Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#Bodymode30DayChallenge - Part 3

MADE IT! If you're wondering what this is all about, you should check out my posts for Part 1 and Part 2....

So it's the end of the 30 Day Challenge, hurrah. I've had what seems like every obstacle in the way of this challenge- injury, illness, holiday, trainer induced mat burn.... but I'm still standing (yeah, yeah, yeah!).

Day 21: Mondays in my office can be absolute mayhem, and this one sure was. At least it's a rest day. I quite liked the Daily Challenge prompt... 9 favourite ways to exercise with 9 days to go... this might have featured heavily...

Take me back.
Chloe <3 her Lexa

Day 22: 8 days to go, just over a week. Tuesday is always my 'back in the game day'. 1st run of the week, first work out of the week, back in rhythm and routine and today was ALL about upping my reps for my upper body challenge (in the absence of upping my weights). I suspect this is going to burn like a motherbitch tomorrow. Today's Daily Challenge prompt.... one word to see me through to the end. 

Perseverance

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Day 23: Running club, finally back to being fit enough to spend my Wednesday evening getting everyone through Fartlek relays. I also had an epic calorie fail and didn't eat enough- note to self, I will feel rubbish if I don't eat enough, which is neither big nor clever less than 2 weeks before a Marathon! The Daily Challenge prompt about delayed gratification was interesting read on the science of breaking habits. As humans we're wired to make connections based on giving in to what we want, but by holding off or doing something alternative, you can break habits and form new ones too. I've always been a 'right here, right now' kind of person so it's fascinating to read how that affects my habits, and goes a long way to explaining how going cold turkey on a vice can work out to be a very effective method of breaking a habit- a month without drinking has certainly cured my weeknight wine habit!

Day 24: AND MORE running club. It's always fun to show up and find there's lots of people for running club and to have a bit of fun with some of the people I've gotten to know. The upper body workout with more repetitions are producing a killer burn in my shoulders too! No commando bleep test for me either, although I used to kill this at school- almost always the last girl standing...

Day 25: When your trainer tries to kill you 2.0. More grazed elbows- the left side this time, so I have nicely matching mat burn on both elbows. I can't even bring myself to practise #highplanklowplank because it's so ridiculously hard. There are also the words which have no doubt sparked fear amongst all clients... new equipment... On a slightly more serious and less whinging note- bring on the heavier kettlebells, these upper body workouts might not be giving my serious visual results, but I'm definitely stronger for it, which is more important to me at the moment, especially having realised it's preventing the hypermobility I never realised I had in my joints. Joy. I skipped out on the daily challenge, I was too busy carb loading (drinking wine...) to celebrate my mum's birthday before she heads off for an envy inducing holiday.

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Friday night wine o'clock face...

Day 26: REST DAY! I was living for my rest day this week, I've been super tired and it's partly my own fault for not eating enough. No Daily Challenge Twerking for me, just more carbs ready for a race tomorrow.

Day 27: Awkward moment when you realise your smug little attempt at good pacing is utterly screwed by a brutal 4km uphill finish. Trail running and my dodgy ankles do not mix, the Oundle Magnificent 10 wasn't so magnificent to me and I was grateful to pull off my kit, have a shower and move on from the race. 55km of my challenge down and sometimes I think I'm getting worse at this running business rather than better.

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The Oundle not so Magnificent not quite 10km race.... 

Day 28: Monday Monday.... Can't quite believe we have a mere 2 days left of the challenge. Monday is, as ever my other rest day and much needed after a rough race yesterday and a beating from Jenna the Osteo this morning. The day 27 Daily Challenge prompt was all about goal setting and something the Grüppenührer has asked me to look at for my training sessions. Today has been a bit about concentrating on all the little things that I'd like to aim for, to see if I can come up with something good. There will be no more marathons after Sunday, so that's not up there, although I'd like to see an improvement on my 10km distance as that's been my favourite. I am desperate to be injury free because every time I have to stop doing something because a body part is giving up, my soul chips a little bit more.

Day 29: It feels kind of fitting that the day before the end of my challenge, is the first workout of the week. 4 sets of 16 repetitions for every upper body exercise complete, compared to 3 sets of 8 when I started! The Daily Challenge prompt- do something that scares you. Well, I've bitten the bullet and committed to PT for the next 2 months, in fact, right up to Christmas. Given the new tools of torture the master has up her sleeves, it became scary today!

Day 30: That's it. 30 days done and dusted. It's been awesome to have a reason to stick with a particular set of exercises and a regime. I'm enjoying the weights and strength side of things, which leaves me thinking I might be able to persuade Michelle to incorporate plenty more of it in forthcoming sessions. Because I was, in essence late to the party with joining the challenge, I don't have any before pictures or measurements- I'm a bit gutted as it would have been interesting to see if I'm imagining the new firmness of my biceps.... even if the bingo wings are still swinging a bit! Whilst not attributable directly to the 30 Day Challenge, I'm currently down a dress size in my jeans and several things I've worn lately are distinctly looser than they were last time I wore them. I will not be defined by a number on the scale, or even the number on the tape measure, I'm quite happy for you to judge me by the confidence that comes with wearing a dress & jacket that were the wrong side of snug 12 months ago, and being happy to look my reflection up and down in the mirror.

