20.4.17

Elle About Town: Cycling Adventures (Apr '17)

I'd be lying if I said I couldn't be described as a fair weather cyclist for 2016/17. Since completing L'Etape London I've really only used my road bike to get me to and from Parkrun on Saturday mornings. I took the majority of my cycling shenanigans indoors when the weather started to turn, mainly so I could start getting some experience as an indoor cycling instructor. But now the weather is starting to get a little better and the sun is shining a little more (even if it is a little nippy), I'm more than ready to get back outdoors on two wheels.

Photo Credit: VeloVixen

Volunteering
I put my name down to volunteer at Hackney Half on 30th April as a sweep cyclist. My role will involve staying with the last runner / sweep runner throughout the event and keeping in communication with the Course Director. Following behind myself and three other cyclists will be the Sweep Van (with a medic onboard) and then the team that clears up after the runs so the roads can reopen.

City Commuting
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I'm a huge fan of Brompton Bicycles. Last summer I had the opportunity to borrow one for a few weeks and loved it (read about that here). It made commuting into the city that little more enjoyable.

Back in January, I attended the launch of Brompton Bicycle’s New York City Edition bike which was a sportier, more urban version of their usual bicycles. The bike is inspired by the city that never sleeps and comes with a whole heap of matching accessories. I took it for a spin round the block and found it to feel lighter, faster and more stable than I was used to! I had hoped to take part in the Brompton Championships this year in London but those plans sadly haven't come to fruition.


{ Check out more about Brompton Bicylces here }

Social Rides
As with running, I find cycling much more enjoyable when there is a social aspect involved - namely cake and coffee. I've got one group ride planned and will be checking out the Breeze / Sky Ride schedule soon to see if there are any local rides I can pop along to! These literally were my saving grace when training for L'Etape last year! Also, lots of my active friends seem to be signed up for triathlons this year so I'm sure I'll be able to tag along on their training rides - I don't have plans to compete this year but I am down to volunteer at the London Triathlon in July.

Sportive Plans
I'm hoping to be able to take part in L'Etape again in 2017 and am also keeping my eye out for rides that would work based on location and timing. It's a lot harder travelling to races with a bike in tow when you don't have a car and restrictions apply on public transport. I'd love to do a women's only ride at some point (maybe a Cycletta) and train towards Ride London (for 2018). I know Ride London also have a shorter distance so I'll be checking that one out too!


And news just in... I've just put a date in the diary for an exciting challenge! But you're gonna have to stay tuned to find out more about that in the coming weeks... just know that it's on two wheels, and it might well be my biggest (but most fun) challenge EVER!

Are you a cycling fanatic?! or fair weather like me?! 


Elle :) 

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19.4.17

WIN Tickets To Be:Fit London 2017!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!! ...It's nearly time for @befitlondon_ (28-30th April) and I've got a little something for those of you who haven't got your tickets yet! . I've teamed up with @linwoodshealthfoods to give away a ticket for you aaaaand a friend ...oh and you'll get a selection of Linwoods seed blends, Snackettes and the brand new Hemp Protein+ mix! . Linwoods is the UK’s leading producers of healthy super foods, nuts and seed blends, providing a natural source of Omega oils, dietary fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. You can literally sprinkle on serving onto your food and nearly double your nutrition intake! Boom! . HURRY though... as you've only got till 6pm on Thursday 20th April to enter! . 1️⃣Follow me on IG (@ellelinton) and @linwoodshealthfoods 2️⃣Tag the friend in the comments below you would like to take with you . GOOD LUCK everyone! ...and if you're already going, let me know and tell me which class / brand you're looking forward to catching below! . 📷 @healthyfitfran #keepitsimpElle #london #londonbloggers #NaturesProtein #SprinkleAwesome
A post shared by Elle | Fitness Pro & Blogger (@ellelinton) on


Head over to Instagram for the full information and to enter! 

Elle :) 

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***Full Terms & Conditions
Open to entrants based in the United Kingdom only. Winner will be picked by Elle of keep it simpElle. Winners will be chosen on Thursday 20th April 2017 at 630pm. The winner will be contacted immediately upon being picked and will have until 10am on Friday 21st April 2017 to respond. 

The prize is supplied by Linwoods Health Foods, via W Communications. There is no entry fee to enter this competition. 

No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason. No cash alternative to the prize will be offered. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.

14.4.17

Introduction To Barefoot Running With Vivobarefoot


A few weeks ago, I popped along to the Vivobarefoot flagship store in Covent Garden to hear Michael Lemmel of Otillo SwimRun speak about the rise of SwimRun events.

Now I know I'm not the strongest swimmer yet but a girl can dream, right?! It was inspiring to hear about how the event came into existence and what the future looked like. I was fascinated to hear about the unpredictably of the courses (basically a combination of trail running and open water / sea swimming), how you work together as a team (you enter the event as a pair and must complete the entire event within a certain distance of each, so together), the gender split and the equipment and apparel required for such an event.

Otillo and Vivobarefoot joined forces to design and manufacture a shoe specifically for SwimRun events (the Ultra III) based on the barefoot concept. A shoe you can run on the trails in and then jump straight into the water, then run again. A shoe that I guess I hope I'll have the need for one of these days...


Until then, I'll make do with a pair that I can use day to day, exercise in and maybe even run in. Now I don't know if it's just me but when I go to events where I know I'll be surrounded by knowledgeable people I try to make smart choices. So I chose my most appropriate shoes for my day and went about my business. I got chatting to Mark from the Covent Garden store and just by looking at me he could tell that a) my trainers were too small for me (on one foot especially) and b) they were causing me to ???pronate, which in turn was causing pain on the outside edge of my foot and in my knees. It's funny how we've all become so unaware of these simple cues but when he pointed it out I became a lot more tuned into how my body was feeling. Needless to say that pair of trainers went straight in the bin and I was as intrigued as ever about Vivobarefoot and the barefoot concept...

