What I’m loving lately – December

I’m not stressed that I still have so many presents to buy for Christmas. I’m not stressed. I’m not stressed. Panic is not ensuing…

Anyway while that inner monologue continues, here are some things I’m loving lately and wanted to share.

Date nights: Kyle and I always make it a priority to have at least one date night a week and this usually involves the cinema (though I’m sure everyone has worked this out already, though I’ve not explicitly said it on the blog, Kyle is my boyfriend!).

We both love going to the cinema; the whole experience is just a fun one, whether the film is really good or… not (*cough* I’m looking at you, Robin Hood). We generally see one film a week. Last week we saw Ralph Breaks the Internet which was a good laugh (I loved the Disney princess bit), and a few more standouts were First Man and Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s just nice to do something mid-week and as we both work at the same place it’s an easy thing to go straight there. We buy a Subway from work (which after 3pm goes down in price), and a fizzy drink from the cinema (we take our reusable straws because we are super cool eco warriors) and enjoy a fairly inexpensive but fun evening.Not only did we go to the cinema last week but we also went out for dinner and then saw Jurassic Park in Concert. Basically this is a showing of Jurassic Park on the big screen with a live orchestra on the stage below the screen playing the soundtrack as the film played. It was INCREDIBLE.The orchestra were amazing. Like you could forget that they were’t actually part of the film. It was fascinating to watch them play as the film went on (though I imagine they’re so sick of Jurassic Park now having toured around the country doing this!). They were perfectly in sync and it was just so all-encompassing. Dinner was pretty good as well. Before the showing, we went to 7Bone Burger. I had the Triple-D burger (which comes with blue cheese sauce and bacon) and halloumi fries…And a cheeky side of chicken wings. Kyle had a fried chicken burger with halloumi fries and a chocolate milkshake. It was goooood. The milkshake (as I did help Kyle out a bit with it…*cough*) was SUPER thick. Personally I’m not a huge milkshake fan but if I were to have one myself it would be a thick one. It was delicious.Podcasts: I listen to a number of podcasts every week: BBC Five Live Film Review, Marathon Talk, Empire Film Review, TED Radio Hour, My Dad Wrote a Porno – and dip in and out of other ones that take my interest. But I’ve recently been finding myself running out of them (I listen to them in the car, walking Alfie or when I’m doing boring chores around the house). My lovely friend, Emma, recommended Fearne Cotton’s podcast Happy Place and it’s great!I listened to the Gary Barlow one first and found it really interesting. It’s amazing how celebrities who are so famous, earning so much money and seemingly living their “best life” can be taken down by depression or body image issues. I’ve since listened to the interview with Mel C and Stephen Fry and both were just as good. Heartily recommend.

Recovery: I’ve come a long way since I first started running. When I was facing all my injury and niggle woes I’d be foam rolling, stretching and icing until the cows came home. But recently I’ve been finding I only really need to do a bit of light stretching after my circuit workouts, foam rolling on my calves maybe once a week and, when I get the chance, lovely soaks in the bath with some of this amazing stuff.Vie Epsom foot and Bath Salts are fantastic addition to a hot bath. It apparently helps increase your magnesium levels and sulfates, which are quite tricky to get through food but can actually be absorbed through the skin. Both are really good for your joints and muscles in terms of recovery.I add a couple of cups (as you can see above – the cup doesn’t come with the salts FYI) in the bath and just relax and enjoy. I’ve found it can really decrease how much I’ll ache the next day. I don’t know about injury prevention but it definitely makes me feel better anyway.

Blondies: Amazingly I won more baked goods on Instagram again. I just seem to be very lucky (or enter ALL the competitions…). Anyway, the lovely company Fully Loaded Treats sent me six blondies, three different flavours.Oh my god they were good. There were M&M ones, Hershey’s Cookies and Cream ones and another type that I think were Kinder Bueno that were awesome.There’s something about blondies that I so love. I mean I do prefer brownies I think but blondies are a nice change now and again.

Dylan: My parents have three dogs (Lexi, Dylan and Sam) where I have just Alfie. Dylan is probably the most stupid out of them all (in a really cute and lovable way though). I can’t help but share how cute he looked the other morning.He’s very much a “I’d rather sleep than do anything else” kind of dog. Well, actually he’d rather eat than do anything else but sleep is a close second. I mean, let’s be honest, I think we all have a little Dylan inside of us all.

