FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: March 2017


Thursday, 30 March 2017

VIDEO: HSBC UK Breeze Cycling with This Girl Can

I’m really excited about this one (although I think I say that every time?)

It's no secret that cycling is one of my absolute favourite things to do. There's a special kind of freedom you can only experience on two wheels, and I'm all for getting more women to experience that, in Sussex and beyond, on the road and on the trail!

This month I went on my first HSBC UK Breeze cycle ride and it was AWESOME! If you’re not in the know, Breeze is a nationwide initiative from Sport England and British Cycling offering free, women-only rides across the country.

Whether three miles or 30, Breeze offers a welcoming, inclusive and supportive community for women of all ages and abilities to build confidence, make friends and discover new routes whilst of course improving fitness along the way.

The rides go at a pace of the slowest rider, and it’s not competitive at all.

That means no dropping anyone on the hills or at crossings – you ride as a group from start to finish at a nice social pace, with a coffee and cake stop in the middle or end (because, really, it wouldn’t be right without cake, now would it?!)

On our ride we had ladies in their 70s joining some of us in our 20s and 30s, on all sorts of bikes including mountain bikes, hybrids and road bikes. One of the riders had never even sat on a bike until her late 40s, so you really are never too old to get started.

I’ve loved cycling all my life and was lucky enough to be taught how to ride on the road by my Dad when I was a young child, but this isn’t the case for many women, who may be nervous about joining a group ride with faster cyclists.

With Breeze you don’t need to worry about speed or fitness, it’s about community and confidence building as much as it is the actual cycling, and improved fitness is just a bonus!

So come on girls, on yer bikes!

Find out more about Breeze Network Brighton by following the Sussex and South Downs Facebook page, or find a ride near you at

Also check out for more ways to get active in the county. 


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  
**Video made by me, hence poor noise quality!


Do you cycle in groups or alone? 
Have you been along to a Breeze ride? 

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Monday, 27 March 2017

Stand up for your health - it's time to move

I stood at my desk all day for the first time a couple of weeks ago and despite my body protesting initially, by the end of the day I felt awesome.

My legs were tired, my feet were surprisingly very achey, and I had that satisfying rumble in my belly that I get from working out first thing.

My flexible sit-stand desk arrived this month and I'm not gonna lie, it's pretty brilliant.

After years of faffing about with boxes for makeshift standing desks, I've finally got my own proper set up thanks to Varidesk!

I've since got a new keyboard so the laptop is at eye level, don't worry... 

Those who've worked with me before will understand the significance of this moment. I don't know if it's just me, (please tell me it isn't?!), but every marathon cycle, and basically whenever I'm training a lot, sitting down for eight hours a day physically HURTS.

As in literally pains me. My hips hate it. My hamstrings hate it. My glutes hate it. It's literally a pain in the arse.

I need to stand up at regular intervals to avoid seizing up. Stop - drop - pigeon pose has occurred on various office chairs and floors throughout my office working career, as I dream of a lunchtime run or yoga to energise and unwind my tangled body.

Impromptu chair-assisted pigeon pose before my Varidesk arrived :) 

I like to think I'm pretty fit and healthy. I exercise regularly, try to eat well most of the time (ish), and when aiming for a big goal like the marathon I try to prioritise my sleep, rest and recovery.

My marathon training hasn't gone wholly to plan this year and I'm carrying a bit of extra weight but let's be honest - even if I'm running the prescribed three or four times per week and strength training once or twice a week - that's still at most one or two hours a day of activity, apart from the long run of anything between two to three and a bit hours.

The rest of my day is spent on my bum, regardless, and it's got to change. Stay tuned for more posts on the Varidesk as I get to know it a bit more...

Time to move

And then there's lunchtimes. If you work in an office, what do you do on your lunch breaks?

I know when I'm busy I basically move from one desk to another from the office to the cafe upstairs and sit to eat before going back down to sit again until hometime.

Recently Brooks Running released findings from an independent study revealing just how inactive UK workers really are, with the average person spending four hours 26 minutes sitting at their desk per day, (yeah, and the rest!) and 23% spend a massive seven hours or more sat down at work. (GUILTY)

Pitiful total step count by 17.30 on one day last month

Eight out of 10 say they have a daily afternoon dip and to escape this, 66% of workers reach for coffee, 42% eat chocolate and 10% even admit to taking a nap while at work. To be fair, I'm right there on the coffee and chocolate but not sure I'd get away with a nap - what sort of career witchcraft is this??