I arranged a visit to the store to meet with Sue and Pete to learn a little more about the range and also have an assessment on the treadmill to have a look at my running technique and gauge how ready I was to go barefoot. Before I got on the treadmill though we went through a variety of things including standing on a pressure plate to see how my weight is distributed through my feet (note to self, must engage toes especially big toe more!) body weight squats and single leg squats all to see my range of motion, flexibility and assess any areas of weakness.


On the treadmill, Pete had a look at my running wearing the shoes I'd brought along for run club later that evening. We spoke about how I was landing in my stride (I tend to land on the balls of my feet) and why I should consider working on this. We also talked a lot about posture, rhythm and relaxing. I then swapped into a pair of Stealth II (£100) shoes and got back on the treadmill. Taking all of the points into consideration about being more upright, not over striding, increasing my cadence and relaxing I could feel a difference instantly! I physically felt a lot lighter as if there was more of a response between the ground and myself and taking this into run club that evening made for a fast and enjoyable session.

I've had the shoes for a while now; when you're new to the barefoot concept you're advised to start by wearing them just day to day before running in them. I've worn them about 3-4 days per week since and regularly teach in them. It's a new experience being able to feel the surface that you're walking on and literally waking up the proprioreceptors in your feet! I haven't yet run in them as I think I know how much harder it'll feel initially without the cushioning and energy return I'm used to from my trainers.

Spending time in the Covent Garden store and watching the constant stream of people that come in and shop you kinda start to realise that maybe you're a little late to the game. It's been a secret and no one has let you into it till now...

Have you ever tried barefoot shoes or barefoot running before?! 


Elle :) 

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p.s thanks to Fran of Healthy Fit Fran for taking the pictures for me ;) x

10.4.17

Kitchen Empties #4: My Morning Routine

Back at the start of 2016, I started this Kitchen Empties series. I got the idea from the beauty bloggers and make up artists I follow who all do these posts with their "empties" chatting about all the products that have finished in their beauty cabinet. I'm not a beauty blogger, and even so, I don't have enough "smellies" to create such a post ...but what I do, do, is eat a lot of food. A LOT. So I decided to save some my my kitchen empties and share them with you if I especially loved them. Here is #4, picking up from from Holland & Barrett edition in March.

For this post, I have a few items that have become a part of my morning routine, which is something I have been trying to master for a while. I started with a simple task of starting every morning with a full glass of water and have taken it from there...


Revive Active [find out more here]
Well, if it's good enough for Paula Radcliffe (she is an ambassador) then it's good enough for me. That was my thinking when I decided to try this daily supplement. I had kinda hoped it would be in a pill form but when I realised it came as a powder sachet which needed to be added to water first thing in the morning I realised it would just be another way to remember to start my day with water. Another reason it caught my eye was that it contained L-Glutamine which is a supplement I have talked about previously and was just thinking I should get back to taking it; I figured having it in this supplement left me one less thing to think about. The supplement actually contains 26 active, performance boosting ingredients in total, in each sachet, encompassing your full daily dose of amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Now, I'm not a huge fan of the flavour but it is palatable... I drink it really fast to help combat the issue! So Paula credits Revive Active for helping keep her energy at optimum levels, and preventing her from getting sick despite her busy lifestyle... and I really can't say different to be honest as (touch wood) I've not been sick and have survived my massively long days and busy schedule!

Better You Magnesium Oil Spray Original [find out more here]
I think I first ever got this spray in a goody bag and recently picked up a (large) bottle in Holland & Barrett. It literally is a life saver if you're used to tired and sore muscles. As well as using it in the evening after a workout, I also use it in the morning directly in the areas of muscle that feel sore and tight as it naturally relaxes muscles. Even for things like when you sleep funny and have a sore neck in the morning (which I'm suffering from right now) and its hard to move your head and relax but that is exactly what you need to do to help recover... well, this is magic.


Botanic Lab Isotonic Refuel Drink [find out more here]
So, I know you see the word refuel and think how can I be refuelling after a heavy session in the morning?! Well, incase you missed the memo, I started teaching bright and early on Thursday mornings at Frame in Shoreditch. I teach two classes back to back so when I finish it is still on 830am... and they are pretty darned hard sessions as I actually do the classes (albeit on lighter weights). Anyway, this cold-pressed juice contains charcoal, raw cane juice and Yuzu fruit... all things that I'm like, what?! But what I do know, is it tastes damn good. It also contains salt and lemon so your tongue literally does not know what is going on it your mouth! It's kinda like a gentle detox being high in vitamin c, plus charcoal binds with toxins to speedily eliminate them from your body (...not that I'd know, but it sounds like a good hangover cure too, huh?!). You can get the juice as part of various 'cleanses' from Botanic Lab as well as various retailers in and around London Town.

What have been your favourite "found and finished" products recently?! 

Elle :)


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5.4.17

The Personal Trainer vs The Studio Instructor In Me

Photo Credit: @Lolography

This is one of those posts where you have the feeling you know what you want to write but actually putting the words down "on paper" doesn't come as easily. It's not even a linear, tangible story that I can just regale from beginning to end but I think it's relevancy lies somewhere in the reason why I blog and the future of my blog.

