance race (20miles) every year, from the same start location and what a worthy bunch they are.  If like us, you enjoy the beauty of the Peak National Park and frequent the Derwent/Edale area on a regular basis, they’re invaluable, so please do support them if you can.

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‘The Basics’ – Clothing


‘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

Part two was Outsoles

Today – it’s clothing.

There’s clothing and there’s clothing.

We’ll use the common T-Shirt, or ‘Tee’ as our example.

For running purposes, there are certain priorities:

  1. Moisture Management
  2. Temperature Regulation
  3. Bacteria Management
  4. Anti-Chafe
  5. Weather Resistance
  6. UV Protection
  7. Use within a layering system…

Let’s take a look at these criteria in some detail.

  1.   Moisture Management.

Your basic running Tee has a simple use, it covers your body.  While running it ought to also help you avoid too much sweat or overheating.  So it might be best to avoid one made from cotton, which gets very hot very quickly, as it doesn’t breathe all that well.  It also traps a great deal of moisture and refuses to ‘let go’.  Which means that you’ll have a hot, heavy, soggy tee shirt on for the bulk of you run.  Not good.

Above :Standard ‘Technical’ or ‘Tech’ t-shirt.


First then, make the shirt from a fabric/material which collects (wicks) moisture, but which also then helps to evaporate it and dry itself out if it can.

There are many shirts out there which describe themselves as ‘technical’ shirts, or made from ‘technical’ material, but this usually boils down to the fact that they are not cotton (organic) and are in fact synthetic, so man made and therefore (slightly more) ‘technical’.  This is to appeal to those who believe that a nylon, or polyester shirt will in some way enhance their performance over the cotton or woollen equivalent.

This is scratching the surface of what’s truly possible in a running shirt.  Yes – there’s value in avoiding the hot sticky cotton, but it goes further than that.

For example…

Materials such as ‘CoolMax’ feature highly sophisticated thread structures which enhance the wicking ability, mimicking, if not outdoing natural fibre’s ability to do the same.  Merino wool for example is one of the most impressive natural wicking materials known, with ability to draw moisture into its hollow strands.  But CoolMax has specially engineered threads that ae propeller shaped and actively draw moisture along the outside of the fibres, moving it away from your skin, while not trapping it within.  Mother nature versus man’s ingenuity and again, all so you can run efficiently.

Above: Simple, but very effective.


2. Temperature Management.

Above: Vents and Breathable panels tailored to fit areas of extreme warmth/blood flow.


Moisture Management virtually IS Temperature Regulation.  They’re very closely linked.  Just lick the back of your hand and feel how that feels…  Then gently blow on it while it’s wet… Colder?  Blow harder… Colder still?

If the shirt you wear features a fabric which is close-knit, no holes, very poor air circulation and you then go running in it, despite its ability to soak up sweat until wet through (wicked out), it will trap your heat and PREVENT heat from escaping.  It’ll become more trouble than it’s worth by virtue of its insulative effect – trapping heat and humidity inside the shirt.  So strategically placed holes and vents are a good way of providing escape for the heat, humidity and air which will continue to blow across your skin while the moisture is removed.

Prevention rather than just cure… to prevent heat building up, rather than trying to cool down at all cost.  The more heat can escape and air can circulate freely, while moisture is collected as soon as it is produced, the more you’ll feel free from bother and enjoy your run.

3. Bacteria Management.

Above: T-Shirt with ‘anti-bacterial agent’ applied once constructed/woven.


This gets a little compicated (as always).  But generally there are two ways of dealing with the build up of bacteria.

a) apply something which repels bacteria to the shirt once produced.  Effective until eventually washing off.


b) build that same something into the shirt during production, so it’s at work from the inside.  And doesn’t just wash off with time.

You get what you pay for.  And companies who apply treatments to their clothing after they’ve been woven together, don’t always use very friendly chemicals, so when they ‘wash off’ they enter the waterways.  That’s not very nice.

Above: Silver, woven/incorporated in the fibres it’s constructed from, reflecting heat from the sun, and/or preventing bacteria from populating the surface. Fewer smells or irritation/infection.



The alternative is to build in a level of resistance as you make the shirt.  To incorporate substances which actively repel bacteria inside the fibres, within the very construct of the shirt fabric, so that it stays, remains active and prolongs the health of the shirt and you – the end user.  Also reducing odour – maintaining friendships.

4. Anti-Chafe.

What it says on the tin.  Shirts ought to not scratch.  If the thread count is high enough, the fibres are smooth and arranged so not to trap hairs or pull at them and the moisture management is working to avoid build up of salt, then you shouldn’t get too irritated or rubbed in all the wrong areas.  There are finishing touches, such as bar-tacs and cross stitches at seams which help to flatten and soften the interior of the clothes, to ensure that you can stay in them for hours, even days and not get any lasting aggravation.

In addition to the materials and what’s applied if not built in, there’s the fit, which if tailored well enough to suit humans in motion, you shouldn’t get any rucking, wrinkling, riding or tension across any particular parts, which among other issues can be the cause of the dreaded ‘nipple rub’, which speaks for itself and leaves runners looking as if they’ve been shot twice during the run/event.  Not the best.

Above: ‘Body Mapped’ shirts with the right panels of breathable or wicking materials around areas of blood flow, heat loss or increased friction.


5. Weather Resistance.

Well, in a Tee there’s an argument for disregarding weather protection as such, but there are some considerations.  As mentioned, in extreme heat/sunlight, brighter shirts, or white ones can reflect heat away from the runner.  In Death Valley, where believe it or not, folk still race ultra distances in up to 50C heat, there are purpose made white jump suits that shield them from the rays.  In everyday terms, white is one thing, but that interwoven silver in the material keeps the external temperatures at bay.  Montane produce a Tee with Primaloft insulation in it, combined with Merino Wool, called ‘Primino’, which makes for a very warm T-Shirt when it comes to keeping warmth in instead of out, but that’s another story (further down).

