Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas

Perhaps you started the day with a parkrun or maybe a glass of fizz or a big cup of tea.
Perhaps you plan to go for a family walk later or will be staying in your PJs all day.
Maybe dinner is a big blow out, you find yourself on a mission to eat as many chocolates or mince pies as possible, or maybe it's more modest.
Maybe you're with friends and family or spending some quite time alone with all your favourite films.

Whatever you're doing today and however you spend it I hope it's joyful, peaceful and a happy time.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

How Many Miles Earn You A Mince Pie?

They're singing "deck the halls", but it's not like Christmas at all... mainly because it's so damned warm! I've been doing in my best to be festive but it's hard when you can wander around in a t-shirt quite happily. Don't get me wrong, I'm *really* looking forward to Christmas but it doesn't feel as though it's in just two days time.

Monday was the last Circuits class of the year for Barnes Fitness and featured a Santa hat, seasonal tunes and mince pies. I was quite sad that it was over but I've got one more half term to cover in the New Year so planning for that will commence shortly.
The setting for our afternoon tea at The Vyne
Other efforts to be festive have included an afternoon tea at The Vyne National Trust property, Kew Gardens Christmas trail complete with hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts and a ride on the carousel and a carol concert on Sunday night. I've done stacks of Christmas making and baking and wrapped gifts in front of Christmas films like Scrooged and Elf.
I've even done a couple of festive runs. Bracknell parkrun on Saturday was Christmas themed, with everyone donning festive attire such as Santa hats and Christmas jumpers. I wore long tights and a Santa t-shirt and was baking by the end! Didn't stop me scoffing a mince pie though. More mince pies *and* mulled wine were on offer after the Muddy Welly on Sunday too. I'd run to the event but the return home was at a walking pace...
I finish teaching later today, the last RunFit session of 2015 was last night and I'll be heading back to my parent's for Christmas. I'm going to run Christmas day and Boxing Day, as I clock up a few more towards the grand 100 that I've been working towards all year, and return to teach a few classes on the 29th and 30th.

Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: metafit
Wednesday: Strength training
Thursday: Speed work
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: parkrun & yoga
Sunday: "Muddy Welly" 10k race plus jog there and back (2.5 miles)

Are you planning to run on Christmas day? Feeling festive or decidedly "bah, humbug"?

Monday, 21 December 2015

Event Review : Muddy Welly

It's been a whole since I wrote a race review, because it's been a while since I did a race! It's been most odd, after doing so many earlier in the year. I wasn't sure that I would be doing any more events this year but with the start line less than a mile and a half from my front door, friends taking part, the promise of mulled wine and mince pies at the end and a lovely course, I couldn't resist and signed up just a week before the day.

The Muddy Welly 5k & 10k races took place at Wellington College in Crowthorne but didn't really contain enough mud to fully live up to it's name. Starting at a very civilised 10am, I had plenty of time to eat some apple and mince pie nut butter porridge, watch the Strictly final, jog to the college, collect my race number *and* chat to people before the start of the race.
There was a good turn out, although I'm not sure how many entrants there were, and a good split between the two distances. The start line also happened to be the finish line where the mulled wine and mince pies were already on display; an incentive to get round quickly if ever there was one! The course was a 5k loop around the grounds; slightly different from the summer event held at the college and in the opposite direction, with more off road sections, which I prefer. It really was an absolute joy to run.

It was another unseasonably warm December day but dry with a light breeze so good conditions. The course undulated through the grounds, past ponds and a golf course. It wasn't a winding course, particularly, but there wasn't a hope of going wrong with a liberal application of red spray paint, yellow arrow signs, red and white tape and plenty of marshals. The only negative comments I have are that it was a narrow start so hard to set a good pace, and there was a bottleneck a couple of kilometres into the first lap, but it didn't seem to slow us down too much given that everyone I spoke to afterwards did much better than they'd expected. The water station at kilometre 3 (and 8) could have done with a second person there to help out. There were no cups poured when I passed on the first lap and no more than half a dozen on my second. Not a big problem at this time of year but one of the very few areas for improvement.

