FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: September 2015

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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Training the brain to eat healthily

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. 




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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?


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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 www.TheColorRun.co.uk. 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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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

TESS TRI'S - TAKE 2: FALMER TRI 2015

Oops I did it again.

After surviving my first triathlon and sailing home on a wave of endorphins, I gave into my FOMO at hearing so many of my friends were racing Falmer tri just a week later and signed me and hubs both up with gusto.

I was slightly out of shape for the hilly bike and run course on this one, and Chris had never done a triathlon, nor trained for one, but is one of those people who can turn up and smash things with minimal preparation, leaving me in a trail of dust.

It's not annoying at all. (He is a tree surgeon, and I do sit on my arse in an office all day, so I'll let him off)



Anyway, I got FOMO when I found out half of Brighton was racing, and then he got FOMO when I said I was signing up, and that's how we came to be standing on the side of the pool at Virgin Active gym in Brighton, shivering in our trisuits not long after 7am on Sunday morning.


One big jolly


One of the last tri's of the season, and organised excellently by Brighton Multisports, Falmer is basically just one big jolly for Brighton's massive and wonderful fitness community.

The thing I really love about being active this city is the huge amount of new friends we've made and how incestuous it all is (not literally - or it could be, I'm happily married so couldn't say). Everyone knows everyone and if you don't, well you do now - welcome to the party.

BOSH Tri 


Bearing in mind the previous week's completely irrational fear of the swim, I wasn't at all nervous about this race, but instead enveloped in that familiar race day dread about how much the tougher bike and run course was going to hurt. For my first tri I was treated to a short, flat bike and run loop, so could go all out and not risk burning out.

This was different, with the undulating 17mile bike course taking on Ditchling Beacon and the 5k run snaking through hilly Stanmer Woods. I wasn't scared of the swim, in fact I was really looking forward to it, once we'd sorted out the mix up with our predicted times (don't mix this up or they give you an average time of 8 minutes and put you in with the big boys).





There are a few great things about this race, which I'll list below, but one of them is the way they let the slowest swimmers start first, according to predicted swim times. Having the slowest swimmers start first means they get 'ahead' on the bike and run and don't end up being dead last.

It's a brilliant way to race as you can't tell where you're positioned, and it makes it all relative to each athlete.



Reasons Falmer Tri rocks (in no particular order)


  1. Ace medal 
  2. Free food and tea/coffee voucher with entry
  3. Slowest swimmers in first 
  4. Free downloadable photos (that's right, I said FREE!!!)
  5. Great spot prizes to go with placed athletes
  6. Instant time results printed out 
  7. FREE day pass of excellent facilities at Virgin Active
  8. Brilliant bike and run course 
  9. 2 pools to speed up swim 
  10. Massive jolly for Brighton's tri community


The swim


After jumping to the first wave of swimmers after our timing mixup, I ended up being one of the very first in the pool. The swim felt smooth and long, and everything I'd practiced in training, and I was comfortable in the water, actually quite enjoying myself.

The race briefing outlined the etiquette for the swim - if we were tapped on the toes, we had to pull over at the end of the lane and let the faster swimmer go. I got tapped a few times, and the other three swimmers in my lane were all of similar speed so each time had to wait for all three to pass before kicking off again.

As such, my swim time wasn't going to break any records, but I was really pleased with how smooth it went and how it felt.

Next year, I'll make sure I can get in with the 8 minuters and hold my own. Oh and of course, Chris nailed his swim in around 9 minutes, despite his apprehension from not swimming at all for the entire year.

Time: 15:53
Transition 1: 2:05 (not sure what I was doing, maybe filing my nails?)




The bike 

Now for the fun bit. This is a course me and hubs have ridden many times, each time with varying success. The little rolling hills on the way to the beast that is the Beacon all add up so I was nervous about burning out and bonking on the big climb.

After I'd finished faffing in transition (got a little work to do to catch up with the guy who won a spot prize for his 12 second fleeting visit - 12 BLOODY SECONDS!!), I finally jumped on the bike and was out.





The bike was tough, with all the little hilly bits scaring me a little as I knew what was coming, so I held back a bit to save some energy. It didn't make any difference though, when I got to the Beacon it still nearly killed me. I haven't climbed it since before the summer and Strava's telling me it was a PB of 8:59 so I'll take that!


There were a fair few profanities when I got to the top:

*shakes fist* "WHY YOU LITTLE-"

What goes up must come down though, and I took great delight in setting the 30mph warning light off for my 40mph descent of Coldean Lane. Another (much more fun) PB. It would've been faster if I didn't spend half of it trying to clip back in. I gave up in the end to enjoy the descent but my feet were so cold I couldn't clip back in until about a km later!

