Trying track cycling – a velodrome taster

I RODE A BIKE WITH NO BRAKES! And I did not fall off, crash, or generally damage myself. And I sort of want to do it again. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about track cycling. I was lucky enough recently to take a trip out of the office down to Herne Hill Velodrome . Considering I lived in Tooting for two years, I am actually now quite ashamed that I never made it down. And I definitely think that if I was still in Tooting, I would go again.

My parents bought me and my sister a track experience at the Lee Valley Velodrome for Christmas. My dad went a few years ago (ironically, we bought him this as a Christmas present also…) and I had popped along to watch and remember thinking it looked fun – and he had a whale of a time. I think my mum was secretly a bit disappointed that I was giving it a go before using the voucher (and my sister is annoyed because she thinks I now have a headstart and will be better than her) but I could hardly say no.

If you’ve been to either of these velodromes – or seen a picture – you’ll know they are a little different. Herne Hill has been around for decades, and is the last remaining venue from the 1948 Olympics (where apparently, their scheduling was’t too great, meaning that the final races had to be lit with car headlights and the photo finish impossible to see!)

It has an inner circumference of 450m, maxing out around 30 degrees in steepness, whereas your typical Olympic standard velodrome is only 250m, with a max gradient of around 45 degrees. Herne Hill has had stars such as Anquetil, Coppi & Tommy Simpson (I was one of the few people fangirling when we were told this) and is an incredible place, having been maintained and saved from destruction, and is now a key part of the London cycling community. There is an incredible history and they are rightly proud of it – the recently rebuilt clubhouse is full of photos from bygone eras, and has local club jerseys adorning the walls. It’s also where Sir Bradley himself first started racing.

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If you know the people I work with, you’ll know we have several cyclists and LOTS of sporty, competitive people. But it seemed that track cycling was giving a few people the heebie jeebies before the session, and I think a lot of that was down to a) knowing there were no brakes and b) the banking. However, skipping to after – I genuinely haven’t found anyone who didn’t enjoy it. The good thing about track cycling is that there was flexibility to do what you wanted. If you wanted to keep going round at the bottom of the track at your own speed, go for it. If you want to pretend you’re in the Olympics, go for it. Just be safe, respect the rules, and listen to what you’re told.

Firstly, the bike. It has one gear, no brakes, and we were in toe cages (ugh…I felt like a child again)

Gloves, helmets, long sleeves are all key (unsuprising really) Lean your bike against the railing, get in, toe-caged rather than clipped (eek) in and hold on for balance! (Track cycling means you have to pay attention or you fall over) To start, you basically just check for traffic, use the rail to propel yourself forwards, start pedalling and off you go. AND DON’T STOP PEDALLING.

You can’t freewheel (don’t try it) and you brake by resisting against the pedals and slowing down your cadence. And then grabbing hold of the railing again, ensuring you are going slow enough to avoid pulling your arm out of its socket. This was a mildly terrifying concept to get right seeing as I had zero idea how long it would actually take me to slow down. But you suss it out pretty quickly.

The team of coaches were great, and basically gave us a selection of different tasks and activities.

  1. Getting used to the bike – cycle round in a circle, don’t fall off, get used to slowing and stopping and holding onto the rail again at a sensible speed so you don’t fling yourself around and dislocate a shoulder. MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS LOOK OVER YOUR SHOULDER!
  2. Ride the lines – there are several coloured lines around the track. The aim here was simple – ride one on the white, one on the red, one on the “ghost line” (basically a faded line) and then one between the ghost line and the top of the track. It is surprisingly easy to go high up and no, you don’t slide your way back down, you don’t really feel like you’re about to topple over and yes, it is easier and less scary than it might first appear. The more you pedal, the easier it is.
  3. Make a shape – ride along the white line on the straights, before hitting the bend hard and riding up at the top. Check your line and drop back down to the white for the back straight. Repeat!
  4. Play the animal game. Basically ride in a line, with the distance of a named animal in between you and the rider in front. We started with elephants, then ended up with very dubious rabbits. There was also a lot of discussion about whether it was a labrador or a chihuahua when we were told “dog”. Riding that close together is quite hard, particularly when you are worried about the lack of brakes.
  5. Team pursuit style. One long line, and at each end, the first person peels off, goes up the bank and then drops back in at the end. This definitely challenges your ability to maintain consistent speed relative to the others in your group! It also challenges your ability to pay attention and listen to when you are told to stop (except secretly we just wanted to keep going for another lap)
  6. Pairs changeover. Ride in a line of pairs – then the front pair peel off to the top, keep riding and drop back in on the end. Again, challenging your ability to maintain speed relative to the others!