Not much in the way of seasonal attire in this race, although I was happy to be away from those wearing jingle bells quite quickly! There was a bit of chat on the way around, spectators cheering in the areas closer to the college, and just a really good vibe about the whole thing.

I managed to over take a few people in the last kilometre and had a strong finish in a time much better than expected. I didn't bother to get my official time from the machine but was very happy with what my Garmin said. As soon as I crossed the one I was presented with my medal and able to refuel with mince pies, mulled wine and bottled water. There was still quite a buzz of people about the place and cheers for those crossing the line. All in all a very friendly race.
The 10k cost £18 in advance. This included chip timing, a lovely medal and time tab for the back, as much mulled wine and as many mince pies as you cared for and free bag drop. I would certainly do this again in another year. In fact, I think I'm looking forward to it already.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Recipe: Toffee Apple Pancakes

I can never find quite the right pancake recipe when I want it so frequently end up making up my own on the spot. My most recent effort, inspired by a new peanut butter and some browning bananas, turned out really well so I'm sharing it here, so that you can try something similar and also so that I can find it again when the mood takes me!

These pancakes are light and delicious but you can make them as indulgent as you like.

Toffee Apple Pancakes

Makes 6 small pancakes

1 banana
1 egg
1-2 tbsp TPW Toffee Fudge Crunch Peanut Butter Luxe
2 tbsp apple puree
1 tsp chia and flax seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp bicarb
1-2 tsp coconut oil


  1. Heat the coconut oil in a pan while you make the pancake batter
  2. Put the banana, egg, peanut butter, apple puree, cinnamon, bicarb, chia and flax seeds into a blender or into a jug if you want to use a hand blender. Mix until you have a batter. It will be somewhere between thick American style pancake batter and thin crepe batter.
  3. Pour a little of the batter into the hot pan. You're aiming for small saucer size pancakes.
  4. When little bubbles start to appear on the top, after 1-2 minutes, flip the pancake over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
  5. Pop on a plate while you cook the remaining pancakes. Keep warm in a low oven if you wish.
  6. Serve with TPW Zero Maple Syrup, apple puree and more peanut butter if you wish. If you want even more indulgence, a little butter between each pancake is extremely tasty!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Christmas, Culture and Concerts

Stop the search, I have got my energy back! This coincides with the reintroduction of sugar and more carbs into my diet though I wonder if my energy would have returned naturally if I'd kept going with the change. Unfortunately, since reintroduction of these elements, I've gone rather overboard with them and let pretty horrible as a result so I expect I'll be going back to it quite quickly. I'll be writing a full post on it in due course but I've learnt that I *do* have will power and *can* cut things out when I want to but exercising moderation comes much harder.
Soup and a HUGE cheese scone at Grey's Court
I had my best parkrun in about 5 weeks on Saturday. It was at my parent's local course which I've done a few times before and enjoy a great deal. I was convinced I'd started too fast but managed to hang on. My legs felt bouncy and I managed, finally, to get round in under 30 minutes, even under 29 minutes! Number 94 done... getting close to the 100!

Christmas has arrived at the gym in more ways than one. The decorations are up, cards are being exchanged and classes have been slightly quieter, although those who are there are working extra hard, presumably so as to enjoy one more mince pie. It's all very cheery. We will be open for classes between Christmas and New Year and I fully intend to make my classes a bit tougher.
The wind down has definitely begun and I'm feeling remarkably under control this year. So much so I'm wondering if I've forgotten anything! What's added to this feeling was a long weekend with Mum and Dad. We visited two local National Trust properties to see the houses decorated for Christmas, went to a matinee at the theatre, watched an entire series of Downton Abbey in 24 hours and rocked out at the annual Status Quo concert.
Quirky Christmas decorations at Basildon Park
My aim this week is to keep up the momentum of last week and better it if I can.
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: metafit
Wednesday: Strength, speedwork & yoga
Thursday: 5 mile run
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: parkrun
Sunday: 1h45 of jumping around (aka Status Quo concert)

Monday, 14 December 2015

Waste Not : Leftover Veg Stir Fried Rice

During the time I spent scrutinising my food habits recently I learned that I'm inherently frugal with my food. I can't abide throwing things out and the key to this is having a few reliable recipes to make the most of odds and ends of things that are left over. One of my favourites at the moment, aside from the ever present "bung it all in" soup I make quite often, is vegetable fried rice. You can throw all sorts of bits and bobs in and end up with a tasty, nutritious meal at the end of it. The addition of cashews and egg means there's a good protein hit, good carbs in the form of brown rice or quinoa and of course, lots of veg.

