Monday, 30 January 2017

Vik's Picks : January 2017

It's that time again. The time when I share with you the things that have made a difference, I've been impressed by or that I just plain like in the past month.

  1. I got this fantastic Momentum 360 reflective Jacket by Mountain Warehouse for Christmas and have been using it in anger since I got back from Norway. It's all over reflective so is perfect for being seen at night, has vents, pockets and soft fabric around the neck and cuffs. It keeps out the wind and rain and has been equally useful on the bike as out on runs. As I recall it was very affordable too. No longer available on their site but can be found on eBay and similar jackets exist elsewhere.
  2. Whilst out in Norway I came upon local brand Kari Traa, sportswear made for women by women. I fell in love with these Louise tights which happened to be in the sale (along with some other items) and wish I could afford many more pieces. It's on a par with Sweaty Betty in terms of price and I love the fit and quality. The leggings are great for running, have useful pockets, a drawstring, vent and reflective pieces and come in many colours.
  3. I'm starting to use my bike more now I'm in training for triathlon and something I've been using (encouraged by Dean) is the Garmin Speed & Cadance sensor. It was easy to fit, synced up quickly with my vivo active watch and I'm sure will make me even more of a stats geek.
  4. Christmas and New Year excesses mean it's back to sensible eating with a vengeance now, but I still like a treat and need quick nutritious snacks after training. I'm currently loving these Kallo blueberry rice cakes with nut butter as a pick me up. Light on cals, big on taste and texture. Nuff said. 
  5. Winter training also means extra demands on the skin so I'm using Neal's Yard Frankincense hydrating cream every day. I've long been a fan of their products and I find the weight of this cream reassuring; it feels protective. It's non greasy, absorbs quickly and feels as though it's doing my skin the world of good. 
What have been the things getting you through January?

Monday, 23 January 2017

Surrey Fitness Scene : Gravity Fit

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember that I started the "fitness scene" thread of posts in response to the vast number of posts I would see elsewhere about fun exercise classes and studios that seemed to be constantly unveiled in London. I've explored so many new types of exercise in the process and had huge amounts of fun. So last year when I heard about exercise classes that took place on trampolines I had to give it a try.

It all started with me taking my partner to Gravity Force, a trampoline park in Camberley, for his birthday (big kids at heart). We both had a whale of a time! We went on a weekday afternoon and virtually had the place to ourselves. It was while we were there that we saw Gravity Fit advertised. An hours class for £7.50. We booked before we left.

So on a Monday evening we turned up, a little apprehensive, me in my most supportive sports bra, ready to have some fun and break a sweat. The class reminded me a little of the Les Mills style of class, different routines set to music. We started with some warm up tracks and got familiar with the mix of yoga, tai chi, boxing and general aerobics. There were people of all shapes and sizes there but only one man, my partner - bless him. There was a fair amount of choreography involved but you were so focussed on your own movements that it mattered little if you were keeping up. We certainly felt as though we'd had a good workout, although in a very different way to the sorts of things we usually do. I didn't feel worked in the same way as if I'd been running, for example. And boy did we ache the next day!
Stretching after class
I've been to a general trampoline session before, and to rebound classes at the gym, but this was entirely different, partly because the trampolines were so much bigger. We've been to a few classes now and expect we'll drop in whenever we want a bit of a change. £7.50 for a class may seem expensive compared to regular gym classes but when you consider that a freestyle session costs £10 an hour, it's great value.

I was back at Gravity Force yesterday, taking my friend's 16 year-old for a freestyle session and we did eye up Gravity Fit again...

Friday, 20 January 2017

2017 Means Triathlon Training

My partner, Dean, is a triathlete. He's more than that, he's an Ironman. I've dabbled in triathlon before, having completed three sprint distances, and had vague plans to work up to something bigger in stages. However I have a very pliable arm and so it happened that I found myself agreeing to sign up for a half iron distance event.

After much searching (how far away is it? is it hilly? river or lake swim?) I plumped for the Cotswold 113 in June. A few friends are also signed up so I'll have moral support on the day from them as participants as well as from Dean in training and on the sidelines on the day. I won't lie, I'm a little daunted. I know I can do the 1.2 mile swim and half marathon run in their own right but the 56 miles of cycling and putting all the sections together is another matter.
Earning my cycling stripe
Christmas and New Year was a time of excess and so I've actually been looking forward to getting back into training, to have that extra push to get out of the door of a morning. It will also help me to get in better shape for my wedding (did I not mention I'm engaged? oh that's a story for another time).   Dean also happens to have signed up, on a bit of a whim, to Ironman Bolton in July. Apparently this will give him extra motivation to train with me. Actually we're very lucky in as much as we run at similar paces and so can go out and run together quite happily. Yes we are one of those annoying couples who train and race together.
At the start of the Dusk to Dawn ultra
I'm already a member of Bracknell Forest Runners and a former member of Thames Valley Triathletes so I've rejoined and Dean will be following suit. Monday nights will no longer be date night but swim night with TVT. The weekends will feature long runs together and some bike rides. I have consulted 220Triathon magazine and that together with my own experience, Dean's experience and a list of commitments has resulted in a basic training plan. Our conflicting hours of work will mean that the majority of my training will take place in the day time whereas his will be in the evenings, which is why we've deliberately planned to train together at least twice a week and to have one evening free for "date night". I'm under no illusion that it will be time consuming.

Of course a big event prompts kit purchases. I already have a bike that will suffice but I've invested in some new lycra, trainers, pull buoy and kick board while Dean has purchased a bike and some rollers so that we can train indoors from time to time.
Training = new kit!
It also means more event entries as part of the training. We're both taking part in the 5km Swimathon event this year, which is further than either of us need to swim for our events but a great motivator, and the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive (the next day!).

I'm so excited about what we've got ahead of us and I'm looking forward to writing a little bit about our adventure here.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Heart Health Benefits of Running

With one of the most common New Years Resolutions being to get fit it's no wonder that January sees a sharp increase in the number of people in the gym or pounding the streets. Running is simple to do (although not always any less daunting than other forms of exercise) and has a host of health benefits associated with it.

Amongst these are the benefits to lung capacity, mental well being, weight loss, improved strength and endurance. It also has huge benefits for the heart and I was recently signposted to this collection of articles which has a wealth of information about how running helps the heart. So if you needed any further encouragement, take a look.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Decoding Food Labels

As we head into New Years Resolutions I wanted to share this article with you from about food and nutrition labels. As a tutor for Eat4Health, I regularly talk to people about food labels and how to decipher them because it's one thing trying to eat healthily but if you don't know what's really in the food you're picking up in the shop then it's really hard to make healthy choices.
Not only is it important to understand what's in your food but what we should be eating on a daily/weekly basis and how that fits with our government guidelines. It's a minefield! Bear in mind that food companies want to sell us their products and don't always have our best interests at heart. The traffic light system that we have in this country has gone some way to making it easier to make healthy choices but again don't feel that you can't pick up anything that has a "red" or "high" rating... it all depends on how often you're eating the food and how much of it.

So digest the article and good luck with making your food shop healthier in 2017!