29.11.14

WIN: Stay Well This Winter with Simply Supplements


Reading everyone's blog posts about training through winter for spring races / marathons, one topic keeps popping up. How to stay well during the months when germs and bugs are raging so as not to set you back in your training?!

Simply Supplements have an entire immunity range on their website. The range includes one of my favourites - Echinacea. I've used it in the past to help me recover from colds. More recently, I've been lucky enough not to pick up too many nasties.

Simply Supplements recommended this product to me - ImmunoBoost with Black Garlic - a combination of vitamin C, Zinc and Black Garlic. Health experts have reported the many benefits of garlic and even more so from black garlic, an aged version of fresh garlic which has no smell in comparison yet all the benefits!

Wanna try this with me?! Enter NOW via the rafflecopter plug-in below!

Entries close on 15th December 2014 and are open to all those in the United Kingdom.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

Elle :)

p.s you can also get yourself 15% off the entire Immunity range from Simply Supplements until the end of December 2014. Use this link - http://www.simplysupplements.net/ailments/26/immunity/ - and enter code: IMMUNE15 at the checkout! 


28.11.14

SWIM, bike, run | Strictly Swimming

With the end of the year fast approaching, my plans / goals for 2015 have been in the back of my mind. I started to create a little "bucket list" for things I wanted to do in 2015, in fitness as well as life in general. One thing on that list, was to learn to swim.

In primary school, aged about 9-12 years old, I'm sure we attended lessons for 30 minutes once per week maybe for about 6 weeks at a time. I kinda learnt how to do breaststroke one term, then promptly forgot by the time I went back the next term. I think I got up to completing my length, 25 meters of the pool before swimming lessons were over.

On holiday as a teenager and young adult, you'll never catch me slashing about in the pool or the sea. I'll dip my toe in for sure but that's as far as it goes.

So when the opportunity to complete the Windsor Triathlon in June 2015 came up, it seemed destined for me. I promptly agreed then shat myself as to how I was gonna swim 750m (I've already decided to do the Sprint distance...baby steps and all with my FIRST EVER triathlon!).

The hunt was then on to find the perfect pool and instructor. As I do whenever I'm in need of information, I reach out to the 953 "friends" I have on Facebook...I mean, someone must know?! I got a wealth of suggestions and followed up each and everyone of them. The one that caught my eye was Strictly Swimming recommended by a trusted friend, yogi and fitness fanatic, Alex.


Before I knew it, I was booked in for my first private swimming lesson with my Instructor, Kat. The plan being to take private lessons until I'm ready to take their Triathlon Swimming course (also highly recommend by Alex!). 

So off I went, convinced I couldn't swim. After a brief chat poolside with Kat, it was straight into the pool for two lengths. I swam two lengths. I dunno how. I didn't drown. It wasn't easy though. It took the wind out of me and you could see I wasn't confident with water being near my face. 

Once I was warm, we started some drills to get me used to the water. Placing my face underwater, breathing out though my nose (or trying at least), then head under water, eyes open (with goggles, newly acquired that day!)...some drills up and down the pool with a float to get used to my face going in and out of the water....some gliding, fully submerging myself under water. You get the drift. No pun intended. 

I left the pool after just 60 minutes having made my first attempt at front crawl. I mean I travelled at leat 5 metres, which is 5 more than ever before. 

Before this lesson, I won't lie, I was nervous. I'd wondered what I'd gotten myself into. But I left having had more fun than I could have imagined when thinking about water and swimming. Kat was brilliant - patient and knowledgeable. I'll be back for more in the coming weeks...

So here's to the journey to the start line. Sunday 14th June 2015. Windsor Triathlon. 

Are you fan of swimming or not?! Any beginner swimming / triathlon tips / resources for me?! 

Elle :) 

Some finer details: The soreness the next day after my lesson was off the scale. I used muscles that have been used to being worked in every other sort of way, My poor inner thighs. I picked up my goggles and swimming hat from the Speedo store in Covent Garden (the service I received was impeccable!). I owned a swimsuit. I think I bought it the year before I went to University so I could go in a jacuzzi at a hotel. Thanks to my Facebook / Twitter friends again for informing me of all the things I should pack for a swimming lesson. The club where my lesson took place, City Point, Moorgate, was perfect. Everything provided - robes, towels, shampoo, conditioner...everything. If you're looking for lessons or to improve your skills in swimming check out Strictly Swimming. Now. 

