Sport for girls should be pink

These Girls Do

Happy New Year, everyone! For my first post of 2016, I have been gifted a topic by a red hot (or should that be hot pink?) debate raging in Ireland right now.

[Sidenote: I wrote the first draft of this using a Bic for Her ballpoint pen… If you haven’t read the Amazon reviews I implore you to do so. For the good of your hand health.]

Whilst idly browsing Twitter this morning, I came across something posted by Her.ie magazine that made me double-take. An Irish company appear to be promoting a new product, marketed at women, to encourage the uptake of Gaelic Football by female players – enter, the Ladyball. That’s right y’all, the squidgy, pink #Ladyball.

Image from theladyball.com Image from theladyball.com

The all new Ladyball specifically designed for a lady’s game – soft touch for a woman’s grip, eazi-play for a woman’s ability, fashion-driven for a woman’s…

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Dear Katie: Starting out the year right

Dear Katie,

I promised I’d check in and hold myself accountable for my 2018 New Year Goals, so here I am.

It’s been a week, and a pretty good one at that, but then I guess most people come out of the gates strong in the first week of January only for it to head south rapidly after that. I suppose only time will tell. Anyway, this is the summary of this my efforts this past week for your delectation:

Goal One: Run a half marathon

  • I still hate running. But we’re signed up to the Reading Half so I’m committed. Was delighted not to massively embarrass myself at the training day on Saturday…
  • …however, some of the photographs that were taken that day have hammered home my need to reduce my waistline. Motivation!
  • I have a new found respect for people who run. It’s hard! My fitbit tells me it gets my heart rate up better than any other exercise I do and my legs are in tatters after two days of training!
  • Realising recovery is key means I’m actually using my foam roller and stretching more!

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New Year Resolutions: Goal setting and chocolate regretting

It’s that time of year again – the end. Or, the beginning of the new one, depending on your disposition. Either way, it’s that time when we’re all stuffed full of cheese, chocolate Santas and regret, and we decide to declare publicly (thanks to social media) that we have set ourselves unrealistic goals for the new year. I’m hoping mine are less unrealistic and more suitably challenging.

Instagram Resolutions

Katie F’s goals for 2017. She smashed it.

Katie (fellow blogger, muse and all-round good egg) had one hell of a 2017 in her sporting career and managed to knock her resolutions out of the park, I, on the other hand have devoted this year to changing careers and the time and monetary stress associated with that. I have to admit that my motivation in terms of health and fitness has diminished, to the point where Katie has had to give me a good, proverbial kick up the arse and signed us both up to run the Reading Half Marathon in March.

So, there we go, resolution number 1 right there: Run my first half marathon Continue reading

I literally do not care about Christmas food guilt

Ah, the usual holiday posts are back. “Do 5,000 burpees followed by a 27 mile swim in a lake and then run to Dover and back to burn off your Christmas dinner”, “how many calories are really in the entire box of Lindor truffles you just ate”, “did you know the average person eats 15 times their usual calorie allowance in the 3 days over Christmas”, “if you go shopping for 7 hours you can drink one glass of Baileys” (some of those may be embellished, but you get the gist) – you would think people had suddenly discovered calculators and infographics for the first time.

zzzzzzzzz.

Do.Not.Care

I like food. I like exercise. I don’t always do one to counteract the other. Sometimes, yes, maybe I do think about it – but the countless other benefits far outweigh the extra mince pies I’m going to be eating for the next few days (who am I kidding, I mean the ones I’ve been eating for the last 4 weeks already)

I’m thinking about doing parkrun on Christmas Day. Is it because I’m worried about eating too much and having to get myself into a calorie deficit? No, it’s because I love the idea of getting out to parkrun on Christmas Day! (and if it was, promise me, I’d be running more than 3.1 miles, clearly)

I went for a bike ride (aborted due to double puncture) and then for a run in the 6 inches of snow we had last weekend. Was that because I couldn’t face sitting inside all day? No, it was because I literally had SO.MUCH.FUN.  Have you ever been mountain biking in the snow? If not, you should try it. Ever been running through fields where you can’t hear anything because of the silence of snow, and the fact the closest dual carriageway is closed? You should. It’s incredible. And if it’s proper, fresh snow, it’s really likely to be not that dangerous. (Ice however, is another matter)

Food and exercise are not purely there to balance each other out. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always seem to be the mainstream media case. Did you see the tweet below from Laura Thomas?

