Win, and train with Jessica Ennis!

I know, how exciting is that?! With Olympic fever now being swiftly followed by Paralympic fever, all you armchair athletes are hopefully being inspired to get up off your rear ends and give a new sport a go – I’ve certainly been seeing many more runners, cyclists and general fitness-seeking types about since London 2012 hit our screens. I was given the chance to up my activity levels by having a go at the brand new Adidas MiCoach Game but, since the game is accessed via Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move for PlayStation 3, and I have no such thing in my possession, I thought I would hand over this opportunity to you lovely people.

You may have gathered that I know absolutely nothing about computer gaming, so won’t even begin to try to explain how it all works, so you should watch the video here. Watching this made me wish I did have access to a games console and could get in some extra sessions in the comfort of my own home (with the curtains drawn I might add!). There are programmes featuring 18 of Adidas’ athletes across six different sports so there is something for everyone here – I imagine Edward would be elbowing me out of the way to try out the footie sessions. Watching Jessica Ennis in gold-medal-winning action at the Olympic Games made me want to get out there and train hard and, if this game can get your abs anywhere near as rippling as hers, then it has to be worth a go!

So, what do you have to do? Just send me an email (adele [at] with ‘Train with Jess’ in the subject line before September 16th and I will pick a winner at random after this date. The winner will be informed by email and then announced here so we can chase them up on their MiCoach training progress later on 😉

In the meantime, you can keep up-to-date with MiCoach on Facebook and with regular Tweets over on Twitter.


Are these my thighs?

I think my thighs ache more than they did after the Brighton Marathon back in April, damn those British Military Fitness squat-pushers! The soreness hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for my knuckling down to half-marathon training promise, and I have been out and about being Ms Active for the past few days. Sunday was a non-running day. We had a children’s party up in Finsbury Park, so my activity was made up of a bike-East London Line-bike-party-bike-East London Line-bikeathon. The East London Line is great – you can take your bike on during off-peak times (check ahead of travel though, don’t take my word for it!) and we can get from near our house all the way up to Highbury and Islington before a small boy has given up and caused travel mayhem. The Islington side of the journey involved quite a hill, and I really did think my thighs might pop, but they held out long enough for me to test them again on Monday.

During the BritMilFit doo-dah on Saturday I was shown some mean new squats and a nifty little tree interval session, so decided to add this in to my morning run and see if it is possible to replicate such determined effort whilst on my own. It is. I ran at a fairly gentle pace as it was super hot then, dripping with sweat, I spotted my evenly spaced trees and went for it. Now, I am a focussed kind of person, but I am easily distracted by things that might interest a certain small boy. This meant that my first sprint was momentarily halted by a lovely bright green feather to present to Hector for his collection, a parakeet, something that we have an abundance of here in South East London! It felt good to test this new way of training, and I can definitely see how it’s going to help me reduce my times, if I stick at it.

Time: 33 minutes 10 seconds

Distance: 3.06 miles

Average Pace: 10.51

Best Pace: 6.25

Calories: 326

(this sort of run makes for an interesting range in pace!)

Today I wanted to go a bit further, just to ease out of that three mile rut I often find myself in, so it was a simple out and back along the Waterlink Way.

Time: 39 minutes 25 seconds

Distance: 4.05 miles

Average Pace: 9.44

Best Pace: 8.24

Calories: 401

I’ve not decided what tomorrow will bring, but maybe it’s time to hit the track.

Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon Workshop

I think I might ache tomorrow. And the day after.

Thanks to the lovely Jogblog putting in a good word for me, I am now the proud owner of a media place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October (pizza and beer will come your way Cathy, don’t you worry). I was recently sent a very bright pre-race race top to try out and show off and last night seemed like a good time to give it a South East London debut. I am a big fan of green, and this is definitely green, a lovely shade of green that allowed me to be seen from all areas of the park, a good thing during an evening run I say. There is a great image on the back, showing a running tree and this seemed to suit my leafy Ladywell Fields jaunt perfectly. As I am embarking on a month of running – more on that later – I had earlier done a bit of a running-shelf-sort-out, putting things in piles called ‘bottoms’, ‘summer tops’, winter tops’, ‘feeling brave’ and ‘only for decorating’ and two race shirts went straight in the ‘only for decorating pile’. This Royal Parks t-shirt will definitely be worn on a regular basis: it’s good quality, a really nice fit and even has a lower back than front which is ever so flattering.

I seem to have fixed my poorly Garmin by letting it run down completely, then charging it up completely, but it’s struggling to pick up a signal so some of this run was a bit lacking in data.

