My marathon plans for Sunday and charcoal beauty

My 11th marathon is on Sunday. The Bournemouth Marathon. The only marathon I’ve previously done before.

I don’t tend to like to do the same marathons again as I think that, because they’re so epic, it’s nice to do different ones. Experience a new place, carve out new memories from the blood, sweat and tears… but Bournemouth is a little different for me. I have a few “heebie jeebie” feelings about it because it’s the only marathon I’ve done where I’m not proud of my performance and I really didn’t enjoy.Bournemouth marathon 5I felt something not quite right in my knee around mile eight and by mile 12 I was really uncomfortable, and mile 16 in pain. By mile 22 I was run-walking and mile 24 just walking. Barely. I was crying as I crossed the finish-line. Not out of happiness or relief, but out of pain. I was then injured for a significant amount of time after that race. To continue running the race was a stupid decision. One I hope not to recreate in any race going forward.IMG_5016So I have some bad vibes with this race. I wanted to re-do it to erase those bad memories and, well, unfinished business and all that. Like I’ve said in previous posts, I’m not sure how I’m going to run it (one foot in front of the other’s a good start…). In terms of paces…ack, I don’t know. I want to have an enjoyable experience…but I also want to see where I’m at. I’ve had a *fairly* good lead-up to this marathon (albeit with the snaggle of an injury) and I do feel like I have some good endurance strength in me. Speed? Not so much.

One day I promise I’ll actually train with the intention to go into a marathon and bravely say, “I’m going to go for a time near my PB” but, being 100% realistic here, that is not this marathon. I would blow up by 14-16 miles. So I have a conservative approach of aiming for around 8.20-30s to start and see how I feel as I get past half-way and towards the 18-20 mile area. If I feel like it’s too hard, I’ll drop the pace back (by mile 10 for definite) but if I feel good I’ll give it some welly in the last 10k and hang on for dear life.

But, as I always say, you never know with a marathon. I may not even finish. I may crumble. A marathon can chew you up and spit you out, however well or badly you’ve trained. Such is its beauty. So I’ll go into it giving it the respect it deserves. I’ll take nothing for granted and listen to my body, my heart rate, my breathing and mentally what I’m feeling. The rest is in the hands of the running gods.

Activated Charcoal Products Review

So it seems that charcoal products seem to be very “in vogue” right now. Activated charcoal sounds all rather posh and interesting. Basically charcoal becomes activated when acid or steam are combined with carbon rich materials such as wood, coal, rye starch or coconut shells and then these “unlock” the billions of tiny pores within the carbon materials. This makes it really absorbent and helps pull impurities from the skin and remove bacteria effectively. I was recently sent some “home-made” charcoal supplements, charcoal toothpaste and a charcoal face mask.

Ecodenta Extra Black Whitening Toothpaste with Black Charcoal & Teavigo 

I’ve tried charcoal toothpaste before and though it wasn’t unpleasant and I did get on with it, the taste was something I needed to get used to. Happily this brand tasted far better! Very much more similar to regular minty toothpaste.My teeth felt and looked lovely and clean after brushing. It’s hard obviously to compare to regular toothpaste but my mouth felt clean. What I will say, however, is that the blackness of the toothpaste has slightly coloured my toothbrush’s white bristles a grey colour and it can make a bit of a mess in a white sink. But it doesn’t stain, it just requires a bit of care.Sukin Oil Balancing + Charcoal Anti-Pollution Facial Masque 

I was also sent a face mask. I’m really not that great with beauty or skincare regimes. Literally all I do is wash my face in the morning and evening with water. I don’t cleanse, tone, moisturise or wear make-up. Actually that’s a lie, I’ve recently been using an eyebrow pencil to keep my eyebrows tidy (they’re quite dark so if I’ve been a bit too keen in the eyebrow plucking department then filling in the gaps makes things a bit neater). So a face mask isn’t really something I use. However, it is something I always think looks quite fun and my skin would probably benefit from doing once in a while. A “once in a while” style regime is my kinda bag for beauty.It’s also ridiculous therapeutic and fun to apply. It goes on lovely and smooth and dries quite quickly. Then you just leave it on and go about life for 10 minutes (in the confines of the safe environment where no one will witness). It’s got a great natural looking list of ingredients as well, which I always appreciate.It easily washes off as well which is a relief. I used a flannel and only took about five minutes to get off. My skin did feel cleaner afterwards and “fresh”.

