Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Running: The Best and Worst Thing That Has Ever Happened To Me

We hear a lot about the wonders of exercise, there's always a new class to try, a new study to tell us why interval training is so good for us, accounts of octogenarians running marathons in record times and a few people like me who use the internet to witter on about their experiences. But there's a bit of a lack of honesty going on- yes we've all seen the BuzzFeed-esque lists of things people with exercise don't tell you and why injuries are the worst thing ever, but exercise isn't just about the physicality, sometimes it's also about how it makes you feel. To that end, running is both the best and the worst thing that has ever happened to me.


Running is not the very first thing that got me active. Those who have known me for a few years may remember that I religiously used to cycle to research job when I was based in a Docklands office in East London. I rode about 20km for my daily round trip through rain, wind, mist and ice and I loved it. Even on the days I used to spend half of my morning bitching about my cold feet. After leaving my job to embark on new business projects and the management of my family business, cycling to work became redundant, if I'm not working from home, I'm at work about 80 miles away which is not conducive to hopping on my beloved bike for a quick 20 minute weave through traffic. I turned to running in very late 2014 as an easier way to exercise regularly because I (very naively thought) all I needed were some trainers.

Today is #globalrunningday ... It's taken time for me to learn to love running but one of the many things I do now love is that running is for everyone. All ages and genders and sizes and shapes and goals. Running is for people who like to match their nai

Cannot believe this is six months ago. 2015, the year I ran a bloody marathon. #neversaynever #thisgirlcan #cruk

Fast forward 2 years and I've run a marathon, I train (running and strength/conditioning) 4-5 times per week, I run 10km in under an hour and I have running kit for every conceivable weather condition duplicated at home and at my base for when I'm working away. Hardcore. I'm fitter than I was 10 years ago when I dabbled with running as a teenager, I'm stronger than I've ever been, muscles you can actually feel and I'm a healthy weight and size for my height, gender and age. So far, so good, right? Doesn't sound so awful.

I've read before that to keep running beyond achieving a short term goal, for it to become something you choose to do, for a hobby or regularly, it takes a certain amount of motivation and drive to achieve that is often associated with so-called 'Type A' personalities or 'Red' personalities. To keep pushing yourself in any sport requires drive, but running, with all it's quirks and foibles does seem to require a special kind of  bloody mindedness and self punishment. The kind of belief that means you feel you've failed yourself if you don't make it out for the fourth day in a row because you feel under the weather, even though it would do more harm than good. The kind of 'drive' that leaves you fully expecting yourself to run a 10km as quickly as you did last month despite being advised it's likely that you have a stress fracture. The kind of bloody mindedness that enables a person to punish themselves when they don't think they have put enough effort into a run or a race. The kind of crazy that leaves you wondering if you can't bring your particular time to a particular level if you're just not a good person.

12 months ago to the day- 04-10-15 I ran a marathon. 9 months ago I realised how much being active had changed my body when I did this 1 year compare, 6 months ago I CHOSE to go out running for joy on the other side of the world and today, today I have my

Running is the best and the worst thing that has ever happened to me because those are a handful of the thoughts that go through my head before, during and after running, training and racing. Sometimes I come back from a run feeling empowered and uplifted- I can take over the world, I am powerful, I am strong, look at what I have achieved. But sometimes running (and sport/fitness as a whole from time to time) sends me into an unpleasant spiral of self doubt and self loathing. Is it healthy? I don't know. All I know from my own is experience is that the best way to deal with it choose to run with and surround myself with people who run because the love their bodies and the strength that sports and exercise gives them, to surround myself with people who take joy in celebrating not just their own successes but everyone's and those who make a positive choice to lift others up rather than to put them down.

Running is the best and the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

Really rough 10km yesterday, it all went a bit wrong between hyponatraemia & humidity. These are my awesome #teambrc chums who all ran excellent races despite tough terrain and humidity.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chloe Likes To Eat: 3 More Working Lunches

Back in June I put together a post with 5 of my favourite work day lunches- click if you missed it. Seems you liked my cauliflower fritter bowls and stuffed aubergines because it's one of my most heavily view food posts this year. So I'm back with three more lunch ideas- a bright and colourful pick me, a big bowl of comfort and one that's as good warm as it is cold in case you can't heat your lunch. Oh, and all three of these lunches have vegan bases, all meat, fish & animal products are optional extras.