Experts agree that a run break (or runch) is a much better alternative to any of these options, and I have to admit, as much as I love a morning workout to kickstart my day, on the few occasions where I've been organised enough to grab a lunchtime run, it's always been the best kind of fuel for a productive and energised afternoon.

Brooks realise the challenges to beat the afternoon slump and get out for a run break, so have teamed up with personal trainers across the country to help people get up, out and running during the working day.

“Incorporating a run break will make a massive difference to your working day,” says Graeme Hilditch, personal trainer at GH Training. “We all have those moments when we feel sluggish or tired during the day, or we simply want to escape the pressures of the daily grind."

I'll be the first one to shout about the virtues of a good run in changing my mood, however tired I am, and ironically when we're at our most tired is probably the time when a lovely 30min run in the open air will do us the most good.

It doesn't matter how busy we are, we should always make time to get away from our desk and get outside - whether that's a run or walk. Something I've been working on this last few weeks as much as I can.

So with that in mind, I asked Brooks and Graeme to give a few tips to help get us organised and lift us out of the lunchtime lull...

No one wants to skip lunch, so make sure you prepare your lunch in advance of your midday run. By having your lunch ready to eat it means there’s no need to go out and get it, saving you time and leaving you with more time to run. (GUIILLTYYYYY)

Buddy Up

By running with a colleague who is under similar time restraints, you’ll be far more motivated to get organised and will procrastinate far less. There’s nothing quite like the worry of letting someone else down to help focus the mind and stick to a strict time schedule. (true dat!)


To get maximum benefit from your run, why not do some intervals for your 30-40 mins session rather than just a steady pace? 

Interval training, for example running fast for 3-6mins, jogging slowly 1min etc., packs a huge fitness punch and will not only make you feel incredible afterwards but it’s also the best way to torch a load of calories. (Can personally vouch for baddassery of intervals)

Set targets

Another way to increase the intensity of your lunchtime run and help save time is to set yourself certain goals on your lunchtime training run. For example, if you run in a park, set yourself a time limit of 30minutes, then the goal of sprinting to one bench, then jog to the next one. Over time, see if you can beat the number of benches you run past in the 30 minutes.

If you do head out for a runch this month, maybe check out the latest Brooks release, the Ravenna 8, designed to put more spring in every step with dynamic responsive cushioning and an updated design.

I've yet to try these as I've been running in the Ghosts and Glycerins, but will be giving them a go at the Brooks Run Signature Tour when it comes to Brighton next Saturday.

The tour is back with 15 locations across the country so if you fancy a free gait analysis and run in the latest pair of Brooks shoes to see if they're for you, find your nearest one and book in.

Worth a try, right?

Thanks to Brooks Running for sharing research to input into this post. 
Thanks also to Varidesk for sending me a standing desk to review - I'll write more about this soon, lots to tell you about my new favourite way to work!! 

Have you tried a standing desk? Do you treat yourself to regular lunchtime run breaks?

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Sunday, 19 March 2017

How to keep running when you really want to stop

I ran 18.1 miles today, and my legs hate me.

They didn't hate me for the whole 18 miles though. They were carrying me quite nicely indeed along the Downs Link towards the half way turn point. So nicely in fact that when we got to the RunBrighton van for water and gels, I didn't even realise we'd ran a whole nine miles to get there.

Probably because I forgot my watch and my phone was in my Fleetfoot III running bag, but hey. 

I'm on an accidental four-day run streak right now, having ran three 5k's on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as part of my 'not-following-the-training-plan-at-all-oh-shit-better-actually-do-some-running' programme in the lead up to Brighton Marathon.  

Now, normally, I would tell you that I can't run on consecutive days, my legs won't let me, my knees get angry, I'm not built to do that. But who'da thunk it. Turns out I can.  

I'm not saying it wasn't painful and tough - it bloody was - but I learnt a good deal about myself today, as I think a lot of us did, during those last few lonely miles when we separated and some of us ended up running on our own back to the car park. 

We started at the Adur Outdoor Activity Centre and ran along the Downs Link to Henfield and back. It was a cool and breezy day and spirits were high in anticipation of the beloved taper. This was our last longest run before ramping it down for the big day, and let me tell you I'm not the only one excited for next week's 'walk in the park' two hour long run! 

Talk along the way was of race day kit, fuelling, and post-marathon treats / training goals (drinking, going out out, Easter chocolate bingeing, triathlons and 10k's). 

