Sunday, July 30, 2017

Month in Review: July 2017

July has been insane. It's usually a busy month in the office, but there's been so. many. other. things.

After spending pretty much the entire month of June drinking more than I should and eating anything I fancied, I got back to a more balanced routine this month, and training kicked in for the upcoming series of half marathons I'm running this Autumn. Given the first one is now only about 10 weeks off, I felt the need to get focused and get back out there.

What better way to focus on training plans than to treat yourself to new trainers thanks to #PrimeDay

As well as training I have raced this month, but just the once. I went off to the British 10k on Sunday 9th July. It's a beautiful closed road route through central London that takes in Westminster (including crossing the bridge) Embankment, Regents Street and more. This was  free place because I volunteered at the Hackney Half earlier in the year and although the event was well organised, I still felt that £50 entry was far too much given there are comparable races for almost half that. The day was hella hot, so I treated it as a long-ish run and took in the sights.

Not a bad place to pose for a (very sweaty) finisher's photo

As if that wasn't enough for one weekend, probably one of the biggest achievements this month was qualifying as a Ride Leader with British Cycling. That means I'll be able to take groups of women out to experience the JOY of life on two wheels via the Breeze program. Free bike rides for women of any and every ability, what's not to love?

I got really lucky that a friend of mine happened to be on the same course which made a long day a bit easier, and we're already hatching plans for more rides! We're also both fond of a glass of wine and traded pics of our post-training treats. I felt like I'd earned this glass of wine after a full 9-5 training day with a 100 mile round trip drive plus cycle commute into Cambridge!

Those who know me or have been following my blog for a while know that I work with my parents from their home office. I essentially live in shorts or jeans and t-shirt or jumper all year round, when I'm not wearing running or workout kit. I did used to have a 'proper' job and wear 'proper' grown up clothes every day, but that was almost 3 years ago. So it's nothing short of a miracle that I wore my proper grown up clothes and posted about it not once, but twice in July...

Actually. It's not a miracle at all. Albeit very unexpectedly, I'm moving on from my ops manager job with my parents into something completely different at the end of August and didn't think it prudent to attend either of the meetings to secure the job and hash out the details wearing a race finisher t-shirt and my (now blood stained thanks to blisters from my new trainers) trainers.

I'm actually moving into a sports related field working with data insight, it's all very exciting but scary as hell. I'm going back to living in my flat in London 7 days per week for the first time in 3 years and I'm going to have to start completely over trying to make friends, find people to run with and make a life for myself which I had started to do in Cambridgeshire, where I have been based for work for the last few years. Yeah, so there's that. I'm sure I'll be wittering on about all these new things in good time, but for now I'm slowly extricating myself from the current business situation and concentrating on trying to look like a competent adult ready for August 29th!

We went to the World Championship Para Athletics on a total spur of the moment. We scored tickets for £25 each and had the best Saturday night watching sprint finals at varying distances and classifications. Hands down a recommendation if we do get to host the worlds again or you get the chance to go watch para sport- you get SO much for your money and more support can only help to gain more coverage and awareness for athletes.

Queuing in the rain at Stratford, so worth it. But £5.50 for a plastic bottle of Heineken in the stadium... not so much.

Food has been terribly dull this month. We ate at Inamo on an AYCE barbecue menu via Groupon in the early part of the month- the food was average, the service was appalling so we won't go into that too much, and otherwise it's all been tried and tested favourites where my schedule has been tight and I've been trying to get back to something resembling a routine again, that and of course paying off holiday spending on our credit card lead us to curb our enthusiasm for eating out too much, no bad thing.

I did treat myself to this much raved about book though. I'm going to be back in my own kitchen and able to cook for myself whenever I want, all the time soon and this kind of 'chuck it all in' kind of cooking is how I love to do it. The book itself is simple but beautiful and I can't wait to try a few roast-esque meals from it.

The Roasting Tin - available on Amazon and I've seen it in major bookshops & supermarkets too

I got gobby when it comes to opinions on my blog this month. I heard some horror stories, including someone who has started running and was laughed at by their friends which reminded me that other people's opinions say more about them than they do about you- click if you missed it

And the floral skirt from the my aforementioned fashion post- click if you missed it, has had a lot of attention so if you want one, you can buy the very same floral midi skirt from eBay for less than £10.

