Thing I’m loving lately – June

*Whispers* I don’t want to speak too soon, but I have had a pretty decent streak of running uninjured.

I mean I had a blip after Tokyo with my ankle, but after a week off I was good to go again. It’s kind of all going…dare I say it, OK??Two marathons and now onto my next bout of marathon training, please let it continue to go as smoothly!

So as I’m in a pretty good mood with my running, I thought I’d continue these happy vibes with some things I’m loving lately.

The new series of My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast: If you’ve never heard of it or think it sounds weird, you really just need to give it a go. It is HILARIOUS. Like actual laugh out loud comedy. I binge listened to the first two series and now they’ve just started the third series. They have fans such as Daisy Ridley, Elijah Wood, Michael Sheen. I can’t recommend it enough.

Dogs of parkrun: I love how many dogs come out to parkrun. Not all of them run, but it’s lovely to see them ‘supporting’. I took a photo of some of the ones I saw at Netley at the weekend and made a collage.All so lovely. I know that dogs at races/parkrun can be annoying but I’m a big dog lover so to me I’m happy to have to dodge around them and their leads. I’d love to run with Alfie but I’m worried that as he’s a bit older (almost eight!) it might not be a good idea. He’s never run further than half a mile so I’d need to start very slowly with him, which at the moment I don’t really have time for. He loves racing about on his own though.

SIS products: I really love these products I’ve been sent. I don’t actually take the Overnight Protein Powder in the evening as it suggests but I have it in my porridge every morning (about 15g). I like to boost my porridge in this way to get some added protein and it adds a nice chocolate taste. It really isn’t overwhelming sweet.They suggest taking the protein powder in the evening due to the casein content (80% casein and 20% whey from the milk protein). Casein works while you’re asleep, stimulating muscle protein synthesis. It’s low in fat and carbs as well. Like I said, I like how subtle the chocolate taste is so it goes really nicely in my porridge (I add it to the oats before I microwave it). I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet porridge. It also makes a nice hot chocolate as well when mixed with hot water!

And as I’ve mentioned previously, I love the Go Caffeine Shots. These are going to become pre-race staples for me. I’d normally have a cup of black coffee before a race but I hate drinking too much liquid. This shot is only 60ml so is perfect, so I can still hydrate well with water.

The tropical flavour is definitely my favourite over the cola flavour though. The cola one is just a bit too sharp/sour.

Having a clear out: My drawers are currently bulging with the amount of fitness clothes and race t-shirts I own so I decided to have a clear out. I donated a load of tops from races that I wasn’t too bothered about (really old 10ks) and then separated t-shirts I wanted to keep but would no longer wear, such as marathon t-shirts.

I’ve decided at the end of the year I’ll get a blanket made up of my race tops as a nice way to keep the t-shirts and remember the race. I’ve found this website that does it. It’s expensive, which is why I’m waiting until the end of the year so I can add (HOPEFULLY) a few more shirts to it.

I’d like to do something with my bibs as well (I always save them as well as my medals) but I’m not sure what at the moment. A friend of mine put them on his wall and that looked cool, but I don’t really have the space. Maybe a big scrapbook or something.

What do you do with your race t-shirts and bibs?

Do you use any SIS products?

Do you have long running streaks or are you injury prone like me?

**Full Disclaimer: I’ve been sent the SIS products for free to test out for a review on my blog. 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.**

Some raves I’m currently enjoying

After yesterday’s somewhat more heavy post, I thought a lighter post was required about fluff and nonsense (some might say my speciality…). But I really appreciate all the comments and Tweet conversations that were generated in response to it. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t weird, so thank you 🙂

I cannot believe we’re past half-way through May. Time is flying by. I can believe, however, that the weather has taken a turn for the worse. Of course it has. One tiny step towards sunshine and warmer weather and then four steps back to rain and gloom. Such is life! Good for the gardens they say (I don’t have a garden…).

So fluff and nonsense, let us commence with a rave party.

Rave: when is a rave a big rave? When it’s about LEGGINGS. If you’ve read this blog for, oooh I don’t know, a month you might be aware of my love of leggings. I actually counted how many leggings I currently own and it’s over 20 pairs (OVER 20!). I could do a review post on different leggings (Lululemon, Fabletics, Forever 21, Nike, Tesco, ASICS, Brooks, etc.) but I’m not sure if that’s a particularly interesting post for anyone but me 😉

But ANYWAY, new leggings. I recently splurged on another pair of Fabletics leggings (my 3rd pair). I’m signed up to their VIP scheme and though I hate the premise behind it I do actually love the Fabletics gear. It’s not too much of a hassle either to “skip the month” when I don’t want to spend any money there and it is really good quality (for both running and the gym) and not as expensive as similar items from Lululemon or higher end sports gear. For £44 (yes, this is after the VIP discount. Seriously) I got these bad boys:They’re the Fabletics Brogan Mesh Leggings and, if I do say so myself, rather fetching. They’re too thick to run in (though I suppose you could but I prefer shorts 90% of the time when it comes to running) but for the gym they are PERFECT. And when I say the gym, I obviously mean the gym AND general life. Because if you know me, you know most of the time I’ll wear leggings if I can (I have often been banned from this attire at some occasions with friends and family).They’re not high-waisted but they sit comfortably above my hips and are oh-so flattering for the derriere and legs. They have mesh panels just above the patterns which looks gorgeous. They are squat proof and don’t slip down. 10/10.

