Elle About Town: SIX3NINE Ladies That Lift Event

You'd be forgiven for thinking that women don't belong in the weights room. I kid you not, there are some gyms I've been to that after one swift look in the direction of a bar, followed by the whiff of testosterone, and I retreat to the studio with a maximum of 5kg dumbbells if you can actually find a pair. But people, LADIES, this doesn't have to be the reality.

Then along comes ‘Ladies that Lift’ - a small group training class from SIX3NINE Personal Training Practice, based in London's Covent Garden. Designed to empower women, ‘Ladies that Lift’ classes teach the fundamentals of weight lifting and heavy resistance training to help sculpt and tone the body, allowing you to experience the physical and mental benefits of weight training and feel more confident in the gym.

Having been partial to a bit of Crossfit before I quit to learn to swim, I'm not afraid of a bar, or a dumbbell. Albeit that I could barely walk having run North London Half Marathon a couple days before, I was there in spirit.

On the day though, as a reflection of real life, our small group varied in abilities. From the regular cardio bunny, through to me asking "so we don't cover Olympic Lifts?!". Well, the session paid testament to the fact that classes are suitable for all regardless of age or fitness ability. Led by two of the senior SIX3NINE training team, Russ Harris and Ed Loveday we got to ask all the questions that probably cross the minds of other women. We got to understand some of the shy behind what we were doing too which is something I find missing in group exercise classes. The actual classes are restricted to 12 participants too which allows for individual coaching during sessions to ensure you get the best results, and can ask all the questions you need to!

The ‘sessions come in a monthly training package which includes a weekly one hour training and access to additional nutritional support and general guidance from the SIX3NINE training team, as well as a monthly body composition analysis so that you can track your progress. 

Do you ever hit up the weights room?! If not, what is holding you back?! 

Elle :) 

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Classes start from £99 per month with a 10% discount for SIX3NINE members. For more information visit www.six3nine.com


Vitality North London Half Marathon 2016 #MyMoments

After taking on the inaugural Vitality North London Half Marathon in 2015 (read the write up here), I was lured back with the temptation of an updated route. You can never really judge an event by their first attempt so I was curious to see what feedback had been taken on board.

Start Location: Wembley Park

Start Time: 9am

The Start: Okay. So I had what was probably the worst start to a race ever. After turning up in good time, I ended up running to the start line 25 minutes after the scheduled start. I was lucky enough to be hosted in the Hospitality Area, however, this was in a very convoluted part of the stadium; I got lost leaving the building, after realising I had forgotten my shot bloks and then managed to get to the start line only in what I estimate were the last 100 runners to start!

The Route: The course was recognisable from 2015, having been the second half of our 13.1 miles on that occasion, yet being just the first half this time around. My geography isn't the greatest but to me, this out and back route is actually North West London. From Wembley Stadium, to Allianz Park and back again.

The Crowd: Support on the course was sparse; it was early on a Sunday morning after all! The route was also a mix of industrial areas and residential areas so not much going on for spectators.

The Atmosphere: The atmosphere was an interesting one. Having never started so far back in a race before it was new to me to see what goes on behind the average runners. The atmosphere for the first half was great with all the runners being on the opposite side to us and seeing friends who cheered me on. It was a little lonelier on the way back with no crowds of runners or spectators. Yet, these were the runners who honestly needed their spirits lifted most, suffering from injuries or just taking on a challenge so big that it was difficult.

The Drinks: So many drinks stations (water and Lucozade) which were hugely appreciated! The water bottles were the perfect size - small enough to carry and large enough to quench your thirst should you really need it. Mine fit in the pocket of my tights which allowed to me take sips anytime I needed between stations.

The Loo Situation: Portaloos seemed to be located at all the water stations. For the first time in as long as I can remember I stopped to used them somewhere in the first half. There were queues at each set so I stopped when I saw a shorter queue but this still took a good 5 or 6 minutes in my estimation.

