Should I Sign Up For That Race?

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Signing Up for A Race - A Pretty Place to Play

I don’t know about you, but for the last week or so my feed has been a flurry of excitement as people hear whether they’ve secured a place for London Marathon, take the plunge and sign up for races inspired by friends who’ve raced recently and set themselves training goals for next spring. When your feed is awash with bling, PBs and race pictures it’s hard not to get swept up in the excitement and start signing up for everything under the sun.. It’s got me thinking about how hype influences our choices, and whether we’re really doing the right thing by our selves if we’re constantly racing? When we race too often we risk burn out, our bodies and our minds get tired. There are risks if we’ve not trained sufficiently, we could get injured or end up having to deal with the psychological impact of a disappointing performance. Plus it sucks to train for and run events that, quite honestly, you’re just not that in to.

I know I’m not immune to the noise, in the past I’ve been known to race every weekend for months, and even now it takes so much will power not to sign up for races. It’s hard when everyone around you is excited, when you feel like the only way you can push yourself is in a race environment and where there’s some seriously enviable bling on offer! So how do you make sure you make the right choices for you? I’ve asked PT, Backpackers Queen and all round brilliant person Megan Beggs to chat through the questions you should think about asking yourself before you press ‘buy’ on that race entry.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Signing Up for a Race - A Pretty Place to Play

There seems to be key times of year when ballots open, ballots close and places become available for the next wave of races, and the running community tends to go a bit crazy. Suddenly everyone is talking about what races they’re doing, how excited they are and generally stirring up all sorts of excitement, and unfortunately too often people get caught up in the hype of it all and sign up for everything, due to  the FOMO, without actually thinking. 

Now as runners we all love to get involved but there a few key things I urge you all to think about before entering that next race.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Sign Up for A Race - A Pretty Place To Play

What other events do you have around race time?

Yes the race might be on a free weekend but are you stacked up with social events and other races around it? 

Great, A half / marathon in early March, that’s a free month but in the 3 months prior you have Christmas with the family, News Years with friends, two other fun races you’ve already signed up for and a skiing trip. Now that sounds like a wonderful 3 months but (1) how much energy are you going to have left over to run another race at the end of it? and (2) when will you fit in your training (see point 2 below)? 

Yes events are exciting and fun (both social and races) but they take a lot out of us mentally and physically. Put that on top of everything else going on in your life, plus the months of training for the event, and your body will be at breaking point! Cue injury and exhaustion! 

So grab yourself a yearly calendar, plaster it on your wall, write up all your events and use this to help you plan, before you sign up for that next event.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Signing Up for a Race - A Pretty Place to Play

Will you be able to put in the training required?

Although a race is only one day, as I mentioned above the training should roughly cover the 3 months prior. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a beginner, you should always be putting in the training to prepare your body for a race. Even if you’re not after that PB (and who are we kidding the majority of us are!), your body needs time to adapt and prepare for the challenge of racing. If you want to come out the other side injure free, you need to be putting in 2-3 mid week runs, strength training, mobility training, weekend long runs and rest - all of which take up a large chunk of your life. Are you willing to make sacrifices to fit it all in? So again, make sure you check the months prior to ensure you can give your training and race 100%.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Signing Up for A Race - A Pretty Place to Play

Is this what YOU actually want to do?

Will this race actually benefit your goals? It may sound great to sign up because everyone else is and the pressure / FOMO is real, but if it’s not a goal of yours or if it doesn’t help you progress towards your goals is it really worth it? Why run a marathon if your dream is to do a sub 2 hour half marathon? Yes a marathon might be right up there for your mate, but it doesn’t have to be on your bucket list. Why not tackle something that’ll help you smash your own goals, like some shorter distance races to work on your speed, and then a couple of halves throughout the year? Sit down, write out what you want out of running and use this list to make your choices every time a new race become available [pro tip - stick it up somewhere obvious at home, not only will it help you make smart decisions about race entries, it’ll also inspire your training!].

If you can follow these steps your next race year will be a stress free, fun and goal smashing time.

Cycling Essentials with B'Twin

Cycling Essentials with B'Twin - A Pretty Place To Play

A month in to being a cyclist in London and I have to say I AM LOVING IT! Seriously, Doris has changed my life. I love wizzing around London on my little red bike. The freedom is amazing, and I love the boost that being out in the fresh air gives me. It’s so much fun! Doris has definitely been a life changer!

Doris is pretty perfect all by herself, but there are a few other essentials that I reckon complement her perfectly, and I wanted to share them with you!

