Volunteers View: North London Half Marathon with Kiera

I've participated in a fair few races - from free Parkruns and small club 10ks, to Nike sponsored half marathons and a world marathon major - but the North London Half Marathon was the first time I’ve volunteered at a running event. I signed up to volunteer at North London when I  realised I wouldn't be able to train for it, and thought it might be interesting to share my experience for Elle's readers. 

The Race: 

Inaugural Vitality North London Half Marathon, organised by GO2 (UK) Ltd.  Started and finished at the Saracens Allianz Rugby Stadium in Hendon.
On the morning there was also a ‘schools challenge’- where aprox 850 children ran their final mile of a half marathon challenge.

The Role:

I was away for most of February so missed the volunteer briefing sessions. However a comprehensive information pack containing a description of my role, and general briefing notes was sent out well before race day. Although I had initially been hoping to be out on course (especially after reading Laura (Life Laura London) and Becca’s (from snickers to marathon) accounts of course marshalling at Hackney last year), I was allocated as a ‘Rewards Marshall’, and became quite excited at the prospect of handing out the medals!

Race Day:

My alarm went off at 0520 - a very early start in order to get to the stadium for 0715. Luckily I was able to get a bus most of the way, and after a slightly bewildered walk along the M1 I found the stadium.  

 I signed in, grabbed a bacon roll and bright orange volunteers t-shirt. The rewards team leader (employed by GO2 events) gathered the volunteer team together and took us out to the rewards area - which was along the track where runners would be directed to after crossing the line. She went through the main duties again (setting up the rewards items for both the schools challenge and half marathon, handing out rewards to runners, keeping runners moving through the area, clearing up rubbish and packing up at the end of the race), and warned us that this area is one of the main places for medical emergencies at a race, so what to do if anyone did become ill. We were of course encouraged to congratulate runners as they came through the finishing chute as well!
"After opening pack upon pack of water and Lucozade (in the end digging out my keys to make this task easier), I will never take a drink for granted at a race again."
We got to work setting up the rewards- so that runners would pass through areas for water, medals, goody bags, Lucozade and bananas. After opening pack upon pack of water and Lucozade (in the end digging out my keys to make this task easier), I will never take a drink for granted at a race again. 

The race was due to start at 0930, and at about 0915 a group of us were asked to run around the race village encouraging runners to move to the start line, which was a 10 minute walk away. Although some people were still in baggage and toilet queues, I was surprised at how many runners were standing around chatting or casually arriving so close to race start time, although really felt for those that were running through the stadium, clearly having had problems getting to the race venue. 
"However about 5 minutes before the leaders arrived we were asked to take the medals out of the bags, and hang them around each runner’s necks. Cue slightly panicked ripping open of bags"
Once Mo Farah had set the half marathoners on their way, it was time for the Schools Challenge. One of my highlights from the day was chatting to some of the kids about why they liked running, and seeing how excited they were to be anywhere near Mo. The children started and finished their mile in the stadium and over the same finish line, so came through to collect their medals and goody bags. It was then time to make sure we had everything ready for the half marathoners - as were warned that the leaders were not that far off.  I was on the medal table and we had initially been told to give out the medals in the little plastic bags they were packed in. I didn’t love the idea of this as have never been given a medal like that at a race (and always wear my medal with pride), but appreciated it would be much more time efficient.  However about 5 minutes before the leaders arrived we were asked to take the medals out of the bags, and hang them around each runner’s necks. Cue slightly panicked ripping open of bags - I have to admit at this point I did think it was going to be a disaster but thanks to the immense hard work of my co-volunteers we did not run out of opened medals! 

Things started off nice and slowly for us with the leaders and speedy club runners trickling through - Becs (speedybecsruns) was one of the first runners I saw (I believe she finished 12th lady!). Once the ‘masses’ started arriving it was a pretty relentless but brilliant task of loading my arm up with medals and handing them out as runners came through. 