The Finish: Now this was a hit and a miss. When you are in mile 13, running down the same straight where the starting pens were located and can see the stadium ahead of you, you could be mistaken, like I was to think this is the end. But no. Once you got to the stadium, we took a sharp left into the car par and ran along the side of the stadium for what felt like an eternity; then through what could only be described as service tunnel before merging into the actual stadium.

The atmosphere inside did make up for the last few hundred metres somewhat; hearing your name being called over the tannoy as you crossed the finish line was the cherry on top.

The Medal: Now we all know this is what really got me out of bed at 6am on a Sunday, right?! The whole time I was running, quitting crossed my mind regularly but then I worried about a) how I would get back to the start line and b) I wouldn't get the medal. So I kept running as the solution to both of these stoppages.

Now it's time to get ready for Hackney Half Marathon on Sunday 8th May! In an attempt to actually train for this this race, I'll be posting my classes / runs weekly on my FB page (link below) to stay accountable and hopefully get some company! ...I already have Barry's Bootcamp in the diary for this week!

How has your Half Marathon training been going?! Will you be taking on Hackney too?! 

Elle :) 

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Elle About Town: Yorica! A Free From Experience!

I remember the days when you asked for a soya latte in Starbucks they gave you that pitiful "oh, you're following the fashion trend" look. Then topped it off with "Would you like whipped cream on that?!". The answer is NO, ffs. I'm lactose intolerant, not restricting myself for the sake of it. So let it be known that that is why all my recipes on the blog are made with milk alternatives, rarely feature cheese or any other dairy products. 

Imagine my delight when I get an email inviting me to the launch of a "free from" cafe which would be serving up shakes, ice cream and fro yo - all dairy free! 

Address: Wardour Street, Soho (London) 

With Yorica!, everyone's invited to indulge without worry; the yummy range of desert delights not only taste incredible - the all natural ingredients are also entirely free from all main allergens, including dairy, lactose, gluten, nuts and egg - and EVERYTHING on the menu is completely Vegan. 

I tried pretty much everything on the menu in one evening (pictured above is the cookies and cream milkshake topped with coconut whipped cream). I also had a warm, nut free peanut butter ice cream milkshake. Yup. Take a moment to digest that. 

Hello beetroot ice cream (pictured above). Psychedelic decor and a selfie wall. 

Chilling in the hanging chair. 

I know where I'll be hanging out all summer...

Do you suffer from any food intolerances?! 

Elle :) 

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Plan, Record and Succeed with Goalify

We've surpassed the period of time in which we recognise New Years Resolutions. Some, well many, of us can barely recall what we pledged to achieve in 2016, right?! 

Personally and honestly, I'm still trying to figure out what motivates me to workout. What was it that got me to train for Brighton Half Marathon?! ...and what has stopped me from training for other races I have committed to?! 

I'm not afraid to give anything a try in my quest for the pot of gold at the end of my motivation rainbow. And when I recently came across Goalify, I thought I'd give it a try and share my thoughts with you. 

Goalify is an app (available on iOS and android) created to help us reach our goals and be more consistent. I only recently upgraded my phone so actually now have the space to check out new apps! I spend enough time on it already, so maybe it could come in useful for tracking all the things I say I want to do?! 

The 6x6 Challenge 

There are four types of goals you can monitor on the app - I'm currently using the "Flex" option - where I have full control to choose my own targets. So here goes; I've decided to try something crazy. It's called the 6x6. I've committed to working out 6 times per week for 6 weeks starting on Sunday 20th March (with a half marathon!). The exception to this rule is Saturday for me, which I have recorded on the app. When I go into the dashboard, it tells me what I need to do on that day to hit my goal; when I've completed my workout (as I did on Sunday) I record it. 

There's a clever pause system too, so should I need to take a break from my routine, I can suspend it until I can get back to it! I have no plans on needing this in the 6 weeks but isn't it just a little demoralising when you can't continue with something and your gadgets are constantly reminding you of your failures?! 

I'm currently on the 3 month Unlimited plan, which means I can add an infinite amount of goals to the app (or 3 with the free version) and it also offers a little more flexibility with creating training plans (something I would love to do for running / training for a race). 

