Fashionably Fit: Look good to work hard?

I never used to care what I looked like when I worked out. For me it was all about just getting out there and getting it done. I had my bog standard leggings, a couple of tops and a jacket. Who cared what I looked like at 6am on a cold Thursday morning?

But after realising how much I loved running, and general fitness really, I started expanding my wardrobe a bit and looking around at the different shops and online sites.

Suddenly not only did I want good quality gear but I wanted stuff that actually looked good. And why not? I like to wear nice clothes in ‘real life’ so why not running? This might sound vain and vacuous but when I feel like I look the part then I feel more confident. Especially at races. That awkward moment at the start of the race when you look round at other people and judge them by what they’re wearing – ridiculous yes, but it can knock your confidence a little if you don’t feel good yourself.

A while ago Katherine Jenkins got a lot of stick for running a marathon in full make-up (check THIS article out). I can’t understand the venom that went her way. Why have a go if it makes her feel more confident? Surely it doesn’t detract from her performance? We have a girl at our running club who runs in fake eyelashes. She’s happy so what’s the problem?

SportsShoes are running a Fashionably Fit campaign and they invited me to ponder this question of whether looking stylish spurs me on to work harder while exercising or are you fully focused on how you feel rather than what you wear? To me this is like good running music, anything that gets you in the zone can spur me on. And looking stylish and ‘on form’ definitely gets me in the zone.

I was sent some cool Nike workout clothes to review to see whether this was the case.

I received this running top which honestly could be my favourite cold weather jacket.

Nike running jacketIt zips right up to the neck, or you can unzip it to give yourself a bit of ventilation. It was brilliant during my wet and muddy Parkrun a few weeks ago. And it has a back pocket and thumbholes which I love. Definitely more stylish than my usual boring zip up jackets that flap about a bit.

I also received these amazingly bright capris and workout vest.Nike1-77 top and Pro II compression caprisI love how bright the capris are because most of my running gear tends to be quite dark and all my leggings are black. These will be brilliant for my parents to spot me at races. They’re also very comfy – I foresee these to be worn around the house…The top is ideal for when I’m strength training or doing Pilates. But it does have the ‘DRI-FIT’ fabric which wicks the sweat from your body, so no embarrassing sweat stains.

And this running vest.

Nike Balance 2.0 Women's Tank Top Running Vest

I like this top because you don’t have to wear a sports bra under it as it has some extra support.Nike topIt’s so comfortable and it wicks away the sweat. It also is a very flattering shape. I did feel a little naked though at the gym in this outfit! It’ll probably be a top I use during the summer racing months as well as it’s so lightweight.

And socks. Because socks are so important! I hate socks that slip down and are annoying or give me blisters. These are ideal for running. Probably more on the functional side of things than looking good!Nike 3-Pack Quarter Running Socks

Call me vain, slate Katherine Jenkins, but seriously I’m in the camp that when you feel confident in yourself and how you look, it makes you feel good about what your doing and helps you keep motivated and working out strong.

What do you think?

Do you like to look good when you work out?

Do you put more effort in for things like races, or if you’re going to the gym and people will see you?

Do you wear make-up to workout in?

**These products were sent to me for free in order to review, but all opinions are my own.**

Bimuno Review

Hi guys, just popping in quickly. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend. I am enjoying a lovely one of Parkrun, cake and a sports massage from my personal trainer – more on that next week!

I was sent this ‘immunaid’ product to try by a company called Bimuno. They product a range of prebiotics that help people to maintain digestive balance and general wellbeing. Unlike probiotics, which “top up” the good bacteria in your gut, Bimuno products “feed” pre-existing good bacteria and help them thrive.

Expert testimonials describing the effects of the product can be found HERE.

Bimuno Immunaid “Contains vitamin C and unique Galacto-oligosaccharides and energises Bifidobacteria (good bacteria)”

Basically you take these chewy pastilles twice a day and they help support your natural defences (you can read more about it HERE). I’m always a fan of a good review (aren’t we all??) and I do love a celebrity review…Gemma Atkinson used to powder version of the product in her tea and claimed she felt “less bloated” and that it didn’t affect the taste of her tea – bonus! (Source).

So what did I think? I really liked that they were chewy and sweet. OK they’re not bon-bons but they’re a lot better than some supplements which you gulp down as quickly as possible.