Holland & Barrett Charcoal Supplements

I was also sent some charcoal supplements.I literally had no idea what these were for. I Googled it to find that apparently they can help treat flatulence… well, what do you know eh! They absorb the excess gas apparently and can reduce bloating. OK then!I don’t have bloating problems (or excessive gas, just to be clear here) but I was intrigued. I will hold my hands up and say that though I don’t bloat or fart excessively, when I’ve had maybe a few too many sprouts or vegetables in general (onion really does a number on me weirdly) I do bloat. I think this is normal for most people, right? Anyway, I’ve been taken these tablets regularly and those sorts of moments of vegetable over-consumption have produced less bloating than ordinarily would. I mean, I’m no scientist but I do  think it helped a little. I can’t promise it would work though for people with chronic bloating issues or after a mammoth curry. WHO KNOWS.

All these items can be found from Holland and Barrett.

Have you ever tried charcoal products?

Do you always a strategy going into a race like a marathon?

Have you ever done a race again to erase the bad memories you’ve had before?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free in return for a review post. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

parkrun, long running and a natural body polish review

This weekend was a really quiet one. I had no plans for once and it was a great time to catch up on house chores and jobs and have a chilled weekend.

I went to Netley parkrun on the Saturday morning. It was a warm morning but windy. I took Alfie along again with me. Now that it’s summer it’s so nice to be able to bring him so he can have a good run about while we set the course up. I don’t always bring him with me to parkrun though because I have to have someone to look after him while I run. My running friend Mike has been bringing his daughter, Kelci, to parkrun lately and she enjoys looking after Alfie, which is very helpful.I always feel so mean leaving Alfie at home while I go off running on a Saturday morning, especially when the weather’s so nice. So I’m very grateful for Kelci helping out! They’re planning on getting a dog of their own so it’s good practice.

I headed to the loo for a quick pre-parkrun pee to find a gathering of people and locked toilets. The person who normally unlocks them was late. Suddenly my desire for a wee intensified, purely on the basis that I might not be able to relieve myself! One of the parkrun regulars, an older and lovely lady, stated rather elegantly that she was “off to find herself a bush”. She said it in such a dignified and polite way it made me chuckle. Luckily though it wasn’t that much longer before the caretaker showed up with the keys. Whew!

And then onto the start and a squinty selfie.The sun was shining and I was fancying a time of around 22-23 minutes. With the wind and temperature I knew realistically breaking 22 minutes wasn’t going to happen, especially after having quite a heavy week of running for me (the intervals on Tuesday and a nine miler with my friend on Thursday evening). As soon as I started running I knew I should have had a warm-up. Why don’t I ever learn? Trying to run fast straight from the start never works and I feel terrible on mile one. It wasn’t hugely busy as the Endure 24 event in Reading was on and a lot of my club and other local clubs were doing it. The Isle of Wight Festival was on as well.I got stronger and felt better as the run continued thankfully (which is why I should warm up!). I waved to Kelci and Alfie on the way round, not that Alfie took a blind bit of notice as he was having far too much fun sniffing and playing with Kelci.The photographer, Chris Stapleford, took all the running photos this week so a big thank you to him. He said to me afterwards that I was one of the few runners that consistently smiled all the way round. Well, I don’t know quite about that as every photo I seem to be looking very serious!!In the end I got 22:05 which I’m chuffed with (damn those 6 seconds though…).Netley parkrun always seems to be a bit short on the Garmin because we go into the trees for a bit of it and it messes with the satellite. We’ve been reassured it’s accurate after several times measuring the course but it does annoy me when Strava thinks it’s 3 or 2.9 miles.

My running friend, Kate, was running with a buggy and she mentioned afterwards how she finds it annoying when people overtake her, cut in front and then slow down right in front of the buggy. I never really considered what running with a buggy would be like and it was interesting to hear Kate’s perspective. I always tend try to get past buggies as it can be annoying to get stuck behind one but Kate’s a fast runner so it must be very frustrating when people will assume she’s slow and just hurry past and then slow down again in front of her simply because she has a buggy. I know it bugs me when people do it to me on the motorway. If you’re going to overtake, maintain that speed afterwards!

I munched on two cookies afterwards (I do love it when it’s someone’s milestone!) and helped clear the course. Another solid parkrun complete.

The next day I had a long run planned with Mike and Kate, aiming for around 13 miles. As I’ve said before, I’m really enjoying running with others and obviously running with Mike is good training as we’ll be running the New Forest Marathon together eventually (me pacing him).

