Category Archives: Running

Nell McAndrew’s Guide to Running

Welcome to my guide to running. Whether you want to learn how to get started or – like me – you’re always looking for tips on how to get faster, I hope my book helps you achieve your goals.

Running is my passion, it’s more than just a hobby. As a busy mum of two, it’s my stress relief and my favourite way to unwind. I’ve always loved the feeling exercise gives me. It makes me feel alive, energised and more confident. It also means I enjoy my food more and I don’t feel guilty about having treats like chocolate!

London Marathon 2012
London Marathon 2012

Exercise has become a way of life for me and I couldn’t live without it. Growing up in Leeds, Yorkshire, I was always sporty. At school I was on the netball team and tried karate for a while. I loved being active and trying new things but I was never particularly good at, or interested in, running at this time. Like many people, i think not being great at running whilst at school made me reluctant to try it when I was older. So instead throughout my twenties when I was working as a model, I kept fit at the gym and did workouts like those seen on my Peak Energy fitness DVDs. I would run on the treadmill or go for the odd run around the park, but it wasn’t until I signed up for the London Marathon in 2004 that I started to take running more seriously – and I haven’t looked back. It turns out I was much better at it than I thought! I was 30 then and ran my personal best (PB) time of 2 hours 54 minutes when I was 38. I achieved all my other PBs that year too (18 minutes 43 seconds for 5k, 29 minutes and 21 seconds for 5 miles, 36 minutes and 54 seconds for 10k and 1 hour and 21 minutes for the half marathon). So it just goes to show, it’s never too late to start or to improve. I’m now in my forties and I still believe I can run faster. I love the challenge of pushing myself to see what I can do.

Anyone who already has the running bug will know how fun and addictive it can be but it’s not always easy to get started, or to stay motivated. So I hope by sharing my passion for the sport, and what I’ve learnt along the way, can give you some support, encouragement and inspiration.

Running is fun and addictive!

Running is fun and addictive!

Since June 2012, I have enjoyed writing a monthly column for Women’s Running magazine outlining how I combine motherhood and training. I’ve always wanted to write a book and I’m delighted to finally put ‘pen to paper’ after joining forces with journalist Lucy Waterlow, a fellow running devotee. Lucy has interviewed me a number of times over the years and we bonded over our love of running and racing. This illustrates something else I love about the sport – no matter what your background or ability, you can always make friends through running. I love hearing about other people’s running experiences which is why I’ve included stories from Lucy and a number of runners in the book, alongside my own experiences and tips. I have been privileged to meet some of the best athletes, coaches, personal trainers and physiotherapists through keeping fit over the years and I have included some of their expertise here too. 

So what else can you expect from my guide to running? Well, in the first chapter, you’ll find advice on how you can get started and a 5k training plan for beginners. You don’t have to jump in the deep end and run a marathon straight away. There are plenty of 5k and 10k races on offer around the country every weekend so why not target one of those to get you going. The second chapter is all about how to add variety to your training to keep you interested, and how to get fitter and faster. There’s information on the variety of races you can do, and how to prepare for your perfect race and run a PB.

p.9 chap 1

I hope this book will encourage even more people to run regularly.

Dealing with an injury can sometimes be part of running so I’ve included a chapter with advice on how to avoid injury and how to deal with it should something happen. I love my food and aim to eat healthily as I’m aware how important nutrition is to running well. So information on the best foods to complement your training, along with an insight into my daily diet, is provided in the Food For Fuel chapter.  Then there’s a whole section Just For Women, covering topics such as dealing with your time of the month, how to keep running while pregnant (should you want to) and how to ease back into exercise safely after having a baby. Men are of course still welcome to read this section – it might help you understand what we’re going through!

Finally, if it’s the marathon you’re targeting, then chapter six is for you. There’s information on taking on the challenge of 26.2 miles, with race day tips and how I managed to achieve my aim of running a sub-three hour time. There’s also a number of inspirational stories from a variety of runners who explain what tackling the long distance meant for them. At the end of the book, you’ll find a pace chart and various training schedules for beginners to more experienced runners.
The running community is growing rapidly and I hope this book will encourage even more people to become part of it by running regularly. No matter what your age, background, gender or ability, running can be enjoyed by all.

Nell McAndrew

Discover our #greatreads in the New Bloomsbury Sports catalogue

Our new 2014-2015 Sports Books Catalogue is now available. Browse the catalogue and discover the many different sports books that we publish here at Bloomsbury, from our exceptional training guides to our award winning great reads.


Sports Catalogue Cover

How to Avoid Injuries During the London Marathon

The London Marathon is just around the corner, you’ve been training for months, you’ve ironed your best and tightest running bottoms, and you’re determined not to embarrass yourself in front of friends, family and live TV. So what can stop you now you ask?!

Did you know that 28% of runners never make it to the starting line due to injury? And that on the day, a further 2% (about 500 runners) don’t finish the race due to injuries? We know that at this point it’s far too late to change anything drastic, but we’ve been dipping into John Shepherd’s fantastic Strength Training for Runners to find a few handy tips to stop those last-minute niggles.


