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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The Big D

We’re into sports and we’re into fitness, but we’re also into well-being and mental health is an enormously important part of that. The Big D is a new blog by a close friend who shares his experiences of depression. We think it’s fantastically well written and opens up an important conversation that we should all be comfortable having. Give it a read and let us know your thoughts!

The big D

The big “D”. Depression. Maybe not what you thought… naughty!

There, I’ve written it. I’ve also just said it.

I’ve become more and more thoughtful about how my mind is actually processing day to day life. I’m also ashamed to admit that I built up such a stigma about mental health and being depressed, that it has taken me over 4 years to admit it. Quite simply put, I was a stubborn sod, who refused the admit that a person like me would actually have depression. What do I, have to be depressed about!?

Thinking about it though, my brain was actually quite clever. It’s stamped out, spun around negativity and refused to accept that I’m not myself – what ever that is! It’s clever because I know I want to be happy and my first way of dealing with unhappy feelings is to refuse to acknowledge they’re there.

I…

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REVIEW: The Castle Centre – Everyone Active

The good people at Everyone Active have recently taken over the running of several local authority leisure centres in London, including The Castle Centre, Marshal Street Leisure Centre, Seymour Sports Centre and Porchester Centre & Spa. We’re pretty fond of their mission: to encourage more people to participate in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, five times a week, and were totally delighted when they asked us to come and check out their newly renovated centres and their facilities.

The Castle Centre is handily located a 10min cycle from my office and on my way home, so I had literally no excuse not to go for a snoop around, and by jingo am I glad I did. I hadn’t been to The Castle Centre before the renovation, but I have no doubt that it has entirely transformed since reopening – the way it is designed means it is full of light and absorbs a huge number of people without it feeling overcrowded, which is handy if you are heading in during the post-work crush.

As you approach the centre, the thing that strikes you immediately is the super-cool, fluorescent sign that sits, human-height, in the floor-to-ceiling window on the first floor, above the front door. It’s the first glimpse of the vibe I think they’re going for in their gym. It’s erring towards a Gym-boxy sort of funkiness, but without being enormously overpriced and full of meatheads. Head up to the first floor and you’ll find the brilliantly kitted out gym – all the cardio and free weights you could ask for an resistance machines for everything, including muscles I didn’t even know I had. My only criticism of the resistance machines is that they aren’t truly weighted, rather you set the resistance by pushing a button that taughtens the cable which you have to push or pull against – so how are you supposed to know how much you’re lifting? Equally though, everything is well maintained and pristinely clean and tidy.

This leisure centre is truly inclusive and appealing to everyone, as evidenced by the packed, shriek-filled swimming pool during family friendly swimming times. This also makes for a chilled out gym – there’s people of all different shapes, sizes, levels of fitness and sporting interests. Sure, there are occasionally a couple of blokes gurning in the mirror whilst lifting with questionable form, but there’s nothing of the uber-lad about this place. I felt just as comfortable swinging a kettle about on a mat as I would have done in the privacy of my own bedroom.

As well as a fab gym, there is a good-sized spinning studio, thought the number and selection of spinning classes is a tad limited currently, with only two pre-work sessions a week currently. Being so close to the City, it seems a shame they don’t take advantage of the current wellbeing trend and offer more lunchtime sessions. Next door to the cycling studio is the large general studio where they have piles of equipment including boxing gloves,pads and bags; assorted dumbells, kettlebells and medicine balls; mats; steps and exercise balls. It’s a fitness class fan’s sweetshop. Which leads me to my main criticism of the Centre.

On seeing the plethora of kettlebells in the studio, I was intrigued. I love a good kettlebelling, me. So, on my way out I stopped at the reception desk to ask for their guidance on what classes I could book in order to use them. Unfortunately, I was met with a look of beffudlement. In fact, when I probed them on the Group Exercise more broadly, they weren’t able to give me much detail on any of the classes and couldn’t tell me what any of them entailed, other than that a step is used in Step. This was a problem I found when attending the Body Conditioning class, which you can read about here – though it has to be said, the class itself was enjoyable. In an attempt to be all things to all people, I think Everyone Active has written some seriously generic copy in their class descriptions, which is pretty unhelpful.

In all, I think the facilities at the Castle Centre easily rival the likes of Virgin Active and LA Fitness but the classes and their availability have got a bit of a way to go. If you live or work in that neck of the woods, give it a whirl.

 

Mini Recipe Book: Healthy, nutritious meals from Body FX

We were delighted when Body FX approached us to make a couple of contributions to their recipe book designed to “help you understand the principles of eating for optimal health and supporting cellular function for targeted fat loss or muscle building gains”. This ain’t no diet plan, y’all, it’s a 45 page book of tasty, nutrient-dense recipes that are easy to follow and prevent you falling into the “chicken and broccoli trap”. Because man cannot live on broccoli alone, y’hear!