Apart from getting ill over Christmas (I had only just begun taking them then anyway) I haven’t had so much as a sniffly nose since taking these. And (apart from my excessive cake consumption obviously) I do think they’ve helped with the evening bloat that sometimes happens to me when I eat too many vegetables (please say you’ve all been there??).

Whether or not it’s because of these I don’t know! But I think if you’re one of those people who suffers quite a lot from colds or flu and needs a bit of a ‘hand’ in the immune system department I reckon these would really help. And you can pretend they’re sweets 😉

What’s your best tip for avoiding the dreaded lurgy over the winter period?

Do you take any supplements? I never used to but I’m finding a little bit ‘extra’ help is brilliant, especially when you’re having a busy, stressful week.

Snack Monster

The heating is on. The big fluffy socks are out. The winter coat is being embraced. My early morning walks with Alfie are becoming very chilly. And when I say chilly, I mean COLD. I don’t understand dogs really. Alfie never looks cold. He never grumbles about going out in the cold or rain. He gets so excited regardless of what outside is like. I think we all need a bit of that relentless joy in our lives.

So I’m joining the fun with What I Ate Wednesday today:

Hosted by the lovely Jenn (check her blog for more info)

Honestly, I have become a hungry beast. Runger is going crazy in these parts. I am a snack MACHINE. At work my drawer is full of different snacks.

Snack drawer

Yes that is a salt shaker there; it’s for my popcorn Winking smile

Some relatively healthy (dried fruit, olives, pumpkin seeds) and some not so healthy (cranberry cookie, chocolates and sweets). This isn’t one day’s worth of snacks though! Usually in the day I’ll have my first snack about an hour or so after lunch, then another snack an hour before going home. Then I’ll have an evening snack after dinner.

There are lots of opinions as to whether snacking is healthy or not. For me at the moment, snacking is what I need. I haven’t vastly changed what I’ve been eating for my actual meals since training for the marathon but I have bumped up my snacks. I hate feeling so full and bloated after lunch or diner so I make sure my extra calories come from snacks around those meals. Plus I love food, so more time eating different food is a win in my eyes.

I recently got a Groupon voucher for Flavourly which is kind of a more elaborate foodie Graze. They send a box of assorted treats to you every month. So I tried it out.

**I have not been compensated for this review or been contacted by Flavourly, these are just my opinions**

Flavourly

I got loads of different items, such a curry kit, salad dressing, aubergine and basil paste (you should have seen Ben’s face with this one)… I’m not sure I’ll carry on my subscription only because it’s quite expensive but I enjoyed it as a once off. So many different things I’d never tried before.

I especially enjoyed these:

Bacon popcorn

Maple syrup and bacon popcorn. You know I love my popcorn but this rocked my world. SO tasty. Kind of salty and sweet. Don’t be scared of the bacon!!

I also enjoyed these dried apple crisps:

Apple crisps

Because I don’t eat enough apples I thought I better have these to up my intake Winking smile I was impressed that they were literally just apple slices. Nothing else in there.

And yes, I have been very much indulging in less than stellar snacks as well. You need a balance.

Chocolates

These were the special chocolates I paid a fortune for bought the other week. Unfortunately I’d forgotten what they all were, so it was a magical mystery tour of chocolates. I’m one of those people who spend ages looking at the chocolate flavours before trying one – no Russian roulette for me in the chocolate world.

And, for evening meals, I’m still loving my slow cooker.

Bean, squash and lentil stew

Bean, lentil and butternut squash stew

I used THIS recipe. I had to switch the chickpeas with cannellini beans though as I’d run out. This was so filling, hearty and tasty. Ben didn’t like it as much…apparently there were “a lot of vegetables”. Pft! He’s not on-board with the obsession with squash or lentils…

So after my first ever 17 mile run on Sunday I decided it would be sensible to not go to spin Monday morning. I definitely needed that day off! I slept for like 10 hours straight Sunday night. On reflection I’m changing my marathon training plan so that Mondays are my day off instead of Wednesday. Seems wise. My body thanked me for it. My hamstrings were so tight!

What’s your opinion on snacking? As much as I can Winking smile

What are your favourite snacks? Apples.

How many rest days do you take in a week? I have at least one rest day a week where I do nothing except walk Alfie.

The highs and lows of a runner cycling

Hi guys, I’m ‘afraid’ that I am once again off from work today! Until Tuesday!

