So over the last couple of weekends I don’t know if you noticed but it got COLD and I mean proper red raw fingers, sniffling nose, teeth chattering cold!
I am still learning the best way to survive running and cycling in slightly more bitter times but I thought I would share my key items when battling the cold.
1. Invest in good leggings! I know there are lots of amazing leggings available at varying prices but if I am being honest nothing beats my Nike Sculpt Women’s Training Tights and my Lululemon Speed Tights Granted these are definitely both on the more expensive end but I believe it’s worth it. Both these leggings keep me warm and dry and most importantly do not fall down when jogging, running or sprinting!
2. Feetures! I was recently sent some products from Feetures, a company who specialise in performance socks for runners. My new favourite thing – their Elite Merino+ sock. These guys are ridiculously soft, in fact initially I just wore them around the house as they felt cosy enough to be slipper socks but with the extra bite in the air I thought it was time to take them for a test drive. DREAMY! These socks are just magical, the merino insulates keeping your feet warm and dry, even in wet weather. I was slightly concerned that feeling so cosy my feet would be quick to over heat whilst running but even after 9 miles I could not fault them! Now I just need to invest in some glove liners of the same fabric and I shall be a very happy person!
3. A running buff. Do you remember how your mum used to always tell you to wrap up warm? She had a point. It is quite amazing the amount of warmth you can lose from around your neck and so a running buff is ideal. These things can be picked up relatively cheap but are super handy particularly if, like me, once you start running you are quick to warm up as they can be easily removed and placed round your wrist for the rest of the run. I actually wore the Nike Neck Warmer whilst doing my race in the Arctic at the beginning of this year, if that wasn’t a good test I don’t know what is!
4. Not so much about battling the cold but more about safety as it doesn’t only get cold in winter, it gets dark! So when sent a box of various night safety equipment what do you do ….
TRY THEM ALL ON AT THE SAME TIME OF COURSE!
Slightly sinister hey!
But on a serious note, what I have noticed that with cyclists and runners alike the more you look like a Christmas Tree the better. On the bike it’s pretty obvious that you should have lights at the front and back of your bike, flashing away and similarly with running reflective gear is always recommended but I also really enjoyed adding these light spurs to my dark weather gear! Built to sit on the back of your trainers and flash away these LED spurs are battery operated and should last for up to 40 hours+ Personally I quite enjoyed how they made me feel like I had light up trainers, you know the ones kids have, yep I wouldn’t actually mind adult versions of these and well this sort of helps!
So there we are just a couple of pointers about how what I wear whilst being out and about during this cold weather … we all knew it would happen at some point … we maybe just weren’t quite ready for it to be now apparently!!!
PS. Thanks to Nathan Sports for giving me the opportunity to try out some of their running products!
This Saturday I ran a timed 5km. Shortly after finally being able to run pain free I was asked if I would like to take part in a 16week programme testing methods to build people’s 5km speeds. I agreed as I knew my speed had decreased thanks to the dark days of injury and thought it would be an interesting experiment.
Before the start of the programme I did a timed 5km, and this Saturday, 16 weeks later, I took just under 2 minutes off that time. HOORAY! However, about 3 weeks ago I took part in another 5km run, just for a bit of fun, and actually ran that 30 seconds faster than this weekend’s run! This fun run was late on a Sunday evening, it was not a flat, straightforward course, there were stairs and traffic yet I ran it 30 seconds faster than the clear, flat, runners only, route.
My thoughts on why, when all conditions (except for the pouring rain and mud) were perfect – PRESSURE!
Three weeks before, I signed up up to a fun 5km run around Tobacco Doc. It was in the evening, it was dark and it was relaxed. Paulie and I set out just enjoying our new jazzy headphones and all the surprises that the route had in store – including a UV water station?!
We weaved in and out of parked cars, dodged traffic, steadied ourselves round tight corners, went down sets of stairs and just enjoyed the views. And yet with all of this I managed to do a 5km just 10 secs shy of my fastest ever!