‘Prevention in the case of running injuries, is very much better than cure’. Wiser words were never spoken, and in aid of preventing running injures John Shepherd recommends this great selection of resistance exercises for pre-conditioning training:


Warming up:

A running-specific warm-up will raise your body temperature, improve your range of movement and get you mentally ready for the task ahead! These are all fairly vital, so we thought we’d chuck in some of John Shepherd’s very own advised warm-ups to help you on your way:

Warming up


Stretching, obviously, but concentrate on sites of previous injury:

Stretching everything properly is vital, but if you’ve had an injury before in a specific area, like the hamstring, it is vital to make sure that area is fully prepared. As John Shepherd points out:

‘In terms of learning from previous injuries, a team of researchers investigated hamstring injuries in elite athletes, hypothesising that those with a prior history of hamstring muscle strain were at increased risk of sustaining similar injuries in the future.’

So, if you have any previous niggles in important areas, make sure those areas are properly stretched out and warmed up before you head for the starting line.

 Order your copy today



Man vs. Beast: a Spartan’s tale of obstacle racing

Saturday morning was very cold and very wet – the perfect morning to stay indoors and whack the heating up, right? Wrong. I was at Pippingford Park in East Sussex battling the elements and ready to support the hordes of runners taking on the Spartan Beast – an epic 25km obstacle race.

As the climactic event on the Spartan Race calendar, this was going to be tough and it seemed as though Mother Nature herself was intent on making it even tougher for the runners. With a muddy and rain-soaked course greeting runners in the very first elite heat at 10 a.m., the non-stop rain made the trails boggy and the mud pits … boggier!

Having completed one of the shorter events, the 5km Spartan Sprint back in September, I couldn’t wait to see what the organisers had in store for the 15+ miles of challenging terrain. Oh, and did I mention that, if you fail ANY of the 25+ obstacles, there is a 30 burpee punishment?!

This race was hardest yet, but don’t just take my word for it, we have a first-hand account from a Spartan survivor, Darrell Skipper, who crossed the finish line after a gruelling four and a half hours.

Here’s what Darrell had to say about the race:

The Spartan Beast was by far the toughest physical and mental challenge of my life. I’d signed up for the 2013 Spartan Race Season Pass this year and had already completed four of the shorter Spartan Sprints (between 5–8km) and one Spartan Super (12km) over the summer, but this was on a different level.

The Spartan Skippers in red setting off at the start line. (Left to right) Darrell, David and Nathan

The Spartan Skippers in red setting off at the start line (left to right) Darrell, David and Nathan

I ran in the 10 a.m. ‘elite’ heat (I didn’t feel too elite by the end!) and we set off just in time for the first of many torrential downpours of the day. It wasn’t long into the race before we realised that this was going to be a lot different to those nice warm race days of the summer … It was raining pretty much the whole time and this resulted in people getting stuck in the mud and the freezing bogs being at chest height at times.

Despite the cold and the rain, spirits were still high

Despite the cold and the rain, spirits were still high in the water crossing

The obstacles ranged from fire jumps, 8ft wall climbs, rope climbs and barbed wire crawls to carrying heavy sandbags up and down steep and slippery slopes. Some very ambitious person also decided to put a 25ft rope climb at the end of the race, which apparently only about 10 per cent of finishers managed; the other 90 per cent accepting the 30 burpee punishment instead, which, for me, seemed to take a lifetime to finish!


The fire jump

The fire jump was a great source of warmth for the spectators!

The obstacles were actually a sweet relief, a brief respite from the horrors of the trails and the hills, oh god the hills! A lot of people struggled with the naturally formed mudslides, but luckily I had learned from previous races that the quickest way down is on your backside. As soon as the other runners see you doing this they all follow your lead – it was definitely the quickest way downhill.

The mudslides

Tackling those mudslides

I completed the race with my brother and father, who have been my Spartan training buddies for a few years now. We first signed up as motivation to lose weight and we ended up losing over 250lbs between us! After that, it just became an addiction. We love the whole ethos of the Spartan Race, the spirit and camaraderie between fellow Spartans is amazing. Lots of helping hands and lots of crazy, delirious laughter from the sheer insanity of it all.

I’d highly recommend obstacle racing for people who are looking to get in shape or to kick-start their fitness regime. Nothing motivates you better than cold, dead-eyed fear! Despite the aches, pains and countless hours of training, I’m definitely doing the whole season again next year – who’s with me?

If you are interested in joining the Spartans next year, or would like to find out more information about their races, you can subscribe here. Who knows, maybe I will see you at the start line next year…

Happy training!

A huge thank you to Darrell for his guest post and to Epic Action Imagery for allowing us to use their brilliant photos.