Left Over Veg Stir Fried Rice

This makes a great lunch or perhaps a light dinner.

  • Handful of cooked rice (I prefer brown) or quinoa per person
  • A good amount of left over veg (broccoli, peppers, mushroom, courgette, green beans and sweetcorn are all good but don't feel restricted)
  • One egg per person, beaten
  • A small handful of cashews, toasted (optional)
  • Soy sauce
  • Chilli flakes (optional)
  • Oil
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok
  2. Once hot, add the veg and rice and cook until heated through. I sometimes like to heat up left over rice in the microwave first to ensure it's piping hot and not harbouring any nasties.
  3. Add the soy and chilli flakes to taste. 
  4. Move the rice and veg to one side of the pan and add the egg to the other side. This is easiest if the pan is tilted slightly in the egg direction. Let it sit for a moment and then use a spatula or chopstick to scramble the egg without mixing it in to the rice mixture.
  5. Once the egg is softly scrambled, remove from the heat and mix in with the rice.
  6. Serve topped with toasted cashews.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Kinesiology Taping : What Is It and How Can It Help?

It's been increasingly common to see sports people walking onto the track, pitch or court with brightly coloured strips of tape adorning their bodies. This tape is known as KT or kinesiology tape, and aside from becoming a bit of a fashion statement it is much more than that.

So what is it?

KT was developed in the 1970's by Dr Kenzoto correct muscle abnormalities around painful joints. It was designed to be the same thickness as the epidermis, breathable and flexible so as to become almost unnoticeable once it's on. 

How does it differ from athletic taping?

Athletic taping is designed to immobilise rather than support, with the aim of protecting the muscles. This can inhibit blood circulation, unlike KT which promotes the circulation, normalises muscle function and allows full range of movement. Both serve a purpose and it's important to use the right one.

What can it be used for?

It can help to reduce bruising and swelling by increasing the circulation of blood and the lymphatic system, speeding up the healing process. It is also useful for pain relief, can help weak muscles, reposition joints, normalise muscle function and improve proprioception (feedback from muscles and joints). It's very effective for postural correction but shouldn't be relied upon.

How does it work?

For pain relief, KT lifts the skin away from the fascia; less pressure means less pain! This also creates more space for blood flow which helps with healing. The direction of taping, the position the limb is in when being taped and the amount of stretch applied to the tap before adhesion to the skin, all alter the affect the tape will have. Taping from the origin of the muscle to the insertion point excites the muscle whereas the opposite inhibits it, so there are many different ways of taping, depending on what you need to achieve.


Here are a few examples of some of the more common taping techniques. 
Ankle sprain 1

Ankle sprain 2
Tennis elbow

Postural correction
Achilles Tendon taping
Plantar Fascia taping

Who can administer KT?

Many osteopaths are trained in the application of KT as are an increasing number of personal trainers. 

Is it for me?

KT should be used in conjunction with corrective exercises or appropriate therapy and not relied upon. It is an intermediate measure and not a cure. It can be useful to get you through a competition or event but if there is an ongoing problem, this needs to be addressed.

Have you ever used KT? Did it help?

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Socialising, Sweet Treats and Seasonal Festivities

Last week was back to relative normality in terms of workload, which is something of a mixed blessing; lovely to have a bit more time in the day but also nice to earn some more pennies of course.