I spent most of the night before this weekends “race” worrying about whether I would be able to achieve what I had set out to do. I knew my pace had improved, a lot, but would I be able to repeat what happened a couple of weeks ago at the fun run? I had done quite a lot of cycling during the week without meaning to and my legs felt heavy. I was worried, nervous and didn’t want to run but I kinda had to. In the morning I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do what I had somehow done a few weeks ago and as soon as I set off I struggled.
I think head space has a lot to answer for when it comes to running, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind and went into my run with completely the wrong attitude. Yes of course the wind, rain, puddles and mud will not have helped, but really I think I had just put too much pressure on myself and overthought the whole thing. I don’t usually go into a race with such a huge intention of getting a PB, I race because I love running and just love that I can, but if anything this weekend has taught me that PBs are awesome but will will never be achieved if your head is not in the right place …. so just go out, smile and see what happens!
Things that I have discovered or just loved this week …
Generally everything about this mix is amazing!
Recently I was lucky enough to be asked if I wanted to try some of The Protein Works products and I thought “why on earth not”. Slightly overwhelmed by the amount of tasty sounding products on their website, I spoke to one of their representatives explaining that I would love to try something that would help combat that 3pm/4pm snack attack that wasn’t nut based. Don’t get me wrong, I love nuts, I mean we all know how good they are for us but sometimes it would be great to go into my snack drawer and grab something that wasn’t an almond or a nut bar!
Following my request The Protein Works supplied me with their “Peri Peri Hot” Biltong. Having lived with a South African for a while I knew all about Biltong and how if done right this could be a seriously tasty and filling snack! Biltong is a dried meat, usually beef, which has been flavoured with herbs and spices. I am relatively weak when it comes to spices but WOWZA the TPW Biltong certainly packed a punch! Their Biltong is made with British Beef and acts as a high protein snack, which in theory means it should keep you going, in my case, until teatime. In my opinion the Biltong was super tasty and certainly did exactly what I asked, it was great to have a nut free alternative in the snack drawer. I would only need to munch away on a few pieces to feel satisfied, though that could have been because my mouth was on fire, which means the product is pretty reasonable for £3.99!! Still not sure on how I feel about Biltong as a food, dried meat and all, but taste wise it was pretty yummy and we all know we have to get that protein in! So thumbs up from me!
Thanks again to The Protein Works for letting me try their products, it was extremely kind of them but please note the opinions are most definitely my own! 😀
Stuff, things, bits and pieces!
So if you happen to be in the Brick Lane area I would definitely recommend strolling into the Old Truman Brewery Carpark to enjoy this in it’s full glory …
You cannot help by smile at Ellannah Sadkin’s handywork here, it definitely brightens up any grey London day!
Last Thursday The North Face opened it’s Regent Street Store for the first time and with it comes the opportunity to get involved in all sorts of amazing free activities … yep FREEEEE!
With loads of lockers, changing rooms and free water fountains the store is going to be offering a series of weekly events for people who love all things outdoors, whether that be running in the wilderness, getting muddy, or listening to stories told by some pretty inspirational outdoorsy types (on the opening night we heard a pretty incredible tale from David Goettler about his experience exploring the unchartered paths on the peaks in Nepal!?!)
There are plenty more details to come and eventually you will be able to sign up to each event through the website but for now keep an eye on the instagram page – NeverStopLondon or drop into the store and check the board for what’s coming up next!!!
The first event will kick off this Thursday, 29th October 18:30 – 19:30
This weekend I moved home. But instead of spending Sunday surrounding myself with boxes and discovering that I had carried stuff I didn’t need to keep from one place to another I headed out early doors to help celebrate LDN Brunch Club‘s first birthday.