And, *cough*, onto another pair of leggings I’ve recently acquired. My lovely parents dropped into Lululemon while they were in the States and picked up a pair of the Align II pants (in Bosenberry colour) as a thank you for house-sitting/early birthday present.

Shrewd readers might realise these are the same pair I almost bought in Covent Garden the other week but wasn’t entirely sold. Well after browsing online for ages and finding nothing else really fitted what I was looking for (and realising they’d be a similar fit, albeit different style, of a pair I already own) I decided I’d bite the bullet and go for them. Everything about them was perfect, from the material and colour, but I wasn’t sure about the high-waisted nature of them. I wasn’t certain it was very “me”.However, I’ve revised this opinion as they just fit like a glove and actually the high-waisted fit is just different rather than hideous (what a compliment eh). But seriously, sometimes you need to go for a different style and move outside of your safe bubble. And they’re Lululemon! (Yes, I fully admit to being a label whore, but in my defence Lululemon are such good quality and good fit. The price tag is painful but something I can rationalise).Right, whoops. That first rave went on for a decade.

Rave: OK this is a bit random, but deodorants. What’s your kind? Now I’ve previously always been a roll-on kinda lady. I just find it keeps me fresh and smelling good all day long, even with running. I was given the opportunity to try Soft & Gentle’s spray-on deodorant and thought “eh, why not”.

I was sent two products. The first was the 0% Aluminium Care dry deodorant.From the website:

  • % aluminium
  • 0% parabens
  • 0% alcohol
  • Suitable for very sensitive skin
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Vegan-friendly

I’m a big fan of being environmentally friendly and this is actually the best thing about this product in my view. I’m not one to buy skincare products that don’t contain certain chemicals or that are organic (*cough* assuming I do buy skincare products at all… I buy shower gel and that is it. Any moisturiser I use is either stolen indiscriminately from hotels or my mother). BUT I appreciate that it’s vegan-friendly and that it doesn’t contain nasties.

The most important thing (being an antiperspirants) is: does it hold against body odour and sweat? Well, yes I think it does. I’m not a huge sweater though so it’s debatable about how strong it is but for me this lasted all day. And it smelt of coconut which was very nice indeed.

I also received the Soft & Gentle Coconut and Jasmine ‘flavour’.This, according to the website, helps moisturise while also ensuring 48 hours of dryness and protection. I mean, I don’t know why you’d need 48 hours worth of protection in normal life but I can see how this would be handy for festival-goers or multi-day running events. Mmm lovely.

Both products smelt great, kept me nice and dry and, SO important, didn’t leave those pesky white marks on my clothes (even black clothes). So I have been converted to a spray from a roll-on!

And lastly, this coaster I love. It makes me smile every time I use it:

What’s making you smile this week?

Roll-on or spray for deodorant?

What’s your favourite brand of leggings?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Soft & Gentle products for free. I wasn’t asked to write about them but I quite liked them so!**

Easy Detox by Amrita Review

So I’ve never actually done a detox before. I’m in the group that believes your body doesn’t actually need an external product in order to “detox”. That’s what your liver does, right?

That said, I was intrigued when I was contacted by Amrita to do a review of their “Easy Detox“. My initial thoughts were “this isn’t for me”. I don’t do meal replacements or juice detox programmes. I like physically eating my food and I like to eat a good amount. However, after reading a bit more I found it wasn’t actually a detox to replace meals, but rather as well as. Well OK, I can get on board with that.

What is it?

It’s an “all natural body cleanse” which is designed to support your body’s natural detox abilities and “clear out toxins”. It’s a 100% organic blend of herbs, spices and Thai fruit (interesting). It’s apparently used in their Luxury Wellness Retreats and was featured in Vogue, which sounds all very grand.So the blend itself is an interesting concoction. And may I say, not an entirely pleasant looking blend. I was sent the Easy Detox Mini Kit, which contains nine sachets of the detox blend which are taken over three days (before each meal basically). You get quite a comprehensive guide with the sachets to explain how to take the sachets, what’s in them etc.

