Rave, rave, rave

I was thinking of doing a Rants and Raves post but actually I couldn’t really find much to rant about. What a problem eh!

I am in such a happy place right now. My life seems to be floating along so nicely! I know this is mostly due to changing jobs and changing up my routine but it really has made me a much happier person.

Rave: Speaking of routines, so as you probably know along with running, I love going to the gym as well. I enjoy the different type of workouts I can get; focusing on strength training and making myself stronger. After moving into my parent’s house I realised I needed to change my gym as it was now too far away to make logical sense.

I did a bit of hunting. I briefly, VERY briefly, considered joining a ridiculous expensive gym right next to work…and then found a far cheaper and 24/7 gym on the way to work. This was perfect because a) I don’t want to spend a fortune on some fancy shmancy gym which probably will have a ratio of 10:1 cardio to weights ratio and b) I like to go SUPER early. I’m not an evening gym person and I like starting the day with a workout. Plus going early means beating any crowds.So the gym I found (called 24/7 Fitness) is SO good. It has several different rooms, which I quite like. A room that’s like a Crossfit room with hanging ropes, TRX’s, a rower and a climbing frame type thing and lots of mat areas with free weights and dumbbells. It has another room focused on chest presses and chest isolation machines. Another one focused on leg weights with squat racks etc. and then a room with just free weights and benches. It also has a “women’s only” area… lots of machines, all pink (*sighs*) – at least it’s not just full of cardio machines, eh! And a few other rooms with more machines and then cardio equipment. It is a bit shabby but I’m not there to admire the paintwork so it suits me fine.I drive there after walking Alfie, do my thing and then shower and get ready there. Other than making me get super organised the night before with packing what I need to take with me (so far no forgotten bra yet) but it’s saved me so much time sitting in traffic as I’m past all the busy stuff before the gym and then it’s a quick 10 mins from the gym the rest of the way. What a win!

Rave: Finding the most comfy and well-fitting jeans! As a runner my legs tend to have problems with fitting into jeans (hey there strong thighs). It’s mainly just the ratio of my body I guess. I’m sure non-runners feel this exact pain as well because, let’s be honest, we all have different shapes, lumps and bumps.I don’t regularly shop in Top Shop as it’s a bit…young?… for me. It’s like when you scroll too far on the Forever21 website and you go, “really, who actually wears this?”. But Top Shop have consistently done be well when it comes to jeans. I like that they do a waist measurement and a leg measurement. I popped quickly in there one day after work (SO MUCH MORE TIME IN LIFE!) and saw a pair that looked nice along with a lovely jumper and didn’t bother trying them on as I was heading to Nando’s with a friend. I could return them at the weekend if they didn’t fit so it wasn’t an issue.

BUT MY GOD. They fit like a glove, AND are super comfy. I love them.

Rave: Muffin market research… it was such a stroke of luck that this happened on the Wednesday. Any other day and I probably wouldn’t have seen it. But on a Wednesday I go downstairs to the Starbucks and was thus able to spot the market research table that had been set up…Muffins! Muffins galore! They had a load of different samples for people to try of either lemon, chocolate or blueberry muffins. You had to give your preference of muffin in terms of texture, taste and appearance. I mean, it was a tough job but I stepped up to the bar. I probably ate about four muffins in total. I was surprised at how much I quite enjoyed the chocolate muffins. Normally I’m not a big fan (well, actually I’m normally not a big muffin fan in general but they were free…). Some of the chocolate muffins had this delicious chocolaty oozy middle which worked against the dryness issue that muffins often face. Delicious!

Rave: New trainers. To put my work discount to good use I bought a pair of these ASICS Gel-Exalt. I get on well with ASICS and they’re a great colour.It’s funny because as I was packing before I moved back to my parents I actually found a pair of Adidas Boosts (Supernovas I believe) that have barely been worn so despite buying a brand new pair of trainers I actually don’t need them just yet. Always handy to have a few pairs to rotate with too!

Biggest rave of all: If you follow me on any form of social media (Instagram, Twitter, Strava or Facebook) then you’ll probably already know that the Bournemouth Marathon went very well for me. I’ll be (hopefully) getting my recap post up this week. I’m SO glad it went well and I can now look back at Bournemouth fondly and wear the marathon t-shirt with pride.What do you look for in a gym?

Have you ever taken part in any market research before?

What do you look for in a muffin?

Rants and Raves #39

A Friday post for you! And I’m ranting and raving… sorry for the complete randomness of this.