For each runner there was a super quick assessment of ‘do they want me to hand it to them?', ‘do they want it to be hung around their neck?’, ‘do they even want this medal?’, and for one or two- ‘are they about to vomit and/or collapse?’
I could not tell you the amount of times I said ‘well done’ or ‘congratulations’, but I meant it every single time. What made this long and tiring day so worthwhile, was seeing the elation and achievement in people’s faces and being able to jump up and down with them and tell them they had done incredibly. From people that had given everything for a PB, to the people that had completed their first half and couldn’t believe they had done it. There were a few runners who snatched their medals without a smile or thank you, but on the whole people seemed pretty chuffed. I was also constantly on the lookout for the 15 or so runners I knew in the event- and was so pleased to see all but 2 of them- including Elle! 
Jen & Kiera at the Finish Line

After the initial rush subsided, a handful of volunteers were moved over to help with the baggage area which was apparently pretty busy. The rest of us closed the finishing area down to one chute, so that runners could still come through but we could also start tidying up. My one main criticism of the event was how much packaging and rubbish there was, and I am not sure how much was recycled.
Our team leader got word over her radio when the last runner was coming in, and we all got together to clap her through the finish line. I was slightly emotional watching her come in just ahead of the amazing sweeper cyclists - but then I am the girl who stands in the rain for hours cheering on the 6+ hour runners at the London marathon every year. There was actually one other runner who had somehow ended up behind the cyclists - and as soon as we realised, he also got a big cheer as he crossed the finish line.

Once all the runners were through, we volunteers had a quick photo under the finish line, and finished collecting everything together.  I left the stadium at around 2pm - freezing cold and ready for a massive roast despite not having run the half!
"As a thank you for volunteering I have been offered free entry to next year’s event, so looks like I better get some hill training in!"
Overall I was really impressed with the race and am happy that the organisers are keen for feedback as they want to improve for next year if they can. Apart from difficulty getting to the location and the hilly course (both things runners could find out before signing up if they wanted to), the baggage seems to be the main thing I heard on the day which could be improved. As a thank you for volunteering I have been offered free entry to next year’s event, so looks like I better get some hill training in!
I would definitely recommend volunteering at a race to all runners- not only is it your chance to give something back, but gives a real insight into where your entry fee goes. 
It will also remind you to ALWAYS SMILE AND THANK THE MARSHALLS!! 


Elle About Town, March 2015

March has been full of the unexpected! With an unexpected house move, plus an actual house move (again) coming up, it's been interesting balancing life with training!  

Here's what I've been up to or plan on getting up to in and about London Town! 

Product: PROMIXX 2.0 

In a bid to keep my immune system working, I've been supplementing with protein shakes. After swimming lessons, after run club and just when I need a snack have been the times my shake has saved me.

What better way to prepare my shake then in my new PROMIXX 2.0?! I owned the previous version which was great in its own right but the update now comes with a rechargeable battery, plus a lid with storage for your powder (or vitamin pills ...anything you need to take!)

I fill up the bottle with my almond milk / water mix, pop my scoop of powder in the lid and off I go! It takes minimal time to actually whizz up your shake too and there have been no lumps in sight!

One lesson I did learn though...I wondered why it came with two lids and I worked out the answer when I used it the first time. When you use the powder stored in the little tub, you need the lid for the shaker. The tub is then left lidless if you don't carry the extra! Find out more and pick up your own {here}!

Product: Buff 

I love when opportunities arrive in a timely fashion! It's like the guys at kitshack.com knew I needed a running wardrobe injection of fun and function when they offered me the chance to try out a Buff. First things first, I had a hard time choosing just one from the thousands and thousands (I don't think I'm exaggerating?!) available on the website!

I chose an awesome blue printed one which I felt I would love for a long time to come. I road tested it for the North London Half Marathon which was a cold, chilly morning! I wore it as a neck warmer to keep the breeze from getting into my clothes. It did a smashing job...so much so, I had to take it off when I was too warm! I would've worn it as a headband but I already had one on! So I wrapped it around my wrist and forgot about it!

It'll definitely be a firm favourite in my running wardrobe though! I love that it's so light, but warm and very versatile! Check out the website for the video with inspiration!

Events: Swim Dem Crew 

So far, in my very short swimming career (I use the word career lightly), I have been swimming as a solitary fish in my lessons bar the one time I went swimming with Jen (of Eclectic Cake). I had a few bridges to cross in the form of swimming in a pool longer than 20m, swimming in a pool deeper than I could stand in and swimming with others. I hit all 3 at the same time through attending a session with Swim Dem Crew at the Olympic Pool in Stratford London.

