FitBits: 2016

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Tuesday, 27 December 2016

He said, she said: Brighton marathon training


FitBits | Brighton Marathon training week 1 - Tess Agnew fitness blogger



I've been so gagging for this Christmas break. 

Some much-needed time to rest, reflect and recharge from a busy and funny old year (more on that later this week). Sat here full of the Christmas binge, I'm happy to have finally eased into proper chill time, although the thought of going for today's run isn't filling me with much joy.

We've been building up to the first week of marathon training with RunBrighton for the past month. I say we - I mean me and the hubs. After playing an ace game at spectating and supporting me for 2014 and 2015 Brighton Marathons, Chris has decided to give the big 26.2 a go for himself. 

And, he knows how jealous I get so is letting me run it again too... on the condition that I get him loads of support on race day and help him reach his fundraising target for Cancer Research. 


FitBits | Brighton Marathon training week 1 - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
Christmas base layer is GO




So here marks the start of a new blogging series I want to run throughout marathon training. I've blogged my own journey here lots but I thought it'd be fun to give two different perspectives this year: one from a slower, third-time marathon runner looking for a 4hrs30 PB, and the other from a beginner speed demon on his first experience of distance running. 

The stats:

Me
5k: 25:58
10k: 53:10
13.1: 2:02:24
26.2: 4:55:58

Chris
5k: 20:39
10k: 45:10 
13.1: 1:37 
26.2: tbc 

Let's have a look at how training's going so far:


She said: Week 1



FitBits | Brighton Marathon training week 1 - Tess Agnew fitness blogger



Running's not comfy at all for me at the moment. I know it'll get easier with some consistent training - something I haven't really given my full attention to just yet while I've been building up to Christmas. 

Don't get me wrong, I *have* been running, just not much more than a couple of times a week, and the official 16 week training plan started last week so it's scary to think we're already in week 2. 

The RunBrighton long runs started a month ago, to build up a base before the training plan kicked off. I started off very ambitious and joined the 4hrs15 pace group for the RunBrighton long runs, but last week dropped back to the 4hrs30 group when I realised it was just that bit too fast to be easy pace. 

I'm hoping once I've got a few good weeks of consistent training under my belt, it'll all slip into place and my body will remember what it feels like to run strong. 

FitBits | Brighton Marathon training week 1 - Tess Agnew fitness blogger  
At the mo I'm also in the middle of a five week block of PT sessions with Brighton PT Amy Jordan at Love Life Fitness - we're trying to build strength back up in my body since my collarbone and wrist break, and I've also been going to physio to get my legs strong for running again.  

I've got weak glutes and hamstrings, and need to work on my core and calf and hip flexibility too. Basically a shopping list of weak spots for both my PT and physio Tom at The Physio Rooms in Brighton to get stuck into!

Ask me again in a month if my body still hates me!

 

He said: Week 1


FitBits | Brighton Marathon training week 1 - Tess Agnew fitness blogger



Right now I’m shitting a brick. I’m scared I’m going to get injured, my legs hurt, and I’m probably in the wrong pace group. But being as stubborn as I am, I’m just gonna continue until I realise otherwise. 

I don't know where I’m going with it at the moment. Maybe when I properly get into the training during the week I’ll get a better idea of my actual pace. 

Everyone always takes the piss out of me because they think that I don’t train, but I do. I just don’t follow regimented training plans, I go for a run every now and then because I enjoy it. This will be the first time I’ve ever followed a training plan. 

RunBrighton’s great - nice, friendly people. Committed, dedicated runners, especially in the groups I’ve been running in. They’re competitive, but everyone gets on and supports each other. There’s definitely an underlying air of competitiveness, especially in the 3:15 group, maybe not against each other, but instead against ourselves.  


FitBits | Brighton Marathon training week 1 - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

On the first RunBrighton long run I ran in the 3:30 group at a pace of 9minute/miles, I thought this was too slow and me and one other ended up naturally speeding off doing 8:20min/mi, which turned out to be the right long run pace for the 3:15 group, so I stuck with them. 

