27.11.14

Survival of the Fittest #MyMoments

While we're running through an industrial estate somewhere in Wembley during Men's Health Survival of the Fittest (SOTF), a car slows down to our speed and the driver asks what we're doing. We explain and he proceeds to ash, "why?". Yup.


To bring you up to speed, SOTF is a 10km race run by Rat Race Adventure Sports who are the UK's leading adventure racing company. The course is riddled with obstacles. All sorts of obstacles. If you can imagine it, it was there. Initially, I was on my own for this gig, then I was offered to bring along a friend. Hayley, of Simply Hayley, volunteered to be my partner in crime and I can honestly say I couldn't have done it without her.

Somehow, I managed to look up the wrong information about SOTF so I thought there were about 6 obstacles, I wouldn't get wet and I'd finish the event just a little slower than my slow 10km time. Oh boy. How wrong can a girl be?!

On the day, the weather gods served up rain, rain, and more rain. The saving grace being that the temperature was pretty moderate. On the start line for my 2.30pm wave, I was a whole heap of excited even though I had no idea what I was in for. The first part of the course was visible in the event village; it basically was the event village. I could see the start...and the finish.

I set off with a smile. The first part of the course was exhilarating. Running, jumping, climbing, ducking, crawling, wading, splashing...it was just like being a kid again. Except I don't think I even had that much fun as a kid!


We then hit the outside of the event village with stairs (my nemesis) to conquer, while carrying traffic cones. Up and down, inclines and declines. Slides and splashes. The point where I lost a contact lens and gave up the second so I didn't have a wonky view.

Then we were into the industrial park. A quiet bit. We'd lost the rest of our wave by this point - it kinda felt like the zombie apocalypse.

RACE LOW POINT: We came to a crossing, on a dual carriageway, on a bend...with no marshals, no lights. We just had to make a run for it and hope we survived. I know we signed our lives away on the disclaimer form but I kinda hoped SOTF would do everything in their power to preserve my life!

Swiftly the scenery switched up into a park. We ran past the river where we could see the next portion of the race but we had a long way to run before that. Everyone coming the opposite way to us looked muddy, wet and slightly broken.

We hit up the inflatables (oops, inflatable...the other 5 or so were deflated due to everyones excitement before us)....sandbags on muddy ramps (somehow I picked a massive sandbag) which I had to slide down on my butt to reduce the risk of injury! Remember, my health is my wealth as a fitness professional!

Somewhere around here, I lost my race number. I retrieved it though for a photo then donated it to Hayley for her collection!


Before I knew it, we were in a river, wading. The water started to get deeper and I won't lie I got a little nervous. Randomly, a guy offered to carry me on his shoulders and before I checked if he was joking / serious I was on his back! I don't know who that guy is, but I would totally marry him as a thank you for that! ...more water, walls (with leg ups from Hayley and any guys who offered / responded positively to my girly requests).

A long time we were in that river. Through storm drains and what looked like hobos quarters. We were now also, muddy, wet and slightly broken. A little. But smiling, laughing, chatting, screaming. Ladders, monkey bars, more water. An out of action mudslide, hmmmmm, the volunteer doing the water quit?! (my guess!). Strobe lights in a warehouse. Random. Some beer barrel carrying...through the beer tent of finishers!



Finally, FINALLY, we were heading back towards the event village next door to Wembley Stadium. I was feeling amazing at this point. 9km done. Little did I know that the final km would be THE toughest. Obstacle after obstacle including the triple layered wall and then THE wall... oh and this thing where you had to crawl through water, very cold water, under railings. I really thought I was gonna have to skip this one but I DID IT!


And, all in all, I SURVIVED! 

Not only that, I had THE best time ever. This event goes straight to the top of my favourites list. It makes a nice change not to be at a women's only or female dominated event. And as a woman, I wasn't there to lose weight or get fit as the media is portraying about women entering these types of events.

So why did I take part?! (to answer the drivers question)

BECAUSE I WANTED TO! 

Sometimes you don't want to run for a PB. Sometimes you don't want to run to clock miles.

Sometimes, you just want to run as THERAPY.

Elle :) 

Other: The medal doubles up as a bottle opener. Handy. The goody bag was male orientated, but food, y'know its the same for us all so the snacks will come in handy. Venue was easy to get to...if the trains were working properly. The marshals were amazing. Most of them. The one's that were too busy chatting were frustrating. The one's that helped, encouraged and cheered will be eternally in my thoughts. I never had to queue for a portaloo. Yay to there being more men than women. The atmosphere was unforgettable. Friendly and full of camaraderie. The changing area was juuussst about adequate in size, but nice and warm. Finally, a huge Thanks to www.ratrace.com for my place in the event!

