FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: March 2016


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

WIN | Sportive Entry for you and a friend!

This year's a big one for me and the wheels.

I've always loved cycling; my trusty Giant roadie gets me to work every day on a wave of endorphins, and during spring and summer weekends you'll probably find me throwing myself down the Welsh mountains or climbing the rolling hills of the South Downs on the mountain bike.

Despite my love for the sport, I've never actually entered any official events. I go on lots of brilliant group rides, but have yet to pop my sportive cherry, until now.

This year me and hubs are doing the London Revolution, (185 miles around London over two days in May - literally cannot wait!), and much to my disbelief I also got into Ride London on the ballot, which is all kinds of epic and awesome.

Choose your adventure

Perfect timing, then, for the lovely guys at Cycleplan to get in touch with a competition to win entry for you and a mate into a sportive or adventure cross event of your choice, from the list below :)

Sportive Series Dates
18 September - CW125 Sportive, Cheshire

Adventure Cross Dates


How to enter

Simples... I wanna see what inspires you to get out on your bike! Show me your favourite photos from your rides, whether it be the first glimpse of bluebells in the woods, the epic view that you climbed so long to see, or the post-ride coffee and cake!

(Because, come on, we all know it aint no ride without a reward...)

Share your favourite cycling photo and tag me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with why you love cycling and why you should win. 

If you can fit it in, tell me which event you'd like to do, if not, you can message me separately.

Entries close midnight Thursday 7th April and winner announced Friday lunchtime.

HINT: I'm a right sucker for a sexy photo so dig out your best shots and be creative with your answers!  



Good luck, can't wait to see your photos! 

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Friday, 25 March 2016

Live to fight another day

FitBits | UWCB Brighton - The Grand Hotel

It's taken me nearly a week to sit down and write this.

It's a far cry from what I wanted to write about my second Ultra White Collar Boxing experience. I'm still so gutted that it turned out this way - so jealous of everyone tagging themselves in the amazing official photos, even though there really was no other outcome for me that day - I just didn't know it yet.

When I got to The Grand Hotel last Saturday afternoon to meet my fellow boxers, my mind was calm, focused and ready to fight. Yes, I had a bit of a headache, and I felt a bit sluggish, but I hadn't trained since Tuesday and had been fending off a cold after another busy week so it was nothing unexpected.

I necked another couple of paracetamol and thought nothing of it. Then it all went to shit. The whole day, along with every single one of the eight weeks leading up to it - wasted, just like that.

Or at least that's how I felt.

FitBits | UWCB Brighton - The Grand Hotel
The only photo of me in my UWCB kit - in between failed medicals

Fight or flight

To step into the ring and fight someone, you have to pass your medical. It's a basic box-ticking exercise, one that we dutifully fill out without ever really reading the questions or thinking about it: boxes get ticked, pupils get checked and blood pressure gets taken, then that's it, game on.

Except it was never game on for me. As soon the numbers crept up to 179 over 120 the (very lovely) paramedics looked me in the eye and told me to go away to 'calm down' or they couldn't clear me to fight.

I won't go into detail about the three hours that followed but it involved missing out on all the build up and lots of sitting in dark, quiet rooms and ambling along the seafront at dusk, followed by lots and lots of tears as I realised with every re-test (190/135 for the final one - thanks for that, body) that I really wasn't gonna fight tonight.

FitBits | UWCB Brighton - The Grand Hotel
I was sulking in the changing rooms when this was taken

I can't explain how devastating it is to train so hard and put your heart and soul into something to be told just hours before the event that you're not allowed to do it, even though you feel physically able on the outside, and have probably been training like this for weeks.

And it's not just gutting for me, but also for my opponent and new-found friend, who lost out on her fight too because of my stupid body. There was lots of denial at first but then it sunk in for both of us.

FitBits | UWCB Brighton - Stingwray Boxing - Underground Gym
I miss punching these beauties xxx
I didn't know this but apparently it's very rare (and dangerous) for someone of my age and fitness to have such high blood pressure.

