Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Day run

Happy Boxing Day!
Following on from yesterday's post, I decided to stop being a wussy and went for a three-mile run around the village. It's one of the routes I used when I was training for the half.
Today felt like a mini achievement as I haven't run since November, and as I've mentioned before, knowing I've run a half marathon definately helps motivation. It took 29 minutes, so just under 10 minutes per mile. That's quite slow for me, but I think I sped up/slowed down more than normal rather than keeping a constant pace.
I've recently uploaded a lot of music on to my Ipod, and I find a cracking playlist also helps motivation. Today's was as follows:
Hit That Gash - Rouge A Levres VS Foreign Beggars. This is such a catchy song, although the lyrics are quite crude. Rapping sounds a lot cooler in French.
Your Love Is My Drug - Ke$ha. Not a new song but I've recently heard her Animal album and I am impressed; mostly what I call 'club tunes' but some funny and more emotionally-led songs as well. A good album to put on if you're going on a night out!
Don't You Worry Child - Swedish House Mafia ft. John Martin.
Don't Wake Me Up - Chris Brown. I'm guessing he doesn't like to be woken up, up, up, up, up up.
Spectrum (Say My Name) [Calvin Harris remix] - Florence + The Machine.
Time Bomb - All Time Low. I've recently gotten into All Time Low, and this is my favourite song off their 'Dirty Work' album. I can't decide if I prefer this or the acoustic version.
It's Like That - Run DMC. Classic.
Dirty Picture p.2 - Ke$ha ft. Taio Cruz.
Sorry For Party Rocking - LMFAO.
My personal motto for running with headphones in is to only use them when I'm running on pavements/cross country, as I feel a lot more aware without them when I'm primarily running on roads.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Top 5: "Reasons" For Not Exercising

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone is having/had a lovely day and received lots of presents. I know I did! Spoilt bear.
As the stresses of Semester 1 fade away, I thought I'd address something that has probably been the real reason I haven't posted; I haven't exercised very much since November, thus I've had not a lot to write about! So today I thought I'd post a funny one, addressing the 5 key "reasons", also known as excuses, for sacking off exercise.
Excuse 1: "I'm tired"
This is probably the most-used and I am very guilty. Unless hallucinations are happening, you are probably fine. Exercise is supposed to energize, so you can only feel better after.... maybe?
Excuse 2: "I'm ill"
If you are not comatosed in bed with illness, you are definately capable of exercising! My favourites are self-diagnosed illnesses, such as the flu or chest infections, or illnesses which start as a snuffle or cough and magically develop overnight into Spanish flu or bronchitus. If you're not on anti-biotics, I am betting it is not that bad. Wussy.
Excuse 3: "I'm busy"
This and tiredness are my two worst excuses. Organisation is key here, and if you (by 'you' I mean me) cut the amount of time faffing around procrastinating from essays (watching TV, talking to housemates, tidying my room, scouring ASOS's dress section) I'm sure I could find 30 minutes a day to bust a (bicep) move.
Excuse 4: "My favourite sports bra is in the wash"
I really can't justify this, but I've have used this before. Oh, the shame....
Excuse 5: "I don't like exercise"
Oh no you di-dent. You, my friend, are doing the wrong kind! Don't like running? Don't run. Don't like swimming? Don't swim. Don't like free weights? Ha ha, every body likes free weights. But seriously, there are so many different types of cardio and toning exercises that you will surely find something you enjoy. I used to hate working out my legs, but I gained a trainer and a world of legs-ercises was revealed to me. Change it up; if you really hate the gym, don't go, but make the effort to find something you do enjoy. Excuse eliminated!
Tomorrow I'm going to attempt my 3 mile running route in under 30 minutes and take my stallion for a ride. We did get out for our Christmas Day ride after all :)
I've got my first gym session in about 4 weeks on Saturday, which I'm really looking forward to, so I'll either post a lengthier update at the end of the week or post little ones throughout the week on my exercise exploits.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Hello stranger....

