With 10 mostly flat miles through Portsmouth, taking in the historic dockyard and the bracing seafront, the Great South Run is a highlight in the South Coast running calendar. Over 20,000 runners take part every year including many of our Team Wiggle runners since it's right on our doorstep. This year the event was sponsored by 2XU who kitted out the team with their high-tech running wear.
In this blog, we'll find out what our team thought of the kit, as well as how they trained and how they got on at the event.
- Eva - Customer service representative for Spain
- Bjorn - Translator for Sweden
- Martin - Buying Manager for Triathlon, Swim and Nutrition
- Alice - Product Marketing Executive
- Wills - Designer
- Piotr - Designer
Eva: I have been running all my life, but I had a baby last year, so I had to take a long break that lasted a year. I just came back to running 6 months after giving birth and my body was not the same. In the lead up to the Great South Run, I kept my training fairly informal, running twice 5 or 6 km a couple of times during the week at speed, then a long run of 10 km or more on a Sunday. It might not be for everyone but it worked for me as I do not really have much more time available for training, being a mum now. Plenty of yoga helps too!
Bjorn: Most of my training has been focussed on deciding my race pace. How fast can I go and still make it to the finish line without lowering my pace? I mixed it up with a bit of interval training to see what that would do for me.
Martin: I belong to a local run club, Denmead Striders, so I used their training days to get myself race ready. I did a lot of interval and hill training outside of my racing, plus swimming and cycling to exercise different muscle groups. Interval training is really useful for getting your body used to running at a set pace, plus it breaks up your training from doing race distance sets.
Wills: I tried to mix my training up for the GSR, using the beach near me for trail running and swimming which helped with breathing. I also tried to fit the runs into daily tasks I would have normally taken the car to complete, such as running to my local supermarket.
Alice: I always run two or three times a week, usually 6 to 8 km during the week after work and 10 km on the weekend. I didn’t want to put pressure on myself so didn’t aim for a time but finished the race in 1h25min which I’m very happy about! I think as long as you’ve been training regularly for 2 or 3 months before the event your body will be ready!
Piotr: I have been doing two short runs (around 5 km) and one longer (10-15 km) run every week for the last few months. In the week leading to the Great South Run, I cut it down to only one 5 km run mid-week.
Eva: I'm a vegan so I just increased the intake of carbs and nuts two days before the race. And lots of bananas! I believe it's possible to run 10 km fuelled with a plant-based diet and I am sure that I think that with a bit more training I'll be ready for a half marathon.
Bjorn: I stuck to my regular diet because I wasn’t sure how my body would act if I suddenly mixed it up too much. On race day I had oatmeal with cinnamon and apple, a banana and two strong cups of coffee.
Martin: Seeing as this was at the end of my triathlon season, I kept my race diet going for an additional few weeks. Having a good breakfast each day is so important; fruit and yogurt keep me full until lunchtime. Plenty of protein during lunch and dinner keeps my energy levels up when training hard, but for a race of 16km, it’s just about making sure you feel comfortable on race day.
Wills: I try to eat well anyway so leading up to the great south run I was just trying to lay off the pizza…it did not happen, I had two home-made ones (I’m not even sorry)
Alice: I’m a vegetarian and I didn’t change anything in my diet. On race day I set my alarm so that I could have breakfast three hours before the race. If I eat too close to the start, my body doesn't have time to digest and I end up with a stitch. I had two slices of toast with Meridian Smooth Almond Butter (454g Tub), agave syrup and a banana. I also made sure I had plenty of water.
Piotr: I have not followed any specific diet before the Great South Run. However, I try to eat healthy, nutritious food as a rule. Being a vegetarian, I also regularly supplement my diet with proteins. Just before the run, I had a serving of the caffeinated Gu Brew drink.
Bjorn: Do whatever you can to avoid unexpected situations. If possible, walk or run the route in advance, wear the race day gear in training and settle on a diet. That way you’ll have fewer things to worry about on race day and more time to take enjoy the run, the atmosphere, and your new PR.
Martin: Start training early and preferably find someone else who’s training to do it too. That’ll keep your motivation up on those cold wet mornings. Running parts of the course will give you a mental interpretation of the course, it’s fast and flat but knowing what’s coming, for me, makes race day a bit easier. Most of all, enjoy the occasion!
