Diary of an aspiring half -marathon runner - week two

OK – so although my first blog was only published last week, in real time I’ve had a while to get used to the idea and it’s really starting to sink in now that in October I’ll be running a half marathon! 

It still sounds ages away, but once you add in the fact that I’m away quite a bit between now & then, plus I’ve got to somehow fit training in around busy full-time employment and other commitments - it’s really not that long at all! 

But, according to my trusty advisor(s) on such matters, apparently based on the fact that I could probably run 10K without too much of a struggle, I could be ready to run a half-marathon in as little as 6 weeks (yeah right, dream-on!). Thankfully we have more than 6 weeks, so allowing for holidays etc… I should be able to get a solid 11-12 weeks of training in, so in theory double the time needed!    

This week I started my “proper” training schedule and the plan for session one – complete 5 miles.  What was that? “Piece of cake” did I hear you say?  I agree that normally this wouldn’t give me too much cause for concern as the usual steady SLJ run is 4 – 4.5 miles most weeks, but I’ve been away or busy on Saturdays for over a month so I’ve missed all but one of the usual SLJ Saturday sessions (where I opted for the “gentle joggers” on account of feeling a little (ahem) “delicate”) and I’ve not managed to fit in any mid-week sessions either.

That said I did run just the once while on holiday where I learned a valuable lesson about not always putting your faith in technology, but I’ll leave that tale for another time!  I know I could have made time to run more whilst away and in between if I really wanted to, but the truth is I just don’t enjoy running on my own – I need the support & camaraderie that comes from being part of a group like SLJ.

Therefore I woke this Saturday morning, excited but also more than a tad nervous to embark upon my training.  Normally after a several weeks off running I’d ease myself in gently with 3-4 miles with Sue & the gentle joggers, a nice gentle pace with stops & walking breaks – but that wasn’t an option today. Not only would I have to jump straight in at the deep end and run with Siân & the main group – but I’d also have to do the extra loops to make sure I hit the 5 mile target! I feel the need to point out here that I’ve NEVER run the extra loops before – I’ve always avoided them like the plague, after all they’re for fast runners aren’t they…?  Well, I can now categorically say the answer is no, they’re not!  That’s not to say that there weren’t some fast runners up the front, but there were another four of us bringing up the rear, taking a steadier pace but still covering the extra distance.  We still caught up with the main group at the previously agreed check points and in true SLJ spirit, nobody was left behind.  

I’m pleased to report that thanks to the extra loops I did indeed achieve the 5 mile target, and it didn’t kill me! Hooray! 

All in all a good start to the “proper” training, and much better than I feared which hopefully bodes well for the weeks to come. Watch this space!

Diary of an SLJ Beginner - Week three

I've always liked the idea of being fit; it's just the getting fit part that has been a bit of a stumbling block.  I've tried the gym, swimming, kick boxing, cycling...I've even tried pole dancing.  Swimming bored me and cycling ended rather abruptly after an incident with a lorry, a cracked helmet and first aid from the local vet.  

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Diary of an SLJ Beginner - Week 2

Diary of an SLJ Beginner - Week 2

On the the SLJ website, it states that to start the beginners course, ‘all you need is a sense of humour and a decent bra’.  I’m not sure I completely agree.  You do need those things, but you also need at least two others. 

First:  You need the ability to dislocate both shoulders in order to get into that sports bra- a joy I had completely forgotten in the rather large gap since I last attempted exercise requiring that level of, um, support.

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Time for a Spring Declutter?

Time for a Spring Declutter?

Is it just me? I seem to be 'nesting'!

I'm clearing out cupboards, tidying up shoes and generally in a Spring frame of mind! The appearance of the sun yesterday made me realise how much my windows need cleaning, I feel it's time to welcome some freshness back into my house again.

SLJ expert Jennifer tells us how the declutter process can even help your fitness!

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My mothers day treat!

Yesterday was mothers day and some of you may have read my email sent on Saturday telling you how terrified I was about my treat from my son. If you missed the email you can see it here. 

I promised to let you know how it went so here goes - 

Ollie and I arrived at Psycle to be greeted by someone who looked like Arnold Schwarzeneggers brother with muscles on his muscles, he asked me to sign in. I registered my name and email on the ipad and within 15 seconds my pocket buzzed with a welcome email telling me that my ride was due to start in 5 minutes. I was given a pair of cycling shoes and shown to the ladies changing rooms where I quickly got ready, noting as I did so that I was approximately 30 years older than EVERYONE!!