25.11.14

Whole30 #2 Days 11 - 20

I've made it! 2/3rd's of the way through...powering through! With just 10 days left to go!


As I mentioned in my last post, this second round of Whole30 has been harder for me, emotionally. But there have been moments of huge commitment and willpower. After all, this is a choice.

What am I craving?! Dark chocolate, Tyrell's Vegetable Crisps (already purchased for post Whole30) and a hot chocolate! I've got great recipes for all 3...they would just mean I'd be having "s*x with my pants on" (SYPO) ...google it along with Whole30 and you'll know what I'm talking about! Don't get me wrong though...there have been a few of these moments in the past 20 days! A smoothie one morning when I didn't have time to make breakfast, an almond "milkshake" as a treat one day....nothing major.


The slow cooker has been resurrected to make warm meals which require little attention. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, pork chops, minced meat...all work well in the slow cooker.

I've eaten out a fair few times in the last ten days too but just stuck to Pret a Manger where I've had the parma ham salad, the crayfish and avocado salad, mango with lime, a banana and their yoga detox drink. All of their salad dressings come in a tiny pot so I don't have to worry about them (they contain sugar - I checked!).

My favourite meal of the past ten days has to be a jacket potato with tuna, avocado, chilli flakes and home made mayonnaise. It hit the spot, being quick to make, hot and tasty!


Making the mayonnaise was so easy! I never did buy mayonnaise before Whole30 but I'll make it now once in a while as a treat.


My energy levels have been amazing! I wake up before my alarm and I am still rearing to go in the evenings when usually I'm ready for my head to hit the pillow. I've had no issues fuelling for the events I've taken part in - Run Club, the VeloPark Duathlon and Men's Health Survival of the Fittest. I just stuck to a good hearty breakfast, a solid lunch and then a satisfying dinner.

I also didn't take any measurements this time. I don't care. That's not why I'm doing Whole30. I did kinda weigh myself before the start though (with some clothes on before I left the gym one day!) so will weigh myself at the end too. The last time I weighed myself was at the end of my last Whole30 - 3 months ago - I think that is a healthy relationship with the scales.

I'm looking forward to the final 10 days! 

If you have any Whole30 recipes / experiences you'd love to share please leave them in the comments below! Taking questions too...


Elle :) 

24.11.14

Living the simpElle life: Louise

Welcome again :) The end of November, the end of the year is fast approaching. It's the time when we start to think about what we have achieved in the year gone and think about what's to come. If you're seeking inspiration to get out and get active, you're in the right place...

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: Louise Sprake
I met Louise through the blogosphere - I follow her blog, Lou Lives Well where she documents her running and yoga stories! 

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

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

Louise: I have actually always been a bit of a runner. At school I was always put forward for the 1500 metres when no-one else wanted to do it (I wasn’t that keen either really!) and did some inter-school cross country races. But that was about as far as it went. I mostly played other sports instead like hockey and took swimming lessons. At uni I did pretty much zero exercise apart from cycling to lectures and back. It wasn’t until after uni that I got into running. This is about 6 years ago now and I signed up for a Race for Life 5K as my first ever race. After that I joined a local running club in Oxford, did some 10Ks and then finally my (still) longest run ever, Windsor half marathon. But it was hard, and after that running took a backseat again. I took up many and varied other sports – namely yoga, spinning, general gym-ing and netball. I did random 10Ks here and there but no consistent running. 

Fast forward to now – running and yoga have become the staples of my fitness regime. Sadly I am going to have to give up the yoga studio membership that I have to save some money but I am looking forward to finding free ways of keeping fit! Running is a huge part of that and it feels great to be back in the swing of it again. I did Blenheim 10K last month and loved it. I have signed up for two more, one in December (Greenwich) and one in March (Goring). I have my sights on another half (even though after Windsor I said I would never do another one!), most likely in autumn 2015. I am excited about running again and it feels good. 
- {HOW} - 

Elle: What's your favourite way to work out?

Louise: A mixture of running and yoga. I love them both equally. I am looking now to run three times a week and do yoga twice (which will be online yoga and free Sweaty Betty classes). I have recently been to a few local running groups in Oxford and I find this a great way to work out – it’s sociable and you don’t realise how far you’ve gone!
I also cycle to work 3 miles each way every day which I think definitely helps maintain a level of fitness.


Elle: What's your typical weekly exercise schedule?

