Friday, 24 October 2014

Too. Much. Excitement!

This week's training:
Saturday: parkrun & 7 miles
Sunday: Rest day
Monday: RunFitUK
Tuesday: Body Balance
Wednesday: 10 mile run
Thursday: 5 mile run
Friday: Rest day

As if in response to last week's apparent lack of "happenings" this week has been a whirlwind of amazingness. I only ran once over the weekend but it was a ten mile run that managed to incorporate parkrun with my mum so I'm very happy. I spent a lot of time on my feet though, dancing at a Caro Emerald concert, wandering around the Quentin Blake and Paddington Bear exhibitions at the House of Illustration at Kings Cross, meandering through the Covent Garden area and several laps of Olympia at The Chocolate Show. Of course my chocolate consumption may have subsequently undone all that. I will confess to feeling a little queasy on the train home.
Oh hi-viz vest, how I have NOT missed you
But all good intentions started again on Monday and have been stuck to. I'm happy with the training I've put in this week, especially as it's been somewhat truncated by flying out to Copenhagen on Thursday night. That's right folks this is a scheduled post. I'm currently somewhere between Copenhagen and Malmo, perhaps even on The Bridge itself, in a thick jumper and without my running shoes. I'm only here for a long weekend and it's my last break of the year so I'm making the most of it.
Essential pre-Copenhagen preparation?
The big news this week is that after some weeks of qualification gathering and scouting I've finally ticked all the boxes and been able to accept an offer to become one of the latest additions to the RunFitUK family. I'll be starting a club in Bracknell in the very near future and am all a-fizz with excitement at the prospect. That is of course when I'm not having a crisis of confidence. There's been a fantastic response to the news (thank you for all your kind messages) so I want to live up to expectations.

What are you excited about this week? Come on, there must be something!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

RunFitUK : A New Type of Running Club

The last time I attended my local running club I got left behind on an 8 mile run. It was winter, dark, bit miserable and unfortunately not the first time I'd felt that sort of exclusion. I never went back and haven't joined a traditional running club since. It's a pity because I enjoyed the social side of the club and the difference it made to my fitness. Far easier to motivate yourself to do track and hill sessions as part of a group.

But there are other I ways to achieve these things without being part of a traditional club. For the social side I have twitter and Facebook. Now hang on, I hear you say, those aren't the same as real-life social connections. No, not on the face of it, but I have developed a bigger set of real-life running friends via these platforms than I ever did at the club. RMR has been a big part of that.
(c) RunFitUK
I can go out with my real-life-friends-from-twitter and run miles whenever I choose and for running fitness there is RunFitUK. For those not in the know, RunFitUK is a club that focuses specifically on elements of running fitness such as technique, speed, strength, balance and agility. It compliments any existing club training you do but crucially involves no distance running. Sessions are held outside, in all weathers, and use the creativity of the coach (along with a few small bit of kit like resistance bands and running parachutes) to put you through an excellent work out.
(c) RunFitUK

(c) RunFitUK
Earlier this week I attended the evening session at "The Cage" in Weybridge where coach and co-founder Cassie put just three of us through our paces with drills, strength exercises and most importantly games! Being such a small group we got loads of personal attention and encouragement, got to chat a little (when we could catch our breath) and left with that slightly wobbly feeling that comes from having worked hard. My favourite part was the reverse-tag game we played at the end. Joined to someone else with a velcro strap your aim is either to break the link or prevent your partner doing so by sticking as close as possible. Hard work but masses of fun, The DOMS I'm feeling today though are almost certainly due to the box stepping and bear crawls we did with resistance bands around our ankles and wrists respectively.
The Cage (c) RunFitUK
RunFitUK currently have active clubs at Welwyn Garden City and Weybridge with another soon to start in Colchester. In addition to those I'm delighted to announce that I will be starting a club in Bracknell in the very near future! I'm really excited to be a part of RunFitUK and would love to see you there if you're at all local to Bracknell. Booking will be via the RunFitUK website and announced on twitter and Facebook in due course. Many more clubs are in the pipeline for locations across the UK so keep an eye out for one more local to you, or alternatively consider joining the team to start one near you. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Review : Ozeri Rev Digital Bathroom Scale

Weight is a delicate subject. Just what *is* a healthy weight? What's healthy for you might not be healthy for someone else, not least because the proportion of fat and muscle in the body make a significant difference. I just stepped back on the scales for the first time since the beginning of the summer and didn't really like what I saw, but I'm very happy with the shape I'm in right now so I'm not going to get hung up on it.