When I first started writing this post I hadn't posted much since the start of this year and quite frankly that's was for two reasons. Number one being that I was suffering a bit from writers block coupled with a lack of motivation (as there were posts scheduled for me to write) and two, I was a little late to the arena for reevaluating what it is that I'm doing and I don't want to write just for the sake of it.

Then what I realised one night, is that this post couples with another subject I wanted to talk about. Everyone has become so consumed with being open, honest and transparent about their battles that sometimes I feel on the back foot because I don't (perceive myself to) have any real or distinct issues to share about. My personality also means that I'm not able to put myself into a box for any specific sport, area of fitness or food choices (other than being lactose intolerant). I mean, we've had the flexitarian conversation already...

Photo Credit: @Lolography

What I did realise when I got to thinking though, is that sport, exercise and fitness are the few things that have been consistent for me (kinda) my entire life. And that's mostly been as a Fitness Professional. I had my ups and downs with being active in school as any girl does, then I chose Physical Education as an A Level having not studied it at GCSE, because I loved the scientific aspect of it. I then went on to study and graduate University with a BSc (Hons) in Exercise Science before joining the world of work in various Sport Development roles.

To be honest, I never really imagined being a Personal Trainer or Studio Instructor. I had once taken on a position as a Personal Trainer and after one day I never returned. I also worked once as a Gym Instructor and I didn't enjoy that much either. Then the opportunity arose to be trained up with Nike as one of their Nike Training Club (NTC) instructors when they first launched the programme in Universities and I took on my first part time teaching job alongside my office job.

There was something about NTC that I loved. I loved that it was a challenge but accessible to everyone no matter their fitness level. I think what I loved most of all was the opportunity to learn. I got to spend time with some of the best instructors in London and further afield from whom I could learn drills, learn how to show my personality when I teach and be inspired to follow in their footsteps.

Photo Credit: @Lolography

So, ever since I got my Personal Trainer certificate (which technically I got from doing my degree but had to do a couple extra assessments to get awarded my certificate), I've also labelled myself as a Personal Trainer. I have however mostly been teaching classes at various gyms since NTC in what must've been 2010 yet I've rarely ever taken on any Personal Training clients and that has been by choice. Then chatting to a fellow fitness professional not so long ago I realised why everyone would always choose to label themselves as a Personal Trainer, and that's because being a PT is a higher level of qualification than being a Studio Instructor. And this is when I realised that I was letting what other people think affect the way I brand myself.

In a post some time ago I shared the why behind what I do and I don't think that will ever change. But what will change is the little box I put myself in. All of my goals as a Fitness Professional are aligned with being a Studio Instructor - I want to refresh my skills in indoor cycling and have my own permanent class(es). I love learning new class concepts so am busy finding studios that share the kinda vibe I can bring and love and I'd love to be involved in a retreat somehow either UK based or abroad. I also love chatting all things about the industry with those who are new to working in fitness and most of all would love to find or create a community where Fitness Professionals can chat about things like 'how to look after your voice if you teach without a mic' ...or chatting through the process of acquiring classes at a new studio and just generally making new connections...

Whether you work in fitness or not, is there a topic you'd love to know more about?! I'm keen to increase the professional angle of 'keep it simpElle' and would love to know what you'd enjoy reading about...

Elle :)

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3.4.17

How I'm Swapping 5km On The Road For 1km In The Pool


On the phone to my mum a few weeks back I shared with her that I was taking up an opportunity to have some swimming lessons and she asked "Are you going to have swimming lessons for the rest of your life?!". I laughed and responded, "Yes, if I need to!".

I don't know how long you've been a part of my journey so I'll fill you in quickly. I learnt to swim aged 30; just two years ago and it has been one of the best things I've ever done. I decided that it was a life skill and I needed it. I decided to do a triathlon too.

In 2016, I hit the pool every now and again but not working in a gym with access or having a membership it was something that didn't get much attention. At the end of 2016, after founding the Winter Run Club I was approached by Speedo about their new campaign which has just launched- #Make1kWet - it's all about how swimming can make you a stronger runner.

As I sat listening to more about the campaign at their recent launch I realised that I had in fact been swimming (albeit very poorly in lessons) when I achieved my half marathon PB at Brighton Half Marathon in February 2015, and wondered if there was any correlation.

Basically the challenge shows you how to swap 5K on the road for 1K in the pool (40 lengths of a 25m pool), helping runners to become fitter and stronger while enjoying the benefits of a full body workout through swimming. Take a look at this video about the challenge and to find out how I did on my first attempt:


A huge shout out to everyone at Winter Run Club who joined me for the filming of this! And also to TinyTY for letting us descend on their space that evening! Filming in the pool was fun too as it really was the first time I'd been in the water in a long time! 


In Charlie's words (read her post here), where do I go from here in terms of my swimming training? 

I started by taking a couple swim lessons with Swimming Nature based at Fitness First London Bridge (among many other locations). Each of my 60 minute lessons were with Sam who is a keen triathlete himself, and previous County Champion in swimming. The standout difference between Swimming Nature and other swim schools is that instructors train in the water with you. This was definitely new for me! ...I found it invaluable being able to see what "swimming" or the drills I was given should look like in the water (after reading, watching is my next preferred method of learning). It also means that your instructor is able to work with you to ensure you attain the correct positions and get an understanding of what it should feel like when you are in them. I took away a lot from my lessons in terms of technique and areas to work on so I'm excited to put those into practice when I next go swimming... 

I'll also be using the beginner training plan for the challenge to help me structure sessions in the pool that I will do on my own. The programme lasts for 3 months but I think I will still have to play around with it to build up to being able to complete the sessions they have set. I'll need some swimming buddies to keep me accountable so gimme a shout if you're up for this!

