Top 10 EssentElle Half Marathon Tips

I first wrote this post nearly two years ago for my first ever Half Marathon. The title was essentially the same but sounded specific to the event which was Run To The Beat. Since running a couple more Half Marathons though I realised that the tips were valid and valuable for every single Half Marathon so I've given the post a little makeover for 2015...

Top 10 EssentElle Half Marathon Tips 

1. Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail.

It kinda goes without saying, surely?! But just incase...make sure your expectations align with the training you put in. For my first Half Marathon, I only had 4 weeks to train. In that time, I did minimal running so my only goal was to finish the race using the fitness I already had and establish a benchmark for a time.

2. Pack your race day bag BEFORE the morning of the race. Ensure you include a change of clothes for after the race, sandals, plastic bag for wet clothes, tissues / toilet paper, water, snacks / food , race gels and a towel (amongst many other things).

3. Pack a race outfit that is tried and tested. This is not the time to whip out brand new trainers or sports bras. Your kit needs to be reliable and comfortable. Don't forget your race t-shirt, your chip, race number, map and other bits and bobs that you have been sent in your race pack. I now use a race belt which allows me to attach my number without it being secured to my top. It also holds my shotbloks / gels so means I have less in my pockets or no need for a bumbag. 

4. Keep off your feet as much as possible the day before the race and race morning. You want your legs to be at their best for when you get going. A short shakeout run the day before works for some people; between 2 - 5km. Don't forget to cut your toe nails too!

5. Ensure you eat 2 - 4 hours before your start time. Something like porridge will be a good start to your day. Other options include a bagel with peanut butter, a banana and energy bar or a bacon sandwich and a cup of coffee! 

6. Hydration! Drink 16-24 oz of water 1 hour before the race then stop; empty your bladder as much as possible before the race starts. Drink a small amount 10 minutes before you start and every 20 minutes there after. Utilise the sports drinks offered about 40 minutes into your race and use your gels as and when necessary. 

7. If it's cold out, take some cover ups to wear at the start line which you don't mind disposing of before you start. You might also want to carry a bin liner to use if it rains! I personally have never been a bin liner kind of girl! 

8. I will be focusing on my race as 4 x 5km runs; that way I won't freak out looking at the bigger picture! After all it's mind over matter (right?!)

9. Once you have finished (hoorah!) you should eat something Low GI along with some form of protein. A lot of people say chocolate milk works for them; unfortunately I am lactose intolerant so this is not an option for me! Other ideas are a bagel with peanut butter or a smoothie. The main thing is to refuel as quickly as possible and not to forget to rehydrate.

10. ENJOY YOUR RACE! ...what's the point otherwise?! 

So, what's on your race day kit list? Any EssentElle tips of your own?!



BELIEVE in March

At the start of the year, I shared with you my word for 2015 - CONFIDENCE.

I also shared with you my word for February - FOCUS and my word for January was INTEGRITY.

Well now, March is here and after some deep thought, I have a word for these 31 days - BELIEVE.

March | Believe 

This is what BELIEVE will look like for me in regards to Health & Fitness this month:

Health | Believe I can crack swimming. I CAN swim a length non stop of front crawl. I CAN swim a length breast stroke non stop. I CAN. I can create a workout schedule and stick to it. I can make huge progress and create breakthroughs through committing the time required to training. Believe the run training I've done over the past few months will get me through the North London Half Marathon. Believe I have what it takes to be a Triathlete. 


I realised when I ran Brighton Half Marathon that I didn't 
believe. I aimed for a time of 2:10 because I thought I might be able to do it. I didn't believe though. When I ran and smashed twenty minutes off my PB, coming in at 2:01:33 I think I still didn't believe it.

Then the week after in my swimming lesson, my swimming teacher Bartek told me to swim a length of the pool of front crawl breathing. I laughed. I didn't believe I could do it.

That's when my word for March came to me. It showed me what I needed to work on if I'm to succeed.

At the end of January I used my Passion Planner to reflect on the month that had passed and also think about what I wanted to get out of February. I took action in updating my CV, updating my goals (1year, 5 year & 10 year) as well as organising my finances in preparation for moving at the end of March. The results from my shift in mindset were amazing. It's like the book, The Secret, the law of attraction, you put out to the Universe what you want and that is what you get.