I was surprised at how good I felt, how had we ran nine miles already to get to the turn point? That means we're gonna do 18 today - awesome! 

That also means it's nine miles back. 

It was fine for about three of them, then the pain came. Achey hamstrings, twingey knees, a weird thing in my chest when I couldn't get breathing right. Brain telling me it's a long way home and how am I gonna find another eight miles after today?

After a while some of the group peeled off to do marathon pace while some of us hung back, and eventually ended up running on our own along the Downs Link. 

For those of you who aren't familiar, it's mostly an old railway line that goes on FOREVER and is lovely and flat and long and straight in places, mostly on trail. Long, flat and straight means you can see everyone running miles ahead of you and it just goes on and on and on.

I don't bring my music on the group runs so had just me and my thoughts / aches for company, so had to dig deep and give myself a proper talking to for a good five miles at least to get back. It wasn't pretty, but it's done. And on that note:

Here's how to keep running if you REEEAAAALLLYYYY want to stop:

1) Think about something else 

May sound obvious, but don't think about what you're actually doing. Definitely don't focus on your achey legs or tired feet, or the fact that [insert number here] more miles of this is gonna huuuurt.

Plan your post-run pub meal, what you're gonna wear for tomorrow's meeting, think about your to-do list for the rest of the day (writhing around in pain on the foam roller, actually, and yourself?)

Look at what's around you and tune into the different sounds. I particularly love to do this by the sea, now that I've started to do some of my runs without music along the seafront. 

You'll be surprised how quickly you forget the pain once your mind is occupied with something else. 

2) Get into a rhythm 

OK so this contradicts the first point a bit so before you stop thinking about what you're doing, just give yourself a once over and adjust to get into a rhythm. 

Are you shuffling your feet? Pick them up a bit. Are your knees knocking together? Make sure they don't touch. Is your breathing out of whack? Take a couple of deep breaths in and out and let it settle back down again. 

Don't hunch over. Imagine your body has a zip running from your navel all the way to your chin and run straight to keep this taught. 

Do all of that, then stop thinking about running and think about beer and chips. 

3) Ignore your watch

I'm really glad I forgot my watch today. If I hadn't, I would've looked at it probably every 30 seconds during that painful last five miles. 

Instead, my phone was recording on Strava in my bumbag, and whilst I did get it out pretty much at every mile to see how long was left, this was only a few times rather than hundreds. 

If you're doing an out and back or you're running home or in a race chances are you know where the finish line is and you're not gonna get there any quicker by counting every 10 metres. 

4) Have a chat 

This might be difficult if you're running on your own of course, but if like me today, you're with a group but just broke away and are struggling, find someone to run with and chat your way home.

The best thing about running in groups is the community, and the chat. Yes, we all make lots of new friends, but the aimless chat serves a very key purpose: to make us all forget we're actually running!

5) Give yourself a pep talk 


Positivity and self belief are powerful things. Give yourself a good talking to whenever you start to flag and let negative thoughts creep in. 

Yes it hurts, and yes it's a long way home, but you can do this. 

Think about those last few miles on race day - this is what it's gonna be like - only hopefully with a nice loud crowd to cheer you in. 

You may be in pain, you'll probably want to stop, but you won't. 

You will get to the finish line, you will not quit. It'll take a lot longer if you walk, so if you can, keep running. It's always harder to get going again if you walk. (Unless your race plan is to run-walk or walk the whole thing in which case knock yourself out!) 

Things I said out loud to myself today included: "Come on", "for Fuck sake", "four more miles", "three more miles",  "get it done", "two more miles", "don't stop", "I can do this", "food at the end", "one more fucking mile - just over 10mins" and it worked.


Although getting split up and running on our own is never an aim of the group runs, it was brilliant practice for race day, when we will likely be on our own. 

In my head I slowed to a shuffle, I wasn't running at all, I was crawling, and every step hurt. 

But my splits were consistent(ish), and I ran 18 miles, so I thank you earlier self for not giving up and letting me experience the screaming legs and smug satisfaction that I feel right now :) 

What's your running mantra and how do you keep yourself going when it gets tough? 

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Sunday, 12 March 2017

VLOG: RunBrighton adventure from Goring to Hove!

This is my third season of training for Brighton Marathon with RunBrighton, and until today I've always missed this route due to racing half marathons instead. But not today! 

The famous train ride to Goring and run back route is a favourite for the RunBrighton Ambassadors and runners. 