Time: 108:58
Chris' time: 1:07


Transition 2: 1:31 (trying to feel my feet again and getting lost evidently - see pic below)


The run


Yeah, this wasn't too much fun. I've not been running much this summer, and certainly no hills, having focused on my swim  and been faffing about on mountain bikes for most of it.

Lesson learned.

After my navigational flail despite the BIG YELLOW SIGNS and pointing, laughing marshalls coming out of transition 2, I managed to get onto the run course.

Lost in transition... 



The run exits transition the other way and heads towards Stanmer via the ramp at the Amex (they make everyone take the ramp instead of the stairs so it's fair, not that I could've hacked the stairs at that point with my knees, mind).

There's a steady climb into the woods and then a short but uphill course through the trees before looping back out and down to the finish.

This run was in no way comfortable whatsoever. I couldn't feel my feet from the bike so spent the first half of it stamping around with pins and needles, then my back hurt on the hills and my lungs begged me to stop. I did, and fell into a forward bend behind the trees as soon as I was out of sight.

MUST. DO. MORE. RUNNING. 

Good job I've got a 10 miler and a half marathon in a few weeks then!

Obligatory airborne finish line shot


I came into the finish to a sea of support from friends, and spent the next half hour gushing about how tough and awesome it was, cheering others in. It really is an awesome race, I'll be back to smash it next year. You should too.

Time: 32:02
Chris' time: 25 mins (machine!)

My Finish time: 2:00:33  
Chris' finish time: 1:43 


We enjoyed our free tea and free chilli, watched the awards and drove home on another sea of endorphins, already planning the next one.

**Disclaimer: This triathlon was in no way, whatsoever, in any shape or form, about times. Nope. Not at all...



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What makes a great race for you? The course, bling, community or freebies? Gimme your favourite races and why so I can add to my calendar... 



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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

TEARS, TANTRUMS AND TRIATHLONS


FitBits | Human Race Events Diamond Triathlon Eton Dorney 2015

"Guys, this is an open water triathlon swim, we're not sending 
you out to war..."


I wasn't the only one who stopped hyperventilating for a giggle when the race marshall said that. It was 12:59pm and the Novice distance Diamond Tri competitors were in the water. Some holding onto the pontoon (me), some swearing at the reeds/'terrifying swamp demons' that snaked around their water-treading legs (me), some calmly bobbing around laughing with friends (not me, I was too busy holding on for dear life). 

Race day came round all too quickly for me this time. Having only started training for this nine weeks ago, not followed a set training plan and *still* not being able to swim the full 400m required distance in one go, my nerves were on another level on the drive up to Eton Dorney from Brighton.

Plan of attack


Those who follow me on Twitter and Instagram will have seen me at various panic-stations throughout last week, flailing about whether Vaseline or baby oil will do for under my wet suit (baby oil worked fine), whether I'd be able to see in the water (sort of), whether there'd be buoys and 'lanes' clearly marked out in the lake (yes). Whether I'd actually be able to finish the swim (read on to find out!) 

I spent most of the drive up running through problems in my head and decided to have a common-sense word with myself and write down my fears, and then write down how I'd deal with them if it happened, so I had a 'plan of attack', so to speak. 




My lovely (and very patient) husband endured continual questions, tantrums and speculation as to what the day would hold, but when we arrived at Dorney Lake I tried to shove the fear aside and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere. 

With the sun shining, no real wind to contend with and a busy race village teeming with activity, excited triathletes of all abilities and lots of people in support, it was hard to still be so scared. 

The water even looked, dare I say it, inviting. 


FitBits | Human Race Events Diamond Triathlon Eton Dorney 2015

FitBits | Human Race Events Diamond Triathlon Eton Dorney 2015
I was quite tempted to just sit down and have a picnic though...





























 

Tears


All was going well until I went to get changed into my race kit, and in the changing rooms I got chatting to a lady who'd done the 2km swim earlier and was now baby oiling herself up for the Novice distance tri. She told me all about how it was 'really difficult to swim through all the reeds' in the water, how she got tangled up a few times on her swim, and how she needed to 'really pull through' to get past. 

Cue the instant panic and dread that I thought I'd left in the van. 

I managed to hold it together until I got back outside to Chris but as soon as I saw him the waterworks started and I couldn't make them stop. There I was, a 29 year old (not-so) grown woman, dressed in a shiny new trisuit and wetsuit quietly blubbing in public.  