Ollie met me in the hall and took me to the studio which I was surprised to find was virtually pitch black! As I had suspected the cyclists were young, so young and the girls wore the teeniest of tops with their washboard stomachs on show, their long blond hair or flippy uppy ponytails swishing away. It was too dark to get a good look at the men, well I was with my son,  but they too looked like they had stepped out of a fitness magazine! The music was thumping and about 25 of the 30 bikes were already in use, there was a small towel ready for me on the bike. I wasn't sure that I was going to need the towel but the instructor who was wearing a bra and a mesh top that she may have bought in Ann Summers, obviously had other ideas! She seated herself on her bike on a raised plinth at the front of the class and effortlessly spun her bronzed legs whiled twiddling the knobs on her mini deck beside her, filling the room with music I have never heard before. 

The class started with an obligatory whoop, the music was blaring and the only light was red, blue, green strip lighting, it was a bit like clubbing on a bike!

The warm up left me for dead!

I longed for the safety of a 12 mile run with mud, wind and rain and a nice bit of Abba to keep me company but Ollie kept on glancing over at me and I couldn't let him down. So I peddled, and peddled and tricep dipped and peddled some more, wishing it was light enough to see my watch so I could work out how much longer I had to go!! Up and down, forward and backward, side to side we went as the Brazilian instructor with 2% body fat had a whale of a time telling us to 'Lick the sweat of our faces' and 'go faster, faster and harder,harder' 

Everyone else in the room looked as if they were finding it easy whilst I was wondering how on earth they could keep going - there was one nice point when finally my fitball and running came into it's own, we had to cycle standing up but keep our head, shoulders and hips perfectly still, at last something I could do but plenty of those blond ponytails kept on bobbing! 

About 5 minutes from the end we picked up the two weights given on your way in and used them to do some arm exercises, whilst still spinning away, those who had the heaviest weights were congratulated on their efforts, I assume due to my advanced age I wasn't given heavy ones! 

The class ended with us all waving our towels around our heads like a cowboy with a lassoo. My legs were like jelly and I was indeed rather sweaty but I was looking forward to a hot shower. 


The last time I was in a public changing room I was at Nizels where those around me were of a similar age to me, not here. These beautiful blond girls strutted their toned naked bodies as they smoothed Bumble and Bumble products onto their endless legs. I scurried into the shower with my clothes, towel and Sainsburys body lotion so I could ablute in privacy and reflect on how  I wish I knew how good I'd looked when I was that age! 

I loved spending my morning with Ollie and love the fact that he wanted to share this with me but clubbing was never really my thing and no body talked to me at all! I think we will stick to the naff music in the SLJ studio with the lights on and our tummies covered, at least that way most of us will feel comfortable! 

Sam x

Running and your breasts - what you need to know!

Running and your breasts

After having a very interesting discussion the other day with one of my fitness friends about why ladies do not use their arms to run properly- I had a thought that I would try and convince a few more people to take it seriously. I do a lot of biomechanics analysis and this is something I do not take great pleasure in pointing out! – the way you swing your arms (or do not) is directly dependent on how good a bra you are wearing!!! If you are too busy holding your top box to use your arms to propel yourself you are inadvertently slowing yourself down and fixing your trunk to stop your boobs bouncing up and down.

If you need some convincing here is the research about how much you are bouncing!!

During walking, a woman’s breasts move the same amount in and out, up and down and from side to side: about 33% in each dimension.

Up the pace to a jog or a run, and the movement is split: 51% up and down, 22% side to side and 27% in and out. The overall pattern is a figure of eight (on it’s side).

Breasts move as much during a slow jog as they do during a sprint, meaning no matter what your pace, you should always wear a sports bra- and a good one at that! Two ordinary bras will not stop the motion.

If you are hitting the ground hard then you are getting a lot more vertical bounce than you would ever want- damaging breast ligaments and altering your whole body biomechanics and a lot more besides! ( AKA heading south!)

Warning- clicking here will make your eyes water! Put your size in and your sport and see how much damage you could be doing! Enough said!


If you are playing other sports then look below from a great piece of research from Portsmouth about bounce!