Rave: Well I really have no excuse not to go to the local 5k race that takes place literally at my work. We have this lovely lake right next to the big office building (which is why it’s called Lakeside…) and there is a 5k series (Lakeside 5k) that goes on on some Wednesday evenings during the summer. I’ve never gone before because I’ve never been able to get back from work in time and then get there…and it’s a 5k. I hate 5ks. However it was my friend’s birthday and he was going and it is literally at my work so I figured I best make an appearance! I’d probably only run 3-4 miles anyway on my own. It’s always nicer to run with other people.Anyway, loads of my running club turned up which was nice and my birthday buddy, Joe, so it was a lovely social evening. I did a 1.5 mile warm up round the lake with a couple of the guys and convinced myself a fast run was not happening. Why do warm-ups always feel so crap and you feel so sluggish?

But weirdly as soon as we started going as the race began my legs were like “let’s do this”. I managed to maintain a decent speed and chip away at my time as the miles continued. I overtook some Hedgies in front of me and tried to encourage them with me (without sounding like a cocky so and so). My friend, Robbie, was ahead and I caught up with him and we raced to the finish together. I was dying a death inside but Robbie managed to sprint ahead of me (I was barely maintaining my final burst of speed!) and slam dunked the finish. What a sprint finish! Super impressive. Apparently the fastest 5k he’s done in ages, so major kudos to him!

I’m also really pleased with my time. I got 21:26 which is definitely the fastest Ive run in a good while. But jeeeeze, it was tough! Glad I went though as it was some good speedy miles that I’d have never done on my own.

Rave: I’ve now been to the cinema three times in the past two weeks. This is incredible for me. I love watching films and I do love going to the cinema but with my (old) commute and needing to get back for Alfie…well, I just had no time in the evening to really do anything but walk Alfie, make and eat dinner and chill a little before bed! Now that I have more time in an evening and more time in the morning (so less ridiculously early mornings) I’ve been able to get out a bit more. Ahh freedom!

This does unfortunately mean spending more money. And this is both on eating out and the actual film. I’ve been eating at Nando’s each time before the cinema because it’s a) easy, b) relatively cheap (OK it’s not really for just chicken), c) I love it and it’s always a consistently good meal for me. It’s also not something super indulgent on a weekday (all about that balance). I can’t always avoid the temptation of a pudding in other restaurants, whereas at Nando’s I feel fully satisfied after my meal (always a whole chicken, plain, with a side salad and sometimes a corn on the cob depending how I feel) to be content with just a main (I say “just” but we all know it’s a ridiculous meal for a girl my size).

Anyway so recently I’ve seen The Black Tower, Logan Lucky and American Made. The Black Tower was tolerably interesting but ultimately I wouldn’t recommend at all. Logan Lucky was hilarious, quick-moving and definitely worth a watch. American Made was a good watch but it dragged a little. It’s Tom Cruise’s new one and he basically plays Tom Cruise. A fun evening though anyway.

This also means that when I listen to my two movie review podcasts (Empire and BBC Five Live Kermode & Mayo) I actually have an opinion on the films for once!

Rant: Ahh Game of Thrones is over. The last episode was really good and made me feel more positive towards it then some of the other episodes. I really can’t wait for the next two books to come out though to see how George R.R. Martin will deal with the different characters and story-line.

Rave: The Great British Bake Off is back! OK yes it’s moved to Channel 4 (overseas readers, this is such a bugbear for us Brits as it used to be on the BBC, so there weren’t any adverts and it had the very British charm and gentleness that the BBC bring to TV, whereas Channel 4 is a bit more racy and ‘different’). But this does mean that every Tuesday evening I’ll be craving cake *sighs*. I haven’t actually watched the first one yet due to my busy evenings but I’m excited to catch up.

Rave: Speaking of cake…We recently had a successful big project complete at Wiggle so cake and fruit was brought for everyone in the office.Now THIS is how you get and maintain good levels of morale in a workplace. OK, not just bringing in food, but the fact that the workforce is thanked in such a nice way. It’s the little things that really help keep things consistently happy in a workplace.The cakes were really good as well. Lots of different flavours. I had a chocolate one (not normally my flavour of choice when it comes to cake but it had a wedge of Galaxy chocolate in the icing…) and a carrot cake one. SO good.

Rant: It really annoys me when shops try to upmarket something that you can get somewhere else for like half the price. Popcorn kernels are easily available and far more affordable in supermarkets!Don’t be won over by the fancy packaging. Believe me, as a girl who regular pops her own popcorn. They’re the same kernels!