Overall advice from a couple of other runners and a RunBrighton Ambassador was to move up a group and see how it goes, I can always drop back if I need to. But maybe my competitiveness will get the better of me. 


FitBits | Brighton Marathon training week 1 - Tess Agnew fitness blogger



Running on Christmas day was hard work getting up. We didn’t get in til 1:30am the night before and woke up at 7:30 for the 45min long run on the plan. 

After a breakfast of tea, coffee and Christmas presents, I braved a very windy Hastings seafront from Old Town to Bulverhythe. It was anything but comfy. Shin splints, bad knees, bad everything. It was the first time during running I’ve really considered not doing it. I was well off pace by at least a minute per mile. 

I'm blaming the wind and the Christmas binge, but I’m doing Dryathlon for January so let's hope my muscles appreciate it!

I really like running with Tess, we’re not running together - but we get up together, start together, and finish together. I’ve been a spectator for two years, taking my bike down to the marathon route to wave and cheer on Tess - I get the buzz every year to do it, but I always bottle out. 

This year, I’ve committed myself to run for a cause close to my heart so I can’t back out now. 


Bring it on! 



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Do you run with a partner? 



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Thursday, 15 December 2016

[VIDEO] Trampolining with This Girl Can

I'm so excited! It's time to share with you my third video working with Active Sussex as This Girl Can Sussex Ambassador - and this time we went trampolining!

Not just any old trampolining either, we went down to the newly opened Sky High trampoline park in Peacehaven to have a go at BounceFit - a new high intensity, low impact MEGA FUN fitness class that had me sweating out of my eyes and laughing all the way through.

Have a looky at the video and let me know what you think!



BounceFit is on every Monday 7-8pm and Wednesday mornings 10-11am and costs £7.50 per class - a 35 minutes of 'work' and the rest of the time is yours for a free bounce!

It's literally the MOST fun I've ever had at a fitness class, (something finally tipping Zumba for the top spot), and because everything you do is on a nice soft, springy trampoline, your joints will love you and you'll go home grinning like a cat on catnip.

Where else can you so freely go back to being a child?! Come and play... you know you want to!




Watch more: Tess Tries with This Girl Can 


For those of you who don't know, I've been This Girl Can Ambassador since October 2015, working with Active Sussex to uncover all the brilliant ways to keep fit and active in Brighton and beyond.

My mountain bike accident threw a bit of a spanner in the works this year, hence not doing a video since our Synchronised Swimming one in February, but I'm back on the horse and raring to go, so keep your eyes peeled for more.

Read more about my role as Ambassador on the Active Sussex website and on my blog, and watch our other videos:

Tess Tries: Skateboarding*

Tess Tries: Synchronised Swimming*

Women's Sport Week: PT in Brighton**

*Videos produced by the lovely Laura Evans of Brighton (including this trampoline one)
**Video made by me, hence poor noise quality!

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Have you tried trampolining? 
What sport would you most like to try but haven't yet?



Monday, 12 December 2016

For girls who ride: Casquette

FitBits | Casquette women's cycling magazine review | Tess Agnew fitness blogger


It's about time there was a magazine for the lesser spotted MAWIL (middle-aged woman in lycra). Actually, maybe not so middle-aged, and actually not so lesser spotted, if you're looking in the right places - the general, any-aged, woman in lycra. The GAWIL(?)

The woman (or girl), who appreciates the majesty of fully matching shorts and jersey; or gets her kicks setting off the 30mph speed camera on a wheel-wobbling 45mph downhill descent.

The woman whose quads are a force to be reckoned with, not least because of their hill-climbing skills, but also because of their exquisitely maintained tan lines during the summer.

Rule no. 7, boys and girls. Rule. No. 7.

 FitBits | Casquette women's cycling magazine review | Tess Agnew fitness blogger


 

Girls who ride


Finally, there's a paper-back place for her to feed her bike-shaped desires. A place where she can browse freely and relate, feeling like part of the gang.

She can flick through beautiful 'cycletography' (featuring women), gorgeous illustrations (created by women), and read captivating interviews with inspiring badass bike bitches like ex bike courier turned Transcontinental race winner, Emily Chappell, or Britain's greatest road cycling champion Nicole Cooke.