Of the 60 minutes I was there, I think I actually swam for a maximum of 15 minutes. It took me a long while to get over how cold and deep the pool was. Then I had to get used to swimming with 15 other people and not having the edge all to myself.

I know though, that next time, I will be more confident as I know what to expect!

Events: London Bloggers Meet Up 

Met up with this lovely bunch in London to get to know each other a bit better!

London Bloggers, a group on Facebook, is a group to share ideas, opportunities, get inspiration and find collaborations! If you have a blog and live / visit London a lot then please join the group {here}.

Coming Up....

London Marathon Cheer Station 
On Sunday April 26th, I'll be heading out to cheer on all the runners who will be taking on the London Marathon. You can join me and find out all the details via the Facebook Event Page; This will be the hub for all the logistics, plus fun stuff like deciding what signs to create!

Triathlon Swimming Course 
...I start this 6 week course at the end of April and finish just a couple of weeks before my main event - Windsor Triathlon - in June. I'll also have the Eton Supersprints in May to test out what I learn up to that point!

What's coming up for you in the next month?! 

Elle :) x


Guest Post: Beetroot & Mint Dip

I LOVE beetroot. I get cravings for it. So sweet, so earthy, so full of iron! I'm also going through a very tahini-heavy cooking (/spoon and jar) phase right now (me + ground nuts and seeds... no surprises there!). 

What I tend to do when I'm completely obsessed with two ingredients is combine them - or better: BLEND THEM.

And so, this fluorescent beauty was born!

Beetroot & Mint Dip 


  • 5-6 cooked beetroot
  • 4 generous tbsp tahini (get the thick stuff from the bottom of the jar as the oil tends to separate)
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or balsamic makes it sweeter)
  • Leaves from 5 large sprigs of mint
  • 1-2 tsp za'atar
  • Generous pinch sea/pink Himalayan salt & black pepper to taste (I love black pepper so I go wild)
  • 1-2 small cloves garlic or 1 tsp garlic purée 
  • 1/3 tsp cayenne pepper


1. Set one sprig of mint aside
2. Blend everything else until smooth, stopping to stir through a couple of times to make sure everything's well-combined.
3. Add the leaves from the saved mint sprig to the blender and pulse.
4. Serve. Eat. Yum. 

Kate :) 

As a singer, yoga teacher and lover of all things tasty, I'm constantly reviewing my connection with my body - and, by extension, the food I eat. I got into cooking in my early teens, when creating the perfect brownie was the biggest life problem I faced. Now, after digestive problems, sugar crashes and migraines have led me to a largely sugar-,grain-, and dairy-free existence, my love of cooking is driven by the search for food that is satisfying and nourishing. And just so you know, I consider eating almond butter from the jar (daily) both satisfying and nourishing..."

Follow Kate on Instagram: @misskatelister or check out her band at www.thefoobirds.co.uk 


Experience Eat First

A couple weeks ago, Eat First invited me to try out their food delivery service. I jumped at the chance as life was a little chaotic and having one less meal to prepare and think about was a bonus.

It all got arranged, and everything was perfect. of course. But I wanted to know what the experience would be like for everyone else. So I used the service again, and paid for it. Just to ruin the suspense though, everything still was perfect.

What is Eat First?

Each day, for lunch and dinner, there's a choice of two fresh and healthy meals (and a juice) that you can have delivered straight to you. You do need to be within their delivery zone in London though but it has been expanded recently and covers much of Central London including the City Mile.

How Does it Work? 

You can either visit their website or download the app to see what is on the menu on a given day. One  choice is always vegetarian - for example, butternut squash lasagne is an option which even as non vegetarian I would choose! On the site, they list the ingredients including any allergens in addition to the nutritional information.

You pay via card and then via the app you can watch your food make its way to you via a motorcycle courier. The system calls you 2 minutes before your food arrives so you can meet your driver on the kerb for the handover.

My Final Thoughts? 

It really is that simple. My food was hot and came with a full set of cutlery, salt, pepper and a small snack pot of dried fruit / nuts / seeds.

hoi sin chicken 

The driver was polite and friendly. My food arrived within 10 minutes of me ordering; I even had to rush back to the office to make sure I was there before them!

The flavour was just right; like your home cooking, where it isn't over the top and leaves you feeling satisfied. There's no getting away from your veggies either as each (non vegetarian) meal comes with a generous side of your 5 a day!