I don't have any short term goals to take on a triathlon again; I'm keen to master swimming in a pool right now so there is a little less chance of everything flying out the window when nerves hit at the start of the open water swim. Been there, done that! It is however in my longer term goals... I'd love to complete the Sprint distance again to work on my technique and time, then take on a longer distance.
 
So, who's gonna give this a go?! ..if anyone is keen for a little accountability I may create a little "leaderboard" in this post to keep track of your 5km times, 1km times and any progress! 

Elle :) 

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27.3.17

Everything You Need To Know About The MealPal App in London

So when UberEats launched, you know I was all over that! Working as a freelancer in fitness means I'm always running around town and quite frankly it's just amazing when lunch is less of a hassle (cos you know, I'm not perfect and I don't always get my meal prep nailed). So when I heard about the latest lunchtime app I had to find out all about it. Let me introduce you to MealPal... and everything you need to know about it...

Photo Credit: Lolography

1. Firstly, this app will only be relevant if you're based in the City of London, Soho and most recently Canary Wharf ...if you are based somewhere else, then maybe this isn't for you right now!

2. MealPal is basically the classpass of lunch. And I know that may stir up some desirable and undesirable feelings in us as individuals. You buy a package (i.e 12 or 20 meals) and you have a month to eat them all up. The cheapest each meal is is around £4.85 and it's worth noting that you can only reserve one meal per day.

3. On the topic of reserving meals. I learnt this the hard way. The "kitchen" opens at 5pm the evening before lunch and you have till 930am on the morning of to place an order. This is only a Monday - Friday thing too so will suit office workers a lot better than maybe those who work in retail / shift work


4. I'm loving how one point brings me so perfectly to the next. Working in retail (I did this for 3+ years recently) means that you don't work regular hours and you typically don't know when your lunch break will be and if you do, you probably won't know in time to use the app to order in advance and you can't guarantee that you'll be relieved for your break on time...

Photo Credit: Lolography

5. Because when you order your lunch, you choose a 15 minute slot for collection. One day when I was on the train to collect my meal I realised that the confirmation email said that the restaurant would throw out your meal if it wasn't collected in the allocated time slot. Well, you can imagine the sinking feeling I felt but I was lucky when I turned up 15 minutes late that they still had my food albeit a little cold (my own fault). But you know, meetings run over and shizz soooo you'd be a little sad if your food was thrown out, huh?!

6. Keep in mind that this is a collection only app. When you arrive to collect your food, it's usually been bagged up ready for you to go on your merry way so if you're a huge fan of lunch al-desko then you win! It's certainly not always been the best weather for eating lunch outside and the one time I did ask a restaurant about eating in, they didn't exactly welcome me with open arms!

7. Don't use it and you lose it! I had 20 meals to use between 1st and 28th March (...you can also get a package of 12 meals). When you count, there were only 20 days available to use the app so to get my money's worth I would have to eat lunch via it every. single. day. So no lunching with colleagues. No lunch meetings. Not working from home / another location. And for me, who isn't in town every single weekday will be left with 6/7 meals unused...

8. Value for money. I ate a lot of burritos from Chilangos which cost about £6 without the app so that's a saving of about £1. One day I had a meal from Protein Haus which they sell for £5 so I saved what, 20p?! ...and the thing is you have no flexibility in what you can order. Each location offers one meal per day and it can't be customised. Personally with the Protein Haus meal I would rather pay 20p more and be able to choose what I wanna eat.

9. The meals that are offered are not that substantial. One day I had a bowl of pesto pasta. No protein in that meal. One day a margarita pizza. Filling, but uninspiring. One day I had a halloumi burger which was more bread than anything. The slice of halloumi was laughable. And the chips were put in a container that made them sweat. I don't like sweaty chips. So typically, if you wanna get a decent meal, you'd actually still have to spend more for regular priced sides and drinks.

10. My favourite meal of all the ones I tried was from The Good Schnit off Bow Lane in the City. But I've eaten there before so I knew they wouldn't disappoint me! Their customer service is also some of the best you'll get in London Town! ...the queue in the height of the lunchtime rush hour speaks for itself so ordering via MealPal on this occasion could be ya saving grace!

***

Well, I definitely don't think this is a raving review of MealPal but it is honest and constructive, and that's what I'm here to do, right?! They've only recently launched in London and I'm sure they have plenty of improvements to make. If they continue to build relationships with their vendors in town I'm sure they will have a strong model that we just won't be able to get enough of... but my feedback, and any other customer feedback they get will need to be taken onboard!

I also gave MealPal an open opportunity to comment on this here post and here is what I received...

(Lauren Corregano, MealPal) - "Thanks for sharing your experience of using MealPal and for giving us the opportunity to reply to some of the points you raised. With regards to the collection windows, we work with our partner restaurants to ensure that users’ lunches are served up within their chosen slot to avoid too much waiting time and let them jump the queue! If users realise they’re unable to make their lunch slot after reserving, the order can be cancelled via the app before orders are sent to restaurants at 9.30am and our team are on hand to help with any queries. We’ve found that lots of our users are able to save considerable amounts by using the app - as much as £620 a year. We work with our restaurant partners to make sure that the meals being offered are varied, well-packaged and of a high quality - we’re happy to share any feedback you might have with specific partners if you would like us to do so."

So peeps, if I come across any special offers for the app ( no refer a friend codes right now *insert crying emoji*) I will be the first to share (usually all over Twitter) so keep an eye out!

Have you already tried MealPal?! Where's your favourite place to lunch when you've not had time to pack it?!