Yeah. That says a lot. Katie’s (Cake Vs Scales) post earlier this year said a lot around this – if you pick up a men’s health and fitness magazine, the focus is completely different. Yes, there will still be a focus on becoming healthier – but it’s not purely about weighing less, or eating 1,200 calories a day.

Remember – it’s OK to take some time for yourself. You don’t have to be perfect every day. Heck, you don’t have to be perfect ever. And you would have thought that this time of year would be a great opportunity to embrace that. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, this time at the end of the year is a good opportunity to recharge your batteries, take a break (if you want) and just do what you feel like doing. If I want to spend three hours on my bike, that’s fine. If I want to spend a day in my pyjamas sleeping on the sofa, that is also fine. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. See friends, see family – and if you don’t want to, you don’t have to please everyone.

There’s a lot of pressure to be “always on” and you know what, sometimes you don’t have to have a reason to say no. If you don’t fancy going out for Christmas drinks 6 days in a row, don’t force it. It takes a bit of guts first time round (and you’ll always be questioning that people think you are boring) but rejoice in making your own decisions. It’s taken a while, but I’m at an age now (god that makes me feel old) that I know what I like doing and I’m perfectly fine with that – and don’t feel the need to be trying to keep everyone else happy.

You also don’t have to give an excuse. I used to be full of “I’m sorry I can’t make it because of xyz” when really, I just meant “I actually don’t feel like coming”. So now, I’ll just say “sorry I can’t make it” and that is totally fine. And now, I will stop being negative and telling you all to avoid any social engagements or activities of any form – do what makes you happy and remember it’s OK to be a little bit selfish, whatever time of year!

Look after yourselves and have a good end of year break.

From clueless to qualified – my short duathlon career 

I’m currently on a two week break at the end of what feels like a pretty lengthy season. And it’s been a good one. A few highlights include wins at Hawridge and Stewartby duathlons, knocking my 5k PB down to 19.38, 2nd at the Berkhamsted 5 miler, 3rd at the Windsor 10k and I’ve nicely wrapped up my season with a qualifying spot for the European sprint duathlon champs next year (insert little cheer from me!)

Anyway, I thought it would be a nice time to look back on my potted career in the sport…and why it’s so much fun.

5 years ago, I spent my 23rd birthday up at 6am to compete in my first duathlon. Someone at my then running club had suggested the races at Box End Park, just west of Bedford – and I spotted they had an off-road duathlon. I wasn’t doing much cycling (pre buying a road bike or two) other than the odd MTB session around the Chiltern Hills at the weekend. However I was doing a fair amount of running, I’d done a 3.41 in my first crack at the marathon earlier that year and was in semi-decent run shape ahead of cross country season.

Mum and I got up at the crack of dawn, turned up and quickly realised we didn’t really have a huge idea what we were doing. Luckily, the nice man in the car next to us was very helpful (and turned out to be the winner and British #1) and quelled my fears somewhat. This was pre being comfy with cleats at all times so literally all I had to remember was helmet. I remember 3 main things about this race:

1. It was BLOODY FREEZING

2. It was BLOODY WINDY

3. I was first woman. But, there were only 7 of us.

I think (judging by my times) it was a 5k run, a something k bike and then a 5k run again at the end.


And that was that. I think I then got sent a trophy in the post! My first win – how exciting.