 FitBits | Casquette women's cycling magazine review | Tess Agnew fitness blogger


She can read about the phenomenon of sock doping, and perve over the Lust List and kit porn with gusto (Page 19, ladies. I NEED the starry outfit in my life right now).

So many cycling magazines are just endless catalogues of bike porn we can't afford, expeditions we'll never go on, race times we'll never achieve.

Casquette is different. It's real, and attainable, and inspiring. It makes you want to get out on your bike, whatever bike that is. It's a happy fusion of fitness, fashion and food - with a cycling angle.

It's not just a place for lusting. Its pages are filled with vital learnings:

  • How to wee in bib shorts
  • Such a thing as commuter jeans exist (literally, who knew!)
  • How to get faster on hills (page 51)
  • Why you need a bike fit
  • How to make avocado mayonnaise (page 44)
  • The proper name for a cycle cap (check the front cover)
  • New favourite cycling blog - Velo City Girl
  • New favourite brands: Queen Of The Mountains, Velo Vixen (probably a bit late to the party on that one)

 FitBits | Casquette women's cycling magazine review | Tess Agnew fitness blogger
I don't know what that is stuck to the page but I cba to take another photo #sorrynotsorry





This is a much needed breath of fresh air for women's cycling, and cycling in general. It's exactly what we need to get more women cycling.

The FREE quarterly first issue was released in Autumn (I know, it's taken me this long to read it and write this up - bad Tess), and there's a shed load more content up on casquette.co.uk for you to get stuck into.

You can get a copy straight to your door, paying only the postage online right now.

Do it. Go on.

#JFDI.


Visit casquette.co.uk for more info & bike-shaped inspo.
And keep an eye out for the Brighton Pit Stop page, coming soon! 


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What magazines do you read?


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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Inflatable 5k Santa Run!



When the words 'inflatable' and 'santa' get combined with '5k', it doesn't take a genius to work out that it's probably gonna be a LOT OF FUN.

And alright I know it's still November but I also know that some people have already got their Christmas trees up, and Brighton's Christmas lights are already in place so don't look at me with your Bah Humbug vibes :)





Do  you remember the pure joy you used to feel as a kid when let loose in the soft play? When your mate had their birthday party at Jungle Tumble (Hastings kids will remember this institution) and you gorged on fish fingers, chips and party food afterwards.

There were no fish fingers after the Inflatable Santa Run but there were free chocolate milkshakes, a medal, t shirt and smiles all round.

If you look carefully enough you can see the word I'm saying rhymes with 'fit'.


There were ten giant obstacles to bounce, flip and boing our way around the 5k course - including one called the Leap of Faith at the end - a 5m(?) jump into a perfectly safe pillow of 100% safeness but which nonetheless turned me into a screaming terrified child as per exhibit a) below.

After a lot of deliberation and faffing about, letting far too many fearless kids go before me to show me how to be a grown up, I was finally about to go (maybe) and I BLOODY SLIPPED didn't I.

I slipped and it proper shit me up.


 
But hey. I made it to the bottom (This Girl Can innit), and we all love a good photo, don't we.

You're welcome :)


UK Running Events put on various inflatable 5ks and fun runs across the country (including one other Santa Run in Ipswich on December 3rd. GO GO GO! 

Disclaimer: I got a last minute free place as a friend couldn't do it. All representations of terrified toddlers in fancy dress my own :)

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Have you ever done an inflatable 5k? 


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Thursday, 24 November 2016

10 things I've learnt about yoga




I went to a candlelit yoga class last night at the most gorgeous little studio you'll ever see. Shaped almost like a chapel, with clean white walls rising up to a line of velux windows looking out into the dark November sky, Studio iO is a sanctuary - a real secret haven tucked away from Brighton's busy city streets.

On the floor our mats awaited us - with bolster pillows and blocks to ease our stiff and tired bodies into practice. Next to each mat sat a single candle, giving the room a beautiful warm and inviting glow.