1. The colourful pick-me-up... Asian Salad

Asian inspired salad with prawns, avocado & toasted seeds. A bit in love with all tamarind everything at the moment.
Asian Inspired salad- created after a craving for the Vietnamese Nem Bo dish hit

I mentioned this Asian inspired salad in my recent post about building the perfect salad- again, click if you missed it... IT's bright and cheerful, slightly sour and fresh all at the same time. Basic recipe below- proteins & extras are your own choice, as you can see this one has prawns added as well as avocado & toasted seeds to get my fats in.

Shred vegetables- I used red cabbage, cucumber, radishes, carrot and half an apple. Use a grater or a spiraliser, I threw it into my Thermomix on speed 5 for 5 seconds.

Add the veg to a bowl and pour over a mixture of the following:
1 tbsp white wine or rice wine vinegar
Squeeze (teaspoon ish) honey
1/2 tsp tamarind paste
dash of soy sauce
dash of sesame oil

The volume of veg you shred will determine the number of servings but using a quarter of a cabbage, 1 carrot, half an apple, half a standard cucumber and a handful of radishes gave me 3 very large portions. Store in the fridge, but can be eaten at room temperature.

3. Comfort in a bowl... Thai Green curry & coconut daal

Comfort food lunch right here: coconut milk & lentil daal with spinach & prawns mixed through, topped off with toasted seeds and sriracha.
Daal topped with toasted seeds and prawns mixed through. Not forgetting a dash of sriracha

This is so not the most photogenic of dishes, but it's warm, comforting and the perfect antidote to a dark, wet & windy afternoon.

I recommend using a non-stick pan for this:
Heat 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil or sesame oil
Add 2 tbsp of preferred green curry paste (red would also work if preferred)
Once bubbling, add 180g of red lentils, mix to coat the lentils
Add 1 400ml tin of coconut milk (if you're using low fat coconut milk, the next stage will be down to judgement on consistency)
Fill the empty tin with water, and as the daal starts to simmer, add the water bit by bit, stirring in between. I used about 3/4 of the water to get mine to the desired consistency with full fat coconut milk- the whole cook time is around 30 mins
Taste for seasoning- may benefit from a dash of salt or soy sauce.

To serve, mix spinach leave through before heating, I also like to add leftover roast chicken or prawns and top with toasted seeds for crunch. The above yields 3 substantial portions.

3. The one that's awesome hot or cold... Burrito Bowls

A very greedy burrito bowl for me: mixed bean chilli style sauce, spinach, quinoa, avocado, feta & crispy onions. All that's missing is a beer, but it is a school night. #burritobowl #monday #lblogger #foodblogger #balanced
Very greedy but oh so good with chicken, feta, quinoa, avocado, salad & crispy onions

Burrito bowls have been done time and again, and there are some great recipes out there for different chilli style mixes to go with them- mine changes every time I make it...

For the mixed bean chilli:

To a slow cooker add:
1 tin mixed beans (often called mixed bean salad)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 small tin sweetcorn
generous dollop tomato puree
smoked paprika & cumin to taste- start with 1 tsp each
Splash or sriracha or chilli powder
3 cloves garlic crushed
Cook on low for 4-6 hours until the sauce has thickened.

To build your bowl:
Grains of choice- I had leftover quinoa, so that's mine
Shredded lettuce
Avocado or guacamole
Cheese of choice- I like feta for sharpness
This was a greedy bowl so I added some left over roast chicken as well...
Squeeze of lime & even more greedy, crispy onions

Feeling the chill? Take your chilli & grains separately to your salad, and warm through gently first. If you're taking this to an office, a sectioned box or bento box is really useful for the different elements, otherwise consider having a few smaller storage tubs so you can build your bowl at the time of eating.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

5 Awesome Things About Not Getting A London Marathon Place

After running a marathon in 2015, I did say I wouldn't do another. And yet somehow in May, I couldn't resist throwing my name into the London Marathon ballot. Places are hugely oversubscribed for a reason- it's an incredible event, and given I now know I am capable of a marathon, I'm tempted, just not tempted enough to fight for a place. But when I got my 'no' email (I haven't been home for a couple of weeks, so there's probably the requisite magazine waiting for me there too), I was pretty relieved. Marathon training is intense, it takes over your life and it requires (at least it did for me) a great deal of sacrifice in order to have time to train. So here's five reasons to be glad if you too are feeling rejected...

1. Did someone say... wine?

For a lot of people getting their weekly increasingly long 'long run' in means an early start or giving up an entire weekend day. That can mean having to put down the wine glass that's basically mandatory with a pizza in my house. And that's no fun at all. Enjoy your autumnal evening pizza with as much Primitivo as you like now you know you won't have to 18 miles at 7am on Sunday....