This month, Friday to be precise, my great-grandmother also passed away. She very literally fought dementia for 15 years and it was a blessing that she left this life behind, albeit less peacefully than we had hoped. I've talked about #RunningDownDementia before, but do take a look if you fancy doing a little something to help a disease that robs you of so much, not least your dignity- click here to read about it. 

What I've been reading:

I am standing with the #boycottBoots campaign after their completely outrageous moralising of their decision not to lower the price of the morning after pill in line with other UK retailers. The Pool have eloquently summarised the saga and included a handy link to the #JustSayNon bpas campaign where you can send a pre-written email straight to the inboxes of those in charge at Boots to express your displeasure with their attitude. . Boots have now apologised, but it's still worth a ready of the post because it really highlights the problem of moralising access to contraception.

This post from Women's Running Magazine on why women make better ultra-runners is a fascinating look into how different genders approach problem solving and endure hardship. 

Cancer Research UK discussed the impact of the ban on smoking in public  full 10 years after it came in. I was doing a lot of pub and bar work as the ban came in and I remember it well. 

How to wear denim shorts as an adult, this post on The Pool caught my eye as someone currently very attached to my DIY cut offs after being sick of bum flashing shorts available to purchase!

A brilliant read on body size, body image and making your own clothes.

Should there be cut off times for major running events such as big city marathons? An interesting view point and a great read.

ZSL are collaborating with Oasis and the items are BEAUTIFUL! I slipped and fell onto some tiger trainers and a stunning shirt. Check out the whole range on the Oasis website right HERE

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How To Get Up Earlier: An Honest Guide

I am not a morning person. I have never been a morning person. Even my future husband doesn't try too hard to communicate with me in any meaningful way before 8am and a cup of coffee. I've always envied those people who get up at 6am to go for a run or write part of their novel or whatever it is that morning people do, but over the years, I've rolled over and hit the snooze button whilst thinking 'fuck this' more times than I can count, enabled by the fact that I work a 30s stagger from my bedroom. Don't be mistaken, I'm not the kind of person who can't get up and is eternally running late. When it comes to work or events I really hate to be late and I'll get up for something I perceive necessary, but otherwise, where is that snooze button?!

My journey to becoming an early earlier riser started by accident. This was an attempt that did not start out with a specific purpose, but because of some trades people needing to be on site at the house a good hour before I'm normally out of bed. Like I said, I can get up if I absolutely have to... That same weekend, I also had to forgo my usual lay-in. I'm rarely awake before 9am on a weekend and Tom & I like to enjoy a leisurely start that mostly starts with coffee in bed. And so I found myself just over a week later, realising I had a golden opportunity to keep the momentum going, because I'd already done the hard bit- I'd gotten up at least an hour earlier than normal on 10 consecutive days including a weekend... maybe I was already some of the way to breaking my snooze habit? I always remembered that snippet of research (Maltz in 1950s apparently) that says it takes 21 days to form a habit. 10 days put me something approaching halfway there. Turns out Maltz said it takes 'at least 21 days' and so I'm embarking on a full month to see if I can make the morning thing work for me, here's what I've learned so far through this and previous attempts...

1. You can't do more with less... go to bed earlier
If you're getting up an hour earlier but still going to bed at the same time as before, you'll feel tired and shitty. You're not just getting up earlier, you're asking your body to do more on less sleep. I don't find going to bed earlier an especial hardship but if you struggle, try setting reminders on your phone to turn off tech and start a wind-down routine.

2. Sleeping in sports bras is hella uncomfortable

If your reason for changing your routine is to fit in a work out, lots of articles (seriously, I've read hundreds about how to get up earlier/become a morning exerciser/be a morning person/start each day at 0430...) recommend sleeping in your sports kit. These people have clearly never worn my high support sports bras which are akin to medieval torture racks and whilst my boobs thank me for that when I'm pounding the pavements, the rest of me does not when I'm trying kick back and catch some zzzzzz. If willpower is your issue, just being 'ready' probably isn't going to help you anyway. It doesn't matter how many times I've laid my kit out for something the night before (something I do regardless of what time the alarm is set for), it's not what prevents me from having 9* more minutes.
*and by 9 I mean 45-60.

3. Natural light is not your friend in June

Leaving blinds open is fine if you're aiming for an 0400 start, less so if you're going 0600 or later. All that daylight that helps you wake up naturally, nice and everything but not *that* early.