My game changer(s) for March are swimming and organising myself to be ready to move. I've broken swimming down into the individual tasks - i.e swim 3-4x per week and to get the tension in my shoulders / back seen to and then written them in the appropriate week for when they need to get done - i.e book appointment with physio / osteopath about shoulders / back.

I'm gonna leave you with a quote from my Passion Planner... sleep is something I've been focusing on since I am working 5-6 days per week...

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise - Benjamin Franklin 

Elle :) 


Virtual Coffee Date: Marathon Chat with Bethan

Elle: So y'all know me; Elle, from here, 'keep it simpElle'. If you're up to date with what I'm up to then you'll know I'm currently training for North London Half Marathon and Hackney Half Marathon. Following those, I'll also be completing my first triathlon for which I'm learning to swim. 

I currently lead Run Club on Wednesday evenings which is co led by my friend and fellow blogger, Bethan, from A Pretty Place to Play...

Bethan: I’m Bethan, a blogger and fitness writer with a day job in the city. I'm currently training for Paris Marathon in April and never say no to a half marathon (I'll be at North London Half Marathon and Hackney Half Marathon too). Post marathon I want focus more on strength training and I'd love to give trail running a go!

Elle:  We’re gonna have a virtual chat / coffee date / share with you all about how we train, how hydration fits into that and all things related! 

…so wanna start this conversation?! I guess the key message is about hydration?? I actually struggle with that on a day to day basis and the issue is basically amplified when I am exercising. I’ve come to recognise that I get a headache when running if I am not well hydrated… 

Bethan: I’m in exactly the same boat around hydration, some days I'm awesome (and spend the whole day peeing) and others I totally forget and feel like my brain is shrivelling up. If I have a bad run it's usually because I'm dehydrated, which sucks because it's so easy to avoid!

Elle:  So do you actually use nuun? What do you use it for and when?! 

I try to use it pre and post running especially when I've sweat a lot. I also find it works wonders if / when I get cramp! 

Bethan: Yeah I do! I tend to use it pre or post run, and I especially like the flavours with caffeine for a little pre run boost (not recommended unless you're stomach is hardened by years of drinking industrial strength black coffee, luckily mine is!). I find the citrus flavours really refreshing after a run, and it's nice to know I’m being nice to my body after a tough sweat session!

Elle: I tend not to use nuun during my runs though as I don't take water with me and unless I happen to have a couple of the single serve sachets handy they are not easy to transport outside of the tube! Lol

What else do you use to hydrate? Especially on your long, loooooong runs?! 

Bethan: I don't tend to use it on runs either; after experimenting a bit I found water works best for me. For my long looooong runs I wear a race vest that holds 2 litres of water (alongside the various other gubbins I haul around with me). I really love being self sufficient and I'm planning to carry my own water during my marathon.

Elle: Aaaahhhh so I'm kinda jealous of your running back pack which carries your water! Haha! Is this the first time you've started using one?! At what distance does it become necessary for you to take it with you?! 

I find I can run 5km without needing hydration during. Above that, I do get a little thirsty. 

Bethan: I had a really cheap hydration pack that I picked up in Decathlon awhile back that I started using when I was training for my first half marathon. I was training through the summer and it was really hot, I found that I was running out of water after about 6 miles, so for anything longer than that I started using my pack. It worked really well, so when I started marathon training I invested in something a little fancier. 

Elle: Okay, what does your current weekly workout schedule look like training for a marathon? 

I run three times per week - one speed session, one tempo run and one long run. I also cycle commute 2-3 days per week (usually around 6 miles per day), go swimming 1-3 times and then teach twice. Ideally I'd love to include a yoga class but time doesn't always allow. 

Bethan: At the moment I'm running three to four times a week and throwing in at least one session of strength training. Over the last few weeks the distances I'm running have really gone up, so I'm actually doing fewer sessions than I did BM (before-marathon) so that I can rest enough. I'd love to include more yoga too, but time isn't my friend. 

Elle: Random. But not random. How would you rate your sweatiness post run? On a scale of 1 to 10?! 1 being, not a drop and 10 being, nope I haven't just taken a shower (Pahaha!).

Obviously when we sweat we lose the salts in our body which need replacing, right?! 

I'd rate my sweat factor as a 4 but sometimes I do wonder if wearing amazing sweat wicking, fast drying fabrics help me to not become too sweaty! 