1Debbie Risius, 1Alexandra Milligan, 1Chris Mills, and 1Joanna Scurr1University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Hants, UKemail:Debbie.Risius@port.ac.uk, web: http://www.port.ac.uk/breastresearch


Effective sports bras that minimise breast displacement are crucial to reduce breast discomfort during exercise [1]. The majority of breast biomechanics literature centers on treadmill activity. However, until the movement of the breast is understood during different actions, optimum breast support parameters for sport specific activities are unknown. This study aimed to determine the kinematics of female breast movement during; running, jumping and an agility task, in order to inform breast support design during different multiplanar activities.METHODSTen 34D cup participants had passive markers attached to their right nipple and trunk, to calculate relative 3D breast displacement [2]. Supported and unsupported anterioposterior, mediolateral and vertical breast displacement was calculated during treadmill running (10kph), maximum counter movement jumps and an agility T-test.RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONExercise modality influenced the magnitude of breast displacement when bare breasted (p<.006) and when wearing a sports bra (p<.013). The greatest anterioposterior (57 mm) and mediolateral (67 mm) breast movement was found during the agility task, and the greatest vertical breast movement (86 mm) found during jumping (Fig. 1). Agility and running had equal distributions of movement in each direction (30% AP, 36% ML, 33% V), whereas jumping activities produced a larger distribution in the vertical direction (26% AP, 27% ML, 47% V). The sports bra was more effective at reducing anterioposterior breastdisplacement during running (51%) than either jumping (35%) or the agility task (41%), more effect at reducing mediolateral displacement during jumping (64%) than either running (47%) or the agility task (49%), and more effective at reducing vertical breast displacement during running (66%) than jumping

Exercise modality has an impact upon the magnitude and distribution of multiplanar breast displacement, and also upon a sports bra’s effectiveness at reducing this breast movement. Sports bra manufacturers may wish to design sport specific products, as a sports bra effectiveness is influenced by the type of exercise [1].REFERENCES1. Scurr J, et al. J Sports Sci 29, 55-61, 2011.2. Scurr J, et al. J Appl Biomech 25, 322-329, 2009.

So keep up the running just not the bouncing!

Jayne Nixon

Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist

BSc HONS MSc Sports & Exercise Medicine MCSP HCPC Reg.

Sevenoaks Physiotherapy and The Running School Kent

Three simple tips proven to help you keep a New Year Resolution!

Three simple tips proven to help you keep a New Year Resolution!

Have you written a long list of New Year resolutions ready for 2016?  

A British psychologist did some research on 3,000 people's New Year's resolutions and found that only 12 percent of them managed to achieve what they had set out to do. So what was it that makes some people so much better at sticking to their goals? 

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Second time round fitness - it's SO much easier, find out why!!

Second time round fitness - it's SO much easier, find out why!!

Over a period of 5 years I trained hard, my first marathon time was a steady 5.15 and my last one, 3.45. Luckily I avoided typical running injuries so I didn't have any reason to stop for long other than the occasional sore Achilles' tendon or winter cold. However an innocuous fall on a skiing holiday changed everything ....

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SLJ 7 - Cyber security

Our resident Saturday & Wednesday Coach and Cyber Security expert Christine gave us this fantastic advice to help us all keep our information safe. Thanks Christine Maxwell! 

Cyber security is one of the subjects you hear about in the news a lot. You probably also know someone who has had a problem with a credit card, bank account or social media account being hacked. Did you know you can take some really simple steps to protect yourself and your family?

1. Choose good, complex passwords and think about a few layers of passwords for different services you use. For example, use one really good password for your banking and don't reuse it. Then have good passwords for your email and Facebook accounts. The bad guys will try to get into these accounts to find out about you. Don't make it easy for them. Then have another password(s) for lower risk accounts.

My top tip for passwords is do not use dictionary words (including dictionary words with a number at the end). A bad guy could crack this in less than 20 seconds!!!! You could use a short phrase, first line of a song lyric etc. for example:

60min10kforme, Slj7oaksisfab,  Iitmoodfd2 - I'm in the mood for dancing 2

2. Don't click links in phishing emails. Learn how to spot them. Spelling mistakes, sense or urgency and non personalised emails are some signs. If you aren't expecting a package to be delivered why would you click a link telling you that you must urgently pick up your parcel. Banks don't send emails asking you for personal info. Some of the banking phishing emails look very credible.

3. NEVER give your password or PIN to anyone. Even if someone phones you and tells you it's the Serious Organised Crime Agency) who are investigating a crime. They wouldn't do this.

4. Keep the software on your PC patched. The bad guys know that you ignore the Java and Adobe software upgrade boxes that pop up on your PC. Keep it patched - it won't take long and makes a big difference.