Lavender scented eye pillows soothed our overworked eyes, and devotional chanting and sound healing with kirtan and guided yoga nidra (meditation) fed our souls.

It was the most amazing 90 minutes.


Will from Awaken Heart Yoga (artist name ChidAnand)



If you're not up on the yoga lingo (don't worry, I wasn't until last night), allow the class tutor, (and Brighton's best yoga teacher) Holly Cooper, to explain:

"Kirtan is devotional song, where a leader sings and repeats for the class to respond. Devotional songs are uplifting and leave you with a greater sense of wellbeing, which sounds like what you're feeling."


That was the response to my gushing proclamation of my new-found love for chanting and sound healing in practice. It really was another level. I've never really got into chanting before, probably because I *still*, after all this time of saying how much I love it, don't practice yoga enough to really let go and give it everything.

I will though, I promise. I *will* make time for me every single week.

Holly (right), director of Studio iO and teacher at Holly Cooper Yoga & MyEscape (with Ellie, left)

To ride this wave of post-practice endorphins just that little bit longer, here's my 10 things I love about yoga :)


1. It may not be a priority but it's always there when you need it


Like a friend who lives far away, it's there when life gets too much. When you just need a sit down and a good chat (or chant), yoga's there, ready and waiting, with no judgement and all the time in the world to give to you.


2. Another level of you


It's amazing how much you can journey into your inner self when you truly allow yourself to let go. Ironically it's actually really hard to 'let go' and bring your consciousness back to the present moment and away from your ever-increasing to do lists, but once you do, it's something really special.

After practice you feel cleansed, free, leaving all the weight on your shoulders that you carried into the class behind.

3. It's a grower


That's what she said...

But no, seriously. The first time I ever did yoga I just didn't get it. I was bored and annoyed that I couldn't get into the poses, and wondering why it was all taking so long. I realise now it's about having a good teacher and giving it time, of course. Time in the class, and time to keep going.

We all know I'm working on the 'keep going' part, and I still can't 'get into' the poses either, which brings me on to...


4. It's your own practice 


No one else's, just you. Once you stop worrying about what other people are doing or what you look or sound like you can get on with finding your zen. That's why closing your eyes when you're gyrating around in a hip-opening forward lunge is always a good idea.


 

5. Progress is sweet


It's also pretty slow, but so, so worth it. When I used to go semi-regularly (i.e. once a week or once a fortnight to free Sweaty Betty free classes) I used to think I was still really crap. I know now, after tonight's demonstration of my no-longer-existent balance, that I have some work to do to build back up to where I was.

Looking back, I was actually very strong, had great balance, could hold the lifting legs in downward dog and side planks etc. pretty well, I just didn't know it.


6. What it feels like to have a body


I know that sounds ridiculous when you put the words together like that but it's true. The only time I ever truly know what it feels like to have a body, to be in my body, is when I'm doing yoga.

I come away every single time feeling more connected to myself than ever before. That existential level of consciousness always fascinates me when I think about who, and what I am.


7. Sun salutations are the absolute shiz


My absolute favourite thing to do, is very, very slowly, bone by bone, roll up my spine from a forward bend after a sun salutation, bringing my head up last. Hands to heart, eyes closed. Ahhhhh.

Makes me all giddy inside.

Warrior Pose also makes me feel invincible.


A photo posted by Tess Agnew (@fitbits_tess) on

 

8. Humans are awesome


Don't you think it's fascinating that you can go on such a journey just by moving your body in a certain way, or lying completely still on the floor? I'm so glad that somewhere along the line, someone discovered yoga and meditation.

If only we could bottle up these endorphins and share it around the world.


9. It makes you feel strong


I don't know about you, but when I can call Downward Dog a rest and have got my side plank or balance poses down without shaking like a plate of jelly, I feel invincible.

Need to get strong again. Which leads me onto...


10. I need more of it


Here she goes again, she's been to one yoga class in a couple of months, gets all gushy and has come home to write about it.

Yep, that's me. I will make time for it. I will goddammit!