Had such a blast at #ascot yesterday and now I'm having full on Sunday blues after a week off.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Chloe Likes To Eat: Marathon Eating

One of the things I've had to work really hard on whilst running a lot of races and in particular in the lead up to the marathon, is nutrition. Eating enough has been as much a challenge as eating the right things and before I go any further with my post, a short disclaimer:

I am not a sports, nutrition or medical professional. All opinions are my own unless otherwise attributed.. I am sharing my personal experience and am not advocating or discouraging dietary, fitness or lifestyle changes or choices. You should ALWAYS seek advice from a relevant professional if you are making major changes to your diet & nutrition or levels of activity. 

One big conundrum whilst training has been balancing the need to maintain high energy levels to not feel like I'm washed up and dying on my arse after every run with wanting to lose some weight (I wrote about my body image issues earlier in the year in this post). Long story short, I couldn't have it all and the priority had to be making sure I was strong enough and well enough to run. This from the girl who had never heard of 'carb loading' 3 months ago!

If, after all my whinging, you're still thinking a marathon might be for you, get familiar with bananas, peanut butter, sweet potato and nuts. You know how protein seems to be all anyone ever talks about (aside from going paleo, but that's another whole rant...), get over that too. Protein IS an incredibly important part of the human diet- we need it especially after exercise to help us build and repair muscle, but did you know that we can't store excess protein very well? Excess protein is stored as fat and we need water to help breakdown protein so if you're already dehydrated, prepare to feel worse still! Carbs on the other hand, the enemy if you believe modern media, are an essential fuel for the human body and carbs can be stored as muscle glycogen which we burn when exercising- ie running a marathon.

So carbs... all the carbs. If you read my post about why I'm not going gluten free this year, you'll know I don't eat pre-prepared bread products. They make my digestion really very angry, so I had a head start. Wholegrains and unprocessed carbs are some of the healthiest ways to get that essential energy. Some of my favourite dishes for high energy eating have been:

This stuffed sweet potato...
(tomato sauce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, garlic, sriracha chilli sauce and feta)

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Butternut Squash curry with brown rice

And my preferred pre-race breakfast:
Peanut butter & Jam sandwich. Really!

Something else I learned through this process is that many of us do not eat enough fibre. The NHS recommend you should get through around 30g of fibre per day to help keep your digestive system healthy and help with satiety (feeling full) and avoiding cravings for things that might not be so great for you one way or another. You can only find fibre in foods that come from plants- no fibre in meat or fish, vegetables and fruit for the win! Some foods that you might find surprising for the high fibre content include: raspberries, blueberries, broccoli and avocado. Whilst getting enough fibre is important to keep everything moving properly digestion wise, it is for this very reason that I've taken to keeping my fibre intake well below the recommended 30g the day before long (over 1 hour) runs. Think about it, think about it.... yeah. Not a problem I care for....

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Goodbye sweet fruity goodness

And water. A bit like protein, everyone seems to bang on about drinking more water. And I guess, if you only drink a couple of glasses per day and/or you drink tea and/or coffee more than once a day, this is super important. But there is such a thing as drinking too much water. I know, right. This is the very first thing that was pointed out to me when I started to struggle with training in the warmer part of July. I was drinking between four and five litres of water per day. If you're not great on weights and measures that 16-20 glasses to the 8-10 recommended daily intake.

Water is super important for basically everything, but if you drink too much water you start to dilute your system for want of a better description. All those minerals and electrolytes you need like sodium and potassium are washed through your system and so it wasn't really surprising I felt like crap. I've weaned my way down to around the three litre mark. Less than that and I struggle with crippling thirst which leaves me binge drinking water in the afternoons. But I also supplement with an electrolyte drink each day- you buy sports ones, those little tabs that fizz in water (my favourite are Zero ones as they don't have added sugars and things) but the geared towards your immune system (Berocca or similar) also contain all the fabulous electrolytes, so don't feel like you suddenly have to spend your life waiting for a sale on the Wiggle website. TL;DR... If you drink lots of water, make sure you replace some of what you're washing out. Oh and see my little rant about protein, because a high protein diet will mean you need to drink loads too.