5. While we are on software, you've got a reputable anti virus product installed? There are good free ones out there eg from Microsoft, but some of the less reputable ones are loading malware on to your PC.

6. Tighten up the privacy settings on your Facebook and social media accounts. They don't need to be public. The bad guys love public facebook profiles - it's how they tailor a phishing email to you if they are picking on you. For example, they find out that you've got a son at xyz school from Facebook and then you receive a real looking email from the headteacher at xyz school that your son is very ill and you need to click the link to confirm that you've received the email. Would you click? They know you will.

7. Talk to your kids about this stuff.

Good cyber security behaviours are relatively easy and make a big difference.


SLJ Breast Cancer Care Pink Run - such an amazing day!

On a foggy October morning it was a good job we were wearing bright colours for our annual Breast Cancer Care run, this year starting and finishing at the Vine Cricket ground. Having regrouped at the top of the High Street we were joined by some ladies from the Kent Velo Girls and the SLJ Tuc Tuc for a parade down the High Street. It was lovely to see smiling pedestrians and shop owners come out and cheer and wave us on our way. Once back at the Vine we were treated to free coffee and cake at the new Cafe on the Vine, for which we were really grateful.  There were  73 ladies wearing the pink T shirts, walking, jogging and some starting their 10k training. 

In the afternoon SLJ and Oaks Blokes hosted a Kiddies Fun run. Each child had to do a lap of the cricket pitch. The more laps they did, the more stickers they received! I think there would have been some tired children that evening, we were amazed by their energy! 





SLJ 7 - Wonders of Knole Park

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1. The Park

The Park at Knole tells the story of a time before man-made landscaped beauty became an obsession for wealthy landowners.  The famous herd of deer maintain the balance of nature with their careful grazing.  

With 1,000 acres to explore, there's something for everyone, walkers, runners and wildlife watchers within the bracken-lined paths and tree-filled landscape. The park is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of the rare species found within it.

Dewponds are dotted about the park and are a sign of the park's old age. Most owners of country houses had their parks landscaped in Georgian times, modifying them with large-scale gardening work. But Knole escaped this fate and now represents a very unusual piece of medieval managed countryside. 

2. The House

Knole House is vast, complex and full of hidden treasures. Originally an Archbishop’s palace, the house passed through royal hands to the Sackville family – Knole’s inhabitants from 1603 to today.  It is said to have 365 rooms and 52 staircases.

Art lovers will find Reynolds, Gainsborough and Van Dyck and Textile enthusiasts can see the 17th-century tapestries and furniture that make the collection of international significance.

Major renovations are currently being carried out and external repairs have been completed and a new Bookshop Café and visitors centre will open in 2015 and a world-class conservation studio is being built and many showrooms are painstakingly being conserved.


3. The Ice House

Hidden away from the house down a hillside is a shady dell where one of England’s earliest ice-houses is situated – built to store ice over the summer

Like most ice houses in Britain, it is domed and brick-lined and looks a bit like an igloo!  Ice was brought in from the Fens in East Anglia, and from the north of England, especially the Lake District. Some even came from Scandinavia. And, by the end of the century, icebergs were being towed from Canada to feed demand!

 4. The Deer

Kent's last medieval deer park is home to 350-strong wild deer herd. They're descendants of those hunted by Henry VIII who roam the 1000 acres of parkland year-round. Knole's parkland is exceptional in its vast size and unmanaged landscape. Expect trees fallen and left to nature and bracken thick with protected wildlife.

 The herd at Knole is mostly made up of fallow and the Japanese sika deer. The fallows were introduced into Britain by the Romans, and hunted for sport. The sika deer were brought into parks during the 17th century, and to Knole in the 19th.


5. The Gallops

Among its physical landscape features, the earliest single feature you can see today is the Gallops, the broad gully carved by a prehistoric river. It's most obvious where it runs along the west side of the park. The drive dips into it before climbing again up to the house. As you walk southwards along the Gallops, there are places marking tributaries coming down from the ridge on which the Sevenoaks High Street now stands.

 6. The Brewhouse Tearoom  – when it opens in 2016

Part of the current renovation is the rebuild of the Brewhouse Tearoom where visitors will be served in greater comfort and where they can enjoy lovely food while looking out over the parkland.


