FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: May 2015

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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Saying no to marathon training

I've finally bitten the bullet and said it out loud: I can't be arsed to run
Fort William Marathon.

Not because it won't be an amazing race, taking in spectacular scenery in one of my favourite places in the world. Not because it won't be an awesome multi-terrain challenge with a more-than-interesting elevation profile, pre-race pasta party and
uh-mazing goodie bag (technical t shirt, medal, WHISKY).

But because I simply cannot be bothered. After putting everything I had into training for Brighton over the winter and earning myself a nice, strong PB finish, I just need a break from distance running for a bit. I may have got a 5k, 10k, half and full marathon PB in the last few months, but now I want more.

Just not 26.2 miles more.

Need for speed 


I want to focus on getting fitter, stronger and faster to smash that elusive sub25 5k I've been passively chasing for the past couple of years in between marathon training cycles. Current PB stands at 25:58 from a January parkrun and made my face do this:

Preston Park Brighton parkrun PB | FitBits
PB face exhibit 1


I want to run as hard and fast as I can to break a sub50 10k this year. Current PB stands at 53:15 at the ever-brilliant Brooks 10k in Brighton last November and I don't think I could get anywhere near that right now (although haven't actually tried recently so who knows)...

Brooks Brighton 10k PB | FitBits
PB face exhibit 2





























After getting tantalisingly close this February, I also want a sub 2hour half but am happy to leave that for an Autumn or even Winter attempt. Before I finally decided to pull out of Fort William I'd reluctantly made my mind up to embrace the FOMO and *not* do a Spring marathon next year - that is, unless I get into London.

This leaves me free for the rest of the year (and then some) to:

Do whatever the hell I like! 


  • I can go to track on Monday nights as I won't be recovering from the long run!
  • I can go boxing up at The Stables Gym more than once a week because I won't need to save energy for the threshold run or continuous hills! 
  • I can race parkrun like my life depends on it in pursuit of that sub25, and I can get out on long road and trail cycle rides without feeling guilty for skipping runs.
  • If I'm brave enough I can get in the sea for some swim training with my beloved BTRS Family, and mayyyyyybe sort my swimming out enough to finally do my first triathlon!
  • I can do just as much strength training and HIIT / circuits classes as I like - no need to save the legs for relentless double-figure runs. 

Boxing bootcamp at The Stables Gym, Brighton Racecourse | FitBits
Boxing bootcamp at The Stables Gym, Brighton Racecourse




Though I do really love distance running so, so much, I think I've realised, one marathon a year is quite enough for me - YAY to no marathon training!

Oh, and more importantly, I can actually enjoy Glastonbury without worrying about the impact it'll have on my training! WIN!

Bring on the Worthy Farm cider bus!











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How do you mix up your training throughout the year? Are you one of those people who can run back-to-back marathons or other amazing endurance races?



Saturday, 23 May 2015

Dangerous inspiration...

There are some dangerously inspiring headlines on the cover of this month’s Outdoor Fitness magazine. Headlines like ‘Leave it all Behind’, and ‘Chase your Dreams’ ignite something deep within me and suddenly I’m frantically flicking through in search of my next adventure.

I’m an impulse-driven, endorphin-hunting kind of person. I’ve got a pretty short attention span and constantly have 100 things on the go at any one time. I’m always hungry for my next challenge, sometimes before I’ve even finished the goal I’m currently working towards.

In April I ran a PB at Brighton Marathon, and in nine weeks I’ve got another marathon at Fort William, so I really should be concentrating on that. But I find it hard not to plan my next adventure when every month a catalogue of exciting outdoor escapades lands on my doormat enticing me to flick through and sign up.








I’m 30 next year and I’m on the hunt for my ‘oh-my-God-I’m-getting-old-I-better-do-something-amazing’ experience. I’m not talking a big party or family get together here, I want an all-out, give-it-all-you-got endurance feat, a limit-pushing, fear-facing dive into the unknown.