It was a great experience – we were then informed we had done our taster session and therefore would be welcome at other sessions, and then could move towards becoming accredited. I was particularly interested when i found out that they ran ladies-only sessions, as well as the ASSOSLDN women’s track league.

Seriously, give @HHVWomen a follow on Instagram, they’ve got workshops, training, ladies night and all sorts! Again, as I said, I wish I still lived in Tooting as unfortunately it’s just that bit too far for me to go.

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The Women’s Race Workshops are back again this year and better than ever! Each session will focus on an event which features in that month’s @assos_ldn Women’s League, so if you’re unsure or need to brush up, they’re the perfect opportunity to learn or practice skills, techniques and tactics before each race. 🚴🏻‍♀️ The workshops will be held on Sundays during the regular 5-7pm Women’s Session (£10 for adults; £8 for Special Friends of HH; £5 for eligible youths). 🚴🏻‍♀️ Fire up your diary and get the dates locked. Even if you’re not racing they’re still great fun! 🚴🏻‍♀️ #womencycling #womeninsport #trackcycling #womenwhoride #ridelikeagirl #fixedgear #hhvwomen #thisgirlcan #velodrome #fixie #hhvwomensleague #trackbike #assos #assosldnwomensleague #bikeracing #cycling #hernehillvelodrome #hernehill #london 📸 @arpadernyesphotography

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Unfortunately, we then had to go and do some actual work. Booooooo.

But, it’s made me think more about what I want to get from cycling, including some interesting discussions now about crit racing over the summer…very much looking forwards to my trip to Lee Valley!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Running Noob: Reading Half Marathon Training Update

Oh. My. God. Running is really freaking hard.

I’ve never enjoyed running for its own sake. I may have mentioned it once or twice before. Anyway, now I find myself in a situation where I am running half marathon (thanks Fergo), the Reading Half Marathon to be precise. In just over a month’s time.

Aaaaaaargh!

SIDE NOTE: There is still time to register! Registration closes tonight at midnight – if you fancy joining us on the day, go to http://www.readinghalfmarathon.com/ to sign up!

So, I’ve been hitting the pavement and the treadmill and I’m not going to lie to you gang, I am finding it difficult. I’d never truly appreciated just how different the fitness is compared to the stop-start of field sports.

Here are two different days tracked on my Fitbit:

Those red bits? They’re running-induced, peak cardio. The sweat. Oh god, the sweat.

I’ve been making an effort to go running three times a week, over and above other things like my commute on my bike or rugby training. For a couple of weeks I honestly thought running might kill me. I didn’t feel like I was making any progress. My legs ached between runs, my feet hurt and I couldn’t keep up with washing all the sweaty kit! But today I had a bit of a eureka moment.

Whilst cycling home I reached the dreaded killer hill in the final stretch of my journey – it’s a long slow pull up 240 feet over a mile – and whilst my legs still felt it, I was not huffing and puffing the way I used to. I actually felt pretty good by the time I reached the top. My cardio fitness has definitely improved and IT FEELS GOOD!

Now I just need to work on the achy feet and legs… more time needed in the company of my foam roller, I think!

 

 

Reading Half Marathon – the training day

So. We’re running The Reading Half.  In about 8 weeks. And a day.  As you might have seen from Kate’s last post, I coerced (read “didn’t give her much choice) her into running it – despite having never run a formal 10k race before, let alone ramping up the distance to more than double that (soz babe)

So what I first have to say is “AWESOME” – there was no long thinking, no “I don’t think I could” – she literally straight up said “OK, fine, I’ll do it – I need to give myself a decent challenge and focus for the first part of the year”

Two weeks ago, we made the trip out to Green Park Conference Centre for the Reading Half training day, along with a host of other runners and bloggers.

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A few gems here – Katherine,Anna & Tamsyn. I’ve known Katherine for a while because we run for the same club, but it was great to meet people I’ve only ever tweeted/instagrammed! Oh, and Tess was there – but behind the camera a lot of the time!