Before I leave, here's a little "swimspiration" from the Sweaty Betty Spring/Summer 2015 Collection which I got to preview last year! Hoping this little number and I get acquainted soon! 


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!

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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18.11.14

Velopark Women's Autumn Duathlon #MyMoments

November 16th finally came around. The day of my second ever duathlon. This time though, I hadn't spent all year getting ready for it. Since my first duathlon in September, I've still been cycling a fair bit but running on average once per week and no multisport stuff!

I turned up, and really had no expectations other than to not come last. I realised there and then that some of the participants were taking it seriously - they had aerodynamic helmets and all. Okay. 

Simply organised, we got ourselves labelled up before we headed to transition to drop our bikes off (one sticker in seat post, one wristband, one sticker on helmet - check). 

The event took the format of run-bike-run. The first run being a 2mile (2 lap) run then a 10mile (10 lap) bike section before finishing with a 1mile (1 lap) final run at the Olympic Velopark.  It was also chip timed with medals for the places in 16-19years, 20-39years, 40-49years and 50+years age bands.

Picture courtesy of velopark duathlon 
The weather was kinda perfect! Dry and chilly...but I knew I'd soon warm up when I got moving.

I set off on the first run with the group (about 40 strong). I soon realised how fast everyone was. Faster than my comfy run pace. The course was up and down, man made hills but hills none the less. I focused on my breathing which was tough to start with the air being so cold. I also didn't run with music (probably not allowed anyway) but I've gotten so used to being present to my run and not drowning out everything with the latest tunes! 


I ran into transition to pick up my bike and bike shoes. Last minute I decided I would use my clip in shoes - I could do with the extra help on the hills. 10 laps of the course was fascinating; I spent most of my time thinking about which lap I was on as we had to count ourselves and keeping an eye out for Anneleen (friend and colleague I'd asked to compete with me) and Georgina (of Fitcetera).

You know when you are racing and find that one person who seems to be at about the same pace / level of fitness as you?! Maybe, just maybe a little fitter in some cases! ...You keep your eye on them and vow not to let them out of your sight. Well I'd spotted mine. She was on my heels for the whole cycle after I just about shook her off in the first run. Then when I came to cycle my 10th lap I noticed she was running already! I knew she'd skipped a lap and this knocked the sails out of me completely as I thought the timing chips didn't count each lap.


The final run, just one lap was the toughest. I had to stop briefly to walk a couple of times especially after the major hills. Anneleen and Georgina had finished by this point and cheered me on as I dragged myself past them. The end of the duathlon involved running through the transition zone (which I thought was the finish line - past my bottle filled with nuun) to a medal. We stood and cheered on the few runners behind me before collecting our belongings and watching the medal giving for the top 3's. 


Anneleen surprised herself (but not me) and picked up 3rd in our category - aged 20-39! I was so proud of her - this being her first ever duathlon! 

Here are my stats: 

Overall postion: 25th of 31
Run Mile 1: 8:37
Run Mile 2: 9:55
Cycle (total): 41:05
Run Mile 3: 9:47

This event was the perfect place to spend an active Sunday morning! Sadly I can't make the next women's event which is on 15th March (as I'll be running a half marathon that day!) – but you can enter online via the following link:


This was also the first event I completed using my own road bike! I realise I still have a lot to learn especially when it comes to working out the gears. I'll be looking out for bike maintenance workshops over the next few months to get to grips with everything! 

What did you get up to last weekend?! 

Elle :) 

17.11.14

Recipe: Green Banana / Plantain Porridge


I came up with this recipe for a few reasons:

1) Speaking to someone about Whole30, she shared with me how she couldn't imagine giving up her oats porridge

2) Being my second Whole30, this time when it's cold, I'm finding it harder to eat cold foods such as salads

3) I'm getting a little bored of eggs, avocado and bacon at breakfast


Green Banana porridge is a very old and traditional Jamaican recipe. My mum remembers her mum making it for her as a child. I'd never had it myself but it sounded kinda good. I looked up the recipe and noticed that it was not Whole30 compliant so I decided I would make substitutions and create something new...