Spring Highlights

Just a quick sneak preview of some of our Spring highlights…

  9781408832615 9781408190012  9781408172117 9781408158869  9781408174579-1

… Inspired? You should be! We’ll keep you posted on all our upcoming titles throughout the year. Happy 2013!

 from Team Sport at Bloomsbury

Triathlon Triumph

Feeling inspired by the success of the Brownlee brothers? Thinking of taking up Triathlon or just want to improve your current sporting performance?

Pick up a copy, pick up the pace.

Why not check out our Triathlon titles for guidance of avoiding injury, techniques and training tips for the swim, run and cycle. We even have a book on ultimate triathlons for those who think the traditional triathlon is a walk in the park…

  Pre-order at Amazon. Out Feb 2013       


Also coming later next year is a book on Triathlon for the over 50 by Ian StokellTriathlon for Masters and Beyond. Ian  is one of the Guardian’s triathlon correspondents during the Olympics, but you can find more information on triathlon on his website:

Olympians in Their Own Words

I hope the Romanian doesn’t get through, because I can’t pronounce her bloody name.”

Allegedly from David Coleman, British radio and TV commentator, at one of his many Olympic coverages, when he thought he was off air.

These are the Olympics; you die before you quit.”

The great American discus thrower, Al Oerter, winner of four successive gold medals (1956-1968). For the third of these in Tokyo, he competed despite excruciating pain from a torn rib cartilage, strapped up and iced.

Ever wondered what Olympic Athletes and commentators are really thinking? Read a few sample pages from Richard Witts new book, A Life Time of Training for Just Ten Seconds publishing today.

Marathon Running

Keep on running…

Been inspired by yesterday’s marathon, well get ready for next years London Marathon with the new edition of Richard Nerurkar‘s bestselling book Marathon Running as recommended by Nell McAndrew, who finished this year’s London Marathon in 2 hours 54 minutes.

Written by Richard Nerurkar, Britain’s most successful marathon runner of the 1990s, the fourth edition of this classic, invaluable guide is packed with the latest training information and tips that will help you get the most from your distance training.

Fully updated to take account of the latest developments in running science and programme design. This guide also includes tips on how to choose a good marathon and the pitfalls of bad ones, as well as more insights from Richard and other leading runners.

The new edition is available September 2012. Pre-order on Amazon.

Top 10 Tips for Running

           Guest post contributed by Bloomsbury author Graeme Hilditch

Early spring sunshine is famous for kick-starting our cold winter souls back into life after months of shivering in sub-zero temperatures.

Although a range of outdoor activities are either resumed or started, it is running which is notorious for capturing the nation’s interest in the spring, and with so many mass participation 5k and 10k events taking place in the next few months, March and April are by far the best months to get started with a running regime.

So the question is, how do you get started?

There's no better time than spring to put a spring back in your step

There's no better time than spring to put a spring back in your step

If running has always been something you’ve wanted to try but you’ve never had the know-how or courage to give it a go, Bloomsbury’s 5K and 10K: From Start to Finish may be just the ticket.

Just the ticket for starting out.

To give you a taster, here are ten tops tips to get you started:

  1. Enjoyment is key – When starting out or starting up again after a few months ‘sabbatical’, always set out for a run with one intention and one intention only – enjoyment. If you enjoy yourself, you’re far more likely to want to do it again soon.
  1. Walk the walk – Combining light jogging and walking is a great way to get started. Just 2 minutes of jogging followed by 3 minutes of walking is perfect for the beginner.
  1. Buddy up – Jogging with a friend who is also new to jogging is a great way to stay motivated, and to have a good gossip and a laugh with during a training session.
  1. Nice and easy – Starting out jogging is never easy, so try not to jog too fast and stick to a nice moderate pace which you feel is comfortable – gentle enough to be able to hold a conversation.
  1. Hydrate – Although the temperature is not quite Mediterranean yet, always make sure you are well hydrated before any run.
  1. Running shoes – It is really important that when you start running you wear a pair of running shoes which suit your specific running gait. All good running shops will offer this service free of charge so whether you are recommended a pair of Brooks or Nikes, it’s a good idea to get analysed. See here for more information on gait analysis.
  1. Slip, slop slap – It can warm up nicely in the spring, and with a gentle breeze, it can often be hard to tell if the sun is burning your skin. So it’s a good idea on warm and sunny days to slap on a hat and slop on some factor 15.
  1. Variety is the spice of life – Try to vary your running route a little to keep the scenery fresh and interesting. As you get fitter, try including a few gentle hills too, which will really tax those leg muscles and make them a lot stronger.
  1. Sign up for an event – To keep you motivated, why not sign up for an event straight away. This will help to give you a goal, keep you focused and give you a purpose to keep jogging regularly.
  1. Join a running forum – There are plenty of forums on the internet where you can meet other like-minded people who are also new to running. Forums are great for questions, and they can help to give you peace of mind that whatever anxiety you have about running, you are certainly not alone.

Graeme Hilditch is a top personal trainer with over a decade of experience under his belt. He is the author of 5K and 10K.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,295 other followers

%d bloggers like this: