A whirlwind year

It’s been a while since I updated my blog now. 

I had to put my blog on the backburner for a while as I completed my course in Personal Training with YMCAFit outside my full time job. Matt and I married earlier this year in July, so I was busy in wedding planning and decided to change jobs in digital advertising 2 months before the wedding. I also turned 30, so it’s been a hectic year to say the least, but a bloody fantastic year!

Through all of this, as usual, sport has kept me focussed and has been a great release of energy and to ‘get away from it all’. I always say to my friends that sport is my therapy. It’s my time to sort all my thoughts, make plans, make peace, put the world to right. I’ve also managed to complete the following challenges which I am massively proud of:

  • Tonbridge Olympic Tri
  • Brighton Marathon
  • Henley Bridge to Bridge 14km swim
  • Hever Castle Gauntlet half ironman relay (we came 2nd out of the relays)

Each challenge has sparked an even bigger burning desire to enter into the next challenge. After the 14k Henley swim I was buzzing, and all I could think about is – what next?

I’ve had a curiosity about Ironman since I was 17. I used to lifeguard as my Saturday day job outside of school, whilst still competing for a swimming club. There was a swimming teacher whom I used to spend a lot of time chatting to about triathlons. He used to tell me in great detail all about his ironman races. Back then it didn’t even cross my mind I would ever be close enough to complete one. It felt like a whole world away. It did spark a curiosity in me that has stayed ever since.

It’s only since I reconnected properly with sport and began to enter into challenges over the years, that I’ve realised it could actually be a possibility. I love reading about nutrition, I love learning new skills, I love pushing my boundaries, I love putting together a training plan for the next few months, I absolutely love swimming, cycling and how they make me feel.

The last few years I’ve followed a lot of inspirational people on social media who have completed multiple ironman races, I’ve spoken to a few friends who have completed them. It’s taken me a few years to research and seriously consider if I can make such a commitment as enter an Ironman.

So after much consideration, I finally entered into Ironman Zurich 2017. I am unbelievably excited. I know it’s going to be a journey filled with massive ups and downs but I can’t wait for the journey ahead of me.

I promise I will be making regular updates on my blog now as I know it will be just as useful for me to document my training and I’d love to inspire anyone else to get involved in triathlons.

Alice x

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Getting Smart with your Carbs

In the lead up to this weekend’s Brighton Marathon, I am now resting up and have significantly lowered my training mileage, focussing even more on getting my nutrition right this week. It’s made me think a lot about carbs and the misconception it has in society, especially as a young women.

Media sources (i.e. Only Way is Essex) have given the nation a stigma about carbs, that they are bad for you, or that you will put on weight from consumption.

I have had comments during marathon training such as “you must be able to eat whatever you want”, or “you must be able to eat endless amounts of carbs” which is not completely correct. Once you understand exactly what nutrient gains you get from each food type, carbs including, means you will be able to get the best out of your food – avoiding tiredness, hunger pangs, putting on excess weight.

So it’s important to understand how your body utilises nutrients, so you know what to eat, and when.

Focus on the type of carb and the most effective time to eat – Timing and Type.

Once you know how to eat carbs smartly  will get the best out of each food type.

Here is my breakdown of carbs and how you can relate them to your training or workout sessions.

Simple and Complex Carbs

Both Simple and Complex provide you with energy, the only difference is nutrient density. Basically, complex carbs will provide you with more energy and keep you fuller for longer. Simple Carbs (sugar) will give you energy for shorter time periods, and thus making you hungry sooner.

Simple Carbs (Sugars)

  • Table Sugar (sucrose)
  • Fruit (Fructose)
  • Sweets
  • Jam
  • Honey
  • Milk (Lactose)
  • Energy Drinks (glucose)

Complex Carbs (starches)

  • Wheat (bread, pasta)
  • Oats,
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Vegetables

Low GI Carbs Vs High GI Carbs

LOW GI – enters your bloodstream slowly, and therefore used by the body for energy slower, therefore no sudden spurts of energy and feeling fuller for longer.

HIGH GI – carbs with high GI enters your blood stream quickly, this is when you feel a burst of energy. Once this occurs you will become hungry.

