17.8.17

How I Fuel For My Sunday Long Rides


In my entire history of running, I've never been on the road for more than 2.5 hours at a time. So nutrition considerations have been minimal as I've only needed a little something to give me a kick to get to the end.

Last year when I completed my first sportive was the first time I passed the 2.5 hour mark of exercising and I realised the difference a nutritional strategy can have. Never have salty roasted new potatoes tasted so good!

Since I started training for my ride to Paris, I've been playing around with kit as well as testing different supplements to have on the bike with me and I think I've found a winning formula. Well, more a survival formula!

- Pre-Ride -
First of all a good nights sleep goes a long way towards feeling fresh in the morning along with hydrating and eating well the day before. But if there's anything I can do in the morning to help... I will!

I've been starting my ride mornings (and other mornings when I remember) with a glass of water and a scoop of L-glutamine. I mostly take it to help me curb my insatiable appetite that's created from riding (...oh and swimming). I learnt about L-glutamine when I did the FitnessGenes DNA test back in September 2016.

I then pop 300ml of cold water into a smartshake along with a scoop of Vega Clean Energy; it's their pre-workout which I love as it doesn't contain caffeine therefore I don't hit a wall after an epic high. It's a mix of carbohydrates, electrolytes and extracts from green and black tea. I only have it in a tub so for Paris I had to scoop it into a small tupperware so I could easily transport it for the actual ride.


- In-Ride -
Now this is where I had a little to learn but I think I'm pretty close to the winning formula. My main issue is always remembering to "eat" before I feel a dip in my energy. I've been packing my jersey pockets with banana soreen mini loaves as they're individually wrapped and the perfect size for a snack. I also take along 2 SiS energy gels and one of their energy bars. The energy bars are a mix of oats, fruit and cereals so basically the pre-made equivalent of flapjack which is great for slow released energy over a period of time.
I made it my goal to have my first gel after 30 - 60 minutes of riding to allow time for digestion so it hits my system when I need it. The gels pack in 22g of carbohydrate in each serving and are pretty inoffensive in that although they come in fairly distinct flavours (I currently have apple, pink grapefruit, pineapple and blackcurrant) they are actually pretty mild tasting in a consistency of really thick cough medicine. I aim to keep drinking little and often too to reduce dehydration which limits performance. With two bottles on my bike at all times, I have one filled with nuun hydration tablets dissolved in the water and the other filled with plain water.

I normally get really hungry, like really really hungry, need real food hungry after 3-4 hours so the soreen loaves are perfect as a snack to get me to the lunch / dinner table. Previously I would slice up a full soreen loaf and wrap in cling film and although this is cheaper it just isn't as convenient. Okay what life is this when I'm discussing the benefits of individually wrapped mini soreen loaves over a full soreen loaf?! ...does this officially make me a cyclist?!

When I do sit down to eat my meal, if I need to get back on the bike I try to ensure I don't overeat to the point that cycling will be uncomfortable or that I'll feel tired. It's all well and good when you can roll straight home onto the sofa but if you still have another 30 miles to go then you should think twice.


- Post Ride -
If I'm hungry and don't have food readily available my go to is a protein smoothie. A simple recipe is 250ml almond milk, 1 scoop Vega Clean Protein (vanilla or chocolate), 1/2 a frozen banana, 1tbsp almond butter and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

I've still got some turmeric capsules knocking around so I pop a couple of those the evening of my long ride as it's a natural anti-inflammatory and use a magnesium oil spray before bedtime to help relax my muscles and reduce muscle soreness (and it also makes for a good nights sleep). I also used the NutriAdvanced MegaMag Muscleze; which is a high strength magnesium powder designed to support muscle function and recovery. It comes in an orange flavour - just add a scoop to water (or any drink) and mix. In addition to magnesium, it also contains malic acid, amino acids - l-carnitine, creatine, glutamine and taurine – and B vitamins including the body-ready, active forms of vitamin B12 and folate(vitamin B9) so it was perfect for my actual ride to Paris as well as during all my training. Post Paris, I still use it on intense training days to help me feel as fresh as possible the following day!