Do you prefer blondies or brownies?

Do you have any recovery tips or routines?

What podcasts do you listen to?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Epsom salts for free in return for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Things I’m loving lately – February/March

I’m sure I write the same thing every year but it’s so nice to be getting into spring. The lighter evenings and mornings… ahh bliss (well, when it isn’t snowing of course).

Bodum Coffee flask: I get up ridiculously early for the gym as you may be aware. It’s actually not that bad anymore. I genuinly enjoy my super early mornings and going to the gym. It’s part of my routine. I’m verrrry routine based and it just fits nicely. I’m an early bird and get decent sleep so it’s only the initial alarm going off that is tough and then I’m awake and raring to go.One of the things I look forward to is my coffee in the car on the way to the gym. While I take Alfie for a walk (in ALL the layers) I’ve put my coffee on and it’s ready by the time I get back. I take it with me on the drive (I use a straw so it’s easier/safer to drink whilst driving) and it’s just bliss. Especially when it’s super cold. The coffee flask I use is a Bodum Vacuum Travel Mug. It is perfect. It’s never leaked or spilt (even when I fill it to the top) and it doesn’t burn my hand to hold while keeping my coffee super hot.

R8 Roller: This isn’t mine. I’ve stolen borrowed it off a friend after Marathon Talk Run Camp.I would buy one myself but it’s from the States so there’s a high shipping cost added on to the actual cost of the product, making it well over £100. I’ve been wanting to try one of these for ages and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s fantastic for your quads and hamstring. Though it’s a bit more awkward on the calf because it also rolls the shin which is a little painful and the glutes are super awkward to do (I’ll stick to my tennis ball). But it’s SO good in terms of pressure and hitting trigger points. Love this.

Lava-Activ Hydration BeltI was sent this hydration belt to test out and review. It’s similar to a hydration belt I’ve used before and got on well. The only annoyance about my previous belt is that the bottles are TINY. During the summer I’d have to top them up mid-way through my long run at my “dodgy tap”. These (BPA-free!) bottles however are a bit bigger (2x 300ml), which is so much better.The belt sat nicely on my hips, didn’t chafe and didn’t bounce. The pocket  is big enough for a few gels, coins and keys or your phone (apparently iPhoner 8’s are fine). It’s not a massive pocket but it’s big enough for what you need!  There’s handily also a pocket divider to prevent items from rubbing against each other. There are also clips to attach a bib, but I’m not a huge fan of doing this.You can wear it either way I think, but I prefer the bottles at the back than the front. It’s predominately black, but the stripe on the pocket comes in three colours (orange, blue or green). You can buy the belt on Amazon.

Cake: OK two things about cake. Firstly, I had the most amazing cake a couple of weekends ago and it ROCKED my world.It was salted caramel flavour and it was divine. The icing was deliciously sticky. Ahhh to have that cake again…

And in other cake news… I’ve won one on Instagram!! I follow the very lovely Nicki Chan-Lam (@Nickichanlam on Instagram) who has a ridiculously huge appetite! And coming from me, that’s big. She posted a competition about a cake giveaway from the amazing bakery Whisk and Drizzle in London and my comment won! I mentioned that it was my mum’s 60th birthday in May. So I win a a Whisk and Drizzle cake which I can pick up when I’m in London (for my mum’s birthday). AMAZING AMAZING. Could I be any more excited?? (said in Chandler’s voice).

Cinema trips: I went to the cinema twice last week. I took my mum to see Finding Your Feet for a Mother’s Day (but not on Mother’s Day as I wasn’t there) treat and she loved it. I mean, it ticked all her boxes of what she loves in a film so I was super pleased she enjoyed it. I enjoyed the night, but the film wasn’t really my kind of thing. I feel for my dad really as that film will probably now be on repeat for the rest of his life. That along with Bridget Jones’ Diary and Mama Mia!

