Friday, 31 October 2014

Being Kind and Giving Myself Space

This week's training:
Saturday: Rest day / walking around Copenhagen
Sunday: Rest day / walking around Copenhagen
Monday: 9.5 mile run
Tuesday: Body Balance
Wednesday: 5 mile run
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 5 mile run

Although I've marked the weekend as rest days, we did a lot of walking around Copenhagen (separate post on it next week) and I was very glad of every opportunity to duck into a coffee shop for refreshment. I had a wonderful time out there and felt rather blue on Monday as I got back to the grind. Blue and tired. My training plan had me down for a 10 mile run and it was so tempting just to sack it off and curl up on the sofa. Fortunately the arrival of a new running top and being home from work at a decent time just tipped the balance. New RockMyRun tracks also helped. It was no small surprise to find my legs feeling unusually strong; it was one of those rare occasions where I feel I could have run on and on. I didn't, obviously, but I enjoyed my dinner all the more afterwards.

Although there are only three runs listed above they've all been quality (especially tonight's sub 9-minute mile average 5 miler), and the Body Balance was bliss - having a session dedicated to stretching my muscles does me the world of good. I'm fully aware what I'm managing isn't perfect but I'm doing the best I can. I've been trying to eat more healthily this week and largely succeeded I think aside from Wednesday night when I decided to be kind to myself with an evening of Harry Potter and a whole chocolate frog after my run. That frog is solid. Bashing it with a saucepan in the hope of shattering it only dented the frog (thankfully not the pan) but, challenge as it was, I did manage to eat the entire thing!
Quality sessions, eating well, stretching and being kind to myself occasionally. Those are my goals for the rest of the year. Under my current training plan I'm meant to be running five times a week which I've realised is a real struggle for me. When I trained for my first marathon I did it on three runs a week (plus cross training), which worked really well and I'm going to go back to that for my next bout of training. The races and plans for next year are coming in thick and fast now which means one thing... new diary!
I love a new diary. I've already marked in all the important things: birthdays, holidays, study workshops and races. I'd been keeping track of all the races I would like to do and worked out which ones might be feasible so they're nicely spread out for a change. I love planning and can get a bit carried away with it, cramming too much in. It's a constant battle. The next step is to fill in the training sessions. My current diary tells me it's exactly one month until Gatliff! That's come around rather quickly.

This weekend I'm off to the European Outdoor Film Tour in London and I'm looking forward to a lovely long run on Sunday. Next week I have a bike maintenance class and I need to test out my camelback on a short run. I've not fared well with them before but this is a new one and I'm hoping I can adjust it so as to avoid chafing. It will be mighty useful for Gatliff if I can.

What are you up to this weekend? Will you be doing anything for Halloween or making the most of the warm weather?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ten Things To Do to Become a Successful Runner-Entrepreneur

Today's post is written by Justine Dolorfino, the marketing manager for The Undress, a fashionable and functional mobile changing room. She ran sprints in high school, transitioned to 5Ks in college, and graduated to longer distances in 2013 before completing her first half marathon in 2014. She also enjoys weightlifting and hiking. 
Have you ever looked at a product and thought, ‘I could have thought of that!’? Why not give it a shot?

We’ve learned a lot while developing The Undress, a dress that helps female runners change into or out of their running gear (or any outfit!), anywhere, without ever getting naked! Entrepreneurship is a lot of hard work, but here are ten things that you can do to set yourself up to become a successful runner-entrepreneur!
  1. Look for solutions: Take the first step towards entrepreneurship by always keeping an open mind. Recognize the problems and annoyances you experience during your day-to-day life and try to visualize how you could make it easier.
  2. Get inspired by your passion: The idea for The Undress came suddenly after a group run, when Dennis noticed just how many women were changing out of their race gear under towels, in dirty restrooms or portapotties, or in their cars. Take the solution-hunting exercise one step further and apply it to running, specifically. What are the problems and annoyances you’ve experienced while running? What solutions can you think up?
  3. Do your research: Once you have your idea, learn more about how you can make it a reality. What are the risks and challenges? What will it take to build your product? How can you protect your invention with a patent? What products are already out there that solve your problem and how does yours differ?
  4. Work with a team: You can go it alone - but you don’t need to! Surround yourself with like-minded, talented people you can work with and put your minds together. Each person can play to their strengths and do what they do best!
  5. Take the time to do it right: We spent nine months developing The Undress before we launched our Kickstarter campaign. It was worth it, too; we learned more about making a better product and what we needed to do!
  6. Understand who will buy your product: One of the best things about being a runner-entrepreneur who creates solutions for fellow runners is that you already have a head start! But besides you and your friends, who would be interested in your invention -- and why?
  7. Connect with fellow runners: Are you in a running club? What about a Meetup or Facebook Group? Local runners are future friends and training buddies. They’re also potential product testers and promoters for you and your start-up!
  8. Don’t be afraid of criticism: We went through several different versions of The Undress before settling on our design. Testers’ feedback was invaluable, too. It’ll help you take a step back and look at your product with a fresh pair of eyes.
  9. Decide how you’ll fund your project: Will you invest your own money in manufacturing? Or perhaps you’ll take out a loan or shop for investors? Crowd-funding on Kickstarter may be right for you!
  10. Never stop running: It’s easy to devote all of your time to your start-up. Don’t forget to take care of yourself! Running is YOUR TIME! Besides… you never know what you’ll dream up on your next run!
The Undress looks like a fantastic product and I can think of many occasions when it would have been useful for me. Justine has worked really hard to produce a product that has so many applications. I hope to get my hands on one soon. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise Justine!