The paramedics said if I got hit in the head I might have had a bleed on the brain - they laughed when I said 'I'd better keep my guard up then', although that didn't change their minds. Once I came to terms with not fighting I donned my glad rags and joined my friends who'd paid to come and watch me cheer on the other matches, beer in hand, trying not to get upset that I wasn't in there having my moment.

I'm now on tablets and have since spent a very draining and stressful week going back and forth to the doctors having tests to figure out the cause, and even though my blood pressure is still high, all other tests have come back clear, apart from a small glasses prescription when using the computer.

If I'm totally honest though, I know exactly why it's happening and it's one hell of a wake up call but I won't bore you with the details.

I will say this, however:

It's time to regain control

FitBits | work life balance

It stops now.

We were meant to be throwing our bikes down the Welsh mountains this weekend but have cancelled on doc's orders. I'm not letting anything else be ruined.

I want to find the energy to write again, read again and run again. Breathe again. Most definitely box again.

Do the weekly shop and make time to cook and prep healthy nutritious meals again.

Get back on the early morning endorphins and get to work energised and ready to take on the day.

I'll soothe my strung out brain with candlelit baths, sunshine bike rides, weekly yoga and downtime. Cut down on caffeine, and find my creativity again, which went walkabout a while ago as I burrowed into this hole.

My Easter weekend may no longer have mountain bikes in it but it does have a massage, manicure and facial booked, and time with family and friends to refuel and recharge these run down batteries.

And I may not have got my fight last week, but I'm pretty sure I'll live to fight another day... 3rd July, in fact, if all goes to plan... Edit: Actual LOLZ. It definitely did NOT go to plan!!! 

FitBits | UWCB Brighton - Tess Agnew
Take 2: July 3rd. Pocket Rocket is coming back!
Read about my first Ultra White Collar experience here. 


Have you ever had to pull out of an event at the last minute?

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Sunday, 13 March 2016

Ultra White Collar: Time to Believe

FitBits | Stingwray Boxing Ultra White Collar Brighton

We find out our matches Monday night. 

I hate this part of the process - the build up. It's one thing to spar with people in your group, but as soon as the word 'matching' gets mentioned it all gets a bit tense. Everyone starts sizing each other up.

It's been doing my head in all week but the wait will be over tomorrow so I'm gonna quit worrying and do my best, whoever they put in front of me.

White Collar Boxing is such an immersive experience.  
You can't flirt with it - you have to get right into bed with it. 

For eight whole weeks it'll consume your every waking thought.

You train alongside strangers who quickly become good friends. You sweat with them, cry with them, and laugh with them. Then you punch those friends, and get punched back; and you're scared of some of those friends, and what they're capable of, how good they've got, and how shit you think you are in comparison.

Sometimes you'll have an ace session, feeling strong, focused and switched on. Others, you'll get battered; your head will throb, your eyes will run, and confidence wilt to nothing. You'll question why you're doing it, fantasise about getting injured so you can pull out (true story), wonder what it'll feel like to actually throw the towel in on the night if you can't hack it.

But deep down, you know you'll see it through.

Time to believe 

FitBits | Tess Agnew - Stingwray Boxing Ultra White Collar Brighton

The thing with boxing, is there's so much to remember. You have to be switched on 100% of the time - take your eye off the ball, and that eye may turn black. You have to be quick; and precise, and powerful. But also slow, relaxed and responsive. You need to read your opponent and anticipate what's coming, then counter. Get it right and it can be so beautiful - get it wrong and it hurts your soul.

Once you have a confidence knock it's hard to recover. The mental strength required to keep coming back when you try to hide your tears with sweat gets more intense as fight night approaches.

It's not like any other challenge I've ever done before. I'm as scared now as I was the first time round. Only this time, I'm fitter, stronger, and have a bit more experience. I'm no Mike Tyson, but I (sometimes) move my head and (occasionally) take a moment before windmilling in to take a look at the situation, see what's coming, and use a little of what I've been taught.