My next one, which I was reminded of by Timehop recently, was the Grim Challenge in Aldershot the following October – again a cross duathlon – which I did with my parents! We entered ourselves as a team and decided to do it all together. Basically what happened is we waited for my mum on the run and then for me on the bike. The main thing I remember about the bike was having to cycle through what was practically a lake of mud and getting off a couple of times to run the bike down sand/mud banks (it’s where they test the tanks which says a lot!) I think it was 5k-20k-5k. You can see from transition what the ground was like…

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We won first mixed team (LOL) although again, I think there were only two mixed teams. The prize here was a giant duffel bag each (I mean, so giant that I literally could fit into it)

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The main thing about this was spending the afternoon in A&E because mum came off her bike on a hill – and was helped up by a kind man that was not her husband. Luckily nothing broken just a super bad wrist sprain which was given a support and a significant number of painkillers.

I think by this point I may have bought myself a road bike, so 2014 came with my foray into road duathlon with the Jekyll & Hyde in Hyde Park (clearly October is the right month for duathlons for me)I also did a Women’s only duathlon at the Velopark in Stratford…and that didn’t go too badly.

img_4324My duathlon career then continued into 2015 (also the year of my first triathlon) with another J&H and ANOTHER women’s only Velopark and then in 2016 I started to do a little bit more…My running was going well, I was getting a fair amount of commute bike miles in, OH and I had bought a new aero bike that really needed some more mileage. I raced Hawridge and St Albans, getting on the podium in both and realised I was doing alright at the smaller local stuff.

Earlier this year, having spied a lot of other Clapham Chasers doing AG champs, I decided I might as well have a crack at it. Criteria is straightforwards, give intent to qualify, enter one of the qualifying races, finish top 4 in your AG. After careful studying of previous times, I decided it was doable. I chose Oulton Park and Bedford (a week apart) to give myself two cracks at it. If Oulton Park went well, Bedford was good practice and a nice end to the season, if it didn’t, I had a second opportunity.

I had some good practice over the summer, giving the Ashridge duathlon series a go, going back to Hawridge, racing Stanborough tri and being super happy that the lake at Stewartby had algae so it was turned into a duathlon!

Oulton Park meant an overnight stay in a Premier Inn but a pleasant 7.30 start. It’s not a flat course by any means and the distances are based on a lap of the track and therefore a bit off the usual distances. And this was pretty serious. This was the biggest duathlon I’ve entered and it felt it at the start. Gulp. This is qualifying territory. This is proper racing. There is a man (several of them!) checking I don’t break any rules. There are penalties if I do something wrong. AAAAAAAH.

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However, to cut a long story short, Oulton Park went exceptionally well! Finished 3rd AG (the pain of waiting in the queue for your result to print is INSANE) so rewarded myself with a fishfinger wrap, a McFlurry and then A NEW PAIR OF WHEELS! (If I’m being honest, this is probably the hardest I’ve raced all season. It really meant something and I wanted to finish strong – mainly so I didn’t lose my AG spot in the final 500m but, looking at it, I was a good 90 seconds ahead of the girl behind)


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Which therefore meant Bedford was a bit more relaxed. I could play a full game of netball the day before, I wasn’t overly stressed, I could give my new wheels a whizz, I didn’t mind getting up at 6am… In contrast to OP, Bedford is dead flat. And was windy. Which is awful if you’re trying out your new 60 deep sections, you still aren’t 100% comfy on your tri bars and your bike handling skills on 180 degree turns aren’t great…so yeah. I’ve had better bikes.

However, head down, corners conquered…set a new sprint distance PB, finished 14th F, (3rd AG so qualified again technically!) and ran the second run at the same mile splits as my first (I NEVER do this!) and crossing the line in 1:08:07 (19:47-0:46-36:05-0:43-10:44)

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So…a good end to a busy year. And a great end to 5 years of “just giving this duathlon business a go!”

A few thank yous to wrap this up – my parents, for frequently driving me when I’m too tired after a race, standing in the cold, cheering me, buying me food, listening to me run through my checklist for the nth time – specifically then my dad for fixing my bike 90% of the time, my mum for ringing a cowbell and having the loudest voice ever…my sister for literally being dragged to 75% of races despite hating running, my boyfriend for his motivational pep talks, buying me cycling presents and accepting that our life mainly revolves around me…hey DW for training with me and sometimes beating me in races …anyone at Clapham Chasers who has been a helping hand along the way…there is a lot of thanks!