This weekend is going to be a busy one. Ben and me are off to London on Saturday to see some friends and then on Sunday I’m running the National Lottery Anniversary Run (5 miles).

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I cannot tell you how excited I am about this. Why? Because Paula Radcliffe is running it!!!! I’m not aiming for a super fast run – this is one of those runs that you just enjoy. Take in the atmosphere and the scenery…and chat to Paula. Ha. I wish.

In other random news, my dear hubby found this hilarious comic strip by the incredibly funny (though rather rude Winking smile – I have warned you!) writer from the website TheOatmeal.com. It’s called The Terrible & Wonderful Reasons Why I run Long Distances. Since then I’ve actually seen it about on a few blogs. Here’s one segment from it:

imageSource

It really made me laugh. OK I don’t treat my body like a fast-moving dumpster, but it just struck me as a great satire of a lot of bloggers out there (yes, myself very much included). Yay for spinach smoothies!! Winking smile

[Incidentally there’s also a HILARIOUS comic from the same website called My Dog, the Paradox]

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been dabbling with a bit of cycling. I feel like I’m cheating on my running when I say this…it’s not too bad. Let me be clear though, it’s not running (duh).

So far I’ve cycled twice this week. One almost 13 mile route and one 15 mile route (in just over an hour). I don’t think that’s too shabby (especially considering the mountain bike I’m riding haha). I made the rookie error of comparing my rides with a guy from work who, get this, went to France a couple of weeks ago to cycle some of the routes for the Tour de France. As you do.

I’m tootling along nicely at around 14mph and he’s zooming by around 19mph!! Up mountains! Jeeze. I got slightly giddy when I realised one of his cycles was 18mph. I naively thought, “Ok that’s not too far from mine” until I realised that was an easy recovery ride haha.

But it’s been a great relief for my little legs to not be pounding the pavement so often I must say. And especially after Sunday’s tough race.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about cycling:

  • They sell padded cycling shorts for a reason. Enough said.
  • I hate cars. I just love cycling along gutters…not.
  • Checking my Garmin to see my speed is not safe for me. I have limited balance so this is just an accident waiting to happen.
  • Speaking of accidents, what’s the worst that can happen with running? You trip over? It’s painful but it’s not usually life-threatening. Cycling accidents? Jeeze let’s not even think about it.
  • You have to cycle a lot longer and a lot further to get the equivalent to a run (and that’s still debatable).
  • You can slack of a lot more with cycling than running. You can coast along with cycling. With running you just stop.
  • Two words: helmet hair.

But hey ho, it’s something different! And I’ve got my first Pump class booked for Monday morning. My puny muscles are quivering in fear already.

And recently I’ve been trying these yogurts from Danone called Danio. They’re basically a thick yogurt over a layer of fruit at the bottom. If I’m honest I’m not a big fan of the fruit in yogurt…it makes me feel a bit ill.

Danio yogurts

But these I actually enjoyed! Ben was shocked (and a little disgruntled as he thought he’d be having them all, haha). I really genuinely enjoyed them. The flavours I was able to get were peach, cherry, strawberry and passionfruit (passionfruit hands down was the best – that’s the photo above). But I believe there’s also blueberry and raspberry.

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The yogurts are described as “super thick” and they’re not wrong! They also have a good level of protein (11-13g) in them, so you’re kept fuller for longer.

They have no artificial preservatives, flavourings or sweeteners. In fact, the ingredients look pretty good for a fruity flavoured yogurt. And they’re between 120-150kcal per pot and most are 0% fat. Not too shabby. They are quite sweet and they do contain sugar but for a fruit yogurt it’s not too bad at all for a nice afternoon snack to tide you over until dinner.

Funny related story. I bought so many in Tesco (as the company had kindly given me a voucher to purchase them) I looked like I was obsessed.

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They’ve take over half my fridge!!

Right, I’m off to indulge in a bit of coffee and cake with my mum and sister. Ciao for now!

Are you running any races this weekend?

What classes do you do at the gym?

Spa day, races and tasty snacks

OK, I don’t want to rub it in…but I haven’t been at work today! I’ve had the day off! Hurrah! And I had a very lovely day indeed with my mum and mother-in-law. We bought Groupon vouchers ages ago for a spa day. Ooh-err!

We went to a local hotel which was all rather posh and lovely.