Hello, so I'm the worst blogger ever. In my defence, it has been off-the-wall crazy busy since I last posted, but most of it has actually been on the interesting side of life, so here are my top 4 things I've been doing since 17th November......
I went for my first run with Mark (running buddy) since the half marathon. We managed 4.5/5 miles in 40 minutes! It felt wonderful. I don't think I need to point out that I haven't run since... I've drawn up a rough draft of my study timetable over Christmas, and I've fit in 2 runs a week. Mark and I are planning to enter the Reading Half Marathon in March.
Ernest and I went to our first competition since November 2011! I may or may not have mentioned that he fractured his leg in January, this year, and it's been a steady and progressive road back to normality. It was really exciting to be out again. We did Prelim 12 and Prelim 15, getting 64.80% and 61.something% respectively.
Clean eating has been going O.K - I managed 15 days last month out of 30. This month hasn't been great so far, however my eating habits have changed for the better. Even if I'm not having a clean day, this still only means that I'll eat clean then go out for a meal in the evening. I haven't seen my trainer recently because she went on holiday for 2 weeks, and I can't get to the gym until the 20th, but I'm sure I've lost body fat; half an inch from my waist and half an inch from my hips.
Between Christmas and New Year, I'm doing a house check for a potential hound owner! I'm pleased to be involved with my favourite charity again - Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare.
In more rubbish news, Ernest had a brief visit to hospital from Saturday to Wednesday as a result of being kicked. The worry was that the kicks were over his joints, on the leg which was fractured in January, however there is no infection. There is bruising on one ligament but he only needs box resting for two weeks; hopefully I'll be able to ride on Christmas Day, as is tradition.
I'd better go, I have two assignments due in next Tuesday; a 3500 extended essay on Women's Writing in the 18th Century and 2000 words on Literature of Sexuality: In Search of the Normal.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

New PT Workout: #1

As promised, albeit late, here is the gym workout I had been following when I started the blog. As I can't fit a cable machine in my Uni room, I have put the modifications for a home workout in pink. Not for any specific reason, I just like pink.

I do now have a new workout, so will post that up soon; my second attempt at it is on Monday, at the gym with trainer.
I originally started training with Michelle for the half marathon, so the workouts prior to this were very leg and core-focused; now, they are entire body workouts:

Warm-up: treadmill hill run/sprint - 10 minutes
As I don't normally warm up at home, I wouldn't do anything.
I then do 3 sets of the following exercises:
Barbell high pull - 10 kg 12 reps
I don't own barbells so I use two 5kg weights.
Bulgarian split squat - 20 reps
These are the absolute bane of my life but they are so effective and really easy to do at home, assuming you own at least one chair in the entireity of your abode!
Bosu press ups - 12 reps
I don't own a bosu so I do the easier version of a normal press up (I'm building up to do the full version!).
TRX hip raise and leg curl - 12 reps
I use my swiss ball for these.
Seated cable row with rope - 3 plates 12 reps
I replace these with bent over rows, which I hate doing and I don't know why....
Cross body step ups - 20 reps
I do these on the stairs.
I really didn't feel like these were doing anything, until the next day I had very achy inner-leg muscles!
Dips on bench - 12 reps
A chair replaces the bench.
DB lateral raises - 2kg 12 reps
Plank on TRX - 30 seconds
I just do the plank as normal.
I do it either on my elbows or up on my hands; hands is supposed to be harder but I don't find this so?
Lying swiss ball Russian twist - 12 reps
These are so hard and effective. I would recommend practising these and including them in your workout regularly.
TRX crunches - 15 reps
Crunches as normal.
Alternate supermans - 20 reps
It's important to work the lower back muscles too!
Warm down: Cycle for 5 minutes and streeeeeeetch.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

New Lululemon running trousers

OK so I have been a busy little bee since my return from America, but I meant to post this a while ago (on the 27th to be precise). Photos will be added of the glorious trousers...