I'm writing this post on Day 1 of my challenge and posting it on Day 2 where the plan is to get some yoga in as a workout and post race recovery rolled into one! Tuesday (Day 3) it's back to teaching and I'll also be off to a Ladies Who Lift session! 

Keep an eye out on social media to see how the 6x6 is going! ...I've also roped in a friend to do this with me (erm, a little accountability is a good thing, right?!). Oh, and the reason I'm doing this challenge?! A) I always say to myself, I wonder how fit I'd be / what I'd look like if I did my own classes B) I want to kickstart my motivation and C) I'm looking to learn, and figure out what works for me, and to learn to be as enthusiastic about my own training as I am about those who I train!

(CLOSED) WIN 3 Months Unlimited Goalify 

The peeps over at Goalify have kindly offered me 3 codes to share with you lucky lot (anywhere in the World!) to join me as a goal digger! All you have to do is leave a comment with what you would use the app to work on or why you'd love to try it! I'll pick 3 winners through out the week (all chosen by Sunday 27th March) so get in there quick at let me know what you are going to be up to now that Spring is officially (even if not in reality) here!! 

So what's your next challenge?! And how do you monitor your progress towards your goals?! 

Elle :) 

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p.s this is a sponsored post however, you know me, all opinions are my own :) 

Fitness 4 Mamas


Get Involved || Exante Diet Twitter Chat

People! ...I agreed to throw myself to the twittersphere to answer all of your questions in a live Q&A with Exante! It's all a part of their #realconversation campaign, and I'm excited to be a part of it!

As part of the campaign, you receive guidance throughout the year with advice, motivation tips and Q&As (like this one!) with their friendly Nutritionists, qualified Personal Trainers & more.

Join the #realconversation twitter chat with myself:

Where: Follow @exantediet and @X_eLle_S on Twitter

When: Wednesday 23rd March, 12.30 -1.30pm

What: I will be answering all your exercise -related questions live with lots of helpful tips and advice  
Can’t make it? Email your questions before 23rd to realchange@thehutgroup.com using subject-line #realconversation 

You can also leave me any thoughts or questions below in the comments; as per usual, if there is something that you want to know, there are others out there wondering the very same thing... 

So don't be shy! Hope to catch you there... 

Elle :)

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Elle About Town: Reebok Les Mills Live, London March 2016

A couple years ago, when I was away from the London fitness scene for a while, I discovered Les Mills. BodyPump and BodyBalance were my moments of normality each week to work up a sweat, stretch and relax. Even though all my classes were in Finnish.

This weekend was when the Reebok Les Mills Live global tour hit London Excel and I was lucky enough to be invited along to check it all out...

Photo credit: Georgina of Fitcetera

The day was jam packed with classes across the venue, along with the Athlete Zone where you could watch classes, take part in challenges, shop the outfits and leave your bags. We (Bex, Jess (both of Twins in Trainers), Georgina (of Fitcetera) and I started the morning off with a BodyPump class along with hundreds of other attendees after getting kitted out in our Reebok gear!

BodyPump is the class to build strength, get lean and get toned. Using a barbel with light to moderate weights and lots of repetition for a total body workout. I was taking it a little easy after being unwell for the past week but still managed to burn 430 calories in the session (tracked on my Polar A360).

We then popped into a Sprint class - a high intensity interval training class on a bike. It was a little too much for me after BodyPump and not feeling 100% so I left the ladies to it and just chilled out for a bit!

Having worked up an appetite, it was time to take a break for lunch before checking out all the fun going on and having Charlie (of The Runner Beans) join us! ...Cue, the selfie booth and a blogger pyramid...

Photo credit: Georgina of Fitcetera

Photo credit: Georgina of Fitcetera
My final session for the day was a GRIT Plyo class - a 30 minute HIIT plyometric based workout designed to make you perform like an athlete. This workout used a bench and a 5kg weighted plate combining explosive jumping exercises with agility training to increase explosiveness to build a lean and athletic body. By this time, my tracker was low on battery so wouldn't record the session! I absolutely loved the format of this class (it's one that I could see myself teaching too!) and will be using it to inspire me when planning my home workouts this week! 

