Posted by: fitartist | April 16, 2015

Fitbug for Fitartist

I remember years ago, when I was starting to get into stats around my activity, I had a pedometer which I clipped to my trousers and counted the steps I was taking each day. I was quite chuffed with my daily totals until I looked at it a bit more closely and realised that it registered about six steps when I went to the loo, so the up and down trouser action was being counted as progress. Things have moved on a bit since then.

Recently I have been trying out an fitbug Orb, which tracks movement and sleep, using bluetooth technology to feedback to your iPhone 6. I excitedly ripped off the packaging then realised I really should start doing those ‘unboxing’ images ;) Set-up was quick and easy (I think I even did it alongside making dinner, so pretty straightforward!). The instructions on the website are concise and clear, with app download being swift enough to get going soon after you ‘unbox’. You can choose to wear your fitbug on your wrist like a watch:

Set-up

Set-up

Or, like me, on your belt hook using a little clip – I found I kept looking at it when I wore it on my wrist, wondering what the time was!

Belt hook

Belt hook

I have tracked my running/riding/swim stats for years and have quite a high level of addiction already, so was slightly surprised at how obsessed I became with how many steps I was taking each day! I would check the phone and do a little high five in the air, declaring: ‘I’m awesome at stepping!’ I am. Other things I found interesting were the different area of the website, where you can keep track of what you’re eating, set yourself goals and challenges and manually add any activities that are not picked up by the device – this was useful for me as I do a lot of swimming (and some cycling)…I’m not quite sure how, but this is converted into steps and you can see how many calories you have burned. For the first week or so, I was being very good about inputting my food intake, but that lapsed after a while – I did find it was useful while it lasted though, making me think a bit more about what I was eating in relation to how much exercise I was doing (looking up the calorie content of a chocolate cornflake nest is tedious enough to make you think twice about having one).

Looking at my stats over a month, I can see that an average day usually comes in at around 22,000 steps but, when I look at a day where I ran a half-marathon, I managed 29,509 steps! I found it a bit hard to get my head around the fact that it wasn’t even more, but soon registered that I take shorter strides when I’m running. I have enjoyed using the fitbug and can see how it would really help you commit to a fitness programme and track your progress over a period of time, especially if you are starting out and want something simple to help you get into the habit. You can choose a black strap or funky pink if you’re feeling a bit more bold than I am. Happy stepping!

Posted by: fitartist | April 13, 2015

Dr Zak’s High Protein Bagels

My post-run/swim/bike routine goes something like this:

get in, put kettle on, fill drinks bottle with High5 Zero, do a bit of core work, stretch a bit whilst rehydrating, shower, dress, check emails/get distracted by Twitter/sort out the washing, realise I’m really hungry, stand in kitchen eating cereal from the box. I’m pretty sure I’ve never read that in Runner’s World. I know I should ideally eat *something* within half an hour of finishing a workout, and I know that I should consume a combination of protein and carbs, but I kind of forget and I’m usually not terribly inspired by what’s on offer. Recently I was sent some Dr Zak’s High Protein Bagels to try, so was determined to be a bit more ‘athlete’ about my post-workout refuel routine.

Dr Zak's Pak

Dr Zak’s Pak

It was good knowing I had something planned after my long swim (I do fantasise about what I will eat later whilst swimming, it makes me sooooo hungry!) and I decided to increase the protein levels even more by filling the bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese – that’s what you have on a bagel, right?

Grainy

Grainy

I must say, it was delicious and I felt full for ages afterwards, which is unusual for me following a swim. Each of these bagels has twice the amount of protein as a regular bagel (about the same as a piece of chicken breast), thus allowing you to up your levels of muscle repairing protein without resorting to powdered shakes and supplements. It’s the high levels of fibre that keep the hunger at bay, and I liked the nuttiness of the seeded topping, which gives the bagels a nice texture (and extra nutrients). The next day I toasted my bagel (I prefer them toasted) and added crunchy peanut butter (more protein!).