Fancy some candlelit Brighton yoga? Head to studio-io.co.uk to book. (Or hire the studio for your own class). Follow Holly Cooper Yoga on Facebook for daily yoga inspo even if you're not in B town. 

Want a taste of this sound healing yoga shiz? Watch this and visit awakenheartyoga.com.


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What do you love (or loathe) about yoga?

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PS. Step this way for more of my yoga ramblings... 



Monday, 14 November 2016

Setting winter training goals




Oops. The last post I wrote was about pizza and that was nearly two weeks ago. Bad Tess.

Not doing very well at the whole 'fitness blogger' thing at the moment - work's been busy and my weekends have been packed with fun things like weddings, bonfires and drinks out - which basically means that early morning endorphins have mostly been replaced with paracetamol and junk food.

And what about the evenings, I hear you say? Well, I don't know about you, but when I'm busy at work and have lots going on in between, I just can't be arsed with exercise and would rather curl up with a nice hot stew and magazine.

Just realised this is a massive de ja vu -> I wrote practically the same thing exactly this time last year! 

So yes... a line has to be drawn somewhere, and I'm doing it now. As we near the end of November and these gorgeous autumn colours turn to grey it's time to start planning my winter training goals.


1. Make running comfortable again



 

I keep flirting with this, getting out for 6am sunrise runs, clifftop jaunts and token parkruns, but am not being consistent enough to see results.

Consistency really is key with running - or any type of fitness - I learned that also on yesterday's 30 mile road ride when I had my arse handed to me on the hills.

It's time to make time, no matter how busy I am. Whether I like it or not, there is always at least half an hour in every single day when I don't need to be sat on my arse looking into a screen - working, writing or otherwise.


2. Swap this fat for muscle 


I've deliberately not said 'lose weight' here as I know focusing on that is never a healthy option for me. Before I started my fitness journey I hated my body, and would hide behind baggy clothes and chocolate bars on 'fat days' wondering how to sort myself out.

I know I keep harping on about it, but breaking my collarbone and wrist this year really has put the shitter on my resolve. I'm a creature of habit, with a very addictive personality, and right now I'm in a bit of a hole food and energy-wise, feeding my tiredness with the exact foods that create it. (I'm looking at you, breakfast, lunch and dinner carb-fests).

The carb cuddles have got to go. In come the protein breakfasts and weight training.


3. Build strength back in my shoulder and wrist

#mirrorwanker
It's really easy to follow physio exercises when you have to take your arm carefully out of your sling to do it. Or when you congratulate yourself for managing to do a full arm rotation, or are able to finally lift the kettle after eight weeks of nothing.

I was so good at my physio in the early stages. As soon as the sling came off and I could slip my left arm back into my rucksack without pain again I stopped it dead. Literally haven't done anything since. Same with the wrist, haven't done anything to strengthen it, just threw myself back into work for a ridiculously busy summer and now I'm weak and they both ache one way or another most days.

Note to self: If you must throw yourself over your mountain bike handlebars and shatter your bones, LOOK AFTER YOUR THEM ONCE THEY'RE HEALED FFS.

I'm really looking forward to using the healthcare available at work to fund an reassuringly expensive physio habit over the next few months - for my shoulder, for my wrist, and my running. Tom Goom  - watch out, I'm coming for you.


4. Prioritise sleep


Oh here she goes again. I'm such a broken record with this one. 'Must go to bed at 10', 'OK, maybe 10.30', 'I know, I'll set an alarm to go to bed, that'll work' *immediately hits snooze*.

It's already way gone 11:30pm and I'm still writing so will have a go at this one tomorrow.

God damn my night-owl-ness. Does anyone else suddenly get the urge to DO ALL THE THINGS, WRITE ALL THE BLOGS, READ ALL THE SELF-HELP GUIDES ON HOW TO RELAX as soon as it's time to wind down and, oh I dunno, relax?!


 

5. Stop making excuses


Stop writing about it, telling people about it, justifying it. Just get it done. Then we can all get on with our lives, can't we?



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Sound familiar? Or am I on my own here?! 