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And indulged in a bit of a pampering. We had a neck, shoulders and back massage, and a facial. Oh it was divine. It lasted for so long and then we could mosey about in lovely thick robes (though it was a tad hot in them considering the weather). We went in the pool and Jacuzzi (well, I just sat in the Jacuzzi) and then had a lovely salad for lunch in the gardens.

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I went for marinated chicken with sundried tomatoes and rock. So good.

Does anyone else find it awkward having a treatment? I’m always so self-conscious. And about the most stupid stuff…like what should I be wearing under my robe? Should I be in just my knickers, should I be in my bikini? And then when she’s actually massaging me I start over-thinking…should I be talking to her? I hope my back is a normal back…Should I be complimenting her technique? Jeeze I never know. So I just stayed silent. Better to say silent then say something stupid!

Well, despite my ridiculous over-thinking anxieties, it was wonderful. We had a lovely morning/afternoon.

Just looking back at the week, on Wednesday night Ben and me headed to a league run with our running club called the RR10 league (do other people have that??). Basically all the running clubs in our area compete in a set of 10 races at different locations. It’s not based on time but rather actual place you finish.

Because I never manage to get home in time from work I haven’t made any others except for Wednesday night which was really close to home.

I was feeling a bit nervous as my hip/knee has been giving me a bit of grief again (*wails in frustration*). I’ve found I have hip bursitis. Joy of joys. Basically my hips flares up a bit when it’s tight and it causes a bit of discomfort in my hip and knee. All I really can do is use lots of ice, stretching and strengthening of my hips.

So I was going to take this run as just a fairly standard run. Not too easy but not going like lightening. The race was off-road and apparently 4.8 miles.

As we started the first mile was quite slow anyway as it was single file through a corn field. You couldn’t overtake which was so frustrating. But I thought this was ideal really as it stopped me from sprinting.

Then the next couple of miles were OK. We came out of the corn field and I could speed it up a tad and get past some people.

RR10 Anna

I’ve been wearing a knee thing to just give a bit of extra support

Towards the end of mile three we hit a steady incline and it got rough. I felt like my legs were like lead and I was tired. I literally felt like I had no energy.

Then mile four was another loop of the bloody incline. I found myself despairing by looking at my Garmin but I literally could do nothing about it. Anyway at like 4.5 miles I was thinking “excellent, almost there”.

We hit mile 5 and I was thinking “ermm, where’s the finish then?”. Some marshals shouted we were almost there and I decided to give it my all. I mean we were at 5.1 miles, it must be round that corner right?

I got round that corner and no finish line was in sight. I lost my speed and motivation. Finally I saw the finish and practically crawled across it. Really not fun.

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Man it was tough. I came twelfth girl though (whoop whoop). Considering the first mile was pants as I got stuck behind so many people (as did everyone I guess) and I’m still having issues with my leg I think that’s great Open-mouthed smile

I went home and had a lovely ice bath and whipped on the compression socks. I still have an irrational fear of my compression socks since the dreaded cramp incident the other week…Ben has to help me now. Haha.

And I also want to share with you guys these great snacks I’ve been sent for review. The lovely Jemma over at Celery and Cupcakes got me involved and I was more than happy to try these bad boys as I’d heard good things about them.

Garbanzo

They’re called Garbanzo snacks and have only been around since 2011but the fan-base is expanding! Basically they’re roasted chickpeas and they have a pretty clean ingredient’s list: GM-free, no additives and no preservatives. And they’re high in fibre so help keep you full.

And they taste really good. They’re satisfyingly crunchy and the flavours are great (my favourite is the Thai sweet chilli).

And the best part? The serving sizes are huge for 88 calories!!

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This, my friends, is only half a portion! I decided to drag them out for as long as possible as I was addicted and only had three bags. Really, really good.

***Thanks to Jemma, I can offer you guys 20% extra if you decide to purchase any of the snacks from their website. Basically the discount is two packets free of charge for every order. Just type in GARB/02 in the notes section of the shopping cart.***

And that’s it from me! We’ve got Parkrun tomorrow and then the dreaded New Forest 10 miler. I may not survive due to dehydration, so thanks for reading guys. I’ll miss you! Winking smile

What treatment would you have a spa? I’m all about massages. It feels SO good.

Have you suffered from any injuries?

What snacks can’t you get enough of?