If I'd of had the energy I would've stayed longer as I was keen to try BodyStep, BodyBalance and the classes I hadn't ever heard of! ...I've a sneaky suspicion the tour will be popping back up in Manchester later this year in addition to all their European and Worldwide dates! 

Have you tried any of the Les Mills classes before?! What are your favourite classes to get your sweat on?! 

Elle :) 

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What To Expect For Your First Half Marathon

Almost four years ago, I successfully completed my first 13.1 miles at Run To The Beat.  I hadn't ever considered running a half marathon; I'd barely ever run 10km, but when the opportunity came up just 5 weeks before race day I couldn't turn it down! I mustered up a plan, all my energy and finished in 2:27 ...a time that I am still so very proud of to this day!

To date, I've completed 5 half marathons and have two more in the diary for 2016 (along with a triathlon and a cycling sportive - no big deal!). Last year I shared with you my Top 10 EssentElle Half Marathon Tips so this year, along with re-sharing those of course, I thought I'd reach out to my community and see what tips / advice / stories they had to share with us!

1. ...Make sure your expectations align with the training you put in. 

This one comes from my Top 10 Half Marathon Tips and I think it sums up everything nicely. If you commit to a 12 week plan, runnign 4-5 times a week then no doubt you have big plans for race day! But, Helen of HelsBels reminds us not to "get too caught up in your race plan. I know we all have tactics and that's great but you need to be prepared to change them if necessary on the day." 

Erica (of Erica Finds) shares her advice to "start slow and finish strong. I have run over 150 half marathons. In marathons and halfs, it feels slow at the start if you are going your goal pace (especially if you do speedwork or shorter races). Trust your training and yourself to keep an even pace and if you feel great at mile 10, let the games begin!"

2. You may spend a lot of time arguing with the voice in your head. 

I was relieved when Ann of Adventurous Mum mentioned this one. In some races, I find myself arguing with the voice inside my head the entire time. It continually asks me why I'm doing this, looks out for good opportunities to stop and then causes all sorts of random aches / pains in places I've never had aches or pains before! Ann says that all you need to remember is "don't give in to the inner critic, you can do it when you set your mind to it". 

3.  The Half Marathon distance deserves respect in its own right. 

Gareth (I'd Rather Be Out Running) says "I think HM is the toughest race distance as its not a flat out sprint like 5K & it's not all about distance like a full marathon." ...and I couldn't agree more! You have to balance your training with speed work, pacing yourself and endurance.

4. Never judge a run by the first mile. Or two. Or three. Or four.  

(from Taking The Long Way Home). I don't work in miles, but in km, it always takes me at least the first two km's to really settle into the run, feel comfortable and begin to enjoy the event! In the first km's my body and mind both try to resist and convince me to quit - if you remember this, and keep fighting that inner critic, you too will find your stride...

So who's about to run their first half?! ...I'm scheduled to run North London Half Marathon on Sunday 20th March (after not much training and being struck with flu) but my only goal is to enjoy the race and finish! 

Do you have any tips you would like to share?! leave them in the comments below...

Elle :) 

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Find Your Why Behind Being Active. Then Measure.

I don't talk about fitness trackers much on the blog anymore (no-one needs another fitbit review!). And believe me, this is not because I don't use one. I literally keep my wrists covered at all times to prevent people from asking if the bands on both wrists are activity trackers and why I need them both. The short story is that one is basic and links to my health insurance (earning me perks such as free coffee, movie tickets and half price trainers) whilst the other has a heart rate monitor which allows me to see how effective my training is and push myself to the required zone. 

Then along came this study thats suggests that measuring an activity makes it less enjoyable. But the caveat is that the negative effects of measurement are really where you were just doing something for fun. Because then, measurement makes it not fun.

So, the moral of the story is the title of this post. 

If you're new to exercise or working out, find a specific goal to work towards. For example, walk more to lose weight. In cases such as these, having access to data can actually make you more likely to do the activity. 

