FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: 2017

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

Coed y Brenin women's weekend - Temtiwr


I started writing this post tucked up in my van, wrapped in a blanket, wearing two jumpers, pjs and slipper boots, with a single measure of red wine in a tiny bottle by my side.

The sun had set and the rain was hammering down, as it had been all day. All weekend in fact. It always sounds worse when it's hammering on the roof three feet over your head, but I find it strangely comforting.

I had the best adventure at Coed y Brenin last weekend - for so many reasons. It was the first ever Temtiwr women's mountain bike weekend at the trail centre (named after one of the trails), organised jointly by Welsh Cycling and Beics Brenin, Infinite Exposures, Natural Resources Wales and HSBC Breeze.



If you're a regular reader of this blog, or follower of my Instagram, Twitter or Facebook page, you'll know I'm happiest when on two wheels, and this weekend was a weekend just for me. I was so excited about it ever since I signed up - a road trip to Wales all by myself, (the furthest I've ever driven alone, #thisgirlcan), the chance to ride with other actual real women (what a treat!), and time in the van to write as much as I like.

Bliss.

Incidentally, not much writing got done, hence why I'm finishing this now, wrapped in another blanket, on the sofa, two kittens going batshit crazy around me, as they do whenever I need to concentrate.

I've only been to Coed y Brenin once before - last summer when me and Chris did our tour of the trail centres over the Bank Holiday. It was my first trip back to the trails since breaking my collarbone and wrist, and we crammed in four trail centres over six days so didn't have much time to really explore.

For the Temtiwr women's weekend us girls outnumbered the boys - taking on the torrential, neverending rain with gusto - and it was wicked.


DAY 1: yoga, ride & film night




Kicking off the weekend: a challenging, blissful and brilliant yoga class from Polly at Mountain Yoga Breaks.

In true Tess style, even though I drove up the day before so I *wouldn't* have to rush about in the morning to get there on time, I ended up sprinting from my parking space (helpfully the furthest away from the building for no real reason other than I was too scared to park in front of real humans) and bursting in to register with two minutes to spare.

I'm actually very good at rushing to yoga. I rush to and from floatation too. It's not the best way to get zenned up. Something to work on, anyway...


I didn't know what to expect from this class as it was mixed abilities and we hadn't practiced together, but it was one of those yoga classes where your muscles shake and you break a sweat, and your body laughs at you for trying seemingly simple manoeuvres (all of the shoulder poses, I'm looking at you).

The kind of practice where downward dog becomes recovery and savasanah feels like the best-earned two-minute lie down of your life.


We did sun salutations and warrior pose facing floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out to a rain-drenched Coed y Brenin forest. It was just as perfect as it sounds.


For the love of the ride 

After lunch we got into groups and headed out on a social ride. This one wasn't guided or led, but a chance to just do what we were all there for and ride our bikes.

The Coed y Brenin team talked us through each trail and what to expect so everyone could pick to match their ability. A few of the girls hadn't been there before so it was especially helpful for them.

I kind of had it in my head that I'd ride MBR at some point over the weekend (Chris has ridden this with the kayak club and reckons now we've done W2 at Afan I'd be ok) but after hearing that there are some drops where you can't see the landing I lost my bottle and opted for easier red Cyflym Coch (aka Red Fox), which I'd done before.

It's a good little red trail, this one. The easiest red of the lot, but it's got it all - technical climbs, fast, flowy descents, rock gardens, water features, berms, a few small drops and obstacles. A very Tess-friendly, fun-fuelled trail.

There's always another day for MBR.



I hooked up with new buddy Pippa, who happened to be camping at the same campsite as me. We chatted as we rode, swapping stories of how we got into mountain biking and cycling in general.

Nearly everyone we came across was female - it really was great to see so many women out on the trails! Something I've never experienced before.

After the ride it was time for our pre-ordered food (and beer) which I promptly wolfed down before taking a photo but promise it was good.



Then the film. If you've not seen this yet, and you're into mountain biking, I urge you to watch it now! More than a few times during that hour a tear threatened to trickle down my cheek as we heard from the legends of the sport - the badass riders who were there at the beginning, and the mighty Martyn Ashton and Tracy Moseley about what cycling meant to them.

Incidentally, T-Mo was sat just a few rows behind me as we had the pleasure of her company for the whole weekend!

The film encapsulated everything I love about riding my bike and you could sense everyone in the room felt the same.

"My greatest days' riding was yet to come" - Martyn Ashton, on getting back on the bike after being paralysed. 
I headed back to the campsite excited, inspired and full of joy from an awesome first day at Temtiwr.