4. Gimme a reason

Not being rushed, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading my book... none of these things are enough motivation for me to drag my behind from my cosy warm nest of sleep.This attempt started with a need to be up and at it before assorted tradespeople arrived on site each morning. Just 'wanting' to get up earlier has never been enough to get me started but I'm now into week three and on the days we haven't had tradies in the house, I've found it much less difficult to get up and get on with plans of my own creation. For the first weekend of the little experiment, I already had early doors plans, but for the following ones, I made some, this brings me to my next, last and most important gem....

5. Don't skip out the weekends

I think this is probably where I have had the most failure over the years. To me, the weekend is all about leisurely coffee, a book in bed, the ability to snooze off a hangover and a distinct lack of an alarm clock. And these are things I hope will return occasionally over time but whilst you're trying to ingrain this habit, you're essentially undoing all your good work if you don't carry it through the weekend. Waking up at the same time every day helps your body to regulate it's sleep patterns, if you stop doing that for 2 days out of 7, that's almost one third of the week. If you have a significant other who shares your bed, I strongly suggest you enlist them in your weekend morning plans by the way. Turned out Tom quite enjoyed having the extra hours in the day once I kicked him out of bed as well as dragging my own reluctant behind out of our cosy, warm and inviting bed.

So, to conclude- becoming a morning person is not as simple as just setting your alarm a few minutes earlier, but for even the most serial of snoozers like me, it is doable with a bit of planning. Pay for a full week of early morning fitness classes, commit to being at work half an hour earlier, book appointments for earlier times, but most of all- don't expect miracles and be prepared to stick with it for a few weeks for it to feel a bit more 'normal'.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Weight Of Opinion

This week I was horrified when a colleague told me that people she knew had laughed at her because she has recently been working through the Couch 2 5K program and is super excited to be running a Race For Life 5km. Not only that, she was able to skip forward on C25K because she was fit enough to do so. J is newly enthused with running and as the mother of 2 young boys has gained confidence in having some alone time as well as putting her money (trainers?!) where her mouth is in advocating sports and activity to her children too.

Me, when I was just starting out with running late 2014/early 2015

It's not just sports either. A few years back I interviewed for and was successful in a promotion at work. It's a little sad that it didn't shock me to later overhear speculation as to whether I'd screwed the manager to get it. Growing up with parents in business nepotism has always been another interesting encounter- knowing people wonder about who pulled strings for me despite working hard to build my own professional network wasn't the most encouraging thing to here whilst spending my summer breaks trying to gain admin, sales and other business skills.

The people who tell you that you can't, the ones who who think pursuing your goals, or dreams or the best version of yourself is a matter of personal entertainment, the offhand comments judging you because of your choice of dessert, the colour of your hair, the car you drive or your favourite song. Why do we care so much about them? Why does the opinion of others matter so much to us?

I ask this question not because I can give you a psychological analysis as to why human beings, in particular young women, set so much store by what other people think of them (not least because there are people far cleverer than me who can actually answer the question...) but because these contrasting situations have a common theme. The opinions of others say far more about the person expressing them than they do about the subject of their opinion and judgement- you.

The people who laugh at someone who is choosing to do something positive for themselves, even if it's difficult, they are frightened of failure.

The people who ridicule a person who puts themselves outside of their comfort zone are scared of change.

The people who assume that unexpected never happens do not dare to dream of grabbing an opportunity with both hands.

The people who assume nepotism or sexual favours are the only way to make drastic change in your own life do not understand the courage it takes to strive for a exceptional goal and cannot possibly understand the bravery it takes to discard all your life and personal plans to pursue a dream.

So what can you do about it?

There will always be someone who says 'you can't' or 'why would you bother' or someone who will mock your ambition. There will also always be people who will congratulate you, who will support you, people who will say- if you can, maybe I can too. Those are people who appreciate hard work, who understand courage, and just maybe some of them have been inspired by your own enthusiasm, passion and work ethic, something of which you should certainly be proud.

Surround yourself with people who don't laugh when you announce you're going to run a marathon when you can't yet run a mile, but instead offer to come with you for your ever increasing long runs.

Surround yourself with people who send you pictures of tigers when you're doubting yourself before an interview to remind you that you can roar (yes, Tom actually did that, I nailed it and scored the job of my dreams because I believed I could).

Be the person who says 'well done, this sounds like an incredible opportunity for you to get stuck in to'.

Be the person who asks if you can help someone in achieving their goal.