And, just because I have to say it “woah I’m going to Ibiza”

I hope you all now have the Vengaboys stuck in your head. Over and out.

Let’s hear it for the girls – Windsor Women’s 10k review 

On top of the world! Still buzzing from the Windsor Women’s 10k on Saturday and for more reasons than one.


Firstly, just to say I was given a press place for this race – but my mum entered off her own back, but I am, as usual, 100% honest in my review. Pre-race info was thorough – and we left home at about quarter to 8, taking heed of the advice of avoiding Windsor town centre so coming through Datchet instead…and we arrived at 8.25, no traffic and were about the 10th car there #keen

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Cyclists. Don’t be d*cks. (and no, I don’t mean ducks)

A couple of weeks ago cyclist Charlie Alliston was charged with “wanton and furious driving” after hitting and killing a pedestrian who stepped out in front of him whilst he was riding a bike with no front break. The whole situation was enormously unfortunate; he should absolutely have had two breaks on his bike (it’s the law!), but to be killed by a bike travelling at 14mph is statistically very unlikely (this article in The Guardian does the maths), so Kim Briggs was extraordinarily unlucky.

Now, the whys and wherefores of this story have been hotly debated in the bear pits of online tabloid comments sections for weeks, so I have no intention of trying to single-handedly put the issue to bed or trivialising what is a thoroughly tragic event. But I do think we should acknowledge that this has done nothing to help the image of cyclists in the eyes of the media, motorists of pedestrians. It’s important that they know, notwithstanding Alliston’s questionable behaviour and words, we are not all terrible people.

So, in an effort to curb the ever growing us-vs-them mindset, these are my rules of thumb, from one cyclist to others, so we don’t come across as total c**ckwombles.

  1. Make sure your breaks work / actually have breaks

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Age is nothing but a number

I’m running the Boudavida 10k TOMORROW. My mum is also running it. She’s at the higher end of mid 50s (she’ll hate me for saying that) Is that a big deal that she’s running?  Is it a big deal that she’s out at boot camp three times a week? Or mountain biking, horse riding or skiing? Some people think it is…purely because of her age.

My parents being active is very much the norm in my family. I think how you grow up and your family have a significant influence on your attitudes towards health, fitness and exercise in later life (as well as on your life in general, obviously!) and I’m lucky that mine have always been pretty positive. To be perfectly honest, I feel like my parents have got MORE active as they’ve got older – which often isn’t the case.

To that point, they chose to spend their 3 week summer holiday this year on 1) a week in the south of France where we basically went running and cycling every day 2) a week of guided MTB in Italy (and I’m not talking just pootling along trails, I’ve been on bikes with these two and it’s quite frankly terrifying) and 3) a week in Chamonix where they chose not to do the vertical kilometre (because they did it last year) and instead just did more cycling and running. They didn’t suddenly get to 50 and resign themselves to churches and historical monuments.


So what am I trying to say?

I believe age is an excuse that is far too easily dropped in when people aren’t really that old and the root of the problem is something different. Obviously “old” is subjective and I’m not expecting every 85 year old to be cycling every day, but I think far too many people are using cut offs as young as their late 20s to prevent them doing a sport or particular type of activity, where they should be trying their best to extend it as long as possible until they truly can’t do it.

Yes, there are many factors that come with ageing that may impact your ability to exercise (life changes, body changes, career changes) but for a lot of them, there are ways around them. Being “older” does not stop you being able to do whatever sport you want (unless obviously, because of underlying health issues) and it doesn’t mean you suddenly have to stop skiing, weightlifting or doing “young people stuff” – there isn’t a sudden ban on it once you hit the next birthday!

