Meeting Chrissie Wellington at the 33 Shake Event

On Thursday evening, I ventured into central London for the 33 Shake event at Paddington Recreation Ground. Chrissie Wellington has recently become an ambassador for their brand, so we were treated to a fab talk from her as well as a chance to try out their chia seed gels!

Did I mention that I got to meet her afterwards? Sooo awesome!

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I’m new to brand events, and wouldn’t normally go (I feel a bit out of place, as I’m not a huge blogger and don’t really do product reviews etc.) but this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up! I read Chrissie’s book ‘A life without limits‘ last year, and I loved that even as a world champion she’s completely down-to-earth and has an amazing perspective on things. One of my favourite quotes has to be:

If there is one thing I have learned, particularly in my life as an athlete, it is that our limits may not be where we think the are. And, even when we think we’ve finally reached them, the next time we go exploring we often find they’ve moved again.

The way she talks, she really makes you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to – and I’m pretty sure that she could persuade anyone to try anything once. (Especially me – I’m easily influenced!) 🙂

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She’s as unfailingly positive in person as in her book, and her enthusiasm is infectious – her talk was wonderfully funny, informative and inspiring. Just as you’d expect!

I can definitely see why she’s chosen to work with 33 Shake. They seem to be a really great brand, and their chia seed gels are something else! You can find more information on their website, but the highlights are:

  • 100% natural ingredients. This means no additives, no preservatives, and nothing man-made.
  • These ingredients offer a simple blend of carbs, proteins, Omega-3s and antioxidants.
  • 90 calories per serving.
  • Natural anti-inflammatories.
  • All natural and low-GI sugars for genuinely sustainable performance without the energy-sapping spikes of traditional gel.
  • A natural electrolyte blend including Himalayan Pink salt.

What makes these gels unique is that they’re delivered in dry form – it’s up to you to add water before use. (I might have ended up with some on the floor, though this was mainly because I was standing up at the time – they’re actually easy peasy to prepare, and can even be done on the go using your water bottle!)

This means that you can adjust the consistency to suit your personal taste – a huge plus, after the trial and error I’ve had with other gels. As an added bonus, if you don’t fancy adding plain water you can up the electrolytes with coconut water, or add some more carbs with fruit juice instead – meaning that you can order a pack of standard gels, but make them whatever flavour you fancy! Once mixed, the gels last for up to 24hrs in the fridge, so you can prep them the night before your training session or race. We used plain water at the event, and they tasted fab.

How do you fuel your training? Would you ever try chia seed gels?

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Paris Marathon: 4 (!!) weeks to go

I wanted to do a bit of a round-up for this week. Firstly, because it’s just 4 weeks (!!) until Paris – but also because this is the first week that I’ve really felt on track with my training, and my sub-5 marathon goal. Happy face!

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My colleagues have drawn me a countdown on one of the office whiteboards. It’ll be down to the 20s tomorrow – Gulp!

Monday: I gave myself a recovery day after the Surrey Half, but my legs felt pretty good.

Tuesday: My friend and I joined the ladies at the Reebok run club for a social, relaxed 3.6 miles.

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Photo from the FitHub Facebook page

Wednesday: I forgot my pilates kit, so took another rest day – whoops!

Thursday: 4.1 hilly miles at an average of 10:31, with splits of 10:25, 10:32, 10:37 and 10:29.

Friday: 1 mile swim in 46 minutes.

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It was almost light at 6am! Spring is coooming!

Saturday: Guildford parkrun’s 3rd birthday! 32:07, with splits of 10:40, 10:21 and 10:26.

Sunday: Kingston Breakfast Run 16 miler. 03:00:28, so an average of 11:15/mile. (Race report up soon!)

Assuming I can keep up the pace for the full 26.2, I’m currently looking at a time of 4h50ish for Paris, which would be AWESOME – but I’ll have a better idea of my expected pace after my 18/19 miler next weekend. (And then it’s the taper! Eeek!)

Are you signed up for a spring marathon? How’s your training going? 🙂

Getting back on track

I’m learning now, more than ever that time and perseverance are the only things that will get me comfortably to the start line of Paris Marathon next April. In previous years, my training has been quite erratic – I’d do the odd short mid-week run one week, and four medium runs the next, back-to-backing them in order to make up for missed sessions and completely neglecting any cross training at all.

This year, I’ve been trying to ease back into my training by simply making myself exercise regularly. I’m not stressing about miles, or formal training plans as yet (though with my next half marathon just under 5 weeks away, that should probably happen sooner rather than later). I’m just working on getting my running and cross training into my regular routine, and trying my best to be consistent.