Today I broke in my new violet Lululemon trousers. I only found out about the brand when I was in Canada last month, but everyone raved about it so I was eager to see what all the fuss was about. 

After paying $86, I had high expectations, for although they fit snugly and made my legs look nice and slim, I could get that effect with my £32 Marks and Spencer jeans. Or by wrapping cling film round my legs. 

As you can see, they have a mesh panel which absorbs the sweat from your knee crevice (cringe - what a horrible word) and a back pocket to fit in a small snack/energy tablets etc.

Today we did a similar route to Friday, except we ran further up the first hill on to the trails. So, not only was I breaking in my Lulu's, but I was on my first trail run! Life is wild. It was a bit like fartlek training, leaping and dodging my way around rocks and tree roots; it didn't feel like running, and although this part of the run must have been about a mile long, it went really quickly. I would definitely like to include more trail runs when I'm home.

We ran 5.42 miles in 52 minutes - around 9.5 minutes per mile. My trousers were very comfortable; they were snug but not tight, kept my legs warm without causing me to overheat, and didn't chafe anywhere. I would definitely buy more sportswear from Lululemon.

Pip xxx

Friday, 26 October 2012

A Brief History of Running

Today I did my first run since the Basingstoke half marathon on the 7th October, in the place where I first went running 2 years ago. 

As a commemoration of this glorious event, I thought I would give you a brief history of my running career (less career, more temp job at points). I'll skirt around the half marathon because I'm writing an article for the Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare website - the charity I ran for - and will post it up here when it's finished.

In 2010, I went to New Jersey and joined my Uncle Dean for a run. It was only about 20 minutes round the block, with a little incline near the end. Muscles ached that I didn't even know existed in my legs, but over the next 7 days I believe I ran 3, maybe 4, times. 

Upon my return to fair England, I signed up to do a 5K series at Thruxton racecourse; the first race took just under 27 minutes. I came second-to-last, but everyone cheered me over the finish, including my Grandad Ben. The training I did for this was a loop around the local business park, where I was working at the time as a receptionist, four times a week. It initially took 20 minutes, until I added another half loop, taking me to 27 minutes on a slow day. Having a local troop of gypsies/thieves/tax dodgers (I think I've got my point across) settled at the top of the long incline was always an incentive to run faster, too.

In August 2010, I fractured my foot. In April 2011, I had plastic surgery. Running never really happened in between that time, and then in March 2012 I saw the entry forms for the Basingstoke half at my local gym's reception. A little voice in my head, less annoying than the one that tells me I'm a pork pie or when I've definitely overreacted to something, told me to enter it. I entered it a couple of days later and began planning how to train; the summer holidays from Uni were coming up, so I could properly begin in May and still have five months.

There's a good 3 mile route around my parents' house, which on a good day took me 27 minutes. But for a while I just couldn't push past 3 miles - then along came Mark, my Mum's cousin. The first run he took me on was 4 miles; I felt elated. I could do more than 3 after all - and if I could do that, I told myself, I could definitely do 13.1. In the meantime, I found a lovely 4.5 mile route, although I never quite managed to run all the way up the final incline. Maybe I could now...

For the next few months, we ran parts of the course and around the area where Mark lives. One of my favourite runs to date is the first time I ran 7 miles (with Mark). The first 2 were deathly, the middle 4 comfortable, the final 1 a constant push. I really started to believe I could run the race, and in good time. 

Prior to the half, I had run 3 5K's, coming second-to-last, first and last, and a 5 mile race with Mark. But I wasn't nervous; if my running buddy was with me, I knew he would push me through the hard parts, meaning most of it as it was so hilly, and we could chat on the flatter stretches. We completed the half in 2 hours 7 minutes. 

The following week was quite lazy. Then I began schooling Ernest again, and went back to the gym on the 15th. Two weeks later I felt ready to start up my Sunday runs with Mark again, but he was busy and Uni work suddenly dropped on me, so until today I hadn't run for 18 days.