The second cinema trip was with my running friend Joe. Bless him, he cooked me a hearty sausage casserole and then we headed to the very fancy Showcase cinema in Southampton. WITH RECLINING LEATHER CHAIRS. It was epically comfortable. We saw Shape of Water which was so good. It was very dream-like and gentle…you had to let yourself get swept along with it. It was very romantic and I just loved it.

Alfie: And because Alfie hasn’t been featured on the blog in a while, here he is in all his cutness.My heart just melts.

Running: I completely forgot to mention this in my last post, but when I was at the Walsall Arboretum parkrun on Saturday I noticed a woman signing the run director’s instructions. How good is that! I’ve never seen that before but I thought it was such a fantastic idea. Typical parkrun eh being so inclusive and thoughtful 😉

And this weekend is the Reading Half Marathon! I’m quite excited (despite hearing horrible rumours about how cold it’s going to be…please no more snow).I won’t be going for a PB as I’m not in that shape but I will give it a good go I think. I’m in a good place with my running, no niggles (EVERYONE TOUCH WOOD PLEASE) and I feel strong. It’ll be nice to see where I’m at in terms of putting some faster paces on for a long run. We shall see…

What are you loving lately?

Have you been to the cinema recently?

Do you foam roll?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the belt for free in exchange for a post on Instagram. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Why we should sleep well after exercise

Hi guys, I have a post in collaboration with Noah Sparrow for you today about the importance of sleep for recovery. Hope you enjoy!

We all know that getting a decent amount of sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle. And anyone who’s taken part in the Stubbington 10k race will know how a lovely bed is a particularly welcome prospect after the race.

Source

But what is it about sleep that is so good for helping us feel so refreshed after a particularly brutal bout of exercise? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has suffered from the occasional troubled night’s sleep, so I’ve been doing some research to see how sleep functions and how I can maximise my time in bed!

It’s interesting to find that even today we still don’t know why we sleep. But anyone who’s experienced bouts of sleeplessness will understand how sleep plays a huge part in helping our brains and our bodies recover from their daily rigours.

By having a dedicated period when we are allowed to rest, it enables our bodies to clear out toxins and rebuild any damaged cells. And seeing how exhausted we feel after a proper workout session, it’s clear that a decent dose of sleep is essential to stop our bodies falling apart!

There have also been studies that have shown that sleep deprivation can increase the risks of heart disease and strokes, so I’ve been thinking about ways that I can boost my chance of catching up on sleep.

Thankfully, some studies have shown that consistent exercise eventually helps our sleeping habits, but just in case I lapse in my exercise, I’ve been checking some alternative sleeping options.

So as well as trying to avoid the melatonin-draining artificial lights emitted by television and computer screens late at night, I’ve been inspecting some of the stylish beds at Bedstar to see which one is best suited to my sleeping style. Some of the calming grey styles will be pretty well-suited to my interior scheme, and they prove that maybe grey is the new black!

I’m something of a light sleeper, so whether it’s investing in a decent memory foam mattress, or even getting one of those fancy white noise generators to mask the noise of the street, I’m going to make sure that 2017 is all about getting some decent rest.

So although the scientists still might not know exactly why we sleep, it looks like with a nice new bed from Bedstar, plenty of exercise and a little digital assistance, I should be able to catch some zzz’s this year!

How much sleep do you get a night?

Do you prefer a soft or hard mattress?

Are you light sleeper?

Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-On Review

As I mentioned in a previous post, recovery is so important when it comes to training. For people who are, dare I say, a little obsessed with running and exercise (yes I fully include myself in that camp), we’re always after ways to get back to training as quickly as possible. There are no quick fixes obviously, not without becoming a full-time elite who has the beck and call of physios, dieticians, trainers, coaches, sponsors etc. etc., but there are small things that can make a difference and help us mere mortals out.

I’ve been sent the new Deep Heat Massage Roll-On to test out and I was quite intrigued by it. I’ve used the heat patches before and found them quite effective but as a one-time use thing, not exactly cost-effective. The gels and creams are all a bit messy… So a roll-on sounds perfect and travel-friendly!