 

DAY 2: workshops, coaching and rainy rides



The rain tried even harder to keep us down for the second day, but we were having none of it. #thesegirlscan.

On the menu: our chosen workshops, coaching sessions and a guided ride - followed by a Q&A with downhill / enduro world champ and all-round badass T-Mo!

I chose the mtb leader workshop as I've been thinking about becoming a Breeze Champion and wanted to see what's involved in leading. Turns out you don't have to be a 'rad rider' to be a mtb leader - just have the passion and desire to encourage and support more people to ride their bikes (amongst other core skills which they can train you up like navigation, guiding, mechanical knowledge etc.)

Something to think about for the future definitely. Other workshop options included nutrition, trail side maintenance and bike set up.

A wheely good time

 
The subject of my intermediate coaching session was exactly what I wanted to learn - front and back wheel lifts. So often on the trail it's far more efficient if you're able to lift your wheels to hop, skip and jump over obstacles rather than pedal-pushing.

It's something I've never been able to do, and it's caught me out on many occasions - the ridiculously technical climb half way through W2 at Afan last month a prime example.

I found it really hard to get enough momentum to get over rocks and knackered myself out pretty quickly - also buggered my gearing up and got my chain caught which isn't ideal.

I have loads of GoPro footage from that trip to edit by the way, so stay tuned.

I can confirm that my new GORE® Element waterproof jacket is thankfully, very waterproof!

So I was pleased to finally be shown the secrets to manuals, bunny hops, wheel lifts and pumping. We also practiced track stands but I'm OK with those after Sean at Marmalade MTB showed me on one awesome Surrey Hills ride.

It absolutely hacked it down for the whole session but I loved every second of it and headed straight for the skills area to practice afterwards.

Putting skills to practice

A post shared by Tess Agnew (@fitbits_) on

After lunch it was time to put the new skills to practice for the ride.

I was grouped in a leadership ride where we looked at the best practice leadership skills that would be needed if we were to become Level 2 mtb leaders.

It was really interesting looking at everything through 'leadership lens' as our guide Steve called it. The ride is no longer just yours, but belongs to the people you're guiding, and you have to make sure you look after them first and foremost.


That means stopping at sections to discuss what's coming and how best to tackle it, getting in a good order so everyone gets a nice flow, riding hills two abreast and all together so you can have a chat and keep it all nice and social.

Definitely something I'll be thinking about as we head into 2018 - apparently there's not many female mtb leaders - something that needs rectifying!


Q&A with T-Mo!


After the ride we ended the day (and weekend) with a wicked Q&A with the ultimate Queen of the Mountains, Tracy Moseley. We talked about coming back from injury, how to get over the fear, how to get into racing, what events to enter and more.

I won't write any more about that in this post as I want to share some of her advice in a separate blog - especially the advice she gave me to get over my fear after my accident last year.

I love how she just casually hung out with us all weekend and even led one of the rides on the Sunday (the beginner's ride I think).


Once it was all over I gathered my rain-soaked things and bike and headed back to the van with a bigger sense of belonging than I ever thought possible. Mountain biking is definitely where my heart is right now - and cycling in general.

In a world that feels like it's sometimes dominated by male ego, it's good to know we've got our own community of badass women riders - that there are other girls riding - you just have to know where to look!

Not that riding with the boys is a bad thing of course, but I really hope events like this encourage more women and girls to get out on their bikes. Some may not think women-only events are necessary but for others they're vital for access into the sport, and a great way to make friends.

Besides, who else could we compare our pretty pink bikes and matching gloves with otherwise? ;)


Temtiwr was the first of hopefully many women's weekends at Coed y Brenin trail centre, jointly organised by Welsh Cycling, the trail centre and partners. To be kept up to date with the next events join the Facebook page and find out more about the trails and coaching on offer at beicsbrenin.co.uk.



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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Cycle to Work Day 2017 - what I've learned on the longer commute


It's Cycle To Work Day!

I'll be heading out into 40+mph headwind for my 12 mile commute, which will probably be just as much fun as it sounds. I'm doing it anyway though - mainly because I'm stubborn - and also because I've made a promise to myself to really focus on improving my cycling fitness and strength this autumn and winter.

Not many better ways to embody Rule 5 than to swap this 'fair weather cyclist' skin I've been wearing for a battering from the wind Gods, is there?