Be the person whose opinions of others say that you are strong, you are brave, you are courageous and that you are supportive of others.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

What I Wore: Floral Midi Skirt

2 outfit posts with proper clothes in the space of 2 weeks. I KNOW! Things are hella busy at my end at the moment with work stuff, running stuff, cycling stuff, fun stuff and all the gorgeous summer weather. It's also nice sometimes to make more of an effort than my usual very boring jeans and jumper routine, just because. The skirt is an eBay special, it comes in a handful of other colours and there are loads of stolen images of (the brilliant) Amber of Forever Amber out there too, but she really did inspire me to put green with it as I was struggling to know what to put with the off-white hues.

Skirt via eBay, shirt from H&M & shoes custom made in Vietnam

I actually have no idea what is happening with my face in these pictures- I'm pulling the most peculiar expressions- please tell me it's not just me?


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Month in Review: June 2017

It's halfway through July, but I'm finally getting around to talking about June which was both very eventful and a very quiet all at the same time!

So June is my birthday month and this year, for my sins great and many, I spent a very sunny Saturday 3rd June on a first aid course so I could take on my British Cycling Ride Leader course in July. after some monumental screw ups with the venue, I eventually escaped at 3:30 to have drinks with Tom on a very sunny Southbank Terrace. By the time we stumbled home on Saturday night, we were starting to hear reports of a van driving into people at Borough Market. London is my city and I love it, but it was a sobering moment in many senses of the word to realise the people involved in the Borough Market attacks were doing exactly what we had been not an hour before.

On a happier note, the following weekend saw me take on a fairly monumental endurance race. I mean the clue should have been in the name Endure 24.... 24 hours of running 5 mile laps with my team- I covered a lot of distance between June 9th & June 11th- I drove home to London from North Cambs on Friday night, from London to Reading on Saturday morning and Reading back to London on Sunday morning before hot footing it to Stansted Airport after a quick shower and change that afternoon. And that's before we talk about 50km I covered on my feet on about 3 hours sleep in 36. I wrote about my Endure24 experience if you want to know more- click if you missed it, but suffice to say, getting up out of my airline seat once we'd landed in Spain for our holiday on Sunday night was.... challenging...

Running my first lap, event finish and a mere 24 hours later, adopting my favourite holiday position!

So next came a couple of weeks on the Costa del Sol. We essentially did nothing but eat, sleep, drink, repeat for just shy of 2 weeks and it was glorious. I'm not a huge one for doing loads of tourist attractions on holiday and that's why southern Spain suits us so well- short flight, great weather and an area we know well. I did however wear these amazing trousers having forgotten how brilliant they are...

'beachwear' by H&M, shortened to make them easier to wear as 'proper' clothes

Not content with letting our holiday go without a fight, I'd booked Zoo Lates at London Zoo for the Friday night we returned home and it was wonderful- seeing amazing animals with streetfood and wine- what's not to love on a balmy June evening? I'd definitely recommend it and I'll be keeping a beady eye open for booking it next year.

The really go to town with making the place look incredible as well as the main attractions, y'know, the animals.

I told you we didn't want to give up on our holiday without a fight, on the Saturday, we headed to Richmond to take part in a Prosecco Run... I mean what could possibly go wrong with letting a bunch of people in trainers loose on a 10km route that they don't actually know when you've been giving the prosecco before, during and you've promised more afterwards- want to know more? Click if you missed my race review of the Dead Drop Fitness Prosecco Dash...

Cheerfully shitface with a bunch of strangers!

And that was June! We entered July the week of my return from Spain and all the good times caught up with me- hello allergies, chest problems and snivels. It's taken me 2 weeks to shift it and really annoyingly it's had a real impact on my running which I was keen to get back in gear with as I'm running a whole load of half marathon events in quick succession this autumn, but there you go, life happens!

So, a few things I read this month that might be of interest and that I think are worth a share...

These 4 non-alcoholic cocktails. For whatever reason that booze isn't your thing, it's high time we started to see more interesting options out there that don't contain alcohol and all 4 of these look super tasty!

These 4 tips for running downhill by Run Like A Girl. Because it's so much harder than it looks...

One thing nobody tells you about with sports and activity is that it can wreak havoc with your skin in many ways, sometimes through no fault of your own. I've written about skincare for active women before- click if you missed it, but this TWC post on trying to prevent forehead breakouts from your helmet is excellent.

You need to go and buy this glittery little pin that Em has designed with SnowBird. All profits to the CoppaFeel charity which gets women educated on checking their breasts, and Em should know why it's important- her candid conversation about cancer and treatment should be gospel. FYI my pin is turning into a bit of a lucky charm, so go get one.

