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Half Marathon Training on a Paleo Diet: Part 5

In my previous post I talked about how I ended up suffering from severe DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) due to my autoimmune disease, and so had to reduce my running sessions and switch to walking. I also talked about some of my favourite gear, including the Icebreaker Sprite Bra, some of my favourite supplements, and my foam rolling escapades.

This fortnight I’ll be bringing you some positive news (yes the DOMS has gone) and I’ll be telling you why I’ve gone back to martial arts. I’ll also be talking about the amazing Suunto Ambit3 Run GPS watch with HR strap, my carb loading antics, my favourite snacks, and how epsom salts saved the day.

I’ll be running the Leeds Half Marathon on Sunday, May 8th, in order to raise money for Mind – the mental health charity. If you’d like to donate just text GOSA60 £1 (or an amount of your choice) to 70070, or alternatively click here to donate online. All donations will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

The Training

I’m happy to report that the DOMS has gone! Last fortnight I told you about how I had become both mentally and physically exhausted, I was on a massive downer to say the least. I was experiencing severe DOMS which left me unable to walk properly let alone run, lasting well over a week. It really knocked my confidence and left me feeling emotionally drained so I decided to scale back to just one run a week – my long run. This might sound a bit mad but as I suffer from an autoimmune disease I’ve had to bite the bullet and listen to my body, accepting its limitations.

Here’s what this fortnight’s training has looked like:

  • Tues 12th April – 10.01 miles in 1:58:28, which is a 11:50 (min/mi) pace.
  • Wed 13th April – 1 hour BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). Worked on basic drills and foundation skills.
  • Thur 14th April – Calisthenics work on the parallel bars.
  • Sun 17th April – Heavy kettlebell and calisthenics workout; 50 press-ups, 300 swings (single arm and Russian) working from 12kg all the way to 20kg. I also did some snatches, squats, and dead lift variations.
  • Mon 18th April – 1 hour BJJ; basic drills and foundation work, plus 30 minutes rolling.
  • Tues 19th April – 12.01 miles in 2:36:45, which is a 13:03 (min/mi) pace.
  • Wed 20th April – 1 hour BJJ; basic drills and foundation work, plus 30 minutes rolling drills.
  • Sat 23rd April – 1 hour kettlebells and calisthenics; 300 mixed swings (one armed, American, Russian), snatch, squat, deadlifts, press ups, and pull-ups.

As you can see my 10 mile long run went quite well, this is the fastest pace I’ve set for anything over 8 miles. My 12 mile run however was probably the worst ever – it was blistering hot, my dog Luna was not a happy bunny as she’s a husky and only likes cold temperatures. I developed a big blister on the side of my foot due to not wearing socks, and by mile 10 I was severely dizzy. Needless to say, me being me, I cracked on and completed the run. The result however was a giant blister that had ripped open and has been giving me hell ever since. Always wear socks people!

Although my run time was worse than last year’s race time, I didn’t feel upset by my performance, in fact I was just happy I didn’t pass out and that I got home alive. I think I needed fluids whilst running and my blood sugar just seems to drop easily too at the moment. I definitely hydrated and carb loaded well that week, so I don’t feel that was the issue.

So – why did I go back to martial arts this fortnight?!

As some of you may (or may not) know, about 4 years ago I used to do MMA and I more than loved it. I was forced into leaving once my gym found out that I was pregnant with Anya and I was devastated. As a result I’ve not felt welcome back there and so I’ve gone looking for somewhere else local to train.

I love martial arts, I think it improves your performance in other sports and the mental concentration required upgrades your brain by miles, making you a more efficient worker (this is also why I want to go back to bouldering). Martial arts basically makes you ‘fighting fit’ – or in peak mental and physical health.

I couldn’t find another MMA gym locally but I did find Gracie Barra, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu association founded by Carlos Gracie Jr. with a large chain of schools worldwide.  Jiu-Jitsu basically concentrates on the groundwork element of MMA.

My experience at Gracie Barra so far has been great; no gym politics, a friendly environment, and although I’m hilariously crap at the moment there is all of the right banter and encouragement in place. The only thing that I’m struggling with is wearing a sweltering hot gi (that ninja kimono thang) but there are some benefits to wearing this too such as simulating a more realistic physical confrontation where your attacker would of course be wearing clothes.

The Gear



Suunto Ambit3 Run (HR), RRP £235

Suunto may not be a brand that you are familiar with, which is exactly why I wanted to try one of their GPS watches! This time though I wanted to sample something with a heart rate monitor as tracking your heart rate whilst running is super beneficial – it tells you how hard or easy your heart is working and it can prevent you from burning out. This is the one mistake I am sure I am making – running too hard. For the majority of your runs you should be running at 60-75% of your HRmax (maximum heart rate). So if you’re race training or an avid runner you’ll definitely benefit from having a HR monitor.