Elle :)


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p.s I was provided with a block of 20 meals for the purpose of review... which I didn't even get to use all of :( ...All opinions, are my own, clearly (I hope!)

20.3.17

A Little Life Update / March '17

Well, I have the conversation more and more about how times goes faster as you get older. It's obvious, y'know. A month when you are 32 years old is a lot shorter than a month when you are say, only one year old! Anyway, my last life update post was in November, so no better time than now to check in and share a few bits of news which don't really warrant a blog post all of their own!

Photo Credit: lolography

I've added new classes to my schedule! ...Back in November I shared with you that I successfully auditioned at FRAME  for their Frame Lift class. Since then I also got trained up in their BoxFit concept and am slowly but surely learning the ropes of some more of their classes so I am able to not just take on cover but potentially be offered permanent classes. But there is no more potential about it as this week, I start teaching my first permanent Lift classes at Frame Shoreditch! Now I hope you're more of the early bird type than me as classes start at 645am and 715am (both 45 minutes) but I figured I could handle this once a week with a little organisation (pack my bag the night before) and getting to bed at a decent time! If you have any more tips to help me feel fabulous with a 5am alarm please do share them with me!

Did you see my feature in Women's Running magazine?! ...you can see more about this on my Instagram post (below) but if you haven't already, I think you still have a short amount of time to pick up the April issue and read my Contributors interview as well as my London Winter Run Race Report.


Amidst everything, I managed to take my business to launch successfully! ...you remember Borrow My Blender right?! I've been busy working on that business plan throughout 2016 and finally got the go ahead to go to launch group (kinda like Dragons Den) with The Princes Trust. I wasn't applying for a loan so the process was a little more straightforward but I still had to complete financial projections and such. So now, I think all the serious work begins and I know how powerful word of mouth is so please do give me a shout if you think we could work together or hear of an opportunity that you think would be a good fit! ...Keep an eye out on Facebook, Instagram and the website too to see where we will be popping up next (pssst, we'll be at lululemon Covent Garden for Mothers Day weekend and London Marathon weekend so pop by and see me for a complimentary smoothie...).

Photo Credit: Adidas Runners

I've managed to keep running even though my usual M.O is to stop after a race! ...the picture above is from International Women's Day at the new Adidas Studio on Brick Lane. I've been attending the Wednesday evening sessions whenever my schedule allows me and IWD happened to fall on a run club day... If I can't make the Wednesday evening sessions, I try to make it along to the Monday Adidas Runners South London sessions (mixed) which are usually a push in pace for me (boys clearly make the group run faster!). In my last life update, Winter Run Club had just smashed session number one and already we spent 14 weeks running together, ran our race (see update above) and have dissolved! I love being a part of a community when it comes to running and hope to get more involved with Adidas Runners if / when the opportunity arises!

I was also lucky enough to be invited along to a shoot with Adidas Runners with other members of the community so keep an eye out for when the campaign drops...

Last but not least, I've managed to rope myself into another audition, this time at Best's Bootcamp. I attended the launch of the studio back in May 2016. Now I didn't plan this, but I saw the audition notification on Instagram and figured I would enquire. I plan on attending even if just for the experience.... but who knows, eh?!

...and breathe!! ...I do have so much more coming up to share too, but I will save that for next month when it's all confirmed.

What's going on with you?! 


Elle :) 


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13.3.17

Capturing The Trails with Stance Europe

Photo Credit: James Carnegie on behalf of Stance Europe

That little smudge in the photo, just to the right of the very centre, is me, setting off on what was my first ever trail running experience. It was the closest I've been to being "new" to running in a long time... and I loved every single minute of it. 

There's not many events that could get me to set a 6am alarm on a Saturday morning. I sometimes can't even roll out of bed gone 8am to make it to Parkrun, but this weekend was different. I'd be heading to Surrey, Devils Punchbowl to be exact, with a coach load of people probably (well, I can confirm, most definitely) more experienced than me. But that didn't bother me because we all have to start somewhere and quite frankly I couldn't think of a better group of people to enjoy this day with...

The group was made up of a group of Outdoor Bloggers from Freestak, Runners Need staff, Runners Need customers (competition winers) and the team from Stance Europe themselves. The aim of the day? To conquer the trails and nail the art of creative photography while we were at it, being taught the basics by photographer, James Carnegie. 

Rookie Mistake No. 1: Not planning ahead and thinking breakfast was provided, therefore ending up having a coffee, two bananas and an orange for breakfast, some 5 hours after waking up

We started the day with our first workshop with James on how to get the most out of our smartphones  when it comes to photographs. Personally, I've never been a fan of using my iPhone for photos but I think thats mostly down to the fact I haven't been bothered to figure out how to do it properly. I'd pretty much thought I'd nailed the running selfie but it seems that James has some very high standards!

The main points we covered in this first workshop were the rule of thirds, leading lines and the rule of space. We also covered angleometry (think, the angle you take the photo from, framing and panning (to create movement in your photo). As I'm writing this I realise how much it is to convey in a blog post... I highly recommend if you're interested in photography you go take a little course (I took one back in 2015 I think which covered the basics and helped me to use my camera settings rather than relying on auto mode).

Photo Credit: IG @mrrichiep   

Armed with my iPhone 6s and a Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stand for Smartphones it was time to hit the trails...

Rookie Mistake No.2: Is it just me or does your iPhone never have enough memory?! I'm gonna have to delete every app on it so I can actually have some fun with it!