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*Bed time. This is the last blog I'll post at midnight I promise!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

REVIEW: MOD Pizza Brighton Marina

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review
OK   I know this is a fitness blog, and pizza isn't always the healthiest choice, but you guys know I'm allllll about balance right? So indulge me. I definitely indulged myself the other night, that's for sure :)

When I got an invite to try out new Brighton restaurant MOD Pizza last Saturday I obviously jumped at the chance for some epic pre-long run fuelling. Situated down at the Marina, underneath the block of brand new (and no doubt unaffordable) flats that have just been finished, MOD offers a casual and comfy setting within which to stuff one's face.

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review
FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review
Tess Vangley eh... that's a new one

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review
Brighton's full of amazing restaurants, and is of course no stranger to pizzerias - with little indie outfits popping up all over the place, and plenty of wood-fired pizza vans lining the city streets on weekday evenings - you can pretty much get your pepperoni fix from wherever, whenever these days.

MOD is a wee bit different though, I have to say.

If I said it's like Subway for pizza, you'd know what I mean, right? There's a menu to go from but you can basically add as many toppings as you like for one price - £7.47, or go completely mental and make your own concoction.

If you want a double thin crust with a layer of cheese, pesto and tomato sauce sandwiched between the dough, you can have that and as many toppings as you like for £10.47.

I know. It's obscene.

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review
FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review



I had a Sunday long run to fuel for and Chris got the double crust so I got jealous and changed mine for the same when I clocked his being made. I get massive FOMO with food, anyone who's eaten out with me will understand this.

I had the Seasonal MOD, which was pesto, rocket, mozzarella, bacon, artichoke jalapeno and feta, and I added pepperoni to it because I can't live without pepperoni on my pizza. Chris had the Mad Dog and added some bits to it but I was too busy salivating over mine to notice what.

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review
FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review




As   well as the freshly made-to-order pizza there's this amazing thin cheesy garlic bread which we basically destroyed in seconds, and a range of good ales, wines, soft drinks and what looks like slush puppies (on free refill I think - I didn't ask) to wash it down with.


FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review
FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant reviewFitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant reviewMOD's offering is simple. There are no starters and the only 'pudding' type thing is a cinnamon version of the thin cheesy garlic bread which I must try on my next visit because everyone knows cinnamon is the absolute tits. They call your name out when your food's ready and you help yourself to drinks and cutlery. 

It's comfy, casual, bright and (I hate this fucking word) - very modern. You can tell it's a chain, but that's OK.

There's colouring in for the kids and it'd make a great pre or post-cinema or bowling bite to eat at the Marina. Would also be nice after a few drinks next door at Spoons if you fancy something that's not just come out of the freezer straight into the microwave.

You'll find another MOD in Leeds that's already open, and one in Leicester Square and Newcastle opening soon.

FitBits | MOD Pizza Brighton Marina restaurant review


Find out more about MOD Pizza at modpizza.co.uk

Oh, and in case you're wondering... I had a lovely long run by the way - fuelled by pizza :) 


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What's your favourite food to eat out?

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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

How to make fitness fun



Let's be honest. Exercise isn't actually fun.

When you first start out (or come back from a break), it's harder than anything in the world, ever. If you're motivated enough to actually haul yourself out of bed or pull on your trainers after work you're hardly rewarded with a flood of endorphins straight off. More like a kick to the kidneys and pang of longing for the warm, loving embrace of the duvet that you left high and dry that morning.

Everything's all stiff and horrible. You can't breathe, your knees hurt, you've already got cramp and you're sweating out of your eyes.

It's probably your soul, leaving in protest, tbh.

Cramp.




So  yeah. Exercise isn't always much fun at all. What is fun though - hanging out with friends, meeting new people, playing a new sport, discovering new run/ride routes, seeing things you never saw were there before, even though you've lived in the same place for years.

Experiencing beauty on a whole new level.

Being a kid again. Playing. Pushing yourself to the limit. Or sitting back and relaxing with it. Clearing your head. Or working through the things that have been troubling you as you run or ride.

There are so many reasons to exercise.