Bethan: I sweat so much! It's partly because I don't use antiperspirant (don't fancy aluminium blocking my sweat glands up. Note, this doesn't mean I don't use deo!), but also I think I'm just a sweaty person. I roll with it, it's my body's way of cooling down, but I'm definitely an 8 or 9 - Nuun helps me replace all those lost salts! 

Elle: Anything else we should talk about?! 

Bethan: pee…pee is always a good option when thinking about hydration. I'm obsessed with the colour and clarity - the ideal is clear in a shade best described as 'light lemonade'. If the colour's off, or it's cloudy I know I'm not getting my hydration right!

Elle: I totally get the pee thing. But don't you find you spend a lot of time going to the bathroom? Or will it even out after a point? Your body gets used to it? 

Also if there's one thing I hate, it's needing the loo while out on a run, or at a race when I'm pushing for a personal best. 

Bethan: Oh my goodness, on the days I remember to hydrate I spend half my life in the loo. I have no idea if I'll ever get used to it, although it does ensure I take lots of computer screen breaks, so that's a good thing!

Yeah, I hate needing the loo when I'm out running, I'm near obsessive about going right before I start my run in a bid to avoid that.

Elle: Any other uses for your nuun supply?! ;) 

Bethan: Nuun is great for hangovers. Remember the run I did really hungover? Made it out the door with the help of Nuun! I wouldn't endorse hungover running, or getting hungover full stop, alcohol dehydrates your body, but if it happens then Nuun is your secret weapon. 

Elle: My favourite / most creative use of nuun was to make cocktails on a hen do! Surely that’s tackling dehydration before it becomes an issue…?! Is that the moral of our story?! 

Elle :) 


The Yoga & Raw Chocolate Experience by Secret Urban Escape

So imagine my disappointment when I realised I couldn't make it to this event. I struggled with the fact I need a good stretch but at the same time, I needed the rest and to get myself organised for my Half Marathon the next day. My mind flickered to Christina, bubbly and beautiful...the energy of my Nike Training Classes I taught at Victoria Park; the perfect person to represent for us and share with us how the morning unfolded...

I can comfortably say chocolate is one of my favourite companions; 
‘For some there is therapy for the rest of us there is chocolate’ 
So you can imagine my excitement after getting an invite to a yoga and (raw) chocolate making experience with the gorgeous Laurella Fox-Pitt, in a secret converted archway location organised by ‘Secret Urban Escape’.
I arrived into this fantastic converted archway at Hoxton, bricks, spotlights and lined with lululemon yoga mats  (which I must say are my favourite brand for yoga mats- they have incredible grip and a wide variation of colours). I walked through a space which opened into this cosy seating area where a bunch of us were drinking warm ginger & lemon water and chatting, with the smell of indulgent cocoa saturating the air. 

We sat down snuggled with all the pillows and got some fantastic recipe tips from Laurella. She firstly and most importantly cleared all the myths about how ‘bad’ chocolate is. If prepared correctly chocolate has all our essential B vitamins and contains an incredible amount of antioxidants, making it (officially anti-aging!) and is also a super stimulant treat. So after the demonstration of how to create the ‘base’ of the chocolate we all got our own moulds and made our personal mixtures, adding superfoods to the raw chocolate base: goji berries, hemp seeds, maca, coconut and lacuma powder (which is made from subtropical fruit native to South America; it’s also high in B vitamins and antioxidants as well as adds a great sweet taste to your dishes).

As our chocolate treats set in the fridge we continued on with a 75 min Solar Prana Vinyasa Class, which after a hell of a week was an incredibly relaxing way to start my Saturday morning. Laurella’s class was not only challenging but the class left me feeling at peace and stretched out all the stress of the previous week, while listening to the fantastic background music she had prepared. If you are interested in trying out some of her classes, do check her out at at Yotopia who do fantastic deals for first timers as well as drop in rates. 

After the class we indulged in our yummy chocolate treats with the warm almond chai latte drinks as we mingled, all in the name of yoga and chocolate. Below is Laurella’s raw pure chocolate recipe; give it a go and share some pictures with us☺.

Simple Pure Chocolate

150g Cacao Butter
7 tbsp Cacao Powder
65g Coconut Palm Syrup

  • Melt Cacao butter in a bain marie, add cacao powder and syrup and whisk till smooth.
  • Add superfoods of your choice, goji berries, lucuma powder, maca, coconut, hemp seeds. 
  • Set in small shaped moulds or any container to make a slab and refrigerate or freeze depending on how quickly you need them.