It all sounds so straight forward when I write it down...

How do you fuel for your endurance activities?! 


Elle :) 

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14.8.17

Elle About Town: Sports Massage at Function360, Moorgate

Photo Credit: Adidas Runners

Well over a year ago, I shared with you my tips for recovering after your workouts. You can read the post here but it included things like yoga, some amazing shoes from OOFOS which I still wear and protein shakes. Now if only I followed my own advice, right?! ...instead, I've been training week in, week out creating a new normal for myself; to the point where sore, tight muscles don't even register in my mind. When friends tell me they're off for massages, I just think, "oh nice" but that's something I don't really have time for to be honest. But maybe I've got it wrong?? If it's good enough for athletes who schedule in their sports massages weekly or the pros who have them daily... then why would I not make the time to have one?! ...so hell yes, book me in...

Function360 have just opened a new clinic in Moorgate so being within the few miles that I actually travel in London meant it was the perfect location for me. In addition to Sports Massage they also offer a host of other treatments including gait analysis and physiotherapy.


Perfect timing having completed RideLondon-Surrey 46 a week ago which also came just a couple of weeks after our ride to Paris (I don't think I'll ever stop talking about that adventure!) ...which in itself followed on from months (well, a few) of training on the bike on top of everything else. So I think a sports massage was called for?!

Now, having not been for a sports massage in a while I had no idea about etiquette, do's or don'ts. I figured I would keep my sports bra on so I wore one that wasn't too strappy along with a pair of Bridget Jones knickers (which I have to say are actually my underwear of choice on a day to day basis). I sandwiched my appointment in between teaching a morning class and an evening class so it was no surprise I was feeling pretty tired by the time I made it to the clinic... I also convinced myself that eating before the massage would be a no-no so that prob didn't help my fight to feel energetic.

Anyway, once I located the clinic (I passed it as I was following the road signs) it was a breeze from there. My appointment was with Mike who I had a quick chat with before he got to work. I filled him in on all my sweaty endeavours as well as sharing any particular areas I felt might need some extra attention... hmmm, how much can we fit into one 60 minute appointment?!

obviously not me yeah lol (I was busy, see warning at end of post)
Mike started on my back and shoulders, which actually weren't as tight and knotted as I expected before he moved onto the backs of my legs. Peeling my face off of the bed was pretty damn funny and the shock of the light was crazy (Mike was well prepared with a lavender eye pillow). Hello tight calves and super tight hamstrings. What a reminder that I really should dedicate some time to stretching and probably start going back to yoga. Someone just give me a few more hours in a day okay?! Then onto the front of my legs and my not as bad as I expected but still pretty tight quads and shins. I'm pretty proud of myself and my pain threshold; it's one of those things where you know the temporary discomfort is worth it in the long run. I'm also lucky that I don't bruise so I'll take all the pressure I can get!

Before I knew it, Mike was done. I literally floated back into my clothes and out of the door having been advised to drink lots of water. I felt full of energy (which was temporary lol) and light as a feather...

This post does come with a warning though: please note that you may not think about work for the hour you're on the massage table. This may lead to clarity post massage where you figure out where you want to holiday and book flights to Barbados for four weeks later. You've been warned.

Duuuudddde....who is in need of a sports massage right about now?!


Elle :)

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11.8.17

Long Ride Sunday || RideLondon-Surrey Forty Six 30.7.17


I knew that this race existed but I only realised I missed my chance to enter for 2017 when my friend Dan proudly announced to me that he and his wife had gotten places through the ballot. I immediately resigned myself to consider it for 2018. After-all, the 100 mile version (now in its fifth year) was a "maybe" for 2018 ...most likely 2019.

