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Days 21-25 of 25 Advent Running

December 28, 2015

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Day 21
3x15min threshold blocks on the RunCommute. Should have stuck with the plan and kept an extra recovery day but I wasn’t sure how the week would pan out. Coach Ben patiently explained that the point was to have pace work sessions throughout the week, so I’d still need some threshold work on Boxing day. Doh! Shot myself in the foot there.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 21, 2015 at 4:02am PST

Day 22

Ran to the Like The Wind x Advent Running event where we ran with and heard from Lizzie Hawker. I’ve since worked out that I ran with an Italian lady who was beaten by and then later beat her over 100km.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 22, 2015 at 3:32pm PST


A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 23, 2015 at 1:19am PST

Day 23

Easy run (aka Womble) to work. Good prep for our team lunch. Bought these sparkly shoes for my niece – how cute!

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 23, 2015 at 10:42am PST


Day 24
Working from home meant a pre-work power round the local park. Turned out it was muddier than I thought. 6x5mins trying to hit 10k pace. Was going great guns on the 7th and then the wind hit me in the face. Hard work.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 24, 2015 at 10:06am PST

Day 25

That’s it…sort of. This is one of my favourite places in the world. It’s the view from the top of Windmill Hill in Hitchin when you stand right next to my old secondary school. On a clear night with a light breeze and the lights of Hitchin twinkling below it’s the perfect place.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 25, 2015 at 9:31am PST

That should have been the end, but as I write this I’ve not stopped. I’m on 28 of 25 so far and I’ve got a 10k race with a fellow AR-er the 2nd.
After that I’ll rest because I know it’s important, but it is rather nice getting out every day.

I hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas and all the best for 2016.

Find Advent Running online:

Advent Running

AR Facebook Group

AR_Collective on Instagram 

Advent Running on Instagram

Advent Running on Twitter

Advent Running on Strava

Other AR bloggers:

Days 12 -20 of 25 Advent Running

December 21, 2015

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What’s been happening in advent running this week? Well, The Scientist Runs has her update from days 14-20 here and Victoria takes us through the sheer exhaustion and joy of week three at Fun, Fit, Happy.

There’s news that Epson are looking for people to test out their RunSense watch – I use it and it’s certainly the easiest HR monitoring I’ve ever done. Get involved:

There’s been loads of great prizes over the last 20 days too:  a Pact Coffee subscription, Never Stop London goodies, entry to the Vitality UK  North London Half Marathon, a  subscription to Tracksmith METER Magazine, a year’s pass for the Maverick Race series, adidas Running trail shoes, entry to Vitality UK Run Hackneyashmei clothing, a Like the Wind subscription, Runderwear undernadgers, vouchers for The Running Works, snazzy adidas Sport eyewear, some Redchurch Brewery beer and a place at the Liverpool Triathlon. What a lineup!

Me? Well, here’s what I’ve been up to:

Day 12
I couldn’t join the RunForCoffee so I created my own version. Mr B and I did our first ever parkrun and loved it. I did it in 20:15 and he did 21:46. Then I did a threshold session on the way home. I got my lovely AR T-shirt the day before so this was its first outing.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 12, 2015 at 2:56am PST

Day 13 An easy recovery run – I went out in search of Christmas lights. The end of a 61 mile week and still enjoying it.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 13, 2015 at 9:34am PST


Day 14
An easy RunCommute with Mr B for company and ending at the permanent art installation outside the BBC building. You can read more about it here.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 14, 2015 at 12:49am PST

Day 15
Should have been track, but a 2hr50 round trip and rain put me off so I did a 15 easy-15 hard-15 easy session on my own. It finished by meeting Mr B at his working and having to do a quick change in the loos…then meeting his boss. Nice.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 15, 2015 at 1:12pm PST

Day 16 Another RunCommute and a personal challenge to see if I could do it in under an hour. Boom.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 16, 2015 at 12:49am PST


A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 16, 2015 at 1:29am PST

Day 17 Filled with 10k pace work and shiny red things

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 17, 2015 at 10:06am PST


Day 18
Beigel Run – my favourite.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 18, 2015 at 4:16am PST

Day 19 Another Saturday, another race number. This time I was number 63 at the 10 mile RunThrough race in the Olympic park. 10x1mile laps, 5th overall and 1st lady. 1:07:40. A really interesting distance to race. Wouldn’t mind trying that again. Also, LOVE my stance socks that hug my feet after a race and look so cool too.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 19, 2015 at 7:06am PST


Day 20
Recovery run, went in search of mud and played on the swings. Another 61 mile week done and happily so.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 20, 2015 at 3:39am PST


Find Advent Running online:

Advent Running

AR Facebook Group

AR_Collective on Instagram 

Advent Running on Instagram

Advent Running on Twitter

Advent Running on Strava

Other AR bloggers:

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

December 16, 2015


Each Christmas there’s a big Cookie swap which takes place in aid of COOKIES FOR KIDS’ CANCER in the US, but there’s participants all over the world. You bake 3×12 cookies and send them to your matched participants. In return you get 3 batches of surprise cookies through the post and get to discover new blogs and recipes in the process. This year I used  a recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book that I’ve been working my way through all year. It seemed only appropriate.