Side note: And so many ways to keep fit in Brighton. 
Have a gander at this post if you're in the area and looking for something to do. 



I still feel like I'm on a fitness comeback since my very clever mountain bike accident. I'm not anywhere near back to my normal fitness - especially with running, as I haven't ran consistently for months and have been 100% in bed with sugar instead, so let's just say there's a lot more Tess to love right now.

But anyway, it's time to have another go at sorting it aaaat. A proper go. I've had a great couple of months getting back on it exercise-wise, and am finally getting organised / working on the food, so thought I'd share how I'm making exercise fun to reignite my mojo right now:


Buddy up 





Make exercise something you want to do, something you can't afford to miss out on.

I usually do this by getting involved with as many running, cycling, triathlon and other training groups as I can, which basically means everywhere I go - every single run, ride or class I do - I usually know someone.

It makes every session a catch up with friends; a shared experience. A common goal.

It's also harder to slack off when you're surrounded by others too.

Get it done. Have a chat. Eat cake. Repeat.*

*Maybe less of the cake if you don't want to be in the hole I've got myself into...


Follow a trail



Last weekend I joined a group of Brighton runners (many from my local parkrun) to follow an art trail around the city created by the Marletts Hospice.

Snowdogs By The Sea is a public art trail of 45 giant Snowdog sculptures (and 20 puppies), inspired by the much-loved Christmas animation, The Snowman. Each of the dogs is decorated by a local artist, with specific themes and sentiments running throughout. The 20 puppies are created by local schools and can be found in the local museums and libraries. (Yes, we ran into the library... quietly!)

The run was organised by the amazing Lucy who painstakingly mapped out a 10k(ish) route which led us to about 25 Snowdogs. Every time we got to one there were loads of people doing exactly the same thing - other runners, walkers, and families with children. 

What a great way to fit some exercise in!




Disguising your run like this into something fun and getting all cultured along the way certainly makes it more interesting than another aimless plod around your normal route. 

*The Snowdog Trail is on until 27th November, when they'll be auctioned off to raise money for the Martletts Hospice. Find out more about the trail, download the map and mobile app, and donate on the Snowdogs By The Sea website


 Say no to adulting 





I really can't stress this enough. Adulting is hard and should be done sparingly.

I've never heard such unashamed joy come from a group of grown adults as I did when we went mountain biking last Saturday.

As the gorgeous morning mist settled on the playing fields and rose up into Stanmer woods, I joined my lovely BTRS family for some playtime riding the singletrack.

Side note: If you like singletrack riding you might want a read of: 

It was a mixed ability group - some had never ridden these kind of trails before, let alone ridden Stanmer specifically, so it was a completely new experience for them. 


Before the fun ensued - breaking BTRS rule no.1: NO SMILING!



You know when you're a kid and you're in the woods with your friends, your parents have given up trying to make you come home for dinner and you're all screaming at the top of your lungs, having the time of your lives?

That was us.

We were whooping and laughing our way down the trails, getting excited to make it over obstacles; determined for another go when we couldn't quite do it first time. Gagging to do it again, and again, and again.

That's why we ride our bikes. That single moment.  

I wish I could bottle up that joy and give it to anyone who's having a shit time.

My point is - get outside and play. It'll light up your soul and cleanse you of any stresses.


Make a new playlist




People will have mixed opinions about this one but I for one am a sucker for a lovely new playlist, especially when running long (if not in a group) to keep me going.

As well as the lovely liquid dnb beats of Etherwood, chilled vibes of Radiohead and epic singalong that can only be found on a Biffy Clyro album (you haven't seen me singing along the Undercliff yet?!), I also like to listen to podcasts. Last marathon season I planned to listen to Serial but I binge-listened to the whole series in four runs when it basically took over my life. 

Although every time I run or ride past certain spots on my routes now I remember details about how Hae Min Lee's body was found, which is nice, but we'll gloss over that. 

Buy a new album. Set your iPod to shuffle - live dangerously. Or carefully curate a strategic new playlist to get you through those miles - whatever keeps you going dude.



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How do you keep your training fun? 