Wills: After the race, I got straight into my 2XU Refresh Recovery Compression Tights and sat on the sofa with the dog, trying to do as little as possible. I would suggest anybody else do the same - I know I felt better for it. For anybody wanting to do the Great South Run for the first time my advice is to run often, it does not have to be fast or that long but you just need to get out and do it. Simple really.
Alice: I like to keep the route unknown to myself so it’s a bit more exciting on the day, so I just had a quick look at the map to have a rough idea of where I would be going on the day. I think the most important thing to remember is that you’re doing this for yourself, no one else, so enjoy every minute of it and don’t worry about times!
Piotr: Start your training a few months in advance if you don’t run long distances regularly. If you have a specific target in mind calculate the pace you’d need to achieve it and include it in your training goals. Arrive early on the day and have fun!
The Great South Run - on the day
Eva: It's a great course. Even though I was taking it easy during my training, I managed to finish with a time of 1:37.
Bjorn: It was a fantastic event on a great route with an even better atmosphere. The spectators and marshals really got behind the runners and ‘carried’ them over the finish line.
Martin: This is my second-time racing GSR, my first was back in 2012 when I was 2.5stone heavier and not someone who’d admit to enjoying running. This year, after 5 years of triathlon, I challenged myself to take 20mins off my time, which I did with 3 seconds to spare. The race itself is amazing, the support from the public is unrelenting (even in the rain) and the efforts put in by all the athletes is inspiring. If you haven’t done it before, you need to put it on your running bucket list!
Wills: The race is great; this has been my first road race as I tend to stick to trail running. It seems like the whole of Portsmouth comes out to cheer you on and almost every other corner had a band playing its great motivation to help you finish.
Alice: This was my first time doing the Great South Run but certainly not the last one! The course is set next to the seafront, there are so many people running with you but also so many people cheering, it’s an amazing atmosphere!
Piotr: The race was very well organized. All the information arrived in the post prior to the event and the site was well signposted so it was easy to find everything on the day. There was lots of positive energy coming from the cheering crowds as well as the fellow runners and I really enjoyed my run.
Eva: I wore the 2XU Women's MCS Cross Training Compression Tights. The leggings greatly surprised me as they were extremely comfortable and supportive, particularly for my calf muscles, so there were no cramps after the race. When I got home I used the 2XU recovery socks and my legs felt so much better at the end of the day.
Bjorn: The 2XU X-Vent 5" Short with Liner were really light and didn't restrict my movement.
Martin: I always prefer 2 in 1 shorts and the 2XU X-Vent 5" Short with Liner didn’t disappoint. The incredibly comfortable inner adds additional support and compression while the outer is lightweight and breathable. The t-shirt is well-fitted and lightweight - exactly what I would normally choose for longer distances and it looks pretty stylish too. For recovery, the compression made a real difference and I was able to train harder leading up to the event without having to take extended rest days.
Wills: The 2XU MCS Run Compression Shorts helped a lot; I found they gave me great support during the race and I feel will they will transfer well into the other sports I take part in. Compression did make a real difference, not just in the race but in recovery as well. I felt I was able to achieve a better time in the race due to them and again would recommend them to anybody running a race no matter what level you are.
Alice: I was wearing the 2XU Women's MCS Run Compression Tights and they fitted like a second skin, were extremely supportive and look great! I wore the 2XU Women's Refresh Recovery Tights when I got home. They help to stabilize your muscles and increase the blood flowing which meant my legs felt fine the next day. I was also wearing my Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR to keep track of my pace and how far I had run.
Piotr: For the race, I wore the 2XU X-Vent 5" Short with Liner and top which were both very light and breathable. It's can be risky wearing unfamiliar shoes for an event so I wore my Saucony Triumph ISO 2s which I had already run about 350 km in so I knew they were going to be great for the race. I kept an eye on my pace with my TomTom GPS watch so that I could stick to my target and not burn out early.
Compression made a great difference in my performance. The 2XU X Run Compression Socks I wore for the race and the 2XU Compression Calf Guards were very breathable and comfortable. I always try to use compression for medium and longer runs – it provides support and speeds up recovery.