Click here to get access to the ebook (which, by the way, is FREE)

A whole bunch of awesome fitness enthusiasts and fitness bloggers such as Richard Scrivener, Danielle (Take the Lunge),  Amanda Bootes, Kara Godfrey, Jennifer Helen, Laura White, Stephanie Grace and Emma Campbell have provided recipes, as well as us. But you, our awesome followers, can find a little sneak peek of what the book has to offer below… Continue reading

10 Problems Sporty Girls Will Understand

RE-POST! 10 Problems Sporty Girls Will Understand #sportygirlproblems

These Girls Do

Here’s a popular one from the archives for you peeps – still as true as ever! We’d love to hear your #sportygirlproblems in the comments below or on Twitter

1. Your bedroom is perpetually in need of hoovering.

Especially if you play anything that involves wearing studded or moulded boots… Why is it so damn hard to get rid of every last bit of mud / grass / dirt? Or worst of all, these little blighters:

artificial turf

Whoever thought 3G pitches were a good idea has CLEARLY never spent entire weeks, post-training session, picking rubber pellets out of crevasses they hadn’t realised they had.

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10 tips for a confidence boosting run

Feeling a bit meh about your progress? I have been recently, especially on the long run front. However – today was a different story, and I think there are a few things that contributed to it.

I realised today that the 24th April really isn’t that far away. 4 weeks on Sunday aka 30 days. And, as off this morning, I hadn’t really had any solid long runs. A crappy 19 and a supposed 19 that was actually a 17 because I got the bus back from Earlsfield because I was just fed up (LOL the benefits of living in London!) There have probably been some OK 15-16s, but nothing really to write home about.

On the plus side, my speed is still sticking around – I had a pretty decent run at the SEAA relays last week at Gravesend, clocking a 6.17 average and hopping my team up a place, which I was quite happy to have done on leg 5, but it was only just shy of 3 miles…nothing major to write home about when you are supposed to be marathon training.

However, back to today – 19.5 miles and I enjoyed pretty much every minute of it. I might not be quite where I want to be as life has VERY much got in the way of training, but today was a perfect mental boost that everything little thing is gonna be alright (singing some Bob Marley here)

So read on for a few tips to help you get your head back in the game, fall in love with running again and, most importantly (well at least for me right now), help you realise that you can achieve your goals…

  1. Enlist company

My mum had her final long run before Manchester on the plan for today. So we started out together and did the first 5 as a team, before I started to play. My dad also kept popping up on his bike and then we all went for breakfast after. There’s something about taking a chunk of a long run up with other people that makes it SO much more bearable. It distracts you and allows you to relax a bit. Running can be a lonely sport – and the more time you spend with your own thoughts, the more time you put an internal pressure on yourself.

  1. Take a route away from your usual.

Switch it up! It’s BORING doing the same thing day in day out. I’ve got used to the same routes and it’s making things stale. It was so nice to be doing my long run out of London. I mean, Richmond Park and the Thames path are lovely as far as London goes, but just getting there stresses me out – traffic, people, too much crossing of roads. I was back in the country lanes, with great scenery and the odd hill here and there. Mentally, this allowed me to switch off a bit more and it seemed like less of a chore. Plus I got views like this:

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  1. Do something a bit different.

I changed it up. I knew I wanted to do around 20 miles. I didn’t know what pace, or if I was doing a few at planned marathon pace in the middle. So instead, I did 5 easy with mum, then proceeded to do 1 around 10-15s faster than PMP (so around 7.35ish), then turn back round and go and find her again and do a slow mile. So this times 5. Which took me to 15. And then really, I didn’t have that many miles left to go! I got to 15 without feeling like I had got to 15, and my focus was a mile at a time rather than the whole 20. Yes, a training plan is generally needed, but it’s not the script of life. One deviation won’t ruin your race.

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  1. Have a vague, not an exact plan

My mum had planned a route, I hadn’t. All I knew was where I needed to be for breakfast. My choice to do on/off miles 100% was not in the plan. It started really so that I could keep running with her but then I kept it going. Then I changed my route in my head. And it all worked out OK.Not worrying about the exact second you have to meet per mile takes a heck of a lot off your mind. I mean the downside is, you end up 10 miles from your front door, so do make sure you check a map.

  1. Don’t be afraid to take a step back.

Around mile 18 I cut into a footpath and there was a fiddly gate. I took a minute or after going through so to regroup and you know what…the world didn’t collapse around me. If you need to walk, stop, breathe, drink, take a week off, take a month off, then do it. It is 100% OK.