It's just as well my uncle turned up then too so Chris had support in calming me down, telling me it would only be reedy on the ramp and in the shallows. 

After pulling myself together I went to rack my bike and suss out transition, and reminded myself of my point 1) action plan from earlier - 



The swim


Before I knew it the Novice distance triathletes were being called to the water for the swim so I was all out of worry-time and went into let's-get-this-done mode. 

As I approached the water I overheard a few other people just as nervous as me which was really reassuring, although I definitely wanted to get in the water as soon as possible to acclimatise and calm me down. 

I can honestly say, I've never had pre-race nerves this bad before, apart from my boxing fight last year, that was pretty much on the same scale in terms of fear. Which is mental because this was only 400m swimming! I swim all the time! Strange how your mind can make your body react. 



FitBits | Human Race Events Diamond Triathlon Eton Dorney 2015



The race starter must've noticed how nervous we all looked and as well as reassuring us that all we were doing was going for a swim, not going to war, he let us hang on to the pontoon and explained that previous swimmers had cleared a path through the reeds so we should get through OK. 

The klaxon went and of course, I promptly moved to the side of this path, negotiating a tangly underwater forest for the first few metres. At first I had swimmers around and in front of me, I could see the kicking feet of the group ahead, and I settled into my slow and comfy rhythm that I'd practiced so much before. The feet soon disappeared into the distance but I plodded on. 

As soon as I started to actually swim the fear was gone and I was able to concentrate on the task at hand, so although it was me and just a few other stragglers, I wasn't scared so actually started to enjoy the challenge. 

FitBits | Human Race Events Diamond Triathlon Eton Dorney 2015


Kayakers stayed near and every now and then, probably about five or so times during the whole swim, I stopped for a breather or switched from front crawl to some sort of undignified, flappy doggy paddle/water treading dance, just so I could check myself and get back on course. I took the inside 'lane' but went a bit too inside and had to come back out a bit to go round the yellow buoys. 

On the second corner another swimmer pulled over and stopped, saying he'd had reeds tangled round his ankle pulling him down for ages - I asked him if he was OK but then a kayaker turned up so I went on my way, glad I'd only got tangled momentarily earlier. I dunno if he overtook me as by then I was too concerned with getting to the finish. 

I tried to swim long, and with grace, lifting my elbows and turning my body to slice through the water. I tried to not kick too much but to be honest, I kicked for England at the start and as I got tired my nice glidey-elbows-up stroke got a bit wide and slappy. 

I think I said 'fuck' a few times (i.e. on nearly every breath) on the home straight when I kept veering off to the right instead of towards the ramp. I thought I was the last out but Chris said I had about six behind me - not that it mattered though, I was just really excited to still be alive and knew the race was in the bag now. 

I reached for the outstretched hand of a very friendly marshall, manically shouted to him that I was still alive and ran off to collect my bike. 

Time: 13:01
Position (female): 19/26
Transition 1: 2:19 


The bike


This was the part I was really looking forward to as it's my strongest discipline. I knew if I could just make it to the bike I'd go out hard to catch up some fast swimmers and regain some position. I faffed a fair amount in transition to get comfy and pegged it out of there in a flurry of excitement.

I clipped into my pedals, cranked up the gears nice and heavy and went all out for the first couple of km, overtaking as I went. Some cyclists prefer high cadence but if I need to go fast, quickly, it's into heavy gears pronto and quadzilla to work for me.

Behold my RACE FACE:

FitBits | Human Race Events Diamond Triathlon Eton Dorney 2015


This was my first race on my trusty road bike. I've had her since last June and been dying to see what she can do on a course, especially at flat Dorney after my 2014 Winter Duathlon bike fail (don't blame me, blame the hybrid).

The thing is, I went out a bit too fast, and had a really tight chest for most of the bike course, easing only when I slowed to drink and pose for the photographer in the last few km.

Coming into transition a young lad fell off his bike as he unclipped so I stopped to make sure he was OK before going in myself. He was a right trooper, had a one-second cry, picked himself up and ran on. DUDE.

FitBits | Human Race Events Diamond Triathlon Eton Dorney 2015


Time: 23:06
Position (female): 13/26
Transition 2: 1:05


The run


Even though it was only 2.5km the run was pretty uncomfy to be fair. It always takes me about 15 minutes to get settled on a run, so heading out for a fast couple of k after smashing it on the bike didn't do much for my lungs.

The course was a straight out and back along the river, with the turn point way too far away for my liking. (1.25km to far to be precise). I passed a few runners and tried to settle in what rhythm I could, got overtaken by a fair few speedy people, but it was a great atmosphere, with the collective knowledge that it was the last push to the finish.

