FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: February 2017

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Saturday, 25 February 2017

This Girl Can Take 2... Phenomenal Women



Goosebumps guys. Proper goosebumps.

You’ve probably seen the posters online and at locations across the country, and at 12pm yesterday This Girl Can made its much-anticipated return to our screens with its brand new advert.

I've waited a long time to see this. Never before have I been so emotionally involved in a campaign. Not many advert launches will get me sitting with baited breath scrolling Twitter live updates from the launch event, counting the minutes until the first proper glimpse. 

Seriously though, doesn't watching that just make you want to get up and go, like right now?

Creating a new normal


Since its beginnings in 2015, Sport England's This Girl Can campaign has inspired an incredible 2.8million women and girls into sport. It's revolutionised sports marketing for women and broken down barriers to exercise for many.

There's so much more to being active than just actually doing the exercise. It's about feeling comfortable and confident in your own skin. It's about community, and friendship, and pushing boundaries you never thought possible, achieving amazing things - whether it's stepping into an exercise class for the first time or smashing for your first, longest, or toughest run.

As This Girl Can Campaign Manager Kate Dale told Campaign this week, it's about "creating a new normal for women - where being active is the norm for women. These barriers, such as fear of judgement, never go away but it's about giving women the tools to constantly challenge them."

Anything that makes more women realise how much of a total badass you feel when you're fit and loving regular exercise is good in my book.


This Girl Can Ambassador for Sussex 



You may or may not know that I'm This Girl Can Ambassador for Sussex, and have been working with Active Sussex to bring the campaign to life in the region, trying out various classes, groups and activities to report back here on my blog and on the Active Sussex website.

We've made a bunch of cool videos (working with the lovely Laura of Brighton) and are already planning our next one to be released next month.

Watch the videos here:


Skateboarding, (SO MUCH FUN! Need to get back to it but broken collarbone put a stop to me skating last year and now focusing on marathon training)

Synchronised swimming (not gonna lie, pretty scary, and who knew the skill involved?!)

Trampolining (most favourite thing EVER)

And I’ve also had a look at other ways to get active in Brighton for Women’s Sport Week (I made this video so sorry for the poor sound quality!)

This year we're gonna be doing a lot more blogging as well as the videos, and I'm planning on not breaking any bones this year (bonus) so I'll be on the hunt for cool ways to get active in the region - from aerial hoop to drum n bass workouts and everything in between.




The fire in my eyes.  Because I'm a woman. Phenomenally :) 

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What should we try next? Do you know of any great ways women are getting active in Sussex? Let us know your suggestions in the comments or by tweeting me @FitBits_ or the Active Sussex team on @activesussex



Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Music for running - what's your soundtrack?

FitBits | JABRA bluetooth earphones review  - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

What gets you going when you run or exercise?

I mean really gets you going? Is it the sound of your breath, the pounding of your shoes on the tarmac, the clang of the barbell hitting the floor after a deadlift PB? The whooping and cheering in a Zumba class when the beats hit you hard?

For me it's music.

A nice bit of Biffy Clyro on a steady progression run, or a chilled dose of Elbow on the long slow plod. Listening to music while running has its lovers and haters. Some people can't run without it - others fully embrace the meditative nature of putting one foot in front of the other with only the sounds of the park or city in their ears.

I know which I prefer...

Short, fast runs = music. The intervals, progression and steady runs of this world are best enjoyed with a progressive house or drum n bass soundtrack. Either that or Biffy.

Long, slow runs = music, or a podcast (if solo). Elbow, Doves, Kings of Leon, Wolf Alice, maybe even Pink Floyd if I'm feeling particularly dark. Or a nice bit of liquid dnb to ease into the miles. Podcast-wise, I totally bummed the first series of Serial on my last marathon training cycle, but can't seem to get into the second one, nor find another podcast interesting enough to zone out to.

FitBits | Marathon training in Brighton - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
Moody skies for an Elbow-fuelled long run

 

For me, music is a great motivator


I love the way a song can take you right back to a specific moment in time - like a memory in a pensieve from Dumbledore's office, streamed straight into your brain as you tick off the miles.

I've always been into music, from a very young age. Early dreams of becoming a music journalist dwindled when I decided I couldn't be bothered to join the rat race in London after uni, but I carried my love for it throughout my life, a soundtrack to everything I do.

At work, I'm the one with the earphones, nodding away as I type, making playlists on YouTube and saving albums on Spotify to run to later.

In the kitchen you'll find me dancing around the washing up with XFM on, and in the van I'll sit there singing my heart out, even at the lights.

Silence is not really a thing for me.

FitBits | JABRA bluetooth earphones review  - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
Chasing the sun with my favourite songs in my ears 



To run to music gives it a whole different dimension. It makes me run harder, smoother, for longer. It's a party in my ears and I'm the only one invited.

There's been several occasions when I've been running along my favourite undercliff path early morning before work, the whole place to myself, sun peering out from behind the clouds, singing at the top of my lungs.

Bloody marvellous.  


A trip down memory lane

Other times, like last Sunday, my 15 mile run took me on a trip down memory lane, to what me and Chris call our 'summer of love' (i.e. 2003, 17 years old, mildly intoxicated and wrapped up in each other and the newly emerging British indie scene). I listened to Elbow's first two albums, Asleep in the Back and Cast of Thousands, Doves Lost Souls, and then Kings of Leon's new album Walls (which I currently CANNOT stop listening to).

Just, lovely. (Incidentally, I ran 20 minutes more than was on the plan and my legs still hate me, just to finish an album).

But sometimes, just sometimes, I try/have to run without music, and it doesn't always work.

