15 September 2014

Living the simpElle life: Nkeiruka

We're midway through September and already so much is happening! Let's continue the month with some inspiration from someone I've met on my journey over the past couple of years. 

This fortnightly mini series - Living the simpElle life - is where I talk to someone who has been empowered to change.

I heard a great phrase last year -

"The Universe is made up of stories, not of atoms"

 - so that is what I want to share with you, stories, to open up the Universe to us all!

Each individual we meet embodies what this blog is about. They have dug deep to find motivation, they have sought inspiration and in doing so become inspirational to others. They have been empowered with knowledge to change and I hope that is what their story will do for the rest of us...

Meet: Nkeiruka Ughaonu 

I met Nkeiruka when I started teaching Nike Training Club (NTC) session in East London. As well as training, she has always displayed a passion and natural ability in my eyes, for running! How many of us could do a log run an then come to class?! Nkeiruka travelled to Geneva with us earlier this year too where she smashed a half marathon! Nkeiruka will also be running as 1 of 3 in a relay team with me for the Garmin Kingston Run Challenge on Sunday 12th October! Click {here} to sign up for the event yourself! 

...here's Nkeiruka's story...
- {THEN} - 

Elle: What made you decide to start training / running? ...What were your plans / goals?

Nkeiruka: I started running consistently in December 2012 when my sister signed me up for a half marathon in Vienna in April of the following year. Before that, I ran off and on, was a gym devotee for a couple years and attended Nike Training Club religiously. I didn't really have any concrete plans − just complete my first half, get strong and mix my training up. After my half I was adamant that I wouldn't run again, but having been selected to take part in an eight-week training programme for We Own The Night I was forced to dust off my running shoes and train for a 10k. The race was definitely a turning point as I achieved a personal best and from then on I was entering at least one race each month - I ended 2013 with 8 medals! Although at times I might complain about how much I dislike running there's nothing like crossing that finish line or gliding along the pavement that gets my endorphins pumping. 

- {HOW} - 

Elle: What's your favourite way to workout?

Nkeiruka: Running on my own with music or with friends at run club. I also enjoy NTC because it offers a range of exercises with varying intensity.

Elle: What's your typical weekly exercise schedule? 

Nkeiruka: Right now I try to fit in at least three runs a week (which includes run club on Thursday), NTC on Saturday mornings and sometimes power-walking or dancing.

Elle: What / who has been your inspiration?

Nkeiruka: My sister, the many ladies I've met through running and NTC; and fit, strong women that redefine gender stereotypes about femininity.

Elle: What was the first big difference in you, that made you feel proud and excited? 

Nkeiruka: It wasn't a physical change rather it was a mental thing. The two events that stand out for me are running my first half marathon and 10k, which was WOTN. I felt like after that I could tackle anything. It was certainly an emotional experience crossing the finishing line to plenty of cheers and seeing the culmination of weeks worth of training.

Elle: Did you make any changes to your diet once you started training? 

Nkeiruka: Not really. I'm a vegetarian so I tend to eat well. I try to cut down on sugary and fatty foods, eat more fruit and vegetables, and hydrate.

 - {NOW} - 

Elle: How do you track your progress?

Nkeiruka: I'm not really strict about tracking my progress. It's more about feeling good inside and whether I can fit into my clothing. I have a Nike+ FuelBand, which tracks my everyday movements and converts it into fuel (energy) as well as calories and steps. I use the Nike+ Running app to log my activity, so I can compare my pace and mileage each month. In addition to keeping record of PB's.

Elle: Have your goals changed since you started your journey?

Nkeiruka: Now that my focus is primarily running, my goals have shifted slightly to entering races, achieving new PB's, taking on new challenges and running regularly each week. I can't really say this always happens, but I try my best. 

Elle: How do you keep yourself motivated?

Nkeiruka: This is a difficult one for me because I have months where I'm very motivated and others where I don't feel like exercising. What usually helps is if I have a race I'm training for, or doing a running challenge with friends as it pushes me to go out and run when I lack the enthusiasm.