Home Sweet Home Bakealong 49: Pecan Toffee cookies (with some cinnamon)

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I received in return:

Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars) from Alicia at Beef and Brioche

These were delicate and perfectly uniform. Consider me impressed!


Cranberry Almond, Caramac and Christmas Spice cookies from Claire at Clairey Fairys Cooking.

Seriously – caramac in cookies is the way forward.



Chocolate Almond Smileys  from Foodie Laura

These were like home-made versions of BN cookies. I barely got a look in before Mr B was at them.


Pecan & Toffee Thumbprint Cookies
from Home Sweet Home by the Hummingbird Bakery

Makes 16-18

110g cream cheese
70g butter
80g icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour (I added some cinnamon)
1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g pecan nuts, chopped
10 toffee sweets cut in half

Beat cream cheese, butter icing sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy.
Mix the flour and bicarb into the creamed ingredients.
Add the chopped nuts and combine well.
Bring together into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for 30mins.
Preheat oven to 180c and prepare parchment-lined baking trays.
Roll the dough into 4cm balls.
Place on the trays evenly spaced.
Use your thumb to make a well in each ball and press half a toffee in each dent.
Bake for 14-16 mins.


Join Beckie and me in our Epic 100 part bakealong. Next : Chocolate Pudding Pie


7-11 of 25 Advent Running

December 15, 2015

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A few new blog posts from other AR types for you:

And here’s what I’ve been up to…

Day 7: Runcommute


Day 8:
Runncomute with threshold blocks

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 8, 2015 at 1:01am PST


A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 8, 2015 at 1:13am PST

Day 9:
A lunch-run round regent’s park

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 9, 2015 at 6:21am PST

and since it was a “social pace” I found some friendly runners on the way around

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 9, 2015 at 6:27am PST


Day 10:
10min warmup 6x (5mins with 90s jog recovery) alternating threshold and 10k effort. It turns out I’m not very good at judging effort.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 10, 2015 at 1:46am PST

Day 11: Beigel run. Oh how I love thee. Jumping towards the weekend with glee.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 11, 2015 at 1:20am PST



Find Advent Running online:

Advent Running

AR Facebook Group

AR_Collective on Instagram 

Advent Running on Instagram

Advent Running on Twitter

Advent Running on Strava

Other AR bloggers:

Musings on Christmas Dinner

December 11, 2015

Stepping away from the running for a moment and into the Festive Food side of things.. here’s my latest blog post for Rangemaster. Basically I’m offering totally un-tested advice and some general meandering thoughts. No change there then.



Posted by Gill Bland Tuesday, 8th December 2015

Christmas dinner – the most wonderful meal of the year?

I’m going to have come clean on this subject. I have only ever cooked Christmas dinner once. I massively over catered and I over cooked the veg. But, despite the spiced red cabbage mountain left after my attempt I’m not averse to the idea of trying again because you know what? I’m pretty certain that the cook is more critical on themselves than anyone else is of their cooking when it comes to Christmas dinner. In fact how about we don’t call it that? Let’s call it a turkey roast dinner to celebrate Christmas. It’s not your only dinner of the Christmas period after-all and there’s a lot more to Christmas than that one meal. 

So, I bring you these festive catering thoughts in the spirit of adventure – let us go forth and feed people turkey (or goose if my Dad gets his way) together. Do not surrender to sprout-fear, do not be petrified of pigs-in-blankets and do not cower afore cranberry sauce. Armed with some key tips we can do this.

1. Write your timings down.

Possibly the single most useful tip. You won’t stick to it but at least you’ll have a plan. Work out how long the turkey needs first of all and take it from there. British Turkey have a calculator you can use. Remember that you can take it out and let it rest for 30mins before eating.

You can do most of your vegetable cooking and gravy making in this time.

2. Don’t over stretch yourself, especially the first time.

Pride is the downfall of the Christmas cook. Fore example, there’s nothing wrong with an excellent bought Christmas pudding (reviews here). Some people would actually rather save the Christmas pud for another day when they have more room in their bellies to enjoy it. Why not ask if people would rather prefer a (bought) lemon tart or just some really posh icecream?