As fate would have it, I was offered a late entry just a few weeks before I started my London to Paris ride. Having been training for 100km days I knew I was more than prepared for this. However, what started to dawn on me was that there was a four hour cut off time and I was used to a much more casual pace of 12mph average. At that pace, I'd never make the cut off and that's not taking into account getting punctures, other technical bike stuff (that I don't know how to deal with) or any stops I might need to make...

So when I rocked up at the cycle show in Excel to pick up my race pack on the Friday before race day (yes, we don't get the luxury of them posting it, but I get they want that extra touch point for brands and sponsors) I also picked up some pace stickers... I got a 3.5 hour one, a BHAG of 3 hours and then maybe, yknow, a 2.5 hour one...

As I prepped my kit the night before, I opted for the three hour pace sticker on my bike. Mainly because I wanted to finish in time to get back home, shower, eat and then get back to The Mall in time to see the Men's Classic finish!

Lucky for me, the forty six route starts a lot later than the 100 and the entire event starts just a 20 minute tube ride (and one mile cycle) from where I live. I arrived at the Velopark at approx 730am which left me with 90 minutes to eat as much food as I could, drink all the coffee, faff about in the toilets with my bib shorts, catch up with some old work colleagues I bumped into, spot Chris Hoy and Nicola Adams and then sneak into a slightly earlier wave than mine as I was so worried about not having enough time. I know.

At around 915am myself and a couple other riders got to join the starting wave. Right. At. The. Front. It was exciting but also a little nerve racking; we were quickly warmed up by the compere choosing (as a whole wave) what song we wanted to start to and before I knew it we were off... (with 50 cent playing incase you wondered!).

Sooooo, riding the 46 miles in 3 hours meant an average pace of around 25kmph (I actually spent the whole race thinking I needed an average pace of 20mph / 30kmph. Fail); compared to my average 18kmph for Paris and all my training (sorry for switching between miles and km). For the first time ever, I'd taken a look at the route before-hand and checked out the profile on Strava; I'd definitely handled worse elevation in my training so this route was kinda flat as a pancake bar one hill in Wimbledon which I had been warned about.


I cannot begin to explain how epic it was to be riding on closed roads in Central London. We had half of the A12 to ourselves (I do feel for all my Essex and east london fam though who must've had a shitty morning if they were unaware) and before I knew it we were past the A13, Canary Wharf and on the E1 Highway heading straight into the centre of town. The first water station was at 10 miles - Pall Mall - and honestly, I missed it (anyone actually realise that The Mall and Pall Mall were two different places?!). But as far as I could tell, I was ahead of schedule. I packed enough gels, snacks and water to get me through the entire distance without needing to stop unless I really wanted or needed to so no big deal at this stage.

Next up, we hit Sloane Square and I was excited cos I never go this far west so I knew I was making good progress. We whizzed by Harrods and then further west to Chiswick (apparently, but I don't know the area). Again, I seemed to be ahead of time so I just assumed we passed Chiswick (a check point / water station) and I hadn't noticed. Somewhere around this point, I realised that this ride wasn't gonna be easy; I wasn't struggling but I was having to work hard. Riding on my own meant that I didn't have anyone to push me or anyone to legitimately draft. So I dropped down on my handlebars (it gives me more power from my legs) and powered on. Out of nowhere, a guy came up on my right side from behind me and just said "get behind me"... I was like, "huh" ..."get behind me" he said again so I did as he instructed and literally stuck to his rear wheel as close as I comfortably could. This couldn't have come at a better time; I instantly picked up pace and relaxed into the ride even more.

I was really looking forward to getting to Richmond Park; I've only ever ridden there once and it was such a palaver that by the time we got there we just had some food and headed back home. My Paris buddy Sophie will tell ya that I always threw Richmond Park into the ring for long ride Sunday but the honest truth is that riding across London from east was just not worth the hassle. So I saved my excitement for this event. When we got there though, I remembered why I wasn't so fond of it... a vast green space of undulating hills which meant I struggled just a little (remember I was now going way faster then planned) and I lost my drafting buddy. Then I caught him. Then I lost him again. I finally caught up with him as he was about to stop to meet his friend so I went it alone.