Both forms have their place, find out when thee best time to eat both is below:

High GI Carbs Examples:

  1. Sweets (fructose)
  2. Honey
  3. Milk (lactose)
  4. Bagel/Baguette
  5. White Rice
  6. Baked potato
  7. Fruit juice
  8. Watermelon
  9. Parsnip

High GI Carbs benefits and when to eat:

  • Good for refuelling during exercise
  • Instant supply of glucose if consumed shortly before exercise.
  • After exercise
  • Promotes fat storage due to high insulin response (basically that sudden spike in energy after you have eaten something sweet)

Low GI Carbs Examples:

  • Rye/Linseed bread
  • Whole grain bread
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Oat based food (porridge)
  • High Bran Cereals
  • Basmati Rice
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Boiled potatoes in skin
  • Fresh fruit – apple, pear, citrus fruit, plums, grapes
  • Vegetables – Carrots, Sweet potato (medium GI), Beetroot (Medium GI), Sweetcorn (Medium GI)

Low GI Carbs Benefit and when to each:

  • Controls hunger
  • Keeps you fuller for longer
  • Does not promote fat storage caused by high insulin response
  • Before prolonged exercise

Summary:

  • Glucose – Carbs are converted to glucose before being utilised in cells in the body for energy.
  • Your muscles rely on carbs for muscle contraction. If you want to get toned – you need to eat carbs!
  • Remember food = Energy in! Exercise/everyday activities like walking around = Energy out.
  • If energy in is higher than energy out this will = to weight being put on.  

Please – stop denying your body of key nutrients. Love your body and take the time to understand how to properly nurture it ❤

Tapering Tips for a Marathon

This week I run my second marathon – The Brighton Marathon, with London being my previous. My goal this time, has been to learn and build on my experience from the London Marathon. This includes better nutrition, tailoring each training session to focus on quality rather than quantity. All my training is in the bag now – this week I’m just focussing on mentally and physically tapering down to Sunday’s event. Getting plenty of rest, focussing on the right nutrition and ensuring I don’t overdo the training.

So I have collated my key taper tips based on previous experience and research. 

Note that the run type moves from specific training methods (sprints intervals, fartlek, marathon pace) to running an easy pace.

  • 3 weeks out  – Start to reduce total weekly mileage by 20-25% and each individual run by this amount…. If you’re last run is 20 miles then your run should be around 15 miles at a very light pace. If you are running 35 miles a week collectively, reduce mileage to 25/26 miles
  • 2 weeks out  – Start to reduce total weekly mileage by 20-25% and each individual run by this amount…. If you’re last run is 12-15 miles then your run should be around 8-10 miles miles at a very light pace.
  • 1 week out – again… reduce the weekly mileage by 20-25%
  • Mid week runs – no more than 4 miles at a light page.
  • Avoid strength/weight training of the lower body
  • Stock up on key nutrients:
    • Vitamin C – Build up immune system with foods such as Orange, Kiwis, Brigh coloured veg such as red, yellow bell peppers,
    • Stock up on protein to rebuild muscles that have been torn/feeling achey.
  • Stretching – Focus on foam rolling and lots of stretching. This is now my mantra and I spend 20-30 minutes stretching after each run. I have narrowly avoided injury by rolling out my IT Band. This lengthens up the connective tissue running from the outside of the hip to the Knees. This is often where a lot of athletes feel pain in their knee because the connective tissue becomes tight and pulls at the knee.
  • Rest – Stock up on lots of sleep for your body to recover from all the months of training/
  • Visualisation & Preparation on the day – many runners find the taper part particularly difficult, so to avoid demotivation because you can’t get out there and pound the pavements start focussing on the race:
    • Visualise yourself running the course of the run.
    • How are you going to pace yourself throughout the martathon – negative splits (the first half of the marathon at a slower pace than the second to avoid overload and pushing yourself too much that you wil become much slower at the end)
    • Start visualisation your prep the day, getting together all your gels, clothes, water – have you prepared and bought everything you need for the day?
    • Reflect on all the great training you have done in the lead up to the day, be proud of what you have already achieved!!

Good luck to everyone running the Brighton and London Marathon!

Alice x

 

When a race doesn’t go to plan

It’s a gorgeous sunny bank holiday (it was due to rain but the sun came out). Training has gone really well and am feeling fitter than ever. The first triathlon in Kent that my boyfriend has come to spectate. The first triathlon of the season too “let’s start as we mean to go on”  I am SO pumped for this triathlon. First off is the 400m swim in the pool. 16 lengths. I’m waiting in line to be called to my designated lane. Chatter of excitement and nerves between fellow competitors. Watching other swimmers already mid swim,  feeling excited and ready to beat my 6 min 15 sec time from last year. I came 3rd in total out of all the women in the swim. I knew I could beat this as remembered how little I trained in the swim last year.

Visualisation visualisation visualisation going round in my head. My strategy for remembering the lengths was chunks of 100m. Just count down each one.

I get called to my lane and really go for it. Sprint first 2 lengths then steady to my CSS pace for the rest of it. The two others in my lane are breastrokers. I overtake both once. Then later on I need to overtake again,  but this time one is already overtaking the other.  So I’m stuck behind two breastrokers. Luckily we are close to the end of the lane so full steam ahead I overtake both. I get to the end of the 14 lap,  expecting to see the “2 length board” notice. But nothing. I look up confused. I’m on full steam ahead I go for the last two laps. I get to the end,  then see the board “2 laps”. I can’t believe it,  this couldn’t be right? I’ve been so careful to count my laps! I check my Garmin under the water just after the flags. 5.33. This would mean a PB. So confused I continue with my 17th and 18th length. I feel sick with the confusion,  having trained so hard. “Hopefully I’ll catch my bf or parents in the start of the cycle”. I transition as fast as possible and as I am jumping on my bike I see my boyfriend. My concern is confirmed,  they definitely added on two lengths. Gutted. Sick. Confused. Angry. Sooooo many emotions running  through my body. My boyfriend and parents had been watching from the spectator area and had both discussed how the lap counters at the end of each lane were often in in depth conversations, and raised their concerned whether they were paying attention.

How do you deal with a situation like this? How can I continue the race with full motivation and power now my motivation as been tarnished. How can I put all my months of training into this race.  I know I’m fitter and faster than last year due to my training schedule. I literally want to cry there and then. I’m cycling through the lanes of Kent, the garden of England. My breathing is short and I can’t seem to get a good gasp of air, all I can think of is how utterly disappointed, annoyed, frustrated I am of what’s just happened. You put everything into training and preparing for an event and an external factor ruins it. Swimming has been my best sport out of all three. I’ve competed since I was 8 and it’s something I’m really proud of and very competitive at.

We spoke to the head referee and unfortunately there was nothing we could do to dispute this. At the end of the day I know what time I did the swim, in unfortunately I think it effected my cycle and run pace, but you need to go through these things to learn!

Would it be a triathlon I would recommend? yes – but get out if you know you’ve done the lengths
What would I do different? Get out if I’ve done 16 lengths. Next time I do a tri in an indoor pool, make sure I tell the referrees/counters I’m aiming for a certain time and tell them to count properly

What I learnt from this tri:
– I want to improve my running technique/larger stride
– Get faster at cycling, being able to go at a faster constant price

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Pre Race Dinner – Chorizo & Lime Sweet Potato

One of my fave things about triathlons is the pre race dinner. A dish I learnt when training for the marathon and had before every race since. It’s healthy, nutritious, very healthy and full of flavours.

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Ingredients:

  • Thick Chorizo
  • 2 x Sweet Potato
  • 2 x small Red Chillis
  • Lime
  • Handful of Pumpkin Seeds
  • Handful Mint and Coriander Leaves
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Spagetti

Method:

  1. Cut up the sweet potato into 1cm chunks and bring to the boil until soft.
  2. Whilst doing this start to fry the chorizo, which is cut into small thumb-sized chorizo.
  3. Cook the spaghetti
  4. Once the sweet potato is soft, drain, but save a cup of the drained water. Pour the sweet potato back into the pan. Cut and drain lime all over the sweet potato and let the juice soak in.
  5. Mix in the pumpkin seeds, chorizo, mint and coriander leaves in with the sweet potato
  6. Tip some of the water back in with the sweet potato, being careful not to put too much water in. We want to make sure it isn’t to dry.
  7. Once the spaghetti is cooked, serve onto a plate then pour over the sweet potato. Et voila!

Nutrients:

  • Spaghetti – carbs for higher energy levels
  • Sweet Potato – High in calcium, potassium and iron. Loaded with beta carotene which are strong antioxidants that are essential to cellular protection, muscle recovery and regeneration.
  • Pumpkin Seeds – High in magnesium, iron and protein

Mornings – Rise & Shine!!