Dean and I went for a 5.19 mile run around the local area; this time is perfect because the weather is ideal for me, and it's very close to Halloween so all the houses are decorated (I love love love Halloween and America does it big style). Although we ended up following a 'garbage' truck for a little while, it was a perfect way to shake off the 7 hour flight and get straight back into running. We ran past so many big, beautiful mansions with the Manhattan skyline in the background that I spent more time looking around than thinking about how hard I found it from around mile 3.5. 

One of the best parts of running the half is that now I've done it, if there's anything I'm struggling with sports-wise I just think, "I've run a half marathon, I can definitely do this!". It definitely helped push me through the harder parts of the run today. But really, it's amazing to think back to my first run here and how much I've come on since then; even the enjoyment of it has increased, as I can take myself further and further and challenge myself in ways that I never thought I would have when I was younger. 

And finally, some good advice on running: if you can hear your feet slip-slapping as you go, try to run quieter. Chances are that when you run 'loudly' as it were, you aren't being fuel efficient and are getting sloppy with your form. It also helps takes your concentration away from being tired and back to thinking about how you're running. Rooooll those feet. No slip-slapping!

Goodnight from New Jersey,
Pip xxx

Monday, 22 October 2012

Clean Eating: Days 6 & 7

Day 6
Two small pancakes with agave nectar
1 cup of tea
Two poached eggs on wholemeal toast
1 nakd bar
1 cup of tea
1/2 cider - I know, I'm sorry...I was at a rugby game and I forgot myself in all the excitement...
2 black coffees
Roast pepper stuffed with couscous and onions
Roasted courgette and sweet potato
1 cup of tea
250ml lactofree milk
I also had 2 litres of water.
I had a dinner party on Saturday evening, but still managed to keep it clean. And come Sunday, I had a nice suprise in that I have lost some weight - I'm 106.8lbs, 7 stone 8.8lbs. Wooooo!
Day 7 - Sunday Funday!
1 cinnamon pancake with brown sugar
2 cups of tea
1 cinnamon pancake with brown sugar
1 cup of tea
1 banana
1 black coffee
2 quorn sausages, broccoli and humous
3 double chocolate chip cookies - yummmmmm
1 1/2 bottles of rose - I didn't intend for that to happen. Had to run out of my lecture this morning to be sick - classy!
And around 1.5 litres of water.
Housemate and I decided that Sunday Funday isn't going to be every week and it's not going to be for the whole day; I definately enjoyed my treats and although I craved a little after dinner tonight, I definately want to keep up the clean eating.
Reviewing the week, I could do with varying some of my meals and cutting down on sugar further, but for a first attempt it's not been bad at all.
I have eaten clean today aside from 2 cookies, but I blame my hangover for those.
I attempted my workout tonight; not on form. Going to make a few variations to the programme my trainer wrote me to include a few more of my favourite upper body moves. I will upload both versions very very soon. Probably tomorrow.
Pip xxx

Friday, 19 October 2012

Clean Eating: Day Five

Today is most definately a hungry day. I want to eat EVERYTHING, it's gone 11.00pm, I'm going to make another pancake, I haven't worked out, and I've been sat down since 2.00. WHY MUST I HAVE A LAZY DAY AND A HUNGRY DAY ON THE SAME DAY???? WHY??? WHY AM I STILL NOT GETTING UP?
I think we all have these days, but I've definately been watching too much TV for my liking. Time to cut down to the bare minimum (1 hour of The Big Bang Theory, 6-7).

Aaaand focus. I have eaten more than normal, but still as clean as can be.
I don't really want to write this down, but.....

1 pancake sweetened with agave nectar
1 cup of tea

30g mixed nuts
1 banana
1 cup of tea

2 slices wholemeal bread and peanut butter
3 quorn cocktail sausages

100g plain yoghurt
200ml juice

1 quorn lemon and black pepper escalope
Roasted potatoes, courgette, tomato, pepper and carrot
1 nakd bar

And 2 litres of water. Write down the calories for today? Ha ha ha no.