On the hit list of potentials so far (but each requiring different levels of money, time, commitment to training and varying levels of tolerance/cooperation from my long-suffering husband:

  1. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
  2. Run Kilimanjaro Marathon
  3. Run an ultra marathon (probably a ‘baby’ one, like 33 miles or so to start with - any suggestions near the South East?)
  4. Cycle from John O’Groats to Lands End
  5. Cycle the west coast of Scotland 
  6. Walk the West Highland Way
  7. Three Peaks Challenge (knees permitting)


And now with this issue of Outdoor Fitness I’m going to have to add another million things to my to do list:

The seven day Transalp mountain bike race covering over 620km and nearly 20,000 metres of ascent; or maybe Britain’s longest and most challenging sportive road ride that starts this Summer – riding the entire country’s coastline in 64 days.

Maybe not one for next year but maybe in a few, if I can improve my swimming to allow me to do more than one length without stopping for a break – maybe the formidable half iron-distance Ben Nevis Braveheart Triathlon! Ending with a half marathon all the way to the summit of Britain’s highest mountain, and back down for the finish line in Fort William. 

I climbed Ben Nevis a couple of years ago - it took us hours and the descent was the most painful experience my knees have ever had to endure. All three and a bit hours of it. So yeah, maybe that's one for a few years when I've learnt to swim properly and got my knees to a comfortable fell-running state. 


Half way up Ben Nevis in 2013


I also really wanna go to New Zealand and run, walk or cycle the length of the country from the bottom of the South Island to the top of the North, but that might be another one for a few years when we've got some dollar to do it. 

Ooh! And I should do a Tough Mudder at some point. Maybe that's more achievable for now. Or maybe 'just' a skydive?

The problem I have, (apart from convincing the hubs to use most of our holiday allowance up to join or support me in some knackering sufferfest of a fitness feat), is I want to do it all, right now, but I don’t have the money, or time to train for everything, and with only 20 days holiday a year, I have to pick my battles wisely.

So instead, I’m bookmarking everything and building my bucket list with gusto.

It’s just a case of which to save up and do first?? 

For now though, I'll just go and do parkrun and then spend the day on the mountain bike trails!

My subscription to Outdoor Fitness is provided for free by the lovely people at magazine.co.uk as part of being in their blogger network. All impulses and daydreams are my own :)



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What's on your bucket list?  



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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

If it makes you happy... keep practicing

After yoga at Sweaty Betty Brighton tonight (it's free, you should go), as I locked up my bike and wandered into the supermarket to get some salmon for dinner, Sheryl Crow's If It Makes You Happy started playing in the store.

There I was, rifling through the reduced isle, full of love, energy, and light after an awesome but ever-challenging class, singing it loud and proud. I made eye contact with everyone who stared at me and got a few of them humming along too.

It was a fitting moment for a very fitting mood. I don't know what it is but something happens to me when I practice yoga and I just let go of all the tension and stress inside me. All the weight I carry on my shoulders throughout the day, from work, training, day-to-day tasks and annoyances - they all just melt away, usually somewhere between me trying desperately to straighten my legs and touch my toes in a forward bend.

Sweaty Betty Brighton class timetable - yoga and balates - FitBits


I'm not the world's greatest yogi. I don't yet have the range to do nearly half of the poses properly and I execute those that I can with the exact precision and grace of a herd of charging elephants. I can't touch my toes, am in agony if I spend too long in Lotus with my hip, and my Standing Splits are more Crouching Fits as my body reluctantly shakes and battles its way through class.

Some things I can do though - I have no problem moving from Downward Dog into a full press up for Cobra, and bridges and balance work I'm not too bad at, even if my alignment isn't always right. I bloody love Warrior, I feel so strong, and if I spend approximately 10,000 years warming up my hamstrings and walking my feet I can *nearly* put my heels down on the floor in Downward Dog. Sort of.

As the class goes on and I relax into the moment I'm able to breathe more deeply and create space in my body to move into the poses. I'm also getting pretty good at Savasana too, learning to shut off and be present. Relaxing is hard for me. Being still is sometimes impossible.

But it's a work in progress.



Yoga builds strength for my running, calms my mind, and feeds my soul. I'm learning to feel my body, hear my breath, focus on healing. And let me tell you, doing Sun Salutations to Massive Attack, no matter how disjointed or misaligned my limbs are - it's bloody magic.