When the Thames came back into view I knew were coming up to Kingston. One of the few times I've ever raced this far south / west was for a Kingston breakfast run so it was kinda cool to actually recognise this part of the course as we cycled right through the centre of town. Kingston was also the final hub available for riders to stop - I heard a guy ask his friend if they were stopping as we rounded a corner and I asked myself the same thing. I still had half a protein snickers and a gel left along with at least half a bottle of water so I opted to keep moving and get the final miles done as quickly as possible.

So, Wimbledon Hill; knowing that this was the biggest incline in the race was a good thing in my mind. Realising it was quite far into the event wasn't so good. Being ahead of schedule and not knowing where I really was on the course (my Garmin is in km and the route is in miles) didn't help. But all of a sudden we came to a stop on the course behind a whole heap of riders. Not having any idea what was going on was strange but we waited patiently. In the end I don't think we were there too long which was a relief as stoppage is included in your official time but as we set off I heard a guy say to his friend "at least we got a rest before the hill" just as we turned the corner and I saw it. I think my saving grace for this hill was that yes, I did just have a rest but I was now surrounded by plenty of cyclists. I stuck to the left of the road and dropped down into my granny gears as there was no time to build up any speed, power or momentum. Once we got to the top I did wonder to myself for a moment if that was actually Wimbledon Hill... and proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes waiting for it incase I'd got it wrong. But another climb didn't come. If you know me, you know what a big deal this is because I do not like hills one bit. We crossed the Thames for the final time over Putney Bridge and into Fulham which meant we were on the home straight; all that was left was heading along the Embankment to the finish line! It was around this point I decided to make the most of having my phone to hand on my bike and popped on my hype song of the moment (Like That, Memphis Bleek) to help pep me up and get into a rhythm; if it worked for Paris it was bound to work today. Only 6 miles to go...


The Finish Line
In the days leading up to Sunday, my friend Anneleen who was riding the 100 told me to make sure I sprint finished cos it would make me feel like a champion. So when we came off Whitehall onto the roundabout at Trafalgar Square to take the immediate left under Admiralty Arch onto The Mall, I was ready! I hit record on my GoPro (see video above) and just went for it until I was passed through the finish line arch! And Anneleen was right; the smile on my face* probably showed how proud I was especially as I knew I came in well under my three hour target time.

*I don't actually have the photo of me from the finish line to share... normally I would have a lot more pictures but although I was given entry into the race, I was only provided with the one official photo from the event which I featured at the top of the post*



We were kept moving by the Veloteers past Buckingham Palace to collect our medals; which by the way are suitably sized for what I feel I went through! That medal stayed proudly on my neck as I rode all the way back to the start line in Stratford and then last mile to Leyton station where I could pick up the central line to take me back home...

Official Time: 2:42:11
Garmin Time: 2:37:42 (moving time)

So I know RideLondon massively stressed that this event is not a race but I think that message didn't resonate with many participants nor did the cut off time match that message. So when you view your results on the site they don't show you them in time order (not that I could work out anyway) but I could see that just under 2000 women took part in the 46 mile event and from what I could see I did really REALLY well! This is definitely one of my hardest earned medals but I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it...

Next stop: L'Etape London (...and I have a time to beat!)

Elle :) 

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p.s I was given a complimentary place in this event, but you know me, all opinions are my very own...