This weekend, I am definately going to make up for tonight. Watching a rugby game tomorrow; that counts, right?
Bye bye
Pip xxx

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Clean Eating: Day Four

Thursday is the day of the week I go to my place of work and count down until 3.00pm, when I deem it acceptable to buy a Twirl from the vending machine. Today, I did not. I settled for a nakd Cocoa Orange bar; it was yummy. I'm craving something right now (I sound like an addict...), but as I have proven so far, I don't really want anything. The cravings are only a 3/10, and after 4 days, I think it's safe to say it's not just because I had a treat fairly recently - 4 days without chocolate is a long time for me, anyway. The only real craving I'm having is for protein.
So, as I said, my routine on a Thursday includes 240 calories-worth of Twirl. I always bring lunch and snacks to work, because I really do not like being hungry. Perhaps it was the three years of starvation that did it, I don't know.
Today went like this:
1 pancake sweetened with agave nectar - recommend recommend recommend
1 cup of tea
1 black coffee
1 banana
Tofu stir fry - no sauce, but actually very nice without
1 cup of tea
1 nakd bar
4 quorn cocktail sausages (pre dinner)
1 quorn peppercorn steak
Roasted courgette, mushroom, carrot
Boiled potatoes
200ml apple, rhubarb and strawberry juice
Aaaand 2 litres of water. This comes to exactly 1565 calories, which isn't low considering I've been sat on my botbot all day again. And anyway, 1200 is the minimum to sustain being a breathing, functioning human, so I am definately OK.
My skin appears to be mysteriously greasy at the moment; perhaps I am eating too much oil? Or my skin is just being a bitch?
Tomorrow I am riding and getting the weights out!
Goodbye for now,
Pip xxx

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Clean Eating: Day Three

Hello again! Today was the first clean shop; very easy and not expensive when sharing the cost with my fellow clean-eater. The shop consisted mostly of vegetables, kidney beans and butter beans in water, nakd bars for sweet-but-healthy snacks (vegan and sooooo yum), wholemeal bread, plain yoghurt and mixed nuts. We also bought agave nectar, and after squirting it accidently over the side, we tried a smidgeon; the conclusion was toffee apples. Not a bad thing for 13 calories per teaspoon.
Passing the cake, chocolate, crisps, sinners aisle was not too hard, although we did point out everything we'd eat (most things). I am enjoying not eating sweet things mindlessly; tonight I didn't crave anything sweet. Although come Sunday, I will probably devour a 5-pack of double chocolate chip cookies, and a packet of French fancies. Just kidding, but not really.
I didn't exercise today, or even walk to and from Uni, however I am feeling the effects of Monday's workout. I am doing it again this weekend at the Uni house except for a couple of variations, as unfortunately we don't have any TRX suspension equipment here. Or at my parents' house, for that matter.
Without further delay, here are today's meals:
Porridge, flavoured with cinnamon and brown sugar
1 cup of tea
Leftover quorn bolognaise, no pasta
1 cup of tea
1 nakd bar
1 pancake (plain flour, egg, soya milk), sweetened with brown sugar
1 banana
This meal was an odd mix because I really wasn't hungry enough to cook a proper meal. Instead, I had:
4 quorn cocktail sausages
2 tomatoes
2 slices of wholemeal toast and healthy peanut butter (Whole Earth smooth)
I've also had 1.5 litres of water and maybe an extra cup of tea in there somewhere. I reckon around 1700 calories. I do actually work out the calories, but my calculations allow for anything I've grossly undercounted; for example, today came in at 1649.
So, today is done...
Goodnight from England,
Pip xxx