I had no idea what to wear and I did freak out a little that I didn't have trail shoes but then I was advised to just wear trainers that I didn't mind getting muddy / dirty and that had good grip. I wore my Skins KPropium tights as my hip was feeling a little dodgy and I figured the tights basically working a bit like kinesiology tape would be a huge benefit. We were super lucky with the weather being bright, dry and quite sunny while we were out and about. 

Photo Credit: James Carnegie on behalf of Stance Europe

Our goal as a small team of 6 was to run to a point in the park, stopping to take in the views and capture our best photos. The terrain was muddy, uneven and the worse case of undulating I could ever have imagined! With plenty of stops I had time to take in the views, get to grips with what James had shared with us as well as recover! I can't even explain how much time flies when you're running along verges, jumping over puddles, running up and down hills and capturing it all on camera. Before we knew it (well, my stomach informed me anyway), it was time to head back to base for the second workshop on editing and a spot of lunch.

My biggest takeaway from the editing workshop was the workflow that James suggested for editing photos:

Exposure / Brightness > Contrast > Highlights / Shadows > Saturation > Sharpening

I had literally been using a similar workflow, just the exact opposite way round! He also recommended Snapseed and VSCO apps as editing tools (I used to used Snapseed back in the day! ...and although I have VSCO on my phone I haven't had a chance to get my head around it!). I loaded up on carbs at lunch, oh, and cider then ended this adventure the only way I know how... with a nap on the coach headed back to London Town...

To see a sh*t ton of photos from the day, hop over to Instagram and check out #CaptureTrails and #StanceRun

Are you an avid trail runner?! Do you enjoy taking photos when you're out clocking up miles?! 

Elle :)

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10.3.17

5 Reasons To Hit The Slopes The Next Chance You Get

I just realised recently that it's been just over 5 years since my last real ski holiday in 2012 when I went to Levi in Finland. I mean, I've been skiing since then as I ended up living in Finland for a while, but my last real holiday... like 7 full days straight of skiing was that trip.

Me circa February 2012

I've had a ski trip on my "list" for the last couple years too but you know how life is... I even applied for a campaign which involved a ski trip a couple months ago but wasn't lucky enough to get selected. So until I make it on my next adventure, theres no harm in reminiscing about why I love when the mountains do call...

It's one of the few vacations that you actually could do with getting fit for...
It takes a fair bit of fitness to be able to spend hours and hours on the slopes. it won't do any harm to hit the gym before your trip to strengthen your legs, core and arms especially. Get your body used to the moves and positions you'll be using and also the level of endurance involved. During the season, some gyms even put on skit fitness classes so you don't have to do it on your own!

It can be an amazing combination of sunshine and snow...
My first ski trip to France was amazing... we took breaks at the top of the mountains, sitting in the sunshine. Wearing a base layer and a gilet was enough for most of the time too! When I came back to the UK my face was so sun kissed I didn't need to wear foundation for weeks! ...Finland was the very opposite, with temperatures of -40 so if you do want sunshine you need to pick your time and place appropriately!

Late night sun n Lapland, 2012

It's another opportunity to curate a fab wardrobe...
I'm sure I'm not the only one who loves the feel of new kit! I love shopping for everything about skiing; a standout jacket, cute socks, pyjamas to hang out in your Chalet, a warm hat, base layers with a pop of colour...

Check out my Pinterest 'Hit The Slopes' Board for outfit inspiration and more! 



You don't have to go too far to find slopes...
These days, with it almost being cheaper to fly to Europe than to travel across the UK, it means it's easier than ever to get to an awesome ski resort. Check out this post from Cheapflights for 5 European ski resorts with really fast airport transfers too!

Après Ski life is the one...
All I remember is afternoon tea with a fresh baked caked, 3 course dinners, and if we could stay up long enough, trips down to the pub to hang out with new friends made each day. When I went to Les Deux Alpes, there was even a heated outdoor swimming pool which you could take a dip in while it was actually snowing!

Evening Reindeer Sledge Ride, 2012

There are also so many other activities that you can get involved in, from cross country skiing (read about my experience here) to snow shoeing, husky rides and tours to see if you can spot the Northern Lights (if you've chosen to ski that far north)

When was the last time you hit the slopes?! Which is your favourite resort?!


Elle :)

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8.3.17

Kitchen Empties #3 - The Holland & Barrett Edition

Back at the start of 2016, I started this Kitchen Empties series. I got the idea from the beauty bloggers and make up artists I follow who all do these posts with their "empties" chatting about all the products that have finished in their beauty cabinet. I'm not a beauty blogger, and even so, I don't have enough "smellies" to create such a post ...but what I do, do, is eat a lot of food. A LOT. So I decided to save some my my kitchen empties and share them with you if I especially loved them. Here is #3, picking up from all the way back in January 2016 (yikes)... and is a special edition 'haul post' from Holland & Barrett.

Back in January, I popped along to the Holland & Barrett store in Marble Arch to celebrate their opening. This particular store is actually their biggest in the UK including a vegan nail bar, an olive bar, a body composition experience and so much more! I spent almost an hour wandering around checking out all the amazing products that they stock and picked a few to test out and share with you here...



Ecodenta Extra Black Whitening Toothpaste 
So this product was new to me - basically black toothpaste! I've been using in now for about 6 weeks and love it. I mostly use it at night, as it keeps my mouth pretty fresh all night. It's ironic that it has whitening properties when it actually is as black as coal! It's also currently on offer for £1.99 (from £4.49) || Shop Here


Choccy Peckish Peanuts
I'm a huge fan of snacking and sometimes I want something that doesn't taste like its been dug out of the ground and can be classed as a little treat. I think chocolate covered peanuts do this for me technically being a good source of protein and fat then smothered in chocolate. I have no idea how many servings this bag is suggested to be but for me I can eat the whole lot in one go... 