It's the weekend. I'm full of grim cold-cough sickness so obviously it's all about pizza and primitivo 

2. These... 

Clarks Hamble Oak Brogues shoes

Instead of these...

Joy is shiny new @mizunorunning trainers ready for hill training and more this week. #girlswhorun #thisgirlcan

Because new running shoes are great and everything, but you can buy a lot of fun shoes for the same price. I ran about 350 miles training for my marathon and new running shoes are recommend every 300-500 miles....

3. Loads more of this too...

This week I am especially proud to be a girl who rides. The entire female Great British Olympic delegation inspire me to work harder, ride longer push further and feel even more joy! #girlswhoride #girlswhorun #fitchicks #fitnessblogger #lbloggers #cyclin

Because have you ever tried fitting a 100km bike ride into a week where you also have to run 15 miles?

4. When a sandwich goes back to being a meal and not a snack...

I seriously don't think I've ever had to eat as much as I did when marathon training and it's tedious. Eating the balance of carbohydrates and protein around training runs requires planning and after a while it's easy to feel like all you're doing is running, eating or thinking about running or eating.

5. Running for actual joy

I ran a marathon and nobody can take that away from me, but I also lost a little bit of joy along the way. Yes I pushed my body above and beyond, yes I achieved something, but a casual 5 miles on a sunny day, because that's something I can do and something I want to do, that's amazing too. And there isn't often time for that in a marathon plan.

Mega sweaty 5 miles back to the house after a mega sweaty First ever ParkRun this morning. #runningblogger #parkrun #teambrc


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo Unifiant

*This product was kindly sent to me for consideration. I have not been otherwise compensated to feature this product. All words, pictures & opinions are my own* 

I've been using the somewhat cult product Effaclar Duo from La Roche Posay for a couple of years, it's by far the best solution I've found in place of a moisturiser for my very troublesome skin. It doesn't cause my skin to break out, it is easy to get hold of, not hideously expensive and is a targeted product for my skin type. I've not been in a hurry to stop using it and naturally a new variant on it was of interest to me.


Effaclar Duo Unifiant is the same Effaclar Duo that we know and love with an added subtly hint to help even skin tone. It comes in 'light' and 'medium' and my first thought was an instant compare to more standard BB creams, but far, far more targeted and therefore something useful for days when I don't want or need to wear make-up but want to even things out a bit.


Colour wise, I was sent the light variant. It's a bit fair for me, especially at the back end of the summer and early autumn as I hold my colour from spending time outdoors, but I suspect the light colour may be a little dark for some of you who are very traditionally fair. 


In terms of coverage, this really is a very subtle tint, it does help to even the skin tone a little, but if you're suffering a major breakout and hoping to blur it out, you're probably setting the bar a little high for your expectations. I'd suggest it might also make a good primer for a light coverage foundation (especially if you use a mineral or powder foundation as I do) to increase the coverage you'll get. 

So far, so good. But... Then...

Unfortunately, along came the breakouts. I'd been using Unifiant during a particularly difficult period of time, and initially thought the beginnings of one of the worst breakouts I've experiences in 5 years was down to stress, a big factor in how well my skin is (or isn't as the case may be). But, as is a habitual process for me, I did have a quick review of my skincare and make-up to make sure there's nothing new or different that might need eliminating, just in case. Removal of the unifiant from my routine has provided instant relief, and the disaster spots that had appeared are finally starting to heal.

I have especially reactive skin- something as simple as a change in shampoo/conditioner can cause breakouts, and changing my skincare is not something I do without vast amounts of research and consideration to minimise the risk of weeks of bad skin. This might sound extreme, but I have had everything from prescription topical lotions to Roaccutane treatment for acne on my face and my body, whilst some of those treatments have helped a little, my skin is still a major drain on my confidence. For those who have more moderate and straightforward skin 'imperfections' Unifiant may be just the thing to help you, and a great addition to your bathroom cabinet, sadly for me, it's a no-go.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo Unifiant is available from £11-16.50.



Saturday, October 8, 2016

Autumn Goals

A summer of disruption both business and personal has left me entering October and the late part of the year with a need to feel like I have achieved something or moved forwards in some way shape or form. I'm quite a rigid person when it comes to plans and routines- I find changes to plans and routines quite stressful and setting some goals feels like a logical step to help me feel back in control of my life. So without further ado....