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Everyone has their fave time of day they prefer working out whether it be evening times, lunchtimes.. mine by far is the mornings. Recently I haven’t been sleeping well, with the light sunny mornings in London (not complaining!) Now we are transitioning from spring to summer, meaning I wake up like a light bulb turning every single morning. I often fall into the rut of laying there, looking at my phone, reading messages, scanning social media then suddenly an hour has passed and completely wasted an hour of the best time in London! Once I’ve moved my butt out of bed and either running across the park, swimming in the lido or doing yoga stretches in my living room, I realise this is my favourite way to start mornings. It does come at a price, early nights and getting sleepy early on. Quite often by the time I’ve arrived at work I feel like half the day has already passed.

Another main reason I prefer training in the morning is sparing up my evenings to spend time with loved ones or relaxing/recovering from the training sessions.

The main focus of my blog has been how to balance my training with the rest of my life. It can be truly difficult juggling everything. I absolutely love training, it makes me feel so great – healthy, strong, fit and I love feeling the endorphins. Sometimes when I throw myself into so much training and don’t give myself time to relax or I don’t see my friends/family as much, it doesn’t make me happy. And if I’ve spent more time hanging out with friends/going out for drinks and not allowing much time to train (or being too hungover) this doesn’t make me happy either.

Now spring has sprung and the days are lighter I realise I can utilise my time a bit better, by NOT laying in bed trying to get back to sleep or reading news on my phone. By getting up and out.

So in a nutshell I’ve learnt over the past year the best way for me to balance out lifestyle with training is focussing on morning sessions with a few evening sessions if I have the time (and of course weekends).

For all those other Londonders (if you’re not still up from the night before) run on early on a sunday morning – you’ll see London at its most beautiful, empty and fresh, no tourists, hardly any traffic along the roads. Absolute bliss!!

Here are some snaps I have taken along some of my early morning runs at the weekends:

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Just before Limehouse basin

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Breakfast of champions

Only a week until my first tri of the season, starting with a nice sprint triathlon back in Kent. I try to ensure I eat loads of protein after I train to repair muscles, and thankfully I love protein. This morning I did 2.4k with the London Fields Triathlon club followed by this delicious breakfast of champions.. The picture speaks for itself – soft boiled eggs, spinach, bacon and tomatoes. I didn’t take a pic but I also made a tasty smoothie consisting of bananas, milks, spinach, peanut butter and it was delish!

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Top tips for commuting to work by bike in London

My last post offered reasons to turn your commute into a cycle or run. This post is to highlight how to cycle to work safely on the London roads. A main concern from my friends and family about cycling to work is safety.

Having cycled to work for 5 years now, I want to encourage as many people to cycle as well, it’s my favourite part of the day, jumping on my bike and cycling to work feeling refreshed and ready for the day!

1 – Awareness – Know exactly what other vehicles are around you – in front of you, behind and to your right. Pre empt other vehicles movements by cycling at a responable and not fast speed.

2 – Positioning – Stay back from HGV/Buses, do not squeeze infront of them by cycling on the inside. This is when you can go out of their view, and they turn left leaving you little/no room

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This picture shows the area around a HGV where cyclists CANNOT be seen by the drive. When an HGV has stopped, stay back and DO NOT cycle on the inside. This is a main cause of fatalities on the road. This picture showcases this

3 – Cycle a wide birth from parked cars on the side of the road – don’t tuck in making way for cars (polite but not safe). Give a wide birth to pre empt drivers opening their door without looking out for you.

4 – Make eye contact – the best way to ensure whether the driver has seen you. Also make eye contact with pedestrians so they know not to cross at a red manAbide by the highway code. If you are on the road, you have the same rules as cars.

5 – Stop at red lights

6 – Wear bright clothing (hi viz ideally)

7 – Know/plan your route before heading out

All London Boroughs offer free of subsided cycle training through TFL take a look here. It also offers advice for women cyclists.

Top reasons to cycle or run into work!

I wanted to share a few  reasons why I love to cycle or run as my commute to work. I’m really passionate about it so hope to inspire others to get in on the action as well. It takes a little more organisation the night before, but not as much as you (or I didn’t) think. And it’s definitely worth it.

#No 1 – It’s Free

If you don’t want to pay for the gym and are lucky enough to have showers at work then it’s a perfect way of getting fit for free and saving on travel costs! I pay for a gym membership to do yoga and spin classes for my triathlon classes so get to use their showers too. I used to commute into London from Kent so I really appreciate being closer and being able to cycle/run in.