Nature's Garden Turmeric 400mg 
Turmeric has more recently found itself a place on the superfood list being renowned for its anti inflammatory properties. I've tried it in smoothies and it's not bad. I've tried cooking with it and its great... bar the fact it turns everything yellow which it comes into contact with! In capsule form though, its perfect. The dosage is to take one, twice per day which I try to do especially on days where I have been excising or feel my body just needs a little extra help with recovery.


Yogi Tea Organic Choco
Who doesn't love a good cuppa?! ...I try not to drink too much coffee at home so I like to have a range of herbal teas in my cupboards to help with my hydration levels. If you're expecting this to taste like chocolate though, think again. Think more spicy and warming perfect for a chilly afternoon (...maybe with a slice of banana bread?!).

{ Link }


Pulsin Maple and Peanut Protein 50g bar 
These have been a firm favourite of mine for years now, but as with most things I go through phases. They're perfect right now seeing as I am basically vegan(ish), they contain no dairy or soya too which are things I try to avoid. They are also the perfect portion for your handbag to save you in those emergencies between meals or when you are 'on the go'.

{ Link }

What have been your favourite "finds and finished" products recently?!

Elle :)

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p.s I was gifted these products in a goody bag but as always all opinions are my very own! ...and the biggest testament to these products are that firstly, I chose them, then I ate them and finished them! lol ;)

7.3.17

How To Build Your Perfect Post-Workout Smoothie


A couple weeks ago I attended an event on the South Bank hosted by John Lewis for their #MyWellbeing campaign. On the evening itself, we took part in a nutrition talk before heading to the kitchen to try out some smoothie recipes. With it being so cold the past few months I'd really fallen off the bandwagon with smoothies and business wise (Borrow My Blender) my head had been stuck in finishing my business plan so more writing about smoothies rather than making them.

Hayley Pedrick from The Nutrition Coach talked us through pre-workout smoothies and the benefits, post-gym/workout smoothies and what to include but I wasn't a huge fan of the recipes we tried out on the night - I personally like to use between 4-6 ingredients maximum and also things you'd find in your cupboard everyday (if you're like me anyway). So I thought I'd share with you my simple fail safe guide for putting together the perfect smoothie using whatever you have on hand...



Choose Your Base
Almond milk / Coconut water  - I use 1 cup (approx 250 - 260ml)
Banana (1/2 frozen) or avocado is a good alternative

Add a Protein Powder (optional)
I've been using vegan Chocolate & Vanilla protein powders

Throw In Some Fruit & Veg (1/2 fruit, large handful of veg)
Blueberries
Mango
Mixed berries
Strawberries
Spinach
Kale

Pimp It With Superfoods 
Cacao nibs (1 tbsp)
Bee pollen (1 tbsp)
Cinnamon (1/2 tbsp)
Flax (1 tbsp)

What Else?
Almond butter (1 tbsp)
Agave (if you need it sweeter, to taste)
Oats (2-3 tbsp)
Natural yogurt (2-3 tbsp)

Recipe Suggestions: 

1. Almond milk, banana, chocolate protein, cacao nibs, blueberries, oats, almond butter

2. Almond milk, banana, vanilla protein, cinnamon, almond butter, oats

After exercise, we have 30min recovery window which is when your body is best prepared to receive & store carbs (uptake is 2-3 times more rapid than at any other point in the day). This is best received as a liquid rather than solid for absorption and hydration so smoothies are the perfect option.


We also got to test out a selection of blenders available from John Lewis; working with Beki (of Miss Wheezy), we used a Kenwood model which took a little getting used to even just to get the lid off! It made me super happy with investment in a Vitamix at home!

Before we tucked into our smoothies on the evening, we took part in a mat Pilates class led by Lottie Murphy. Lottie says that "Pilates is great for anyone and it doesn’t matter what level of fitness you are or how flexible you are, it’s a fabulous form or mind and body conditioning. It’s amazing for your core and we focused a lot on that during the class as it’s an area a lot of us neglect but it’s also amazing for strengthening and mobilising your spine and joints.

The key with Pilates is precision of movement and alignment, so it’s important to really focus on this during each exercise to get the most benefits."

What's your go to post workout smoothie / snack?! 


Elle :) 

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6.3.17

How I Handle Life On The Go

There are times in life when you really have to stop and marvel at the catch 22s you're faced with. When you seem to nail something (like meal prep) suddenly life gets so damn busy that you don't even have time to eat... you even sometimes forget to eat (surely this can't be just me?!)! This has definitely happened to me in the past (notably when I started a routine including swimming a couple years ago) and more recently where I've upped my weekly running mileage whilst trying to fit in all my teaching, meetings, appointments and the traveling that goes with running from location to location.

Here's me throwing caution to the wind out on the trails...

I took a moment out (yes I did) to stop and think about the best strategies to help you reach your full potential without being held back by the inconvenience of things like heartburn or Indigestion (we've all been there, right?!).

...Having just had an epic "on the go" weekend - think early rise, coach trips, trail running, photography workshops, catered food, more travelling - I got a stark reminder of the results of when my schedule gets the better of me. Therefore, as per usual, this post is as much for me as it is for sharing any wisdom with who might be reading...

So I've scribbled down a mix of tips for those of us with hectic lifestyles as well as those who have a rigorous exercise routine so we can get out there and experience life without being held back by the inconvenience of things like heartburn or indigestion...