Whether you are training for a half marathon / marathon or just like running I think it’s fair to say that most people tend to do their longer runs at the weekend, usually (hopefully) followed by some yummy food! With this in mind Stephen and Georgia formed this fantastic, social, running group, bringing people together who love to run, chat and most importantly EAT!
Each week LDN Brunch Club plan routes that compliment both half marathon and marathon training distances, at various paces, offering the opportunity to enjoy some company as those runs get longer and longer in the build up to a race and then afterwards WE BRUNCH and I absolutely adore turning up on Sunday to help pace the various groups.
I love being a part of this group because for me it offers an extremely supportive, friendly and relaxed environment regardless of whether you are fairly new to running or if you are a seasoned ultra runner! Over the last 12 months I have watched it grow and build into a truly lovely community of people.
On Sunday to celebrate our first birthday Stephen and Georgia cleverly put together #monoporun which saw a sea of red shirted runners explore famous landmarks on the monopoly board, finishing back at Nike 1948 for an incredible amount of goodies from the likes of Pip & Nut, Bounce Energy Balls, Urban Fruit and Vita Coco. It was a flipping awesome day and I most certainly got my fill of running, smiles and NUT BUTTER!
If you want to find out more about how you can get involved with LDN Brunch Club and join us for a Sunday run and brunch head over to the website or just come along one Sunday – your first time is always free 😀
Otherwise all I will say is HAPPY BIRTHDAY LDN BRUNCH CLUB …. and leave you with some photos …
Date/Time: Saturday 15th August – Sunday 16th August
Location: Hornchurch Country Park
Distance: As many 10km laps as possible in 24hours
Last year myself and 7 lovely ladies were lucky enough to win a spot in the first ever Spitfire Scramble. We had the most fantastic time (you can read my full recap here) and I promised that I would be going back next year for more 10km loops, camping and of course my favourite – running in the depths of night!
Fast forward to 2015 and last weekend saw the second ever Spitfire Scramble and I am pleased to say that the event had got nothing but bigger and better! The amount of participants had certainly tripled and it was great to see so many tents, flags, banners and picnic style set ups on the starting field. The food vans had doubled and offered a little more variety than last year and the toilets were nearer to everything – extremely handy when you have tired legs and it’s pitch black! But whilst everything seemed to grow it was fantastic to see that the atmosphere had not changed at all. One of the things I loved about this event was the community that came with it. Yes this is a race, there are winners and you are being timed but it is still one of the most supportive races I have ever taken part in. From the race organisers themselves, to the incredible volunteers who stay out all night to ensure we don’t get lost, to every single competitor – everyone shows support, encouragement and just general friendliness! It is so lovely to be running along chatting to other runners as you pass, rather than just trying to steam ahead.
I am extremely proud to say between the three Run Dem Teams we covered over 700km in 24 hours and I think those stats are pretty incredible!
I said it last year and I will say it again – this is a fantastic event and I cannot wait to take part again next year. A huge thank you to the organisers and everyone involved for putting on such a fantastic and friendly event! If you fancy taking part I could not recommend it enough, and if you want a few tips for how to survive a 24hour race …
1. Pack layers! Even if it is hot when you leave the house, believe me it’s amazing how cold it will get in the night! Plus your temperature will dramatically cool down once you stop running!
2. Pack snacks! Yes there are food tucks but I still suggest bringing a variety of nibbles as you might not fancy a jacket potato / bacon bap at 3am when you are about to do a lap. I took a variety of 9bars (of course) nuts, fruit, pre-baked sweet potato and chocolate covered raisins.
3. If you can, pack a camping chair. Strange I know but between running and then lying down it’s amazing how much you will appreciate a seat, particularly in the morning when everything is damp! Trust me!
4. Make the most of your rest! There is a fantastic festival atmosphere in the camp site which all adds to the experience. In the Run Dem Crew camp we spent a lot of time just enjoying the sunshine, hanging out together, sharing food and swapping stories. But all I would say is that as the day carries on, if you are doing one of the night time laps ensure that you try and get a bit of rest and it’s a very interesting experience running whilst half asleep. Even if it’s an hours power nap you will be surprised at the difference it could make!