Yum

Yum

If you like to refuel and create a balance in your diet through ‘real’ food rather than supplements, then this is a great idea. Dr Zak’s bagels are available from health food shops, with a pack of four costing £3.50 – which might seem pricey, but they are big and really do fill you up (it works out at less than 90p for 24g of protein). It beats a handful of cereal anyway ;)

Posted by: fitartist | April 3, 2015

Magnificent March, A Round-Up

At the beginning of the month I decided to re-brand March as ‘Magnificent March’. I didn’t share this with anyone, it was just in my head. It wasn’t one of the ‘-Athons’ or ‘-Tastics’, just me and my challenges to overcome. When I was struggling with a run or tiring mid-swim, I would shout ‘Magnificent March!’ to myself and the pace would lighten and a little surge would happen.

It was a busy month, with two half-marathons and some of the longest swims I’ve ever done. After a PB at the Brighton Half, I went on to run a *tiny* bit faster at the Richmond Half, securing another PB. On a roll, I decided (prompted by Edward) to undertake another half-marathon to see if I could go that little bit faster and hit 1.50 mark. The next ‘local’ race was the Paddock Wood Half, but it was sold out. Luckily I was able to transfer a place from a friend of a friend who couldn’t run (why don’t more races do this?). Unfortunately the PB streak wasn’t going to continue, with the conditions (wind and rain and general grimness) not being in my favour and a hideous state of GI discomfort from the half-way point rendering me pretty useless (yes, I did have to duck behind a much-welcome wall at around the nine mile mark). Eek!

This was my first race wearing my Kent AC club vest (I’ve had the vest for about a year, but have never really thought about wearing it!). Sorry I didn’t do it justice, fellow club runners!

Clubbing

Clubbing

As I turned a corner into some serious head-wind at around mile eleven, I slowed to an uncomfortable walk, only to be picked up by a friendly ‘Come on Adele!’, a fellow parkrunner, who accompanied me to the finish line, thank you Ian! It was a great race and certainly does have PB potential, being flat (ish) and scenic. It’s very well organised, with efficient baggage storage, well marshalled and friendly support and even a marshal telling you which portaloo to go to. I’ll give it another go next year, maybe that’ll be the day for a super-PB.

Lovely Medal

Lovely Medal

In my post-race state of illness, I didn’t register how lovely the medal was, just felt happy to get home, into the bath and then to bed (very weird for me). You do see this scene all around the course, so it’s worth entering just to see a bit of Kentish countryside.

Alongside all this running, my swimming has been going from strength to strength, with the Swimathon just around the corner. I have been following the schedule closely, so closely in fact, that I noticed a discrepancy in a couple of the weeks’ distances. I like to scribble the lengths down on a piece of paper and seal them in a little waterproof bag to peruse poolside, but found the lengths didn’t add up, meaning a shorter distance. I got in touch with the Swimathon team and they sent me an amended schedule promptly :) This week I have completed two swims of 2k and today I swam 3k. The furthest so far has been 4k – 4k!! I know! Only another 1k to go and that’s the full distance. I really didn’t think it was within my reach when I signed up, but I’m proving myself wrong <<<this is good.

“But what about the cycling?” you may ask. I did dust off my road bike and give the tyres a little pump a few weeks ago, when I was invited to meet the people of ashmei at their headquarters in the Hertfordshire countryside. I had been shortlisted, along with a fair few others, to possibly become an ambassador for the brand. The plan was to either join the others on a run or a ride and I decided it was the perfect chance to get out on my bike, and made my way up, all lycra-clad and eager. Getting off the train in Tring, I met a few other would-be-ambassadors and headed over on my bike, to be greeted by a gate that opened as I approached. Small pleasures. We were quickly mingling and exchanging Twitter names (I found I already ‘knew’ quite a lot of people already) and then listened intently as Stuart, ashmei’s founder, told us all about where they were coming from and where they were going. You might already know about ashmei’s (rather lovely) products, which are made from merino – super wicking, non-stinky, soft as – and have a distinctive colour-way and cut. We were all treated to a pair of socks to put on straight away and test on our ride or run.

Soft socks

Soft socks

People quickly gathered outside, next to the lovely AirshopPhoenix and off we went.