EDIT: Just woke up and the it's 'just' 25mph headwinds til 10am. #bonus :) 

I've been cycling to work for all of my professional life. My current trusty steed is three years old this year and she's deffo done the miles. My typical 2-3 mile each-way ride to my previous few jobs has been replaced with a nice chunky 12 mile EW seaside commute to Worthing two or three times a week for one of my clients.

In June when I started my freelance adventure I was working in Worthing up to four times a week so got pretty used to the miles but now am back down to two so need to make sure I continue throughout the autumn and winter - even when it's horrendous wind like it will be today.

What doesn't kill you, and all that.

Cycling for wellbeing


Cycle To Work Day - in its fifth year - is an annual initiative from Cyclescheme and Halfords to encourage more people to ditch the car or train and take two wheels to work and feel the benefits of active commuting.

Increased workplace productivity, lower sick leave rates, improved wellbeing - and generally that post-ride buzz you get after a good sesh in. Even when my commute was only 15 mins (8 mins was my record if I *really* stepped on it), I loved getting my quick endorphin fix before hitting my desk all day.

And the ride home always clears my mind from the day's stresses, no matter how fast or far it is.

Recent research from Cyclescheme shows that cycling to work can have real workplace benefits, with 45% of the 10,276 surveyed employees who cycle experiencing less stress at work, and 45% citing improvements to mental wellbeing.

Getting to work on your bike can also mean less illness and fewer sick days, saving the economy an estimated £83 million each year, according to a publication from Cycling UK.

What's not to love?


Cycling for fitness


As well as mental health and wellbeing, cycling to work is also great for general fitness. I have to say that even though my previous commute was only 2-3 miles each way, I was doing it every day, and now as much as I love my 24 mile twice-weekly round-trip, I feel like I've definitely lost a bit of bike fitness. 

I guess not having an office to commute to for half of the week doesn't help - maybe it's time for me to 'commute' to my standing desk in the living room?!

Another recent survey, this time by Cycle Republic found 70% of respondents rode to get their heart beating, with 20% using it as their main mode of transport. 

I know I could tick all of the above as reasons for why I ride - what keeps you getting out on your bike?



Things I've learned on the longer
cycle commute... 

Perving on my new kit in i360's reflective glass :) 


4-day roadkill lifecycle  

It takes approximately four days of rush hour traffic to completely merge the body of a seagull (or squirrel, pigeon, INSERT ROADKILL HERE) into the tarmac. I know this because I've ridden past enough casualties enough times in one week to gauge :( (I'll save you the pictures).

I've been lucky enough to never see an animal actually get hit - they've always been very, very dead by the time my wheels have swooshed around-not-over them.

I think if I ever did see it happen I'd probably throw my bike to the kerb and risk my life to save the fucker, so probably a good job I haven't!

Side note: a pheasant legit flew directly into my van windscreen on my drive to Wales this weekend. The noise will haunt me forever, as will the wonder of whether it too merged into the road!


Cycle Lane Top Trumps: Brighton wins 




It's a fast, flat ride between Brighton and Worthing, taking in parts of the cycle paths on both seafronts. Brighton's is lovely and smooth, with clean lines and zero wear and tear, despite the motorway of cycle-traffic that rides its surface on a daily basis.

It's roomy enough to overtake, and a real pleasure to crank up the gears and go for it.

Worthing's seafront cycle path though. Nah mate. If I fancied a vibro plate workout I would've gone to the gym. Needs complete resurfacing and remarking, as well as widening, whilst they're at it.

Apparently the Department of Transport's recommended width for two-way cycle paths is 2.5m and this one comes up well short at 1.45m. This basically means overtaking has to happen on the adjacent (and extremely smooth) footpath, so lots of cyclists (me included), weave in and out of unsuspecting pedestrians, as they enjoy their flawless, silky-smooth footpath all to themselves.

Sort it aaaaat Worthing Council. 


Traffic sucks - but ride like you're driving and you'll be fine

I have to admit I do take great pleasure in cruising along almost empty sections of road whilst a mile-long tailback of cars and lorries queue for a roundabout and beyond on the other side. 

If I leave too late in the morning I get stuck with the traffic on my side too, and now the summer holidays are over the school run brigade will be back out in force so if you're nervous about traffic on the road, leave earlier and ride like you're driving.

That means stopping at lights, indicating when you want to turn, and generally not being a dick.

Read my tips to becoming a better road cyclist here.

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone just used their legs a bit more so we can all enjoy a bit more space?