Thai green chicken curry 

Then of course, the cost. Each meal cost £7 including delivery. Juices are priced at £3. Now when I compare this to how much money I can drop in say, Pret or Itsu if I end up in there, I think it's a pretty sweet deal.

So, would I use them again?! For sure, it's a yes!

What's your fall back when you don't make lunch at home?! 

Elle :) 


Vitality North London Half Marathon 2015 #MyMoments

When writing this post, there are a few things I need to remember and keep at the forefront of my mind. The first is that I have barely run in the 3 weeks since smashing my half marathon PB at Brighton Half. The second is that I then no longer had any requirements for this day as I'd hit my goal for the year already. And the third is that I must keep everything constructive as my emotions on the day belong to me, and me alone.

This is how the event went for me.

For the first time ever, I read the race pack (albeit, the night before). It was a bit of a shock to the system - the course was going to be hilly and the start location would not be the easiest to access. I planned in my mind, an experience similar to Brighton - rock up 1 hour before the start, get fed, watered and just chill till it was time. No pressure, as I'd agreed to run with Bethan again; the plan was to just have a chat on the way round as a catch up (not seen her in like, 2 weeks!).

My journey didn't go to plan (that's Sunday morning on public transport for you) and I arrived about 15 mins before the start. I went to sign in, but there was a lot of confusion which left me racing to the bag drop just to have somewhere to leave my bag!

Vitality North London Half Marathon
15th March 2015 

Start Location: Somewhere outside of the Allianz Stadium, North London

Start Time: 9.30am

The Start: Thinking the start line was in the stadium (Erm, that's what the FB post from North London Half said that morning?!) I didn't think there was much to worry about until we realised it was actually a good distance away...out of the stadium. We eventually made it there as the last runners were leaving (I predict we started in the last 500), got to wave to Mo Farah and off we went...

The Route: The route was an out and back loop with the midpoint being that we got to run through Wembley Stadium, right next to the pitch. This definitely was the highlight of the 13.1 miles. And I'm not a football fan.

Before that, it was running next door to / under a dual carriage way / motorway, through some streets and areas which were very, very quiet and lacked support. Oh and then the recurring theme of the entire event were the hills...

Hill Mantra: head down, knees up 

I had just one big hill in Brighton. On Sunday, we had hill after hill, after hill and the downhill segments didn't even feel that spectacular!

There were a few bands speckled around the route but the most noticeable noise came from Run Dem Crew...

The Crowd: Run Dem Crew provided a huge heap of sideline support. That was amazing. The rest of the course had supporters here and there. My favourite were some residents who came out with some signs they had made! The two that stuck in my memory were "You Inspire" and "Good Luck! And Have A Good Day!".

The Atmosphere: There wasn't much time for me to soak up the atmosphere pre start; during the race everyone seemed friendly enough. We spent a fair bit of time overtaking people as we kept a steady pace.

The Drinks: There were 5 water stations on the course. Hooray! The water stations also were part of my best bits - they had kids / teens handing out the bottles who were so friendly and encouraging! Made me smile every single time as their enthusiasm seemed to be infectious! Lucozade was also available but as I don't train with it, I don't take it when I am running.

The Loo Situation: Plenty were at the start line and some along the course. They even had posh portaloos which were a bonus! There were more queues for the loos on the course than for the ones in the race village which I thought was fascinating!

The Finish: The stadium finish was pretty cool! By the time we got back, a considerable crowd had already completed the race and gathered on the sidelines of the final straight. Bethan did her usual sprint finish which actually made me smile!

The Medal: This was one part I was looking forward to! I love running for a medal and I also knew our friend Kiera was volunteering and would be handing out the medals so I made a bee line straight for her to get mine!

The Statistics:

My Official Time: 2:15:01

A HUGE THANK YOU (again) to Bethan who ran (and skipped) all the way with me! Even when I insisted she left me, she stuck with me!

Have you ever had an off day for an event?! How do you cope?! 

Elle :) 

p.s And Thanks to Vitality North London for my place. All opinions are my own :) 


Working Out With Kayla Itsines

image from Nike Women Facebook

When I was approached about this ebook by Kayla Itsines, I was a little skeptical. I'd never heard of her or seen anything floating around the webosphere. I responded to the email to say I wasn't really into ebooks and I'd have a think about it. Luckily they didn't take no for an answer and sent me the book anyway...