I stopped to sort my laces briefly on the home straight (having tried out the Nathan Lock Laces from my Runner's Need #summerrunnin goody box, I'm not sure I had them tight enough), and another runner passed me and said 'keep going'. I think he thought I was doubled over in pain or something, which might not have been too far from the truth, it wasn't a comfortable run in any shape or form.

I was playing cat and mouse with one of the Disney triathletes on the way back to the finish - I'd overtake her, then she'd overtake me, and when we got near the end and heard the crowd going for it (my cheerleaders included) we both picked it up for a sprint to come in strong.

I got in front, just. If she's reading this - well done, thanks for playing!

FitBits | Human Race Events Diamond Triathlon Eton Dorney 2015


Time: 14:11
Position (female): 10/26
Speed: 5:40/km

Overall time: 53:43


Tess Tri's (again)

I'm really chuffed with my time, really glad to get my first tri (and the fear) out of the way so I can build on this over the winter and get strong for next season. Can't believe how scared I was about the swim, seems so stupid now. That shit was real though. 

I'm not running a Spring marathon next year (unless I get into London), so am excited to spend the winter going heavy in the gym, lots of swim and cycle training, and running FAST so I can smash some PBs and see what kind of triathlete I can really be. 

So chuffed I can't even keep my eyes open :)



Oh, and I *may* have already signed up to my next tri... this Sunday at Falmer, out of sheer FOMO. I'm blaming my BOSH Tri and BTRS buddies. Have also convinced hubs to sign up too, (his FOMO got the better of him after supporting me at Dorney). 

Couples who race together... :) 



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What was your first triathlon experience like? Do you ever get as nervous as I did before big races and if so how do you deal with it?




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Saturday, 5 September 2015

SAVE PRESTON PARK CYCLE TRACK - THE RIDE

FitBits Brighton | Save Preston Park Cycle Track ride 2015
image source

This morning in Brighton over 200 cyclists of all ages came out in force for the
Save Preston Park Cycle Track ride. As someone in love with cycling who lives just minutes away from the track, this is a campaign very close to my heart and we must do all that we can to save the track.

Preston Park velodrome is the oldest in the country and second oldest in the world - constructed in 1877. One of only nine outdoor tracks in the UK remaining, it has hosted competitive cycling events every year since - apart from this year when British Cycling deemed the track unsafe for racing.


FitBits Brighton | Save Preston Park Cycle Track ride 2015



FitBits Brighton | Save Preston Park Cycle Track ride 2015
image source


The perimeter fencing and track surface is in need of repair, costing an more than an estimated £300,000. Over £2,000 initial fundraising has already been pledged by the local cycling community, which will go towards building a website and further campaigning for the track's refurbishment.

This is not just a campaign to save the track - this is a campaign to preserve and maintain a valuable resource and historic community hub for British cycling. The track has been and still is used regularly by local clubs, groups and independent cyclists, and is a regular venue to teach and mentor young cyclists coming up in the ranks.

Various professional cyclists have regularly used the track, including former Tour de France rider Sean Yates, who is supporting the campaign.


FitBits Brighton | Save Preston Park Cycle Track ride 2015





image source

Today's army of cyclists rode from Old Steine Gardens to Preston Park velodrome with bells ringing, horns tooting and one common goal. I love how Brighton comes out in force for causes like this - but we've got a long way to go to ensure the track is saved.

Campaign organiser Rupert Rivett, of Sussex Cycle Racing League, wants to set up a Trust to manage the track and facilities longer term, making further developments to the site such as low level lighting and new stadium facilities for tennis, cricket and cycling clubs.

Find more info and pledge your support on the Crowdfunder page, and 





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Friday, 4 September 2015

POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS



I reached a turning point this week with my triathlon training. Just in time really, with only three days to go until I (literally) jump in the deep end at Dorney Lake, Eton, for the Diamond Tri.*

*Not sure how much jumping I'll be doing actually, maybe more strategically lowering myself in... 

Looking back, I can see how it happened - on Tuesday I treated myself to a walk in to work with a latte rather than cycling in, and started the week in a really good mood. Having cycled to work every day for most of my working life, it's really nice to not have to concentrate on the road and just amble along with my thoughts every now and then.

Just back from an adrenalin-fuelled few days caving, mountain biking and climbing with hubs to celebrate our first anniversary, (more on this later), I was feeling refreshed and energised as I entered the hive of anticipation that is race week.