Having that extra time on my hands, though, meant that I could be a little more sociable which was well timed given that my friend Shruti, the girl who talked me in to climbing Kilimanjaro which is what started this whole blog in the first place, was over from the USA for just five days. So on Wednesday, after class and PT, I hot-footed it into London to meet Shruti, her hubby and 10-month old baby and our mutual friend Alex for lunch at Jamie's (free wine, soup and mince pies thanks to the Gold Card) and a wander around Covent Garden. It was wonderful.
The Christmas tree got brought indoors and decked with lights and baubles, the advent calendar has been started and my mum has been sending me a steady stream of goodies by post too. This has included socks, tea bags, snack bars and chocolates. My fruit bowl may contain clementines and sprouts but they are of the chocolate variety!
I also submitted my distance total for my November training and received a poppy medal for my efforts thanks to Virtual Runner. I'd hoped to do many more miles but it's all contributed to the grand total of all entrants and it was money for a good cause so really can't complain. Plus it's a wonderful medal.
My training wasn't any better on the running front during last week but overall I did a bit more exercise than the week before, including yoga by Christmas tree light in the local school hall and Busy parkrun on Saturday morning. Running Bushy has been on my "to do" list for over a year and once I realised it wasn't very far from a friend who lived in Richmond, who I happened to visit at the weekend, it was a no brainer. Admittedly it was horribly windy and my legs refused to work, but it's ticked off and I'm now up to parkrun number 93!
Getting festive by some holly in Kew Gardens
We supplemented my parkrun with a walk to and around Kew Gardens on Saturday and around Kensington Gardens on Sunday, after a rather bizarre trip to Notting Hill in an attempt to have brunch. It didn't work out quite as planned but that's a story I'll let paul tell sometime. The good news is that this week I seem to be getting a bit more of my energy back, having re-introduced a few more carbs back into my diet. I'm not going crazy, but it's definitely worth doing for the sake of my sanity.

So all in all, last week's training ended up like this...
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: Rest day
Wednesday: Strength
Thursday: Yoga
Friday: metafit
Saturday: parkrun + 2miles run + 4 miles walk
Sunday: 4 miles walk

What's your favourite place to go walking this time of year? When does your tree go up and what's the best advent calendar you've ever had?

Monday, 7 December 2015

Waste Not : Another Week in Food

I realised that looking at my food consumption for jet one week wasn't really going to show any trends or habits so I decided to keep going and scrutinise my habits for another week. I was rather worried, at the beginning of the week, that I would have to throw a lot out but I managed to make use of most things before they were lost forever. So here's the update for last week...

  • Almond milk, avocado, spinach, apple - smoothie with spirulina powder, cinnamon, vanilla and frozen banana
  • Squash, leeks, onions - roasted veg soup
  • Avocado, broccoli, sweet potato, eggs, beetroot, spinach - "healthy bowl" meals
  • Carrot and apple juices - used for my barley grass shots
  • Spinach, lettuce, apple, red pepper, cheese - salad
  • Apples - snacked on these, some plain and some with almond butter
  • Avocado, tomatoes, spinach, eggs - a lovely brunch
  • Sheep's yogurt - this was mixed with granola 
  • Apple juice - soaked some granola and topped with yogurt
  • Left over lentil soup
  • Left over rice, red pepper, broccoli, egg - egg fried rice
Sweet potatoes
Pomegranate juice
Sheep's yogurt

I had to throw out  more tomatoes that had gone mouldy and the rest of the clementines.

What's Left
Excluding the things I bought this week...
  • A broccoli stalk
  • Half a red pepper
  • Beetroot
  • Apples 
  • Chillies  
  • Onions 
  • Sheep's cheese
  • Eggs
  • Condiments and protein shakes
  • Roast veg soup
So at the end of this experiment I'm fairly happy that I don't waste any fresh food but what I DO need to work on, and what will be a priority project in the new year, is to start using up my store cupboard staples. I've got stacks of pulses, grains, nut butters and so on, that I seem to keep adding to rather than using up. And there's no harm in using things up, I don't have to ration things out just in case, nor have a huge variety of these things on hand.

Are you guilty of hoarding dry goods? What store cupboard essential can't you be without?