Here goes...


Ingredients


4 green(ish) bananas / 2 large green plantains
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 cup of water
1 1/2 teaspoons (tsp) Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Allspice
1 tsp Salt or to taste

Toppings: ripe banana, desiccated coconut, raspberries, almond butter, blueberries, cacao nibs

Method


Pour the coconut milk and water into your blender / food processor. Peel the plantain / banana one by one chopping into 2 inch pieces. Add to blender and pulse till pureed until all bananas have been aded.

Transfer the mixture into a pot over a low / medium heat. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt, stirring continuously.


Continue stirring until the porridge thickens. If required add extra water until you reach your desired consistency.

Serve into bowls and garnish with toppings.

Makes 4 small servings / 2 generous servings

I haven't calculated nutritional information as that is not something you are encouraged to focus on when doing Whole30. Hey, it's a couple of bananas and some good fat in the coconut milk.

I found it tough to get my hands on really green bananas - the ones I used were half green - too green to eat but not fully ripe! This helped as no sweetener is added. The version I made with plantains though were all out green - so green it was tough to peel! This made for a more savoury version. Remember this is not oats, and it's more of a savoury, mildly spiced porridge.

Maybe experiment with adding some more of the traditional Christmas spices such as ground cloves and ginger. Top with some cranberries and indulge in a Whole30 festive spirit!

Let me know what you think when you try it! Happy Whole30! 


Elle :) 

Recipe inspiration from Cook Like A Jamaican. 

14.11.14

Whole30 #2 Days 1 - 10

Here I am on Day 11. I can't quite pick one word to sum up how I'm feeling so I'm gonna write up the past ten days and see what I come up with!


I was due to start my second Whole30 on November 1st. However, I forgot to inform my Mum that I'd brought it forward and she'd already planned a not quite compliant meal for the Sunday (2nd) so I resolved to start on Monday 3rd November. I got my shopping delivered and was all set.

With this time round being Autumn / Winter, I've found I've been craving warm food more than I needed in the summer. I've been experimenting with soups (leek and potato, butternut squash, sweet potato and chilli) with salads / veg on the side to bulk it out and keep me full.

A typical day for me has looked like this - 

7.45am - alarm
8.30am - 10am - Meal 1
1pm - 3pm - Meal 2
6pm - 9pm - Meal 3
11.00pm - Bed

This time round, I have decided to include white potatoes in my Whole30 and am happy with this decision. I'm not gonna go crazy with this...it's use has been minimal so far.

I've been finding my cravings a lot more difficult to handle. I felt like I was depriving myself when I went to the theatre and couldn't buy a big bag of sweets / popcorn / chocolate to keep me company through the show. People who sit in front of me and proudly announce that they are "tired" so bought a huge bag of sweets...cause me to breathe deeply...

On a positive note, I'm sleeping better the last few nights - not waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and rising just before my alarm goes off. I press the snooze then realise I don't need it and can utilise my time better than "pretending" to sleep for another 10 minutes.


I'm also finding it easier to throw meals together but am being a bit lazy when it comes to cooking hearty meals. I have been experimenting though and came up with this creation below...


Green plantain porridge topped with banana, almond butter and desiccated coconut. It's a spin on a traditional Jamaican recipe for green banana porridge. It worked a treat for me, but I'm hoping to tweak it a little then share the recipe with you!

As far as training goes, I've not done anything out of the ordinary. In fact, I have had a sore wrist for over a week so avoided crossfit. I've been to run club as usual, hit up a reformer pilates class, a yoga class and stuck to cycling.

I'm looking forward to the next 20 days of what Whole 30 has to offer! It can only get better from here! 

Stay tuned to see how my next 10 days go! 

And if you have any Whole30 recipes you'd love to share please leave me the link in the comments below! 


Elle :) 

13.11.14

Sport'n Style: VeloVixen

As part of my "prize" for winning the VeloVixen Next Top Model competition I received a gift card worth £150. I could let loose on their website and buy anything I wanted. I took this matter seriously though and ended up splitting my order. I decided I'd spend some of the money on "sensible" things especially as when I did place my first order I didn't actually own a bike (but it was on order!)