So far, it seems to have worked. I’ve been running 5k (ish) during my Monday lunchtimes, running 7 miles to work on a Thursday, and swimming for 40 minutes on a Friday before work. Whilst cycling has taken a bit of a back seat since Brighton, I’ve still been trying to cycle to work once a week – and boy, is it tough being out of shape!

My friend and I ran to work for the first time after an extended break 5 weeks ago, and whilst the first week was awful – slow, painful, and with tons of walking breaks – we’ve continued to drag ourselves out of bed at 6h30 every Thursday and into our running gear to give it another go. I genuinely thought for the first couple of weeks that I wouldn’t ever get back to my old fitness level – but during one of my early morning grumbles, my friend turned to me with a bright smile and exclaimed:

But our fitness .. We’re chasing it down right now! And each run we do, we’re catching it up!

That was exactly what I needed to hear. Running with someone so positive has had a big impression on my own motivation – and when you’re plodding along at 7am on the way to work, half asleep, aching and wondering how on earth you ran a marathon just a few months ago … Having a friend beside you who whoops, cheers and punches the sky every time you pass another runner (in the opposite direction, of course) is a fab way to snap yourself out of all of the negative thinking. No, it doesn’t make the run hurt less – but a smile can do wonders!

And, as it turns out, so can stubbornly heading out every week to try and try and try. Our average pace has gone from 12:32, to 11:32, to 11:20, to 11:14, to 10:57. The early mornings are paying off, and we’re finally sneaking back down to our old pace. It feels AWESOME. And it’s nice to see my own times go down, too – I run a solo mile to her house before heading on towards the office, and that mile has gone from 11:50, to 11:11, to 10:50, to 10:35, to 10:05. Not particularly speedy by most people’s standards, but brilliant for me – and I’m the only person I’m currently racing 🙂

On top of it all, today was our best lunchtime 5k since the marathon, with an average pace of 10:09 and a best mile of 9:50!

I think that’s worth giving up a lie-in or two.

Bit of a lull

I don’t know about you, but ever since the marathon, my motivation for running has taken a nosedive and a half.

Sure, I’ve squeezed in the odd 5k – but my pace hasn’t been great and I just haven’t really been feeling it.

So I eventually decided that enough was enough. For now, I’ve put running on the backburner, and have been trying out other exercise options. The key: I’m doing it just for fun. No training plan, no targets to meet or PBs to get or minimum weekly mileage. Just what I feel like, when I feel like it – which is a bit of a novelty!

By taking the pressure off, I’ve had a chance to get back into other sports that I love. For one, I’ve started swimming again, albeit pretty slowly! I’ve been getting up and to the pool for 7am once a week before work, for a half hour lanes session, and I’m feeling great as a result. I used to swim in clubs, for yeeears and years, but since Uni I don’t think I’ve swum at all until now. It’ll take me a while (!) to get back to my old shape, but I’m looking forward to a new challenge!

I’ve also managed to fit in some lovely bike rides. I haven’t been cycling to work recently (I’ve been waiting for some new tyres to arrive – those will be fun to fit, given I’ve never even touched a tyre lever before …) but I’ve been getting out at the weekends and exploring. I went down to Devon last week with my boyfriend to visit my family, and on the one day of (glorious) sunshine we got, we cycled 7 miles to the coast for ice-cream and back:

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Granted, not the longest or toughest cycle in the world. But it was fun, and the scenery was gooorgeous:

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I really miss living in Devon sometimes!

As expected though, the sunshine disappeared as suddenly as it appeared, and for the rest of the week it was grey and gloomy. But we were determined to get out to the coast – the coast paths are amazing, and there are SO many walks to do. So we grabbed our boots, wrapped up in waterproofs and headed out! At the start it was almost dry, which meant I got to snap some pictures:

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Definitely worth the rain! The hills were a bit tough (little out of shape right now!), and the steps got pretty slippery as the rain got heavier, but being able to stop and look out at views like these made me so happy 🙂 It was enough to make you forget the rain for a bit!

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This weekend, we were lucky enough to get a bit more sunshine in Surrey, so we headed out on the bikes again and cycled from Guildford to Cranleigh and back, via the River Wey and Shalford. I think most of the track was the Downs Link? Whatever the exact route was, it was warm and sunny and beautiful!

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I think we ended up doing around 18 miles in the end that day (but no ice-cream stops, unfortunately). Our next challenge is to cycle to Hampton Court! Once I find a route, that is.

Whilst I do miss running, I think I’m going to leave it a while before I throw myself back into it. My next half – the Thames Meander – is in August, so I’ve got plenty of time to build up the distance again! In the meantime, I’ll be working on my front crawl and bike maintenance skills ..