Runners

Runners

Having a look around at the other cyclists (and triathletes, I discovered) and their super-bikes and top-notch gear, I felt a little out of my league, but I’m not one to be put off by such things, so got chatting to a couple of people and set out to enjoy the ride. It was so good to be out pedalling again, but I soon found myself away from the pack with another cyclist, Cav (thankfully!), and well, lost! The group had pulled away and left us behind, turning a corner and going out of sight. Oh dear. We looked at a fork in the road and went on instinct. We may have lost the group, but we would enjoy our outing. After a few ‘this way, or that way?’s, we made it back to HQ just as the runners were tucking in to the post-exertion snacks (and a little ahead of the other riders ;) ). The volume levels increased as people chatted, all glowing from a good, sociable run/ride. Photos were taken and off we headed.

Photo-taking

Photo-taking

I spent the return journey in the company of new friends, talking endlessly about running/riding/adventure (oh yes). Goodbyes were said and Twitter buzzed with the excitement of the day and a slight curiosity about what ashmei were looking for in an ambassador. I didn’t get selected, but you can read about the three people who did here, here and here. Maybe Google them too, they have done some interesting things!

And so into April I go. Awesome April maybe? My Swimathon is two weeks away and then I will be focussing on the Crystal Palace Triathlon. I can’t wait :)

Posted by: fitartist | March 24, 2015

Richmond Half Marathon…PB Potential

Yup, another half-marathon PB in the bag!

As always, the journey to the start of a Sunday morning race in London is as challenging as the race itself, so I found myself on a freezing cold platform – thankfully with a friend – at silly o’clock with an epic journey ahead. The heat of the tube is always sleep inducing, so a brisk walk to the start of the Richmond Half-Marathon was welcome! As we were cutting it fine, I didn’t really have time to take in all the things on offer, focussing instead on the queue for the loos and the sign for the baggage tent. Hurry, hurry, hurry! Having volunteered recently in the baggage tent at the Winter Run, all future baggage tents will seem pale in comparison…this one was a bit DIY: show your number to a (very smiley) marshall, find a table/area with your number above it, leave bag. It worked though, but I certainly wouldn’t leave anything of value!

After a few more last minute nervous adjustments, Jacqui and I looked for the 1.50 pacer flags, having a brief chat and ‘good luck!’ with another friend Ronnie who was pacing the 2 hour group (well done to the pacers, it must be hard work running with a great big flag bobbing around). I was feeling a little nervous and also uncertain about how this would go, after my uncomfortable and slightly unhappy race in Brighton a month ago, so decided I would just see how I felt and, if things felt good, I would aim to beat my Brighton time. The pacers headed off quite fast, faster than 1.50 pace and I soon lost sight of them (and Jacqui!). This race has a very varied course and the roads are not closed (though carefully marshalled), so you do find yourself negotiating kerbs, shop signs, bus-stops and so on and the first section is not exactly scenic. We skirted around the high wall of Kew Gardens and passed by Kew Bridge then took to the Thames path. It hadn’t occurred to me to wear trail shoes, but this whole section was pretty rough under foot, with gravel and the odd raised rock, so my imagined views of rowers gliding across the water were forgotten as I concentrated hard on the path ahead. It did become quite congested here and I saw the first of the four falls I witnessed throughout the race.

I was feeling good, and my pace was steady, it was quiet, with everyone concentrating hard, just a thud thud and the heavy breathing of other runners. There were whole sections where friends and family had come out to cheer and the support was great, I also found the marshals very friendly and encouraging. I had decided to stick to the same fuel strategy as Brighton Half, and had two gels stashed in my pocket, one for the 10k point and one for the ten mile point, if I needed it. The water stations were frequent enough, but the water had been poured into cups, not so great! It’s so much better if you can grab a small bottle and sip as you go, washing down a gel if you need to, but the cup means you either drop it, squish it into the air or throw it at your face (I did a combination of the above). I got through though, but could have done with being a bit more hydrated later on as the sun came out. There were some nice wooded areas and some running on grass, which I think some people around me struggled with – it’s a good idea to include this kind of running in your training for this race, so you don’t find yourself stumbling as you get tired and lose form.