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Clean Eating: Day Two

I didn't mention yesterday, but my housemate and I are both attempting clean eating together. The goal is to last until Sunday, when we can have a treat, then another week, treat on Sunday, etc. This may prove difficult as I'm going to America on the 24th, but I'm feeling good so far bar the same-old post-dinner sweet craving.
It's nice to have someone to try this with, as we both haven't tried this before and are constantly asking: is this clean? It's definately raising our awareness as to how many things we eat have additives. At the same time, neither of us have been stuck for choices, and so far I would describe our meals as bangin'.
Today, we tried a clean-eating recipe for breakfast: Martha Stewart's breakfast quinoa. It looked like gruel once cooked and was a bit time-consuming, but I definately thought it was worth it. The calories weren't low, but my personal view is that I don't mind a higher calorie meal for breakfast, and the calories weren't made up of sugar or saturated fat (sat fat). We flavoured with cinammon and a tiny pinch of brown sugar. I'd recommend as it was something completely different and quinoa is a highly undervalued protein source.
Click on the link for the recipe:
Here is an outline of the day:
Breakfast quinoa
200ml orange juice
1 cup of tea (soya milk, always)
Mushroom and tomato omelette with a sprinkle of cheese (is cheese clean?? I shall investigate)
1 nakd bar
Quorn spaghetti bolognaise (partly made with ragu sauce - not clean, however it needed using up and I recognised everything on the label) with another sprinkling of cheese
1 cup of tea
Somewhere in there were another 2 or 3 more cups of tea - it was dissertation study day - and 1.5 litres of water. Overall, I think my total calorie intake was around 1900 calories. Exercise-wise, I was largely sat down today, however I schooled my valiant steed for 45 minutes in the afternoon, the first time in two weeks.
So, here's something that has come to my attention. Veronique Morin is on the cover of Oxygen magazine this month - super big yay. She's HOT, and not just because I do love a good ginger. If you haven't a clue what I'm talking about, either Google her or, even better, visit I think it's the best women's fitness magazine out there, and although you can only buy 'hard copies' (as it were) in America and Canada, digital editions are also sold, as are back copies. I picked up the October edition when I was in Canada in September, so I will definately pick up November's when I'm in America!
Pip xxx

Clean Eating: Day One

Today was the first day I've intentionally 'eaten clean'. It wasn't too much effort, although there were a couple of choices I did have to stop and think about, such as the lactofree spread and vegetarian protein options. Overall, I would say this is definately do-able, and as a vegetarian I'm used to being conscientious of my food choices. I have a bad after-dinner habit of eating something sweet, and I definately craved something today, but this was more to do with my habit than actually wanting or needing some sugar.

My daily intake is detailed below (I'm not going to calorie count every day, I just think for the first week it might be interesting to document):

1 cup of tea (soya milk)
250ml of orange juice
200g low fat Greek-style yoghurt
= 235 calories

1 quorn peppered steak
1/2 carrot
Roasted tomatoes
= 217 calories

1 berry-flavour nakd bar
1 slice of wholemeal toast and lactofree spread
1 banana
45g cashew nuts
1 coffee
1 cup of tea
I hasten to add these were consumed over about 4 hours, before I went to the gym!
= 600 calories

Post-workout chocolate protein shake (vegan protein powder, soya milk, soya natural yoghurt)
1 aduki bean kiev
Boiled potatoes
Roasted tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, mushrooms
1 cup of tea
= 886 calories
TOTAL = 1938 calories

I also drank about 1.25 litres of water today, which is quite low for me as I usually get at least 2 litres.

Today was also the first day I've worked out since I ran the Basingstoke Half Marathon on 7th October (2 hours 7 minutes). My focus has been less on weights and more on running over the last few months, so I was excited to start a new programme. This one is an all-over body workout, which I have to do three sets of before I can flop gasping and sweating on to the floor; hopefully not in front of hot gym guy (HGG). More on him later, or never.

I started with a ten-minute hill run, which apparently burned 90-something calories; it was quite comfortable! My trainer lures me in with friendly chat during my warm-up, before she abuses my body with various horrible moves like Bulgarian split squats - the devil's work I tell you...

I will upload my workout sometime this week, and Clean Eating: Day Two tomorrow.