7. The Sackville Family

Since its purchase in 1604 by Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset, the house at Knole, Kent, has been inhabited by thirteen generations of a single aristocratic family, the Sackvilles.  Set in the heart of a medieval deer-park, this great house was the birthplace and home of Vita Sackville-West. It holds a wide array of fascinating family histories – you’ll find it hard to beat the characters and stories that make up the famous and ancient Sackville dynasty.

SLJ visit Bruges - September 2015

The idea was born in November last year – an invitation came from The Running Centre of Bruges – would Sevenoaks Ladies Joggers like to start an exchange programme with the Belgium running club.

9 months and many emails later – off went 20 SLJ members for a sporting, cultural and shopping weekend in beautiful Bruges.  The schedule was planned with precision timing – a packed weekend of activities and festivities followed.


Bruges welcomed the Sevenoaks ladies with open arms and exceptional Autumn weather.  After a morning of coffee, sightseeing and shopping the group were honoured to be greeted in the fabulous Gothic Hall in the City Hall by the Belgium Minister of Sport.  Speeches followed, exchanges of gifts and the warmest of welcomes.

Then the main event – the Beisbroek Forest run – up to 6 laps on a 2k route – with a beer token collected on every lap completed.  In beautiful sunshine, through a shady forest on a completely FLAT route – the SLJ ladies have never enjoyed a run and an ice cold beer so much.

The whole weekend was a superb success, historical Bruges enjoyed on a walking and canal tour and the Friteur waiting with the best frites and mayonnaise ever tasted.

SLJ now has a year to plan and prepare for the reciprocal visit from the ladies of The Running Centre, Bruges.  The bar has been set exceptionally high, but Sevenoaks can do it!

SLJ 7 - Why and how to keep running

'Why and How to keep running'
The list of reasons I could give you as to WHY you keep running is as long as my arm and many you will already know well.  We all run for a lot of the same reasons as well as some very different ones, here is a short list of those I think should cover most people.
- Live happier
- Live longer
- Sneeze less
- Strengthen your body and bones 
- Stress relief
- Improve your fitness and feel good
- Sleep better


Now a few bits of advice as to HOW to keep running - 
Progress training gradually  Set goals that are realistic and appropriate.  This makes them easier to achieve and in turn you continue to be more motivated.  Set you own pace and schedule, whilst taking into account the rest of life and how much time you can honestly set aside for your training/leisure.

- Consistency  Try to be consistent in your training.   It is better to exercise twice a week than aim for 4 times, miss sessions, stop , start, stop, start..... it is not nearly as beneficial as a consistent pattern. We all know that holidays and life sometimes get in the way of our leisure time but try to get back into your consistent pattern as soon as things settle again.

- Cross Training  If you have time in your life you will benefit from participating in some kind of exercise other than just running.  It helps to improve your overall strength and helps to reduce risk of injury.  Mixing things up means you are not constantly subjecting the same muscles and joints to impact or overuse.

- Don't Overdo Things  Follow any hard training session with an easy one, not hard followed by hard, this will increase the risk of injury.  Overdoing things can be counter-productive.  Be aware of the signs of over training - Generally feeling exhausted/ Legs feeling agitated/ Signs of being run down e.g. colds, viruses, dry skin/ coldsores/ ulcers etc.

- Running Community Running alongside others can encourage you, challenge you and help you along the way.  Its great to find others to run with who keep the same pace, both for company and so you can help them feel good about their running the same way  they will do for you.

- Fuel for running   Ensure that you have eaten sufficiently and are well hydrated before exercise, even the day before if you are a morning runner.  It is important to balance the energy that comes into and goes out of your body, too much of an imbalance could lead to poor recovery and lowering your immune system.   Although you may not feel like eating immediately after running it is important to eat and drink within the first 20 mins of exercise to re-balance sugar levels, re-fuel energy stores and repair those muscles you have been working so hard.  A small healthy post run snack will prevent your body going into overdrive later and craving the not-so-healthy alternatives (hopefully).

- Rest Days  Rest and recovery days are essential in your mission to continue running.  No matter how much you love an activity overkill can lead to boredom and injury.  Your running workouts will help you increase your fitness only if they are followed by rest and recovery promoting activities.  Ignoring your need for recovery can lead to injuries, a reduction in your performance and more than likely a loss of enjoyment.  Recovery days are the time when improvement happens and our bodies adapt after our hard work.  Walking, swimming, slow jog or any activity at a low intensity are ok on these days as they help repair muscle fibres if kept at easy/recovery level.