So everything I chose was either to keep my new bike secure and / or to keep me cycling as the weather changes.


First up, I picked these Bike Shepherd ID tags. They are QR codes on anti tamper stickers which go on your bike. The QR code is registered to my bike and me. Just another record in the world of our connection. 


I cycle in London and we all know it rains in London even when it says it won't! These pants are waterproof and made to fit women, The leg length is adjustable and they have a drawstring waist. I actually didn't need to wear them for a while and the first day I did try them it was unplanned as the weather report said no rain yet when I opened the from door to leave there was most definitely water coming down from the sky. They were really comfy and didn't hinder my movement at all. Quick to take off and roll up into my bag too!


With the wet weather we've been experiencing it's more likely that I will get a puncture. I don't actually own a spare inner tube at the moment but I have accumulated a few puncture repair kits. No point in those though if I can't fill my tyres with air! I do have a mini pump already but it is not the best in the world. I haven't tried this one as of yet, but it is secured nicely to my bike for when I should require it.


Last but not least, I ordered a new bike lock. This is a secondary lock to go hand in hand with my gold standard U lock. After my situation, I'm not a big fan of the wires that go with the U locks - when I saw what was inside after it was cut to steal my bike I realised that it wasn't the greatest. This time I can see what's protecting my bike. It's heavier, but it's worth it.

What are your favourite cycling accessories?! 


Elle :) 

11.11.14

Guest Post: 6 Winter Training Tips

The clocks have gone back, it’s getting colder and we are losing the light. This doesn't help the motivation levels for training over winter and often puts a lot of people off. But remember this – staying motivated during the winter season requires a change to only one thing: your mind set



We are well aware the conditions encourage comfort eating and doing less, but the foundation of motivation is based on two things:

  1. The first is having a goal or target to aim for
  2. The second is understanding the positive effects your actions will have on your life. 

Keep in mind these two foundations and you will always be inspired. Here are a few other winter training tips to keep you motivated.

Train for an event
There is nothing like having a short-term goal to work towards to keep you focused and on track with your training.  Have a look at your local sporting calendar and see what events you could be training for during winter. 

Set a goal
Not everyone is into running or weightlifting, this is no problem. Set another goal, such as a few pound weight loss or a five percent reduction in body fat. Motivate yourself by sticking a photo of that bikini you want to buy, terrific shape you want achieve or a great outfit you want to wear on the fridge. When you see this you are going to be keen to close that fridge door and work out. Whatever image works for you, stick it up where you'll see it every day.

Focus on the benefits
We are all fully aware of the gravitational pull of the bed at 6am, especially when it is cold and dark outside. That's why you need to remind yourself of the benefits exercise brings you. You want to manage your stress levels, build lean muscle mass, have an abundance of energy and feel good about yourself rather than falling asleep at your desk, feeling overwhelmed and overweight. Remind yourself the ways exercise adds to the quality of your life. 

Embrace the weather
Instead of avoiding the cold, embrace it. Getting outside for some fresh air and open space will be good for your mind as well as your body. If it rains? You toughen up!

Get a trainer or gym partner 
Personal trainers are great for motivation and winter season could be a great time to invest in one to push you through those cold winter months. If you can't afford a personal trainer, you could always work with a gym partner to push each other or join a group class to help get motivated.

Reward yourself
This is something people often forget but when you reach your goal, reward yourself.  We are not talking about buying a big cake, but with something special like a new outfit for your new body. There's nothing like working towards a goal, achieving it, and then showing it off. 

For a variety of muscle and fitness supplements to help you keep you motivated and active over the winter period visit: www.activatenutrition.co.uk

10.11.14

Living the simpElle life: Lauren

Welcome Back. With the weather having gotten colder, it's time to dig deep and motivate ourselves to keep training...especially outdoors. 

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: Lauren Rutter 



I met Lauren through the blogosphere - I follow her blog, Powered By Peanut Butter, because I too (kinda) love running and (pea)nut butter! Lauren lives in London whilst studying Nutrition - her blog is quite the resource for race recaps and recipes! Before you head over thee though...