I'm no pack horse

That bag is way more uncomfortable than it looks. Wearing bib shorts from Le Col and Kask helmet from Cycle Republic

When I started this longer commute I asked my lovely Twitter followers for pannier or cycling rucksack recommendations. I then promptly did sweet FA with the helpful suggestions that came flooding in, and still haven't bought anything. 

Which means the past few month have been spent wrestling my way to work with what feels like everything plus the kitchen sink on my back in a less than suitable rucksack. I either need one that's ergonomically fitted for cycling comfort, or to set panniers upon my trusty steed. 

And that means I basically need a new bike too, because I definitely cba to take the panniers off for long rides or races, that sounds like far too much faff to me.

So yeah. n+1, anyone?


Good kit makes you ride better

Feeling like a proper roadie in my Kask helmet and Le Col kit - first foray into bib shorts! 
Even better if it's matching ;) 

I've spent enough money on kit in the past to know that if you buy cheap, you buy twice. And spend half your ride adjusting everything or nursing chaffe marks afterwards. 

It's only in the last two years that I've really started to opt for better quality, technical fabrics that are purpose-built and good to last. 

This summer I've been lucky enough to test out some ace kit from Le Col, Kask and Chapaeu, and have bought some other staples like a solid waterproof jacket from Gore Bike Wear (very useful when it buckets it down in Wales!)

Feeling like a proper roadie in my Kask Mojito helmet

My first foray into bib shorts also happened on this longer commute, and whilst it's made me feel like a 'proper' cyclist, there's definitely a bit of a learning curve too (let's just say going to the loo in the winter must suck big time).  

But don't let that put you off - get on yer bike! Not just for Cycle to Work Day, but every day! 


For more information on Cycle to Work Day visit www.cycletoworkday.org

This post was written in collaboration with Cyclescheme and Cycle Republic - special thanks to Le Col and Cycle Republic for the ride-faster kit :)  


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Sunday, 3 September 2017

Life changes: benefits of becoming a freelancer


I haven't written my blog in over six weeks. Even by my standards of one or two posts a month (one a week if I'm really treating you), that's proper lame. Bad Tess.

It's not that I haven't been writing. That's literally all I've been doing - just not for myself.

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you may have noticed the wave of joy I'm currently riding with the recent life changes I've made.

In June this year I did something I've been wanting to do for, oh I dunno, about five years. I worked my last day as a full time employee and finally went freelance. Walking out into the big wide world with no savings, no guarantee of a secure income, no real idea what I was doing or how I was going to do it.

Some call it scary. I call it motivating.

A good friend had told me time and time again over the months preceding my decision - to 'take the leap, and the net will appear.'
She was right. 


It's fear that kept me from taking the leap for so long. Fear of the unknown - not knowing where my next payslip would come from. I knew I had the skills to do the work (copywriting, digital marketing, social media), but would I be able to find it?

The truth is, it's literally the best decision I could have ever taken. Ironically, all the spare time I thought I'd have to spend on my blog definitely hasn't happened, as the lack of posting since mid-July demonstrates all too well.

Nor have many of the mid-morning fitness and lunchtime meditation classes I thought I'd be swanning about at in between deadlines. (I did manage a mid-morning float on Friday at The Float Spa though, and basically won hard at Friday).

Read my write up of the first time I tried floatation at The Float Spa here

But yeah, being freelance is pretty damn epic, for all of the reasons I wanted it to be, and more.


I'm doing stuff that I love 


As in writing. 

For many of my clients, I'm actually being paid to write, and just write. Nothing else. It means I can focus on doing what I love and do it well. The clients I'm working for respect my skills and experience, give me good time to complete projects, and appreciate the work I do. All of these things go a long, long way in getting the best out of someone. 

And of course they pay me too.

So I'm now officially a freelance writer. Finally. All I've ever wanted in my professional life is to get paid to write and only write.

This is literally my dream.


Some of the cool stuff I've worked on that's live already (lots more in the pipeline): 
The Body Coach Blog! -> A beginner's guide to starting your home fitness journey 
Bike Radar -> Cross training for cyclists 
Fresh Egg digital agency -> I wrote all the copy for their new website in line with new tonal values and brand guidelines, and am now working across their internal teams to ghost write their digital marketing blogs 



I'm more motivated


Not that I wasn't motivated before in previous jobs, I've always worked hard. But when you work for yourself, and are solely responsible for finding the work, building relationships and delivering on deadline, it gives a whole new dimension. 

Add to that the fact that I can pick and choose what I work on, so am interested and passionate about everything I'm doing, and suddenly it doesn't feel like work any more.