Louise: Currently, I do:
Monday – rest or a short run (3 miles)
Tuesday – yoga
Wednesday – longer run (5 miles)
Thursday – rest
Friday – lunchtime run half an hour 
Saturday – rest or yoga
Sunday – longer run (5 miles)
Plus my cycle commute to work at 7 miles a day ☺

Elle: What / who has been your inspiration?

Louise: My inspirations are all of the running and health bloggers I follow. I love reading about the challenges they set themselves and how they go about achieving them. They inspire me to get out there! 
In yoga, all of my yoga teachers have inspired me in some way. I also love Kathryn Budig; she’s brill and I was lucky enough to attend her yoga workshops in London last year.  

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

Louise: I am not sure about differences in me but there have been some proud moments. Running the Windsor half marathon in 2009, even though it was really hard, was a proud moment. I’m from Windsor so my family all came to watch and support. It was a hard race and a warm day so I didn’t particularly enjoy it all that much, but I still did it! I also felt proud when I finished the Blenheim 10K in October just gone – it was like saying ‘yay I’m back into running and I like it’!
Another amazing moment was when I did yoga in New York last year. One of my teachers in Oxford gave me the name of the studio he goes to when he’s there and so I just signed up to a class for when I was going to be on holiday there. When I was there I thought ‘I am doing yoga in NEW YORK!!’. If you’d have told me 5 years ago that I’d do that, I would never have believed it!

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

Louise: I have always been into healthy eating but I suppose in the last few years I have really looked at what I eat in detail and made some changes. I rarely eat sugar and if I do it’s never refined. I make my own granola and nut bars all the time now so I know what’s in them. I make green smoothies almost every day and LOVE them! I only eat meat once a week and eat more fish. I love veggie recipes and I don’t really consume cow’s milk anymore. Wow, that’s more changes than I thought! It’s been gradual though so it hasn’t been a hardship. 

- {NOW} - 

Elle: How do you track your progress?

Louise: I am a bit retro this respect – I have a timetable that I print out and map out when I will run each week and how it fits in with all other commitments during the week. For example, if I know I am working late one day I’ll make sure to run in the morning instead. Or at lunchtime. If I plan it all out in writing and then tick it off as I go, I find I stick to it!
I do have Nike+ on my iPod but I don’t look at the tracking that much. I really have my eyes on a Garmin!
I also use my blog to track my progress and my achievements. Once I have committed to doing something on there I have to do it! It’s also a great way to celebrate achievements and to look back at posts when I signed up to races or set myself a challenge in the first place. 

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

Louise: Well I said I would never do a half marathon again and yet here I am talking about doing one! I guess my goals are always changing since I have done quite a few different forms of fitness. One minute I want to go to spin classes 3 times a week, the next it’s vinyasa yoga! I feel like running and yoga are my real fitness passions and I have finally realised that. It’s good to change your goals up though and keep them fresh. So until October my goal was to run a 10K again, and now I’ve done that my goal is to do a few more 10Ks with a view to doing a half (argh!) in autumn 2015. 

 Elle: How do you keep yourself motivated?

Louise: Brightly coloured running and yoga leggings! Having lovely kit always helps ☺ My yoga leggings are some of my favourite items of clothes, I actually wish I could wear them all the time! 
Other than that (!), having something to aim for is the best way to keep motivated. After the Blenheim 10K this year I knew I had to book another race in or I would slip behind in my running. Not that I wouldn’t go but that it would become less structured and I might get tempted to miss a few runs or to go shorter distances. Especially with the winter setting in I need a goal or a target!
Generally though, I can’t go without exercise and have never been one to sit still so I find I am always doing some form of fitness!

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?!

Louise: If you’re unsure of getting started in fitness, the best thing to do is find something you really like doing. There’s no point going to the gym if you hate it. You’ll never want to go! Or go with a friend and then you’ll be less likely to duck out. Joining a running group or a team sport can make it more sociable too. 

The other really key thing I’d say is to have a goal. I really like to idea of the Couch to 5K scheme to get people into running . And after that you can build up to 10K and so on! Running is an addiction, trust me! ;)  
...so what d'ya think?! 

If you'd like to leave Louise a comment below please do...and check out her blog,  louliveswell.blogspot.co.uk

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 :) 


21.11.14

FitPro INSIDER: Fake It Till You Make It


Just a few weeks ago I took over teaching a class at a new gym. When I turned up that Tuesday lunchtime, it dawned on me that I was familiar with this class. I’d been before and taken it myself. Why? Because the woman who taught this class was a Master Trainer. She was someone that I looked up to, who I sought knowledge from. Someone who had obviously built up a following in her classes. Someone who left big shoes to fill. 