  1. Take the pressure off

I didn’t really think about what I was doing today. There was no “I must run at this pace for this long” And you know what…I ran exactly what I needed to! I ran more by feel than looking at my watch and it was a pleasant surprise. I did far better than I was expecting myself to. So throw caution to the wind, leave the garmin at home, turn the screen to be under your wrist, set yourself certain points to check it – running isn’t all about a numbers game, and you may be shocked by what you can do when you aren’t forcing yourself to do it.

  1. Don’t panic.

During the faster one miles, I felt like I was out of my depth. Which is ridiculous, I know I can easily hold that pace for a mile. A bit of internal chit chat and a smoother pace helped me get to it. Panicking and trying to push my pace to make up for it just made me out of breath and even more stressed. Same with hills. Embrace them, don’t chase them.

  1. Pick a nice day.

Unfortunately, not always possible, but today it definitely helped. Spending most of the week slogging away in the cold and when it’s always dark isn’t the most inspiring. Good Friday and a day off couldn’t come at a better time. If the sun is out, drag yourself out – you’ll feel better for it.

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  1. Give yourself time.

Again, one that isn’t always possible, but going for a run when there is no pressure to be back is perfect. You aren’t rushing, therefore your time and distance doesn’t matter. And you’ve got time to stretch, relax and wind down at the end of the run. I HATE constantly checking my watch to make sure I’m going to be back in time to get ready for work. You lose the sense of freedom which is so integral to running.

  1. Set yourself a fun activity at the end

We went for a family breakfast at our favourite post run cafe. I knew I had something to look forward to and that helped me take my mind off it. It also meant I knew where I was ending up – so I knew exactly how much longer I had to push for. Visualise the end and it makes it a heck of a lot easier to imagine yourself there.

  1. Remember why you run

Simple as. You wouldn’t be a runner if you didn’t enjoy it in some way shape or form. People fall in and out of love with running on a regular basis and there is a simple way to Make a run happen in the way that helps you reconnect with the reason you love running. This is different for different people – it might be hitting fast 400s, it might be reaching the top of a tough climb, it might be simply feeling the breeze in your hair. You do you. It’s the best way to bring you back to your senses. Take your watch off. Throw caution to the wind. If you need to take a few days off, do it. If you need a few weeks off, do it. Do what it takes to get your head back in the game – running is a one person activity and you’re in charge.

So, anything else? How do you get out of a rut? Any particular workouts that you know will make you feel on top of things?

 

The New Year Bandwagon – Ditch the detox and kick-start healthy habits instead

It’s January. I had a hectic December and, much like everyone else, ate and drank waaaaay too much. On top of that, I am four months in to a significant change of lifestyle, i.e. student life, and playing a lot less sport as a result. Things were beginning to look grim. Not to mention wobbly. Something had to give, so here I am shamelessly piggybacking off Katie’s recent post about Dry January and friendly sabotage to talk about the January Bandwagon.

It’s still one of the most popular New Year’s resolution in the UK – “I will lose weight”, so people up and down the country part with wodges of cash to join gyms (a lot of Twitter angst was felt towards this by regular gym bunnies) and slimming clubs. Now, I’m not in dire straits by any stretch, so paying to have someone weigh me once a week and talk about ‘syns’ or ‘points’ wasn’t something I felt I needed to do, and as someone who already hits the gym of my own accord I felt fairly well equipped to take myself in hand, but having stood on the scale on New Year’s Eve morning to be faced with 69kgs it was clear I needed to do something. Now.

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Picking the right marathon plan for you

As I am sure many of you will have noticed, it is now December. That is bad enough. Which means January isn’t that far away…which therefore means…MARATHON TRAINING! (Or not for the sensible ones around)

I haven’t yet found myself a training plan. I’m toying between a few options, including dropping down to three runs a week (Furman/FIRST style), following a bog standard inter/advanced plan or getting some coaching advice.

I thought I would cover some of the basics of picking a training plan, as well as some considerations to make when putting it into practice. For some of you it might be your first marathon, or your fifth. But no matter what your experience levels, or your goals, you need to have some form of a rough plan and know how to tailor it for you – you are the one running, not your mum/friend/partner/colleague – so put yourself first.

I have learnt the hard way that sometimes, more miles aren’t necessarily better. The challenge personally for me is finding a plan that will get me around the 3.20-3.25 mark (there we go, I’ve written it down so it must be a real goal!) but without having to run 6 days a week because my body does not like that.

Disclaimer: I’m not a running professional and therefore I am not going to tell you exactly how you should pick a marathon training plan, nor should you heed my advice to the letter. 

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