Tuesday, 6 October 2015


Now that the London Marathon has put me out of my misery for the third time, I feel like I can get on with my life and properly plan my winter training playtime.

I LOVE autumn and winter training. I love it when the seasons change and the air gets crisp, I love it when the trees coat the ground in a crunchy blanket of orange and red. I love wrapping up warm in my winter running gear and braving the elements up on the Downs.

These are the best seasons to run in, no doubt about it.

Just look at that sunset. I didn't have to stay up past 10 for that badboy, that was 6:30 last week. Autumn rocks. Fact.

FitBits | Brighton beach sunset | copyright Tess Agnew

I decided to make 2016 a marathon-free year after my strong finish at Brighton this April, but entered the London ballot anyway because, well, it's basically the law. And if I had got in, I would've jumped at the chance to run it, obvs.

But, not getting in is fine. Now that I can keep my no-marathon promise I can start working towards what I want to achieve in the next few months, which I can basically sum up in three words: lean, fast, strong. 

I want to get my body fat down, get my running nice and fast, and my body fit and strong.

Strong body

I've reinstated my #gymwanker status with gusto and am back at the gym for strength training two or three times a week; one of those sessions training with Amy, at Love Life Fitness.

She's been putting me through my paces with some right beasty pre-work sessions, and it's great to be making muscles again. 

Concentrating on my swimming over the summer meant I neglected weight training and as a result have replaced 2.5kg of muscle mass with chub. That might not sound like a lot, but I can feel it and I don't like it.

FitBits | ThisGirlCan Tess Agnew

My body fat percentage is 34%, which is just ridiculous for someone my size. Time to change. I want to get strong again and lose some of this fat I've been carrying around so I can smash some PBs this autumn and winter and go into next year ready to smash some more.

I've never actually got it below 30% because I always lose my way a bit but without a marathon to train for and long runs to fuel (and refuel from), I'm excited to regain a bit of focus and try to be consistent for once.

FitBits | body fat analysis Brighton

I get my body composition analysed by Rachel at in Brighton - she's given me the initial goal of getting it down to 28%, and then we'll go from there. Put the cakes down Tess. Except on Fridays, cake's always allowed on Fridays. (80/20 til I die). 

Weekly training for the next few months will include:
- BTRS Trail series Sunday runs (challenging courses of five, 7.5, 10 and 16 miles through Brighton's trails and clifftop roads)
- Arena80 track sessions. Gonna finally join a run club and get to regular track sessions.
- Minimum three gym sessions per week (one with Amy)
- Two BTRS coached swim sessions (really looking forward to this)
- Sweaty Betty yoga class each week
- Long winter rides and turbo sessions
- Boxing bootcamp and climbing with hubs when we can fit it in! 

FitBits | Brighton Gym
True story...


For me, October onwards marks the start of 'running season', when all the good races come out to play and I get to dance around the roads of Sussex like a lunatic.

Coming up in the next few weeks:

Color Run Brighton - 10th Oct
Bright10 (10miler)   - 18th Oct
Poppy 10k                - 7th Nov (haven't decided whether to do the half yet)
Brooks 10k              - 15th Nov (PB attempt)
Mince Pie 10(miler) - 6th Dec
Brighton Half           - 28th Feb (PB attempt)

I'm not gonna race all of these. Obviously, the Color Run is there to be enjoyed no matter what the time, and the Bright10 is gonna have to be at a comfy pace, whatever that may be - it's been a while since I've ran that far so just hoping to finish well.

Brooks is the annual 10k PB attempt so I'll race the shit out of that one, obvs, as I will for the half :)

Brooks 10k target - 4mins 15s to shave off!


Strong mind 

As well as training my body I'll be focusing on building a stronger, more focused mind. I've been taking part in the latest #BrainBoost campaign with Weight Watchers, and have been given some life hacks to improve my working memory and cognitive flexibility, which you can read about in this post.

Basically the idea is that by training our brains to develop core skills, we can be productive and focused for longer, helping to make better food choices later in the day as well as first thing in the morning.

Find out what type of eater you are and get your life hacks to train your brain on the BrainBoost website.

FitBits | Weight Watchers Brain Boost
At the #BrainBoost event last month, using the mindfulness app. Pretty impossible to shut off in a room full of people! 