It seems that sometimes you just don't notice things when they aren't in your minds eye. Because from that point on Kayla Itsines was everywhere. I read a few blog posts about her, and then a friend / colleague (whom I very much respect when it comes to fitness) mentioned she'd been using the ebook. So I swiftly saved the copy to my desktop and had a peek.

Kayla is a fitness sensation from Australia who has touched millions of girls lives through her massive Instagram following and her 12 Week Bikini Body ebook.

I'm gonna get straight to the exercise part of things and what you can expect! ...The programme is 12 weeks long; made up of resistance workouts, cardio and stretching. Weeks 1-4 looks a little something like this....

LISS is Low Intensity Steady State Exercise whilst HIIT is High Intensity Interval Training. 

For the resistance workouts you have two 7 minute circuits with 4 exercises in each. So you complete the 4 exercises as many times as you can in the 7 minutes totalling 28 minutes. This is doable right?! 

The HIIT sessions are a 30:30 setup. This means you will sprint at 90- 100% capacity (approx. 12-17kmph) for 30 seconds and then be at stand still (or cruise) for 30 seconds, then repeat for a total of 10-15 minutes. You can either do this on a treadmill or stationary bike. 

...Right now, I'm stuck into triathlon training. It's something like swim 2-3x per week, run 2-3x per week and cycle when I can. It's too much for me to do anything else but once I complete my event in June, I'll need something to fill the void and I'd love to get back to strength training / gym / functional workouts to keep myself motivated! 

In the meantime, check out the ebook yourself and let me know your thoughts! 

AND get yourself 10% off any purchase you make; use code - Simp10 - ENJOY

Have you already tried the Kayla Itsines programme?! 

Elle :) 


Introduction to Triathlon with Human Race

Interested in taking on a triathlon in 2015?!

Check out this video from Human Race...you might even catch me 'psycling' my little legs off!

I'll be tackling a Super Sprint in May (Eton) and the a Sprint distance at Windsor Triathlon in June!

Have any more questions regarding Triathlon?! Leave them in the comments and I'll put them to Marsha, from RG Active who you saw in the video!

Elle :) 


TRI | CHECK | DO: Oh Ok. It's March.

Anybody else feel like this?! I recently shared this image on Instagram and it seems I'm not alone!

So it's March. Three months out from race day. Sunday 14th June, 2015, I take on my first ever triathlon. Windsor Triathlon.

One month on from my last post updating you on my swimming, a lot has happened.

A major goal for me was to swim one (non stop) length of breaststroke & freestyle BREATHING. I can now share with you that I can do BOTH!! It's exciting, believe me! It's major! My teacher Kat, went on holiday for a month and I was concerned about having a new teacher but Bartek, has been amazing! Kat's the queen of breaststroke and Bartek is the King of front crawl (both of Strictly Swimming) so I should be heading into my triathlon strong in both! 

TO DO: practice my technique and build my endurance

TO DO: swim in a pool with a deep end 

TO DO: swim in a pool longer than 20m

It's soon time to start a training plan...

...which landed in my inbox just this week put together by Marsha from RG Active. It's an 8 week plan for the sprint distance based on just finishing. It's based on training 6 days per week with one rest day. I think it's doable. Here's what Week 1 looks like: 
TO DO: Schedule in open water practice. The season starts in April but it will be cooooold! So maybe around early May?!

I am now the proud owner of my very own wetsuit though ready for the cold waters! I tried it on one evening and it wasn't as tough as I thought it would be! 

I also picked up this little number in the Sweaty Betty sale! It's a pretty looking tri suit which could work perfectly for me on race day. I'll put it through some testing before then to see how it feels but it was a bargain! 

The only other kit I would love to get my hands on are some trainers (maybe the new Adidas Boost?!), a kit bag and a few bits for swim training - a mini kick board, pull buoy, fins and a garmin that can track my swim workouts. Oh, then a GoPro wouldn't go a miss! Anything else I am missing?! 

You can read my latest running update in my write up about Brighton Half Marathon!  

As for cycling, I'm currently in the middle of moving house so my bike is temporarily in storage! In the meantime, I've been hitting up indoor cycling classes when I can at Psycle London!

Here's to the next month of training!

Are you training for a triathlon?! Any tips for me?! 