5. It’s camping, with plenty of food and with your friends, with a little bit of running thrown in too … enjoy that this is a totally different kind of race! !
Things that I have discovered or just loved this week …
A couple of artists I have been enjoying …
For weeks and weeks I have cycled up Pitfield Street in Hoxton and noticed a couple of lovely foodie spots that I have been desperate to try. On Wednesday after jumping off the Eurostar after a few miles of cycling (more on this soon ;D) I knew exactly where I wanted to go for a well earned breakfast!
Walking into Friends of Ours you are greeted by a clean, simple interior and extremely relaxing music – perfect for breakfast time! The pastries looked divine and my partner in crime couldn’t stop staring at the fancy coffee things … I don’t drink coffee but apparently it is good (high praise indeed!). The breakfast menu offers everything a breakfast lover could want from avo, to porridge, to fritters!
As a fan of lots of different things I went for the “All Aboard” – poached egg on sourdough toast (the egg was perfect), the granola with coconut yogurt (I didn’t even have to ask if there was a dairy free alternative) perfectly poached fruit AND a glass of OJ. I also ordered some avo on the side … it came … in a MASSIVE bowl and I couldn’t finish it – unheard of! Paulie ordered the “Breakfast skillet” with chorizo, feta, eggs, beans + + +. It looked amazing!
All in all we both adored this place. The service really was lovely and the vibe was relaxed, friendly and well just nice. The food was gorgeous and I did spot carrot cake being brought out as we were leaving … for another time I think as this place also does amazing salads so I hear!
Stuff, things, bits and pieces!
Last night I was lucky enough to have a sneak peak at Brooks new A/W collection and I have to say as someone who hasn’t really worn much of their apparel I was really impressed. Some of my favourite things …
“Racey 3.5′ short“. In my sprint sets this morning they stayed in place, they stored my iphone5 and keys in the back pockets without causing me any bother (now this may have been down to the fact that I was concentrating more on catching my breath but still I thought this was pretty good!) and the colour is fab, though slightly highlighting my cycle short tan!
“LSD Jacket” The jacket is a light weight, windproof and water resistant that conveniently packs away and has a wearable elastic band to carry it whilst out. Now I wasn’t convinced that if you got too hot whilst wearing this jacket that you could just quickly pack it away and use the elastic band to just carry it on your arm. HOWEVER, on a lovely little 5km jog around Regent’s Park I did just that. Still running I took my jacket off and packed it away and then popped it on my arm, waiting for it to start moving, bouncing or just generally annoy me but it just didn’t, it stayed put and I barely noticed it. Now I am not saying I could run a marathon with it on but still I was impressed, plus the colour is gorgeous!
“Fly-By Sweatshirt” Firstly this sweatshirt feels amazing, just amazing and it’s reversible! Now who doesn’t love a reversible product! It’s quilted, cosy, and has thumbholes … enough said.
All in all I really was genuinely impressed with how the garments looked, felt and most importantly performed and will very much be keeping my eye on what they bring out next!
(ps Brooks were super kind to offer me the opportunity to test out some of their products but the opinions are totally, 100% my own!)
So following my post about finding other activities other than just running to enjoy I introduce you to NTC – Nike Training Club .
In the summer of 2013 I joined a run club led by Nike Trainer “Kezia Lopez”. Now sadly a few weeks later the club came to an end but Kezia mentioned that she runs a “NTC – Run To Train” class from the Nike Covent Garden store and that I should come along so off I went to see what it was all about it.