I spent approx 6 years meticulously tracking every single run I did, no matter how short. I loved having all this data but when I wasn't training for a race, it became meaningless. I then turned off the milestones on my Nike+ running app so it no longer kept telling me my distance or pace. Then I stopped tracking some runs all together and focused on how I felt rather than how fast I was going. 

This research proposes that the more you quantify something that’s rewarding for its own sake, the less likely you are to enjoy it - and the less likely you are, too, to do more of it. And this is what happened to me after I completed my first ever triathlon in 2015. I measured every swim (and was annoyed every time my watch missed a lap of the pool), the few runs I managed to squeeze in and the couple of times I actually rode my bike as part of my training. 

I then didn't run for over 6 months. 

By the time I needed to start running again, as I had races in the diary, I couldn't muster up the motivation. What did get me moving again was the realism after hopping on the scales (another tracker that demotivates us?!) and seeing the effect that no running, no swimming, no cycling but eating like I was had had on me. Then I wanted to track everything. From workouts, to water intake, to my daily food intake.

Is there a happy medium?! I certainly don't know. But it's much like all technology these days. It's refreshing to take a break from it all every now and again. Run to enjoy the scenery, clear your mind and destress. Walk to stretch your legs, enjoy company or get from A to B. Or workout, just to sweat. 

Do you use any activity trackers?! Have you in the past, and quit!?! What are your thoughts?!

Elle :) 

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Post inspiration source: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/02/the-quantified-welp/470874/


Superfoods & Healthy Eating Workshop with L'atelier des Chefs

Recently, I've become less fascinated with following recipes I find online and more interested in creating my own recipes. I've drawn a blank with recipes when they don't explain why they use the ingredients they do as I like to have a good understanding of what I'm doing and the reasoning behind it.

So when I had the opportunity to attend a 'Fundamentals' cooking class at L'atelier des Chefs on Superfoods & Healthy eating, I jumped at the chance.

The recipes we cooked during the class were:
- On Garlic - Super foods
- Nutty power bars
- Moroccan inspired carrot salad
- Kale and chickpea salad
- Winter vegetable galettes

The classes are just two hours long, but lucky for me, there were just two of us so I got to ask our Chef plenty of questions! ...Like, how much of a spring onion is the part we should use?! Why should I bother to toast my spices?! or toast pine nuts before I make pesto?! ...usually I have to turn to twitter when I am opposed with such wonders! 

I realised that I'm pretty much a superfood snob but thats only because I care about what I put into my body! When we were frying the galettes (rostis to the rest of us?!) we used sunflower oil - I'm a huge fan of coconut oil these days and never have an issue or notice that anything tastes of coconut when I am using it. the only other oils I use are olive oil for salads or mayonnaise and sesame oil for some asian inspired dishes. 

Other than the extra food, I got to take away some new found knife skills (I now want a big knife for my kitchen); I can now chop a pepper like a bawse, shred kale with a massive knife without losing any digits and make my own garlic puree in 2 minutes with knife and some sea salt. Yup. This kinda stuff makes me feel like I'm winning at life. 

All that was left to do, was plate up the food and feast... 

I was off to spin class after this class so the nutty bars were perfect fuel both pre and post class until I got home to eat the rest of the food as dinner! 

I'm keen to try out Knife Skills, Baking & Bread, Macaroons and Pastry & Sweet Things for starters! You can check out the full range of classes in the L'atelier des Chefs website.

What cooking classes have you been to or would like to go to?! 

Elle :) 

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Holiday Fitness Tips: 11 Expert Opinions for Staying in Shape in the Sun

I don't know about anyone else, but I am dreaming of blue skies, sunshine, sand, sea... and all the time in the world to chill out! ...but then, we work so hard to "get in shape" for our holidays and then fear losing it all...

I was contacted a few weeks ago by The Co-operative Travel to share my tips on staying in shape while on holiday. 