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MY kind of flavoured water... darling

To be perfectly honest, marathon eating- not just the days before the race or the race itself, but the weeks and weeks of training, has been a massive ball ache. In August I got quite down about needing to spend so much time thinking about, planning and eating food. And I like food. I had a huge period of adjustment because I started out eating not enough food all round, as well as not enough carbohydrate (by a substantial amount). To completely change how you view food is not easy. But it becomes the most difficult in the time before a race or event. Back in July I cycled the Rapha Women's 100 (I blogged about it HERE) and had my first ever experience of carb loading.

Carb loading basically does what it says on the tin- eat ALL the carbs for three days to load up your muscle glycogen ready to for asking your muscles to perform for a long time. Here's what they don't show you in the Pintrest posts showing cute littler runner girls and boys scoffing cake...

Yes, you get free reign to eat all the carbs, but for it to have it's desired effect and so you don't puke and/or have diarrhea in the first 1 hour of your event, kiss goodbye to protein- I cut my down to a third of usual intake when carb loading, because protein requires more energy to digest than carbs do. And fibre. See above, but I MISS fruit and vegetables when I'm carb loading because I get through maybe 1 portion of fresh. And fats. Step away from the nachos because fats can get your digestive system moving way too fast. Also, your carbs need to be quality. Whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, brown rice, all good. Refined white bread and pasta, take-out pizza, chips.... see you on the other side. Luckily for me, I can't and don't eat preprepared bread products so I tend not to miss too much, but there's nothing worse than craving a crisp golden chip when you know you can't have one!

So... More TL;DR if you're thinking of running a marathon, bear in mind that you'll need to make adjustments to your diet, you will very likely get sick of carbohydrates, and protein isn't the be all and end all that ridiculous adverts will try and make you think it is. Oh, and significant weight loss is difficult too, unless you want to feel worn out and crabby all the time.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

For The Journey: One Week To Go

So this is it. The last long run has been ran, the last physio appointment is tomorrow and the last training run is on Wednesday. The final countdown has begun, Race for Life Marathon ahoy.

Marathon race pack arrived this morning. As if the 14 mile run wasn't enough this weekend, it all just got very real!

I started this year unable to run a kilometre, let alone a mile. I also started the year with 3 healthy grandparents. When my grandfather- the 3rd of 4 grandparents, was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer in his jaw in May I was on a  s l o w l y  progressing couch to 5km programme because running was to be no more than a convenient way to keep fit whilst working away from home. And just like that, it became a challenge. A challenge to see how far I could push myself in a bid to try and further the cause of Cancer Research, because the surgery that means I still have my grandfather to send WhatsApp messages about wine to, it had only been performed a handful of times before, and it happens because research is pushing the treatment of cancer forward, not just the search for a cure.

Since my first race on 21st June (the Nike Women's 10km), I've run 55km in races- some of them a week or less apart from each other. In hindsight maybe I should have opted to run a half marathon this autumn, having never trained for a long distance before, and having no experience. just a shed load of injuries old and new to contend with along the way. But I' not asking people to sponsor me to stay in my comfort zone.

FTJ: Running updates

I often feel angry that people use charity and sponsorship as a means to do something- especially races both running and bike, that they want to do anyway and they are either too tight to pay the entry fees or didn't get through a ballot. This autumn I am running a marathon. I paid for my entry, like I did for every race I've run this year, and it's taken over my life for the last 16 weeks. I feel like I've spent most of my waking hours outside of my office running, thinking about running, eating or thinking about what to eat. I had a little cry a couple of weeks ago when I thought I might have seriously injured myself, and I'm panicking a bit that I've not trained as hard as I'd have liked since. I miss staying in bed as long as I want on Sundays because I have to find the hours to put in a long run. I miss being able to eat vegetables and fruit the day before a long run. I never thought I'd be saying this, but I'm so sick of carbs.

You might roll your eyes when you realise this is another person posting about running or marathons, and that's fine, but as I head into this final 7 days and I think hard about the reasons behind submitting my entry, I now understand that it's tough. If, like me, you're not an athlete, just a person trying to do something out of the ordinary, then this is life changing. All of a sudden you spend almost your entire weekend thinking about eating and running, planning for eating and running, and eating and running. I have laughed, cried and felt on top of the world through my training, and despite having such a strong reason to do this, I've still had moments where I've wondered why I'm subjecting myself to something that is so encompassing of my life.

In truth, I'm terrified and looking forward to being able to move on from this entire experience all at once. I'm not excited for a medal or finishing within a certain time, I'm just scared I won't make it across the line and I want my life back.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Chloe Likes To Eat: Breakfast In The Sky

I love London. I really love London. I especially love London when the city offers up opportunities that are full of amazing food in incredible places.

I remember seeing the Events In The Sky table dangling over Canary Wharf last year, and wondered what it was all about. Naturally I was way to slow to get a place at the table for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the two weeks chefs from some of London's best loved restaurants cooked and served their dishes 35 metres above one of the most iconic banking districts in the world. Luckily in 2015, I was all over the booking site as the 2015 dates and chefs went live back in July and scored breakfast for T and I last weekend.