In days gone by I've weighted myself regularly, either to monitor weight loss or weight stability, and while I wouldn't advocate weighing yourself more regularly than once a week it's not a bad idea to keep an eye on things. Part of the reason I'd not been weighing myself was because I'd lent my scales to a friend. You can pick up a set of bathroom scales cheaply enough in almost any larger supermarket but I was fortunate enough to be sent a very smart set of digital scales that have a some nice features.
Firstly, the Ozeri Rev digital bathroom scales look rather stylish. I tend to keep my scales tucked away but these are smart enough to have on display. They feature "step on" technology, no nothing to do with the Happy Mondays, but they turn on automatically when you stand on them and turn off again a few seconds after you've stepped off, to conserve battery life. Not only is there a dial but a clear electronic display too. We may not all want to see our weight in such sharp contrast but should you be brave enough it's there in both lbs and kg. These look fancy but there are only two buttons, one to change the LCD readout between kg and lbs and the other to set an alarm to remind you to weight yourself at the same time each day; not something I'd advocate but a nifty feature nonetheless.
I'm very impressed with these scales. I'd probably not have picked them up in a store but having tried them I'm rather smitten with the sleek design and clear read out. If I was asked to pay for them now, I would. 

If you're looking to monitor your weight my advice would be this:
  • weigh yourself now more than once a week
  • take the measurement at the same time on the same day each week (or as near as you can)
  • ideally this should be in the morning before eating or drinking
  • using scales on a hard surface will give you more accurate readings
  • do not get too hung up on the number. Your weight will naturally fluctuate during days, weeks and months.
The Ozeri Rev digital bathroom scales are available from Amazon for £19.99 at the time of writing, batteries included.

Disclaimer: I was sent the Ozeri Rev Digital Bathroom Scale for free in return for an honest review. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Strava-ing to Avoid the Rain

This week's training:
Saturday: parkrun
Sunday: Dinton Duathlon
Monday: Strength workout
Tuesday: 8 mile run & Body Balance
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: 5 mile run
Friday: Rest day

It was Woodley parkrun's 2nd anniversary last weekend so how could I not go? Woodley are always keen on a theme and this week the theme was "be different". I keeping with this we were to run the course in reverse. I cobbled together a rather unimaginative outfit of different colours and odd socks but there were some far better efforts made... couples in each other's kit, men in drag, someone in a wet suit... main woman Kerry was present in a bath towel and shower cap! It was a bit odd running the course the opposite way to normal and of course I didn't PB but it was loads of fun, and there was a good deal of cake afterwards. I had a slab of marble cake with thick fudgy icing - mmmm mmm! The rest of the day was taken up with a show (Matthew Bourne's Lord of the Flies) and dinner with mum and of course Sunday was Dinton Duathlon day. A fine weekend indeed.

It's felt like a bit of an uneventful week generally but I'm keeping busy with hen-do planning for Alex and sorting out aspects of my PT business. I got a couple of runs in but have been thwarted by rain, wussiness and things not going to plan. Body Balance is still featuring once a week and I'm starting to do a bit more strength work again. I've realised that I can use the timer on my electric toothbrush to time tree poses and wall sits so I can squeeze in extra exercise - multitasking at it's finest!
I'm not the only one who's been avoiding the rain. I usually incorporate a 1.5 mile walk into the PT session I give to a friend but had fun coming up with alternative ways to achieve similar results in his lounge. I think I managed to wear him out more than if we'd done the walk! I might share that little routine another time.
Awesome, comforting bean chilli
Other highlights this week included some fantastic bed-hair, some delicious bean chilli made from contents of a Hello Fresh box and getting an email out of the blue from a chap called John. John found my blog and got in touch as he's also tackling Gatliff at the end of next month. As Alex might not be joining me now due to family commitments it'll be great to know someone on the day, although I've been told that ultras are extremely social anyway. John has also gotten me into using Strava. This is another of these apps/sites a bit like RunKeeper. I've dipped in and out of them in the past but never stuck with them. This time though I might, not least because it's so easy to upload my data from my Garmin. Although I have the phone app I'm not tied to using it and therefore having to take my phone out with me on every run. John's been very encouraging and I've made more effort to make my planned runs because I've felt more accountable. If you're a Strava user let's connect and encourage each other through these wet dark months ahead!
Bed hair!
This weekend I'm going to attempt to squeeze in at least one 10-mile run around gigs, art exhibitions and the Chocolate Show. And the rain looks as though it'll be holding off - bonus! What are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Event Review : Dinton Duathlon

The alarm goes off at 6am and I lie there for half an hour, playing with my phone, checking the weather report, making calculations, finding every excuse not to get up and trying to shoot them all down again. Eventually I drag myself out of bed and climb into my trisuit but it's not until I've made a strong coffee and some choco-nana porridge for breakfast that I accept that I'm actually going to attempt the Dinton Duathlon.