Here's what I contributed: 

Stay Hydrated – drink plenty of water while away. This will help to flush toxins out of your body, reducing fatigue and keeping your skin looking fresh. If you do drink alcohol, have a cup of water between each drink to reduce the effects.

You can still workout in as little as 12 minutes. With HIIT you do shorts bursts of exercise as hard as you can with short recovery. One of the most popular is Tabata – 20 seconds of workouts, 10 seconds of rest for four minutes. Choose three exercises and complete three rounds which will total 12 minutes. You can use some basic exercises (squat jumps, burpees, press ups) or get a little more creative depending on space (sprints, box jumps using steps)

Use your surroundings – run along the beach, explore the local area on foot, hit the hotel gym or get a few laps in the pool before breakfast!

Take some equipment – a skipping rope or resistance band are both small enough to fit into a pocket never mind a suitcase! So pack them, and then use them! Utilise the time when the bathroom isn’t free and get in a quick cardio, core or stretching session.

To read what the others had to say, check out the post {here}

How do you stay in shape when you are travelling or on holiday?! 

Elle :) 

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Behind The Screen: February 2016 Report #UltimateCoffeeDate

Let's jump straight in and go Behind The Screen of February to see what I got up to creating content and what's been happening in this here blogging world! 

I'm also using this post as an opportunity to link up with The Ultimate Coffee date and share what I've been up to blog wise over the past month! So grab your beverage of choice (it'd be a matcha latte for me) and dive in...

February 2016

Advertising Income: £1.70 

Affiliate Income: £3.34

Collaborative & Sponsored Posts: £75 

Other Work & Consulting: £0

Costs / Outgoings: £3 approx (PayPal fees)  

Total February Page Views: 3615 

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you... I thought the extra day in February was strange especially with it being a Monday but then the rest of the week being a completely different month! It was a good month though with lots going on and at the same time being the gateway to March which is also packed with plenty to do! 

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you... I started February off by sharing with you my mantra for getting the most out of every workout {read here } in an outfit post collaboration with Next. I loved the images from this post which were taken by Georgina (of Fitcetera) on the Olympus PEN E-PL7 which I then wrote about as a competition entry (I didn't win :( but you can catch the #LoveMyPen post to find out more) 

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you... All of my stats and total page views are down from January (see Januarys report here) which isn't surprising due to posting less, less days in the month and well, who even cares...!?! It is what it is right?! 

Here's a little social media update: 

Facebook: 733 
Twitter: 2,901 
Instagram: 1,570 
Pinterest: 678 
Bloglovin': 283

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you... I took part in my first BlogHer campaign for Asda around Valentines day to promote their app on Twitter and Facebook. It was a pretty low rate of pay (esp with the $ to £ conversion) but then it took less than 30 minutes to check out the app then write and schedule the social media posts. 

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you... that something fun I did this month was Gone Dark with Under Armour. It was an interesting campaign where we were challenged to switch off from social media and focus on training. I think it was just what I needed at that point in time and throughly enjoyed the reduced pressure. I did however have feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) which were quickly quashed when I returned to what really was an anticlimax! 

Read "3 Basic Social Media Hacks For Bloggers" ...which was my top post for February and was shared on the Next Bloggers Network! 

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you... I got some great news in February that I had won the Buyagift competition for Most Creative Promotion over the holidays for my "Pamper Yourself During The Holidays" post & competition! I swapped my prize of a Radical Driving Experience for a dinner at Rabot 1745 (the Hotel Chocolat restaurant) and The View From The Shard Experience. I must get around to booking (and enjoying) this all! 

Anything I've missed that you'd be interested to know?! 

Do you track your stats monthly?! ...and if we were having coffee, what would you tell me?! 

Elle :) 

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On The Run: Brighton Half Marathon 2016 by Shaun Holder

On The Run: Shaun Holder 

Goal: Brighton Marathon, April 2016 

Race: Brighton Half Marathon 

It's now just 6 weeks until my first marathon! I decided to choose Brighton for my baptism of fire having lived there for 7 years (plus I couldn't get into London lol). It's also probably why I love this city as I've had some great memories there and I'm already halfway into my training plan, averaging 30 miles a week.

