Things I’m loving lately (January)

I have such a good recap of this weekend that I can’t wait to rave about (which I need to write!), but for now I’ve had a few bits and pieces that I’ve been enjoying recently so I thought I’d share.

I was sent some cans of the new Radnor Infusions Zero Calorie Sparkling Soft Drink. It’s sparkling Welsh spring water from the Radnor Hills in Radnorshire with a gentle flavour of lemon and mint for one of them and raspberry and black cherry for the other. The water is infused with natural flavours and fruit extracts – meaning no sugar, preservative and sweetener free, and zero calories.

I loved the sound of the drinks before I’d even tried them – I’m a big fan of Wales (having gone to university there and also having relatives there) and this just sounded delightful. It’s not like a diet soft drink though – if you’re expecting Fanta levels of flavours this is not it. Instead it’s quite subtle and delightfully refreshing.

I think I preferred the lime one a bit more and could even imagine adding a little bit of gin in there for a cheeky jazzy G&T. It’s a shame it’s not summer because these are fantastic BBQ drinks – especially for those who don’t want to drink.

I was also sent some leggings to test out from Constantly Varied Gear. Now obviously I am a huge leggings fan and have had my fair share so I was keen to try them out.

The first pair are a kind of cosmic design which I think is so funky. Having worn so many leggings in my time I’m quite a harsh judge. The fit is alright but it definitely isn’t as good as Lululemon or Nike.

They’re a bit more restrictive. Also when testing doing squats in them, they didn’t pass the “no see-through” test. It’s not terrible but especially on the cosmic design the design gets stretched and the material becomes quite thin.

The green leggings were cool looking but not my favourite kind of design.

It was tricky to know where the mesh detail was supposed to go – on your knees? On your shin?

And the waist band and the bottom bits were tight without my give. You’d need to get your sizing spot on to feel optimum comfort.

So all in all, not bad leggings but don’t expect Lululemon or near that quality. They’re nice for a jazzy design.

I was also sent a running belt to test out.

This is so handy because I’ve somehow managed to mislay the two running belts I had previously. I was sent the Premium Running Waist Belt from runnershighstore.com (black, extra small) and it is fantastic.

It fits perfectly above my hips and sticks in place. It fits my iPhone 7 in it and doesn’t bounce.

I barely know I’m wearing it. It comes in different colours like bright green, yellow, pink, blue etc. and it’s very cheap compared to other brands.

And a bit of non-related running stuff… I ADORE my giant Harry Potter mug. I drink a hot chocolate every night (I know, I’m so old before my time).

I hate small drinks – if I have a tea or coffee, it’s in a big mug. And my hot chocolate is no exception! This mug Kyle got me for Christmas after a dropped my other big mug (sad face) is PERFECT 🙂

And that’s all for now folks!

Do you have certain criteria that gymwear needs to be? For me it’s got to be comfortable and look nice – I mean, fairly simple I guess!

What’s your favourite hot drink?

What’s your favourite soft drink?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent a number of these products for free to test out for my blog and social media. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Things I’m loving – December

Christmas is ALMOST here. I cannot wait. We have our work Christmas do tonight, Kyle and I have a day off tomorrow and we’re seeing Star Wars. Things are pretty good!

I thought I’d do a quick run down of some things in December I’ve been enjoying.

I was recently sent two items from the website Born Tough to review. A pair of tracksuit bottoms and a matching jacket.

I went for the rose colour which I think is really subtle and pretty. The fabrics are super soft, stretchy and fit nicely. The material is relatively thick. I went for medium as I was advised that the sizing runs quite small. They fit perfectly. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of matching items but actually I quite liked how this looked when I put them both on.

The jogging bottoms are high waisted with a draw-string waist and have contoured markings on them to sort of enhance your assets.

I like the jacket’s thumb holes too.

All in all I lovely set!

I would wear when mooching around the house as well as going to the gym (the bottoms are very squattable and easy to move about it). They’re super comfy and flattering – and not a bad price at all!

I’ve also been loving my birthday cake flavoured tea from Bird and Blend.

It’s verrry subtle but delicious. It’s basically a rooibos tea with a hint of vanilla-y sweetness. I’ve been using my mum’s David’s Tea mug to brew it which is super handy. It has a tea strainer sieve thing that sits on top to let the tea leaves move around and brew.