9.8.17

The Business of Fitness: Bests Bootcamp Academy


If you've not been to Bests Bootcamp or you've not heard of it, I just don't know where you've been. I'm lucky enough to have been around since they launched their Bootcamp classes a while back (read about that here) and then their cycle concept last year (that story is here). I've always loved the vibe at the studio so when I saw them advertising for instructor auditions I thought "why the hell not!". I had no idea whether I would get through the auditions or not but I figured worse case scenario it would be great experience and the feedback (if provided) would be valuable. So off I went with my ten minute programme (5 mins on the treadmill and 5 minutes floor work) along with some tunes I deemed appropriate and I gave it my best.

I actually ended up auditioning twice; first time was with studio owner Lee Drabble which was to fill specific spots on the timetable that I ended up not being available for anyway. Then Lee appointed Abigail Dewberry (aka Abi) as Master Trainer for Bests Bootcamp so my second audition was with her. On the day, TfL did what they do best and the district line had delays which made me arrive just as the auditions got started... so I was the last to actually audition which has its pros and it's cons, yeah? You get to see everyone else's programming in action, pick up on things maybe they could've included or things they didn't need to do and if you can remember it all apply it to your own audition. On the other hand, going last out of about 8-10 people means that there's more time for the nerves to build... but I've literally learnt over the past few years that it just is what is it. I do what I can and that is all I can do.

When I got the news that my audition was successful I was (as usual) both excited and nervous. It doesn't automatically mean that I have a role with them, it just means that they saw potential in me and by joining their academy and completing the training we'd all work out if I was in fact a good fit for the studio. So three times a week I attend training sessions with Abi and a few other instructors in training to learn about the Bests Bootcamp way and everything that comes with that.

I just completed week two of the academy as I wrote this, but so far I'm loving every minute. As a participant in classes it's hard to notice (and should be) the amount of planning, preparation and strategy that goes into the class you're experiencing. I get to learn the finer details behind what makes Bests Bootcamp what it is whilst also learning about myself and what I could possibly bring to the team as an instructor. I also wanted to share some of the behind the scenes and my thoughts with you:



Confidence
Really deep down in the back of my head, I can hear that little voice saying "you can't do this" ...and "you're not good enough"! It's only week two and already my mind has formulated so many reasons for why I should quit. But I didn't let it win for my audition so why would I start listening to it now?!

I've spoken about Imposter Syndrome before and I know I won't be the only person who's ever suffered from it. It's mad really when I know I've got over a decade of experience, a degree in Exercise Science and all my regular qualifications yet sometimes my head tries to tell me maybe I'm not who I say I am or who people think I am!

But confidence comes with practice, right?! We're learning some new skills (like dual PT where you're leading floor exercises and treadmill rounds at the same time). This week I've had some friends come along to sessions (thank you sooooo much!) so we have more "bodies" in the room to practice teaching (if you wanna come along over the next couple of weeks keep an eye on my Instagram and Facebook for details of sessions). Somehow it seems a little less nerve-racking with more people; probably just because I'm not really a fan of roleplaying after years and years of drama school!

Fit To Teach
Now this one has been a struggle for me. Its firstly because I believe a good coach doesn't always make a good player and vice versa, but also because I have my own training schedule in place for events I've signed up for and bootcamp doesn't necessarily fit into that. Bootcamp involves a lot of running (very fast) on a treadmill and lifting (heavy) weights. I absolutely love doing that but my priority recently has been to rack up endurance mileage on my bike training for Paris and then for RideLondon-Surrey 46. It's been a mad switch from cycling back to running and weights with barely any time for recovery. Trying to balance my teaching schedule (which does involve training sometimes) along with my own training programme for events, getting to classes at Bests to familiarise myself with the concept and then running through our programmes over and over again in our three sessions each week... well lemme just tell you that's it's not easy. I'm hoping I can save enough energy to make it through and be fit enough to do my own programming (at intermediate) in the very near future.