Happily we met at the very socially friendly time of 9am (I like my 8am lie-ins on a Sunday!). It was a very warm morning so we all took water with us. We stuck to around 9 min/miles which felt comfortable but not as comfortable as it might have felt on a cooler day.Annoyingly I stopped my Garmin and saved it again when we crossed for some lights. SO annoying. The route we took is a really boring and annoying route, one I only do if I’m running with others. It becomes more undulating in the later part of the run which is never fun. But it did the job. For Mike to get a sub-4 we need to be running around 9 minute miles for the marathon, though the plan is to start a bit slower than this and pick it up later. I think he found the run quite tough but we’ve only really just started marathon training and it was a very hot day. Plus I think we’re both conscious of how we run the day before at parkrun will definitely have an effect on the next day’s running, so that’s something to bare in mind going forward.

And now onto a review of a body polish I’ve recently been using. When it comes to cosmetics and skincare I’m somewhat…lacklustre? I don’t really have a “routine”. I used to be really good about cleansing and toning, but now? Eh…not so much. I just can’t be bothered. I’m lucky to have good skin (asides from the occasional spot now and again) and I don’t wear make-up so really I don’t do much else than wash with water. When it comes to the shower I just use a shower gel.

I find though I do get a bit of dry skin on my legs so moisturise those after showering. So when I heard about the Beauty Kitchen’s Inspire Me Brightening & Toning Body Polish I was quite intrigued. I’ve found in the past exfoliating can help with my dry skin and this sounded like a really nice product. It contains minerals and naturals oils for detox, exfoliation and rejuvenation. It’s also never tested on animals and suitable for vegans.I use a scoop of it when I’m in the shower and basically rub it all over my legs in a circular motion. You can feel the grainy texture of it working with (against?) your skin as you do so. Then I shower it off. It does take some showering to get it off though as it is quite oily but afterwards my legs felt so silky! And the smell is heavenly. I don’t use it every time I shower because who has time for that!? But I try and use it once every two or three days and honestly it feels quite indulgent.My only annoyance is that it leaves little black flecks in my shower that I then have to use the shower head to wash away. But it’s worth it as my legs are super shiny!  It’s available from Holland & Barrett at £14.99, which is quite pricey (especially for someone who leans towards the cheaper shower gels…). But you only need a small scoop each time so I can see this lasting me a while. I love how natural the product is too. Thumbs up!

How was your weekend?

Do you have a skincare regime?

Do you have routes you’ll only run with other people on?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the body polish for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Mio Skincare review

I am a low maintenance female when it comes to beauty regimes. I’ll do the basics but when it comes to make-up, cleansing, toning, deep conditioning, face masks, facials…nope.

I got in to a really good routine a few weeks ago of painting my nails, but then that sort of stopped. It’s just so hard to sit still for the time it takes for the nails to dry. No snacking, no fidgeting, nothing! I pluck my eyebrows and straighten my hair – I’d say that they’re my ‘superfluous’ beauty things above and beyond the basics society requires of me. And straightening my hair takes one minute as really is more an OCD thing of neatening things up as my hair is dead straight anyway…it sadly never curls (don’t get me started on blow drying though – takes forever!).

So when Mio Skincare contacted me to review a few items of their range I thought, “Me? Really?”. I had a look on their website and surprisingly wasn’t confused by the different products, which for me is a great start (BB cream anyone? What even is that??), but quite intrigued. This looks like my kinda stuff!

Mio Skincare

I was sent the Boob Tube+ Multi-Action Bust Firmer, the Workout Wonder Invigorating Muscle Motivating Gel and the Natural Dry Body Brush.

Boob Tube+ Multi-Action Bust Firmer

Mio Skincare Boob Tube+

OK so when I first saw this product I was a bit like “well, this isn’t going to be that useful to me”. I’m not exactly the most blessed of women in that area. Cleavage – what’s that like?? But actually it’s not aimed at big breasted ladies looking for a cheap lift. It’s more to do with the skin quality around your boob-area – as in your chest and neck (décolleté if you will).

That area of the skin is very delicate and usually sees quite a bit of the sun, so wrinkles and lines (especially on the neck) are quite common. This product (from their website), aims to:

  • Keeps lines and crinkles at bay so thin skin stays smooth
  • Visibly healthier, fitter, glowing skin within days
  • Skin brightening actives take years off sun damaged skin

It has a whole bunch of rather impressive ingredients…

Mio Boob Tube InggredientsSource

Thoughts? It smelt amazing and it absorbed into my skin like a dream. It left my skin feeling lovely and soft. I can’t confirm or deny my boobs are any more perky (I’m 27, small-boobed and have no kids, I can’t say I’ve had any issues in this area) but I do love this. It made me feel like I was doing something good for my skin.