And for a bit of nostalgia, being born in '89 this post on growing up as a 90's baby still resonates with me and it was a fun read

And finally, a reminder that the #RunningDownDementia challenge is happening all summer long- pick 100km, 200km or 250km to complete over 20 weeks to help raise cash and awareness for Alzheimer's Research UK. I'm 106km into my challenge to go the whole way to 250k but remember 100km is just 20 parkruns...


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Prosecco and Running... What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

For someone who takes a fair interest in the food and drink they put into their body and a similar interest in physical fitness and sports, I like a drink. When I've attended blogger events (back in the day) it ended up being a standing joke that you'd always find me at the bar, but there are worse things in this life than a fondness for good vodka, a punchy glass of red wine or the first fizz in a glass of champagne...

It's not all that surprising then, that when I saw a 'Prosecco Dash' advertised, I thought it might just be my kind of running. 10k with prosecco before, during AND after. I mean.... what could possibly go wrong?

Deaddrop fitness organise all kinds of themed runs- a bank job heist, spy run, they have an upcoming Hunger Games run, you get the gist. The idea is that you start from a secret location- only revealed to the paid up participants a few days before the event, you follow clues and a basic map to get to the finish line and you can choose a 10k route or a slightly short 5-8km version. Tom & I booked as a two but if I were to do this again, we'd definitely book this as a larger team- we ended up running (I use the term loosely) as a group of 6 with 2 other pairs and it was way more fun than if there had been 2 of us.

In all our sweaty, slightly drunk glory

Because this event ended up taking place in Richmond, we ended up enduring the quirk of the tide coming in across paths outside the pub we finished at- hence the shoes in hand!

Prosecco BEFORE the run - we arrived at the start point on Richmond green to plentiful prosecco- as in take a bottle generous. We were impressed. This was about £40 per head to enter and I had visions of stinginess when it came to the booze, which let's face it, is why we signed up!

Prosecco DURING the run, and searching down clues from the map to unlock the code which gives you the finish destination. You also accrue extra points for selfies in specific locations or snapping other participants or taking part in certain tasks during the run- personally, I thought it could be a bit more straight forward and because all of this is very heavily reliant on a smartphone, battery death was inevitable!

Some of the stations during the run also served prosecco by the way. I cover just over 11km in between 'clues' on the day, and Tom & I reckon we drank about 2.5 bottles of prosecco each in 3.5 hours. We certainly felt it the next day.

And prosecco AFTER the run- these are basically the only pictures of me without a glass in my hand all day! It's a great idea to have a boozey run because the emphasis is on tasks and clues rather than actual running- I like the idea of a heist or more specific cast with a less frivolous back story- this one was something to do with a mythical creature stealing prosecco or something, I'm afraid it passed me by a bit as I didn't really engage with that- so overall- a good day out, a lot of fun, super boozey and I'd do another of their events as a fun day out with a group of peope or to celebrate something like a birthday- there was a hen party on this particular prosecco run which I thought was a good idea.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What I Wore: Palm Prints

Well. It's been a while since I stood in front of a camera wearing proper clothes! Actually, it's not that often I wear more than jeans or shorts and a jumper or sports kit so that's part of the problem, and donning 'real' clothes was a as good an excuse to pose in my garden as any I suppose. And you're not losing the plot if you look at the pictures and think everything is on a strange leaning angle- the section of paving outside my door is not level....

The skirt is old one but a good one from George at Asda, the shirt is a Primark special earlier in the year and the shoes I had made in Vietnam last year and for once I have painted my toenails!


Monday, July 3, 2017


For anyone who hasn't seen the explosion of profanity directed at the image hosting site Photobucket this weekend, they have changed their T&Cs so that only members who pay for their $400 membership fee for their most expensive plan will have 3rd party image hosting enabled. This currently means the last few months of my posts have delightful error messages where there should be my (albeit amateur) photography and it may take me a while to rectify.

If anyone has any good recommendations for inexpensive image hosting for use with Blogger, I'd love to hear about it as I used to use Flickr but it wouldn't work with Pinterest AND they have any annoying overlay of their own branding when you hover over the images.

Catch you on the other side!

This Spanish sunset feels like a long time ago now I'm home. A bit of a cold coming on, allergy ridden, it's pissing down AND no midweek wineoclock.