I'm more productive


I can move my working day around to suit when I'm most productive. 

If I want to go to early morning yoga and have a leisurely breakfast to start work at 10 instead of 9, I can. I make up the time if I need to. 

If I want to take a couple of hours off mid-morning for a much-needed float, have a long lunch with friends, or attend a midweek wedding, I can - I just start earlier. Often in my pyjamas, from the work den or standing desk, with tea and kittens for company.

I'm learning


This freelance lark is all new to me. Heading into month four now and whilst I'm busier than ever, with deadlines coming out of my ears, (not complaining, definitely not complaining), I've still got lots more to learn. 


Not just in how to actually make it as a freelancer, but how to make myself better. How to become a better writer, be more efficient, learn to say no a bit, when my RSI strikes (which atm is quite a lot but I'm learning to manage it, which is a positive). 


I have more energy


I no longer get the dreaded 3pm slump. Working for multiple clients on lots of different projects keeps my days varied and interesting. 

I'm eating better, and exercising more, but not training - instead getting active for health and wellbeing. Two or three days a week I enjoy a lovely 24mile round cycle to Worthing and back - a commute I've loved every second of, even when headwind strikes. 

I've met friends for mid-afternoon runs, been to morning yoga classes and gym sessions when I've needed a break from the screen. 


I'm free as a bird 


It's a glorious feeling, waking up knowing you can work from anywhere today. You make your own To Do list and tick it of wherever and whenever it suits you.

I split my time between home and various cafes most of the time, and occasionally treat myself to a couple of hours of work on the beach or up on the Downs. 

When you've got your office in your bag you really can work from anywhere, any time. 

I had a difficult 2016 and made a promise to myself this year to focus on my mental health and wellbeing. 

This is definitely the way to keep that promise. Living my best life. 

Have a nose at my portfolio if you fancy >> tessagnew.contently.com

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Have you learned anything about yourself since being self employed? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Brighton GoodGym is GO!

GoodGym Brighton launch July 2017 - Tess Agnew UK fitness blogger

It's finally here, and it's been a long time coming. I remember registering interest a good couple of years ago when I first heard about the potential launch of GoodGym in Brighton, but nothing ever came of it.

For one reason or another, the launch has been delayed, until finally, last Tuesday, 39 runners braved the POURING rain to kick off the first session. And I mean pouring. There's absolutely no way I would've gone out in it had it not been for this.

But I guess that's half the point of it, isn't it?

GoodGym Brighton launch July 2017 - Tess Agnew UK fitness blogger
GoodGym Brighton launch July 2017 - Tess Agnew UK fitness blogger
GoodGym Brighton launch July 2017 - Tess Agnew UK fitness blogger
GG Brighton Leader Tara Shanahan & Olympian Nigel Levine kicking off the session

For those of you not in the know, GoodGym is a collective of running groups across the country that do good, whilst getting fit.

Harnessing the people power of the running community to make a real difference in the towns and cities they reside in. Runners complete physical tasks for community organisations and visit isolated elderly people to combat loneliness.

It was born out of a frustration with normal gyms being a 'waste of energy and human potential' - all that effort going nowhere - why not use it to power our community projects and build friendships with people in need?

Over one million people aged 65 and over admit to always or often feeling lonely, and 17 percent of those living alone see family and friends less than once a week. 


GoodGym Brighton launch July 2017 - Tess Agnew UK fitness blogger
GoodGym Brighton launch July 2017 - Tess Agnew UK fitness blogger
We revamped the garden at the Brighthelm Centre - saving volunteers many days' work 
With GoodGym you can run to an isolated person's house for a cup of tea and kick up the bum to keep going. They're called Coaches - because they're the ones motivating the runner to carry on. Just like you wouldn't bail on a training partner for a session, you wouldn't want to let your Coach down if they'd got the Custard Creams in especially.

And think of the friendships you'll make, the stories you'll exchange.

As well as the Coach runs you can join a group run to complete a community task like I did on Tuesday, or even sign up for a Mission - individual projects and odd-jobs for older people who struggle to do things alone.

Stuff like clearing gardens, changing lightbulbs, anything they need help with.

GoodGym Brighton launch July 2017 - Tess Agnew UK fitness blogger

The idea of it just makes me warm and fuzzy inside and I'm so excited to be involved. I completed my LiRF last Saturday and am waiting to do the specific GoodGym training so that I can help cover the sessions when the lovely Brighton Leader Tara (or Worthing Leader Julia) can't make it.