I've been adding up my shopping over the past couple of weeks and this week I very nearly got it bang on, only a few pence out. It's still really hard to keep track of everything as I go around, especially as I can't at least write it down, but I'm a little feeling more focused and productive so it must be doing me some good.

What I haven't been so great at is practicing daily meditation and switching off from technology every night before bed. I'm still taking my phone to bed and am online right up until the light goes out, so definitely some work to do there. I need to get to bed earlier too, (heard that before haven't we!)

Funny how the hardest thing for me to 'fit in' is time out and sleep!

*Disclaimer: I was approached by Weight Watchers to take part in the Brain Boost campaign and have been compensated to write about my experience. All words, thoughts, confessions of crap maths and inability to chill the feck out are my own.


What are your autumn and winter training goals? How do you make time to balance sleep, rest and time out - from technology, and training?

Sunday, 27 September 2015


In 2015 our average attention span is just eight seconds. Eight bloody seconds. That's less than the humble goldfish (which is nine, if you're interested).

As a digital marketer, this presents an exciting daily challenge - creating content, in a world with so much stimulus, that captures and keeps the attention of various audiences. Campaigns that keep attention enough to elicit an emotional response - whether that's to like, comment or share a piece of content, take part in a competition, use a hashtag or follow a brand.

As a human - it presents a daily bombardment of information and distraction. 

I've spent most of today sitting about on the internet, scrolling endlessly through people's lives, lying in wait for the next notification to reel me in, reading up on cat behavioural traits, browsing recipes, looking for races to do, reading blogs and various articles on nothing in particular.

Basically doing everything but what I planned to do today.

When I finally started to write I ended up straddling two blog posts simultaneously, not able to decide which to focus on.

Then I told everyone on Twitter about it and urgently went looking for this:

Sometimes, it's impossible for me to focus on one thing at a time. Actually impossible. That eight second window doesn't last long (about eight seconds, I heard), and as soon as I've remembered what I'm doing I'm promptly off Googling cat videos again.

The trap of the tech-sweats

I think (or at least hope) I'm not alone in saying that my short attention span is due to my over-reliance on technology.

In fitness: my Garmin and Microsoft Band are forever on charge should I need to record exactly what I've done, calories burned, heart rate and pace (and then use my iPhone to immediately tell everyone about it on social media). Because if it's not recorded, it didn't happen, right? 

In work: I work in digital marketing so am online all day, blogging, managing social channels, email campaigns and writing web content for clients.

In life: my iPhone never leaves my side - my trusty sidekick keeps engagements with friends, adds up my shopping, is my notebook, my alarm clock, camera and source of endless procrastination. I hardly ring anyone anymore because communicating in text form is more convenient and less disruptive. I really need to work on that, because a Facebook message is no substitute for a conversation.

It's like I don't need to use my brain any more.

Let me ask you, when was the last time you did any 
mental arithmetic? 

I mean proper, actual maths?

I was quite good at school and got a B in maths GCSE, but the other day I got proper techsweats when my phone died in Aldi. I went into the shop with 5% battery, knowing it wouldn't last and that I'd have to (shock, horror), use my brain to add up as I went round. I did try, and it started well, but gave up when I got distracted by the winter cycling gear.

Today, I tried again and got up to about £36 before giving up when hubs put yet another awkwardly valued item in the basket (by awkwardly valued I mean not a nice round pound - my brain can't handle anything else).

The total bill was £38.92, so not too far off, but my mind was exhausted and I wanted to vom all over my maths GCSE certificate.

Maths without my calculator makes me want to vom on my GCSE certificate

My over stimulated brain also has trouble with working memory. Today I kept forgetting the running total, and I'm forever keeping notes in my phone in fear of forgetting things people mention to me, like bands to listen to or things to Google later.

Every so often I go through the Notes app on my iPhone but much of it no longer makes sense because I've forgotten the context in which I wrote them.

And as for planning my working day, if Google Calendar didn't exist I wouldn't have a clue what I was doing at my desk.

Training the brain to eat healthily

I find all of this mindfulness, procrastination, attention span stuff fascinating so was keen to learn more when Weight Watchers got in touch about their Brain Boost campaign. They've partnered with neuroscientist, Dr Jack Lewis to conduct a survey of 2000 people (not all Weight Watchers members, I've been told), and found that the average Brit thinks about food for a total of nearly two and a quarter hours each day. 