Raw Brownies

1 cup pecans 
1 cup medjool Dates- add another ½ cup if you like them super sticky ☺
5 tbsp. Cacao powder
6 tbsp. desiccated coconut 
½ tsp Vanilla essence 
¼ tsp salt

  • Pulse Pecans till well crushed but not powdered (blending the pecans first releases all the oils 
  • Add remaining ingredients and blend till it begins to come together but isn’t buttery
  • Place in a baking tin or container of choice and freeze for 20 mins before adding icing and then another 20 to set fully or an hour in the fridge.

Chocolate Icing

½ cup Coconut Oil
½ Cup Cacao
¼ Rice Syrup / Coconut Palm Syrup
½ tsp Good Salt 
Vanilla (Optional)

  • Mel oil gently 
  • Add remaining ingredients 
  • Pour over brownie mixture and wait a seeming very long 20 mins before tucking in!

Laurella’s recommendation is to enjoy it with warm almond milk chai latte.
If you want to join us any future ‘secret’ events, join the mailing list for Secret Urban Escape. I was lucky enough to get chatting with the passionate and equally stunning Iris, a co-founder of Secret Urban Escape, who organise intimate events that include a workout session in an unusual location followed by a fun activity with the aim of displacing the usual mundane gym workout with a nice atmosphere and the opportunity to meet some interesting people in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere. Their next event is a Beats, Bites and BoxingYoga
There are many exciting and fun event that are fitness related; Even if you're hungover from Friday  night, working out on a Saturday morning can really set a good tone to your weekend.

Enjoy the chocolates ☺



Eat Evolve: Optimal Nutrition for the Busy City Lifestyle

Just last month when I quit my third round of whole30, things were a bit hectic. I just couldn't get into the groove of food prep (all explained in my why I quit whole30 post).

For the week following when I was due to finish whole30 I'd arranged for a delivery from Eat Evolve. They specialise in convenient food for those of us who are health conscious. ...sounds just like what I needed, right?!

My delivery arrived on a Tuesday as it was outside the M25 (inside the M25 deliveries arrive on Mondays) in a perfectly sized box that would be easy to carry home if you got it delivered to work. The plan was, I choose 5 sides and 5 mains...

They come packed in plastic pouches meaning you can cook them via sous vide (boil in the bag) or open them up and microwave them. This packaging meant they were easy to carry to work with me even when I was cycling as they took up minimal space and were spill proof! They then only took 3-4 minutes to warm up which is perfect when I only get 30 minutes for a lunch break.

Meal 1 | mango and coconut chicken curry with golden raisin & cauliflower rice 

This was the first time I've ever eaten cauliflower rice; it was an amazing substitute though and I would make it again if it comes out like this! The entire meal was amazing from the time I smelt it heating up in the microwave!

Meal 2 | lemon thyme salmon & roasted turnip carrot and walnut

This was the first time I was trying turnips too! A lot of firsts for me in just two days!

Meal 3 | turkey escalope & sweet potato pesto noodles 

The noodles were one of my favourites mainly because I could hardly believe they were made from sweet potato and not pasta or egg! I felt like they were a guilty pleasure! I googled them and apparently they are Japanese. If I can get my hands on these I would definitely keep a stack in my cupboard!

On the other hand, the turkey was my least favourite of the mains. turkey can be a dry meat as we all know so I'm not a huge fan of it. I would choose it again on my menu but probably only for some variety.

Meal 4 | slow braised beef with chorizo & summer peas with mint

Another yummy meal!

Meal 5 | lamb tagine & ratatouille 

My second time having ratatouille which went pretty well with the lamb tagine.

The Verdict 

Not much else to say really....everything was delicious! This was definitely one of the BEST WEEKS (food wise) in my life! The portion sizes were perfect - I didn't need to snack after or add anything extra and it took the pressure off me. I just had to put together breakfast and another meal (usually dinner).

Their meals are all Paleo, with some even being whole30 compliant. So if you decide to give whole30 a go and think you may struggle you could use this to supplement what you whip up in the kitchen.

They have a variety of packages with meals costing £11 each (based on package of 5 meals).

Go right now and check them out! | www.eatevolve.com 

Have you every used a meal delivery service?! 

Elle :) 

p.s Huge thanks to Eat Evolve for providing me with a 5 meal package - rest assured all opinions are my own (I mean, we're talking about food here!). No write up was requested but I genuinely loved the meals so much I wanted to share :) 
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