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Surviving the 10k Run to the Beat and trying out Urban Massage

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        This weekend just past I achieved something new, and forced myself into something I’ve never really enjoyed doing: running. I like other sports, but running simply doesn’t set my world alight. So how did I end up panting towards the finish line of the Run to the Beat 10k run in London? It all started after I wrote here on this blog about my Travel Wishlist Before 30, where I mentioned my desire to run a marathon abroad at some point in the next 5 years. My friend Sarah (who’s now my new flatmate!) read that blog post and suggested we start off by running a 10k together. A few clicks later and we had signed up, with all the best intentions of a thorough training regime that would whip us into shape after the summer. So did I do enough training beforehand? Of course not. In the months leading up the run, I actually stopped going to the gym altogether, and in August I ran a total of 6 times. The longest run I did in training was just 6.5km, the shortest was a feeble 3.2km. So it was with butterflies in my stomach and tingling legs that I jogged with Sarah towards the start line of the 10k run on Sunday morning.

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        Run to the Beat is held annually near Wembley Stadium in north-west London and the idea is that they blast out music throughout the run. ‘Blast out’ would be an exaggeration, as the music is so quiet and speakers few and far between, that I was glad to have taken my own iPhone for music. They did however have a stage at the finish line, which had a bit more atmosphere. So off we set with over 15,000 other keen runners. Some people ran for specific charities, even wearing costumes such as a breast for the charity Coppafeel and a toilet for the charity Action Water! We saw disabled people pushing themselves along in wheelchairs, and in one case a man pushing along a woman in a wheelchair. There were runners of all ages and sizes. I won’t bore anyone with a blow-by-blow account of the entire run, but I surprised myself with how I got into a rhythm, encouraged along by running with a huge crowd of people. I ran it in exactly 1 hour and finished in position 3,504 out of a total of 15,000 runners. All in all, it wasn’t anywhere near as horrific an experience as I’d feared! I even felt quite motivated to do a longer run, and I’ve been looking into half marathons, with the aim of building up to that promised marathon abroad I’ve committed myself too. (One near Bordeaux has caught my eye – the Marathon du Medoc, with pitstops for delicacies like French wine, foie gras and cheese!)

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        Heading home after the run, my muscles felt ok, although stairs were immediately an issue for both Sarah and I. Anticipating that my legs would be shot, I had booked a post-run Sports Massage with a new company I’ve discovered, Urban Massage. They offer mobile massages, delivered to anywhere in London Zones 1-4 by one of their trained, professionally qualified and insured massage therapists.

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        Each therapist has a profile on the website so you can choose whoever you prefer and see their background and their specialities. I particularly liked this feature as it meant I could be sure of booking a female therapist. So on their website I simply chose the date, time, type of massage, therapist and I gave my home address. Every massage lasts 60-minutes, costs £60 and I could choose between Classic, Deep Tissue, Sports, Calming, Energising, Anti-Cellulite, Thai Yoga or they even offer a Pregnancy massage. If you’d like four hands, you can also book two therapists. So after the run on Sunday, a therapist called Nikolett arrived at my front door with a portable massage table in tow. She swiftly set it up in my living room and I simply had to provide a sheet and a towel.

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        This was my first ever Sports Massage and it was a lot stronger than my usual Aromatherapy massages, really working on specific muscles in my legs and also in my shoulders, as I spend far too much time sat at a desk during the week. Despite not used to quite such strong massages, it was so utterly relaxing that my body completely unwound all the tension from my energetic morning. Nikolett even gave me a complimentary foot massage after finishing the main massage, which was an inspired idea! She had warned me to take it easy afterwards and that my muscles might continue to ache, which they did, and the massage almost rendered my muscles totally useless if I’m honest. I even struggled to open a bag of crisps a few hours later!

        Having a massage to look forward to at the end of the run certainly helped propel me along to the finish line, knowing there was a treat in store afterwards. What’s more, I’ve got a discount to offer you lovely readers: use the code RVIRGINK7 when booking your massage to get £10 off! They’ve just launched their iOS app for iPhones and iPads, so you can book massages on the go.

        I will mention that they had a slight scheduling problem due to therapists getting stuck in traffic, so my therapist was in fact changed from the one I had booked, and she did arrive later than the original booking, through no fault of her own. The team were very apologetic and called me personally to sort out the problem, and luckily I was able to postpone my plans for that afternoon. Nikolett did however say that if a therapist arrives over 30 minutes late for an appointment, then the client will receive £60 credit for another massage. It’s a brilliant example of utterly catering to the customer and I was seriously impressed. And having the massage in my very own living room meant I saved time on travelling to a salon and meant I didn’t need to immediately dress and head back out into hectic London. All in all, I think it’s a brilliant idea and I will definitely be booking another Urban Massage after my half-marathon (yes I’m committing to another run already) and it’s also a really nice idea for a present, which is handy as Christmas is on its way…

Are you a fan of running or do you abhor it? And would you book a massage in your own home or would you prefer to go to a traditional salon?

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