I’ve actually nicked the mug from her so she won’t be getting that back now 😉 She doesn’t even use it so it’s fair game in my opinion.

I’ve also recently being wearing my new trainers, the Hoka Arahi’s.

They’re super cushioned and bouncy. They do take a bit of getting used to but so far I’m pleased with them.

I’ll be testing them out soon for a… run. Yep. An actual real-life run will be happening soon. I’ve been working hard at the gym on my single leg strength and rehabbing like a pro (well I hope I have anyway) and things are feeling A LOT better. Whether that translates to a successful pain-free run, WHO KNOWS. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

And on the subject of running… I was sent my Six Star certifcate from Abbott.

I have a digital copy and a very nice thick paper copy. I guess I should frame it or do something exciting with my medals but for the moment I’m just pleased to have it.

Anyway, I hope you lovely lot have a wonderful Christmas! Eat lots of food and enjoy yourself 🙂

What are your Christmas plans?

Have you ever tried Hokas?

What’s your favourite tea blend?

Full Disclaimer: I was sent the jogging bottoms and jacket for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Bournemouth Half Marathon

I’ve done the Bournemouth Marathon twice before, but never the Bournemouth Half Marathon. And it seemed like a great race to do the week before the Chicago Marathon. A last long run. A catered long run with a medal!

Considering how my training hadn’t been exactly how I would have liked it, a sharp build-up and not as many long runs as I wanted, I decided to do three miles before we headed off the half in the morning. Sadly this meant a very early alarm as the race was to begin at 8am and it would take us an hour to drive there. Ooof.

Happily (?) I woke up before my 5.40am alarm at 5.30am and decided to just get up and give myself a bit more of a buffer. It was warm outside (15 degrees) but dark so I grabbed my hand torch. The torch (from Nathan Sports) is fantastic. It has a front and back light, a rape alarm and attaches to your hand so you actually don’t have to hold it.

The run went well. As it was so quiet I ran mostly on the road (it’s a very quiet route in general) and saw several cats and a fox, who just stood and watched me run past. It was all very peaceful.

Then I got back, quickly swapped into some new running gear and my parents, Kyle and I headed off to Bournemouth. Kyle’s brother, Zack, was also going to be running the half as his first ever half marathon (and first actual race I believe) and him and his family were already down there staying in a hotel And happily my friend Emma was running as well. So lots going on and lots of friendly faces!

My parents dropped Kyle and I off and we headed to the portaloos where we met Zack, his mum, his sister, Lucy, and his other brother, Adam. The queues for the loos were huge and seemingly not moving. With only about 15 minutes before the start I was getting nervous. Eventually I gave up and found a well concealed bush nearby. Whew!

Then we headed to the start. We heard over the speakers though that the race had been delayed until 8.15am (we later found out due to the grim police investigation of a dead body).

We spotted Emma and wished each other well which was nice. Then it was off to our respective waves and then the start.

Kyle was planning on seeing what he could do, so I let him run off while I kept to my own more gentle speed. I remembered the course well from the other Bournemouth races I’ve done (the half follows a lot of the similar marathon route, but of course less of it). I had music going and just zoned out.

The first three or so miles went by nicely and I saw Kyle on the switch-back going the other way. I also saw Zack looking relaxed just behind me. He was aiming for a sub-2 hour half, but with a bit of sketchy training and a problematic toenail it was going to be a push.

As we got to around six miles I started to feel like things were harder than I wanted. My pace felt less relaxed and I suddenly felt overwhelmingly tired. As soon as I recognised that feeling I couldn’t get it out of my head. Like a niggle in my brain, all I kept thinking off was “I’m so tired. This is so hard”.

The temperature was increasing but not crazily so. It was a lovely clear day and the crowds were out in force. Annoyingly there was a head wind directly against us as we headed down the promenade. I felt this chip away at my good vibes and the demons set up camp in my head. What if Chicago felt like this? I felt a deep dread in my stomach.

To be honest, I ran this race badly. I wasn’t racing it but my strategy was appalling. It was meant to be an easy run and I (wrongly) associated pace with effort. My watch was saying 8-8.20 and I found it bizarre that this felt hard, but I didn’t slow down. I realise I should have just backed off and actually reduced my pace to the real easy pace for that day.