#No 2 – It’s healthy

I love to make running part of my routine and not feel like I’m taking a big chunk of my daily life. I can find running boring sometimes so turning my commute into a run means I don’t really have to think about it too much, the goal is to get to work in time!

 #No 3 – It’s Energising

It really is the best way to start the day. It’s even better when the sun is out with good weather. I often find I don’t really sweat on my cycle to work, so sometimes I wonder whether I can class it as exercise if I don’t feel I’ve put too much effort in. If I had to chose I’d love to cycle into work everyday and then run home. It’s a good way to wake up and get your body system going then leave the higher intensity later on the day once I’ve woken up.

 #No 4 – Efficiency

You get to work on time/don’t have to endure the smelly tube or unreliable bus!

Cycling to work means you know exactly when you get to your destination. Apart from a couple of traffic lights here or there, it really is the perfect way to get to work. No “my tube is late” excuses (unless you want to use that!)

#No 5 – It’s nice to connect with the outdoors – getting outside the office!

I’ve actually come to realise that it doesn’t really rain as much as London’s reputation has it (shock, horror). Cycling or running in maens you need to prepare for weather and temperature so I’m constantly preparing for the next day whether it’s going to be a bit extra chilly and I need those gloves or sunshine so I don’t need that jumper.

 #No 6 – Part of a new community

I often find myself defending cycling in London to my friends, trying to convince them it’s not as dangerous as it seems. Especially in commuter hour. In the busier parts of central London you’ll find cycle lanes, and another 30 other cyclists making the same route as you, so you tend to cycle in packs. Therefore more visible to vehicles. Strava app has been brilliant and added a bit more fun to my cycle and runs, competing with yourself and other cycles on stretches of the commute.

#No 7 – Find new parts of London you hadn’t seen before

I love discovering new roads/bars/restaurants in London. So I love mixing up my route to work to make it more interesting. On my cycle I tend to try and find new quieter roads into work when I can. I’ve realised how close everything really is in London. When running I like to take in the scenery a bit more so I often pass new coffee shops, bars and restaurants I take note to go and visit

Back in the game

A quick blog today as I’m currently feeling very happy. Back in the game after a big spout of illness last week. A combination of lack of sleep (a bit too much partying)  with it being mid winter and literally everybody else in London with some sort of illness.. We like to share!

Anyhow last week I made myself rest for about 4/5 days,  eat well and finally I’m back in the game after doing an epic run this evening. I’m trying to get in my Mileage for the Hackney Half in May.

January for me was literally getting my fitness levels up,  getting my muscles going for longer,  getting lean, decreasing fat mass and increasing muscle mass!

So after having 5 days off training last week, I was pretty pumped for tonight’s run. It was supposed to be yesterday but in true British fashion it was gail force winds and tons of rain. And surprise surprise today was beautiful sunshine. So I mapped out my route which included London Bridge and Tower Bridge, I always love running round this area/the Thames. The beautiful sites never get old!

I finally set my Garmin up yesterday so my tracked the run on that, along with strava as usual. Nearing home I realised I’d be doing over 10k (my aim) and managed around 12k. A good pace and felt good. Running in London means a bit of agility training having to dodge around all the tourists or ppl on pavements, mainly around Bishopsgate and Tower Bridge. I got a high five from some little shits hanging about a bus stop and a cheer once I high fived  them back so that was nice.

I finished the evening with a long stretch out in the gym, trying to do some of the yoga movements I’ve learnt so far this year. Then had a lovely bath and a protein packed dinner. I’m loving bone broth at the moment, inspired from the hemsley & hemsley book out for all the health benefits that come along with it.

  • Glycine – good for boosting immune system, detoxing stomach, good for digestion
  • Proline – great for skin health
  • Gelatin – protein
  • Reduce inflammation of arthritis/joint problems
  • I also downloaded a lean muscle guide from ldn muscle so had a bit of inspiration from them too.

So I’ve loved the new Hemlsey&Hemsley book I got for Christmas. Another recipe I make is egg frittatas, I love making these because I can make 12 at a time and take them into work. Putting hot sauce on top really adds a bit of spice.

– Egg frittatas this week included courgettes, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, Kale and topped with a sprinkling of blue cheese for flavour
– I also recooked some of Sunday roasts chicken in paprika and garam masala in coconut oil. DELISH!!

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