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Meet Martin Morales. If you've not heard of him before, he is the founder of Ceviche restaurant in Soho and now Old Street as well. Oh and then there's Andina, his newest restaurant which incorporates a gallery of modern Peruvian art. In short, he's a busy guy wish some great food going on. I picked breakfast with Martin purely because it was the time of the two weeks the Events In The Sky table is hanging about (sorry), that I could fit in. It was only after I'd sorted out the booking, performed a small jig at my desk and sent an overexcited text to faceache that I started taking a look at what might be on the menu and what Mr Morales might bring to the table. 

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So, the A Team from Andina & Ceviche, a table dangled by crane 35 metres above the Southbank with views of Charing Cross, The Shard, St Paul's & the City and a miraculously clear and sunny warm day. I  spent most of the preceding week tweeting my excitement and most of our tube journey to Waterloo on Saturday morning exclaiming how cool it was going to be to eat things I'd never heard of, let alone tried before!

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Granola made from (amongst other things) Quinoa with 'yellow honey' made from the physalis fruits and yoghurt

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Refrescame- 'a sexier take on a fruit salad' in the words of the chef! Dragon fruit, mango, kiwi, star fruit, passion fruit, prickly pear (cactus) all marinated in a lemon based sauce, and a puree of super food lúcuma crème. 

Martin brought along the Exec chef from Andina, Vito and his head chef and they looked liked they were having an absolute blast and they had lots of goodies to send our way as well as lots of fabulous background on the food's provenance and benefits. The guys put huge effort into sourcing and creating dishes that include superfoods enjoyed in Peru with a particular focus on the Andes where Martin's grandmother comes from.

Did I mention that this was a FIVE course tasting menu- click for a link to the menu. The first 'course' was a smoothie made from some of the same superfoods mentioned above, followed by the granola and the fruit ceviche. Next round....

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Crisp pork belly slider in a chia seed steamed bun with a spicy pineapple salsa

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Posing 35m above London, T & I with the Shard behind us, Charing Cross from across the table

On our way to the welcome area for our breakfast flight, we discussed seating- would we have pre-allocated seats around the table? Would we get a view of The City or of Westminster? Which would be the best of the two? Well, no you don't get an allocation seat, you get strapped into whichever ones they direct you to at the time and as for the view, well the table isn't static. They turn the table (gently) every so often whilst you're up there so your view changes with regularity. It's surprising difficult to get pictures of the views, especially as an amateur, because you're strapped in quite tightly, for obvious reasons and therefore it's not as simple as reaching  or leaning. That doesn't make it any less incredible! 

So the final course... a patty of choco corn paste with chilli, chilli cured smoked salmon, a herb sauce and a poached Burford Brown egg. The reason the moving table is relevant... because I was in the shade when this course came out and my picture of it is shocking. That doesn't make it any less beautifully tasty, but it wasn't pretty in the shade.

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Getting ready to go up- the table and the seats, plating up on a teeny tiny pass on the ground and in the air

As someone who has worked in trade and supplies to hospitality, I know how tough it is to work both on full show- there's nowhere to hide or hide your mess in an open kitchen, as well as working in tight spaces. The team who got us up in the sky and the team getting the food out couldn't have been more welcoming. They seemed to be having as much fun as we were and were completely engaged in what was going on- thanks guys, you made the experience as much as the food.

Next on my hitlist is a trip to both Andina and Ceviche. Andina serves a high proportion of vegetarian and vegan food for anyone interested, for me it's a huge bonus given that I have friends and family who have various dietary needs. It's also pretty  impossible not to like the team behind Andina and their enthusiasm for food that is not what you could call the average in a city full of things we've all seen a few times before.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What I Wore: Black & Brogues

Black White Brogues

I bought this top after seeing it in a charity shop window recently. It was £3, and I thought it was going to look totally different on me. I still can't decide if I like it.

Black White Brogues 2

Black White Brogues
Top, Vero Moda via charity shop, denim leggings, New Look, brogues, Clarks (provided as a competition by Clarks)

I dug these brogues out from the back of my wardrobe- it's been so long since I wore them, that they were dusty- I'm hanging my head in shame here. I love the style and the pony skin leopard print bits, I always worry that they're going to cause blisters are they are quite stiff, but they never do. Happy days. 
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Sunday, September 20, 2015

#Bodymode30DayChallenge - Part 2

If you're reading this wondering what on earth is going on, back track to Part 1 right HERE!

So the 2nd set of 10 days has FLOWN past, September has been a busy month between races, injury, work and travel!

Day 11 -The aftermath of injury- full on multicoloured bruising and pain like no other. Fridays are usually a naff day for me in terms of eating well because there's work, travelling, and normally a PT session, so it's no surprise that I didn't manage the daily challenge which was a kickboxing themed youtube workout.