Easiness can change – the weather, the course, how you feel, how you’ve slept etc. etc. can massively impact what pace is easy for you. But like a newbie I ignored it and pushed through. I knew my parents, and Kyle’s family, would be mile eight and I got a horrible déjà vu from when I ran the marathon the first time and ignored my dad at this point saying I should stop because I felt a lot of pain in my knee. I wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t suffering any niggles, but I was feeling so drained. Should I stop?

As I got to my dad I did stop. He looked very worried – I don’t normally do this during a race. I said how I felt and how hard I was finding it. He suggested maybe I drop out? Or walk a bit? But I was resolved to finish. I had a little cry, a big hug and then headed off. This hugely helped. I felt like I’d had an emotional pick-me-up gel. A hug in a gel if you like.

Then I was hit with the hill that I was very familiar with during the marathon. Thankfully not the 18 miler hill which is horrific, but a shorter and less sharp hill, but tough nonetheless. I felt a new lease of life and pushed on up, smiling as much as I could remembering reading an article that smiling triggered happy feelings in your body. What a loon I must have looked like.

Then it was a lovely downhill which I fully embraced and a long slog to the Boscombe Pier. The sand underfoot that had blown over from the beach made for an annoying running path… the wind dead against us… the sun in my eyes… it all felt so very hard. But I spotted Kyle’s dad and he gave me a big cheer as I headed onto the pier, then back down the other way to the Bournemouth Pier. Now the wind behind us and I felt strong and picked it up a gear. I was almost done!

I finally managed to overtake people (having spent most of the race being overtaken) and whizzed along the pier and to the finish. Done!

I was so glad to stop. I felt exhausted. 1:45:58.

I collected my medal and saw Kyle. He’d finished in 1 hour 40 mins and 12 seconds, sadly about 20 seconds off his PB. He had had a hard run too. But still, a fantastic time. Zack finished in just over 2 hours 1 minute and 18 seconds – oh so close!! He was happy though, as well he should for his first half marathon.

I also saw Emma. She’d had a tough race too but, like me (or like I’d planned anyway) had used it as a last long run before Chicago.

For my race, in retrospect I should definitely have slowed down. My ego got in the way and I paid for it by having a miserable run. I was pleased to have gotten 16 miles for the day though – my last long run before Chicago. And I will definitely relax the pace if it starts to feel like that. Lesson well and truly learnt! Chicago is about getting to the finish uninjured without issue. No heroics or pushing through anything crazy.

We had a few photos, celebrated finishing and then headed home. Whew! I was tired, hungry and mentally drained.

Next stop now, Chicago.

Have you ever run a mentally tiring race?

Have you ever done the Bournemouth Half or Marathon?

What I’m Loving Lately – August

August has come and gone. I’ve realised that I’m totally ready to say goodbye to hot weather. I much prefer cooler weather. So bring on autumn!

This “what I’m loving” post is going to be heavily food-related but hey they’re the best right?

Have you seen the new White Giant Buttons from Cadbury?? They only sell them at Asda so when my dad was there the other day I panic text him to buy me some.

They are SO good. Do you remember how tasty the Milky Bar was before it changed its recipe? Well it’s like that. Creamy, slightly custardy and so moreish. I could easily eat an entire packet.

They also sell the white chocolate bar but I haven’t found it yet (apparently it’s even better than the old school Dream was).

And following that, I’m also loving the Tony’s Chocolonely.

I tried the pretzel caramel dark chocolate bar, but there are a few others I’m keen to try too. It’s so thick!

You feel a bit like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory eating it. And money from the sales go towards ending slavery. So you can feel good about gobbling it up.

Moving on to more savoury things. I’m still on a big carvery love right now. I think I just love that you can pile your plate high with vegetables, stuffing and gravy.

I’m a big fan of cauliflower cheese and roasted parsnips too. Yum! We had a carvery when we saw my friends in Bristol last weekend.

The cake selection was incredible too. And despite being fairly full, I couldn’t say no to a slice slab of chocolate fudge cake.

Heated up with ice cream. Omg it was DIVINE.

Last food-related item… The Good Cookie cookies. I literally ADORE these cookies. Vegan and refined sugar free, but you would never know.

So soft!! I need more of these in my life. Thank you to my lovely friend Emma for introducing them to me and then gifting me a pack. What a friend!