I don't usually um and err so much about events but I'm not a confident cyclist and ever since falling off at cycle training I've even more nervous about it. I can cycle. I've cycled the exact distance I was to complete at the duathlon, at each of my triathlons, but I'm inexperienced on the roads and I hadn't trained at all. Add in to that an early start on a cold, dark, foggy Sunday and it was a hard won battle to even get to the start line. Would I fall off? Would I hate it? Would I feel guilty if I didn't even try?Would I get lost? Could I live with forgoing the entry fee? Would I come last? Well someone has to... In the end the deal I made with myself was that if I didn't attempt it I would have to paint my bathroom and do a long run but if I did I could watch films all afternoon. And it'd all be over by 11-ish. Deal. For once my bike goes in the car easily and I'm treated to a gorgeous sunrise on the way to Dinton Pastures.

As regular readers will know, I've participated in the 10k series several time at Dinton in the past so was familiar with the run route and level of organisation to expect. This event was no exception to the fun, friendly and excellent organisational standards that I'd come to expect. Parking, although not free, was a stones throw from the transition area, start line and race HQ.

Collecting my race pack was quick and easy and I had plenty of help with attaching numbers to various bits of kit and racking my bike correctly. The marshal in transition was especially helpful and reassuring, telling me there were plenty of other first timers and to "cycle to smile" when I explained how nervous I was. What a wonderful piece of advice. I had another bout of nerves just before the race briefing and turned to a lady in registration for some more reassurance. She was ever so sweet and I made it to the start line feeling a bit better.

There were around 150 entrants including a few relay teams and so the start line felt quite intimate. The fog was clearing, it wasn't too cold and the rain was staying at bay; and then we were off! One girl tripped on the timing mat and several of us help her up. Ah, that's the sort of event it was going to be. Taking this is a sign to watch my footing I resolved to take it steady but still found myself comfortably at my usual 5k pace. The km markers appeared quickly and the cadets marshaling the course were in high spirits for teenagers up so early on a Sunday. This was the easy bit.
Actually taken on the 2nd lap. Credit Chris Drew
It seemed no time at all before I rounded the corner to head to transition, to find my registration lady looking out for me to say she looked forward to seeing me there again after the bike section. She got a huge grin in return. Helmet and gloves on, quick swig of nuun and I was wheeling my bike to the mount line. I took my time to get my feet in the pedals then I was off. Although on open roads the course was mostly quiet and about as flat as you can get with very few turns. Those that there were, were well signed and marshaled. For me it was just about perfect. I was lifted by the fact that I could see people in front of me; I'd expected to be on my own by this point. I was ecstatic when I managed to over take a couple of people. That's never happened before! A guy I recognised from Woodley parkrun over took me but I managed to keep him in sight. My bike was making all sorts of clicking noises because I'm not knowledgeable enough to know how to adjust my gears (I'm booked onto a bike maintenance course next month) but I was doing this! I was cycling! I wasn't falling off!  I wasn't going to let down my registration lady. A little mantra came into my head: "concentrate, foot down" i.e. keep your head down and just keep pedalling.
Credit Chris Drew
It worked. It got me to the end of the 20km cycle with a huge grin on my face. A marshal asked me how I'd found it and I managed to string something semi-coherant together about being so pleased. I wobbled my way into transition again. Rack bike, helmet and gloves off, another swig on nuun then force my legs to carry me back out onto the 5km run loop. It took a full mile before my legs felt as though they belonged to me again but I kept plugging away, over taking a couple more people and knowing that my post-cycle run is usually much quicker than it feels. I was back in my comfort zone and knew I'd finish.
My registration lady. Credit Chris Drew
And finish I did, in 1:51:49, a full 40 minutes after the winner. I didn't care, as far as I was concerned I'd won. I'd beaten the part of me that was scared and didn't want to do it. My registration lady was waiting again at the finish line with congratulations and my goody bag that contained a lovely medal, pen, granola bar and ever so useful thermos mug. I thanked her profusely but it didn't feel like enough.

I left on a high, but not before congratulating other first timers and people I had seen on the course. Even the battle to get the bike back in the car (it's as if it doesn't want to go home) couldn't diminish my sense of achievement. Doing the duathlon has definitely given me back a bit of confidence. I might do another in the future but cycling certainly isn't my forte or preference.