Day 12 - Saturday, oh sweet Saturday. A rest day for me, especially with a race this weekend and niggles and injury earlier in the week. No upper body workout for me, but I did walk several thousand steps at Westfield this afternoon. The daily challenge prompt was 10 to 1- you can read my post HERE

First race since July. Tentative because I'm having some residual problems with an injury from May. If I make it round that course, this will be 45% of my challenge raising money for @cr_uk

Day 13 - RACE DAY! First race since July, and it was pretty good. Had to take Run To The Beat a bit steadier than I'd have liked- see whining about injury above, but it was amazing to see how far I'd come in not finding a 10km distance that hard. The daily challenge was all about anchoring good feelings which seems appropriate for Run To The Beat. I crossed the line with my partner to the track below which is not only super important to us, but is a cracking sprint finish song.



Day 14 -Monday is my other religiously observed rest day- suffering surprisingly litter for my race and generally enjoying being back on track with both running and my nutrition after the epic fail getting into the challenge.

Day 15- HALF WAY KLAXON!
Suffering with my left leg a bit but back onto the upper body regime. I also remembered it's 3 weeks since I had a PT session which has meant no kettlebell lifting, so unless I want to flake out on Friday, time to get lifting. I'm also in that zone of considering a gym membership for the winter months as I do rather like a bit of weight training.

Day 16 - Wednesday is running club day which makes me happy. No participation for me this week thanks again to my left leg for that. It should have been my week to volunteer so I was looking forward to my role as chief cheerer and timekeeper- sadly rain stopped play thanks to pavement flooding!

The daily challenge prompt today was to pay it forward, something I don't see happening enough. For me, paying it forward is in part the volunteering element of running club, I want to be be a part of something that helps bring other people some joy through running and encourages people to get out there and make it happen.

FTJ: Running updates

Day 17 - Thursday has become a bit of a nemesis thanks to Osteo sessions to try and heal the left leg I keeping bitching about. Some serious poking, prodding and acupuncture going on, here's hoping it has the desire effect. Needless to say, the daily challenge fitness prompt didn't happen for me, that said I quite enjoyed my upper body weights- enough to do some extras!

Day 18 - Back to PT for the first time in 3 weeks between time off and injury, I suspect Michelle is trying to finish me off once and for all. Who set #highplanklowplank to the point where you end up with mat burn on your elbows. WHO DOES THAT?

Day 19 - Rest Days are pretty sacred, injury or otherwise. I seem to have fallen into the habit of traipsing about more than I'd like on Saturdays. The Daily Challenge prompt, 3 things I want to change in the next week....
1. More carbs
2. More sleep
3. More upper body reps in the absence of heavier weights

Day 20 - Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. My legs still  hurt from Friday, thanks Michelle! Long run is postponed (14 days pre-marathon, terrified is not the word) due to aforementioned leg stiffness. With the marathon so close, I've been putting off new goals. My catchphrase at the present moment seems to be 'when the marathon is done with....' So the Daily Challenge prompt, to set a new fitness goal for next week, it's all about maximising the final week of my upper body challenge. Bigger weights or more reps for every exercise and I want to try and get an extra session in, as a last push on the challenge.
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Friday, September 18, 2015

For The Journey: July & August Running Updates

I tried not to overload my blog with running posts this summer because as integral to my life as it has become, I always wanted there to be variety in my content. But before I could blink, July and August seem to have slipped through my fingers, despite being super busy hectic months.

July was a month of racing. I ran 2 10km and 1 5km Race For Life. I ran through rain, a heatwave and I also wrote this post after I got yelled/beeped at whilst running one too many times.

I was shattered after all the racing in July because I hadn't realised how much it takes out of you between being there early and the emotion of crossing the line. I was glad not to race a single time in August.


FTJ: Running updates

My marathon race pack came in August which was nothing less than terrifying because it was a nod to how close it was. I also bought a second pair of trainers after loving my first pair of Mizuno ones so much (you can read about them in my June Favourites post if you're interested) and realising that it's good to be able to rotate between pairs and not have to ferry them between work and home. It helped that they were heavily discounted in the sale!

I wrote a post about skincare for active women, my Skincare Saviours post was all about the products that have helped me keep my skin under control whilst getting hot and sweaty 5-6 times per week. Worth a read whatever kind of sports you're into and I'll be interested to see how my needs changes as the seasons do.

At the end of July I started working with a trainer and joined a running course which has now become a club. Having some help and input on both my running but also cross-training and nutrition made a world of difference. I struggled to get my head around training less and also body image as an active woman through these 2 months, and wrote about it in this post about how to reconcile feeling so good about exercise with my difficult relationship with the mirror.

The summer running really took it out of me, I've learned a lot about running and I realised very suddenly as the mileage increased on my long run quite how tough a whole marathon is going to be. I came to understand at the end of August that my 100km challenge might not be as easily doable as I first thought and that in itself was a little terrifying.