Time Commitment
This has been a massive ask for me; attending training sessions for 6 hours a week plus travel time, travel expenses and other costs I incur from being in town on the days I wouldn't normally be in or when I end up being in town all day rather than just part of the day. It's mean I'm really behind in responding to emails, sorting my life admin, working on my business and just life in general. But I guess it's give and take as Abi, our academy leader is also investing time to train us. I had a long think about this actually and realised that there are some studios out there who don't invest anything into their instructors; they kinda just benefit from studios such as Bests who actually work with instructors to make them the best possible version of themselves. We're all only human right, so we give back what is put in...

Learning About Yourself
When you're just "being you" it's sometimes hard to really notice what that's like. So it's great to have Abi's constant feedback. She's very honest, which I like, and always delivers her feedback in a constructive way ...most of the time she even has me in stitches laughing at myself. Feedback is invaluable in any role, especially in such a performance driven atmosphere. A couple things I've been working on are my loud speaking voice using the mic (as opposed to getting really hyped and making EVERYTHING I say sounds like THE most exciting news!) and learning not to march around the room incessantly; we've all been doing it, it's just nerves and excitement rolled into one!

At the end of a recent session I said "I'm not sure this training is supposed to be this much fun"... but really, if it isn't fun, what's the point?!

Ever wondered what it'd be like to teach your favourite class?! Or are you already teaching and know exactly where I'm coming from?!


Elle :)


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7.8.17

Elle About Town: Afternoon Tea at Chi Kitchen, London


A world away from the madness of Oxford street on a Saturday afternoon is Chi Kitchen. The perfect spot just tucked into the ground floor of Debenhams; it's where we (myself and Sophie of Fitology) found ourselves nestled in a window seat watching as the weather switched between rain and sunshine... a typical summers day in London. Chi Kitchen is a contemporary Pan Asian restaurant created exclusively for the Debenham's brand... family to Mango Tree (which I featured on the blog here a short while ago).


Between 3pm and 6pm each day, Chi Kitchen serves up their afternoon tea (at a very reasonably priced £12.50pp, or £15pp with a glass of Prosseco) with that Pan Asian twist, of course! Although afternoon tea is a very quintessentially British thing to do, it's not something I've treated myself to that often. It was the perfect way to while away an hour whilst the rain poured down... and as we were both donning our Endurance Conspiracy tee's it also answered the question I asked about what we do as "cyclists" when we're not on our bikes!




Tier 1 (bottom): Curry Puff, Taro Cake, Vegetable Spring Roll

Afternoon tea is served with your choice of tea; Sophie opted for the Matcha Latte whilst I chose the Earl Grey Breakfast Tea (sans milk). Only soy is offered as a non dairy option or else I would also have had the matcha latte too. Ah well.

With my phone handy, I googled anything I was unsure of. Apparently Taro is a root vegetable... and I loved it. This Taro Cake reminded me of a Caribbean dish called bammy which has a similar texture but made from cassava.


Tier 2 (middle): Salmon Nigiri, Prawn Dumpling

I love me some sushi; its a go to meal for me if I'm out and about wanting something filling, but relatively healthy. Typically, I would eat about 5x the amount of sushi served in this afternoon tea but one thing I realised is that it's not a meal (note to self for the future).


Tier 3 (top): Caramel Cheesecake, Cassava Cake, Pandan Kaya Bun

In no time at all, we were onto the top tier of desserts. My favourite was the Pandan Kaya Bun; google tells me that Pandan is an green leaf often used to flavour asian dishes. I generally enjoyed the mix of textures between all the desserts but I could eat the buns all. day. long.

We chatted all the time whilst eating; from other afternoon tea experiences, what we were thinking about the food (yum, yum and yum basically), all the catching up and who even knows what else! ...The restaurant is so welcoming (with the fanciest accessible toilet for customers) and although it's open plan I didn't for a moment feel like I was sharing the experience with anyone other than Sophie...

Are you already a fan of afternoon tea?! Been to Chi Kitchen yet?!


Elle :)

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p.s my afternoon tea was provided on the house in return for a review... but you know me, all opinions (esp when it comes to food) are all mine ;) 
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