6. UV Protection.

In an almost obvious sense, clothing gets between you and the sun*.  So to some extent or other protects against the potentially harmful rays given off, which might burn the skin if exposed for too long.  While a shirt might not cover you up entirely, it can be rated for how well it blocks or absorbs these harmful rays.  UPF (Utra Violet Protection Factor) built in to clothing benefits everyone (children/those of fair complexion especially) – as with sun cream, higher rating protect more/for longer.  Standard white cotton tee offers a rating of UPF 5.  Dense construction and treatments, along with Polyester/Nylon are all helpful ingredients in protecting us.  Surprisingly, Black is a good choice, as it absorbs all of the light/heat energy.  But there appear to be positives from all solutions, so keep an eye for the UPF rating when choosing your stuff.

Wet fabric is known to be less effective against the sun, except for Polyester, which is fortunate, since studies show it often improves when wet, perfect as it’s used as the wicking element in most active wear.

Care of your clothing can help.  Broken down, worn out and loose construction can begin to allow UV to penetrate your apparel.

*Use of protective cream is still highly recommended in combination with clothing, as no clothing is 100% safe.

7. Use in a layering system.

Finally, clothes work very well when in their ideal environment, but environments change.  We can create our own system for anticipating these changes and react accordingly if we’re armed with enough of the correct items for a quick alteration en route.  Lightweight wicking base layers offer the first line of defence, with mid-layers adding a second wicking layer along with ability to trap warm air between and create a barrier against any harsh cold or rain that might be coming at you from the outside.  Only when necessary might you apply an outer ‘shell’, of wind or waterproof nature, as these trap far more moisture and heat than practical/safe unless conditions are seriously bad, or you’ve slowed to a pace which no longer generates much heat from within.  If you’ve stopped, or at the end of a run, it’s advisable to add layers or to change into something dry, so to avoid the shock of your core releasing heat when your overall temperature drops too low in reaction to the end of exercise.

Above: The Grail!  A fully tricked out, breathable wicking anti-microbial shirt with body mapping and constructed from 100% recycled material. Saving the planet one shirt at a time!


Finally – but crucially, as we continue to look for ways in which to preserve resources and reduce the impact our manufacturing has on the world around us, it is increasingly vital to re-use and recycle the materials we’ve no longer use for.

Many clothing companies are these days making running apparel from recycled plastics in attempts to minimise the waste and pollution happening around our planet.  Names like Patagonia, RaidLight and inov-8 are introducing recycled and sustainable materials and providing all of the above features without contributing to any unnecessary waste/pollution.

Their efforts and those of similar brands will only double in time, with likely enforcement from governments and authorities.  To produce anything harmful in a time of environmental urgency will eventually (I assume) be outlawed.  what this means is for runners and active types, the clothing we select will by default, be produced without footprint, or as close to carbon neutral as possible and will eliminate the potential for disposal into our oceans, as plastic is already at an emergency level.

Worth thinking about as you debate the short term bargains versus value for money long term solutions.

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Screw this!


Saucony have taken a bold step and released trail shoes which openly invite the user to customise them…

By drilling holes in them, or screwing screws into the underside.

And before you dismiss the idea, think about the possibilities.

We all appreciate a good trail shoe.  Comfort over an outright fell shoe, but more responsive and protective than the softer road alternatives.  The studs you find on most trail shoes offer traction and if made of the correct rubber, a lot of grip as well.  But only to a point.  No one shoe will work on all surfaces.  In fact, most appear to be aimed at a very specific terrain, from wet grass and mud to hard packed dirt or rock.

So what about a shoe designed for year round use, on all kinds of surfaces, with potential to adapt to seasonal requirements….?

The Mad River trail shoe from Saucony is just that.  A fully customisable shoe which will tolerate the use of additional metal studs – screwed into its outsole.

I mean, it’s a fair shoe to begin with.

4mm off-set from heel to toe.

Reasonable depth of cushion, but nothing too excessive while headed for softer ground anyway.

Roomy toe box, secure midfoot, rather like the Peregrine.

Then there’s the clever way in which the Mad River allows for the runner to adapt the lacing to suit their foot.  the fit can be tailored via two rows of lace holes, some of them loops, some of them eyelets.


photo – courtesy of Gear Junkie

Wide feet, high arches, tendonitis, spurs, plantar fasciitis, whatever the issue, there’s likely a lacing configuration to make life easier and the Mad River accommodates this very well.

The interior of the shoe is constructed as a one piece sock, with integrated tongue to prevent debris from entering.  They’re also gaiter compatible, with a loop at the forefoot and midfoot ‘gaiter track’ to allow the stirrup to sit flat to your foot and avoid being stepped on/broken.

The outsole has plenty of counter-directional aggressive sticky rubber lugs to begin with, but  here’s the weird and wonderful part:

The same ‘mapped’ outsole (marked up with what to use and where), will also serve as a super fast-draining wet weather shoe for those running through puddles, or as we suspect, obstacle courses with frequent waist deep troughs of dirty water to contend with.

photo – courtesy of Gear Junkie

Simply drill (yes drill) the underside where it suggests and create your own drainage.

Running on ice?  Mad River excels.  Running on wet weather trails?  Mad River excels.  Obstacle course racing?  Mad River excels.

The only thing I’d be worried about is chancing wet limestone….

The jury’s out on the wet limestone….  I mean if banana skins and eels had babies….

Purchase Mad River here.



Posted in Buzz, Product News, What's New | Comments Off on Screw this!