I'm gonna start with the usual lecture about getting enough rest...
I'm a big fan of sleep, and a big fan of downtime. I aim to have one day per week where I do not leave the house at all just to give my body the rest it deserves. When it comes to sleep, I try to make this a priority as I physically can't function well on less than 8 hours a night. I realise we're all different when it comes to the amount of sleep and rest we need but the one thing we have in common is that we do all need it. When you sleep is when your body repairs itself and puts to use all the training you've been doing. What's the point in running miles and miles if you don't allow yourself to actually reap the benefits?! If you continue to train without any recovery, you're more likely to do yourself harm, become injured and not being able to do anything at all!

do it today: get to bed tonight at the time you always promise you will.

It's time to seek adventure...

Then don't forget to eat...
The biggest problem I always encounter is not being able to eat enough. When I get too hungry, I usually end up being bloated which is just uncomfortable and makes me feel self conscious wearing tight fitting clothes. I try to ensure I always have a snack on hand in my bag to keep me going until I can get myself to a decent (usually home cooked meal).... which takes me perfectly onto my next point...

Planning your meals for the week helps... 
My goal each week is to plan all the meals I will cook, order a food shop to be delivered with the required ingredients and then even if I don't have time to "meal prep like a boss" (cook 4 days meals in one go) I can just refer to the list when I need to and decide what to make based on time / energy. The recipes I cook usually create 2-4 servings each time so there is plenty left over for a meal the next day or that can be popped in the freezer for really desperate times. Take the opportunity when you order your weekly food to stock up on snacks that you can carry with you each day for the times you get caught out.

do it today: pick a few new recipes from that cook book you haven't opened yet. write a list for shopping tomorrow / order online for delivery. 

It's all about having the ability to reach our full potential...

You know what they say about Sundays...
How a Sunday well spent, brings a week of content?! ...well, I think if you just spend 5-10 minutes each evening going through your schedule for the next day you'll be set up for success. For example, I was totally unprepared for my trail run this weekend when I got my wires crossed and assumed breakfast would be provided, only to realise there would only be tea / coffee and fruit available. If I'd prepared the night before, I could've popped some overnight oats in the fridge to grab on my way out, or pulled out all the ingredients for an epic breakfast smoothie which takes less than 5 minutes to blend and can also be taken on the road. But lesson learnt!

do it today: check your diary now for tomorrow. is lunch or dinner already sorted (i.e eating out?). will you be out all day? do you have something you can pack for lunch? what will you have for breakfast?

Do you have any top tips for handing life on the go?! 


Elle :) 

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p.s This post is in conjunction with Rennie® but, you know me, all thoughts and opinions are all my very own ;) 
p.p.s photo credits IG @mrrichiep       

28.2.17

Chia & Flax SuperPowered (Vegan) Pancakes

Firstly, I'd like to start by stating that every day has the possibility of being pancake day for me, but as most jump on the bandwagon for this yearly event, there really is no better time to share a new recipe, right?!

Secondly, they are vegan because if you missed the memo, I am vegan(ish). I am lactose intolerant anyway and at the end of last year went off eggs, red meat and a whole host of other foods which technically makes me vegan at times but I still stick to the term flexitarian as I might just wake up one day and want a burger again... I eat what I want, when I want.

Bioglan shared an epic pancake recipe for all the superfood fans out there (which you can find here) but I had to mix it up a little to make it suitable for my own diet and this is the very successful result...

Chia & Flax SuperPowered (Vegan) Pancakes

Makes 6 american style || Serves 2 || Dairy Free || Vegan


This stack of pancakes are a little more superpowered than your average with added Bioglan Superfoods Chia + Flax for a hit of fibre that guarantees a satisfied stomach and slow-release energy. And extra-special pancakes surely deserve an extra-special topping, so I’ve thrown in a deliciously nourishing poached rhubarb recipe to spoon over the top (save the leftovers for your porridge the next morning) - and yes, I didn't try out the topping as you can see from the image; I was feeling somewhat more indulgent!

Ingredients

1 1/8 cup of flour (I used 1 cup of spelt, 1/8 cup of plain)
1/8 cup Bioglan Superfoods Chia + Flax
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk alternative (I used hazelnut cos that is literally all I had in the house!)
1/2 banana
1 tsp Bioglan Superfoods Organic Coconut Oil, for frying

Method

Blend or mash the banana into the milk. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the milk / banana mix to the dry ingredients. Stir until combined.

Melt the coconut oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat. Scoop two scant table spoons of the pancake batter into the pan and cook it until small bubbles appear on the surface.

Once you see the bubbles, flip the pancake (either by catching some serious air OR with a spatula, your choice...) and cook the other side for a further minute before transferring to a plate. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.

(I topped mine with chopped up Protein Snickers, cacao nibs, almond butter and a drizzle of agave!)

Poached strawberries and flaked almond topping

50g strawberries
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp Bioglan Supergreens Berry Burst
½ tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
A handful of flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Scatter the almonds over a baking tray and toast in the warm oven until lightly golden (keep an eye on them - they’ll burn in an instant!)

While the almonds cool, chop the strawberries into small pieces and put into a saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice, Bioglan Supergreens Berry Burst and water. Simmer gently for 1-2 minutes until the strawberries are soft, but not mushy.

Strain the liquid into a bowl and set aside. Leave the strawberries to cool.

Put the liquid back in the saucepan and simmer until it becomes a thick syrup.

Top your pancakes with a spoonful of the poached strawberries, a drizzle of the poaching syrup, a few toasted flaked almonds and a dusting of icing sugar.

...there you have it! Everything you need for an epic pancake day... or epic day full stop!!

Whats your favourite pancake topping?!


Elle :)

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