Are there any products you wish existed?

Monday, 27 October 2014

What Are : Amino Acids?

Welcome to another post in which I try to clarify and explain another health and fitness term that you may have come across.

For a long time I glossed over the words "amino acids" in much the same way as I glossed over "creatine", not being entirely sure what they were and therefore disregarding them when I saw them listed on supplements and so on. But it turns out that amino acids are pretty important to us.

What are they?
You're probably more familiar with how important protein is to us generally and also specifically as athletes (yes in my eyes if you take part in regular exercise you are an athlete). Well amino acids are the basic building blocks that make up these all-important proteins which are responsible for specific and unique functions within the body. As well as building muscle, proteins are involved in growing skin and hair, muscle contractions, transporting oxygen and fatty acids around the body, clotting blood and more.

There are 20 different amino acids and we need all of them to create the proteins that are so important to us. Out of the twenty amino acids, our bodies can synthesise twelve but the remaining eight, known as "essential" or "indispensable" amino acids, have to be obtained what we eat.

How can I get them?

We can ensure we get the essential amino acids that we're incapable of making ourselves, by including protein in our diet. Supplementation is available, and I'll touch on that later, but I believe it's far better, and completely possible, to get your requirements from your normal diet. It's worth noting that there are two classes of proteins that reflect their amino acid content: "complete" proteins, which contain all of the essential amino acids that the body requires for making proteins and "incomplete" proteins which are low in some essential amino acids. As a general rule, protein from animal sources are complete and plant sources are incomplete.

Sources of Animal Proteins 

  • Red meat
  • Chicken and other white meats
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
These can be high in saturated fats (the ones we con't want too much of) so in the interests of a healthy and balanced diet, if you eat these foods, try to choose ones that are low in saturated fat, such as fish, game, poultry, lean meat and low fat milk and cheese, and eat them in moderation.

Sources of Plant Proteins 

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans and pulses 
Because plant proteins are "incomplete" you need to combine them in order to get the whole range of amino acids. Because if this it's often thought that people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet struggle to get enough protein in their diet. I can assure you that this is not the case, if you eat a balanced diet, and combining proteins isn't hard. 

Let's take beans on toast as an example. Toast (made of grains) is low or limiting in the two essential amino acids lysine and threonine. Adding beans from the legumes and pulses food group, which are rich in those essential amino acids, will mean you have a full complement of amino acids in one meal. Job done.

You can read more about combining protein sources here.

Amino acids are among the most common nutritional supplements taken by top athletes and average exercisers alike. However, the benefits of supplementing with individual amino acids are not proven and their use is not without side effects. Amino acids are absorbed far more quickly and efficiently from natural sources (food) than from artificial ones (supplements) so while I personally wouldn't recommend supplementation as a course for everyone, it's an option for those with a very limited diet.

A note on supplements. Taking supplements of single amino acids can inhibit the absorption of other amino acids. This is because the amino acid present in the greatest concentration will be absorbed preferentially over other amino acids. This could lead to an imbalance and possibly affect your health, so just be aware.

I hope that's been helpful!

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?

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.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Post Holiday Blues and Lethargy

This week's "training"...
Saturday: 1 hour yoga, 3 hours body boarding, 20 minutes pool swim
Sunday: 1 hour yoga, 20 minutes pool swim
Monday: 1 hour yoga, 20 minutes pool swim
Tuesday: Rest day
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: Body Balance
Friday: 5 mile run