Workout Wonder Invigorating Muscle Motivating Gel

Bio Muscle Moisturiser

This definitely got me excited. A moisturiser that helped relieve sore muscles?? Sign me up!

The idea is that it cools and ‘revs’ up your muscles, either pre or post workout. It has ingredients such as V-Tonic TM, extracts of Arnica, Horse Chestnut, Murumuru Butter, Spearmint and natural Magnesium to to help increase circulation, reduce inflammation and speed up recovery.

Thoughts? It smells lovely and minty and it definitely feels very cooling when you put it on. My legs were tingling, but in a very pleasant way. Again it absorbs easily without being greasy. I am a big fan of this. I used it after the marathon and it was a dream.

Natural Dry Body Brush

Mio skin brush

I’m sure all us females have tried using a body brush before in the desperate hopes of reducing/eliminating cellulite. Anyone succeeded? Yeah didn’t think so. Cellulite is the curse of 99% of women, whether it’s a smattering of tiny dimples or the full-blow orange peel, cottage cheese effect. It sucks but it’s life. This body brush is aimed reduce cellulite by helping with lymphatic drainage and removing toxins. It’s also aimed to exfoliate the skin making it softer and smoother.

It’s made of natural boar bristles and has rubber massage nodules so gives a nice feel to the massaging. You can brush dry or wet though I preferred dry, just before I got into the shower.

Thoughts? I liked using it on my legs mainly to get rid of dead skin cells. It left them nice and soft. I had to make sure I moisturised afterwards though as I found it can dry out your skin. As for smoothing…the jury’s out. It did liven up my legs a bit and increase blood flow but as for giving me Victoria Secret-esque worthy legs, doubtful. But it was a nice treat that I’ll probably do it once every week at the weekend to keep myself nice and exfoliated.

Overall, very high-quality feeling products that made me feel like I was treating myself.

What are you absolute musts for your beauty regime?

Would you say your high or low maintenance?

What is your least part of your beauty regime? Mine is blow-drying my hair. I’d happily pay someone to do it for me while I did something else.

**Full Disclosure: I was sent these products for free in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own honest ones.**

Flexitol foot moisturiser review

Hello! I’m back in the UK again now after a fantastic holiday in Iceland. Honestly, I can’t recommend it enough and I’m so glad I got to go out there (all that passport drama was worth it!). I’ll obviously do a full recap but as I only got back last night it’ll have to wait for a bit.

Until then I have a review of a foot care product called Flexitol. Flexitol have created a range of products that are aimed to treat those dreaded foot issues, such as dry and flaky heels, hard skin and also more serious ailments associated with diabetes.

Now, as a runner my feet are obviously hugely important to me. I need them to be shipshape in order to survive the miles I run on a weekly basis. However, as long as they’re functioning well I tend to ignore their appearance. I will rarely show my feet off or walk around barefooted in front of people. As you can imagine, running doesn’t do much in terms of making my feet look particularly nice. I’ve had my share of black toenails, blisters and dry skin. Aren’t I delight??

Running photo

My feet don’t usually get the love and attention that they deserve. So when Flexitol sent me their moisturising foot cream to test out, it was quite a novelty for my feet. [Don’t worry, there won’t be any bare foot photos in this post as I’m sure I’m not alone when I say no one wants to see my feet (or feet in general).]

Flexitol moisturising cream

The cream was really quite light and absorbed into my skin easily and quickly. I hate it when a cream leaves you feeling greasy (body butters, I’m looking at you). The cream’s enriched with lots of good stuff:

  • Urea: Helps to increase the amount of water that the skin holds, whilst decreasing the amount of water lost from skin’s surface. It also helps to gently exfoliate rough and dry surface skin
  • Lanolin: Helps to restore and maintain moisture balance
  • Decyl Oleate: Promotes long-lasting softness and smoothness of the skin
  • Vitamin E: Helps the skin to be quickly restored to its silky-smooth and well-nourished, conditioned state


My mum gave the seal of approval as well. Now she is a lady who shows of her feet! She had bunions years ago but underwent a double operation to effectively break her feet back into place. For years she was embarrassed about her feet but now, since the operation, she loves showing them off and getting pedicures. She does have lovely feet – not runner’s feet like me! I let her try a bit of the cream on her feet and she loved it too. She often suffers with very dry heels (probably due to inadequate foot wear at work *cough cough*) and found using the cream helped relieve them and improve the skin quality.

The moisturisers is also good for people who suffer from Eczema and Psoriasis – you just need to use a bit more on those areas.

I definitely recommend it to keep those valuable runner’s assets in tip top condition! And maybe even make my feet a bit more worthy of the light of day…

How do you look after your feet?