If you're reading this wondering why I'm banging on about running and marathons and challenges, please jump on over the my JustGiving Page. I am running 100km to raise a target of £1000 for Cancer Research after a 3rd of my 4 grandparents was diagnosed with cancer this year.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

10 to 1

Another #bodymode30daychallenge prompt that I rather liked- if you want to read more about the challenge, I wrote this post about it here

1. How you will spend 10 minutes by yourself today
Stretching- it's helping with my left leg which is pretending to have problems 3 weeks before a marathon...

2. Nine things you like about yourself

I'm driven, I'm also competitive, I'm an all or nothing person so you'll always get my 110% effort I'm doing something, I'm a problem solver- totally hooked on codeword puzzles at present, I have great natural shape to my eyebrows AND I've never messed with that, I'm also pretty fond of my natural hair colour, I can cook (I like to feed people) and I can still (just about) make a dress from start to finish including drafting the pattern

3. Eight ways to win your heart

Bring me food, bring me wine, bring me small batch vodka, pay someone a sincere compliment- you'll never know how much of a difference it can make, never ever bring me flowers because they'll make me sneeze, change the bed for me because it's my most hated household job, sponsor my 100km challenge raising £1000 for Cancer Research

Friday- thanks to @distillingine3 and @fevertreemixers

4. Seven things that cross your mind a lot

What's in the fridge to cook with, what's for lunch, what's for dinner, what's for dinner tomorrow, what's the weather like for running, when can I ride my bike next

5. Six things you'd like to do in the next week
Ride my bike, get my left leg fixed, take awesome pictures from my Breakfast in the Sky event, book a haircut, paint my nails, find my crochet hooks

6. Five people who inspire you 

My best friend, Dev- for his mastery of language and ability to laugh things off
Victoria Coren Mitchell- breaking the mould and always having something intelligent to contribute
Jessica Ennis-Hill- possibly the most remarkable achievements in a sporting return
Hannah Barnes- an incredible female cycling talent
Soph of Pretty Fit- for all round being better

7. Four things that you love doing

Riding my bike, eating, cooking, binge watching whichever series I'm currently hooked on (The Good Wife),


Take me back.

8. Three things you fear
Failing, falling, Marathon Day

9. Two images that describe your life right now


PicMonkey Collage


10. One Confession

I'm not sure I can do this

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

#Bodymode30DayChallenge - Part 1

You might have noticed me mentioning the #bodymode30daychallenge on social media or in my last post about being polite and kind to yourself. To explain, the trainer I work with has opened up a challenge to all her assorted fitness and nutrition clients (that's people training for weight loss, sports, health and all kinds of things). For the 30 days of September we've picked something we'd like to improve on (all about upper body strength for me as I don't want to mess with my running or nutrition this close to the marathon) and there's a daily challenge thrown into the mix- everything from a sit-up test to eating more fibre to giving up excuses, blame and expectations.

It's been.... a learning curve for me, not least because the first week of the challenge fell on a week where I was at home and off work all week, it would be fair to say that I didn't cope well with a mix up of all my usual routines. So here's a round up of the first section of September, challenge-wise

Day 1: Post bank holiday I realised I hadn't really taken a proper rest day and my legs were pissy about it, I'd eaten really badly all weekend and felt slow for it and I was pretty grateful to be back on message. I did my pathetic push-ups- seriously, I'm so damn weak in my upper body, the daily challenge to take a break went down well- I took time to remember why I love where I live whilst making lists (the ultimate comfort when trying to get back on track...)

#bodymode30daychallenge I hear so many people say how noisy and dirty and busy London is. I hear my neighbours kids bickering about letting the youngest one join in. I hear a car alarm. I hear singing from the church at the end of the road. I hear the sou

Day 2 & 3: Went desperately wrong. I didn't manage the step test, didn't get through my assorted upper body training, didn't run and didn't eat well. I felt rough and it turned out to be an infection. Felt liked I'd failed before I even started, a theme that ran through the rest of the week. 

Day 4: Still not really up for training and still struggling to eat all that well, the daily challenge was to eat more fibre, so I spent some time working out how I was doing on that front in a more normal week (not bad) and how to do better- gotta love broccoli- no, really, I do. 

Day 5: Feeling a bit more back to normal, today was a write off. T & I had tickets for Ascot c/o T's employer. The only sitting up I did, contrary to the daily challenge was watching in disbelief as my 12:1 bet came in as a winner. Although I didn't realise it at the time, getting dressed up and having a good time set me up well for a few of the next challenges and made me feel a whole lot better about myself. 

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Ascot Face

Day 6: Sunday. A bit of a reset button, rather than worry too much about what had gone so wrong the week before, I got ready to go back to work, treated myself to something I've craved with regularity later (Fruit Pastilles btw. Especially the yellow and orange ones) and started planning for the week coming. 