Rant: OK not really a rant but just a bit of a “what?”. These fluffy things seem to be everywhere… I see them all over people’s handbags.And don’t get me started on those weird furry sandal things (sliders?) that girls are wearing. They look like slippers! What is going on!?

Finally… Not sure if this is a rant or a rave. But on my walk with my dad the other day we walked past a farmer’s field to find a load of pumpkins appearing. Summer is definitely over!

Are you sad summer is coming to end?

Do you adorn your handbag with fluffy things or similar?

Does your work treat you to fun things and cakes?

Rants and Raves #36

Things have been fairly busy round here but I thought I’d drop in a little Rants and Raves posts because I do like getting these things off my chest 😉

Rant: So I bought new trainers straight after the Tokyo Marathon because I thought I’d like a fresh start and all that jazz. I’m a Mizuno, Brooks and ASICS fan, but I do tend to favour Mizuno. Or at least I did. I’ve actually been loving running in my Brooks Adrenaline GTS’s but Mizuno’s are a bit cheaper and in general I seem to wear them more. So for around £50 on Amazon I found my usual trainers and went for them.They’re the Mizuno Wave Paradox 2 – in such a lovely colour. I wore them on a few of my post-marathon runs and then hurt my ankle/lower calf. Since then I’ve not worn these trainers again. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the trainers that caused my injury and most likely was the fact that I jumped straight back into some tough running less than a week after a marathon…but my irrational brain doesn’t want to wear the trainers now! I know this is ridiculous. My Brooks will be seeing the end of their time soon and it seems ridiculous to buy another pair of new trainers just because I’ve convinced myself the above trainers aren’t good. Does anyone else get these irrational fears (almost superstitions) about things like this?

Rant: Easter eggs sitting in my living room but aren’t for me.Ahh the daily temptation. I’ve bought a selection of eggs for family and friends and I did this early so there wouldn’t be an issue closer to Easter. On that note, isn’t it ridiculous just how many eggs are sold over Easter? Supermarkets have stacks and stacks of them and yet still they’ll be a dearth of supplies the closer it gets to Easter. It does make me worry about the amount of food packaging waste generated…I hope people recycle where they can.

Also, let’s ignore that that’s a Lindt reindeer and not a bunny. I was going to buy a bunny when my mum told me she had one I could have instead as my parents don’t want any eggs or chocolate as they’re trying to be more healthy. However, it turns out she had a spare reindeer instead – from Christmas. *Sighs*

Rave: Being an adult now (well, in terms of my age anyway I suppose), I don’t get many Easter eggs. My parents still treat me to one. I’m very cheeky and ask for a ludicrously expensive one. However because I’m all “sad and alone with no one to love me” (I believe this is how my mother thinks of me now) they buy this to make up for things (“things” being that very generic and all-encompassing term for the fact that I’m still single). Behold the Extra Thick Patisserie Egg from Hotel Chocolat.

It contains *clears throat* two egg halves, one 50% milk chocolate and pecan praline to be like a pecan pie and the other caramel chocolate, mascarpone, yoghurt and pinch of salt to be like a salted caramel cheesecake. And the full of chocolates themed as puddings, such as carrot cake, treacle tart, Eton mess and fudge sundae, amongst others. The hardship will be trying to not eat this all at once – I think I might die of sugar overload otherwise.

Rant: And speaking of being all single and alone (by the way, this is entirely tongue and cheeky – I actually am very happy right now. If you intend on pitying me, please leave immediately), I have one dress that I can’t wear unless I’m getting changed at someone else’s house.It’s impossible. I can’t do up the back. I can’t do it up before I get into it because it’s too tight then to get over my shoulders or hips, and I can’t reach around because the buttons are tiny. When people make dresses they need to consider single people!

Whew, actually quite a few rants today!

Natruflex Supplement – The Naked Pharamacy

And lastly I have a review from a company called The Naked Pharmacy. This company is a “natural pharmacy dedicated to evidence-based natural medicines, nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals” [Source]. I was sent the Natruflex product.

This contains a high strength of turmeric and black pepper which provides a daily dose of 760mg total Curcuminoids and 19mg Piperine (95% strength of both active ingredients). Apparently these give joint and muscular benefits, reducing discomfort. The supplement also contains magnesium.