If you're within hitting distance of Dinton Pastures I recommend it as an event location and Barnes Fitness as event organisers. It felt as though there were almost half as many marshals as entrants, results are available immediately and event photos are free to download from the flickr group. HUGE thanks to Ellie Barnes for another great event. I'm hoping to take part in the aquathlon next year to complete the set.
My take away tips:
  • Ask for reassurance if you need it. No one wants you to fail and you will encounter the most wonderful support. 
  • Break down the challenge. You just need to get out of bed, then have breakfast, then get there, then run... etc...
My stats:
R1 29:15
T1 1:07
Bike 52:11
T2 0:41
R2 28:52
Total 1:51:49

Monday, 13 October 2014

A Day In The Life Of Vikki

I've recently enjoyed a few "day in the life" posts on other blogs and I often get asked how I fit everything I do into a standard day so I thought I'd share my own "day in the life" with you today.

0705 - The alarm goes off. I prise my eyes open and read TimeHop and Twitter to wake my brain up then roll myself out of bed for the morning ablutions.

0730 - Breakfast. My favourite meal of the day. Usually granola and fruit with yogurt almost always eaten at the table looking out at the squirrels and birds but occasionally sitting outside in the sunshine, confusing my neighbours (why is she sitting in her front garden?). I grab my lunch from the fridge and am out the door by 8am.

0830 - At my desk and logging on. I procrastinate by making tea and checking twitter then get down to my day job. Although my job title would suggest grander things it seems to mostly involve administrating SharePoint, conjuring up reports, chasing purchase orders and resource requests... general excel wrangling.

1100 - If I'm especially hungry (most days) or remarkably bored I'll have elevenses and have a social media break.

1230 - Lunchtime! Second favourite meal of the day. I'm very bad at being sociable at work so generally I'll find somewhere to read or I'll go for a run.

1400 - In a bid to prolong the lunchtime feeling I'll make more tea. Calls and meetings usually fill the afternoons and I'm kept comfortably busy.

1530 - My friend Tim stops by my desk for a chat and we disturb everyone sitting nearby by giggling like a couple of school kids. He's also into health & fitness stuff so we'll talk PBs, diet, hopes and dreams.

1700 - I try to leave the office promptly everyday, and unless I'm stopping in to see my Godson or visiting the allotment I'll be home by 20 past. Bliss!

1720 - First thing's first... PT session, a run or a gym class is the first port of call, then I have a whole evening to play with!

1900 - I'll make lunch for tomorrow whilst dinner's on the go then watch an episode of whatever box set I'm currently into. If it's a study night the radio goes on, otherwise it's often another episode of box set whilst I blog or sew (another little talked-of hobby of mine).

2230 - My kit bag gets prepped for the next day, I do the meditation I didn't find time to do earlier in the day and finally turn in with a book. I've done a little of almost everything I enjoy and am already planning what to eat for breakfast in the morning...

Friday, 10 October 2014

Not Leading By Example

This week's training:
Saturday: parkrun
Sunday: LiRF
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: 6 mile run & Body Balance
Friday: 5 mile run

Slowly slowly I've gotten back on track and I'm back in the running groove. A wet 10th anniversary parkrun and a 4 mile run I managed to squeeze in between work and a gig on Tuesday were both speedy and confidence building. It's not so much the case that I don't think I'm capable of the running, more a matter of motivating myself to get out now that the mornings and evenings have transitioned from warm, dry and bright to cold, wet and dark. but I've done it before so I know I'm capable of doing it again.
Joining mum (and dad) for drinks at the Shard. Dad wouldn't get that close to the window.
Bribery is almost certainly the way forward right now. The promise of a lovely warm and dry Body Balance class after a 6 miler on Thursday seemed to work and by promising a social run to Anita this evening meant I was forced to complete a solid 5 miles. Go me! Also my mum's chocolate coated ginger biscuits have meant I've had to run, purely to counteract their effects.
The biscuits in question... The last three...
I've been further inspired this week by the Leadership in Running Fitness course I took at the weekend. Not so much by the course material itself (I think I expected too much from it and was glad I already had qualifications behind me - anyone coming into it 'cold' would have struggled I think) but by the amazing people I got to talk to and bounce ideas off. My line manager, on signing my DBS forms confirming my identity, encouraged me to start a running group at work as there was "real appetite" for it. Food for thought!

I'm trying to resist the urge to plan my next phase of training, the phase that will happen after Gatliff, between December and February, and just focus on finishing off a couple of other projects first but I got a couple of new books last week that have gotten me all fired up. I often struggle to stay in the "now"...
It's not just biscuits I'm struggling with. What I was doing when I wasn't running on Wednesday.
But focus on the "now" I must, at least for this weekend, which promises to be an exciting one as I take part in my first duathlon! I'm all sorts of nervous but I've promised myself an afternoon of surf films on the sofa if I give it all I've got. There's that bribery in action again!

What have you got going on this weekend? Do you also employ bribery techniques to get out in the dismal weather?