Day 7: And I'm back in the game! Monday is my training rest day, and so I stuck with it, spent some time focussing on catching up with work and the daily challenge- the prompt to give up the past was a good one for me. I think it's important to learn the lessons our past can teach us, but they and it do not define us and there's a difference between learning from your mistakes and letting go. This is true for lots of personal reasons, but it also reminded me not to dwell too hard on week one of the challenge- I'm a competitive person and I don't like to fail, but there's a time and a place to accept that something didn't work out and move on. 

Grey & Sneaks
Don't look back in anger, I heard you say... 

Day 8: If I felt like I was back in the game on Monday, Tuesday was an ultimate reminder that missing a week of training won't kill you. When there's a big goal, I find it easy to stress about the missed sessions but I ran, I lifted, I ate well and I felt good for it. I also wrote this post on being kind and polite to yourself in response to the daily challenge prompt- long story short- how you treat yourself sets two precedents: how other treat you and how others expect to be treated by you. 

Day 9: I had an eek moment realising how easy it is to get through 1/3 of a month without even noticing it seems. It certainly explains how I blinked and missed July and August! I'm relishing being back in a routine. I am a creature of habit so being able to anticipate and plan and to know what's coming makes me happy. It's also back to running club tonight. Working and living in an area for part of the week where I don't really know anyone made me realise how much I'm looking forward to seeing a group of people who are friendly, welcoming and encouraging- the running bit is kind of a bonus because the environment around it is such a great thing to be involved in. Today's daily challenge, the celebrate yourself. On of the reasons yesterday's prompt struck such a chord with me is because I'm very critical and I expect far more of myself than I ever would anyone else. Celebrating my own successes, achievements or qualities doesn't come naturally, so here goes...

I am a competitive person. I like to feel that I do things well and I like to win. I believe competition is healthy when approached properly. Competition is way of celebrating achievement, and achievement is only diminished those who aim to win at the cost of all else. Competition allows you to support and encourage those around you and can give a sense of focus and purpose. I am proud to be a competitive person. I am happy to celebrate being a competitive person.


I'm tired. My knee hurts. My hip hurts. But my @hellyhansen trainers match my nails and it's still all about these epic tights. #thisgirlcan
Because winning at matching your nails to your running kit is a thing right?

Day 10: After a pretty disastrous first session back to running club, it's back to the osteo today. Minor panic started to set in pre-appointment because 3 weeks before a marathon is a scary time to be getting injured. Luckily it's nothing serious- hurrah! Didn't stop the really very lovely Jenna from digging her evil little fingers into my calf muscles and jabbing me with acupuncture needles.

So 10 days in, 1/3 of the challenge complete and I still feel a bit like I failed before I even started. Having week one fall over a week of work and struggling with injury has really hindered a solid start. It's been a reminder that I don't like to fail and that, at times, I probably expect too much of a body I haven't looked after as well as I should have done in the early half of my twenties.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

On Being Polite & Kind To Yourself

My trainer is currently running a 30 Day challenge- it's multi-faceted with a choice of fitness and better eating challenges (I'm working on getting some upper body strength) and a daily health, fitness or wellness challenge- #bodymode30daychallenge So far there's been everything from a sit-up test (I used to be pretty hot at the bleep test, not so much these days...), to giving up on excuses, blame and expectations. Today's prompt was to start something new, and being polite to yourself struck a chord with me.

"Start being more polite to yourself. – If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must love who you are or no one else will."

In recent months I've labelled myself with names like lazy and fat. I stopped wearing clothes I liked because I wasn't happy with what I saw in the mirror. I stopped bothering with my hair or putting on make-up, because I wondered why I should even bother. I told myself that whatever I was challenging myself to do, it wasn't enough because there are other people out there doing more, better.

The problem with treating yourself like that, is that it reflects on other people in 2 ways. The first is It is true that if you do not love and respect yourself, you are not setting a standard as to how others treat you but just as importantly, you are setting a standard as to how other people can expect to be treated by you.

If you cannot celebrate your own achievements or choose to diminish them, I cannot share mine with you, because you may dismiss or diminish them. If you think you are lazy, might you be thinking I am too? If you think it's not worth the bother of enjoying your own appearance, do you think my enjoyment of this beautiful dress or curling my hair is frivolous?

Off on a road trip.
To you it's jeans and a jumper. To me it was smiling at the reflection and feeling confident that I looked as happy as I felt.

Lots of things have helped me to find some of the old Chloe- the one who likes to socialise, drives dodgems with reckless abandon and is excited by lipstick, and one of them has been taking some guidance on my training and exercise. Having a friendly and supportive voice to remind you that you are making progress, that you have tangible achievements to reach for helped to blow away the nagging voice that tells me, I am not good enough. Another major turnaround has been the prospect of helping other people- being involved in a project that helps people to find the joy in exercise and sport is hugely important to me, I wouldn't want any of my own negativity to be projected into an environment that is about encouragement, support and the celebration of achievement.