If you’re doing starters choose something that doesn’t involve cooking and can be made ahead of time or assembled by other people. How about some really good flat-bread crackers (like Thomas Fudge’s or ‘artisan’ ones for example) with some cream cheese, salmon and a sprig of fresh dill. Alternatively, some sourdough bread, thinly sliced, toasted in the toaster and topped with a good pate. Serve either of these on little plates to make it look more pretentious, er, I mean classy!

Get someone else to carve. You’re hot already, the last thing you need to do is to try and hold a carving knife.

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2. How many different things do you need?

Will the earth come to a grinding halt if you don’t have 4 types of veg and 3 types of potatoes? Probably not. Will you avoid the wallpaper paste challenge that is washing up a mashed potato pan  if you don’t have them? Yes.  If you do need lots of types of veg chose the easy ones e.g peas.

3. Prep ahead (obviously)

You can peel and part-boil the potatoes the day before. Cook them until tender around the edges and leave them covered in water. When you’re ready to roast them drain, shake a bit of salt over them, shake around in the pan and heat just very briefly to get rid of moisture then throw them into the hot oil in the heated baking tray. Jamie Oliver says olive oil is better than goose fat. I’ll let you make your own choice on that one.

Carrots can be peeled and chopped ahead of time and kept in water.

4. Find multiple uses for Christmas ingredients

If you end up with jars of various condiments, umpteen types of biscuits and a red cabbage mountain, then instead of rushing to the shops on boxing day (ugh) try to get creative. I ended up making a tart out of some superfluous lebkuchen and discount mincemeat the other year and it was one of my favourite Christmas bakes ever. Leftover veg and meat can me shoved in a pie dish and topped with leftover stuffing to make a pie. Whisk some orange jelly up with evaporated milk and add Clementines for a zesty mousse-type desert. Even better, make mulled wine jelly by using the wine for half the liquid – serve in wineglasses.


5. The freezer is your friend

Think of it as a freezer dance – make stuff ahead and freeze it, then as you use it replace it with leftovers which can be used of the coming weeks. The BBC Good food website has lots of useful, tested and less facetious, tips about things that you can cook and freeze ahead. Start Christmas armed with freezer bags and a marker pen and away you go. You can re-surface turkey long after you’ve forgotten that you’re sick of it.

Having said all this, I should note that I am lucky enough to have parents and in-laws who make a storming roast dinner so this year you’ll find me wielding a tea towel rather than a basting brush. Happy Christmas everyone.

3-6 of 25 Advent Running

December 6, 2015

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Day 3:
Warmup 10mins then 7 X 5mins with 90s jog recovery alternating between ‘threshold’ and ‘steady’.1hr 18 .

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 3, 2015 at 12:36am PST

An apt pavement shot:

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 3, 2015 at 5:28am PST


Day 4: An amazing edition of Beigel Run, which is the 6.45am run from Brick Lane bagels which happens every Friday. This week it was the “Jump for Christmas Jumpers Edition”. There was tinsel and comdey outfits aplenty. We brought the Christmas crazy to the streets of London

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 3, 2015 at 10:28pm PST


A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 4, 2015 at 1:25am PST

and I appear to look about 12 in my classy Primarni outift:12313929_10153266343581056_6022900849662046951_n

Day 5:
The AR TrailTeam were toughing it out (and winning) the second of the Trailscape series – awesome.


but I was closer to home at the Olympic park. My 2nd 10k race in as many weeks and this time with a gale brewing. Apparently there were 24mph winds. Luckily I actually remember how to race this weekend so I was much happier with the result – a PeanutButter fuelled PB of 41 minutes and 1st female. You can read Jamie Maddison’s write up of the race here.

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 5, 2015 at 3:48am PST

6 of 25: a nice easy 35 mins to inspect the damage of storm Desmond, which was surprisingly little.





2 of 25 Advent Running

December 2, 2015

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Today’s AR news…


After what looks like storming launch event yesterday theres’s floods of AR photos around the place. There’s also…

Coverage from the Telegraph 

A great article from Advent Runner Sophie

Babeta talks about Prague and Czech Republic AR’ers  or rather “Adventní Běhání”  –they have coffee and croissant runs

Tonight there was a Fall in Love With Running lecture (which I wasn’t at because I was at Euston Church)

On Friday  there’s a special Christmas Jumper edition of Beigel Run. Because running in thick polyester/wool can only ever be a good idea ;)

Here’s some of my favourites photos from today:

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And from me… a VERY easy 30mins (3.9 miles) because today was officially 40mins cross training

A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 1, 2015 at 11:39pm PST


A photo posted by Gill Bland 🏃 (@gillbla) on Dec 2, 2015 at 10:22am PST





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