Entering the store I was greeted by Kezia and a whole host of other women getting ready to head out into London. After a couple of warm up drills we gently ran over to the location of choice for that evening, which if I remember rightly was a section of Regent’s Park, and then Kezia led us through 40 minute session of planks, squat jumps, lunges and her favourite – burpees. Once these exercises had been done over and over again in a pyramid sequence we “ran” (I am not sure you could call my slog back running) back. I can actually remember the entire workout, and how flippin’ difficult those squat jumps were but what I can also remember was how much I enjoyed the session and that it was free!
Week in week out I headed to the Covent Garden Store for 18:30 ready to run to a different location in central London and be made to work! I even managed to drag my wonderful friend along with me which meant that my NTC sessions supplied a work out as well as an opportunity to catch up (it also usually involved dinner afterwards too :D).
When I was offered a spot in the Manchester Marathon my NTC sessions became a key part of my weekly training plan. It is very easy to just RUN whilst training for a marathon and that be that but the NTC classes ensured that I was getting at least one weekly session that built on strength, particularly glutes and core which all runners are repetitively told to work on!
Now due to a change in schedule I don’t get to head over to Covent Garden on a Tuesday evening now but a few weeks ago I was able to make it across to see whether things were still like I remembered. I was extremely pleased to see that this NTC session still attracts lots of women of all abilities, creating a lovely, supportive community of like minded people. It’s also worth mentioning that these sessions in particular offer a fantastic opportunity to explore that incredible amount of free “gym” spots that London offers, whether it’s tricep dips on a bench, shuffles around a water fountain or legging it up and down stairs it all proves that you don’t need an expensive gym membership to get hot and sweaty.
I cannot recommend the various NTC sessions that Nike provide, particularly if you are new to London as it is a great way to meet people and make friends whilst doing something you enjoy and if time would allow it I would love to do more!
If you fancy giving a FREE workout a go I could not recommend NTC enough so click and book in!
Things that I have discovered or just loved this week …
After seeing the incredible man that is D’angelo this week at the Roundhouse in Camden I thought it was only right to dedicate my week’s favourite tracks him. The man was INCREDIBLE live, just incredible!
D’angelo – Untitled (how does it feel) – OH THIS VIDEO!
If you are like me and like your pancakes thick and stacked high then J&A Cafe might be worth a visit. Tucked behind Clerkenwell Road this lovely little spot has a wonderful little outdoor area, bunting and all, as well as spacious indoor seating. We decided to head here for breakfast the other morning as I may have spotted an incredible photo of their pancakes and wanted to see if they tasted as good as they looked! Think pancake, scrambled eggs, bacon, pancake, scrambled egg, followed by another rasher of bacon! Oh and with some maple syrup on the side! It was just flippin (get it!) awesome! Quick, smiley service, lovely atmosphere, this really is a bit of a gem and looking around the other breakfasts looked pretty good too. But let’s be honest I will be going back for these …
Worth mentioning their Victoria sponge, carrot cake and chocolate Guinness cake looked pretty tempting too, even at 7am!
Stuff, things, bits and pieces!
I had heard of a women’s only sneaker shop a while ago but it was only last weekend that I finally visited the store located in Shoreditch (near one of my favourite cake spots) and made my feet extremely happy!
These beauts are Adidas FX 500 2.0 and amazingly they were on sale! The store has a lust worthy collection of shoes from a huge variety of brands as well as some extremely nice clothes and bags! I have a feeling this place could be very dangerous to me!
An opportunity arose to take part in an open water triathlon and as much I would have preferred a little more time between my first and second I thought it would be silly to not have a go and see how I get on in my first open water event! SO…
- Date/Time: Sunday 12th June
- Distance: = 400m swim, 21.2km cycle, 5km run
Held at the Olympic rowing venue, Dorney Lake it was quite exciting to walk up to the event village and see the Olympic Rings in the distance (if not a little daunting!) With race pack collected and numbers stuck in their correct places (triathlons have so many numbers and such strict placement rules so thanks to Paulie here for, as always, sorting this whilst I try and pretend to be totally cool and calm) it was time to get ready – wetsuit or no wetsuit?