FitBits | Mountain biking at Bike Park Wales - Tess Agnew
Playtime at Bike Park Wales



 

Butterflies 


There I was, minding my own business at my desk, when my mind wandered to the tri once more, and my tummy turned and heart fluttered in the way that it does when I'm about to step into the unknown.

For the first time since I signed up for this race, I was excited.

I've wanted to do a triathlon for a couple of years now, and having only learnt to swim front crawl at the end of last year and realising pretty swiftly how difficult swimming actually is, a cloud of self-doubt has been following me around all throughout my training.


Yes, I can now swim, but not very fast.

Yes, if I actually try, I can do bilateral breathing, but not for more than a length before having to pull the nose clip out again. 

Yes, I've improved my stroke with help from friends at BTRS, but I still can't swim 400m without stopping for a breather or two.  

I get overtaken by people doing breast stroke nearly every time I visit the pool (I still definitely CANNOT do breast stroke - note to self: do not employ this as a race tactic when tired of front crawl).

What if I get swam over?
What if I get flustered and can't finish the swim?

What happens if I'm last out?
What if I freak out at being in open water and being out of my depth?
What if (please God, don't let it happen), I lose my nose clip?*


*Haven't actually got a contingency plan for this and if it does happen I will be 
royally fooked. 


Negative Nora


I'm not a negative person in any shape or form but these doubts, these buts and what if's and can'ts, they're ruining my zen and I'm tired of hearing myself tell people I'm scared, and not ready and 'need to sort my stroke out'.

I like to see the best in things, the opportunity for progression and change - the excitement of overcoming a new challenge. If something's difficult, it's worth doing, because the journey requires commitment and the reward of accomplishment is tantalisingly sweet.

I can bask on the endorphins for days.


So when that fleeting feeling of adrenalin flowed through my body on Tuesday morning and the dread that had enveloped my mindset was shoved aside to make room for excitement, I knew I could say goodbye to the negativity.

I shared a doubty Facebook post after my lunchtime swim and got bombarded with messages from mighty triathlete friends, including a few iron distance superheros telling me to relax, and swim long and with grace, and to just ENJOY IT.

They've got a point. Why would I do this if I didn't enjoy it?

What's the point in getting all stressed about it? It's my choice to do this, my decision to go after those endorphins, no-one's making me, and I'm sorry Negative Tess, but if you think I'm gonna let you ruin it for me you can jog quite swiftly on.

I've booked in a lunchtime pre-tri massage to ease the knots in my shoulders and back. I'm gonna wake up naturally, saunter down to work latte in hand and be productive, and focused and free.

Diamond Tri, I'm coming for you (however long it takes!)




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How do you cope with self-doubt when training for a new race? 
Any new or seasoned triathletes have any final words of wisdom for me please do share, 
I'm all ears! xxx






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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

NATIONAL FITNESS DAY - GET FIT FOR FREE!


It's just one week until National Fitness Day, what will you be doing next Wednesday September 9th for the most active day of the year?

All across the UK hundreds of health and fitness sites will be opening their doors offering free events, classes and taster sessions, including everything from Body Pump to Hula Hooping, boxing to free PT sessions.

I'm really excited to be a National Fitness Day ambassador, working with UKactive to help spread the word about all the great opportunities to get fit for free on the day.

Whether you're a fitness addict like me, have just started exercising or maybe you're thinking about it but not sure what to try, there's plenty to be getting involved in. For lots of people, me included, starting to exercise can be daunting and sometimes lonely.

There's no need to pound the streets alone or hide at the back of a class - the key to enjoying exercise is to find something you LOVE, and some awesome people to do it with. Research shows you're much more likely to stick at keeping fit if you exercise with a friend, so why not grab a mate and try a class near you.

Visit the National Fitness Day website for more info and to find an event near you. Alternatively, if you're a gym or health and fitness centre and want to get involved by offering a free event you can sign up and submit your event to the website too.  

Brighton Activities so far


Brighton fitness peeps! Let's show the rest of the UK how it's done and get moving on National Fitness Day! We've got lots of FREE classes and sessions below but we need more gyms and fitness venues to sign up here!



PT sessions at Freedom Leisure Brighton
Free day pass at The Gym, Brighton (just select 9th September)
Bootcamp at Fitness First Brighton
Fitness classes at David Lloyd Brighton Marina
Hula hoop dance classes at Dreamspin
Spin-a-thon with Sports Direct Fitness Hove
Hula hoop on Hove Lawns with Quick Fit Hove

Come on Brighton, we can do better than that! Submit your event at nationalfitnessday.com!

 

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