Time: 31 minutes 9 seconds

Distance: 3.03 miles

Average Pace: 10.16

Best Pace: 7.14

Calories: 263

As part of my fabulous Royal Parks package, I was invited to take part in a workshop today, to help me pick up the pace for the race. I got up bright and early (as usual, that’s life with a four-year-old) and headed up to Mayfair and the swish Matt Roberts Personal Training. Gradually lots of women – mostly – in various shades of pink – mostly – trickled in and we were soon put into our groups to start the ‘Improve your time’ workshop. I was in the group that first of all went with a personal trainer and discussed strength training, something I always imagine will be a good idea but never actually get round to doing. We were shown a few important moves and told that it’s best to look at ‘functional’ moves, things that will help your running specifically, and to try to fit this sort of session in twice a week. We did a few squats and were shown how to add weights to intensify the moves.

We then moved on to the Mizuno area and were told all about the importance of correctly fitting shoes and how this can help prevent injury; the woman was incredibly knowledgable and really helpful, though not particularly pushing her own brand, which was refreshing. This session was supported by the next stage with a physio from Matt Roberts Personal Training who talked about gait analysis. She had various tools for looking at how we land and so on and used volunteers to demonstrate how she breaks down the activity of walking to work out where improvements can be made and to locate any problems when dealing with injury. We then went over to a Matt Roberts look-a-likie called Gareth who talked about intervals and tempo running and how we should think about following a schedule to get the best out of our training. I owned up to always printing out a schedule, but never actually sticking to it and Gareth suggested prioritising the intervals and adding to a session to maximise speed work, since it’s speed that I want to gain.

Following this session, we were given a talk by a chap from Lucozade, a sports nutritionist who works with elite athletes on their diets for training and competition. He had some great advice about race day strategies and the importance of starting a race already hydrated. I asked him about cramping, something that I have had problems with in past races, and he said I should stick to the sports drinks over gels in a race to replenish electrolytes and said I might like to try Nuun, which you can just pop in a bottle of water. We were also allowed to help ourselves to some Lucozade Sport, gels and jelly beans to try out in training, as this will be the drink around the course on race day.

The Lucozade Sport proved a necessity in the next section of the day, British Military Fitness.

We piled our bags into the British Military Fitness van and walked as a group over to Hyde Park Corner. It was super busy in Hyde Park, with a concert about to start and loads of young drunk people, just waiting to stare at us and shout abuse. Great. I have looked on these British Military Fitness nutters in the past and thought ‘fools’ as I plod around the park, and here I was subjecting myself to goodness knows what in broad daylight, for all to see. There were three instructors who, after giving us a thorough warming up, divided us into smaller groups and asked us if we were tired yet. Yes. There was a lot of squatting. I like a good squat and thought I had done pretty much every kind of squat going, but these guys are the kings of squat. We even did one in a circle, holding hands, on one leg – you stuck your leg out straight in front and lowered yourself right down, leg off the ground. You then lifted yourself back up again, keeping the leg straight. In theory. I did get the going down bit eventually, but I don’t think I looked pretty.

The thing I liked about the BritMilFit session was just how pleasant these chaps were about making us hurt. I had preconceived ideas about being shouted at and having mud kicked in my face, but they were smiley, encouraging and ever so polite: what they were making us do was tough, but they were not tough with us. One thing I found very useful was the interval session: we sprinted in a line to the first tree in a row then jogged back, sprinted to the second tree and jogged back and so on for five trees. This was hard, but I really pushed myself and got back with one other woman ahead of the others and I could easily replicate this in the park on my own. If I could afford it, I would definitely be signing up for BritMilFit because I loved it, but I will try to do some of the exercises on my own, though I doubt I could ever achieve the same level of effort I got from the group session.

I really enjoyed the workshop, and think it will give me a good boost for the start of my half marathon training. Things I will take away with me and try my hardest – really, I will – to implement in my weekly schedule are strength training and intervals. I think, if I am to run my dream of a two-hour half marathon, then I need to kick my own arse into gear and these chaps might just have helped me on my way. There are other workshops coming up and also training runs, and I would recommend them highly.

On my return journey I bumped into one of the other participants, who it turns out lives not very far from here. We talked about running clubs and how having children slows you down then went our separate ways to be with our families. I caught the tail end of the school summer fair with a happy Hector and Edward, and decided to run alongside them on the bike as we made our weary way home.