That's over two hours of thinking and talking about eating, mulling over whether that snack is healthy, what you'll have for lunch, craving a sugar fix, planning your dinner, admiring your colleague's food (I do this daily).

That doesn't sound too unrealistic to me - I often spend stupid amounts of time planning and prepping meals and exercise for the week only to promptly forget about it as soon as I get busy or stressed. 

If I plan my meals and make my morning workouts I arrive at work focused, energised and ready to take on the world. If I get up late, skip a run and start the day with sugar, my good intentions go out the window and I crave comfort and convenience food.

I know my recently increased body fat percentage is thanks to my lack of discipline when it counts, regardless of how hard I've trained beforehand.

The Brain Boost campaign is all about looking at why our brains default to high sugar and high fat foods when we're rushed off our feet, and training our brains to cope better with the day-to-day bombardment.

If we can improve our working memory and cognitive flexibility we can be more productive, focused and energised throughout the day, enabling us to make more strategic food choices in the evening rather than rely on instinct. There have been many times I've got home after a busy day and not been arsed to cook something from scratch so opt for a pub dinner or takeaway. I'm always sorted at breakfast and lunch.

My portions could do with sizing down again and I need to stop bingeing on carbs just because I ran or lifted heavy today.

My three goals over the winter are to get strong, fast and lean, and I know it starts in the kitchen so I need to get into the right mindset with my food again.

Naughty But Nice

Weight Watchers have identified three typologies for the most common types of eaters, with useful tips and advice to overcome mental barriers. I'm a Naughty But Nice eater, and have been given the following life hacks to help me get back on track:

  1. Tot up my shopping - improve my working memory by remembering shopping lists in my head and adding up totals as I go around. One step at a time on this - let me concentrate on the adding up first!
  2. Temptation distraction - divert my attention when coming into contact with tempting food. This will be especially hard when sweet treats are passed round the office...
  3. Daily down time - clearing my mind of life's daily stresses to reduce cortisol levels (stress hormone), so I feel less frazzled by mealtimes and will be more likely to make the right decisions. I'm gonna do five minutes of meditation every day, and half an hour of colouring in before bed starting tomorrow. 

Over the next few weeks I'll be practicing these tips in preparation for winter training to meet my goals of getting stronger, faster and leaner for next triathlon season. My first goal for my body fat is to get it down to less than 28%, and I'll go from there with the help from Brighton nutritionist ninja Rachel Love.

Head over to the Brain Boost website to find out your typology and life hacks to help make healthier choices. You can also play the memory game to see if your brain needs training! My current record is 35 seconds, lemme know if you beat me!

Disclaimer: I was approached by Weight Watchers to take part in the Brain Boost campaign and have been compensated to write about my experience. All words, thoughts, confessions of tech-sweats and determination to do maths without getting angry are my own. 


Do you struggle with procrastination and productivity? Are you addicted to technology, and what's the one thing you struggle with to stay on track food wise?

Sunday, 20 September 2015

WIN | 2x race entries to Brighton Color Run!

I'm really excited about this guys.

As you know, my infatuation for Brighton reaches dizzying heights where running is involved, especially if there's an opportunity for a right old endorphin binge. Throw in a few rainbows and a massive post-race party and you've basically got Nirvana.

FitBits | Brighton Color Run 2013

Coming back to Brighton on October 10th is the epic, the awesome, Color Run, and I've got two race entries to give away.

Hailed the 'Happiest 5k on the Planet', I can personally vouch for this as the most fun I've ever had running a 5k, ever. If you'd call jumping, skipping and dancing your way round the (untimed) rainbow-coloured course 'running', of course.

I don't need to spell out why this event is so awesome - I'll let the photos do the talking. It's not about times, and PBs and pace - show me a race more full of endorphins, smiles and silliness than this. I dare you.

FitBits | Brighton Color Run 2014

FitBits | Brighton Color Run 2014

FitBits | Brighton Color Run 2014

Anyway, that's quite enough gushing, let's get to the point - shut up Tess and tell us how to bloody win already!!

Come and play! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Color Run takes place at Madeira Drive, Brighton on Saturday 10th October 2015. Registration is open at Event entries are priced at £26 for individuals and £24 p/person for group bookings (There is a £4.99 cost for postage and packaging of entry pack).


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