Ultra Raiders

Back in September 2020, I was on Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis, tv show presenting my dilemma of ‘Should I or Shouldn’t I Spend on Sports Nutrition’ for an upcoming ultramarathon.

I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to tell you that I trained, and ran, a 53K trail race in the October eating surplus foods, and spent no money on fancy sports nutrition. In fact, I’d run a 50K the same way a few months earlier, and am currently training for a 53 mile race buying and eating surplus foods.

I’m certainly no sports nutritionist, or coach, but thought I’d share some tips for frugal fuelling.

See Food Diet:-

I used to be a loyal TK Maxx shopper, the designer discount store, and loved rummaging through their rails. What I quickly learnt with buying clothes that are imperfect, end of season, is that if you see it and want it buy it as you are unlikely to come across it again. Whilst these days I spend more time in Tesco than I do TK Maxx, the same principle applies. if you see food reduced on it’s use by, best before dates, packaging damaged or a store is clearing a shelf, discontinuing an item and you think you’d eat it, buy it. There are so many foods which can be frozen. I routinely freeze bananas to add to pre or post run smoothies, porridge, flapjacks. I enjoy having items such as meat free sausage rolls, vegan pasties, on a long run so will buy these reduced and freeze ahead of time. I even stashed individual packs of biscuits into my pocket, whilst in a showroom recently, knowing that I’d be thankful having them with me on a long run.

Use What You Got:-

One of the reasons that I’ve run consistently for the past 10 years is that I don’t need much more than my trainers, and to open the door. I can run anytime, any place, I do not need to make a booking, no fancy equipment; when the world came to a halt with the pandemic and gyms, classes, studios closed their doors, I could keep on running. It can be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, and the food doesn’t need to be complicated either. You’ll often surprise yourself as to how much you already have at home. Roast potatoes are a favourite of mine on a long run and I really want to give oven chips ago after a running buddy mentioning that he took cold chips out on a run. I’ve taken a banana on the move with me, filled bagel, a sandwich, a cake, brownie that I’ve baked. If your starting position (pun not intended) is ‘how can I use what I already have’, you’ll find you go the distance (pun intended).

Do What Suits You:-

“Ah yes, a jam doughnut that well known running fuel”, a friend of mine said sarcastically as I pulled a jam doughnut out of my hydration vest, half way into our long run. We’ve run together enough times for me to be used to her teasing, but she’s flat out refused to join when I’ve been running 4 hours plus because it doesn’t suit her. And that’s ok, ultra running is not for everyone, neither is a jam doughnut, but clearly I’m partial to both. I had the doughnut left from a pack I’d collected using food sharing app olioex.com figured it would do the same job as a sports gel, replenish depleted carbohydrates and give me an energy boost. Plus, training is the time for trial and error to see which foods suit you ahead of race day.

Do Not Follow The Pack:-

We are such social creatures that we often find ourselves mirroring our peers, comparing ourselves to them, being influenced by how much or how little they eat, train, rest, yet running is often a solitary activity in which we our reliant on our physical and mental strength to keep going and we can take a similar approach to food, our diets. I’ve been questioned on how I can sustain a healthy diet on surplus foods, received remarks on how much I’ve eaten, found myself hesitating when it comes to ordering dessert waiting to see what my dinner date does. More and more, I’ve tried to tune out the outside noise and tune into what I need. If you want a second helping have it, leftovers are going spare take them, you need more than the recommended portion tuck in. It’s astonishing that considering the thought, time and energy invested into food that 9.5 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK yearly wrap.org.uk

Ditch the Labels:-

Best before dates (BBD) can often be confused with use by dates, but it is only the latter which refers to food safety. Best before is a date at which the food is said to be at it’s best quality, is not a legal requirement and safe to eat it past it’s best before date. This has meant I’ve been given porridge oats instead of a friend’s aunt binning them, protein powder a good few years past its BBD when another friend moved house, a selection of powdered super greens when friend’s have cleared out their cupboards, fruit that my mum hasn’t gotten around to eating; plenty of nutrients to support my running, and saves me running to fancy health food shops. I was at a friend’s allotment recently, not a BBD in sight, but an abundance of fruit and veg which I cooked, baked, blended; I even made a ginger and turmeric shot recently without a blender which cost 20p – 90% less than it’s RRP @reduction_raider1

Whether you are a seasoned runner, foodie, or newbie to exercise, eating well for less, there is a lot to be said for making use of what you have. It could be turning the limp veg being neglected in your fridge into a tasty soup, day old bread into croutons, making a curry from a tin of baked beans, storing milk in the freezer ahead of time for smoothies, taking 20 minutes of your lunch break to hit the pavement. And, keeping in mind that we all have to start somewhere, but consistency can yield great results. There was a time, I’d swear blind I was never going to run a marathon, an ultra was a far fetched fantasy, and I’m not sure that I would have seen the day I’d move on from being a fussy, can’t cook won’t cook. It didn’t happen overnight, it was a build up of small changes, over a number of years. And a community, my sisters on hand to tell me how to make bolognese, work friends egging me on (I know I’m full of them) to try out new recipes, running friends, clubs, coaches to offer advice, tips, support. There are running, food waste, sustainability, cooking communities out there; give us a shout, we’ll be waiting for you at the start line.