I have limited tolerance for example, for anyone who tells me they are too old for rugby. I think my main problem here is that my dad is still playing rugby and he is 57. Therefore I think saying at 29 you are too old is quite frankly, a shit excuse. Find the real source of the problem. Did anyone watch The Pacemakers on BBC? It was fantastic – a group of men well into their 90s who were still getting out, keeping their bodies and minds active and not letting their age get in the way. If I’m lucky enough to keep running into my 90s, why wouldn’t I try and become a world champion in my age group? What a great idea if you’re lucky enough to be able to do it! And have you seen some of the 5k times of the V70s in Battersea Park?!

Think you are getting the picture now. Gone are the days where the only options were “nifty fifties” and aerobics and gone are the days of growing old gracefully and confining yourself to “old-people activities” – but I think more people need to embrace it. There are sports now that our grandparents could only have dreamt of playing or participating in and the choice is huge. Hitting a milestone doesn’t mean you can’t keep doing what you were doing before.

Keeping active for as long as possible is a real treat and if you’re lucky enough to be able to (and there are so many people who unfortunately can’t) then you should, and do away with all of those who make you think you’re too old to do something. Want to get to 70 and wish you had continued on with a sport more than you did? Not me.


Maybe I’m just in my own world. Maybe it’s because I’m surrounded by parents and family members (and not just my own) who are still running, cycling, skiing, playing rugby, circuit training, tyre flipping, horse riding and doing god knows what else – although my grandma is now down to aqua aerobics rather than badminton. I’ve taken my mum to 10ks with my Chasers crew, I’ve taken her to The Foundry, I play touch with my dad on the regular. Has this distorted my view on the subject? Most probably. But it’s given me the inspiration to do the same.

At the 10k, they’re running a “Generation Game” competition – where you aim to get the lowest combined time between the two of you. So we shall see how that goes (!) but I reckon we could have a decent go at it – my mum is far far better at sticking to a training plan than I am, and to be honest, she probably does more than I do. She has been giving herself smiley faces at the end of each week and has literally done each session to the detail. I love seeing parent and child combinations – ever watched the junior runners at parkrun? Especially the ones outsprinting their parents to the finish. We are basically just a version of that + 20 years.

I however, wrote multiple plans, didn’t do multiple things and I’m just hoping to go on a wing and a prayer and try to remember not to go out hell for leather. (Because, after I had booked this into my diary, I then found out we have Southern road relays on Sunday. So this will very much be a test of me being able to stay sensible, maybe pick it up a bit but not sacrifice the big one. A big night of foam rolling ahead on Saturday! )

What do you really need from a training plan?

I’m running the Boudavida Windsor Women’s 10k on the 23rd September, along with my mum (more on that in another post!) and thought it was time we talked about training and how it should be done (in theory) Unfortunately Kate isn’t able to join, which I know she is GUTTED about as she loves running! 😏

Whether it’s your first 10k or your 40th (I’ve just realised I haven’t raced a 10k since January 2015!) or you’re doing any distance – there are some things that really should be core part of any plan. OBVIOUSLY, you don’t have to do these all in a week because I’ve tried that and it’s really hard. If you’re pretty new to running still, you might want to give yourself more time before bringing in some of the faster paced work.

Still spaces available for the run if you fancy a blast round Windsor Great Park! (Disclaimer here in that my place is a provided press place – my mum entered all of her own accord. Continue reading

Race report – Herts summer tri, Stanborough Lakes

So, time to fess up – I actually haven’t done a triathlon in nearly two years. Not since Hever Castle. I mean, I’ve done duathlons a plenty, runs a plenty, lots of open water swimming and lots of cycling. But not so much “putting them together” – so, I decided I wanted to get a couple in this season, and the first was last weekend.

The Herts triathlon is run by Active Training World (who organise a lot of races in my local area) – it’s held at Stanborough Park in Welwyn, which was a peachy 32 minute drive from home. Which is nice when you have to leave before 6am. YAWN. Did the usual night before “frantically googling triathlon packing lists to check I don’t forget anything” and set my alarm for 5.30. Obviously then spent the drive there worrying I had forgotten something vital, plagued by stories of people who forget things like cycling shoes and helmets. Continue reading