As always, I had missed a few mile markers along the way, so was delighted as the miles seemed to tick away nicely and we were soon enough heading for the Old Deer Park and the finish. I picked up my feet and kept the pace steady, trying to catch up with a woman ahead as a goal. All of a sudden we found ourselves running through a working car park to a little tunnel under the road, then onto the grass of the park and a ‘400m to go!’ sign. Thinking this sounded really short, I picked up the pace then noticed the course looped and turned and the finish looked miles away! Here the crowds were excellent, really pushing us along to the finish, one last push and I was pausing the Garmin at 1 hour 53 minutes and 34 seconds, so three minutes off my Brighton time :)

I had had a feeling the goodies might be good, and was chuffed with my medal, t-shirt (fitted, one that you can actually run in!), buff and a Whole Foods bag with a selection of snacks and not one but three drinks: water, juice and coconut water! Perfect to sip and snack on as you stretch and recover.

I’m really pleased with my time, but mostly pleased that I actually enjoyed it and have recovered really well – I do think I was coming down with a nasty cold before I started running at Brighton, so not the ideal situation. Now, of course, I’m wondering if I can get under the 1.50 mark, now that would be amazing!

PB Face

PB Face

Posted by: fitartist | March 10, 2015

Primal Pantry Pecan Protection

You may recall a review I wrote not long ago of the Primal Hazelnut and Cocoa Bars, perfect for fuelling on the go, especially if you’re following a paleo or gluten-free diet. Thanks to a new Apple and Pecan bar, you have more choice and another chance to boost your nutrient intake. It seems pecans have been proving themselves useful in lowering cholesterol – whilst pecans are high in fat, the new study has shown that, rather than being detrimental to the levels of cholesterol and fats in our blood, the nuts appear to reduce them.

Apple and Pecan

Apple and Pecan

I found the Apple and Pecan bar tasty, enjoyed the texture given by the nuts and they’re a handy size to pop in your bag or pocket for a quick post-workout refuel. The Primal Pantry bars (which includes four other bars – coconut & macadamia, almond & cashew, brazil nut &cherry and hazelnut & cacao) are now available in Tesco, Superdrug, health stores and gyms. For further information visit www.primalpantry.com

Posted by: fitartist | February 26, 2015

Sub-2 Half-Marathon

It’s been a long time coming, but I did it! I had signed up to the Brighton Half-Marathon months ago, along with about ten friends from Hilly Fields parkrun, it was to be a full-on weekend of pasta, chat, post-race fish ‘n’ chips with a little run in the middle. My training was going well, with the requisite number of long runs in the bag and I had possibly even got over my stitch/cramp/stomach troubles. Yes, I know, you can feel a big ‘but’ coming can’t you? The Thursday a couple of weeks before the race was to be my long (13 mile) run, and I set off on possibly the most bitterly cold day so far, into a sleety London. I weaved in and out of the Thames path, heading westwards from Greenwich, keeping my head down, and trying to keep warm. I ran over the Millennium Footbridge towards St Paul’s Cathedral, paused for a moment at the ten mile+ point to take on a gel and, when I tried to start running again, felt an incredible pain in my right leg, just behind my ankle, on the inside. I gritted my teeth and tried to keep going, but it just seemed a silly thing to do. I did, however, need to get home! I had my Oyster card with me, so hobbled to Charing Cross, bought a big hot drink to attempt to keep myself warm and sadly took the train home :(

The next couple of weeks included one ok-ish run, one dreadful, aborted run and a couple of swims, not great pre-race preparation. The biggest thing to take a knock was my confidence as I became nervous about running in case I did myself some permanent damage, really! As the race day approached, I had to make a decision – my room was booked, as was the train and I had been really looking forward to the social side of sharing the experience with friends. I decided that the problem was possibly due to having really tight calf muscles and that maybe I could be ‘fixed’ by a sports massage, so I booked myself in on the Friday before. I hadn’t really had a sports massage before, so didn’t know what to expect – including being a bit clueless about what to wear. A little call-out on Twitter proved useful, as did this blog post over on Magpie in the Sky (I opted for bra and pants for the massage, in case you’re wondering). The therapist talked to me for a while and went on to assess my posture and so on before giving my calf muscles a good old kneading, in fact he didn’t make it above my knees because the calves really were ridiculously tight! He showed me some stretches, which are the ones I normally do anyway, so I guess I need to do more and maybe self-massage before and after a hard session.