With about 70% of people wearing them we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to just “practice” with the suit. It’s not that I don’t like wearing my wetsuit, in fact I love my new Orca suit but it was the getting the thing off that worried me. However, following some advice on Twitter I had brought some baby oil, so slathered some Johnson & Johnson on my wrists and ankles and “slipped” my wetsuit on.
Heading into the water I tried to remain calm. I knew I could swim the distance but you hear so many stories of kicking, elbows, missing teeth! Eurgh! HOWEVER, whilst treading water waiting for the start, we were given an informative and funny race briefing by a hugely enthusiastic race marshal and it seriously helped calm my nerves. A HUGE thank you to that man. When the air horn went it was busy, I did have to be careful initially of people around me but then whilst singing “under the sea” thanks to some twitter chat earlier on I just swam, kept spotting the orange blobs otherwise known as buoys and tried to forget about the people around me. Compared to the manic splashing about in the Henley indoor section this was actually quite calm. The weeds and other things did create some little “moments” but generally it felt amazing to be swimming outdoors, warm and well, happy and apparently it showed as I clocked my fastest 400m swim yet!
By this point it’s worth mentioning that the rain was really coming down and the clouds were getting darker and darker.
I slipped my wetsuit off no problem – THANK YOU BABY OIL – but trying to dry my feet whilst it was chucking it down became a bit of a problem! So I talc’ed as much as I could. inhaled some Soreen, grabbed my helmet and made my way over to the mount line. I knew I had taken longer than needed but hey – it’s practice. Over the mount like the 13 mile cycle started, and the rain came down even harder!
The cycle sees you do 4 laps around the lake, it’s tarmac, its unbroken, pretty flat and you have no cars to contend with. HOWEVER, the clouds were menacing, the headwind was real and the rain created a laugh or cry situation, it just didn’t stop, in fact it got heavier and heavier and heavier. But what was amazing were the supporters and marshals along the route. Regardless of the incredibly AWFUL weather the marshals were still out clapping, encouraging us on and the supporters were a plenty too, including my very own incredible one man support team who I saw every single loop and who managed to put a beaming smile on my face each time!
Coming to the end of the final lap I knew my trainers were filled with water and that the run was going to be interesting however I came over to the dismount line, hooked my bike up, scoffed more banana bread, waved at Paulie, then headed off for the run which would see us go up along the lake and back, twice.
Now usually I am not a fan of an out and backs but I absolutely, 100%, bloody loved every minute of this run. I LOVED it and it can be seen in every photo Mr. Paulie Roche took.
This run saw you join lots of other women all different ages, shapes and sizes running, encouraging each other on and just getting the race done. I saw lots of the women I started the swim with and one by one we high fived and spurred each other on :D! Regardless of the rain (yes it was still coming down and yes the sky was black) supporters were still dotted all along the out and back and were fabulous, just fabulous! At the end of the “out ” you do quick U-turn where three drenched marshals stood cheering and clapping – I thought it was impressive that they were still managing to be upbeat! Coming up to the finish line I pushed for a sprint finish as my legs felt, well great, I mean don’t get me wrong I was tired but I was just so happy!
Finishing my second triathlon, receiving my medal and seeing Paulie with that grin cemented the fact that I love this sport. Triathlon’s are scary, I mean really scary. They are hard, there are so many things to think about and they definitely bring out all the pre race nerves but they are incredible events that seem to bring together a wonderfully supportive crowd.
The Human Race Shock Absorber Challenge was a fantastic, well organised, well staffed event that could have only been made better if the rain hadn’t have been so consistent. I finished my race in 1hour32 and I could not be happier. I know that I have elements I need to work on and that is totally fine with me because I cannot wait to tackle these and see what can be achieved next year!!!!!
Thank you Human Race for offering the opportunity to take part in this event and thank you for making it such an incredible day.