1. Bring my 10km time back under 1 hour

Back in May I set my 10km PB at 55:46 having hoped very tentatively to run just under 60 mins. I raced a couple of weeks ago and not only did I set my worst time in 9 months, but I felt horrendous too. I'm signed up for an awesome looking winter 10k series across Greenwich, Regents and Hyde Parks and I'm back to a training plan with the goal of getting back under an hour before the year ends.

Loud new trainers because my other ones were giving me blisters. Winceworthy price tag, but worth it it helps.

2. Wardrobe Clearance

I'm on a mission to rid my wardrobe of clothes that don't fit. I've dropped a couple of dress sizes in 2016, and wearing things that are 2 sizes too big, just because they are what's in the wardrobe doesn't do wonders for my confidence. I'm slowly but surely wearing and binning things that don't fit, and I'd like to see that process complete by Christmas- be gone voluminous shirts and falling down jeans.

3. Weekday MyFitnessPal logging

I've noticed that since I stopped logging my weekday meals, I'm definitely not eating enough, and I'm suffering for it. For me, logging my meals helps me remember to add the extras in that make up both the calorie count, but also the balance in my diet. I've talked about what I eat before, if you're feeling voyeuristic... What I Eat In A Day HERE

Asian inspired salad with prawns, avocado & toasted seeds. A bit in love with all tamarind everything at the moment.

So... I've hit up my faithful diary to help me plan and get organised, I'm back to working with a PT on a strength training program and to manage my running, I have real, live, working internet in all locations, there's really no excuse to not log in and I've set up the longest list of reminders on my phone to make sure I stay on top of things. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Chloe Likes To Eat: How To Build The Perfect Salad

I like 'salad'. Although it has been pointed out by pretty much any who has seen my *ahem* expansive lunch time salad bowls and boxes that salad is a fairly inadequate description. My bad. So if you think salad is boring, or it can only be exciting if you buy a super expensive pre-made one from a to-go chain, here's some inspiration for building the perfect salad.

Thank you @ikeauk for making the most perfect lunch boxes for #aldesko days! #joyofstorage #workinglunch #salad
Al desko salad at it's very best- both boxes came from Ikea, the segmented one is genius, and they were still in store a couple of weeks ago. 

1. The Leaf

Iceberg, romaine, spinach, watercress, lambs leaf, rocket, kale, oak leaf, radicchio, endive...

There are lots of different types of lettuce, find some you like- mix them up, buy seasonal mixes or grow your own- salad leaves are very easy to grow, and the grow quickly (3 weeks, ish). If you're already bored of lettuce before you start, then you're not really in the right frame of mind to enjoy this...

2. The Vegetables

Depending on the continent I'm inspired by, the vegetable element to my salad changes, but the cool thing is that you can make up a bowl full of something with some awesome flavours and mix and match with other components so you don't have to eat the same thing every single day. Some vegetables really lend themselves to warm salads as well, perfect as the weather starts to turn.

  • Peppers, onions, courgettes & tomatoes roasted in harissa paste 
  • Shredded cabbage, apple & carrot mixed with a drop of sesame oil & a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar and a tiny splash of soy sauce for seasoning
  • Carrots roasted with ginger, soy & a touch of curry powder
  • Chopped tomatoes mixed with a chopped avocado, salt, lemon juice, a splash of sriracha sauce/hot sauce and for an added treat, slice the corn of griddled corn cobs
  • Tomatoes and aubergines roasted with garlic cloves, basil, and salt & pepper to taste
Made a Vietnam inspired salad but damn it's ugly on the plate once it has the all important tamarind & soy dressing on it. Raw red cabbage, carrots, cucumber & apple plus soy, tamarind, sriracha & sesame oil to dress.
Asian salad coming together

3. The Protein

I eat quite a lot of protein- a moderate to low carb & higher protein diet is the sweet spot balance that works for me, but no matter your thoughts on different types of diet/ lifestyle, proteins add awesomeness to a salad and are an essential nutrient that we all need regardless of proportion. Here are some of my favourites, apologies to any vegans as you are not well catered for in this section, not because there aren't lots of great sources of vegan protein, but purely because I don't follow a vegan diet and therefore it's not something I'm well educated on...