The Ambit3 Run is a much more durable watch in comparison to other lifestyle brands such as Fitbit, Jawbone, etc. It’s catered to the more outdoorsy, off-road runner so if you’re a trail-running expert, or compete in regular traithlons, you’ll love this one. Don’t worry though if you’re an urban runner it will work well for you too, but you might find it a bit complex and won’t be using it to its full capabilities that’s for sure! It also has multisport functionality available too, keeping it in line with other GPS watches.

Although the watch is pretty chunky (and I mean massive) it’s surprisingly lighter than I thought it would be, and incredibly comfortable, you just don’t even realise that it’s there.

The key features:

  • Pace
  • Distance
  • Altitude
  • Ascent distance
  • Descent distance
  • Heart rate monitoring via Smart Sensor strap (monitors when under water!)
  • Cadence (estimated from wrist movement)
  • Activity based recovery time
  • Time and date
  • Waterproof to 50m (good)
  • Integration with Strava available
  • Smart notifications
  • Route navigation and track back

Although I’ve not had enough time to use this watch fully, I can’t fault it at all. The GPS and HR sensor connect really quickly, and the HR sensor seems to be incredibly accurate. The HR strap itself is probably the comfiest strap I have ever worn, although the last time I wore a heart rate monitor was a Polar one, 20 years ago.

One feature that I really love is the recovery time graph; it estimates the amount of hours you need to recover from your previous activity. This can be viewed at any time while the watch is in watch mode but just not whilst recording an activity.

The Movescount app takes a little time to load your activity on but it works well, there’s also some online software you can use and it acts as a little online community with other Suunto users.
I’ve heard a lot of negative reviews on the ascent and descent not being accurate (apparently it doesn’t use a barometer) so that’s something to take into account but to be honest it isn’t something I’d be using a lot myself.

There’s a lot of manual programming options available, which although initially daunting it actually makes this watch fully customisable to your every need.

The Suunto Ambit3 Run (HR) is available in Black, Lime, or White, direct from Suunto at £235. The Ambit3 Run is available without the HR strap at £200. 

The Fuel



This fortnight I’ve been trying to combat my autoimmune disease by upping my starchy carbohydrate intake even more. I’ve basically been eating 2 giant sweet potatoes a day for the 3 days leading up to my long run. I’ve also started to include more fruit in my diet. I’m usually just a vegetable kind of person but I’m embracing my sugary side once again and actually quite enjoying myself.

I have to admit that I’m really struggling to get so much sweet potato down my neck – the first couple of days were making me really sick but my body seems to have adapted. I swear sweet potatoes make my blood sugar spike even with a good amount of fat and protein!

I’ve switched my molassess pre-run drink to a more summery chia fresca type thang; water, chia, lime juice, lemon juice, Himalayan pink salt, raw honey, bicarbonate of soda, and magnesium. This hasn’t been leaving me as queasy as blackstrap molasses and I think it is working quite well. I’ve also been drinking Vivo Life’s PERFORM (in Vanilla) 90 minutes before setting off and then within 30 minutes of arriving back home. It’s basically a raw plant protein with bio-fermented BCAA’s and turmeric extract to help to optimise recovery and digestive enzymes for faster absorption. I raelly think it’s helping anyway! I’ve also been taking it pre and post workout, or when I’ve been to BJJ.

The wonderful people at Pip & Nut have rather kindly sent me out a couple of boxes of their Almond Butter and Coconut Almond Butter Squeeze Packs to help aid me with my training. I took a sachet of the Coconut Almond Butter along on my 12 mile run and cracked it out at mile 9. As it only contains natural ingredients such as; coconut, roasted almonds, sea salt, and agave nectar I could even feed it to my dog Luna, who usually gets knackered at 6 miles. She was definitely happy and I can’t blame her as they are absolutely delicious. I’ll be taking one of these along on race day as they’re small enough to fit into the back pocket of my SKINS A400 tights, although water is a must to wash it down I have to say!

You can eat the sachets plain or add into smoothies, take along to work, add to kids packed lunches, and even take camping.

You can grab the Pip & Nut Squeeze Packs direct from Pip & Nut at £23 for 20x30g sachets. Alternatively you can buy the Coconut Almond Butter 5x30g pack for £4.49 direct from my online shop

The Pampering

I’ve not been doing as much pampering really, but I have had a good few epsom salt soaks using The Essential Oil Company’s Plain Epsom Salts. At first I didn’t think it was doing much but the next day my legs felt a lot better. I’ve also mixed a handful with some olive oil and a few drops of sweet orange essential oil to create a relaxing body scrub. Oh, and totally unrelated to anything sporty, but I added in a small amount to my conditioner to give my hair more volume and it totally worked!

Other than that I’ve done plenty of light stretching and been continuing with my foam rolling and using a hockey ball for those hard to reach places.

So that’s it for this fortnight, don’t forget that I’ll also be raising money for Mind – the mental health charity. If you’d like to donate just text GOSA60 £1 (or whatever amount you’d like) to 70070, alternatively click the button below. Thanks guys <3

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Come back next fortnight to ready my last post before my race! Have you fueled a half marathon Paleo? How did you find it? I’d love to hear from you so why not share your experience below.

Vivo Life

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