Elle: If you could go back and give advice to the "before" you...or any other person contemplating changing their lifestyle...what would you say?!

Nkeiruka: My advice to anyone considering starting a fitness programme is to find an activity that you love; that way you're more likely to stick it out. Also, surrounding yourself with like-minded people and training towards a goal helps keep you motivated, pushes you to do more and stay on track.

...so what d'ya think?! 

If you'd like to leave Nkeiruka a comment below please do!

If you would like to share your own story please get in touch with me: {Contact Elle}

Until then, keep living that simpElle life ;) 

Elle :) 

13 September 2014

Starting a Home Exercise Regime in Time for Winter

Unfortunately, after a truly remarkable summer, we are finally seeing an end to the heat and the nights are starting to draw in. This means that now is the time where we have to consider tweaking or remodelling our exercise regime to accommodate the cold and the dark. For many of us, this means that we go from pounding the pavements in the fresh air to training at home in the spare room. This, however, doesn’t have to be a downside, and there are many ways that you can turn exercising at home to your advantage, coming up with an imaginative and challenging regime. An indoor bike can provide you with such a regime, here’s how: 

A Variety of Functions

An upright bike provides you with all of the benefits of an outdoors cardio programme from the comfort of your own home. No matter whether you’re interested in doing interval work or lengthy treks, a bike has an option that can test your abilities and fitness levels. 
Due to different resistance levels within the bike, it can provide you with a selection of different terrains, so you can recreate the route of your outdoor journey indoors, keeping your fitness levels high. 

Maximise By Varying Programmes 

In order to keep your fitness levels as high as possible, variety in the type of workout you try is key, and it is likely that it’ll be as challenging, if not more challenging than your outdoor routine was. 
Breakdown what your goals are and base your routine around these. Just cycling for hours on end will help you improve, but it will not maximise what you can get out of the workout (even if you can do it while watching Eastenders!) 
This workout routine should give you a good idea of what will provide maximum benefits. 
Photo credit: lululemon athletica facebook page

Add Other Dimensions

As well as all of this, because you’re at home, you can add other dimensions to your workout, helping you mix cardio with weights. Having both cardio and weights in the same environment (without the leering eyes of the gym), means that you can mix the two elements together, creating the ultimate full body workout, testing your body to the max. 

What’s more, because you’re doing all this at home, you’re away from the damp, the cold and the rain, ensuring that you can exercise safely and securely, all while ensuring maximum body benefits. Plus, if we get a nice weekend, you can always nip back outside for a bit; it’s the best of both worlds. 

11 September 2014

Clapham Common 10km 31st August #MyMoments

A couple Sundays ago and I was out running another 10km in preparation for the London Duathlon - this time at Clapham Common. After running 10km the previous Sunday in Brixton, I had quite an extensive to do list for this event.

Practice running without music - CHECK 
Order a new cycle helmet - CHECK 
Order in energy supplies - CHECK 

Running this week certainly felt a little easier than the previous week which was surprising considering I also had no music. I still did have my iPhone though to keep me updated on my distance and pace.

I realised early in that, as usual, I was having pace issues. I then came across a guy who was running a comfortable and consistent pace so I literally just tailed him for about the last 5km. I was expecting him to turn around and question why I was his shadow but he never did and when I finished at the 10km mark he continued into the 15km distance.

I set up the locklaces in my trainers - read here

And Then This Happened...

...which was quite a spanner in the works! As I type, I still have not confirmed what bike I will be riding on the day. Do I do a 4 day hire so I can trial it before? Or hire on the day and only cycle at the event? I was so grateful for all the kind offers from friends to borrow their bikes but time was not on my side.

I'm not going into the London Duathlon as prepared as I hoped or as excited as I planned but nonetheless, I will be there!

Stay tuned for #MyMoments next week from duathlon race day - Sunday 14th September. It's almost here...

Elle :) 


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