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?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Equinox24 2014 : The Video

It feel like a loooong time ago that I was running around the grounds of Belvoir castle but all the emotion came flooding back when I watched the event video that was released this week.

This event was a real milestone for me and I'd go as far as to say it's changed me as a runner. I won't be entering next year, but only because there are other, similar events I want to try instead... almost all of which are with people I met at Equinox24.

I wanted to share the video here with you so grab a cuppa and a biscuit, and maybe put your trainers on too because I reckon after this you'll want to go out for a run.


Equinox 24 Full from WeTheConspirators on Vimeo.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Adventures in Protein Porridge

More breakfast experimentations! This time it’s protein porridge. No, hang on, stay with me… I had my reservations at first as well but it’s well worth a try. When I first got introduced to protein powders I struggled to see how you would use them if it wasn’t in a shake. Little by little I’ve experimented with adding it to smoothies, cakes and porridge, and one day I might be brave enough to add it to savoury things. You do need to take a little care when making porridge with protein powders but it isn’t difficult and only takes a few minutes more.

Thank you to Anna Sward via MyProtein for giving me the confidence and guidelines for trying this out... Check out the original recipe and method here. I found the portion size of the original recipe a bit much so I make up my porridge to my normal recipe (1/3rd cup oats to 1 cup liquid) and use a single scoop of powder (about 25g) plus any extras. The trick is to make your porridge up to be slightly thicker than normal, let it cool a little then stir in the protein powder plus a little extra milk. This stops the whey from curdling and the porridge from becoming too thin. The original recipe is for apple pie flavour but I don’t have vanilla whey so I decided to try some different flavour combos.
(L) Butterscotch swirl whey with spiced, poached pears (R) Plain whey, vanilla, cinnamon, sultanas and apple
  • Rhubarb and Custard with chopped apple
  • Butterscotch Ripple with pear and cinnamon
  • Plain whey with vanilla extract, cinnamon, sultanas and apple
  • Jaffa Cake with chocolate chips
  • Cherry Bakewell with chocolate chips
  • Cherry Bakewell with frozen cherries
(L) Cherry Bakewell whey with dark choc chips (R) Jaffa cake whey with choc-orange chips 

All of these tasted delicious and although the consistency of the porridge is slightly different with the addition of whey, I still enjoy it. Porridge tends to be quite satisfying anyway but adding the protein gives it an extra boost without piling on masses of extra calories or being heavy. It’s good for me as someone who’s constantly trying to make sure I get enough protein in my diet and is trying to avoid snacking too much. With all the different flavours of whey around these days you can get really creative. I hope this has given you a few ideas and maybe the inclination to try something a little different.