And so to the run. I was very nervous, not having run for about ten days! The evening before was lovely, meeting friends at an Italian restaurant for piles of pasta mostly (I opted for risotto, my tried-and-tested pre-race dinner). Of course, my sleep was rubbish, the usual waking every hour or so with a mixture of nerves, excitement and anxiousness about my alarm not going off. When it was eventually time to get up, it was a beautiful day, a lovely golden glow accompanying the sound of seagulls. Down went my porridge, banana and cuppa and after hanging around nervously adjusting shoe laces and so on, I decided to head over to the start. A quick hug from my friend Sarah, a quick loo trip and I met another friend Hugh at the start pens. Hmmm, now this is something they need to review and get right for next year. I was supposed to be in the ‘yellow’ pen as indicated on my race number, but there was nothing to show you where to go, and people were simply piling in from the back. Hugh and I ducked to the side and walked along a bit, but found ourselves in a bit of a crush of people all trying to join the crowd…with a couple of minutes to go until the countdown.

Soon enough we were off, sort of…a slow amble towards the big pink arch. Hugh soon disappeared into the distance, looking very strong. I saw a mile marker and we turned to head out East. This stretch felt like a long slow hill that went on and on until an eventual turning point where I could hear sounds of relief then groans as we realised we were now running into the wind (I say wind, it wasn’t that bad, the wind that picked up later in the day would have finished me off!). At this point I started seeing friends on the other side of the road: a high-five from a very determined looking Roni, a wave from Emma, all giving me a boost and making me run a little faster :) At the drinks station I grabbed a bottle and took a few gulps, I was determined to keep myself hydrated and not suffer the hideous cramp that has troubled me in races in the past year. I sipped, swooshed and gulped down a gel, probably dribbling a lot of it down my chin. Nice. This next bit was long and hard. I now started to see the fast(er) runners heading finishwards, light on their toes and fresh faced. I looked ahead and wondered where my turning point would come. The beach huts to my left didn’t seem to stop, so I had a way to go yet. ‘Pick up your head, run tall, lift your feet!’ I told myself. At last, at about the ten mile mark, we turned and I felt an enormous sense of relief. I decided at this drinks station to walk a bit, take a good drink, another gel and then get my head down for the last three miles. Now my leg started to hurt again, and then my knee, it was all feeling a bit rubbish. With a combination of walking a little then running, I got a little bit closer to the pier and the big wheel that looked so far away. At this point I spotted Andrew across the way. This was Andrew’s first half-marathon and he hadn’t been so sure about even starting a few days before, so it was such a joy to see him still going, still smiling and our little high-five really gave me the push I needed.

I picked up the pace for the finish (maybe a little earlier than I should have done!) and crossed the line in 1 hour 56 minutes and 21 seconds. The last half-marathon race I ran and achieved a PB at was the Cardiff Half in 2010, where I ran 2 hours 12 minutes, so I’ll have that! I wandered rather vaguely around the finish area, not knowing where my friends would be, grabbing my bag to layer up and get warm, downing a cup of tea, then heading towards this lovely post-run lunch when I eventually worked out where we were meeting…

Re-fuel

Re-fuel

Gradually friends trickled in, some amazing PBs had been smashed, old form had been regained and first time distances had been conquered. We worked out that, between us, we had knocked over an hour off our previous PBs!! Well done Andrew, Em, Glenn, Hugh, Roni, Sally, Sarah, Siggy and Stephen, all an inspiration :)