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Deep Heat is used to ease and loosen muscles. This is a new format as it’s applied through a rollerball applicator. It’s a drug-free way of reducing muscle tension and DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness), increasing blood flow and without any stickiness. A key ingredient of the roll-on works by activating the TPRV1 receptors in our skin which alert the brain to a sudden change in temperature at the site of application. This can help realign muscle fibres and break down adhesions and scar tissue. Ideally it is to be used post-exercise or on injury-spots to help with rehab. You can even use it pre-exercise to help loosen muscles up ready to get going.IMG_8457

Thoughts? I really like this. The roller ball is great as it’s provides some good massage into niggly, difficult-to-get to areas (hello hips). Massaging with your hands is all well and good but having an actual ball thing is perfect. I often use a tennis ball to foam roll so this was a perfect for me. It was also perfect when my foot was niggling me.

It gives a gentle heat to the area and feels very similar to the cream. It has a light fragrance but definitely still smells like Deep Heat, though it’s not unpleasant. The lotion comes out very easily as you roll it onto yourself but my only qualm with it is if you want to really use it for massaging the area then they’ll be lots of lotion coming out. It makes the area of skin not sticky or greasy but just, well, covered in the lotion. I would then have to use my hands to massage it in a bit more. This isn’t that much of an issue as more massage isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s also very handy to take with you to races or pop in your gym bag.

The rollerball is available from Boots, Tesco and other pharmacies and supermarkets for £4.99.

Do you use Deep Heat?

Do you get regular sports massages?

Do you warm-up before exercise?

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

SIS Rego Rapid Recovery Review

Hello! I’ve been missing in action this week because I’ve just had quite a few things going on..courses, moving house (which I’m doing tomorrow, argh) etc.

I really wanted to do a longer post to catch up but I need to crack on and literally move everything from upstairs in my house to downstairs to make the actual moving process easier, do lots of cleaning and just get everything I don’t need for the next day into a box. I’ve hired a van for tomorrow which I collect in the morning and then move all my stuff into the van before midday (contractual I have to be out of the house by then) and pray that before midday I’ll be given the OK to move into my flat rather than literally have to cram everything in the van and be in limbo. I’d rather be able to do a few trips! Oh the joys of completion…

Anyway, I have a review for you guys for a neat little protein drink sent to me by the ProBikeKit website. I’ve previously done a review for them before and I was happy to do another as they’re a great company. They have a cool site with lots of cycling-specific gear but also running as well, and a great selection of nutritional items.

I was sent some Science in Sport (SIS) Rego Rapid Recovery protein powder specifically designed for endurance athletes. There are obviously loads and loads of protein drinks out there but usually they’ll be more protein-heavy, whereas this baby has a nice balance of protein and carbs which is ideal for when you’ve done cardio, like running or cycling, rather than post lifting weights.

SIS Rego Rapid Recovery

The idea behind this is that you take it 30 minutes after you’ve exercised and it provides your body with high levels of easily digestible protein and carbohydrates in order to accelerate your recovery. It was developed with Chris Boardman’s, the Olympic cyclists, input and feedback which is quite cool!

There are four different flavours available: vanilla, banana, strawberry and chocolate. I chose the chocolate flavour as it was a no brainer for me.SIS Rego Rapid Recovery 1

You mix one scoop (50g) of the powder with water. Interestingly, unlike regular protein powders, you only mix the powder with water, not milk. It advises that if you mix it with milk it will slow down the absorption process.

The nutritional stats are really good as well:

SIS Rego nutritionSource

Though the ingredients list is quite long… But it is suitable for vegetarians.

SIS Rego Rapid Recovery 2

Thoughts? I was really wary of the fact that it’s just mixing with water… I thought this would make it taste watery and not very nice. But I was pleasantly surprised! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Nestle chocolate milk but it’s not unpleasant. I quite enjoyed it. For me it was a problem-solver for when I run after work and then have a long commute home – basically a long time before I get any proper food. It’ll be really handy after races as well, when I find hours go by before I get any decent food in me.

I’m really happy to continue to use this, especially with marathon training cropping up soon and the fact that I’m still loving lifting weights at the gym. I don’t want my body to suddenly start eating away at the muscle I’ve strived to build over the past few weeks.

Check out ProBikeKit’s website for more cool nutritional products like gels, protein bars and drink mixes, etc.

Have you tried any of the SIS products?

Do you take any protein powders?

What do you have post workout?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent this product for free in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**