Being kind to yourself, and polite to yourself when you expect more from yourself than you ever would another person is a difficult habit to form. I am taking time each day to reflect on positive outcomes rather than failings- the solutions found rather than the problems encountered, the achievements rather than the setbacks and goals rather than the results.

Being kind to myself and using the kind of language I would use for others has reminded me that I am a lot of things....

kindness collage

I am a girl who looks good in lipstick, a girl who rides and who runs, I am a competitive person and I like to win, I am good at my job and that is important to me.

I am not setting a goal or a challenge, but I am committed to being kinder and more polite to myself because I like feeling confident again, feeling worthy and enjoying my successes.

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Snoozing Lions, Sleeping Tigers & 1000 Smiles Per Hour

It's been tradition in the 5 years we've been together that T & I go off and do things on the August Bank Holiday. It's almost always involved the M6 and getting stuck in Creamfield traffic but this year it was time to ring the changes. Two day trips in one weekend, it's a good job I have had the rest of the week off.


Snoozing Lion


Sleeping Tigers

T took me to Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire, it's the home to the largest collection of big cats in the UK- these beautiful creatures were amongst them, as well as the most stunning snow leopard, a jaguar, leopards, as well as a number of non-feline creatures. I loved it.

On Sunday we had a bit of a spur of the moment trip with friends to Margate. The seafront was a bit rundown but we were more interested in checking out Dreamland- an old school amusement park that has been rejuvenated.

🎶she's got a ticket to ride🎶

Had such a fun day in Margate today. Meanwhile back in north London some guy is so drunk he just fell off his bike at a major road junction. #sigh

Loved the branding and imagery...

Been to the seaside, caused chaos on the dodgems and bought a stick of rock not a bad bank holiday Sunday. #margate

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And all the old school influences like this Helter Skelter. A few of the rides were still not ready to open so there's a little more style than substance to the whole thing, but we had a great day chasing each other on the dodgems and feeding 2p slot machines!

This weekend I'm off to Ascot, the swish bit because T got some freebie tickets from work- no rest for the wicked!
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Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Favourites: 6 Things I Loved in August

Another month has rolled around. Whilst in a lot of sectors July and August are quiet months, they're some of our biggest and busiest and so sometimes, you blink and it's autumn. Damn well feels like that with the chill in the North London breeze today!

August Favourites FL

When I look at this month's favourites, I see that August was a month that I regained a lot of confidence- this might seem at odds with posts like Fighting Fat where I talked about the struggle of feeling fat, but sometimes you have to understand what's wrong before you can fix it. August has been a month where I began to enjoy fashion and make-up again,  and remembered that I'm a person who likes to have fun. 

Revlon Lipsticks August Favourites

Single handedly keeping Revlon in business... I have recently discovered the darker spectrum of lip colours and the Colour Burst balm/stain is great for an on the go top up of one of my favourites (Topshop Beguilded). The 2 Ultra HD shades were on offer (2 for £10 in Boots) and the red is a perfect brick red colour. The snag with the Ultra HD ones is the size of the bullet, it's really clumsy, especially for those like me who lack experience with lipsticks and bolder colours.

The denim slightly shimmery sparkly converse were a sale purchase- in 18 months I've gone from not owning a single pair of sneakers, to living in my 3 pairs of Dainty style converse. These ones are lovely for a touch of freshness to the darker reds of my autumn wardrobe.

I won my running club's pacing competition in August and put the voucher prize towards this Garmin Forerunner with heart rate monitor. I'm set to be more involved with the running club and heart rate/pacing training will hopefully help with the final stages of marathon training too. I'm a bit in love with the green colour too!

Garmin Forerunner

And last but not least, the cult product, Beach Blonde sea salt spray. A re-release by John Frieda, I picked it up on offer (are you sensing a theme?!) because my new shorter hair needs a bit more texture to it. This stuff does the trick really rather nicely, so although I don't remember it from the first time around, I'll hold my hand up and say I'm happy it's been set back on our shelves.

What did you love in August? And hit me with lipsticks I need to try this autumn/winter- I'm a girl obsession.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What I Wore: Green & Black

Black & Green 3

I quite like the early stages of Autumn when the temperature starts to dip a little and I get a valid excuse to add to my collection of knitwear. I'm a fan of a lightweight knit for this time of year and this H&M £13 special is perfection. It also has the added bonus of coming in a whole variety of colours. Hurrah.

Black & Green 2

H&M Jumper available HERE, Denim Leggings ancient from New Look, Shoes last year from Clarks

Green & Black

Gotta love a bit of resting bitchface.
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