It'll be the first time I've ever led running groups and I've got a lot of practice to do to bring my confidence levels up - turns out it's a lot harder than I thought it'd be! I've always been a people person, and I love being the centre of attention, loud and proud, but when imposter syndrome strikes it's hard to overcome it and carry that confidence through to the task in hand.

Lots of time to practice and get tips from how Tara leads the Brighton sessions though so I know I'll get there in the end!


GoodGym Brighton launch July 2017 - Tess Agnew UK fitness blogger
A soggy, smiley Tess got papped 

Get involved

As well as the Brighton GoodGym there's also the Worthing one, which started a few months ago and to date has completed own. You can sign up for both online right now, it's completely free, and you can make an optional monthly donation of £9.95 to help support the charity and get a t shirt.

Worthing GoodGym
Every Monday at 6pm
Meet at Splashpoint Leisure Centre, Worthing
Sign up here 

Brighton GoodGym
Every Tuesday 6.15pm 
YHA, Old Steine, Brighton
Sign up here

GoodGym Worthing 2017 - Tess Agnew UK fitness blogger
GoodGym Worthing :) 

The vibe we have in Brighton is something really special and I love this city with all my heart. The people in it, and everything that running, amongst other exercise, has given me, in terms of fitness, friendships and belonging.

Now I can use that fitness and sense of belonging, with friends old and new, to make a real difference to my community - and you can too.

Find your nearest GoodGym here.

GoodGym Brighton launch July 2017 - Tess Agnew UK fitness blogger

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Friday, 14 July 2017

A hot & hard British 10k


Well that didn't really go to plan.

It's not often I walk in races. In fact the only events I've ever had walking breaks in have been marathons. This year's Brighton Marathon was a prime example of that, where I crashed and burned from mile 10 in the blazing heat, and that set the tone for the rest of the race.

Still had an amazing time though - read that and watch the vlog here


(BTW I'm totally not saying there's anything wrong with walking at all, I just mean it wasn't in the plan). 

So yeah, another boiling hot, beautiful summer's day, another race to run, and another undertrained and in denial Tess on the start line. I had Chris and his sister Katie by my side - the Agnew massive were ready to run.

These two were in better running shape than me though because, well... they've actually been doing some running over the past few weeks.

I know, Tess the fitness blogger who's not currently very fit. Tut tut. 


In the weeks before Glasto I left my job to go freelance (YAY - more on this later), and got really busy very quickly so ended up skipping runs to meet deadlines. Then when we got back from the supermassive 100 mile workout at the mighty Worthy Farm, I had to plough straight back into a ton of deadlines so running once again took a back seat. 

Suddenly the day was upon us and when a lovely Virgin Sport staff member asked me if I was going for a PB I scoffed in her face and said "no, but it's OK, I can normally always bosh out a 10k on minimal training".

Can you Tess? Can you really? 

Does this look like a happy runner? 

I think it was around 25 degrees on Sunday. I obviously didn't get the memo about it being the middle of summer so chose to dress like a ninja in all black, capris instead of shorts, and my Virgin Sport Run Hackney top because I thought it'd be nice to represent. 

Spoiler: it wasn't. Fellow blogger Marcus called me 'brave' for my excellent wardrobe choice, and about 2km in I realised he was right.  


Read about the wicked fun I had at the Virgin Sport Run Hackney 5.5km and Festival of Fitness here. 

After a welcome from Virgin Sport CEO Mary Wittenberg and warm up with celebrity PT Faisal Abdall and other media, we headed to the start. I'd never ran a race in central London before, so was excited to see the sights on the way and experience a mini taste of what it must be like to run the London Marathon. 



This Girl Can't 

It was a bit of a slow start as we had to funnel through and turn to get to the start, but once we got going I tried to settle into a steady pace and ignore the DOMS that was still in my legs from a heavy gym session and cycle ride in the days previous. 


I hadn't brought my earphones so didn't have any dnb or Biffy to pull me through but there was lots of entertainment on the course - with bands and live music at every km. Best bit was Chariots of Fire being played on the way to Westminster Bridge. 

It was just so hot though. I realised once again, like I did at Brighton Marathon, that I just can't run in the heat. I poured water on my head, drank loads, relished the mist sprays, but it wasn't enough.  

This Girl Can't. Or won't? I can't decide. 