First up was a HIIT workout with The Townsend Twins which was all over Facebook Live (if you watched it, you’ll have seen me panicking about my bum being the first thing people see, and Kate discussing this quite loudly) There was lunging, there were planks, there were jump squats. Certainly got my heart rate up! This was part of Lucozade’s “Made to Move” campaign…so obviously there was Lucozade

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Next up was a session with Ali Galbraith , who heads up the pacing teams for the Reading Half and the Nottingham half and marathon. He took us through a few vital things to help you pace your race and finish feeling fresh (or alive) rather than dead (which I then proceded to fully ignore for my XC race last weekend)

Couple of top tips that we took away:

  • Always know your route – where are the hills, the flats, the water stations (and HELLO the unofficial beer station on the Reading half!) – Reading is pretty flat, particularly when you’re used to living at the top of a hill…which makes me happy
  • Don’t waste energy sprinting around people at the start – what this also means is people, go in the right pen. If you ain’t running that fast, get back to where you belong. Be realistic, not optimistic!
  • Break the race down into bitesize chunks to focus on a different tactic and make it more manageable – I’m likely to be running it as a long tempo so 1-3, 3-11 and 11-13.1 actually works quite well
  • DON’T FORGET TO SMILE!

I also learnt that Reading provides pacers in 5 minute intervals – which a lot of races don’t – this gives you a bit more flexbility in aiming for your goal. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never followed a pacer before, mainly because I trust myself to do it. However, clearly, cross country has shown me I shouldn’t be left to my own devices, so I may hunt one down on the day dependent on how I decide to run it. Find the guy or gal with a flag and stick with them – they know what they’re doing!

Judith Manson, the race director was also on hand to tell us a little bit more about the race and a couple of things that made me sit up – firstly, that they are doing water pouches (which is great for the environment and your ankles) and also, that they always ask for smaller bottles to help prevent waste, but they end up getting what they are given as such. It’s great to hear that races are trying to reduce the amount of plastic thrown around – if we can just get runners to stop throwing gel packets wherever they fancy then we’ll be on a roll…

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(Spot me in pink and Kate sorting her hair #priorities)

We then were off to put our pacing into practice after a little warm up (it was still pretty nippy outside)  We ran roughly 5k, taking in the start of the race (somewhere in Green Park) and the end (the Madjeski – except we couldn’t actually go in because Reading were playing at home, but we ran round it which I guess is the next best thing?!)

We did a little bit of hurdling to run round the car park, down some steps, then Anna & I were getting a bit ahead of ourselves despite not knowing the route, took a wrong turn and added on a handful of extra metres, but we got there in the end. Kate was pretty happy that she got round without a struggle, so think it was a decent boost ahead of her training plan.

 

It was then back to the ranch for the final bit of the day. Jim Adkins from Berkshire Physio was on hand to take us through some key pointers. We stretched, we activated, we slid, we bounced – all in the name of good muscle activation and recovery. We also discovered that you don’t need any fancy equipment – a good pair of paper plates is all you need!

(THIS IS REALLY HARD IN REAL LIFE)

My favourite stretch was the slump stretch – which does as its name suggests! You sit on a bench/bed/high chair, slump a bit, and basically swing your leg. This helps to release all down the backs of your legs, as well as ensuring the muscles in your back and shoulders get a chance to relax – perfect for all of us who spend hours sitting at a desk. It’s so easy to just get out of work, chuck your running stuff on and head out to save time, but a quick 5 minutes beforehand can work wonders for your muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Kate even bagged herself a free look at her dodgy hip at the end – and has come away with a good selection of exercises to keep her in good shape come race day, particularly as she’ll be ramping up the miles.

And then that was us done! I took Kate back to the station and headed home, full of ideas and a new motivation that I was going to do all my core and glute activation exercises that my physio has been telling me to do for 6 years. (Note – I have done them…twice. Which is better than normal)

Keep an eye out for some updates on how our training is going (and hopefully at some point I will set a race target or at least a plan of how I’m going to run it!) There are still entries open  (it’s on March 18th) – I’m a Reading newbie but have watched my dad there, and it is fast and flat, so ideal for pushing yourself for that PB. If you enter in January, there’s also a competition to win a little bit more than just your race entry.

Plus, they’ve just released their new medal design!

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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Continue reading

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.

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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

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.

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! )

Trails are the new pavements – and here’s why!

If you know me in real life, you’ll know I’ve recently moved back out of London to enjoy spending lots of time with my parents (aka saving money) I’ve written about this before (my parents are close to London so it’s super easy for me to default back here if I need to) but something I’ve really noticed is how much more I’m enjoying my running – and part of that is purely due to the lack of traffic, lack of pollution and ability to be in a field within 5 minutes and not have to deal with traffic. In short, TRAILS!

I mean I’m hardly claiming that the Chilterns are some sort of trail Mecca relative to the rest of the world, but they’re the best I’ve got right now. It frustrates me how much of a big deal is made out of trail running being something you really need to ‘prepare’ for – unless it’s mega muddy you don’t need special shoes, you don’t really need to spend hours on ankle mobility exercises and if you’ve got a bad sense of direction, stick to well marked paths and don’t get lost in the woods…

So I’ve basically got 10 reasons why trail running is great- and yes, this was partially an excuse for me to dig out lots of photos that I love!