Cold but happy

Cold but happy

Posted by: fitartist | February 11, 2015

A New Challenge

If you follow my progress regularly, you will know that I have enjoyed swimming for a long time, and found it particularly useful during pregnancy when I swam almost every day, even when I was going into ‘overtime’. Even so, I don’t really consider myself ‘a swimmer’. Oddly. Last year I found myself in the unlikely position of ‘racing’ other people in my first triathlon, a weird experience for someone who used to try their hardest to dodge swimming in PE (it was pretty horrid). Since I signed up for the Crystal Palace Triathlon, I really got stuck in, and have been swimming two, three or even four times a week since then, finding my stroke improving and I might even have got a bit faster. Woo-hoo! In May I will be having a go at the CPtri again and, in September attempting my first open-water and Olympic distance at the Hever Castle Triathlon. It was with this in mind that I signed up for the Swimathon in April.

When I looked at the distances, I was initially drawn to the 2.5k distance, a challenge indeed. I ummed and aahhed a bit and decided that, if I am to ask people to sponsor me to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care, I need to do something even more challenging, so I’ve committed to swim the whole 5k! Arrrghghghghg! The furthest I have swum previously is one mile (1500m), so this is really taking me out of my comfort zone. I was surprised (and delighted) at how many people sponsored me straight away, which really gave me a push to get going with my training. There are some really useful training plans on the website, and I went along to my local pool (where the event will be held) yesterday to throw myself in to my first session.

Essentials

Essentials

I swam 92 lengths of the 25m pool but, as it was split into sets, with short rests, I felt fresh even when I reached the end of the session. It was odd taking rests and sipping my drink – I normally roll up, get in, swim hard, get out, go home. It gave me a real confidence boost getting through that first 2300m session, I now feel like I can reach my 5k target in ten weeks’ time :)

Posted by: fitartist | January 20, 2015

Bootcamp Pilates

When I’m stuck in my run, run, run, swim, swim, swim routine, I often forget about taking some time to fit in something else. I do a bit of additional core work at home after a run, or when I remember, and it really does help, but I find it hard to squeeze yet another discipline into my week. Last week I decided to have a go at Bootcamp Pilates to see if this might be something to balance all the forward motion activities I find myself doing. I have done some pilates before (actually it was a big part of my dance training, and I have always been aware of its benefits), but this has always been mat-based, but this time I found myself climbing onto a machine. At Bootcamp Pilates, they use reformer machines – this is not some new fangled thing, but is based on the original machines used by Joseph Pilates, so has been tried and tested over many years.

As I was new to the class, the teacher spent a bit of time explaining what we would be doing and showing me how to best set up my machine, she also popped over every so often to make sure I wasn’t getting into a pickle. We started with a warm-up, using a ring thing (I don’t know the technical term) and working our abs (I was glad of my regular core work at this point!) and we were soon getting into position on our machines, and using the resistance to work our legs. There I was thinking my legs were good and strong, but I was really feeling the burn as we held the last position…just a little bit longer…and three, two, one….arrrghghg! So, if you pictured pilates being something biddies do, involving lots of lying around and deep breathing, then you’re wrong!

I would definitely say I prefer this class over the mat-based class. I was so busy concentrating on getting my position right (and not falling off the machine and showing myself up) that the hour flew by and, before I knew it, we were warming down and stretching. My teacher was really friendly and made sure I understood everything before letting me throw myself about on moving apparatus, and the studio I visited was really handy for Old Street station (just a few minutes walk). There are other studios in Notting Hill, Fulham and Richmond and, if you’re quick, you can take advantage of the current offer of four classes for £50 (this is just for January, so get a move on!). I found I was aching the next day, especially my thighs and glutes, so I definitely had a good workout :)

Posted by: fitartist | January 14, 2015

Buko Organic Coconut Water

Regular readers will know that I am constantly on the look-out for fuel and drinks that might help me tackle my cramping problem, so I was keen to try out some Buko Organic Coconut Water. I have been given coconut water at races before and have even gone out and bought some from the supermarket, so I am already a covert, but I know some people don’t like the taste and it can take some getting used to. I personally find it refreshing, especially if it’s nice and cold from the fridge, and have been popping these little 330ml cartons in bag for after a swim.