Literally shouting "Oh fuck" at the photographer as I got snapped walking again

Either way, this girl needs to do a few things:

1) Actually do some running (I'm no expert, but this might help?!) 
2) Run in the heat - even if, and especially if, it's hard
3) Sort my diet out and get back on structured training - strength training and running / cycling (meant to be doing RideLondon this month but that's another story) 

Despite the heat it was great to run in closed London streets, and running / walking over Westminster Bridge was amazing - I can only imagine what it's like at the Marathon running over Tower Bridge with such iconic sights and amazing crowd. 

Six unsuccessful tries in the ballot this year - be kind, running Gods.

When the finish finally came into view I attempted some sort of tempo finish, but you can see from my face how thrilled I was at the situation 😂


Delighted to no longer be running - LOOK HOW HOT I AM.

Chris smashed it by the way, as ever. Mr Tree Surgeon, who works a physical job in the heat all summer. It's his fault I've signed up to my biggest challenge yet, even though I NEVER run in the summer and hate training in the heat, because I couldn't handle the FOMO.

Now it's mid July and time to start rebuilding a solid base to get out of it alive in October. 


The goodie bag was wicked, by the way. Not included in the tweet below is a technical t shirt (another black one, which I'll save for winter, promise), and of course the medal. 

Would I run it again? Definitely - and properly, next time! 


And if you fancy a nose at exactly where the walking breaks were...



Virgin Sport's next event is the Oxford Half, on 8 October. Sign up here.

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Friday, 7 July 2017

The supermassive Glastonbury workout


One of the true highlights of my seventh Glastonbury was dragging my already shattered body down to the Raclette stall on a drizzly Friday morning to shovel a feck load of cheese into my face.

It was that non-rain kind of drizzle, the stuff that sits on top of your hair. The type that that in any normal circumstance would be no problem at all but at Glastonbury, you know if it carries on you'll be swimming in mud within a few hours.

My legs were already knackered from two days' walking around the site and kicking off Thursday night dancing to some proper 90s bangers courtesy of Rhythm of the 90s (If you haven't seen this band and you have a love for 90s cheesy dance music, sort it out).

So, yeah. Non-rain rain, knackered legs, and the second hangover of the week. It was definitely time for a Raclette breakfast.
For those of you not in the know, (I wasn't in the know until that moment, what the hell had my life been about until then?!), Raclette is delicious, melted cheese poured onto potatoes or fries. Or in the case of my Friday - sausage, beans,  chorizo, bacon and potatoes.

It was the absolute shiz, nothing less. I've been fantasising about it ever since and I'm really upset I didn't get a photo to Instagram it. I have literally just signed up to Brighton Cheese Fest to scratch that itch. Google it. 

 

The best one yet? 


I do say this every year, but I really do think this Glastonbury was our best yet, for many reasons:

👌 A WICKED line up - Radiohead headlining the Pyramid Stage will be an experience that stays with me forever. A bit like Massive Attack in 2008, or Blur in 2009. This year Elbow special guesting the Park stage, Alt J, DJ Shadow, Biffy Fucking Clyro and Roni Size smashed it too, but Radiohead, man. 

RADIOHEAD. Ahhhhhhh.  

For a minute there, I lost myself. 
DJ Shadow vibes 🙌

👬👭  WICKED crew - me and Chris used to go on our own and hook up with friends while there but now we camp in a big crew which makes it so much more fun.
😎  NO MUD! Nothing, nada, zilch. There must've been something in that glorious Raclette as the non-rain rain swiftly buggered off once I'd successfully inserted it into my face. I've never had a Glasto without mud. It really was exceptional.

   BEST campsite ever. Me and Chris camped in the Tuesday night queue and were one of the first on site for 7am so had our pick of where to camp. We chose Row Mead, with a direct view of the Pyramid Stage in case the crowds were too big for Radiohead. (Spoiler - they weren't, because evidently not everyone gets it).


    🚽 My own ShePee! I got sent a festival survival pack from the guys at Push Doctor.   Amongst the deodorant, dry shampoo, portable charger, baby wipes, a (not needed) emergency poncho and other goodies, was my very own ShePee to use the female urinals! I've been using ShePees at festivals for a few years but to have my own one meant no more hovering precariously over the long drops, or using most of my tissue stash cleaning up after the boys before using the toilet! 
    If you haven't tried it yet girls, get on it. Life changing. 
    Got a festival coming up this summer? Read Push Doctor's festival essentials guide.
    Straight out of the packet don't worry...

     

    The supermassive Glasto workout


    Anyway, the point of this blog post isn't to congratulate myself on the excellent time had whilst swooning over a soundtrack to my teenage years, but to tell you about the supermassive, neverending workout that is Glastonbury Festival.