  • Chicken or turkey marinated in 1 teaspoon soy, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon grated ginger/ginger paste, 1 generous teaspoon peanut butter
  • Eggs- crack 2 eggs (per serving you want to make) into a bowl and beat, add salt, pepper, a pinch of paprika and a sprinkle of cheese- grated cheddar is nice or crumbled feta. Add the whole lot to a frying pan with a metal handle, cook on high heat on the hob until the edges start to cook, the place in a hot oven for 10-15 mins until whole pan is cooked to your liking. You could also add any leftover meat or fish from a previous meal (we often add leftover roasted chicken to this with a pinch of paprika or a shake of garlic powder)
  • Prawns mixed with lemon juice and half a teaspoon of tom yum paste
  • A tin of tuna mixed with the avocado 'mayo' (blend ripe avocado with a natural yoghurt, salt, a splash of white wine vinegar)
  • A couple of simple boiled eggs to your taste- I like mine to be slightly soft in the middle. 

Lunch. Eaten in stages because phone calls and a zillion messages on the business phones. Can it be 1900 already please?! If what I eat intrigues you, I posted a 'what I eat in a day' blog last week. Search Chloe Likes To Eat or click link in bio. #workin
Can I get a hell yeah for the most perfect semi-soft boiled eggs? 

4. The Texture

A stereotype of salad is 'soggy', and aside the obvious dressing issue, not including varied texture in a dish makes it dull. Some of my favourite texture additions or switches are:

  • Toasted mixed seeds- both Aldi & Lidl do a great mix of sunflower, pumpkin & sesame that comes in 70g packs (otherwise known as not needing to eat the same thing for days)
  • Roasted Chickpeas- rinse and dry off a tin of chickpeas, coat lightly in olive oil, salt & any other spices you fancy, roast for 20-30 mins. Allow to cool completely before storing or they go soggy
  • Shredded raw cabbage and carrot make a great crunch, especially with Asian flavours
5. The Dressing

It seems as though dressing is the scourge of the earth sometimes, and it could be sabotaging a balanced diet if it's high in sugar, artificial fats or sweeteners. As ever, it's about what's in it. A great dressing can completely change a salad, these ones are my favourite and are easy to make or find: 

  • SE Asian: 1 teaspoon each soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil & honey, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger & 1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • North African: 1 teaspoon harissa paste mixed with 1 tablespoon natural yoghurt 
  • Mexican: 1 tablespoon tomato puree let down with 1 teaspoon water, mix with half teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Garlic avocado: 2 cloves crushed garlic mixed 1 tablespoon lemon juice with a blended ripe avocado, a pinch of salt & pepper, let down with a tablespoon of water to desired dressing consistency
Asian inspired salad with prawns, avocado & toasted seeds. A bit in love with all tamarind everything at the moment.
Asian Salad: spinach at the bottom, vegetables, SE Asian dressing, topped with avocado, prawns & toasted seeds. 

Salad perfection. Go on, you know you want to. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Opinion: What's So Wrong With Jack Anyway?

Sometimes it seems we cannot move for the labels that both we assign ourselves or that others are more than happy to assign for us. Wife, mother, yogi, corporate, artistic, part girl, basic... I'm sure I could ask any one person and they could hand me a half a dozen more at the drop of a hat. In the haste for labels and boxes, I'm suddenly finding myself backed into a corner and so I'm adding a label of my own- Jack.

We hear the phrase Jack of all trades and master of none, and it's not a positive description, but here's a few things I've decided are working just fine for Jack...

 I run, I cycle, I dabble with weight training, and I love all of that, some of my Instagram posts have hashtags like #fitchicks and #girlswhoride in them. I am a girl who runs, a girl who rides, a girl who lifts, trains, races and challenges herself. I am a lot of other things too.

It's not just lycra and loungewear whilst we're at it, I like pretty dresses and shoes impractical shoes too. And dark lipstick and Benefit mascara.

PicMonkey Collage

I am a girl who is partial to a drink. I don't find it difficult to enjoy most of a bottle of Primitivo on a Friday evening with my homemade pizza, and I have a *thing* for small batch vodka- there is something truly special about a freezer chilled, super smooth vodka. And I'm the girl who puts Stoli in her soft drink after a bad day.

I am winning at life tonight. It's been an absolute bitch of a week thus far, but my favourite @stoli vodka & this @aldiuk watermelon & tea drink are absolutely the one. #stoli #vodka #perksofbeingagrownup

I manage recruitment companies and wear jeans and a jumper to work pretty much every day. You don't get to judge how hard I work based on my complete lack of dress code, and you certainly don't get to decide what kind of a person I am outside of my work- my job is part of my life, it does not define who I am, so keep your disdain and eye rolls to yourself,

Payroll day and I'm flying solo in the office. Diet Coke to the rescue.

Life is tough enough without putting yourself into a box and sticking an irrelevant label on it- so Jack, here's to you, because what's so wrong with Jack anyway?