Due to the logistics of managing training runs with different pace groups based on time on feet rather than miles, most of our long runs are out and backs - that way we all turn at the same time, no matter how fast we're running. Everyone gets back to the cafe/pub for breakfast together, and everyone's happy. 

So to get the train somewhere and run allllllll the way home is a real treat!

Today we had BBC Sussex Breakfast presenter Neil Pringle running with us, so listen out tomorrow morning from about 7:20am for interviews from the run!

My 4hrs30 pace group ran nearly 17miles today, and I'm not gonna lie... my legs are SCREAMING. 

This time in four weeks they'll be screaming even more, because they'll have ran another 9.2miles on top of that. 


*RunBrighton is the official training partner to Brighton Marathon, and hold weekly training runs throughout the winter and summer months. Find out more at and

Where are your favourite run routes, and do you run in a group? 

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Saturday, 4 March 2017

RACE REPORT | Brighton Half Marathon 2017

OK so it's a bit late and no one cares any more but we're writing this anyway. Me and Chris haven't blogged together for a while so we thought we'd share how last Sunday's Brighton Half went for both of us. The Brighton Half is basically my fave. It's all the best bits of the marathon without any of the pain. 

Catch up on previous years' blogs:

This year was a bit different as for the first time ever I chose to run it at marathon pace instead of going for a PB, and also Chris has the bigger picture to think about this time as he's popping his marathon cherry at Brighton in five weeks. 

SHE SAID - Tess' 13.1

For me, the half was a lot more fun than I thought it was gonna be. My marathon training hasn't exactly gone to plan this time round, I've been mega busy in work and in life and my changing schedule with travel has messed with my routine. 

The week before we both had a really difficult long run, 14miles for me, 17 for Chris, on flat, seafront tarmac in Worthing. In theory, it sounds great, and is actually not too different from Brighton Half in terms of terrain, but in practice it was hell, marred with painful feet for Chris and angry, cramping legs and blisters for me. 

I never get blisters, but this season they're everywhere dammit! Behold my blister solution:
Half Marathon survival pack from Wiggle :) 

I hadn't ran all week of the week leading up to the half due to my legs not being ready til Wednesday. That's my fault for not being consistent with my strength training and recovery. 

Then my work schedule changing my planned runs again, so instead of the usual PB effort (sub2 will have to wait), I went into the race planning to run 10:20 marathon pace to make sure it was comfortable. 

The way my knees have been recently made me nervous - I wasn't sure if I could even run marathon pace comfortably but I taped the fuck out of them and put my positive pants on to give it a good go.  

Our mate Norman :)  (who smashed his PB) 

As we arrived the grey clouds and 18mph winds did their worst but couldn't dampen the already buzzing atmosphere. We dropped our bags in the press tent, met the lovely Sarah from Goldilocks Running got a little too excited about the VIP loo and post-run pastries/bacon sarnies before making our way to the start. 

As we stood in the pens waiting to go, Fatboy Slim Right Here, Right Now blaring out nice and loud, I forgot all my worries about my training and knew it would be ace. 

I had people calling my name, getting high fives from kids around the course, and full on entertainment, chats and giggles from RunBrighton Ambassador-come-2hr15-pacer Daz and the crew. It was like another RunBrighton long run, only with a few thousand other people to run with and cheer on. 

Daz and the awesome RunBrighton pace crew

It was the first time I didn't wear my earphones, and I feel like I soaked up so much more from the day. I usually have one earphone in to keep me going and still hear the crowd, but my amazing JABRA earphones are too fat and snug to have just one in. 

I'm now deliberating whether to go 'naked' for the full marathon too - but I guess that'll depend on who's around for a chat... 

Miles 1-3 were spent waiting for the knees to warm up and legs to get into their rhythm. We were bang on pace and sailed up the 'hill' to Ovingdean. I love how all the mental hills we run make these little inclines feel so easy. 

I looked out for Chris and cheered him and others I knew on before the turnpoint at mile 4. The knees warmed up and I felt great, kept pushing ahead and had to slow myself to get back with Daz and the 2:15 crew. 

Marathon pace. Must run at marathon pace. 

I sailed back into Brighton towards the pier and what would be Panda Bridge for the full marathon (one of my favourite parts of the race), enjoying every step, chatting, chilling, nice and comfy, maybe actually a bit faster than marathon pace until about mile 9 when I slowed but only to just over. 

At the 10mile turnpoint I reeeeally wanted to just push on for a strong finish so with the blessing of my RunBrighton buddies stormed off for three glorious negative split miles, coming into finish at nearly threshold pace. 