Hoooo it's been a hard week... says the girl who's had the better part of a week in Cornwall! What I mean is that it's been hard, since I've been back, to get back into running. My legs have felt heavy, I've felt lethargic and I've used almost every excuse in the book not to go out and run.
Cornwall was magnificent. We were blessed with fantastic weather. The kind of weather that gives you ridiculous tan lines because you're not expecting it. It certainly gave us the incentive to be out and about and this led us to tackle what I thought was an 8 mile walk along the coastal path. I should have taken a proper map. I should have taken my Garmin. I should have worn sunscreen. We ended up walking for around 5 hours with no real idea of how far we'd gone, worrying that we'd overshot our destination and discovering that a coastal path can sometimes be boggy, rocky and almost disappear completely. However we had some outstanding views, saw old mines, ate cake overlooking coves and overtook a large group of German hikers to reach a pub I'd been aiming for, more by luck than design.
Tan lines part 1
In this pub, whilst ordering a well-deserved cheese board (one of many consumed during the break) and large glasses of wine, I happened to bump into a couple that I'd met on holiday in Atlanta with my dad. It's a small world indeed! We all happened to be going to the Minack Theatre that night (we'd only booked that morning on a whim) so the coincidences and high times continued.
Unexpected company!
Doing things in style at the Minack
The Epic Walk was the most strenuous thing I did whilst I was away, it was never intended to be an active holiday, more of a reboot, although I did make token efforts at movement with almost daily Pilates or yoga and a bit of a swim. Of course there was body boarding too. Gosh that was fun. But none of it was enough to offset the food. Oh the food!
Getting my surfer chick vibe going
Wetsuit tan lines... sigh!
Cheese boards with apple and walnut scones, crisp breads and home made bread. Pasties and pastries. Three course breakfasts featuring the best bircher muesli and granola I have ever had. "Fizz and chips". Treacle tart, panna cotta, pesto risotto, grilled peaches, the most amazing cauliflower soup, black currant and clotted cream ice cream... oh my. Oh and the ginger biscuits that my mum obtained the recipe for and made this week. Divine. DEVOURED!
Fizz and chips... a Roberts Cornish tradition
I have never been so sad to leave somewhere or to arrive home. Post holiday blues are here in earnest and my lethargy is almost certainly an attempt to maintain the holiday vibe as much as possible. Tuesday's run should have happened... Wednesday run was never going to happen due to work location and evening plans (Stephen Fry!) and so I made an extra effort on Thursday. I bribed myself into doing a 5 mile run with the promise of Body Balance afterwards, getting back into things, making use of my severely under-used gym membership and regaining the stretchy, calm feeling I got on holiday in one fell swoop.

I can afford to let the plan slip a little. There are eight weeks until the Gatliff ultra and I'm in good shape generally. After 30 miles it takes the body a little while to recover and I'll be up to the 18 milers again in no time. I'm planning to include more yoga in my life. Practicing everyday on holiday was a treat but not feasible for me right now. Once a week I can do though and I'm looking forward to that. Strength training also needs to start featuring again. I'll be drawing up a new plan in December for Tough Guy which will focus much more on strength than distance but again, for now, once or twice a week will suffice.

So I'm hoping that the lethargy is on the way out and I'll be a little more bouncy next week. There's an action packed seven days ahead so I really need to be! How do you get over post-holiday blues and lethargy?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Review : Ozeri Digital Pedometer

As a runner I'm used to getting my stats from my Garmin but rarely think much about how active I am the rest of the time. If I'm not running, cycling or swimming it almost feels as though it doesn't count. This is, of course, daft. As someone who's day job is sedentary I really should be thinking about being more active in small ways. The NHS 10,000 steps challenge is fairly well known; walking 10,000 steps a day can make significant improvements to your health even if you don't regularly take part in what I would term "formal" exercise.

Pedometers have been around for years and are generally accepted as one of the easiest ways to tack how far you walk in a day. I've tried using them before, both the basic ones and a couple of free apps, but with little success. I've found them unreliable and they tend to end up languishing in a drawer within the week.

But I may have found one that has some staying power. In the past week I've been testing out the
Ozeri 4x3motion Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer and I have been impressed. This particular pedometer has far more features than any I've used before, recording not only the number of steps you take but also distance, speed, calories and time.
The device is small and sleek. There aren't masses of buttons or menus to contend with, I found it relatively easy to use, once I'd set it up, without referring to the instruction leaflet just by pressing buttons.  It took me all of 2 minutes to set it up by entering the date, time, my stride length and weight. The device will store data for seven days and will allow you to view the total for that time period as well as the total for the day. A nice little touch is that it also has a backlight so you can still see the display in the gloom of an evening when you're out walking the dog, for example.

After wearing it for a few days I was surprised to see that as someone who considers themselves active I only walked around 4,500 steps a day. It seems that if I'm not going for a run, I need to make extra effort to get up and move around more often!


  • It's small enough to fit into most pockets easily and comes with a lanyard so you can wear it around your neck. I found this great for when I was at work and it was still accurate.
  • It's really easy to set up and the instructions it comes with are very clear.
  • It even comes with a mini screwdriver so that you can replace the battery.
  • If it doesn't register any movement for 30 seconds it goes into sleep mode to save power
  • It seems to cope with running just as well as walking.


  • It doesn't have a clip to attach to a belt so if you don't want to wear it around your neck and you don't have a pocket, you're in a bit of a bind.
  • It costs £15.95 on Amazon at the time of writing which is more than I would think to spend on a pedometer, but I was very impressed with it.

Using a pedometer is a great way to get a view on how active you actually are and if you want something that has a little more functionality and accuracy than the free ones you may have amassed from cereal packets over the years (as I have) then this might be for you.

Disclaimer: I was sent the Ozeri 4x3motion Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer for free in return for an honest review.