In case you don’t know, there are many health benefits to drinking coconut water, it’s:

– Full of essential vitamins and minerals
– A great source of potassium
– Naturally isotonic and great for rehydration
– Contains anti-oxidants such as cytokinins which regulate growth, development and ageing
– Low calorie drink with zero fat and zero cholesterol
– Aids digestion, cleanses the skin, and improves circulation

So, that might explain why it could help prevent the cramping that often stops me part-way across the pool.

Coconut Water

Coconut Water

There are a few coconut water drinks on the market now and it continues to increase in popularity, maybe due to being low calorie and natural (many people seem to be moving away from sugary sports drinks), but Buko is unique in that they work in partnership with Cuipo. Here is some information about Cuipo:

“Cuipo work with conscientious brands around the world to help persevere rainforests, by taking a small donation from each product sale and using it to buy real forest – having already bought and preserved 88 million square metres since their inception in 2010. Buko coconut water are the first UK brand to work with Cuipo and on every drink pack you will find a unique code, which represents ‘your’ square meter of rainforest. What’s more you can enter this code on the Cuipo website to see which part of the rainforest you have helped to save”.

If you want to find out more about Buko Organic Coconut Water, and buy some bottles for yourself, visit www.organicbuko.com

Posted by: fitartist | January 8, 2015

New Year’s Resolution!

Really, that’s what a parent at the school gate had the cheek to call out the other day as I ran past. She clearly doesn’t know me!

Happy New Year and good luck to any of you who are trying to stick to new year’s resolutions, I don’t have anything against them, I just think January is a crap time of year to deprive yourself! It’s the perfect time to try something new and commit to getting fitter though and, with so many group initiatives to help you along, you won’t be alone. This year I’m logging my activities on Jantastic as part of the Hilly Fields parkrun group. I did this last year and found it gave me a real focus and helped me commit to a set number of runs/swims a week. Another group endeavour I’ve taken part in previously is Janathon, where you jog, blog and log every day for the month. It’s a great way to receive some support and encouragement to get you out there (and there are prizes too!).

I thought this might be a good time to look back over some achievements in 2014 and look forward to some new challenges in 2015. Last year was a fantastic year for my running, with a new direction and a new pace. My regular involvement with Hilly Fields parkrun helped me make lots of new running friends and encouraged me to become a regular at Kent Athletic Club, which inevitably helped me to get a bit faster, at last ducking under the 25 minute mark for 5k, something I had been aiming towards for a long time. This sense of camaraderie also saw me entering more races and smashing my 10k PB along the way. 2014 was also the year I tried triathlon, with a local race at Crystal Palace really giving me the bug. This new interest made me realise just how much I love cycling and led to me competing almost to the point of collapse at the London Duathlon in September (it hasn’t put me off wanting to do it again!). I also took part in my first sportive, hopefully the first of many.

It was a good, consistent year, giving me a strong base to move forward with this year. First up is the Brighton Half-Marathon in just a few weeks. I haven’t run this distance in a very long time, with the Cabbage Patch 10 being the longest recent race, so I’m steadily building up towards the 13.1 miles. This is going to be a very sociable one, with a group of us heading down from Hilly Fields, and Edward and Hector coming to cheer us on. A month later I’ll be facing the distance again, with the Salamon City Trail Richmond Half-Marathon – I enjoyed Richmond Park so much in the duathlon, that I wanted more! There are still places available, and you can also enter the 10k race alongside it. I’m hoping to get a place in the Crystal Palace Triathlon again, it was such good fun last year and, for my birthday, I was given entry to a triathlon, so went for the Hever Tri in September. I decided to set myself a greater challenge by entering the Olympic distance race, so that’s a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run. I’ll definitely need to work towards this one, especially the swim, which is in open water, expect lots of posts about tentative dips in slimy ponds…

For now I’m ticking off my four runs and three swims a week on Jantastic, and keeping it interesting by visiting some lovely locations. Good luck with all your running/swimming/riding adventures in 2015!

Aquatics Centre Mile

Aquatics Centre Mile

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