I felt like superwoman overtaking everyone, like there was a rocket on my back. My legs were feeling it but I just ploughed on, feeling strong, finishing in 2:11:11. It was just the confidence-boosting race I needed. 

It's such an amazing feeling to finish a race like this. There's a lot to be said for really holding back in the early miles to turn the gas on for the final push. 

I did this for the last time I ran an epic, awesome Brighton Marathon in 2015 - held back (maybe a bit too much actually), and had loads left in the tank for the final three miles. 

This is how I want to run it this April but I'm not sure I've done enough consistent training so we'll see!

Things learnt: 
1. 10:20 marathon pace is definitely comfy (for 13 miles, anyway) :) 
2. I don't *have* to have my earphones to hand for every race
3. Holding back to smash the last few miles is a WINNER
4. Fatboy Slim is a dude :) 
5. Best bit of Brighton Half this year: having Chris cheer me in over the line from outside the press tent :) 

**Massive big ups to Sarah for smashing her PB whilst ironman training. LIKE A BOSS. Read her race recap here

HE SAID: Chris' 13.1


Tess asked me one word to describe my half marathon, and this is it. Before we go into why, I need to explain my training for the past couple of weeks as it’s been a while since we’ve blogged. 

I am a marathon runner. I must run. 

I’ve had a shit few weeks due to dislocating my shoulder and missing three weeks of training. I went back into training for a 2.5hour long run on tarmac at 8:20min/mi. My group went out a bit too fast and I spent the remaining hour and a half fighting to keep up with the 8:20 pace, eventually giving up with a pain in my left foot, which was a real blow to my confidence. 

Not impressed after our painful long run

I put this down to my ridiculously old trainers which Tess has been telling me to replace for ages but I haven’t got round to yet. When two other RunBrighton ambassadors took one look at my shoes and told me to throw them away and go shopping that day I finally started looking. 

So fast forward to Sunday's race - there I am on the start line, brand new trainers, having never worn them before, nor ran in this brand previously (Adidas Boosts, for the record) - what could possibly go wrong? 

Before the race when we were planning our paces, we realised that my planned marathon pace in the group I’m training in, is actually my half marathon PB… so yeah, I’m probably in the wrong training group. 

The stage awaits...

But, I am a marathon runner. I must run. 

All these negative thoughts were with me on the start line, and I knew from the get-go that I couldn’t keep up the pace so went out slower, not getting caught up with the other stress heads getting stuck behind slower runners in front. 

It all works itself out - you can always make your time back at the end. A slower start is always better - you’re more likely to finish stronger, and there’s no point in weaving, so I chilled out until we got to mile 3 and caught up with a guy in my RunBrighton group feeling great as we chatted along. 

Eventually I kicked off away from him into the wind which wasn’t really that bad (we’ve trained in horrendous seafront conditions before so this was pretty mild in comparison) and started getting into my stride. 

At miles 4 and 5 I was bang on marathon pace so continued on until mile 6 when my foot started to hurt. At first it was the same pain as last week which I knew I could handle so ran on, but then another pain started elsewhere in the same foot and it all went tits up. 

Stupidly, as stubborn as I am, still looking at my watch, I allowed myself a moment or two to have an easier pace, but stopping was not an option. 

I am a marathon runner. I must run. 

I carried on at 7:30 marathon pace knowing the remaining six miles were doable. 

At the turnaround I knew it was just a parkrun in it, and with the tailwind, I pushed on harder through the pain in my foot for negative splits to get back what I lost at the start. 

I was on a good parkrun pace, overtaking people all the way to the finish and was puffing, but able, although my foot still really hurt quite bad.

I am a marathon runner. I must run. 

The crowd were amazing and when I saw that the time on the finish line was a PB I sprinted even harder for a strong but painful finish - coming in at 1:36:33 

Things learnt:
  1. My foot still hurts. But not as much. 
  2. It's not broken - just tissue damage. Time to cross train!
  3. Don’t buy new trainers of a brand you’ve never tried and then run a half. 
  4. I now know that I couldn’t continue my planned marathon pace for another 13 miles so… 
  5. I’m gonna have to adjust my goal from 3:15 to a comfy 3:30 marathon. 
  6. Despite knowing this, I’m not changing training groups as I’m stubborn and I like a chat with the lads :) But I am gonna cross train for the next week. 
  7. I am a marathon runner. I must run. 

Find out more about Brighton Half Marathon and sign up for 2018.


Do you run races as training runs, 
and do you ever run through pain? 

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