My running pal Pats popping her unwanted block of tofu into my back pocket – waste not want not


Tilda’s Tastebuds: talking food and sustainability, with Fly Girl Collective founder Matilda

Running has brought about so many changes in my life over the past 10 years; my relationship with food being one of them. Running encourages a focus on food as fuel; there is only so far you can get on an empty tank! Another gain has been the sense of community, belonging, kinship. These are just some of the reasons that I wanted to chat to Matilda (Tilly) of Fly Girl Collective; another is that I’m struggling to accept that their virtual, 21 day, jump rope challenge has ended!

Whether it’s women coming together online, or in person – social distancing permitting, Fly Girl Collective was set up to have a running club which was representative of women of colour and to encourage them into sports. ‘Fitness, as brilliant as it can be, becomes less aspirational when women don’t see themselves represented’ https://medium.com/@tillytilda/why-i-want-to-see-all-types-of-women-run-the-world-the-launch-of-fly-girl-collective-70e44dd77734

The fitness industry and wellness scene are not the only areas which can lack diversity, the same can be said of the sustainability movement. A 2014, US report, The State of Diversity in Environmental Organisations, by Dr Taylor found that ‘environmental groups do a worse job than the business and sports sectors in welcoming and promoting minorities and women.’ https://www.diversegreen.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/FullReport_Green2.0_FINAL.pdf Yet, social injustices and climate change can disproportionately affect ethnic minorities.

Tilly notes on her blog that she doesn’t want Fly Girl to be a political statement, but a space for women, to live their best lives through fitness. So I want to know how she’s fuelling her best life, and will she push her best before date!

After reading plant based, ultrarunner, Scott Jurek’s, Eat & Run book, feeling increasingly concerned by the manufacturing of meat and it’s effects on her health, Tilly became a devoted pescatarian at the start of the year. Tilly has found that not only is she still able to get all the energy she needs for running but that it’s made her more aware of sustainability, food waste and she’s saving money; put it toward your next race Tilly!

Before she stopped eating meat, Tilly found herself eating out regularly, meaning that her home shop would often spoil, go to waste. Following more of a plant based diet, encouraged her to experiment with cooking, challenge her mindset of meat being the main to a meal, and she became more conscious of sustainability. “I don’t waste as much food as I used to, as I cook a lot more. And I try to make the most of the foods I have”. Put you in good stead for a national lockdown eh Tilly!

With fitness regimes, many of us can find ourselves under the misconception that we need a fancy, expensive diet, to support this and let’s not even open up the conversation ‘where do you get your protein’! Tilly has found the opposite to be true; her endurance has improved, she has a more rounded approach to wellness, she’s eating nutritious, filling food for less, and made changes that she can sustain in the long term.

How will food, sustainability, influence Fly Girl Collective I want to know. “It’s hard to say. Food is a complicated journey so the priority is movement and exercise for now.”

She’s right, food is a journey, but so is running, and the two are intrinsically linked. Fly Girl Collective symbolises community, sisterhood, diversity, accountability, and the same can be said for food, sustainability. And, wittingly, or otherwise, all are political. ‘Watch this space’ was how I closed our chat, and I for sure will be. I’m excited to see how Tilly, and the Fly Girl Collective, journeys because as us runners know only too well, it’s the journey that matters!

Find Fly Girl Collective at:-



Food Run

The Big Half marathon 10/03/2019

I remember running much of this route when I ran London marathon in 2017. During that race, running half a marathon was put to the back of my mind whilst I focused on when the race would really start; mile 20.

I remember still smiling through the rain when I ran my first London race, the British 10K in the summer of 2012; this morning it was high speed winds.

I remember my sister warning that I’d be sick as I tucked into a buffet breakfast ahead of Florence marathon. I wasn’t sick and nor was I today after eating a veggie burger bap enroute to the start line; not that I recommend either of these fuelling practices!

I remember when today’s finish time would have filled me with frustration and disappointment. Today I was high as a kite with what seems to be me turning a corner from an iron deficiency.

I remember so many highs and lows of running from over the years. Going back to school sports days; I was the reigning 100 metre champion in my year I’ll have you know! What I don’t remember is ever going hungry. I don’t mean the self induced hunger to drop a dress size in a week. Or on the commute home when dinner is so near yet still too far. Nor do I mean the many times that I’ve exclaimed I’m starving and demanded to be fed immediately.

I mean the hunger of not knowing when, or if, you’ll next eat. Having to make a choice between food and another essential. Having limited choices of the foods that you eat. I’ve never known the physical pain that comes with hunger. I’ve never known weight loss as a window to my deprivation.

It’s the remembering how fortunate that I am to run and have food choices which led me to run The Big Half marathon for food waste/food poverty charity The Felix Project. And what a fantastic day it was. One that I won’t forget in a hurry!

Check out their link below and see how you can get involved:-


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