Now on to more things fitness. I’ve been really enjoying the stair machine. It’s better for my hamstring than the elliptical machine and I’ve become a pro at just grinding away and supplementing my running fitness with this.

I love watching the new series of Peaky Blinders while mindless stepping. Don’t get me started on Tommy Shelby… *sighs*.

I was also recently sent a pair of the OOFOS sandals to try out. As I’m back into running again these came at a perfect time.

They are so fricking soft! My feet feel so comfortable and like they’re walking on clouds in them. After a run I love slipping them on and just enjoying the bliss.

They have a footbed designed to absorb impact, cradle your arches and allow your body to move naturally (check out some science-y bits HERE). They’re apparently supposed to reduce stress and enable a more natural motion of walking. And you can really feel it. These bad boys will be joining me in Chicago for after the marathon (*touch wood* I make it to both the start and finish line!).

And that’s all folks!

How do you look after your feet post-run?

What’s your favourite part of a roast dinner?

What’s your favourite chocolate?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the OOFOS recovery sandals for free to test for my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Things I’m loving lately – April

Easter is one of those holidays that for me is pretty much entirely about food. Chocolate, roast dinners, marzipan, cake. Yep I love it.

I was super chuffed to receive several eggs this year. A Hotel Chocolat one from my parents, an epic Cadbury’s Daim one from from Kyle, two lush ones from Kyle’s mum, one from a work friend and one from Kyle’s dad. I mean WHAT. (I loved that Kyle’s mum crossed out the “pine” in pineapple as well hehe).

The Hotel Chocolat egg is an egg I absolutely adore. It’s PROPERLY thick. I got the Rocky Road to Caramel one and the two halves are different. One is
caramel chocolate and the other is milk chocolate with cookies and puffed rice. And it’s full of chocolates as well!

But even for me this was a tough ask to eat a large amount. It’s very rich.

The Daim egg from Kyle though… not that I can eat in one (albeit long) sitting. I managed to hold off until the other evening when I sat watching telly with Kyle while I worked my way through it.

Yes I felt a little sick afterwards. But I bloody loved it. Most of the time I can exercise levels of moderation and control but when it comes to Easter eggs, I really struggle (and chicken wings I guess…). I just thoroughly enjoy having a pig out on chocolate from time to time.

I was recently sent a set of clothes from Squat Wolf, who make fitness clothing. Now clearly I am a fan of fitness clothing (helloooo leggings) so I was really excited.

First up was the hoodie, called the She Wolf Crop Hoodie in mustard. I’m a big fan of the mustard colour and it did not disappoint.

The material is super soft and feels quality. It’s not a super thick hoodie but it’s thick enough to keep you warm. I love that it’s cropped as well (check me out being semi-fashionable!). It looks great with high-waisted leggings. This was probably my favourite item and I wear it all the time.

Of course I had to try a pair of leggings. I went for the Athena Leggings in deep fuchsia.

I love the colour of these and they feel so soft. I also like the little contour bits they have on the bum. But they’re not my favourite leggings. They don’t fit quite as nicely as other leggings I’ve had (though in fairness I am comparing them to the likes of Nike and Lululemon).

Perhaps there’s a bit too much material and the design of the waist bit doesn’t quite work for me in terms of the style. That said, they’re squat proof and I can move easily in them – so perfect for working out.

I also got a beautiful sports bra (the Stripes Bra). I love this design!

The back is really pretty and it’s just long enough that I feel comfortable wearing it on it’s own with high-waisted leggings. I don’t feel like I’m showing too much tummy.

It’s also a lovely thick material and has those modesty pads as well to keep everything nice and concealed. I’m obviously not the most blessed in the boobage department but I do feel well supported.

The last item is a pair of their joggers, the She Wolf Do Knot Joggers in black.

They have a slight shine to the material and are super soft. They also have two pieces of material that you tie together which is quite funky. It does make me chuckle a little that the description says they’re ideal for just chilling out (which I agree with) or for going for a jog. Nooo nooo. You would not run in these. But lazing about the house? Absolutely. They’re super comfortable.

The fit is a little odd but I think that’s because it’s fashion and the style and I clearly am not that stylish! I do like them though and will definitely be wearing them mooching about at home.

They have a good range of different colours and other styles, so if this is your thing have a look!

What Easter eggs did you enjoy?

What’s your favourite chocolate?

Do you like wearing fitness clothing around the house?

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