I personally attend classes based solely on whether I like the instructor or not, so no doubt clients make the same judgements when I am teaching. It makes me a little nervous and brings to mind a couple of issues that have been raised in the past…

Be More Like…


Not so long ago, I worked in a private boutique establishment. When I first started teaching there my employer thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. As time went on though, my feedback would sound like this… “go to X’s class and see how they structure a session” …or “you should be a bit more like Z”. I did go to my colleagues classes and all it did was make me more like myself. I was never born to be a carbon copy of another instructor. I learnt that I had to be confident in my skills and my personality. I just had to be me. 

Imposter?


Imposter Syndrome? Heard of it? As defined by Wikepedia “Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalise their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved.”

The first time I heard these two words together I did think the speaker was talking directly to me. On occasions I’ve wondered if I really know what I’m talking about when it comes to fitness. I was recently offered the opportunity to be the “Fitness Expert” for an upcoming event. Initially I thought, “really?! …me?!…what do I know?!”. Then I gave myself a good talking to and realised that maybe my certifications and experience do count for something. One lesson I learnt when teaching others to become qualified themselves as Fitness Instructors was that no-one knows everything. There is a wealth of information out there though if you want to find it. 

Angel or Devil


Back to my new class. So do I go in all tough?! Or gentle?! What do they like?! Do I ask for feedback yet? Maybe sow the seed that they can share their goals with me so I can tailor sessions to their needs? Luckily the class I teach is pretty versatile so I’m going in each week with something a little different to see how they respond. But at the end of the day, I think it comes back to just being me. That’s always the best we can do. It takes time to build rapport and maybe one day soon…they’ll just remember class with me teaching. 

Elle :) 

20.11.14

Sport'n Style: How To Layer For Chillier Runs

Many moons ago, I ran on treadmills and treadmills only. Once I transitioned to outdoor running for the good weather, I figured when it got wet, cold and chilly that I would have to head back indoors. I soon came to realise that there is no such thing as bad weather...

In the right gear, you can still get out and run...and enjoy yourself!

Here are my tips for layering up this Autumn / Winter from top to toe:

Long Sleeved Top


image from store.nike.com

- with thumbholes

Personally, this is my most crucial piece of kit. It's my mid layer in winter and outer layer in the autumn / spring. Thumbholes are a must as they keep your sleeves in place and keep the cold breeze out. A sweat wicking, fast drying fabric is important to keep you comfortable, warm and dry.

recommendations:

lululemon run:swiftly long sleeved  - Beki

UnderArmour ColdGear Compression Mock long sleeve tops for when it's really cold - Alexa

Long sleeved tops that have a half zip are great - means you can unzip and get some air to the chest when you start getting hot - Leah


Jacket


Image from lululemon athletica FB page

  • with thumbholes
  • ventilation zippers 
  • pockets
  • reflectivity
  • showerproof / waterproof
  • hood

If you are gonna be out there no matter the weather then a jacket is a must! If you get hot easily, a thin waterproof jacket may work for you. If like me, you hate being cold, then something a with a little more substance will come in handy. It's sometimes hard to remember that even though you may be cold as you step out the door, once you get moving you'll start to warm up quickly!

recommendations:

Ronhill Vizion Photon - great for evening runs, lightweight but waterproof and has a cool flashing light on the back to make sure you're definitely seen! - Beki

A windbreaker really is a game changer, I've got a Saucony vizipro one. So much warmer immediately. Then layer it up depending on how cold it is. - Mari

Pants 


  • full length / cropped 
  • brushed fabric (internally)
  • reflectivity
  • pockets

As with the rest of your kit, you want your pants to keep you warm but be breathable at the same time. Sweat wicking fabric will remove the sweat from your body quickly and disperse it. This help you from getting cold if you slow down. Look for extra details like reflective panels / trims to keep you visible in low light. 

Accessory Options:


  • Hat
  • Ear-warmers
  • Neck warmer
  • Buff
  • Gloves
  • Bag 


For me, ear warmers are a must; as long as my ears are warm I can usually cope! If I'm run commuting I like to have as many reflective items as possible with my bag being the number one. You can also purchase rucksack covers which keep your bag dry if it rains and usually come with reflective panelling. They are versatile if you have different bags. 

recommendations:

A buff is great because you can wear it around your neck, pull it up to cover your face and nose, or use it as a full hat or just a headband. Very versatile for winter. - Leah

I am a big fan of the thick headband - covers your ears to keep them warm, and doubles up as a sweat catcher/ fringe securer/ earbud holder too - Leah

But, if all all fails...I've been told "run faster...that'll warm you up"!

See you on the London Winter Run start line! 

Elle :)


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