    On the Thursday morning I kept the promise I made to myself when I packed my trainers and joined the annual run around the site with the guys from Actionwork. It was a massive group this year, and a great run because it hadn't rained AT ALL. 

    Found a Brighton run buddy!

    Read my blog from the last time I joined this run at Glastonbury in 2015.

    A slightly respectable 3am bedtime on the Wednesday meant I wasn't too fragile to make the 9am start, and even bumped into a familiar face from Brighton during the run! Small world guys. 

    We ran a loop of the site taking in the different stages, and had the obligatory trudge up the top of the hill for a photo, which was a bit more effort than it needed to be due to the amounts of cider in mine and a lot of other runners' bodies. 

    Steeper than it looks...


    It's a bit big (that's what she said)

    Glastonbury's the size of Brighton, by the way. And Manchester, and a good chunk of central London. 900 acres in total. 

    More than a mile and a half across, with an eight and a half mile perimeter. 

    In short: it's a bit big. 


    Props to blogger Richard Lartey for this & other Glasto comparison maps


    This year was the first time I tracked my steps, and I'm glad to say the Raclette, (and cider, chips, falafel, mac & cheese, pulled pork in Yorkshire puds, toasties and whatever else I ate during those five days) was more than earned.

    I walked / danced between 16-20 miles a day, mostly in sandals or Air Max's as there was NO MUD. It was bloody marvellous.

    No wonder my legs hurt!

    A total of 92.96 miles / 236,789 steps covered between Tuesday at midnight to Monday when we left the site. The runner in me is now really annoyed I didn't make that up to a round 100 miles, but hey ho.

    Check out the week graph below (annoyingly TomTom's week is Sunday to Sunday and you can't change it so it's split in two)



    Tuesday was low as we drove to the site and camped in the queue! 





    Daily breakdown


    If you break it down into the hours in each day you can see I totally smashed it as the weekend went on - both in steps and miles walked / danced, and also sleep, which progressively declined into Monday morning.

    Sleep when you're dead??

    I always knew we covered a lot of distance at Glasto as my legs are always achey AF, but I honestly didn't realise it was this much.


    The supermassive Glasto workout is real!


    WEDNESDAY

    Camping in the queue overnight on Tuesday (remember this is midnight to midnight), then a quick snooze, and walk to site (1mile @ 7am) to put tents up and wait for the others to get through the gates.

    I took my watch off once we started pitching so TomTom saying I got 11 hours sleep is BS.




    THURSDAY

    A Casual 16.25miles boshed out on the second day after a respectable 4.5hours sleep - bonus! Lots of wandering around the Park area and small bars in search of music and cider.




    FRIDAY

    17.56miles / 44,582 steps after a proper good sleep, evidently. Love how you can see exactly when I got up for my night time wee too! 🙈

    The dips throughout the day were when we stopped to watch bands - Glass Animals, Elbow, RADIOHEAD. Aaaaaaahhhhhhh.


    SATURDAY

    A stellar performance from midnight to 2am then I obviously gave in and went to bed! This was the day I ended up paying for the most as someone let me open the gin...

    When you have gin & a stranger lets you stand on their chair to see Liam Gallagher :)


    Acts seen: British Sea Power, Liam Gallagher, The Amazons, Oooooohhhhhh Jeremy Corbyn, DJ SHADOW!!!, Alt-J, Noisia! (and a feck load of house & dnb in between)


    SUNDAY

    Very nearly 19miles walked / danced - the climax of the weekend. 

    Blatantly killed it after Alt-J headlining the Other Stage (yes we missed Foo's, yes, it was intentional). Noisia at Arcadia sorted us out before an impressive 1hr46 sleep on Saturday night. 

    I was suffering on Sunday morning but was eased back into the game with Jamie Cullum on the Pyramid and some reggae and dnb in the Dance Village (now called Silver Hayes) as well as the soothing sounds of Rag n Bone Man. And CHIC before BIFFY FUCKING CLYRO! 





    MONDAY

    There aren't many rules at Glasto but one of them is that on the last night, you go hard, and only then, do you go home. 

    Justice on West Holts and Roni Size(!) at Arcadia with a wander around Shangri La made sure we were law abiding Glastonians, and with a respectable 2.5hr sleep before packing up, we left the farm, and left no trace. 




    See you in 2019, Glastonbury, my happy, happy place! 💚

    Love the farm, leave no trace.





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    Do you run and track your steps at festivals?

    Glasto's not on next year and we're looking for an alternative (abroad preferably). Any ideas? 

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