My daily commute is a 3 hour round trip so to break up the monotonous routine, I run 12 miles from the office to Liverpool Street on Thursdays. Training was going well until a poor half marathon at Hampton Court the weekend before last which really knocked my confidence. I finished in 1:46 which was respectable but nowhere near as fast as I'd hoped. After 8 miles my legs just seized up and I practically crawled to the finish line. I still felt I needed another race for a boost to get me back on track.

On Friday, I overheard a workmate discussing his plans for the weekend. My ears pricked up when the words "Running Club" and "half marathon" were mentioned. Being curious I struck up a convo only to find out he was running the Brighton Half on Sunday 28th February. I thought to myself "why didn't I book this event?" It would've been a great excuse for a "recce" and to get familiar with the route. Well, as fate would have it, sat on my train home, scrolling through Facebook I notice a friend's post on my newsfeed: "Brighton Half Marathon place up for grabs this weekend". I messaged straight away, luckily nobody had contacted Elle so the place was mine. I was now running my second half marathon in 7 days, determined to banish the horrors of Hampton Court.

Race Day: Sunday morning, 6:15am alarm goes off (Get On Up by James Brown always gets me pumped on race day); the standard porridge with a banana and protein bar are consumed for breakfast. Five minutes on the foam roller then final bag check (protein gel, iPhone arm band and race number) before heading down the M25 towards the coast.

The Start: My target time was 1:45, I start making my way to the colour coded pens. Unfortunately, the race was about to start and I'm right at the front ....with all the elite runners! I psych myself up with heel kicks and lunges (a vain attempt to look professional) before the  klaxon sounds and I'm crossing the start line! I hit start on my Suunto watch (usually I run with Nike + app but my training partner has got me using Strava)and away we go.

Confetti and cheers gave it a real 'big event' feeling.

The Race: Now if you're anything like me there's nothing more demoralising than being overtaken in a race. The only exception to this rule is when you're trapped at the start with sub 1:20 athletes.

The route headed past the Royal Pavillon and back round past the Brighton Pier up towards the Marina. My goal was to keep a consistent pace of around 8:40 per mile instead of getting excited and pushing too hard early on. My legs felt surprisingly limber (maybe that Epsom salt bath the night before did the trick) and I was comfortable.

Towards the 3 mile mark there was a band playing The Addams Family theme song and runners showed their gratitude by clapping along. Then came the incline towards the Marina and a loop back past the pier. A few gusts of wind but the weather conditions were pretty good, the sun was out too.

This was the moment you start to see the elites heading back; a few groans and sighs were let out from other runners at the realisation of how far ahead they were. Mile 6 and my legs are still in good shape, I decided to push harder as the course was pretty flat. Heading along the seafront up to Hove Lawns, the roads were full of supporters which was a massive help. Elite runners had started to make their way back, everyone clapped at their achievement.

When you know a particular route it mentally prepares you for what's ahead. I always try and pick out other runners to overtake but today was all about staying disciplined. If I could get to mile 9 and my legs were in good shape, I promised myself I'd push hard until the finish line.

Drink stations were really well organised and there wasn't the frustrating wait like I've had at over events. You're given the choice between water and lucozade (my preferred choice having a sweet tooth). The loop back to the pier came on mile 10; in past races, this is usually where fatigue kicks in but there was something different about today. The atmosphere was electric, people shouting words of encouragement "you're almost there guys, keep going" One girl cheekily screamed "sprint to the finish" ..."Easier said than done love" I shouted back. Bands were playing and sound systems blaring out up tempo music. A quick check on my watch 'average pace 7:55' with just 3 miles to go!

This is where my competitive side came out, picking people to overtake just like I do at Park Run every Saturday morning. A fellow runner who I'd kept up with since mile 8 started to edge past me, I didn't take the bait straight away. As long as I could keep her in sight I was OK.