1. The views. I mean as much as London has nice landmarks, it’s still a city with big grey buildings and boring stuff. I know what I would prefer to cast my eyes over! (N.B. you can see here that I go to France a lot…)

Vedrignans, France

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Tour Madeloc, Port-Vendres, France

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Route de la Corniche, Ciboure, France

2. The quiet. You can escape everything. No traffic, no music, no other people. It’s the perfect place to chill out. Obviously it’s also much safer to run on trails with no distractions, but to be perfectly honest, you shouldn’t need them.

3. Who you share them with. Seriously, if you run in London you know no one ever says hello and it’s eyes down, run on. Out in the sticks (!) everyone is so much more friendly – whether it’s walkers, runners, cyclists or horse riders I guarantee you’ll get at least a nod! (Or a wave if you meet Clapham Chasers in the Pyrenees as per picture below…) Or, you won’t see anyone for miles – which is equally enjoyable…

4. What you share them with. I was out before 6 on Wednesday morning and heard woodpeckers, saw buzzards and red kites and startled a whole herd of deer (including an albino one!) Much better than some skanky fox making a mess of bin bags. Or someone staggering home from Infernos.

5. It’s tough. Trails are naturally harder to run on – there’s more absorption of your power so you won’t be as fast as you would on road – and you’ve got to be careful around where you step, so it’s not easy. Your balance gets better, your eyesight becomes more focused and your brain is more switched on. Can’t argue with that. I mean, it’s not ideal for speed work but it will improve your overall strength no end.

6. Hills are good for you! Seriously. After having a long spell where Battersea Bridge was one of the biggest hills I ran over, I really struggled with inclines but it’s coming back to me pretty quickly. There is something incredibly rewarding about getting to the top and thinking “wow, I got up that all by myself”

7. When you get to proper trails, you get to take a backpack and SNACKS and sometimes you can walk up the hills. Dreamy. It makes you look like you are pretty serious as well.

8. Well you don’t have to worry about cars running you over or stopping at traffic lights…

9. The ground is far better for you than constant pavement pounding. Especially if you’re coming back from injury, you’ll find a softer trail run works wonders when you’ve been hammering it a bit too hard on an unforgiving surface. I often find that some of my niggles are markedly less niggely on softer terrain.

10. Mud! You can slide through it, try and scoot round it, lose a shoe in it (me three weeks ago) – but whatever your take, ploughing through mud and puddles feels remarkedly fun and childlike (same for kicking leaves). Trainers wash, socks wash, you can have a shower – just go for it!

So there you go – trails are fab and if you’ve got the opportunity, go for it and don’t worry! Even when you’re in London, get off the pavements, run on the grass in the Royal Parks, try Hampstead Heath or Wimbledon Common. The North and South Downs are also both pretty handy via a train from Clapham Junction!

Do you do much trail running? What’s your favourite part about it?

Building dat booty: Curvebuilding with Corpao Fitness

This post is for gym bunnies and non-gym bunnies alike and it’s about a very serious subject guys. A very serious subject indeed. So, buckle up because we are about to talk about the booty. The glutes. Dat ass. The wagon. The rump. The derriere. The junk in the trunk, yo. You catch my drift.

One of the nice side effects of being one of those people that plays a bit of sport and does the odd (or indeed more frequent) bit of training, is that your physique starts to shape up. Sure, we’re not all instagrammable fitness models (in fact the last thing I posted on our joint Insta account was a picture of my toe after my toenail fell off… true story: I had to shave my toe before I took the photo lest it was deemed just TOO gross by Katie, or indeed any of our lovely followers. But I digress.), but there is no harm at all in being bloody proud of the body you have worked hard for or when you achieve a particular goal you’ve set for yourself.

One of the things I’m working on at the moment, with the help of my long-suffering and eternally patient boyfriend, is squats – I have another post in the pipeline to talk about this some more – but one of the things I have read a lot about in relation to this recently is that squats alone does not a cracking booty make. Rather, if your goal is to work on the shape and lift of your butt, you need to complement those squats with other targeted exercises.

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Looking good whilst working hard

So Thursday morning I tweeted something with regards to ‘active makeup’ (Primark’s finest!) now being an actual thing and my thoughts on that – and I’ve been bombarded with responses on both sides of the fence (by bombarded, I mean like, 10 replies) Unfortunately, Twitter has a habit of being a bad place to get into a discussion because 140 characters is literally NOT ENOUGH! So I’m here because I want to open up the conversation and share some of my broader thoughts on the subject.

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