The other day, my JABRA bluetooth earphones battery was dead and I had to do my threshold intervals 'alone', with nothing but my breathing and the sounds of the sea crashing into shore.

It was a grey, misty winter's morning, the seafront was scattered with runners and dog walkers disappearing into the fog. At first I was really pissed off that I had to do one of my hardest sessions without some angry guitar for a boost.

And I'd like to say as the run went on I became less pissed off and was flooded with endorphins, but alas - it was just hard.

I did learn a few things about doing intervals to no music though:

1) Six minutes effort is a BLOODY LONG TIME.
2) 90 seconds is NOT.
3) Just because it's foggy, people can still hear you swear.
4) The sea crashing into the shore is actually quite meditative.
5) My foot strike is too loud.
6) I can't jump over small dogs.

So in short - I think I'm made for running to music - it just works better for me, and I wanted to big up my earphones with you guys in case you're in the market for some gooduns.

FitBits | JABRA bluetooth earphones review  - Tess Agnew fitness blogger


I was sent the JABRA Sport Pulse earphones a few months ago to test out and I have to say I proper love them. The fit is snug AF, there's no way they're coming out mid-run, however sweaty you get. On the website they've got people doing backflips to demonstrate the fit. I'll leave that to the professionals though...

Being big into music, sound quality's pretty important for me, and these earphones really do put out a banging range.

They've got an in-ear heart rate monitor - a weird little worm-like thing that sits in the curve of your ear, and there's an app that tracks your runs and rides, and has pre-set workouts to follow. I tried the app but tbh I prefer to just use them for the music, as I use Strava mostly anyway.

Another big plus for me is I no longer have to faff about with earphone wires when running. I cannot count the times I've stopped mid-run to have a tantrum at bastard wires flapping up and down in my face with every step. These have a small wire that sits behind your head with an easy-to-use volume and function button to control your phone with on the go.

FitBits | JABRA bluetooth earphones review  - Tess Agnew fitness blogger


They've also got a built-in mic so you can take calls too, although I never answer the phone mid-run as the panting sounds a bit ominous, but whatever floats your boat.

Be warned though - the fit is so snug, you literally can't hear anything when they're in, so be careful if running on roads. I'm lucky as I've got the seafront so I can whack the volume up nice and high.

At £129.99, they're not cheap, but it's up to you what you want from your earphones I guess. I've actually had these nearly a year now as I was out of action for the summer from my collarbone break so have only really just been testing them properly for this marathon cycle, so wanted to let you know what I thought.

* As mentioned, JABRA sent me these earphones to review bloody ages ago but my love for them is all my own :) 

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Do you run to music? 
What's your running soundtrack?

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Monday, 6 February 2017

Marathon training on holiday in Barcelona





Training for a marathon while on holiday is hard work, and not always because you don't want to run. If you're a regular runner you'll probably relish the thought of pulling on your trainers and heading out for a plod in a new place - it is, after all, the best way to discover somewhere new.

My trainers were the first thing I packed for our trip to Barcelona last week.


We were only there from Wednesday to Sunday and with flying time taken out, we only really had three full days to explore. We stayed with friends in Vilanova, a gorgeous seaside city about 30km from the centre of Barcelona, with beautiful narrow village-like streets spilling out into wide open squares made only for alfresco tapas, good coffee and wine.





Of our three full days we spent two of them wandering the streets of Vilanova, practicing pigeon Spanish, with my A grade GCSE not serving me quite as well as I'd hoped until the last day when it finally started coming back to me.

The other day was spent exploring Barcelona city centre and waterfront, doing an excellent job of wine tasting and sampling the local cuisine. I wanted to run here but didn't fancy a 40minute train ride in my running kit beforehand.






Instead I ran twice in Vilanova, once on Thursday, the day after we arrived, which ended up being a really stop-start orientation plod after hearing about the amazing rugged clifftop trail that takes you all the way to the next town, Sitges.

The second run of the trip was along this trail, next to the railway line that we came in on from the airport, winding in and out of the coastline like a snake. It was bloody beautiful, and quite possibly the most beautiful run I've ever done.

(That's saying something - you know how much I love running in Brighton).



I stopped about 1000 times to take photos, check the map, and just look at where I was. It was meant to be a 2hr15 long slow run with 30mins marathon pace at the end, but there was no way I was doing that - this route had to be savoured.

That, and I forgot my rocktape so my knees wouldn't have let me run for that long without pain. 




I didn't go the whole 7miles (or km?!) to Sitges because the sun was going down and the trail was so near to the train tracks and cliff edge in places that I didn't fancy walking back in the dark so reluctantly turned back after a while.
It was then that Vilanova trumped Brighton pretty bad in not only the rugged coastal route stakes, but also whipped its arse in the beachside sunset stakes too.

As I neared the end of the trail and took the winding wobbly steps down to the beach instead of the road I came in on, the sky had just started to turn blue with a haze of red and orange in the distance behind me.

All of this is yours.


I ran along the harbour and across to the other side of the beach to be treated to quite possibly the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. My iPhone couldn't do it justice, but my eyes saw it perfectly.

I floated home on a wave of endorphins, massive grin on my face and banging on about that run to anyone who would listen for the rest of the night.



I'm telling you all of this to paint a picture of what marathon training when on holiday looked like for me. I had four runs on my plan last week - a threshold intervals session, progression run, continuous hills and long slow run of 2hrs15.

I packed my trainers because I knew I would run. I also knew I would spend time with friends and eat far too much food, drink lots of exceptionally good Spanish wine, discover the joy of Estrella, wander the streets and relearn a language, and do a perfectly adapted version of running that felt just right at the time.

It's all about balance. You have to make your training fit around your life - not make it your life. 


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Do you run on holiday?

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