"It was at this point I noticed a familiar face in the spectator crowd, an old workmate I'd not seen in years. The motivation you get when someone calls you out personally during a race can't be explained until you've experienced it. "

Mile 12 Marker: The crowd support was immense as we approached the final stretch. I always like to finish a race strong and my strategy was going well so now was the time to give it everything I had. Back straight, head up and knees up, using my arms to keep momentum. My 'rival' was still just ahead of me - making an attempt to pass was snuffed out immediately; she started to pull away.

The pier was now in plain sight, I decided to keep pace alongside and slowly edge past, luckily for me she didn't respond! The road narrowed slightly which made it hard to overtake but I wasn't complaining (a welcome few seconds of rest after all) then the big kick to THE FINISH LINE!!!

Finish: The stroll towards the post race drinks section gave runners a chance to stretch off and didn't feel congested. A generous goody bag of healthy snacks, Lucozade bottles, t shirts and of course the huge medal awaited. This is probably one of the most impressive medals I've earned which gives a real sense of achievement. It's pretty weighty too.

"My official time was 1:43:49"

My average pace was 7:55; I've not ran this consistently for well over a year now so this gave me the confidence I needed after the Hampton Court Half.

This is by far one of the best organised events I've been a part of. Everything from the support, drink stations and atmosphere was spot on. If this race is anything to go by, I can't wait to come back on April 17th for the Brighton Marathon!!

Are you currently training for a marathon?! How do you mentally and physically prepare?! 


p.s And Thanks to Vitality Brighton for the place in this years race! It was amazing for me to be back in Brighton after graduating from the University of Brighton nearly 10 years ago... and the same goes for Shaun! All opinions are our own :) all photo's are Shaun's ;) 


Trading The City For The Commute with Brompton

Almost one full year ago, I moved back into my property in Essex. I traded in the city lifestyle (zone 2) to return to the commute (from zone 6) and I really wouldn't have it any other way. It takes me (stop to stop) just 30 minutes to get to The City or 45 minutes to reach Central London. I do however have an 8-10 minute walk to the tube station from my front door which isn't so appealing on dark mornings, chilly nights or rainy afternoons. 

A few weeks ago, I became the lucky (albeit temporary) owner of a Brompton Bicycle. The most characterful bicycle I have ever had possession of in all it's orange glory. I knew a little about Brompton having attended their World Champion Finals a couple summers ago, and also eyeing one up on the VeloVixen shoot I did 18 months ago. 

After a quick lesson in how to unfold, fold and carry Brody (he got named Brody the Brompton), I was off on my adventures. 

5 Steps To Fold: Back Wheel, Front Wheel, Handlebars, Saddle, Pedal 

My road bike sits in my hallway looking at me with an eye of neglect. I've yet to venture out on it properly as I'm new to cycling in Essex; I'll soon put that right when I start training for L'Etape Sportive in September! I can't carry my road bike on the tube with me into town as its not permitted on parts on the Central Line (and stops just short of where I am comfortable cycling from!). However, with Brody being foldable, I can carry it on the tube... including in rush hour. 

In the two weeks I had the bike, I used it to commute to the station (yup, it cut down my 10 minute walk to a easy breezy downhill ride!) ...I'll be honest though and say I didn't ride when it was raining! Mainly due to the fact that being a cyclist is a lifestyle; a lifestyle I haven't really lived for the last 12 months! For me it involves thinking about hairstyles that fit under helmet which was enough on this occasion! To then have to add choosing an outfit that would protect me from the rain was too much... 

I enjoyed the fresh air cycling between the tube station, teaching my classes, meetings and other local spots which also saved me time and money (no extra bus fares). Brody was certainly an eye catcher when on the tube or out and about turning heads and starting conversations on numerous occasions...

Most importantly, this bike was a mover! I don't think I've ever cycled as fast as on the day I made my way into town to return him to his rightful owner! The downhill helped, but little wonder is a kinda feat of engineering! 

Would I buy one? Yeah I would y'know! It's so compact it takes up minimal space in your home and can fit under your desk at work. It's also fun and comfortable to ride!

Have you ridden a Brompton before?! Do you cycle commute parts of your journey?!

Elle :) 

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