Do you moisturise regularly?

**Full disclosure: I was sent the Moisturising Foot Cream for free in exchange of a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Rants and Raves #12

Well I haven’t done one of these posts in a while and I certainly have an abundance of rants stored up in me…but I’ll try and keep it balanced.

Rave: I’ve mentioned a few times about how my Garmin heart rate monitor strap rubs when I wear it. This is highly annoying considering it cost around £50 (separate from the actual watch). I don’t really do heart rate training with all the different zones but, like most runners, I love having all the stats from a run (oh the graphs! Oh the numbers! So much information!). It’s also handy to keep an eye on my heart rate when I’m doing a long run to make sure I’m not pushing too hard. But anyway the strap rubbed my chest and was quite painful, meaning I couldn’t wear it. Very frustrating considering I was able to wear my Polar HR strap when I went to the gym with no issues. I did try putting the actual HR bit on the Polar strap but it kept pinging off…so I did some Googling and found a way to overcome the chafe.

IMG_0289 Plasters! I found this out from the legendry running tech reviewer DC Rainmaker so I’m hugely grateful to him. I’ve had no issues since! The article is HERE. I’m stat happy once again 😀

Rant: Windy running. I don’t mind running when it’s cold, or wet, or really hot, or even in snow…but wind? Wind just sucks your soul and drains your energy like nothing else. I ran 17 miles on Sunday and it felt like I was being slapped by a wall of sea water as I ran along the coast. I ran past another runner and we looked at each other like “why are we out in this?!”. When I got home I then had to contend with the dread Post-Run Hair: Post-run crazy hair Luckily it didn’t take too long to comb through. Short-haired people and (the majority of) men, you are lucky!

Despite the hair issues, the run went well thankfully though my pace was all over the place despite trying to keep it consistent. Though I wanted the final mile to be faster so I could see how it felt on tired legs. It was tough!


And after last Sunday’s fun Southampton half running with a bunch of friends, this run was lonely and hard work. I’m wondering if I can tempt anyone to join me on my 18 miler in two weeks time – or at least part of it…It seems everyone else’s marathons have finished so there’s a severe lack of long run runners on Sundays now.

Rave: Kangaroo burgers at my friend’s BBQ. A local farm shop sells the most amazing meat and BBQ fodder that I couldn’t resist buying kangaroo burgers and some equally delicious red Thai chicken burgers.

Kangaroo burger Kangaroo burger

Kangaroo is a bit gamey and a bit beefy but very nice! The BBQ was on the Bank holiday Monday and was good fun, though slightly chillier than I had anticipated (I wore shorts: mistake). And two of my very talented friends baked cakes which were delicious. Homemade for the win every time.

BBQ cake (1)

How pretty is that cupcake on the right?? My friend Louise is so good at baking!

Rant: Headaches after my long runs. It doesn’t happen every time, but occasionally I’ll get an awful headache that just persists regardless of what I do. I drink a big 500ml of nuun after my run and drink through the day but I don’t drink on the actual run so maybe that’s it? I also try not to drink too much before running because I hate needing the loo half way through. Re-fuelling with lots of sugary cakes is probably not the best thing either. I know I need to be more sensible but all I want is cake when I do a long run! I feel like I’ve earnt it you know??

The Tea Room Lee-on-Solent Another afternoon tea session with my parents on Sunday – The Tea Room in Lee-on-Solent

Rave: Being in the paper! A lovely reader Tweeted me to say they saw me in their local paper. I was over the moon (so was my mum).


Our moment of fame!

The picture above the photo of my running friends and me is of another Hedge End Runner who ran both the Southampton 10k and the Southampton half (same day!) in a Cookie Monster outfit to raise money for charity – what a legend!

Rant: Being forced out of the communal gym area because one of the personal trainers wants to use it for his customers’ boot camp session. Now I wouldn’t mind so much if it was a proper scheduled class run by the actual gym and is pinned up on the board like the other classes (so I was aware), but this is his freelance work and so he really has no monopoly over the gym space. It’s rude and unfair. He pushed out another girl, three guys and me – we were not amused.

Rave: My mum gave me her spare hot sleeve for my hair straighteners so they can cool safely after I’ve used them (my mum is the type of woman who buys two of everything, just in case).

Hair straightener holder

It’s so useful! It means I don’t have to worry about the hot irons leaving marks anywhere or Alfie finding them (find it HEREnot an affiliated link, just if you’re interested!).

What are your recent rants and raves?

Do you get headaches after working out? Any tips?

Do you wear a heart rate monitor when working out?