The supplement is gluten-free, suitable for vegetarians and not tested on animals.I had a little look on examine.com (which is a great website for checking scientific claims of supplements) and it seems there’s some evidence behind curcuminoid as being helpful to the body. But I’m neither a pharmacist nor a doctor (or anything science-related) so this is a very laymen point of view. I can’t say I’ve felt a huge difference but it is something I’d continue to take as I know how good turmeric is supposed to be for inflammation and, let’s be honest, I need all the help I can get to avoid injuries!

And finally, a lovely little Rave to finish off with. SUNSHINE! At the beach no less! Good days are coming, wheeee!

How are you enjoying these sunnier days?

Do you use turmeric to boost your body?

What Easter egg, if any, are you planning on eating?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the supplement from The Naked Pharmacy for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Things I’m Loving Lately

I’m fairly behind in my blog posting. I still have an epic food recap for Orlando and the MarathonTalk Run Camp to come, but while I work on those I have a quick post for things I’m loving lately.

Hard Rock Hotel: As I mentioned in my Orlando recap post, I stayed in the Hard Rock Hotel which was amaaazing. But yes fairly expensive. The room I stayed in was so nice. Oh the bed… the bed was super comfy! I actually had two beds which was amusing; which one to choose each night??And I don’t know if you can quite see, but on the mirror it has a measuring rule and then the heights listed for different famous people. I’m 5ft4(ish) so I’m around Madonna and Pink’s height apparently. Very cool.

And as the hotel was fairly expensive I had no issue in stocking up each day on the really fancy smelling bath products each day…I’m sure I’m not alone in doing this… because after all, these little shampoos and shower gels are so handy for when you next go away and don’t want to take a huge bottle with you!

Jam Bluetooth Speaker: My dad gave me this little speaker when he saw how I was playing music… through my phone and carrying it around the flat with me. He had one of these spare.The sound quality isn’t exactly Bose quality of course but it is a lot better than my phone! I love this little speaker as it means I can leave my phone on charge somewhere and still listen to music or a podcast. I usually listen while cooking so this is perfect.

Boots: During the winter I practically live in boots. I have a fair collection now, whether that’s ankle boots or more full leg boots. My mum recently passed these UGG boots on to me as she bought them on a whim and then found she actually didn’t like them (yes, my mum actually does this).Obviously it works out quite nicely for me! They’re so soft inside as they’re lined with sheep’s wool. But they’re suede so I have to be choosy when to wear them!

I also ‘splashed’ out on a pair of over the knee boots (they weren’t expensive at all!).But they’re great for the winter as they basically give you another layer over your legs over your jeans!

Chicken: It’s kind of become a Sunday tradition for me now to cook a whole chicken. I then carve it up and it gives me delicious roast chicken for the week. OK that’s a lie, it probably feeds me for four days… But that’s still pretty good.It may not surprise you that I love roast chicken so it’s always nice getting home from work knowing I have some in the fridge to throw into different meals that night.

And now on to a quick review…

Splat Blackwood Charcoal Toothpaste Review

Charcoal toothpaste you say? Doesn’t sound entirely pleasant, right? But withhold your judgement for just a bit…

So I was sent this charcoal toothpaste to review and was indeed fairly sceptical and a bit worried about the taste.

The company who made this, My Natural Smile, is a natural and organic teeth whitening and healthcare product specialists. My Natural Smile has been endorsed by the dental team at Visage, the UK’s best Private Dental Practice North as voted for at the Private Dentistry Awards 2016, as well as Avsan, one of the UK’s leading dental groups.

They argue that because your mouth is pretty significant gateway to your body and health, it’s probably a good idea to look into more natural and organic ways to strengthen gums, whiten, help sensitive teeth and bad breath.

There’s no alcohol or dodgy chemicals. The birch charcoal whitens enamel and absorbs odours, while juniper berry extract has antibacterial effect to ensure protection against bacteria and plaque formation. It helps normalise pH balance, it’s fluoride-free and vegan friendly.

But what does it taste like? Because let’s be honest, that’s a very key part of a toothpaste if we have to use it at least twice a day.Yes the toothpaste is actually black, which is slightly disconcerting. And it does foam up to be fairly grey. But it does taste like toothpaste, though you can tell it’s not Colgate or something seriously minty. It does have that kind of “natural” edge to it.

After using it now for over two weeks I’m fully used to it and quite happy with the taste. The only slight con is that the black colour can leave unsightly marks on your sink if you don’t wash it all away. It doesn’t stain but it does make your sink look a bit grubby if you don’t wash it all away, whereas normal toothpaste would just leave a white mark which is harder to see. You can check out more of their range of natural oral care products on their website.