Friday, 4 December 2015

Review & Recipe : Indigo Herbs Organic Kick Ass Vegan Smoothie Mix

If you regularly use products like barley grass, spirulina and cacao nibs then you may already have heard of or ordered from Indigo Herbs. By it's own admission the company is on a mission to "empower optimum health by inspiring people to take responsibility for their own wellbeing by making excellent quality herbs and superfoods available and affordable". Certainly when I've been shopping around for supplements and powders they've often ranked up there as best value for money.
They are also sponsoring, a campaign that is inspiring and supporting people trying vegan for January, whether that be for health, nutrition, animal welfare or environmental purposes. And in honour of this they've worked with Sam Taylor, an internationally competing martial artist, who also happens to be vegan, to develop the Organic Kick Ass Vegan Smoothie Mix.
It's a great addition to your smoothies, porridge and a multitude of other foodie things as this superfood mix is high in protein, dietary fibre, vitamins A, E, C & B2 as well as being high in calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. It won't add masses of calories either, unlike some protein powders, with just 28kcal per 15g. This list of ingredients is enough to make you feel healthier just by reading it!
Organic Spirulina Powder
Organic Maca Powder
Organic Banana Powder
Organic Moringa Powder
Organic Chlorella Powder
Organic Wheatgrass Powder
Organic Chia Seed Protein Powder
Organic Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder
Organic Barley Grass Powder
Organic Baobab Powder

I was very kindly sent a pouch of this mix to try for myself and I enjoyed coming up with a couple of recipes with it. I didn't venture far from the smoothie (mainly due to time constraints) but was really happy with the results. I also think this would be awesome added into granola before baking! A point of note... this mix is very green and so will affect the colour of your finished smoothie. If you're making something with a lot of light coloured fruit, for example, it may turn murky but it will still taste excellent. So without further ado, here are my two smoothie recipes. 

Banana Cardamom Milkshake

If you like the popular Indian spice, cardamom, you will LOVE this!

  • Seeds of 3 crushed cardamom pods
  • 1-2 cups coconut milk, almond milk or cashew milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Organic Kick Ass Vegan Smoothie Mix

Simply put all the ingredients into your choice of blender (I currently use a Blend Active but a jug blender or hand blender will do) and blitz until smooth. 

Kick Ass Choconut Smoothie

This will really set you up for the day!
  • 1-2 cups coconut milk, almond milk or cashew milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp Organic Kick Ass Vegan Smoothie Mix
  • 1 tbsp nut better of choice (I used the Supernut Butter mix from TheProteinWorks)
Again, this is simply a case of putting all the ingredients into your choice of blender and blitz until smooth. 

If you try either of these and enjoy them, I'd love to know. For further inspiration, check out more recipes here and stock up on Organic Kick Ass Vegan Smoothie Mix here.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Unwilling Legs and Cold Feet

It was one of those weeks where you just kind of plough on, only looking a few hours ahead and forgetting what day of the week it is on a regular basis. Thank heavens, then, for lovely things through the post from my mum. A sudden cold snap meant chilly toes and 4-5 layers of clothes at the gym so Christmas slipper socks were perfect!
It was a busy week because I was covering extra classes at the gym while Anna took part in a kettle bell competition in Dublin (and smashed all her expectations). It was a bit of a whirl but great fun and this week feels empty by comparison. As a result I pounced on every free moment I had, made a lovely dent in the sofa and drank oodles of tea.
Looking at the training I achieved during the week it would be easy to think that the lack of longer sessions was down to extra workload but regrettably not. I had a good chunk of time put aside for a long run but I had no energy what so ever. The mind has been willing but the body unable. The change in my diet is still taking it's toll (thankfully only a week to go) and is frustrating beyond words. While I've been bright and chirpy in myself I've had no power in my legs at all. I had my slowest speed session EVER and binned the long run because I realised I would either end up stopping after 3-4 miles having hit the wall and getting frustrated. I'm a bit fed up with it to be honest.

There was a plan to go for a walk on Sunday whilst visiting my cousin and goddaughter in Dover but the weather was so horrific we bundled up inside with a film, conversation and the baby. Can't really be disappointed with that really.
Last week's training ended up like this...
Monday: Strength
Tuesday: Rest day
Wednesday: metafit
Thursday: 3.6 mile run & yoga
Friday: Speed work
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: Rest day

When you've had no energy do you push on or listen up?