Sweaty Betty run classes every Tuesday night from 6.15-7pm, mostly led by the wonderful Holly Cooper. Her classes are so challenging but totally blissful in equal measures and I look forward to making time for them every week. I learned tonight that the store also runs occasional Sunday yoga classes too, as well as Balates on Thursday evenings - a fusion of ballet and pilates. Find the full class list for Brighton and other stores here.

All classes are free of charge and are run in store, so if you can't get in the zone and find your zen you can at least have a perve at all the beautiful kit and make a mental shopping list. Mine's pretty impressive already.



   

Do you try to make time to regularly practice yoga? What's your favourite pose and which is your nemesis and why?



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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Cycling, I heart you

Since claiming PB glory at Brighton Marathon last month, I've been having a bit of a break from running, and spending time with my other true love - cycling.

Ever since I was a kid I've always had a bike. Or three.

My first bike was one of those wicked Universal Tracker BMXs, with bright blue tyres and handlebars, and bright foam covers on the crossbar. As I grew up I also had the red and yellow version, and they were the loves of my life, even when I came crashing off one, breaking my leg and earning myself a six week hospital stay.

When your Dad says don't come round the corner too fast or you'll fall off, he kinda means it, kids.

As soon as my cast was off and I was able to cycle again I was straight back down the BMX track, moving onto a cheap plain chrome BMX and then a hand-me-down Hoffman when I went to uni.

This isn't a pic of mine but I had the same model. It was the love of my life as a kid


A bright pink Raleigh Chopper and beautiful vintage Peugeot racing bike joined my battered old BMX for the four years I lived in Birmingham and Stratford on Avon as a student - and now my beloved Giant roadie and Specialized mountain bike have carried me thousands of miles across Sussex and beyond.

Ignore that I'm wearing a tyre and look at the beautiful Peugeot racer :) #unilife


Wheely adventures 


In Brighton, having a bike rocks.

You can get anywhere in 10 minutes - to the beach, to town, to work in eight minutes if I step on it and the traffic lights play ball.  The ever-increasing network of cycle lanes envelop the city almost as fast as the parking zones spread to the outskirts; and with the flat seafront, gorgeous white cliffs and rolling Sussex hills, not to mention the notorious Ditchling Beacon on my doorstep - it's just as much a joy to cycle the city as it is to run it.




  

Forest of Dean 

This past few weeks since claiming PB glory at Brighton Marathon, I've been getting out on my wheels and being a kid again. The weekend after the marathon, (my birthday weekend), me and hubs packed our mountain bikes and headed for the rocky, technical and exhilarating trails of the beautiful Forest of Dean. If you've never been before and adrenalin is your thing I suggest you get down there pronto.

The forest boasts a range of trails for different grades, marked out clearly so you don't go careering down a trail you're not capable of. Our trusty hardtail bikes took a right battering down some of these badboys and we quickly learned the benefits of a full suspension bike!





Pier to Pier Peloton - South Downs Way

The weekend after our Forest of Dean trip it was time for another Pier to Pier Peloton with Brighton Triathlon Race Series crew, although this time, riding the route the other way round - from Eastbourne Pier to Brighton Pier following the South Downs Way. We'd cycled Brighton to Eastbourne in November last year - read the blog report here.

Another fun, hilly, mountain bike adventure, with three punctures in total and views once again shrouded in mist at the top of the Downs for the most of the ride.







Bank Holiday roadie fun 

And then for May Bank Holiday weekend, whilst hubs was off to Wales with the Kayak Club for a white water safety course, me and my roadie headed out atop the rolling cliffs of the coastal road from Brighton to Eastbourne on the Sunday, and returning from Bexhill to Brighton on the Monday, totalling around 60 miles for the weekend.

The hilly, winding coastal road provided more than enough beasty inclines (and fast descents - 45mph at one point :) ) to warrant rewarding myself with a flat undercliff return into Brighton and of course, the obligatory refuelling with cake and tea.






























What's your favourite way to exercise?  




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