Time: 21 minutes 48 seconds

Distance: 2.12 miles

Average Pace: 10.18

Best Pace: 7.02

Calories: 222

Now to this running for a month lark. I totally missed out on Juneathon this year, I tried, but June was such a silly month for me that there was no chance I could keep up. July, however, is a different month entirely and I have decided to do my own little Julyathon. I will attempt to run and blog as with Juneathon/Janathon and, if anyone else wants to join in, then please do! One person who is definitely on board is Highway Kind, who is not only dedicating himself to another month, but the rest of the year, go HK!


Ouch! On Friday evening I went to my first Boxing Circuits class in about, ooh, five years. It was as if I had never been away 🙂 I was a bit apprehensive, knowing that I am fit but not that sort of fit and I didn’t imagine that I had an ounce of upper body strength left in me, but it seems all this picking up and putting down of a two-stone+ little boy is doing me some good! First of all I had to run the gauntlet of slimy gits on the way to the leisure centre. Do Nike do a T-shirt that says: ‘Hey! Just do it! Say something rude to me or just lick your lips as I walk past!’? No, I thought not, but I am pretty sure that’s what people were imagining was printed on my top. One bloke called out: ‘You can wrestle me any time love!’ this left me bemused, what do they imagine will happen when they shout out these things? That I will stop and ask them out on a date?

I got there a little bit early so had to do the chatting with other people thing, which was quite nice actually, and it seems most people were there for the first time, so I wasn’t alone in my newness. We were in a big sports hall, so I had visions of being made to run up and down and round and round…which was exactly what we did once the teacher had arrived. Before I left the house Edward said: ‘Take it easy, you’ve not done it for a long time’ but of course, once I was let loose in the gym I went for it big time. Up and down, round and round, press-ups here, burpees there (they are a killer). I was loving it! It was a good mix of people and levels of fitness, but I didn’t really notice what anyone else was doing, I was so focused on getting it done. I certainly haven’t lost my punch and really let out my pent up aggression when it came to partnering up and using gloves and pads. Poor bloke wasn’t expecting that. The – wonderful – class I used to go to had a lot of encouragement involved and you would hear shouts of ‘Come on! You can do it! Keep going!’ and so on, but everyone was quiet here so I felt a bit self-conscious when I enthusiastically yelled out: ‘Goawwwn!’ That chap will be avoiding me next time, I’m sure.

It was a very well-structured class, with a good balance of activities but I was conscious all the time that I needed to get back to put Hector to bed, so thought I would run home. A-ha-ha-ha! I ran as far as the car park then slowed to a gentle saunter when I realised my legs were not my own. Poor Hector was a bit upset by the time I got home, wondering where on earth I had disappeared to (he was with Edward, by the way, not home alone with a tin of beans).

Oh yes, and I had been for a run in the morning too, just for good measure.

Time: 34 minutes 25 seconds

Distance: 3.09 miles

Average Pace: 11.08

Best Pace: 8.24

Calories: 310

I didn’t really ache yesterday so was feeling quite pleased with myself but, of course, DOMS really only kicks in after two days, so my long run was cut short due to agony this morning. I don’t think I will go to Fridays’ class because I can’t see myself completing next Sunday’s half-marathon with legs as heavy as this. Now, after our run on Friday, along the canal, I noticed this article and began to feel a bit uncertain and unhappy about running along that stretch, but I have since put it in perspective. They are targeting men on bikes, trying to get the bikes off them, and mostly operating in the evening. The police are having more presence in the area (though I haven’t noticed any around, they must be very plain-clothed) so it should be safer in a way. It just feels sad and disappointing that an area that we love so much and have always felt safe in is being populated by scum like this. Let’s hope they catch them soon.

I threw caution to the wind and ran down the canal this morning, turning towards the rowing club where there are usually lots of people on a Sunday morning. I felt half-dead as soon as I set off, so it was a real struggle to get round. I had hoped to run nine miles, but it wasn’t to be, I don’t want to push it and injure myself before next week, so I cut it short at six and a bit. I did go down to where the cows should be, but they are still not there. Here I got stopped by some chavvy kids who asked me if there was a party down there (!). I had heard some loud music towards the Walthamstow end, so pointed them in that direction where they slowly headed, having a very loud row along the way. Odd at about 9am on a Sunday morning.

Time: 1 hour 6 minutes 23 seconds

Distance: 6.51 miles

Average Pace: 10.12

Best Pace: 7.56

Calories: 687

I am currently trying to work out which timing device is going to be best for my Finland project, where I will need to be able to keep track of distance and time when I go inside as well as outside. I’m on a tight budget as well. I noticed the Nike+ Sportsband and wondered if anyone has experience of using it and could let me know if it seems like the right thing for what I’m doing. Or has anyone else used something like a Garmin with footpod that is reliable and fits the bill? Thanks!