What’s your favourite style of boot?

Do you listen to music or podcasts around the house?

Do you do any food prep on a Sunday?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent the toothpaste for free to review for my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

What to Wear When Running in Winter

Winter running can seem like the most unappealing type of exercise. You look outside and it’s dark, cold and probably wet. Nothing is less desirable.

But it is true what they say: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. The one thing that winter running has above summer running is that it gets better the longer you run. If you’ve ever run on a beautifully sunny day you’ll know how hard it can suddenly become after that first mile. You start to get hot, the sun is beating in your face, you sweat, you’re thirsty… it sucks basically. But at least with winter, though it may look pretty rubbish and miserable, once you get going it’s actually not too bad. As long as you’re prepared.

When it comes to what to wear for winter running, you really do have a lot of choice. The temptation is of course to wear lots of layers so the minute you step outside you’re not cold at all… but within a mile you’re ridiculously warm and sweating. Ideally you want to be cold before you get going, because you will warm up. That first mile might feel horrendous but it does get better.

To give you some tips and guidance for what you could wear for running in the winter, I’ve teamed up with Decathlon, the sports products company.decathlon-winter-run-gearI tend to graduate my running outfits as it gets colder and colder. So for the beginning of winter I’ll probably choose a long sleeved but fairly thin layer, like the Alenji Kalenji Elio long sleeved jersey.kalenji-kalenji-elio-womens-long-sleeved-running-jersey-broken-pinkHaving a half-way zip is ideal because you can have it done right to the top as you start but then undo it as you get more warm to provide a bit more ventilation. Also, having thumb holes in the sleeves is a great compromise when it’s not quite cold enough for gloves. Ideally you also want a top that has reflective bits on it, especially as the nights and mornings get darker.kalenji-kalenji-evolutiv-womens-running-jerseyThe Kalenji Evolutiv jersey is a step above providing more protection from rain but also has a handy ventilation section where you can uncover the arms and/or chest. You can see in the first picture of the three tops with the arms and chest done up (middle picture) and then how it looks when unzipped (photo above). This is great for those who can’t make their minds up what to wear!

Obviously keeping warm and dry is a high priority for runners, but so is being seen and keeping safe. Having high-vis gear on is essential when it’s pitch black outside. Yes you’re probably running on the pavement and there is street light but by making yourself visible you’re doing yourself and everyone around you a favour. When you run across a road, or run towards a pedestrian, it’s essential to be seen to avoid any nasty collisions or accidents.kalenji-ekiden-light-jacket-yellowThe Kalenji Ekiden jacket is a great lightweight high-vis jacket that can definitely help with this. It’s not too thick to be overbearing, heavy or too warm, but it will protect you from the wind and rain while making yourself visible to those around you.decathlon-winter-running-gearFor most of the year I’ll stick with wearing shorts as my legs never get that cold. But when it does get really bitter then I’ll switch to either a pair of capris or long length leggings. There’s nothing worse than numb legs!!kalenji-ekiden-warm-womens-running-tightsThe Kalenji Ekiden running tights are inexpensive (£9.99!) and perfect for those really cold days when you just can’t face bearing your legs.

But the one thing I cannot be without are gloves during the winter. The rest of me might be sweating and seriously hot, but my hands never warm up. I wear gloves pretty much November onwards.kalenji-retro-reflective-gloveThe Kalenji Retro-Reflective gloves are great because not only will they keep your hands warm but they’ll also give a bit more high-vis to your hopefully already high-vis’ed up outfit ;-)And in terms of running accessories, I’m a huge fan of wearing lights. Either a head torch (though I do find this annoying as they always tend to bob about on my head) or by attaching some sort of LED to my clothing.

kalenji-kalenji-run-lightThe Kalenji Run Light is a handy way to make yourself super visible. You just put it over your top layer and you’re good to go. It provides visibility up to 20m ahead of you and it comesw wth a rechargeable battery (though it does last 5 hours). What I really like is that it has rear flashing lights as well, so you’re fully covered.

So basically my key points are:

  • Be seen, either using high-vis clothing or lights (ideally both)
  • Avoid wearing thick layers; you want to be cold when you begin because you will warm up
  • Look for material that is wicking and will protect you from the rain and wind, like a light-weight jacket
  • Wear gloves

How do you stay warm during winter running?

What are your top running accessories?

How do you stay visible running/exercising the dark?

**Full Disclaimer: I was given a Decathlon voucher to spend in their shop in return for this article. All opinions are my own.**