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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

5 reasons to love autumn running


 
I don't really like running in the summer. It's too hot, I don't tend to have any big races to train for (read - can't be arsed), and I'm usually pretty busy with far too many adventures on the bike(s).

Autumn though. Ain't it spesh. 

For me, running season really kicks off when the temperature changes and the headband or snood comes out to play. When it's too cold to cycle to work without a jacket is usually when my thoughts turn to whether I should start thinking about a spring marathon. 

Spoiler: I should, and I am. 


Obligatory Brighton sunrise shot - taken on a strategically timed pre-work plod last week! :) 


I had one marathon-free year this year, after deciding to say no to marathon training after last year's epic Brighton Marathon PB, and to be honest, in terms of fitness goals and planned events, 2016 can DO ONE. 

I had so much planned but various health / stress issues and my excellent decision to go and break myself put a stop to most of it, so I'm hungry for another 26.2 challenge to realign my chakras. Or something. 

Last week I started base-building before marathon training kicks off in a few weeks. I want to get my body used to regular running again, and be nice and strong for when it matters. I'm not gonna lie, it wasn't very impressed with me throwing it into four runs last week including one off-road duathlon, but if it knows what's good for it, it'll shut up and get the work done. 

Anyway... 



Autumn running rules. FACT. Here's why:



It's all yours  













  
It's pitch black and dead silent. The air is crisp, and roads are eerily quiet as you step out your front door. All you can hear is the sound of your feet pounding the pavement (and those of your friends and other runners if they're in on the secret too), and your breathing from beneath your snood. 

For a few precious moments, before the city wakes and the streets come to life, you've got the whole place to yourself. 

In the summer a COD run (crack of dawn) means getting out for 5am, which let's be honest, is more than a little obscene. The shorter days in autumn mean it's much easier to reward yourself for your efforts with a gorgeous morning sunrise or sunset.
 

I check the weather app and purposefully set my alarm to catch it sometimes, sailing into the office on a wave of Vitamin D and good vibes.

 

Play it cool 


Alright this photo's a bit past autumn, but YAY FOR WINTER TRAINING!



  

I'm a sucker for crisp, autumnal mornings where your face aches from the cold. We're not quite there yet but I can feel it coming. 

Cooler weather means cooler kit. Snuggly base layers, fun headbands, the essential snood - not forgetting gloves (although we're not quite there yet). 

I always run better in the cold. I've never been one for shorts - there are only two occasions that get the pins a good airing - physio, and cycling. 

Autumn is when I can crack out all my favourite kit and basically wear it all at once. 



Trail adventures





Is  there anything more beautiful than a crunchy carpet of green, orange and red through the woods? 

Anything more exhilarating than the smack round the chops that only a blustery, rainy run up on the South Downs can bring?

Anything more fun than a ploddy, playtime run through mud puddles, winding trails and up and over hills? 

No, I didn't think so either. 



Target practice




For me, autumn is all about setting running goals. Faster 10ks, a parkrun PB, spring marathon build up, getting strong - setting myself targets to give my running a purpose. 

I don't always meet all of my goals (the sub-25 5k and sub-50 10k still eludes me), but I have a great time being motivated enough to try.  

Plus, the reward of a post-run brunch, boiling hot bath*, legs up the wall and chill/blog writing time is too much of a pull to hit that snooze button :) 


The law of bath and pjs 


How to win at marathon recovery - spa day at Ashdown Park!


It's the actual law that if you get up early on the weekend to catch the sunrise or brave the elements for a battering if the weather's bad, you must be bathed* and back in bed-mode within one hour of returning from your run. 

You must stay in bed-mode for the remainder of the day, watching box sets, writing blogs, furiously shovelling warm, comforting food into your face, and humble bragging** on social media about how excellent you are. 


*Anyone else like their baths so hot they need to strategically lower themselves in over a 5 minute period amidst a flurry of obscenities? 
**Humble brags must include photos from awesome run. Strava links recommended.**

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Which season is your favourite to train in? 
Do you retreat to the gym when the weather gets cold or do you get outside with gusto?


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