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

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

Lauren: I had just finished University and felt like I wanted to improve my overall fitness and health. I had gone through a few years of treating my body pretty badly, and found myself underweight and constantly exhausted. I wanted to try and gain some weight and regain my health and although it sounds like it would be counter-intuitive, running actually really helped me with that. It taught me to respect my body and to trust it and taught me how to fuel my body properly. Initially I was just trying to go a little bit further each time I ran and I gradually increased it to where I targeted a 6 mile race as my first goal.
- {HOW} - 

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

Lauren: Hands down, it is running. I am yet to experience anything else that gives me that high. I love being outdoors, and really enjoy the long distance stuff. I always look forward to long training runs or races, where I can just sort of get in the zone. I also really enjoy strength training which I've been doing for the last few years. Initially I was doing stuff in the gym but now I tend to follow weight workouts I can do at home.

Elle: What's your typical weekly exercise schedule?

Lauren: This changes quite frequently, and it depends whether I am marathon training or not. When I am marathon training I like to run 5 times a week if possible as well as a gentle cycle or spin class and 2 strength workouts a week. Right now, I am not training for anything specific so I am doing 3-4 runs a week of whatever distance I fancy, a gentle cycle and 3-4 circuit style and weight sessions a week.

Elle: What / who has been your inspiration?

Lauren: I've always been inspired by people achieving amazing things, pushing themselves that extra mile to see where it takes them. I was really inspired by guys like Brendan Brazier and Scott Jurek who were plant based athletes, achieving great things. I also really like reading adventure or mountaineering books and taking inspiration from people who have really faced huge obstacles and overcome them.



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

Lauren: When I first started running it was just going that little bit further each time, getting quicker and finding it getting a little easier, that's always a nice feeling. Completing races is always great, especially when people come out to cheer you on, I love the post race high.

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

Lauren: I became Vegan about a year or so after I started running. I had been veggie for 6 years by then and never really ate much dairy or meat before that time so it was sort of a natural progression. Over time I read and watched a lot of things that really made me think about what I want to put in my body, and so I decided to try out being Vegan. It's now 4 years on and my commitment to Veganism as a lifestyle is stronger than ever, for me it makes perfect sense in terms of health, ethics and the environment, and it's something that really works for me. It opened my world to a whole array of new foods and cuisines, and I eat much more exciting and tasty food than I ever did before.
 - {NOW} - 

Elle: How do you track your progress?

Lauren: I am a bit of a stats geek. I started with Mapmyrun, and I use Dailymile, as well as my Garmin which I use during races. I've started using Strava as a way to track my runs over the last year, and prefer it to my Garmin as I can measure my runs without looking at time or pace constantly. I have a Jawbone Up which tracks activity and sleep. I love seeing that I've hit my step goal each day, and I do a lot of walking so I'm always keen to see how many steps I've hit. I like to look back and compare my running to previous weeks or months, I think it's a good way to see your progress and keep motivated.


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

Lauren: I'm always looking for a new challenge. I think initially I was quite focused on time goals, like a sub 2 hour half. There are still some times I want to beat and I'd love to improve my marathon PB, but I'm a lot more focused on enjoyment now. If I'm not enjoying it, it's not worth it. I got into longer distance running with 3 marathons and my first ultra this year (36 miles of London 2 Brighton) as well as plenty of trail races. I guess my goal is now to enjoy the running and the places it takes me, rather than put pressure on myself to beat a time.

Elle: How do you keep yourself motivated?

Lauren: This is not really something I've ever struggled with. I don't find it a challenge to get up and workout, as I enjoy it so much. It's also such a part of my routine, that I feel a little lost without it. I like to take regular rest weeks from training just to keep things fresh too. I think signing up for races is good for motivation as you can't really avoid doing the training when you have a race looming. I also think about how much better I feel after a run and that usually gets me out the door.



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?!

Lauren: Just don't be afraid to start, everyone starts somewhere and it will get easier. Find something you enjoy doing as that is so important; for me running is my thing, but other people may hate it, just find something that you actually enjoy doing.

...so what d'ya think?! 

If you'd like to leave Lauren a comment below please do...and check out her blog, Powered By Peanut Butter

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 :) 

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