All the way through this process our amazing coaches have kept saying that we're doing brilliantly, that eight weeks is literally nothing in terms of 'normal' boxing training. We have to remember that whatever happens, we're doing this for fun, for charity, and for ourselves.

We have to believe we can do it. 

I went into my first fight without a real gameplan. I didn't know what to expect on the night and I didn't know how to prepare to fight. I didn't believe I could win, either.

But this time I do. I could win. I'm capable of winning.

Whether I do or not will be down to how I react on the night, and nothing else. It's exactly the same for everyone else. We are all capable of winning.

We just have to believe we can.


Do you find it hard to believe in yourself?  

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Thursday, 3 March 2016

An (almost) naked Brighton Half Marathon

Just get up and run.

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it. No pre-race faffing, night-before kit panic, pouring over training plans, nutrition strategy or pace plan. No training plan at all, in fact.

Just lay your kit out, wake up, eat breakfast and go run.

Last Sunday was the most relaxed I've ever been about a race, and conversely the least prepared. I started the year with three things to simultaneously train for throughout January and February - the half, my fight, and the Swimathon.

As you might've guessed from the lack of blog posts and swimming/running updates, life has taken over and priorities changed. My focus has been on the boxing, three or four sessions a week for the past five weeks, and I've thrown a few token runs in between.

Granted, those token runs have been of good quality - fast 10ks, parkruns and early morning interval sessions - but I never ran long, only running eight or so miles maybe once or twice in total.

So as race day approached I was in unchartered territory. Yes I was boxing fit, but was I running fit? I hadn't ran 13 miles since last year, and only ran a maximum of two or three runs a week since Christmas, some weeks with no running at all.

Hubs assured me I'd be fine and to just shut up and run. He's one of those people who turns up and smashes it on no training the morning after a few beers. (He bagged a 5 min PB this year too, coming in just under 1:38, the bastard).

I decided to park my sub-2 goal as I felt I wasn't trained enough, and was prepared to run/walk if needed to get me to the finish. I didn't wanna be a slave to my watch so put it in my running belt instead of wearing it, that way I'd still earn my Vitality points but not get pissed off with myself for being slow.

That's just it though. I wasn't slow. I was 30 seconds away from my PB, and just under three minutes short of my original sub-2 goal so I definitely could've got a sub-2 after all.

Running on feel is a terrifying thing if you're a slave to technology like me. I'd already got to the start line having not meticulously followed a training plan, and now I was about to just go out and run a half marathon without worrying about a time, and just, oh, I dunno, enjoy it, like a right proper mentalist.

How would I know what pace I was doing? 
Would I know if I was going too fast? 
How would I know if I couldn't sustain this pace to the end?

Er... that thing called your body? Yeah it'll tell you. 

Heading out to Ovingdean, about mile 5. Wearing Brooks new Spring/Summer collection

Run Happy 

And that's the thing isn't it. Running on feel is just so much nicer. Not worrying about a time, no checking your watch every five minutes, no getting pissed off or trying to do maths en route to calculate finishing times.  

If you want to slow down, run slower. If you feel like you can up it a bit - increase your pace. Simple as that. As brilliant as it is and despite the revolution that technology has brought to running as a mass participation sport, sometimes it's nice to just switch off.

Stop drowning in stats, gadgets, apps etc., pull on your (sexy new) trainers*, leave your expectations and pressures behind and just go for a run.

A photo posted by @fitbits_tess on

This year's Brighton Half was as brilliant as ever, with perfect weather, great support, top bling, and of course, the annual post-race reward. This year we got a great technical tee too - and they even had right down to Extra Small! (Well done Vitality).

But for the first time in the four years I've run it, Brighton Half wasn't a PB this year.

And that's totally OK. It's still my favourite race :)

*Brooks provided me these sexy new Glycerin 13s along with the kit I wore to race in. Will do a proper write up of it once I've tested it out a bit more.

**If you want to read about my Brighton Half PBs from past years, head to:

2013: The undertrained, unfuelled shit fest
2014: The state of flow
2015: My favourite race


Do you ever run or race 'naked'?  

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