Elle :) 


Guest Post: Five Yoga Poses for Cyclists

Cycling has become extremely popular in London in recent years; we have the Boris Bike scheme and annual cycles around London like the Ride 100 to get people outside on their bikes. I teach yoga to corporates like Evans Cycles and I have seen more and more people turn to yoga to help them to improve their cycling by improving their posture on the bike. 

Yoga can rebalance and realign the body. Most cyclists ride with their shoulders hunched and their back arched for long periods of time which leads to loading on the disks in your spine. Because the legs are never fully lengthened when riding, the hamstrings can become tight causing the lumbar region to be vulnerable to injury and pain. Cycling is a repetitive sport on the muscles and yoga can really stretch and release tension in these tight areas especially through the legs and calves.

Cyclists put the body and spine in a forward direction and yoga makes us strengthen the front side of the body and the back, opening the whole body out and making the body feel lighter. A strong core is vital for posture and power on a bike. Most road cyclists have a weak abdominals and many of the standing poses in yoga help to twist the spine keeping it supple and help to strengthen the core. 

Cycling uses the breath and long uphill cycles require mental toughness; yoga teaches us to use the breath efficiently and also helps us to ignore the mind, the ego and any negative thoughts to make us more powerful in life. The stronger the breath the more efficient the muscles will be and yoga will not only make you stronger and fitter it will also keep you mentally focused for your rides. 

My Top 5 Poses For Cyclists

Cat Cow

The cat cow pose will release tension in the spine and help you to have a flatter back, engaging the top of the back when you are cycling. 

In tabletop position on your inhale drop the belly and lift the head. On your exhale tuck the tailbone under - arch the spine, vertebrate by vertebrate up toward the ceiling. 

Boat Pose

A common problem for cyclists is weak core and so the tension in riding position goes straight into the lower back. 

To make your way into boat pose sit tall and start to raise the legs into boat pose. Keeping the chest lifted and the shoulders away from the spine focus in on the breath and hold for 5 deep breaths. If its hard to straighten the legs bend the knees and bring the hands behind the knees. Use the hands to draw the thigh and chest together to keep the chest lifted. 

Reverse Table top

Ease out tight thighs and also open up the chest, shoulders and back in this lovely pose. 

Fingers should be pointed towards the body, knees hip distance apart and ankles in line with the hips. Push through the heels and raise the hips high. Relax the shoulders and roll the shoulder blades together away from the ears. Take 5 nice deep breaths and make sure the chin comes to the chest before your bring yourself down. 


For cyclists rounding in the back over the handle bars can be a common problem. Cobra pose strengthens the upper back. 

Lying on your belly toes pointed and legs extended behind you. Interlace your fingers above your hips and draw the fingers towards the heels feeling the shoulders roll away from the ears. Keep the gaze into the horizon. 

Triangle Pose

A really great pose to strengthen the core and spine along with opening up the chest area. Also great for strengthening the legs, ankles and keeping the hips open.

With legs wide, right foot pointed to the top of the mat. Raise the arms shoulder width. Pushing back into the left leg exhale and extend the right arm over the straight right leg.  Keep the knee caps and thighs active and bring the right hand to the right calf. Then, left hand extending through the arm, breath into the left side of the body and change sides. 

Kelly Brooks
Website: www.kellybrooksyoga.com
Twitter: @kellybrooksyoga


ClassPass London Launch

It's official!

Today is the day that ClassPass launches in London - their very first time stepping across the pond!

...and all the excitement was kicked off last night at Barry's Bootcamp!

...do we look excited or scared in our pre workout picture?!

Is it just me, or is this every Londoners dream?! I mean, there are so many fitness classes out there, why would you want to commit to just one when you can have them ALL?!

Here are a few more options to whet your appetite...

I know my friends across the pond have been enjoying ClassPass for a while now...any tips for us?!

Those of you in London, what are you waiting for?! Check out ClassPass now!

ClassPass | www.classpass.com 

Which classes will you be hitting up?! 

Elle :) 

p.s if you're somewhere else in the world just <click here>


Top 10 EssentElle Half Marathon Tips

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

Top 10 EssentElle Half Marathon Tips 

1. Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



BELIEVE in March

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

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

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

March | Believe 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elle :) 


Virtual Coffee Date: Marathon Chat with Bethan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elle: Anything else we should talk about?! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elle :) 
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