As part of the detox there are certain guidelines to follow too, such as avoiding these things:

  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Meat
  • Fatty foods

Now I’m not going to lie. I didn’t avoid caffeine. I enjoy coffee and don’t think I drink too much to be an issue (see my caffeine post from the other day). I naturally don’t eat that much dairy as I drink almond milk and have Alpro soya yogurt (I just prefer the taste). During the week I don’t tend to have many exciting treats or use sugary sauces on food so other than naturally occurring sugars I think I did OK with this (I’m no dietitian though!). Meat? Well, it may also surprise you to know that I don’t eat a huge amount during the week. I eat salmon for lunch and I just made sure to eat different fish for dinner instead. It was quite easy.So you mix one sachet with 180ml of water. 180ml isn’t that much at all so makes the “concoction” quite potent and, well, bitty. It doesn’t all dissolve. But I found the mixture with water really unpalatable. No disrespect to the company but it was revolting. So I quickly switched to adding coconut water (which was advised if water didn’t cut it). You can add the mixture to smoothies or soups but this was a bit too much faff for me. Coconut water was FAR better. It’s still not an entirely pleasant experience but a lot better than plain water.

So what did I achieve?

It’s tricky to say really. Though the detox isn’t primarily for weight-loss, it is one of the purported outcomes for strictly following. But I’m obviously not trying to lose weight and I’m pretty sure that would be a hard feat considering I’m quite small already and I eat a lot.

I think if you were on the first steps of a weight-loss journey and had weight to lose this could be a helpful way to supplement healthy eating and exercise. The sachets are packed full of ingredients that sound rather good which could support a healthy lifestyle. It’s also supposed to help things, er, move through quickly. I can’t say I noticed much difference as I don’t have any issues with getting blocked up. I eat enough fruit and veg! It perhaps made me feel a bit more alert and fresh but who knows if this was down to the detox.

Amrita offer a few packages of detox:

 

  • Mini: 9 sachets taken over 3 days with food
  • Classic: 21 sachets taken over 7 days with food
  • Deluxe: 35 premium single-serve sachets, taken as either a 7-day “intensive” or 14-day “relaxed” programme with food.

As detoxes go, this was rather painless and didn’t disrupt my lifestyle too much with suddenly not being able to eat my normal food or being hungry. It was more of a supplementation than anything. Ideal for people who need a jump-start to weight-loss perhaps if they’ve not been eating great beforehand.

Have you ever done a detox?

Are there foods you actively avoid?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent the detox for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Brighton 10k Recap (BM10)

Now if you’ve been reading my blog for a while or know me at all you’ll know I detest 10ks. This is kind of amusing considering how many I used to do back when I first started running. I was doing a 10k every weekend it seemed. But it eroded my enjoyment of running as I was always after a faster time and was disappointed when it invariably didn’t happen.

So now I just stick to half marathons and marathons and any other race I do is usually just for fun, or if I’m in the height of fitness (rarely) I might target it to simply see how I can do or as a good speed session.

But I was contacted by Millet Sports to ask if I’d like a place at the Brighton 10k to do a review for 2XU, who are one of the main sponsors, and would include some free kit from 2XU. This is obviously a runner’s dream so I thought why not. I like Brighton, I’ve done the half marathon before and enjoyed it, it’s a nice day out and it might be a good idea to avoid doing a long run and do a slightly more tempo shorter run (my running mojo has been a bit duff recently – more on that in another post).

Initially I was going to get the train but theys weren’t early enough for the 8.30am race start. So this meant driving (and leaving ridiculously early). The Park & Ride was sold out but luckily I have a lovely friend who lives in Brighton and gave me a visitor’s parking permit. My dad, bless his heart, said he’d drive and support. But, ooof, a 5.30am leaving time was painful for both of us!My dad wanted in on the leg photo action too 😉 #dadsofbloggersWe got to Brighton just after 7am. Though it was super handy having the free parking space it was in Zone W which was just over three miles to Preston Park, where the race start was. We did know this beforehand but obviously the reality is something else! We got a stomp on and headed our way there. Can I just say, I’m so proud of my dad. This was basically a parkrun for him. We couldn’t hang about, we had to move quickly to get to the area in time (and I needed the loo somewhat critically and needed to find a toilet – a long queue at a portable loo in the race village was not going to cut it). After losing three stone, power walking three miles (and a fair portion uphill) was far easier than it used to be for him!As we got closer we started joining other runners walking their way to the start and the buzz of the race atmosphere became bigger and bigger. It was a beautifully sunny morning but boded to be a rather hot day. Perfect for the beach but probably not for the marathon that was starting at 9.15am.