Cycling Essentials with B'Twin - A Pretty Place To Play

B’Twin 500 Cycling Bowl Helmet

Wearing a helmet when I cycle is super important to me. When we were kids my brother was knocked off his bike by a car, he broke his leg but was generally fine, but things could’ve been quite different if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet. I know lots of people have lots of different opinions when it comes to lids, but for me it’s a non-negotiable. I ride on the road in central London, I don’t know who is driving, who isn’t looking when they cross the road or what other cyclists are doing, so I’m taking no risks. Also, how cool is this helmet?! When your bike is a little frumpy (in the best possible way) a sleek racing helmet just isn’t the one, and I love how this one fits around my head and is easy to adjust with a simple dial at the back.

Cycling Essentials with B'Twin - A Pretty Place To Play

B’Twin 500 Women’s Waterproof Urban Cycling Jacket

I live in London. It rains here. This jacket is cool, both in looks and because it has pit zips, and practical because it’ll keep me dry and won’t ride up as I move. I do kind of wish it came in a colour that coordinated better with Doris, but it is bright and that’s important on grey days when you might not be so obvious to drivers (don’t worry, Doris came kitted out with lights too!). It also packs away into the rear pocket so I can stash it in my backpack when I’m not wearing it.

Cycling Essentials with B'Twin - A Pretty Place To Play

B’Twin 900 Mini Bike D-Lock

Having a foldie is awesome, Doris can go pretty much anywhere with me and tucks into most corners, but from time to time she needs to hangout at the bike rack and because she’s so damn pretty a decent D-Lock is crucial. D-Locks can be crazy cumbersome, but this one is nice and neat, so I can shove it in my backpack just in case there’s nowhere for Doris to hangout while I have a meeting.

Cycling Essentials with B'Twin - A Pretty Place To Play

CityMapper App

One of the things that I’d been most concerned I was most concerned about when I started cycling was finding safe routes around the city. CityMapper really came to my rescue, it’s got a setting that shows you the quietest route to your destination. This app has helped me workout where all the Quietways near me are and plan a route to university that’s 80% on segregated cycle paths! Finding routes that work for me have really boosted my confidence, and that makes a massive difference when you’re cycling in the city.

What are your cycling essentials? Let me know in the comments! You can also follow Doris’s adventures using the hashtag #AdventuresWithDoris!

* Doris was kindly gifted to me by Decathlon, along with her accessories, but as always all opinions are my own.

Cycling in the City with B'Twin

Cycling in the City with B'Twin - A Pretty Place to Play

I've flirted with the idea of a bike for as long as I've lived in London. When I first moved here I had an ancient hand-me-down set of wheels and got spooked by a bus the one time I hit the road. Many years later I acquired another ancient hand-me-down which I pootled around town on but knew was not exactly roadworthy (it was very not roadworthy), and knowing your bike isn't totally safe doesn't make the idea of riding it particularly attractive. So there've been a few false starts on the bike front, but the idea of zipping around town still holds major appeal. And I think Doris might be the ride to get me into the habit. 

Doris is a beautiful little red folding bike (a B'Twin Tilt 120 to be specific). She is just as comfortable wizzing along the cycle superhighway as she is nestled in a corner of the tube. She's a bit of a head turner, but I don't have to worry about her staying out all night because she fits so neatly into that space by the table in the living room. She is perfect. 

Cycling in the City with B'Twin - A Pretty Place to Play

I chose Doris after a lot of thought about how I live my life and what I want from my wheels. In the past I've had full size town bikes which I've found bulky and cumbersome. They had to live in bike stores and I'd have to haul them through corridors and doors to get them out to the street. Then if I needed to stop my bike had to be locked up, usually outside, with a complex array of locks. It just always felt like a mega faff, which isn't really what you think of when you think about the freedom of cycling! No, this time I wanted something that worked with my life. A bike I could keep in my flat, take with me into the office, take on the tube if needed. A foldie ticks all those boxes. 

I won't lie, the idea of cycling in London can be scary, it definitely was the first time I tried. But these days I'm older and wiser, a few years ago I went on a course all about how to cycle safely in the city (I can't for the life of me remember who it was with!) and it really helped my confidence. I picked up so many tips and generally felt much more prepared to head out on the roads, it's definitely something I'd recommend all cyclists do! Cycle infrastructure in London has also come a really long way - the cycle superhighway is life changing (and life saving) and CityMapper is ace for finding safer routes around the city. I've uncovered so many quiet routes I never knew existed using that app, it's awesome! It's changes like this that have encouraged me to cycle, and help me feel more confident doing it.  

I can't wait to start exploring London with Doris, we've already discovered so many cool routes and it's only been a couple of weeks! Follow our adventures over the next few months using the hashtag #AdventuresWithDoris and let me know your tips for city cycling! 

* Doris was kindly gifted to me by Decathlon, but as always all opinions are my own.