I was a little dubious about wearing the full-length leggings for the race and had intended on switching to my shorts but having wore the leggings all morning I was quite enjoying the super tight compressed feeling they were giving my legs. And to be honest, the faff of changing was far too great. Yes I might be a bit hot, but at least I’d be super streamlined!I wore the new 2XU MCS Run Compression Tights which were really comfortable. Yes they’re tight but not in a “oof I need to lay off the cake” kind of way. More like compression socks but for your entire legs (obviously). And they didn’t slip down ONCE. Not ONCE. They kind of stick to you while allowing lots of movement. They also have these detailed bits on them which are apparently for “anatomical mapping for targeted support to muscles to reduce soreness and improve recovery” [Source].I also wore the 2XU GHST Short Sleeve Tee which was SO light and very cool. This was an ideal top to wear for the temperatures as it wicked away sweat and was very thin. It did pain me somewhat to attach my bib to it using pins!The race village was great. A number of portable loos – though I didn’t use any nor the bag drop. There were also a selection of food vans, one of which was a smoothie and oat-based one. I thought this was brilliant (and clearly very popular looking at the large queue). There were non-dairy options as well as a variety of smoothies. Great idea!

My dad said goodbye as he was off to find somewhere to spectate on the course and I headed off to the start funnel. It was all rather smooth and we started on time. It was fairly busy at the start so I had to be careful of not stepping on people’s heels but it stretched out after a bit. There were loads of people cheering from the sides which was great. There were lots of marathon runners walking to the race start so that helped boost spectators and cheering.Clearly doing a bit of window shopping while my dad was taking a photo of me! There was lots of crowds and interesting buildings on the course.Do you know what was really nice? A pretty much entirely flat course. There was no “oh god, mile X has that hill” to dread. Yes flat courses (especially for a marathon) can be a bit dull but it was just so nice to know the only thing really keeping me back was my own fitness and race strategy, rather than something external like inclines.

Having said that, it was warm and within a mile I was overly hot. The leggings were lovely to run in (no slipping down, no chafing, I felt very streamlined) but they were hot. But it was only 10k so really it wasn’t terrible.My aim was to take the first half steady. There was no PB going to happen today, not in my wildest dreams. I’m not particularly fit (I say this all the time, I really should do something about this if I do ever intend on getting PBs again). But I did want a good, controlled race. I felt good running around 7.30s so I stuck there. I was comfortably uncomfortable if that makes sense.Hitting the seafront (basically the second half of the race) things began to get hotter and harder. I tend to enjoy out and backs when they’re short as you can see runners coming the other way and it’s a nice way to take your mind off things. Though it is a long out and back and the whole time you’re thinking “I’ve got to come all the way back”.

But, as more of a long distance runner, it was easy to stay motivated with the hard effort because it was less than a parkrun to go now. I’d stepped up my pace to closer to 7 min/miles and it was less comfortable and more uncomfortable.

As we hit the last mile (and .2) we were turning around. So mentally I just thought “run to the finish”, which I vaguely knew was near the Brighton Pier. A blip in the horizon but a blip nonetheless.

There was a slight headwind (a mild breeze which is amplified about 100 times when on the last mile of any race – whether a reality or in your mind). I was steadily overtaking people which was nice and I prayed to hold on to the pace. I overtook one lady just on the finishing strip (the crowds were fantastic! So many people cheering!) and she pipped me about 50m to the line. I thought “fair play, you deserve that!” I had nothing left to counter it. She also came up to me afterwards and said she was grateful I overtook her as it gave her the boost she needed to up her speed.

I saw my dad on the sidelines which was great and he shouted encouragement. I saw the gun time on the finish as it was ticking towards 46 minutes and just hoped to finish under that arbitrary figure. I did 🙂

I’m really pleased with this time. Not a PB (my PB will stand at 42:50 for a long time yet I think!) but faster than I thought I would. It felt very controlled and manageable.

I met up with my dad and he told me he’d walked about 5k himself to get to the three locations he saw me at and then be at the finish. Bless him, I’m so lucky to have such an encouraging dad.
We then started the long walk back… another three mile walk to the car. I had a little post race photoshoot before starting the trek, of course 😉 What with such beautiful weather and views, it would have been foolish not to!My dad found it amusing the lengths I’d go to get a good photo for Instagram.And then the walk back to the car. There were lots of foodie vans on set-up which was cool, but as it wasn’t even 10am I avoided the temptation. We did buy a large Diet Coke from a soda fountain to share though (ahhhh my nectar). I liked the fact that they had water fountain areas for people too that had been set-up.My top supporter! It’s safe to say we were both fairly knackered when we finally arrived back at the car an hour later. We’d both covered quite a distance that day – and in some rather warm temperatures! I really felt for those who were running the marathon at that point. It would definitely be a tough one.

Despite the heat and it being a dreaded 10k, I thoroughly enjoyed this race.
Do you wear compression gear?

How far do you like to walk before a race?

What makes a good 10k for you?

**Full disclaimer: I received a free entry and 2XU top and leggings in exchange for a review post. All opinions are my own honest ones.**